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Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Tag: seasonal recipe

Spring Miso Soup

Katie Gordon

Hi All!  It's been SO long since I've posted that I don't even know how to catch you up.  So let's just skip that for now so that I can share with you this awesome miso soup recipe that my amazing roommate and I made tonight.  The original inspiration for this recipe came from my mentor and friend, Nicole. As most of you know, I've been studying Chinese medicine in conjunction with Shiatsu Anma massage for awhile now and I've been getting into macrobiotics/eating and getting in tune with the seasons.  When I stick to it, I've noticed I feel much more grounded and at home in my mind and body.  Now that it's finally feeling like spring here in New England, it seems like a good time to start talking about Spring in terms of TCM.  Just in time for Summer to roll around...

Spring is the time for us to renew our relationship with our liver, which has been working extra hard all winter to digest the fats and heavy foods that have been sustaining us for the last few months.  Energetically, the liver is responsible for establishing a smooth flow of energy through the body and mind.  For these reason, Spring is also a great time to cleanse the liver, but more on that later.  Here are some basic guidelines for spring food:

- Eat light(ly)!  Not just less, but light foods.  Think organic greens, sprouts, lots of fresh veggies (of which there will be lots in the farmers' markets now), and grains. - Simple food preparation.  Steaming and sauteeing are quick and easy ways to cook most of those fresh veggies you just picked up. - Incorporate sweet and pungent flavors to move stagnation and get your chi (or qi if you prefer) moving. - Limit intake of salty foods.  Salt as a flavor has a sinking and contracting energy, which is the opposite of what we want to do in the spring.  Side note: I know miso is salty, but it's an exception because it's awesome and good for your liver.

Keep in mind for this recipe that it's soup, so feel free to vary any amounts (I didn't measure exactly) or add in/leave out whatever you're feelin' or not.

Also, mushrooms are a superfood.  Fact.

Spring Miso Soup:

8 c. water 2-3 c. chopped and whole fresh mushrooms (I used shiitake and cremini mushrooms, chopping up some and leaving some of the shiitake whole to make things interesting) 2-3 green onions, chopped 5-6 Tbsp. red miso* pre-cooked barley** handful of dandelion greens, chopped

Clean your mushrooms, chopping up some or all, and put them in a bit pot with the water, heat to a boil, turn to a simmer, and let them simmer away for an hour or so.  You don't have to do it this long, but it makes a richer mushroom broth and also extracts more of the nutrients in the mushrooms.

Now that you have your mushroom broth, throw in the chopped green onions to simmer for a few minutes.  In a small bowl, mix your miso and some warm water until the miso is completely blended, thinning out the mixture as needed, and add it to the mushroom broth.

Add in your barley and your greens.  Honestly, I didn't measure the barley at all, so just put in however much you think looks good, let it heat, and you're all set!

Notes: *I used red miso, though you can use any kind.  Red and yellow are both great for your liver, and have a bit more flavor in my opinion.  You can even use both.  Feel free to experiment and see what you like. **To make the barley, I put 1 c. pearled barley in a pot with 3 c. water, brought it to a boil, then let it simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.  The package said it would take over an hour, but it definitely didn't, so just keep an eye on it.

Serves 6 or so.

the yang within the yin

Katie Gordon

Welcome to the first Saffron Zen post of 2011!  I know it's about time.  As winter progressed and we approached the New Year, I could sense myself contracting, like I was going into hibernation mode.  According to Chinese Medicine, that's what is supposed to happen during the winter season.  Winter corresponds to the element of water and the kidneys, bladder and adrenal glands.  Winter is the time to store our energy, nourish our bodies, minds, and souls. The kidneys are where our chi, our energy, is stored to be used in times of stress, illness, and as we age.  They can be thought of like a seed which stores so much potential energy for the life that will one day spring forth from it.  Stress is the main source of kidney chi deficiency.  As our chi is depleted, our adrenals get burnt out trying to keep up with us in the non-stop pace we set for ourselves, especially during the holidays.  In times of stress, it's important to take time out to also relax, restore, and rejuvenate.  Most importantly, winter is the time of year when we need to sleep!  Remember that thing we're supposed to get 8 hours of per night?  Shoot for 9 hours instead.

However, TCM theory also says that in the dead of winter appears yang, the sun energy, light.  Since the New Year, I've noticed a pretty major, though subtle, energetic shift.  I've been wanting to go out more, socialize, see and be seen.  It almost feels like a blossoming, an opening of my spirit.  It's the yang within the yin.

So although we're oh-so-gradually heading into the yang time of year, and even though it was 70 degrees and sunny today in So Cal (sorry for those of you in New England where it just snowed 2 feet in a day),  it's still January, and we still need to be nourishing our kidney chi by resting, relaxing, and enjoying warm soups, hearty whole grains, and lots of ginger tea.  That was a really long sentence.  At any rate, here's a recipe for miso soup that should not only warm you up in no time, but also is an amazing cure for the cold that everyone seems to be catching right now.

Miso Soup adapted from 101 cookbooks

3 oz. dried soba noodles 4 c. water 2-4 Tbsp. miso paste (I used white, but experiment with other kinds) Handful of spinach, or other leafy greens 2 green onions, tops removed, thinly sliced Pinch of red pepper flakes

Cook the noodles and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Pour some of the hot water into a bowl and whisk in the miso paste to thin it out.  Add the thinned miso paste back into the sauce pan.  Taste, and then add more if you like, using the same method as before.

Keep the noodles separate until just before you serve the soup, otherwise they can get mushy.  Just before serving, divide the noodles between two or three bowls, add the greens, onions, and red pepper flakes, and pour the broth over them.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Note: You can also add mushrooms (I like shiitake mushrooms, plus they're great for the adrenal glands), tofu, cilantro, ginger, etc.  It's fun to play around with miso soups, trying all kinds of variations depending on your mood.