Spring has sprung and guided by Ayurveda, we are called to cleanse and comfort the liver. If we think of the body as a corporation, the liver has the very important job of CEO! It is responsible for hundreds of vital functions in the body.
Suffice it to say that the stressors of everyday life, our diets, and factors beyond our control in the environment, put a lot of pressure on the liver to perform.
Just a few of the liver’s functions are to
- Produce bile and albumin and excretes bile
- Filter blood and helps remove bacteria from the bloodstream
- Regulate blood clotting
- Process glucose by removing it from the bloodstream and storing it as glycogen
- Regulate amino acids which are the building blocks of protein
- Metabolize and synthesize cholesterol, hormones, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, plasma
- Store vitamins and minerals.
Sabzi—or sabji—means vegetables, greens, or mixed greens. The bitter taste found in greens is highly effective in the role of assisting the liver with its overwhelming amount of responsibility. Bitter greens that grow in spring are here to ensure that the liver excels in job performance.
Bitter Greens with Brawn
- Swiss chard
- Broccoli rabe
- Turnip greens
- Mustard greens
It is important to keep in mind that the bitter taste is cooling. Therefore, this recipe includes some heating energy (virya) to enkindle and improve digestion and assimilation of nutrients. This is provided by daikon, ginger, turmeric, fennel and cumin. Cilantro brings its chelating nature to the table to cloy toxins from the body and cool the liver. And finally, carrots assist in blood purification and—along with beets—are cholagogue, as they stimulate the release of bile.
RECIPE: Liver Cleansing Sabzi Sauté
Serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish.
1 medium daikon, grated (shaped like a carrot, white color, personality of a radish)
3 medium carrots, grated
2 medium beets, grated (the beet greens can be added to the recipe too!)
1 large bunch chopped bitter greens, such as kale, turnip greens, mustard greens (*broccoli rabe will take longer to cook than leafy greens; if using broccoli rabe, parboil it for 1 minute before adding it to the sauté.)
¾–1 inch minced turmeric root (use 1 tsp. turmeric powder if you can’t find fresh turmeric root)
¾–1 inch minced ginger root
1 Tbsp. toasted cumin seeds
2 tsp. toasted fennel seeds
2 Tbsp. ghee
1/2 tsp. pink salt
1 large bunch chopped cilantro
- Heat one tablespoon ghee in a large sauté pan on low heat.
- On low-medium heat, sauté the ginger and turmeric until soft.
- Add in the cumin and fennel seeds, and sauté until aromatic.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of ghee to the pan and fold in the grated daikon, carrots, and beets.
- Sauté on low-medium heat until soft, about two minutes.
- Fold in the greens and stir well.
- Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and allow the greens to wilt for a couple of minutes until soft and cooked.
- Remove from heat and stir in the salt* and cilantro.
*Optional: Substitute fresh lemon and lime wedges for each person in lieu of salting the vegetables.
GIVE THANKS AND ENJOY.