Spring is in the air, and sort of has been all winter . . . Soon the length of the days, and buds appearing on trees, will join the moderate temperatures to signal that we have come around again to this time of renewal and growth. It’s a good time of year to lighten up our diet and to get our Qi flowing again after the quietude of winter. How lucky we are here in Moscow to have two new places where we can get our health on: Palouse Juice, our new downtown healthy food emporium brought to us by Toni Salerno-Baird and husband Zach Baird; and the Co-op’s new satellite location on campus. Here are five plants these places carry that support our health all year round, and especially in spring.
1. Herbs: Parsley/mint/ginger/turmeric/garlic/dandelion/chamomile. Whether as a tea, or in a juice such as Palouse Juice’s “Detoxifier,” these are herbs that, according to Chinese nutrition theory, help the liver to move Qi. Smoothly flowing Qi is one of the key conditions for overall good health.
2. Guo Ji berries nourish the tendons and ligaments, for healthy joints, and help nourish and moisten the eyes, for greater comfort and better vision. You can find them in the dried fruit aisle of the Co-op, and a handful a day, especially in Spring, can make a difference.
3. Green onions/dandelion/spring greens. Spring greens are among the first signs of renewed life at this time of year, and they help the liver clean the blood. Green onions, added to a soup, can help ward off colds that can come as the temperatures change. For a potent sip of early spring immune boosting Qi, try Palouse Juice’s version of the “Flu Shot,” or their “Wheat Grass Shot” to help cleanse and detoxify.
4. Lemon/slightly sour flavors/apple cider vinegar. In spring, a little sour flavor in your diet can help keep the Qi flowing. Apple cider vinegar provides the added benefit of alkalinizing our blood, to help maintain a healthy pH level, important for proper physiological function.
5. Beets make a good example of the Doctrine of Signatures, the ancient medical theory that says we can treat certain body parts with plants and herbs that resemble those parts. For millennia, Chinese nutrition has used beets to nourish the blood.
Though we Chinese nutrition wonks generally espouse taking all foods cooked rather than raw, at this time of year we can lighten up our cooking, and can include small amounts of raw foods in our diet. Ask Toni about warming up one of her juices by adding warming spices such as cayenne pepper or garlic. If you’re feeling a bit sluggish, and a little thirsty or hungry, head down to the Co-op on campus, or our local juice bar for tea, juice, soup or a smoothie loaded with spring goodness!