Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Springtime Detox? Cleanse? Savory Leafy Green Drink

Enter the word "detox" into the Google search engine and 17, 900, 000 hits will appear; "cleanse" generates 15, 900, 000. Ours is a culture of excess which is simultaneously obsessed with detoxing and cleansing. This modern paradox has led to a huge interest in green foods, green drinks and a myriad of costly green supplements.  

When I first began writing about food and health almost three decades ago, the word "kale" was met with puzzlement or revulsion. When asked if they ate greens many people would mention lettuce and spinach. Now at my urban farmer's market, people happily wait in line to buy their weekly organic kale ration. 

The human body is a marvelously efficient regenerating and self cleansing organism. When nourished with appropriate amounts of high quality whole food, the body transforms it into usable nutrients which create energy for daily activity and maintenance of the organ systems.  All this occurs without resulting in "toxicity". 

Detoxing, cleansing and fasting are not emphasized in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); the primary focus is on cultivating a proper lifestyle to keep the body in balance and avoiding any kind of excess-  culinary, emotional or physical.  In each season the diet is adjusted to suit the changing environment; in Spring lighter fare is appropriate in most climates.

TCM discourages over consumption of chilled and raw foods, especially during cooler weather and by individuals who are recovering from illness, who are fatigued or have difficulty staying warm. This green drink has all the healthy attributes of a (mostly) raw green drink but is designed to be lightly heated in order to provide warming energy in addition to its dense nutrients.  Fresh ginger root also increases its warming "qi supportive" qualities.
The recipe components are intentionally minimal to counter our tendency to believe that more is better;  a few kale leaves may be added if desired! The quantity of miso and tahini may be adjusted to your taste.  Use only the lightest of miso pastes; their flavor is mild and less salty.  Yield: One serving.  Preparation time: Less than five minutes.

Savory Leafy Green Drink

1 cup fresh water
2 cups baby arugula and spinach leaves
2 slices fresh ginger root, minced
2 teaspoons white or light miso paste
1 teaspoon raw tahini
1 cup unsweetened almond milk or soy milk 

Place water, greens and ginger root in blender and process until smooth.  Blend in miso and tahini. Add nut milk and blend again. Heat soup very gently in a saucepan until just warmed through; do not simmer. Serve immediately.