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A Dinner Recipe for Emotional Balance

By Travis Metzger /

A Dinner Recipe for Emotional Balance

The relationship between food and health is a pillar of Chinese Medicine.

The healing properties of food have been well-respected in Chinese theory for thousands of years, and more recently, have been making progress in the West in the form of “superfoods.”

Among the most popular of these superfoods is salmon, and it’s not hard to see why.

Few single foods bring as many valuable contributions to the table as salmon: it’s an excellent source of high-quality protein, contains all nine of the essential amino acids, and is packed with predominantly unsaturated fats.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, salmon supports the spleen and strengthens Qi (energy), which is key to maintaining inner balance and warding off illness.

But how does eating salmon equate to “emotional balance”?

In today’s hustling and bustling world, illness is often brought on by mental and emotional stress. When we’re stressed, we tend to over or under eat, choose foods that aren’t always best for us, and perhaps skip important activities–like exercise and meditation–altogether.

Neglecting your diet or wellness routine (especially in times of stress) is what throws your body out of balance. It can cause your blood sugar levels to drastically rise or fall, which can increase feelings of stress and lethargy.

This is where superfoods (like salmon) come in. By eating the right combinations of nutritious food on a regular basis, you can help regulate your blood sugar, which can greatly affect your mood and revitalize your body.

But like any balanced meal, eating salmon alone isn’t going to cut it.

You need vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds to properly protect your system across all fronts. In this recipe, you’ll find delicate arugula greens for energy, blackened grilled fennel to support the liver and spleen, tart orange peel for circulation, as well as crispy almonds and flax seeds for further spleen support (and texture, of course).

flax-crusted salmon

While enjoyable to eat, the ingredients in this meal (which I cooked for years in my restaurant) are quietly working together to support your liver and spleen, while helping Qi flow freely throughout the body (which is essential for maintaining emotional balance).

What I love most about this meal is not only the layers of delicious flavors, but the sense of balance I feel after eating it, which is what Chinese Medicine is all about: finding balance from within.

I invite you to try this recipe yourself following the directions below—I hope it brings you a feeling of inner and outer calm to carry you through your week.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 oz salmon
  • 1-2 teaspoons flaxseed (whole or ground)
  • 2-3 cups arugula
  • 1 bulb fennel, grilled
  • 5 oranges (two for segments, three for juicing and zest)
  • ⅛ cup almonds, sliced and toasted
  • 1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Serving size

  • 2-3 servings
Procedure

Portion salmon into 2-3 pieces and season with sea salt and black pepper. Coat the presentation side of the salmon with the flaxseed and sear presentation side down in a hot sauté pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until nicely browned. Flip the salmon over and finish in 400° oven to desired doneness (I recommend just a couple of minutes for medium to medium-rare; if your salmon piece is thin, just the heat from the sauté pan will be enough and can likely avoid the added step of baking).

Lightly toast the sliced almonds in a dry sauté pan. Set aside.

To prepare the fennel, slice the bulb into quarter to half inch slices, brush with a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cook on a grill or grill pan until slightly charred. Dice and set aside.

fennel

Zest a bit of the oranges and set aside for the vinaigrette. Then, cut three oranges in half and caramelize/char the “cut” side (inside of the orange) using a grill, grill pan or sauté pan. It should be just starting to burn and caramelize. Once the charred orange has cooled, juice into a small mixing bowl.

orange

Once the orange has been juiced, mix in as much of the zest as you like, and add the dijon mustard, rice wine vinegar, salt and black pepper to taste and whisk in the virgin olive oil.

Supreme (or section) two oranges. Toss the arugula, diced fennel and orange segments with the orange vinaigrette and portion onto plates. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and top off with the salmon.

Enjoy!

ingredients
Ingredients Chinese Medicine Benefits
Salmon Supports the spleen, tonifies Qi and blood
Flax Supports the spleen and liver
Arugula Moves stuck energy (Qi)
Fennel Bulb Supports the liver and spleen
Orange Supports the liver, promotes Qi circulation
Orange Peel Supports the spleen, promotes Qi circulation
Almonds Supports the spleen, tonifies Qi, promotes Qi circulation

Travis Metzger is a Minneapolis-based chef and co-founder of DAO Labs. An avid health enthusiast, he’s juiced and eaten his way to health, combining his passion for fresh ingredients with flavors that make the palate sing. He combines his training at the New England Culinary Institute with his frequent travels to and throughout Asia to create recipes for The Way and DAO Labs that bridge the culinary aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine to the western diet and ingredient options. Travis can be reached at travis@mydaolab.com.

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