Off your mat and into the yard, garden and forest!
Spring is full on here in the Pacific Northwest. I love it. Out my window, I’m enjoying the lovely blossoms on all the fruit trees, and in the yard, garden and forest, a feast awaits. I'm not talking about the lettuce plants, although they are growing nicely. I’m talking about the wild and weedy edibles that Nature has provided for my spring feasting.
Eat from your ecosystem!
The deeper I go into yoga and Ayurveda, the more keenly primed I am to align my body with the rhythms of nature. In the spring, our bodies sense the seasonal change and there is a natural urge to make a clean, fresh start. Our physiology is primed for lightening up and clearing winter stagnation. I feel the desire to hit the reset button and detox my body, and the forest, yards and garden are full of nutrient dense greens to support this process.
Most of what nature has to offer in the greens department right now have flavors that are BITTER, ASTRINGENT and PUNGENT flavors found in plant foods that are anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and generally detoxifying. Some of these flavors may be strong or unfamiliar to you, and I give you the challenge to "wild your palate", that is, to get curious about the flavors of the wild edibles in your ecosystem.
Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been eating lately:
Dandelions, the new Kale
My best Spring Smoothie with Dandelion and Sorrel
This combination of fruit, slightly bitter greens, pungent ginger and astringent turmeric is a sure way to burn away stagnation and energize you in the morning.
Ward away spring allergies with Stinging Nettles
Stinging nettles are a super food and super supplement. They are used to treat prostate issues, hay fever, joint pain, eczema, reducing bleeding and helping mothers produce more milk. Many folks may be familiar with nettles taken in capsule or tea form, but the fresh leaves can be steamed or sauteed and enjoyed like spinach. I find nettles along the roads next to the forests. If you go out to pick nettle, care must be taken. Wear gloves, long pants and long sleeved shirts. Use scissors to pick the nettles. Once you get them home, lightly steam them in a steamer to rid them of their stingers. Once you have a pot of steamed nettles, you can make all sorts of delicious recipes.
Here is a delicious alternative to Potato Leek Soup, I used Jamie Oliver's River Cottage Nettle Soup Recipe. If you don't eat potatoes, substitute cauliflower. Click here to get the recipe.
We have a patch of garlic that regrows each year in part because we are too lazy to fully harvest the bulbs. In the spring our laziness pays off, and nature rewards us with delicious green garlic stems, similar in flavor to garlic chives. I like to use these in place of scallions or garlic in any recipe. The flavor is definitely garlicky, but more mild than garlic cloves.
Green Garlic-Nettle Walnut Pesto
If you are like me, you know you can make pesto out of anything green! Green garlic pesto is a total treat. If you have nettles on hand, throw them in. Throw in any other edible greens or fresh herbs you have in the garden.
Here is my latest spring pesto:
Annie Barrett. Educator, certified health coach yoga instructor.