Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Spring in Melbourne - blooming, bustling and bursting

Spring is upon us - one of the most dramatic seasonal changes we experience each year.
The weather puts on a spectacular display throwing the whole gamut at us; sun shining, wind blowing us off our feet, raining buckets, wintry cold and then warmth that gives us the promise of summer - usually all in one day! So how do we navigate our way through this remarkable time?

It’s helpful to remember that spring is a time of rebirth after the dormancy and introspection of winter. Just as the new leaves unfurl towards the sun, it is our time of opening up and embracing change, growth and movement. It is the season associated with the Liver energy which maintains the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body and mind. As spring warms up, it loosens our body and our energy increases - so it is a time of action, to bring those plans to fruition, to just ‘do it’.

Spring is the season connected to Liver and the Wood element and the associated emotions are frustration and anger - if you find yourself feeling 'stuck', try a form of exercise that suits you; yoga, dancing, walking, qi gong, swimming, anything that you enjoy - remember that you are shifting any blocked, livery, grumpy energy.
Another aspect of the Wood element is that it is brimming with ideas, imagination and creativity. Spring is the time for manifesting those ideas that have been brewing through winter.

In general, foods that are good for spring are light, warm and sweet (not refined sugar sweet). In early spring try cabbage, carrot, beetroot, lots of leafy green vegetables, lemons, shiitake mushrooms, whole grains, legumes and seeds. As the weather grows warmer include mint, asparagus, sprouts, peas, pine nuts and in late spring, cherries. As the season progresses eat less baked foods and more light soups, stir-fries, lightly cooked food and salads - lighten up your food to lighten up your mood.

Spring tips

  •  Simplify your diet and eat an abundance of vegetables – 2 to 3 servings twice a day.
  •  Start a regular exercise program that includes an outdoor activity to enjoy the beauty and breathe fresh air. Build strength, flexibility, resilience and health.
  • To nurture Liver energy and the eyes - look at the nourishing greenness of nature, gaze at distant vistas, drink it in.
  •  Wear a light scarf or jacket - please keep your neck covered. This is a vulnerable area where ‘wind’ can enter (making you vulnerable to colds and illness).
  •  See anger as a pathway to awareness - it is just energy, just as joy, sadness and fear are.
  •  Keep hydrated - drink warm water and touch of lemon juice through the day.
  •  Avoid coffee and try roasted dandelion root tea instead - It eases liver congestion, improves digestion, helps purify the blood and improve circulation, eases aching joints and helps to resolve skin conditions.

Beetroot, greens and goat's cheese salad

This salad is beautifully balanced and nourishing. The lentils are beneficial to the Heart and Kidney energy; the beetroot nourishes Liver Blood; the goat’s cheese promotes yin, whilst the spices counteract any Dampness that the cheese may create; walnuts support Kidney; and the delicious greens – parsley, mint, rocket and spinach – nourish and soothe the Liver energy.

2 medium beetroot,100ml olive oil, 1/4 tsp ground allspice, sprig of thyme, 1 bay leaf, white pepper, 100g puy lentils,1 tbsp chopped mint, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, juice of one lemon, sea salt, 4 tbsp of goat's cheese or fetta, 1/4 apple - cut into matchsticks, rocket leaves/baby spinach, toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C. Wrap the beetroot in foil and roast for 1 hour, or until soft enough that a skewer can be easily inserted. When cool enough to handle, peel the beetroot and dice into 1cm cubes. Combine with the olive oil. allspice, thyme, bay leaf and white pepper. Allow to marinate for at least an hour.
Meanwhile, cover the lentils with cold water, bring to the boil and strain. Cover with coater again and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are just cooked. Strain and toss the lentils with herbs, lemon juice and olive oil, and season with salt and white pepper.
Drain the beetroot, then mix it with the lentils. Serve topped with goat's cheese, apple, rocket/baby spinach and toasted walnuts.

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