By Hayley Stobbs R.Ac.
Spring seasonal eating calls for increasing trips to the farmer’s market, steamed vegetables, dark leafy greens to nourish liver blood, sprouts to attune to the up and out energy around us, and root cellar treasures such as carrot and parsnip to keep the body-mind grounded and balanced with the atmosphere’s increasing yang influences. As physical activity rises and plant foods become more available, our intake of carbohydrates can naturally increase during spring and summer months.
Explore below for a list of foods and a recipe that can support liver and gallbladder health during their peak influential season of spring.
Before we begin: Food Energetics 101
Over thousands of years ancient medicine practitioners have gathered observational information from the energetic effects of food in humans. This information has been categorized into data that enables food qualities to be recommended medicinally. Although this practice is ancient in origin it is practiced intuitively in our modern day kitchens. In your own home you have most likely applied the balancing wisdom of inherent food qualities intuitively, for example you may crave to pair a hot food such as lamb curry with cool mint and yogurt, and within a season such as summer you may crave cold watermelon on a hot day.
Foods contain inherent energetic qualities as derived from their flavour, temperature, anatomy, and preparation. This is influenced by season, colour, direction of growth, and climate. Each food in isolation enters meridian(s) and have specific regulatory affects on the organ systems that they engage with. For example, cucumber enters the large intestine, stomach, spleen, and bladder meridian, and regulates heat and toxins. In this way medicinally, foods are recommended to help balance meridian and organ system patterns. When a person is generally healthy, food energetics that relate to the present season are emphasized. This helps the individual ‘attune to the season’, allowing one to engage and harness the inspirational gifts of each season while preventing illness.
Liver-Gallbladder Supportive Foods:
My favourite resource for food energetics information is from the book Helping Ourselves by Daverick Leggett.
Vegetables: Artichoke, Asparagus, Eggplant, Beet, Broccoli, Carrot, Celery, Chicory, Dandelion Leaf, Fennel, Kale, Leek, Mushroom, Nettle, Onion, Parsnip, Plantain, Scallion, Sea Vegetables, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Sprouts (especially broccoli), Tomato.
Fruits: Apple (Grannysmith), Avocado, Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Cherry, Crabapple, Date, Gooseberry, Grape, Kumquat, Lemon/Lime, Lychee, Mulberry, orange, Plum, Quince, Raspberry, Strawberry, Umeboshi plum.
Grains (soaked and/or sprouted and cooked, sourdough): Amaranth, Quinoa, Rye
Beans (soaked and or/sprouted and cooked): Lima, Mung
Nuts + Seeds (soaked and/or sprouted): Flax, Pistachio, Pumpkin, Sesame
Fish: Clam, Crab, Lobster, Mackerel, Mussel, Oyster, Shrimp + Prawn, Trout, Whitefish
Animal: Beef, Beef liver, Chicken Liver, Lamb liver, Quail, Rabbit, Venison
Dairy: Cheese, Chicken Egg, Quail Egg, Egg yolk, Yogurt
Herbs + Spices: Anise, Chive, Cumin, Fennel, Fenugreek, Garlic, Hawthorn, Juniper, Licorice, Mint, Nettle, Oregano, Purslane, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Tumeric
General Liver-Supportive Nutrition Tips
Take 3 deep breaths before eating a meal and practice mindful eating.
Avoid over-eating and eating after 6 or 7 pm (at least 3 hours before bed) to ensure optimal liver-gallbladder cleansing and regeneration. This allows space for digestion before peak liver-gallbladder energy flow between 11 - 1 am (gallbladder) and 1 - 3 am (liver). Deep sleep during this time is especially restorative to renewing blood and nourishing tendons, giving us the stamina to wake up rested to perform physical work. Give your digestion a break for 12 - 16 hours overnight before eating your first meal.
Green foods particularly nourish the liver.
Increase naturally sweet and pungent flavours as this facilitates the liver to regulate the qi throughout the body-mind.
Moderate sour foods stimulate the tissues to contract and release toxins, which stimulate Gall Bladder to excrete bile to help breakdown fat; for example, dark leafy greens.
Every morning drink 2 cups of warm water with freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. This is a great way to activate the liver and digestion. Helpful teas include dandelion root tea, hibiscus, nettle, and milk thistle.
Eat a little more raw food (for example, broccoli sprouts and microgreens added to cooked foods), a raw beet salad once per week, and artichoke hummus (see below).
Cook food for a shorter time at higher temperatures. Focus on steaming, pressure cooking, and sauteing.
Adequate protein intake, green vegetables, and a wide range of good quality food is essential for liver blood nourishment.
When feeling heavy, impatient, and aggressive avoid too much salt, meat, and cheese.
Over-salted and refined foods, refined sugar, deep fried foods, foods altered with GMO’s, pesticides, hormones, too many nuts and seeds, excess vinegar intake, over-consumption of pork and red meat, alcohol, and chemically refined and over-sweetened foods, congest liver function.
And now on to the recipe. . .
Yields 1 1/2 cups
The following spin on my classic chickpea hummus recipe combines liver and gallbladder loving bitter artichoke, parsnip, sesame, garlic, cumin, and lemon or cider vinegar with kidney and spleen supportive sweet potato. The bitter, sweet, sour, pungent, and salty flavours balance taste, satisfaction, and therapeutic effects. I recommend doubling the batch to enjoy throughout the week. Serve with liver supportive steamed and raw vegetables such as beet, asparagus, carrot, and radish.
1 jar whole artichoke hearts (I use Native Forest brand, 5.8 oz, 165g)
1 cup parsnip, peeled and diced
1/2 cup sweet potato (yellow flesh), peeled and chopped
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 - 2 garlic cloves, minced
½ - 1 teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt, to taste
1. Peel, chop, and steam the parsnip and sweet potato until soft.
2. Drain and rinse the artichoke hearts.
3. Place the vegetables and remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
4. Serve with steamed or raw vegetables.
I hope my post has given you insight today. If you’re interested in nutrition and acupuncture I’d be happy to guide you along. Please visit www.vcaspa.com to book online or call 250-590-4341. To learn more about my acupuncture practice, follow @hayley_stobbs on Instagram.
Wishing you love & vitality,
Hayley Stobbs R.Ac.