According to Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, seasonal eating is not only intuitive, but essential for maintaining a state of vitality and balance in the body. When combined with attention to your own constitution (Dosha) and any imbalances (Vikriti) that may be present, food and herbs are tools for feeling your best throughout every season.
Spring is a Kapha time of year, meaning it is made of the elements earth and water. The qualities of kapha are immobile, sticky, cool, and damp, making the time ripe for introducing mobile and dry aspects into your life to avoid getting “stuck in the mud.” As the heaviness of winter slips away, you may notice your body naturally craving lighter foods. The spring season begs us to please our palates with edibles that are lower in fat, cleansing, and naturally detoxifying. Luckily, many of these foods are seasonally abundant when foraging, in our own gardens, and at local farmers markets.
‘Tis the season to reduce the heavy and oily foods we enjoyed in the winter and seek nourishment that is light and drier, yet still warming. It is recommended to favor foods that are bitter, pungent, or astringent in taste. Tasting food and herbs is essential for communicating what healing actions these edibles may bring about within our bodies. Each flavor has important properties to consider.
Bitter taste is believed to be detoxifying (promotes digestion of toxins) and antibacterial, while also igniting digestive fire. Examples of seasonal bitter vegetables include arugula, cabbage, broccoli, dandelion greens, fiddleheads, and asparagus.
Astringent tastes are helpful for drying up secretions in the body due to contraction of tissues (just imagine eating something that makes your mouth pucker!). Pomegranate is a wonderful example of an astringent fruit, although not exactly a seasonal option. Berries and cherries are seasonal for us in the south and are considered astringent fruits as well.
Pungent taste is important for enhancing digestion, fueling appetite, and as a diaphoretic and expectorant. Pungent tastes are typically provided through a variety of herbs and spices including black pepper, basil, cardamom, eucalyptus, ginger, lemon, rosemary, sage, spearmint, thyme, and turmeric.
Other foods to favor during the spring are dry grains (such as barley, buckwheat, corn, and millet), leaner proteins (beans, lentils, egg whites, white meat), and raw, local honey used sparingly to sweeten foods (it is not recommended to bake with honey according to Ayurveda).
Seasonal eating encourages us to follow our body’s own natural intelligence. It is recommended to eat mindfully by paying attention to balance with all spring tastes when making food choices. For example, while foods that taste astringent are recommended, if eaten in excess they may leave your body feeling stiff, constipated, and dehydrated, especially if you are prone to these conditions.
Seasonal Meal Ideas:
– Fiddleheads sautéed with pungent herbs and a small amount of ghee (clarified butter)
– Dandelion green pesto
– Berry Ginger Jam made with chia seeds and honey
– Eggs scrambled with chopped broccoli and thyme
– Buckwheat cereal cooked with fresh berries
– Creamy asparagus and bean soup with fresh pungent herbs