Spring is here with the energy of upwards and outwards. New shoots pushing up through soi, moving around any object, irrepressible and unstoppable. That’s the energy we have here. Time to wake up and move, find the flexibility and feel the surge of sap rising. However sometimes after a long, cold dark winter we can need a kick start. So often we plump for a spring clean for the body, its detox time. The Liver and Gall Bladder are the organs of spring and what can overload them is saturated fats and oils so try a simple detox for a couple of weeks and cut out saturated/hydrogenated fats and oils, which includes dairy product and anything that has dairy in it like chocolate. Here’s a few recipes to help create food that is good for you but isn’t harsh or hard for the body. I think the idea with a detox is to love the body back into wellness not to beat it into submission.

Dahl Bhat

Every dahl is different but they are the mainstay food of Nepal and whilst trekking there I ate it every day. Every house had its own recipe but the general principle remained the same, rice and lentils were cheap so you could eat as much of those as you liked but the vegetables were usually expensive so these were heavily spiced so you didn’t or wouldn’t need so much of these. Here I have changed the spices for a softer option of salt but really combining pulses, rice and vegetables gives you complete proteins and a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals for the body.

  • 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 cm cube of fresh root ginger
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 250g uncooked red lentils
  • 200g pre cooked and rinsed puy lentils
  • 2 litres vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy based saucepan heat the oil and begin to soften the onions. I usually keep the lid on to make as much juice as possible so that I need as little oil as possible. Make sure the heat isn’t too high. As the onions become translucent yellow, add the sliced garlic and ginger. Fry for a further few minutes then add all the spices including the bayleaf, cinnamon and cardamom. Keep stirring at this point making sure they don’t burn and stick, what you want is a delicious aroma as the spices are brought to life, which will take a couple of minutes. Toss the red lentils in at this point and coat them in the juicy spices. Add the stock, bring to the boil then simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir fairly regularly so that the lentils don’t stick to the bottom. Also lentils can absorb a lot of water so you may need to add more. They will break up and the consistency should be of thick soup. Just before the end, tip in the puy lentils. These keep the shape and texture, adding an appetizing appearance to the dahl.

Steamed Greens with Gomasio

It is very important at this time of year to keep up the chlorophyll intake. This boosts the Gall Bladder into producing bile which helps the liver breakdown fats and rid the body of unwanted waste materials. Another benefit of chlorophyll is to act as the sunshine vitamin D, absolutely essential for calcium/magnesium balance and absorption, a topic which I discuss further on my blog – www.joannefaulkner.ie

  • Kale,brococoli/Brussel Sprouts/Cabbage. Spinach and Chard because of their high oxalic acid can inhibit calcium but they are still great for chlorophyll
  • 3 tablespoons of Sesame Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of Sea Salt

Choose as much and as many from the above greens as you like. Steam them for 5-10 minutes depending on required texture for veg type chosen. Dry roast the sesame seeds in a heavy based pan for a couple of minutes until they have a nutty aroma and are turning a golden brown. Pour into a pestle and mortar and grind with the salt until most of the seeds are crushed. It doesn’t have to be ground to a powder, varying textures improve the experience. This condiment is great over any dish but especially greens as it reduces salt intake without impairing flavour.

Sour flavours help cut through a stagnant liver. The lime juice in the following recipe will has that effect. Apples help to break down any build ups in the body especially in the Gall Bladder so the two together are a double whammy.

Spicey Apple Salad

  • 4/5 tart and crisp green apples
  • ½ head of Chinese Leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
  • 4/5 red onions
  • 2 green chillies
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 inch cube of root ginger
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt and black pepper

Core and finely slice the apples and Chinese leaf, toss them in the lime juice to prevent them browning. Meanwhile slice the onion and fry to soften in the oil. When they are beginning to become transparent, add the deseeded chillies, grated ginger and turmeric and fry for a further couple of minutes on a medium heat. Toss the contents of the frying pan the salad ingredients, mixing well adding salt and pepper to taste.