Spring Guide

White Peach Blossoms - A True Sign It's Spring! 
White Peach Blossoms

Eating in Concert with the Seasons
SPRING  March 21st - June 20th

Set Roots to Sustain You this Spring and Bloom your Full Potential
– with a nod to Ayerveda teachings and a dash of common sense

“…all the merry little birds are
flying in the floating in the
very spirits singing in
are winging in the blossoming …”
-E.E. Cummings

As the cycles of nature move forward, and winter melts into spring, the birds, bees, flowers, trees and human hearts are all nourished by more hours of sunlight. Spring, with its endless opportunities, is a season of birth, renewal, and growth – a time for the earth to manifest the latent potential within all things both literally and symbolically. Spring also skews heavily toward new beginnings as we set roots that sustain us throughout the rest of the year. 

The landscape is coming to life.  Seeds are germinating, flowers budding, insects buzzing, leaves unfurling. We sense a natural opportunity for a fresh, clean start; our bodies are primed to lighten things up, cleanse, rebalance and rejuvenate. A renewed sense of joy and inspiration happily surrounds us! It’s spring! 

And since the cycles of nature hold great wisdom, being in tune with these cycles each season is of great value to our health and wellbeing. Harvesting and eating food in season strengthens our connection to those cycles. We are intimately connected with the environment around us and, when we are in tune with the natural cycles of seasonal nourishment, there is ultimately more nutrition to be derived from good local, seasonal sources. It makes us stronger — in our immunity, our digestion and our ability to fight infection. 

What nourishing possibilities does this new season offer us? Let’s talk ‘local’ first. When you are eating what is available locally, you also add more variety to your diet which is key. It gives us freshness at every cycle. Everything changes with every new season. We’re excited to see the first asparagus appear after we’ve had our fill of heavier root vegetables all winter! And beyond the ultimate joy of each season’s bounty, its nutrition and ability to improve our digestive strength is so important. Centering our diet on foods grown in the soil and climate where we live can even go one step further in helping to prevent allergies and other problems.
 It feels good to support the local farmers too!

For some, the spring season is also associated with colds, congestion, hay fever, and allergies. Thankfully, an appropriate seasonal routine can help us overcome many of spring’s challenges while promoting optimal health so that we can truly celebrate the gifts this season has to offer. Let’s explore …

Age Old Wisdom 

At Crisp, we always provide a nod toward Ayerveda teachings, the Indian classical medicine used by yogi’s for thousands years, coupled with a dash of common sense and contemporary wisdom. We don’t dive too deeply into it but rather we take a quick, reasonable ‘skim’ and general direction for each season.

In Ayurveda, spring is ruled by the elements of fire and water. In spring we work to shed the excess of winter and balance the amount of fire AND water in our systems. Too much water combined with excess earth leaves us feeling heavy, muddy and full of ‘toxins’. Too much fire and we’re angry, over heated, over doing, full of allergies and without enough time. Too much fire and water at the same time leaves our bodies taxed, inflamed and pressurized (think sinus headache).

It’s nice to know we can have an impact on how we feel if we better understand that in Ayerveda teachings, spring is ruled by the organs of liver and gallbladder, our main organs for cleansing and processing toxins. Our liver processes allergens that come from pollen and pollution, but if our liver is taxed, it has a hard time working as smoothly. So our mission in the spring is to ‘cleanse’ and ‘refresh’ the system. Using Ayurvedic wisdom, we cool our heat with water, and cleanse with fire. When we are balanced we have healthy fire -- creativity, action and ideas, and the coolness of water to stay hydrated and go with the flow. This wisdom helps us live in balance with the season and the natural world around us, which is the ultimate challenge in our modern urban world — however the effort is so worth it! 

Seasonality and Building a Spring Menu

Many will notice a natural, but distinct, shift in their cravings as winter gives way to spring. The arrival of the warmer weather often marks a decline in our desire for the heavy, substantive foods that are so essential for our wellbeing during the winter months. In fact, we instinctively notice an increasingly insistent preference for lighter fare. Your appetite may decrease and you may find yourself craving fruit, fresh vegetables, and salads. This is your body’s way of telling you that it’s time for some spring-cleaning. In fact, spring is a perfect time of year for a gentle cleanse which can simply mean turning the page to the fresh, seasonal bounty available in spring.  Spring-cleaning is a good idea, inside and out!

When we adjust our diet and lifestyle to match the season, health-promoting digestive microbes dramatically change. Spring microbes support balanced immunity, digestion, mood, energy, blood sugar, weight, sleep – and much more. With a nod toward Ayervedic wisdom, spring is also associated with the qualities of ‘Kapha,’ which are heavy, cold and oily. To stay balanced, it’s important to focus on foods that are light, dry and warm.

As you may have seen in the Winter Guide, seasonality is a big driver for our menu development here at Crisp Kitchen & Juice. We are fortunate to be in Northern California where we have a bounty of options all throughout the year. If you are a member of our community, and good to know even if you are just visiting, take a look at the elements we consider when planning our menu during the Spring – and we inevitably, intuitively strive to stay in line with basic Ayervedic philosophy as we plan how to best accentuate flavors and incorporate our methods of preparation.

On the Table

In Ayerveda, the three tastes that predominate in the spring harvest are astringent, bitter, and pungent. Lighter fare abounds in the spring, and the body is ready for it. All fall and winter we did your best to eat foods that would keep us warm and strong. But now it's time to drop our storehouse of fats and sweets. Rather than hearty roots, the springtime abounds with greens and fresh, light tender sprouts like asparagus and microgreens.

Eating fresh, young spring greens, which are bitter and light, are nature's timely remedy - their bitter taste, as ancient wisdom holds, drains heat from your blood thereby saving you from fever, sore throats, swollen hands, and heat-induced headaches. They are perfect for bringing your body back into balance during this season. You can find many wild greens like dandelion, watercress, arugula and chickweed cropping up everywhere. Spring is a time of wild abundance!

We can support the body’s natural desire to purify and renew by favoring the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes and by eating warm, light foods that are relatively easy to digest.  As soon as they’re available, eat the first bounty of the season—sprouts, berries, dandelion and other spring greens—which naturally support this time of cleansing. And conversely, we aim to eat less foods that are Sweet, Sour, Salty / Heavy, Cold, Oily: such as fried foods, ice cream, heavy dairy. Avoiding foods like wheat, dairy, sugar and salt as well as heavy, fatty and fried food, is a good practice during this season because they are said to inevitably tax the liver.

Sour tastes in moderation this time of year add support to your body’s cleansing. They are said to be particularly helpful in supporting the liver's cleansing. Serve up ferments, grapefruit, and raw beets to show your liver some love. And diuretics such as celery, kale, cabbage and collards can be added to the menu to help keep fluids in balance as we move into this season typical of more moisture. A springtime favorite is a fresh, new collard leaf freshly harvested from the garden, spread with hummus and garnished with tofu, fresh herbs and sprouts. A simple roll up and it’s delicious, nutritious crunch in minutes! Fruit that isn’t too sweet is also a great seasonal choice like apricots and cherries as they come into season, oranges (zest your citrus too!), lemon, tangerines and kumquats. Astringent foods like legumes will tighten and tone.

To encourage healthy circulation and relief from bloat, foods known for their diaphoretic properties can be a great help. Diaphoretics are foods and herbs that help you sweat by dilating capillary beds and includes radishes, mustard greens, arugula, chives, raw onions and garlic will facilitate this blood flow to the exterior. Aromatic diaphoretics include mint, chamomile, peppermint, tulsi, rosemary and basil. Spices such as cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and black pepper also increase circulation and can be used generously this time of year.

Eaten in moderation, freshwater fish, tofu, and poached or boiled eggs are highlighted during the spring season. 

Grains like millet, quinoa, barley and buckwheat complement the array of spring greens. The astringency of cool bean salads, especially chickpeas, are also timely. Take your fill of the earth's bountiful spring offering, and feel the healing effects on your body.

Lets explore how to embrace the three spring tastes: astringent, bitter, and pungent.

Astringent: In the spring, we structure our diet around eating lots of fresh vegetables and a variety of legumes. These foods tend to be astringent and often somewhat bitter.  The dry, mouth-puckering taste most familiar with coffee and tea indicate astringency.

Food sources: beans, lentils, dried peas, and other legumes.
Mild astringency: fruits and vegetables, including tart apples, artichokes, asparagus, bell peppers, celery, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, figs, lemons, mushrooms, pomegranates, persimmons, potatoes, spinach. Rye and buttermilk have an astringent quality too.

Bitter: Bitter foods that ‘drain dampness’ and support liver cleansing include arugula, fennel, watercress, chard, radicchio, kohlrabi, lettuce, beet greens, dandelion, chickweed, endive and microgreens. Their lightness is a welcome relief from congestion and sluggish circulation that can sometimes accumulate at the change of seasons. You'll absolutely start to crave the refreshed feeling they offer!

Food sources: Green and yellow vegetables including bitter greens in salads (chicory, radicchio, arugula, endive), cabbage family vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower) bell peppers, broccoli, celery, chard, eggplant, spinach, kale, zucchini. Herbs: chamomile, cilantro, coriander, cumin, dill, fenugreek, licorice, rhubarb, rosemary, saffron, sage, tarragon, turmeric.

Pungent: Meals can be enhanced with the pungent flavor of onions, garlic, ginger, black pepper, chili pepper, small amounts cayenne pepper, and an unlimited variety of herbs and spices. Ideally food should be spicier this time of year.

Food sources: Pungency is the spicy taste found in various herbs and spices, along with hot peppers, green chilis, onions, garlic, ginger, radishes, mustard and horseradish. Pungent herbs: peppermint, basil, thyme, rosemary. Spices: a pinch of turmeric or ginger can enhance digestibility and lessen seasonal congestion.

Embracing Spring!

The aspects of a springtime routine will undoubtedly vary from one person to the next, but we all stand to benefit by simply aligning our internal rhythms with those at play around us in the natural world. This spring, enjoy all the fresh flavors, take advantage of the abundance and avoid a long and taxing season of colds, allergies, and hay fever by noticing what’s fresh and bountiful locally to support your wellbeing. Honor this season of rebirth by embracing your highest potential and celebrating the possibility of optimal health; adopt a seasonal routine that will help you cleanse, rejuvenate, and relish in the life-giving nature of the spring.

Eat well. Be well!

Suggested listing of ideal local, seasonal, spring foods:

Fruits to Favor:

All Berries
Apricots
Apriums
Avocado
Blackberries
Blueberries
Boysenberries
Cactus Pear
Cherimoyas
Cherries
Cranberries, dried
Dates, dried
Dried Fruit
Figs
Grapefruit
Kumquats
Lemons
Limes
Loquats
Melons
Nectarines
Oranges
Peaches
Plums
Pluots
Prunes
Raisins
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Strawberries
Tayberries
Tomatoes (late Spring)

Vegetables to Favor:

Artichoke
Arugula
Asparagus
Bean Sprouts
Beans, green
Beets & Beet Greens
Bell Peppers
Bitter Melon
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Broccoli rabe
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cardoons
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celeriac
Celery
Chard
Chili Peppers
Collard Greens
Cucumbers
Dandelion Greens
Endive
Fava Beans
Fava Greens
Fennel
Green Garlic
Green Beans
Horseradish
Kale
Lambs Quarters
Leeks
Lettuces
Mushrooms
Mustard Greens
Nettles
Onion
Orach
Parsnip
Peas
New Potatoes
Purslane
Radicchio
Radishes
Rhubarb
Scallions
Shallots
Spinach
Sprouts
Turnips
Watercress  

Grains to Favor: 

Amaranth
Barley
Buckwheat
Millet
Oats
Quinoa
Rice
Rye 

Legumes to Favor:

Adzuki Beans
Bean Sprouts
Black Beans
Black-Eyed Peas
Fava Beans
Garbanzo Beans
Kidney Beans
Lentils
Lima Beans
Miso
Mung Beans
Navy Beans
Pinto Beans
Tempeh
Tofu
White Beans

Nuts & Seeds to Favor:

Hazelnuts
Pine Nuts
Pumpkin Seeds
Sunflower Seeds 

Dairy to Favor:

Goat’s milk
Yogurt
Rice Milk
Nut Milks

Animal Products to Favor (if you eat them):

Eggs
Poultry (white meat)
Shrimp
Freshwater Fish
Rabbit 

Oils to Favor (in moderate quantities): 

Ghee
Safflower Oil
Flax Seed Oil
Mustard Oil
Olive Oil
Sesame Oil
Sunflower Oil

Sweeteners to Favor:

Honey
Maple Syrup
Molasses

Spices to Favor:

All spices will generally be very supportive through the spring season.
We encourage specifically:
Turmeric, Saffron, Ginger, Garlic, Cardamom & Cinnamon.


Annette Shafer
Annette Shafer

Author