Spring always reminds me of a brand new box of colored pencils: vibrant yellow daffodils, soft pink petals and blue primrose.
There is nothing that heralds spring better than the first blades of new grass, that shout-out from mother nature that it is awake and ready to grow.
From a health perspective, there is a reason for eating spring’s glorious greens. In older times, before trucks and planes that transport our food from thousands of miles away, winter was a time for root vegetables, stored grains and meats. There was very little green food to be found, we ate local foods by necessity, not choice. Spring, and its first green growth, was a welcome change in a fairly bland winter diet.
The body, after having gone through the Vata season of late fall and winter, changes to the Kapha season of spring. Kapha is represented by cold, wet and humid conditions, melting snow and muddy fields. Even though this year has been very uncharacteristic for a New England winter, Kapha season is here for the next couple of months and it may be the reason why getting up feels harder lately, why energy seems to be in short supply and why the couch is more inviting than the gym! If you feel this way, you are probably in good company…If your dominant dosha is Kapha, you are most certainly feeling it even more.
What’s a Kapha to do? Eat greens!
It is time to detox that winter lethargy and greens are bitter and astringent, two of the tastes that help when Kapha is acting out a little.
Today, it is not very difficult to find vegetables and fruit all year round. We certainly do not have to wait for months for the first green weeds and leaves to sprout. But our bodies still crave this bitter-tasting, energy-giving offering: dandelion greens, sorrel, lamb’s lettuce, fiddle heads, arugula or spinach. The health benefits of eating leafy greens are numerous. They are loaded with vitamins A and C, as well as several of the B vitamins. Just one cup of these greens provides 70 percent of the daily recommended intake for vitamin A and 20 percent for vitamin C. Greens are also a rich source of iron and calcium and numerous trace minerals. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale also are good sources of vitamins K and E. Eating organic greens ensures that you get a healthy load of phytonutrients that offer anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
If you are lucky enough to live a little off the beaten path, you can gather your own wild greens; fiddle heads and dandelions are plentiful if you know what to look for. If you feel unsure about the harvest, a great book is “Edible wild plants” by John Kallas.
Dandelion salad is still one of my favorites! When you pick them really small, they are still reddish in the center and tender. My mother used to serve it with a homemade oil and vinegar dressing, tiny pieces of crispy bacon and egg slices. With a piece of homemade bread, it was a dinner fit for health!
Picture courtesy of Patrick McDonnell “Guardians of Being”