The Blog of Minnesota Community Acupuncture

Embracing the Jade Turnip: Easing Your Body’s Transition from Winter to Spring

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In Minnesota, it’s a given that the winter is going to be cold and harsh.  We all look forward to the spring, to the thaw, to the season that is a symbol of regeneration.  We may think that we need to do more to protect our body in the winter than in the spring, but this isn’t necessarily true.

Chinese medicine and food therapy teach us that in each season it is important to pay attention to the changing needs of your body.  In the winter we should rest, stay warm, and eat foods that nourish our kidneys.  We should conserve our energy for the coming year.   As we move into spring, we should become more active and focus on balancing the liver and gallbladder.  What does this mean exactly?  Chinese food therapy tells us that the liver and gallbladder respond best to foods that are sour in flavor, slightly warm, and help to ascend the Yang.  Yang is the natural energy trying to rise in your body as we exit the winter season – imagine this as a flower trying to sprout out of the ground as it begins to thaw.  If we ignore the needs of our body during this seasonal transition we can aggravate a myriad of liver and gallbladder pathologies leading to worsened:  allergies, eye symptoms, sleep disturbances, irritability and more.

Luckily, getting regular acupuncture and eating the proper quality foods can help alleviate these symptoms and bring balance back to our bodies.  One such food is Kohlrabi, or as it is known in some parts of China, the “Jade Turnip,” on account of its luminous green flesh.  Keep in mind this is the time of year when cooking with green foods is most beneficial, so it is a fine time to make:

Kohlrabi Salad with Sesame Oil


1 kohlrabi (about 14oz/400g)

1 ¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp finely sliced spring onion greens

Ingredients for the Sauce:

1 tsp light soy sauce

1 tsp chopped garlic

1 tsp Chinkiang vinegar

¼ tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame oil


Peel the kohlrabi and cut it into very thin slices.  Cut the slices into very thin slivers.  Place in a bowl, add the salt, and mix well, scrunching with your hand to squeeze the salt into the kohlrabi shreds.  Set aside for at least 10 minutes.

Drain off the water that will have emerged from the kohlrabi and squeeze the slivers as dry as possible.  Add all the sauce ingredients, mix well, then serve with the spring onion greens scattered on top.

This simple recipe helps to nourish the liver and allow liver qi to flow freely by using green vegetables (spring onion and kohlrabi) in combination with the sour flavor (Chinkiang Vinegar).  Yang is gently encouraged to rise through the use of slightly warm ascending foods (garlic and spring onion), and the spleen isn’t forgotten as the tiny amount of sweet sugar gives it fuel to help you digest.  Most important of all, it’s delicious!

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