Add Some “Sour” to Your Spring Cooking

Are you a pickle lover? Do you gravitate toward vinegar and lemon-based dressings? You’re heralding the Liver—lover of all things green, sour, and pickled. Sour is the taste associated with the Wood element, which is predominant in Spring, according to TCM’s Five Element framework. This unique framework places all phenomena into five essential patterns. Items in each element, such as taste, color, emotion, and internal organs, for example, resonate with all the others in that element and therefore can help nourish and balance them.

Take sour foods, for instance: a sour taste vibrates at the same energy frequency as the Liver and can, therefore, help it function at an optimal level. So “hot and sour” or “sweet and sour” recipes are especially beneficial for healthy Liver function. Spring is the best time to tune up the Liver, so try these two recipes that combine hot, sweet, and sour elements. Healthy Hot and Sour Soup and String Bean and Ginger Toss.

Then give these other Liver-friendly foods a try: pickles, bamboo shoots, eggplant, lemon, vinegar, bee pollen, fennel, lotus, broccoli rabe, garlic, safflower oil, dandelion greens, ginger, and scallions. These foods have been chosen for their healing essence. Each has the “wisdom” to support the body as it reawakens its healing abilities.


Spinach and Chickpea Saute

This dish is delicious and super simple: just 10 minutes from start to finish, and it’s healthy in so many ways. Chickpeas support the Large Intestine, Heart, and Spleen function. Spinach and garlic benefit the Liver. Lemon and mint give this dish a fresh twist and also support your Liver, making it the perfect side dish for spring or summer.


1 Tablespoon of olive oil
 4 cloves of garlic, minced
 Pinch of salt
 8 ounces of canned chickpeas, drained
 1 bunch of fresh spinach, chopped
 Juice from a ½ fresh lemon
 8 fresh mint leaves, chopped


Warm a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt.
When the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes, add the chick peas and cook for about five minutes. Then add the fresh spinach. Mix carefully by spooning the hot chick peas on top of the spinach, until the spinach is wilted and cooks down, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the spinach and top with the freshly chopped mint. Serve warm.