Spring Cleaning for Your Body

Fit Yoga, March 2006

A time characterized by birth, renewal, and energy, spring is possibly my favorite season. Seeing the way rain enlivens the world after months of dormancy is absolutely awe-inspiring. Days become longer and the sunshine warmer; birds begin to sing and buds prepare to blossom. In sync with spring’s revival, our bodies also shift into a higher gear, letting us experience a welcome surge of energy. Almost instinctively, we clean out our closets and throw open the windows to let in fresh air. But why limit spring cleaning to just our homes? Our bodies need it as well.

Though we may not give it much thought, we often accumulate toxins in our bodies during the wintertime. Because we spend long hours indoors, we breathe less fresh air, we don’t exercise as much, and we’re generally not as active—after all, who wants to go jogging in a blizzard when the couch looks so cozy and inviting? But following months of shorter, darker days and heavier foods, the surging energy of spring brings cravings for freshness, cleansing, and rejuvenation.

From March to May is the body’s natural time for cleansing and detoxification. A spring detox, in fact, revives your energy, brightens your complexion, and strengthens your immune system while helping you drop excess winter weight and eliminate toxins.

As usual, Mother Nature provides exactly what we need. Asparagus and baby vegetables like carrots, beets, green beans, and new potatoes pour into the markets. Purifying herbs, such as parsley and basil, are once again fresh and local. Such lively, colorful produce is concentrated with nutrition and vitality—perfect for making potent detox juices and quick, cleansing broths.

During the springtime, it’s also good to give your body a break by eating less. You may even wish to do a partial fast. Avoid heavy, rich foods that are hard to digest. Focus mainly on warm, light foods that counter the damp coolness of the spring season. Cook with spices like coriander, fennel, cumin, and turmeric to enhance digestion and brighten your skin. Instead of drinking coffee, warm up with cleansing teas, such as ginger or clove. Include lots of wholesome spring veggies in your diet and let them do what they do best: stimulate the kidneys, liver, and digestive tract to release long-stored toxins. Take spring cleaning to the hilt and let it rejuvenate your entire body.

Soup Recipe

Spring Detox Soup

Fresh and enlivening, you can taste this soup cleansing and restoring your body from the inside out. Let the powers of parsley and asparagus cleanse your kidneys and urinary tract while the beet purifies and strengthens your blood. Renew your energy with fresh ginger and discover the cleansing, health-protecting benefits of flavorful, protein-rich miso. In Japanese culture, miso has long been treasured for reducing the harmful effects of environmental toxins like radiation, pesticides, cigarette smoke, and air pollution. Miso also helps the body eliminate long-stored toxins, promoting a revival of health and energy.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 8-10 pearl onions, peeled and trimmed
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup peeled, chopped beet
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus (woody bases removed, tips left whole)
  • 3 tablespoons miso of choice
  • ¼ cup minced Italian parsley
  • Salt to taste

Procedure

  1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to brown. Add the celery and sauté for another minute.
  2. Add the water, beet, carrot, and ginger and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Ladle 1/3 cup of the broth into a small cup and combine with the miso until smooth. Add this to the soup and stir through. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Tips/Variations

Baby vegetable tip: Use baby beets and baby carrots as well as pearl onions to ensure you get the year’s first fresh harvest. To enhance the cleansing action: Add a couple handfuls of baby arugula, a splash of apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh chili.

  • Hands-on prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Makes about 4 cups

Juice Recipe

Sunny Energizer

Bursting with vital nutrients like beta-carotene, essential fatty acids, chlorophyll, and silicon, this delicious cleansing juice is a wonderful health tonic.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sunflower sprouts
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pinch ground cumin

Procedure

Roughly chop your veggies into pieces small enough to fit through the juicer hopper. Beginning with the sprouts, juice the first 4 ingredients, stir in the cumin, and serve. Makes about 1½ cups.

Boost

Juice with 1-inch piece ginger, then stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and a pinch of cayenne.

Benefits

These combined ingredients help cleanse and soothe the gastrointestinal tract. This juice also has a diuretic action, promoting the elimination of wastes from the kidneys. Sunflower sprouts promote fat metabolism and nourish the adrenal glands to sustain your energy. Rich in silicon, this recipe strengthens and tones all body tissues, including skin, arteries, and muscles.

Wai Lana hosts the long-running TV series Wai Lana Yoga, which airs nationally on PBS and the Wisdom channel. She is the author of Wai Lana’s Favorite Juices and the upcoming Wai Lana’s Favorite Soups.

For more information, please visit www.wailana.com.

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