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Spring Cleaning, Summer Eating

SPRING: Wake up, wake up, its springtime! What other season elicits more excitement than spring?  Whether you live in the mountains, in the flatlands or on the coast, the common urge is to crawl out of our winter beds like the bears, shake off the cobwebs, clean up our house and garden, and greet the new season with renewed vigour and joy.

Many folks feel the need to cleanse their bodies as well, and springtime is the perfect season to do so after a winter of being indoors more than not, perhaps eating lots of starch and fats, or too much of the "naughty" things like alcohol, caffeine, and sweets.  There are as many ways to cleanse your body as there are kinds of people, and one can customize their diet to suit their body type and lifestyle. Fasting is popular in the spring, but in my opinion, it isn't for everybody, and can be more stressful than its worth depending on our lifestyle.  There are many suggestions I have for ways to cleanse while still eating. You might find your energy levels, skin, sleep, mood, hormone levels, mental health and overall wellbeing improve dramatically with these simple yet effective tips:

  • One essential principle for any kind of cleansing diet is to replace the processed, refined and chemically treated "dead" foods in our diet with as many fresh, local, seasonal, organically – grown, "live" foods as possible. Start with all animal products, since the chemicals they are fed or treated with (and they are nasty) are absorbed in their body fat, and then into ours.  
  • Anytime you feel the urge to cleanse, or on a regular basis, begin the day with a shot or two of either organic lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.  This helps to digest fats and gives the entire digestive system a healthy and gentle jump-start to the day. For a more extensive cleanse, try the "Master Cleanser": mix 2 tblsp. Lemon juice with 1-2 tbls. Maple syrup, 1/10 tsp Cayenne in 8 ounces of good water.
  • Eating only fruit until lunchtime is another easy thing to try, even if only for a week or two, and you should feel a difference in your energy level as your digestive system is given a break.  
  • Drinking 2 litres of good water a day is truly essential to good health – many compare it to putting oil in our vehicles, or air in our bicycle tires.  Herbal tea is also an excellent source of nutrition, while also helping heal and tone the organs of elimination (kidney and liver) depending on the formula (see Herbal article).
  • If you would like more info on any of these tips, please feel free to email me, or ask your local health food store staff.  

 

Books I highly recommend on "healthy cleansing" and better diets in general are:
-  Staying Healthy with the Seasons, by Elson M. Hass (the title says it all)
-  The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, by Michelle Schoffro Cook, DNM, DAc, CNC
- Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges, Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, by Sally Fallon
- Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford (a Chinese medicine approach)

 

SUMMER:  "Summertime, and the living is easy..." It is the season of energy, action and outward movement.  Summer is also THE time to consume "live" foods since they are abundant and at their best.  Live it up by eating as many fresh, bioregional organically – grown foods as possible.  Visit your local farmers' market and support the farmers while also doing something powerful for your self (visit www.bcfarmersmarket.org/directory/ to find a market near you in BC). Eating this way not only helps our bodies to be the best that they can be, but it also helps set ourselves up for the upcoming winter when foods may not be so fresh or vital, and when we go into hibernation to rest and contemplate a new year. The liver is the main detoxifier of the body, and an overburdened liver can cause a vast array of problems from skin problems to hormonal imbalance to sleep disturbances; the list is long.  Eat often but lightly and simply to ensure adequate calories are consumed for the amount of energy spent working and playing. If you overdue it at a friend's bbq party, try this Liver Flush the next morning.   Liver Flush (developed by Dr. R. Stone, founder of Polarity Therapy): squeeze 1 or 2 organic Lemons and blend with 1 tblsp. cold-pressed extra-virgin Olive oil, 2 cloves of organic garlic, a small piece of organic ginger and 4 ounces of good water for 30 seconds and drink first thing...your liver will thank you for it.  

 

Gillian Herb Girl's Gourmet Nettle Soup (vegan friendly)

Ingredients:

3-4 large potatoes, cut into quarters or big chunks, keep the peals on for more nutrition
1 onion, diced
1-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tblsp. butter or vegetable oil
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 ½  - 2 cups young Stinging Nettle (use gloves and pick the first 2-3 inches, and remember, they don't sting once cooked!)
3 cups organic chicken or vegetable stock
sea salt, pepper if desired
4 tblsp. sour cream (optional)

Begin by steaming the potatoes.  While they are cooking, sauté the onions in the butter or veggie oil in a frying pan, followed by the garlic, until the onions appear translucent.  Put aside.  In the same pan, sauté the carrot and celery with ½ cup of stock or more if needed, until fork tender. Put aside with the onions and garlic.  In the same pan, steam the nettles with another ½ cup or more of stock, until tender. When the potatoes are fork tender, drain and return to the soup pot along with the remaining ingredients (minus the optional sour cream). Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or so, covered.  Add salt and other seasonings if desired.  Let cool enough to put into a blender and puree. Add a dollop of sour cream on top of each serving, or a sprinkling of dill or parsley if desired.  

 

Cheers, and peace.  Gillian Smith

 

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