This post is created to add onto my article in the March issue of the Walla Walla Lifestyles Magazine. To view the complete discussion of how the Liver and Gallbladder are associated with springtime, tendons, and feisty emotions, please check out the previous blogpost entitled “Spring Tis’ The Season of the Liver and Gallbladder.”
The flavor that soothes a cranky Liver/Gallbladder is sweetness. This is often why we crave sweets when stressed. The sweetness that soothes is the sweetness of grains, root vegetables, and mild fruits. Refined sugar in pastries and candies will actually make everything worse after a brief moment of bliss. So play around with crazy grains like quinoa, millet, different colors and grains of rice, and, if you tolerate gluten, add in some barley, oats, etc.
If you like David Lynch and have no clue about Quinoa, here is an instructional video by dear, Mr. Lynch on how to prepare it.
The sour flavor is the flavor of the Liver meridian and small amounts of sour can help move some gentle irritation or a feeling of being ‘stuck.’ Use the sour flavor sparingly in the spring, because too much can act detrimentally during this season.
To play with the sour flavor, consider adding thoroughly scrubbed or organic lemon slices to a glass of water one or more tomes a day. By scrubbed, I mean scrub the peel with soap and water or a vinegar solution to remove pesticides from non-organic lemons.
I also encourage you to start adding a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar, rice or red wine vinegar to brothy soups and stir-fries, to sneak in a little sour into your diet.
Now for the real recipes:
One of the best recipes for someone suffering from being easily irritable or even exploding into a rage is Borscht. The beets have the perfect sweetness to soothe the liver, and adding a dollop of sour cream adds a hint of sour. If you cook it the traditional way with beef broth, the minerals aid in keeping the quality of your blood strong, thus nourishing your tendons and ligaments. Borscht is a favorite Eastern European dish and googling a recipe can get you many delightful arguments of what is the traditional recipe.
Below is a spunky borscht recipe. It is vegetarian and to make it for an omnivore I would cook everything in beef stock or broth and sometimes add a good sausage or a pound of beef stew meat. I also always use a small cabbage shredded into the soup. You can quickly see how an authentic recipe sparks arguments.
vegetarian borscht recipe
Two tasty greens recipes for a happy liver
It is also thought that greens help support the function of the liver and the gallbladder. They can help out tendon flexibility (via the Liver and Gallbladder), and help support your blood volume. Here is one of the delightful overlapping of Chinese medicinal understand of blood and Western physiology match up. The dark, leafy greens of Chard, Collards, and Kale all contain a hefty dose of vitamin B12 and folic acid. These nutrients are necessary for blood cells to divide properly and regenerate, which directly relates blood volume. An deficiency in B12 and folic acid results in one type of anemia that many people suffer from.
Now for the first quick recipe:
Quick and Easy Greens: Option One
1 bunch of swiss chard, collards or kale
1-2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2-4 cloves of garlic (depending on how Italian you feel)
2 T olive oil
Pepper to taste (salt optional).
Before cooking, thoroughly wash the greens. Roughly chop them into 1-2 inch ribbons. If you feel strongly about dispatching the stems, then cut down the center, along each side of the stem and discard it before chopping the tender leafy parts. In a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic. Once warm, add the greens and cook until wilted, about 1 minute for chard, and 2-3 minutes for collards or kale. Add the balsamic vinegar and pepper. Remove from heat and you have a delicious side ready to go.
Quick and Easy greens, option 2.
1 bunch greens, swiss chard, collards or kale
2 T olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic
1 tsp crushed black pepper
a pinch of salt
Thoroughly wash the greens. Roughly chop into 2 inch segments and place into a stove-top steamer. Bring the water to a boil, and thus steam. It should take about 10 minutes from the time you put the greens into the cold steamer to when they have been thoroughly steamed.
In the meantime, find a mixing bowl that it is large enough to toss the steamed greens about in when they are finished. Mince the garlic cloves and toss them in the bowl. Add the olive oil. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of both halves into the bowl. Add the pepper and a pinch of salt. Whisk it all together.
When the greens have finished steaming, give them a good solid toss in the dressing and your ready to eat.
This mocktail can sometimes be an acquired taste, but if you crave sour things, it can be quite satisfying.
1-2 tablespoons high quality apple cider or raspberry vinegar
6-8 ounces tonic water
1/4 tsp crushed, dried or fresh lavender blossoms
(If you need something to sweeten it up a bit, add a smidgen of honey)
You can also add different herbs, such as fresh thyme, bruised fresh basil leaves, or muddled fresh ginger slices.
Note: The quality of the vinegar really does make a huge difference in the taste of this beverage.
Happy cooking and experimenting!