In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and many other ancient traditions, food can be either warming, cooling, or neutral. It is often quite instinctive- foods such as cucumber, mint, and watermelon are very cooling. Foods such as ginger, garlic, and cayenne are very warming. In addition, the physical temperature or rawness of your food will make it warmer or cooler. Depending on your constitution, it will be better for you to consume hot, cold, or neutral foods. As a general rule, though, in the cold winter you should consume more warming foods.
However, the rich foods that fill our holidays need some cooling foods to balance their heaviness. We need some yin to balance the yang. If you have ever craved a salad after ingesting massive amounts of meat/chocolate/sweets/cheese, then you have proved this need for balance to yourself. In balance, there is health. Thus, salads can be very refreshing this time of year.
So if you make a salad with warming foods, then you can get the cooling quality of a fresh salad balanced with some warmth. The tricky part is that it is sometimes difficult to warm up (both in temperature and thermal nature of the contents) fresh salads. You can use roasted vegetables, you can add a dressing using warming herbs and spices, you can heat the salad, or you could compose the salad of warming foods. The following salad was inspired by the beautiful blackberries gracing our markets at the moment. I wanted to keep them fresh, yet have the salad be overall warming. Blackberries are not only one of the few warming fruits in TCM, but they are packed with fibre, potent antioxidants, and many nutrients. Oh, and they're super delicious.
As for the other ingredients, the mustard greens and rapini are both warming since they are spicy greens. Red pepper is cooling but more warming than green pepper, and quinoa is a warming grain. If you find this salad too cooling, just toss the ingredients atop the fish at the end of its time in the pan to steam the vegetables, as well.
If you would like more resources for the thermal nature of foods, see this website: http://www.leshiatsu.com/ORG_EN_index.htm, and an excellent book is Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford.
Sweet and Spicy Blackberry Salad
Two servings. (P.S. I don't really measure things, so my recipes will be more like guidelines.)
- 2 fillets of fish, probably one of the milder ones such as tilapia.
- Rapini, mustard greens, rapini, red peppers, quinoa.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), soy sauce, cumin, salt and pepper.
Place fillets in pan and add 1/4 cup ACV and a few splashes of soy sauce. Sprinkle cumin and cracked black pepper stop the fillets and turn heat to medium. Steam for approximately 10 minutes or until cooked (the thickness of the fillet will change the cooking time). Add more ACV if necessary (pan dried up). Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- 1/4c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/4c. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- 1/8c. Maple syrup
- Cracked black pepper
Lay out a few fronds of mustard greens on each plate. Slice up rapini and disperse between the plates. Add quinoa, sliced red pepper and blackberries to your heart's content. Drizzle with the above dressing and to really warm it up, coat in more black pepper!