Lucia here: today’s post is co-written by my good friend Amy K, a practicing acupuncturist who is very knowledgeable in traditional Chinese medicine. I’ve learned a lot from her and we have a three-part series of posts we’ve written together to welcome springtime!
As the days get a little longer and the sun shines a bit brighter, signs of spring are popping up all around us (well, aside from that pesky snowstorm the other day). Little green shoots of plant-life are peeking up and out from the earth, awakening from their long winter slumber, and starting to stretch their leaves to the sky.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), springtime is ruled by the wood element. (What are the five elements? Find out here!)
Think of the wood element as new signs of life. The energy of the world is rising up and out, ready for a fresh start – a rebirth if you will. This energy is reflected in all of us this time of year – that undeniable urge to go outside and get your hands dirty in the garden, start a new project, or get the dust-rag out for some spring-cleaning.
While all that rising energy is great when you have a to-do list the length of your arm, it can sometimes rise too quickly and lead to trouble. Typical signs of an over controlling wood element are:
- perpetual irritability or anger
- red, painful eyes
On the other hand, if the wood element in a person isn’t strong enough, they might exhibit any of these signs:
- mild dizziness
- blurred vision
- muscle twitches
- light menstrual flow
The wood element is energetically related to the liver. The liver not only rids our body of toxins we ingest and inhale, but according to TCM, the liver also does the heavy lifting of detoxifying our emotions–what a powerhouse! Wanna know one of my favorite ways to balance the wood element and give my liver the help it so truly deserves?
All foods have different energetic properties that help categorize them into one of the five elements. Have you ever noticed the beautiful pattern of rings in a cut beet? The similarities between the cross-sections of beets and tree trunks are astonishing. Beets are practically shouting their association with the wood element from the rooftop!
To help keep your wood element in balance this spring, Lucia and I will be sharing with you three delicious and nutritious recipes over the next few weeks using the grandmother of all wood element foods: the mighty beet.
Beet Carpaccio with Grapefruit Vinaigrette
1 medium beet
2-3 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1 tablespoon green onions
freshly cracked black or white pepper
After washing and peeling your beet, use a mandoline to very, very thinly slice the beet into delicate wafers. Set aside slices. Now, cut both ends off the grapefruit and sit the grapefruit upright. Using your knife, cut away all the rind and white pith. With care, you will now supreme the grapefruit, cutting along the side of each segment until all have been released from the core. Squeeze the remaining grapefruit innards into a bowl–this will be for your vinaigrette. On a large plate, begin arranging your beet slices, topping with the grapefruit segments. Drop dollops of the goat cheese on top, drizzle the vinaigrette (see below) and scissor or chop some fresh dill tops and green onions over as well. Finish with a crack or two of fresh black pepper.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh dill, roughly chopped
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed (this will depend on the sweetness and acidity of your grapefruit).