Spring Cooking: Pucker Up!

Are you a pickle lover? Does a fresh squeeze of lemon awaken your taste buds? 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 Consciousness 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 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, spinach, 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.

Below, you’ll find two tasty recipes to bring lemon into your life: Citrusy Spinach or Dandelion Pesto and Spinach and Chickpea Saute. For an even simpler way to support your Liver, make a tea by adding honey, lemon and fresh ginger slices to boiling water. It’s a delicious way to both start and end your day.

Spinach and Lemon: Two Ways

Citrusy Spinach or Dandelion Pesto

Fool even the pickiest of eaters with this delicious homemade pesto. Bonus points for the chefs among us: this recipe takes a total of 5 minutes to make. And the best part is the fresh burst of lemon! Love your Liver!


1 pound pasta
2 cups fresh baby spinach or dandelion greens
1/4 cup walnuts or pine nuts, toasted
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese (optional)


Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the pesto.

Combine the spinach, toasted walnuts and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until roughly combined.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the olive oil into the mixture while the machine is running, until the pesto comes together and has a creamy consistency.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/3 cup of the salty pasta water. Add the pesto to the pasta noodles and cook over a low simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add pasta water as necessary to thin out the sauce.

Before serving, mix in the Romano cheese. Yum!


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. Spinach and garlic benefit the Liver. Chickpeas support the Large Intestine, Heart, and Spleen function. Lemon and mint give this dish a refreshing 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
½ fresh lemon, juiced (or more!)
 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. Add more lemon if you’d like. After all, sour is the taste of the Liver! Serve warm.

Bring TCM Healing Into Your Life!

Start with Dragon’s Way Qigong: New 6-week session begins April 18 at 8:30 AM EST. Register

Then join our discussion: Why MDs Integrate Chinese Medicine: April 19 7:30 PM EST, Complimentary. Zoom Link