Spring Tonic Soup with Wild Greens

Spring Tonic Soup from Healthy Green Kitchen

Spring Tonic Soup from Healthy Green Kitchen

Last Sunday, I went to the first in a series of classes I am taking on identifying and using edible wild plants. It was fantastic- so fun to be outside on a lovely day, refreshing my memory about some plants that I am already familiar with, but learning many new things, as well.

Do you know about Stinging Nettle?

Nettles from Healthy Green Kitchen

My friend Halyna, the teacher of my wild plants class, grows a ton of it. I am going to follow her lead and plant a big patch because while it does grow wild, I have never found any on my property (though I am going to keep looking). Nettle is an incredible plant, rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Nettle is particularly high in calcium, magnesium, chromium, and chlorophyll, and herbalist Susun Weed refers to nettle leaves and stalks as an “everyday nourisher”. Nettle is a notable ally to the kidneys, the digestive system, the respiratory system, and women’s reproductive health. It’s also amazing for the skin and for the hair.

Since it’s covered in prickly hairs that sting due to the presence of formic acid (hence the name: Stinging Nettle), you should always wear protective clothing and gloves when you harvest nettle. Once dried or cooked, nettle no longer stings.

I took home a bunch of nettle from Halyna’s house and decided to cook up a spring tonic soup after tasting the amazing one she had made and served to our class. I added dandelion greens that I plucked from my yard (these are also extremely nutritious: they’re high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium), as well as some ramps I bought at the Farmer’s Market. This soup is flexible: if you don’t have access to wild greens, use kale, spinach or another green instead. And if you have access to additional wild greens, like yellow dock, feel free to toss some in.

This is a perfect introduction to wild foods if you are not familiar with them: the greens are not at all bitter when prepared this way so the whole family can enjoy this soup. Feel free to sub in carrots and a different squash (or sweet/red/white potatoes) for the turnips and kabocha squash, if you like.

I ate this soup with my favorite multi-grain bread, slathered with goat cheese and topped with wild violets. Yup, you can eat violets, too: if you’ve got lots of them popping up on your lawn, you can give this recipe for violet jelly a try.

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Spring Eating Tips Inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine

Today it is my great pleasure to introduce you to my friend Kristin Misik. Kristin is an acupuncturist, herbalist and life coach in New York City. We go to the same CrossFit gym, and we share a passion for eating whole, locally sourced foods and living a sustainable lifestyle.

When we were talking about what sort of guest post she might want to do, Kristin suggested writing up some tips for how best to eat in the spring according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Since we do seem to be done with the very cold weather, I really loved this idea. So take it away, Kristin!

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a fundamental way to prevent illness and imbalance is to live in harmony with your environment. Depending on your locale, you may not yet see the evidence of new life bursting forth, but there is a distinct shift in our body’s energy as the hours of daylight increase and the earth starts leaning a little further south.

According to TCM, spring is the season of the liver and the gallbladder. These organs are in charge of regulating a smooth and soothing flow of energy throughout the whole person (body and mind). Unfortunately, they’re prone to congestion (aka “stagnation”) because most people take in too many poor quality fats and denatured foods, chemicals, medications, and intoxicants.

What happens when liver or gallbladder energy isn’t flowing properly? We can experience anger and irritability (and for women: PMS), depression, insomnia, and an inability to lead or make decisions. We are also more susceptible to problems like muscle pulls and strains, joint pains, and headaches when the liver and gallbladder are out of balance. The good news is there are many ways to alter your dietary and food preparation habits in order to prevent a major liver and gallbladder meltdown.

Springtime is the best time to start integrating the following changes, especially if you are a seasonal allergy sufferer:

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Violet Jelly

violet jelly recipe

I go weak in the knees for recipes made with edible flowers… …so when violets started popping up across my yard recently, I immediately set about gathering as many as possible. I’ve had my eye on a violet syrup recipe in Healing Wise for years, but it calls for 1/2 pound of violets. If you’ve … Read more

Very Fond of Crespéou

recipe for crespeou

One of the best things to come of blogging for me has been the beautiful cookbooks I occasionally receive to review from Ten Speed Press. What a wonderful surprise to open my beat up mailbox and find a bulging brown envelope inside…an envelope filled with a cookbook that wasn’t necessarily on my radar…a cookbook I … Read more

Dried Apricot and Chile Jam

I have been sick as a dog this past week. {What’s up with that expression, by the way? My dog is perfectly healthy.} The kind of sick where you cannot breathe without all sorts of nasty gurgling in your nose. The kind of sick where your abs are ridiculously sore from all the coughing. The … Read more