Universally spring signifies rebirth and renewal and it is traditionally a time for cleansing. Some Chinese doctors recommend a 3-day fast, consuming only fruit and vegetable juices. According to the Five- Element theory in Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is associated with the Wood element which governs the liver and gall bladder and it is an important organ to cleanse after eating the heavy stews, soups and sumptuous foods of winter. Some extremists recommend a raw diet to completely cleanse out the system or a week-long dose of raw onions and garlic which rids the body of any parasites. (YIKES!) I prefer a more moderate approach and nutritionist Paul Pitchman agrees. “Most people do well eating a little raw food daily, with greater amounts in the spring and summer diets.” he says in his master work “Healing with Whole Foods: Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition” (North Atlantic Press, 1993) . “Nevertheless, there are limitations. Uncooked foods taken in excess can weaken digestion and trigger excessive cleansing reactions. These dishes should not be consumed at all especially if there is bowel inflammation. “
Choose seasonal foods that are lighter like young plants such as greens, sprouts, and lighter grains, legumes, and seeds. Salty foods such as excessive soy sauce, miso, and sodium-rich meats all have a strong component of sinking energy which is not good for the liver and heavy meats can clog it. Pungent herbs such as peppermint, basil, fennel and dill, cilantro and parsleys are fresh and cleansing. Young beets, carrots, and other vegetables from the spring garden provide a refreshing “sweet” flavor that tones the liver and gall bladder. Beans such as lentils, kidney beans, and green peas are recommended with bean sprouts, celery, salad and leafy cooking greens, broccoli, green beans, and all types of citrus fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water flavored with fresh lemon wedges to help cleanse the liver.
Wilted Spinach and Scallop Salad with Toasted Sesame Seeds (pictured above and see the recipe below) is a perfect light meal for this season.
The following recipes on this website that are also excellent for this time of year are:
Spicy Shrimp Cocktail
Vegetable Sticks with Peanut Dip
Pan-Roasted salmon with Minty Snap Peas
Ginger Honey Glazed Salmon
Grilled Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa
Grilled Scallops with and Rainbow Peppers Over Wilted Salad Greens in a Fresh Cilantro Dressing
Stir-Fried Chicken with Basil
Spicy Stir-Fried Chicken with Vegetables
Tandoori Chicken Roll-Ups
Asian Hot and Sour Slaw
Roasted Beets with Ginger and Balsamic Vinegar
Herbal Salad with Roasted Chicken Pears, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese
Shrimp Veggie Fried Rice
Tofu Noodle Salad with a Spicy Tahini Dressing
Orange Slices with Cinnamon, Brown Sugar and Candied Ginger
Poached Pears in a in a Cinnamon-Ginger Syrup
Wilted Spinach and Scallop Salad with Toasted Sesame Seeds
1 pound large sea scallops, muscles removed and rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 1/2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 pound baby spinach (see Note), rinsed and drained
2 roasted red peppers, blotted dry (or use roasted peppers from a jar), cut into 1/4-inch dice
Spinach Dressing (combine in a small bowl)
1/2 cup light soy sauce
5 tablespoons clear rice vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted in a nonstick pan until golden brown (optional)
1. Holding a knife horizontal to the cutting board, slice the scallops horizontally in half. Place in a bowl, add the rice wine and ginger, and toss lightly. Let sit briefly.
2. Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil and heat until very hot, but not smoking. Drain the scallops and add to the pan. (If too many, fry in two batches.) Pan-fry over high heat for about 3 minutes on each side, until the scallops are golden and cooked through. Remove with a large slotted spoon or strainer.
3. Place the spinach in a salad or deep serving bowl. Arrange the cooked scallops evenly over the spinach.
4. Wipe out the pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and heat until hot. Add the red peppers and stir-fry lightly over high heat, about 30 seconds. Add the Spinach Dressing and stir-fry until just under a boil. Pour the hot dressing over the spinach and scallops and sprinkle the top with the toasted sesame seeds, if using. Serve immediately, tossing lightly before eating.
© Copyright Nina Simonds 2014.