Herb of the Month - April 2012

Ever wondered what foods you can cook that are actually good to help with a spring cleaning of the gut? Try these fun and inspiring recipes below! With digestive enzyme rich pineapple and warming spices, you will be sure to charge up your digestive qi this spring.


Hello slow digestion! Meet the new and improved Five Spice Blend. Your sluggishness doesn’t stand a chance!

5 spice rubs are often sold pre-blended, where this recipe utilizes the freshness of the herbs to get the true pop of flavor 5 spice brings. These fresh ingredients are perfectly paired with nutritious, protein packed pork loin. Mmmmmm yummy! 5 spice has digestive enhancing properties according to Madame Ng Siong Mui, the owner of the Chinese Harvest Home Cooking School in Singapore. Read more about Madame NgSiong Mui and get the recipe.

Madame Ng, a traditionalist, believes that herbs and medicine do not keep one healthy. Her approach, which was originally developed by ancient Chinese physicians, is more preventative in nature, relying on the daily consumption of foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, poultry, fish and occasionally meat.

“Besides eating meat for nutrients,” she says, “the Chinese eat a part of an animal to benefit that organ an it’s qi.” For instance, eating liver will help the liver, just as eating kidneys will strengthen the kidneys.”

Why Pork?

Pork is neutral in nature (meaning it’s not warming or cooling for the body specifically), sweet and salty. It benefits the qi of the spleen, stomach and kidney channels. Some basic health benefits from eating pork:

  • Supplements the kidneys and nourishes the blood
  • Enriches the yin and moistens dryness
  • Treats heat disease that damages the fluids, such as wasting and thirsting (i.e. diabetes type signs: thirst, puffiness, weight gain, cold abdomen, frequent urination, slow wound healing)
  • Improves kidney strength that can be low due to weak qi or brought on via lifestyle (low back pain, fatigue, menstrual irregularities, menopause and any chronic problem)
  • Helps with postpartum blood loss, a dry cough and constipation due to lack of fluids.


5 Spice Pork Roll-Ups

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 pounds center-cut boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat or gristle.
  • 1.5 cups leafy lettuce, rinsed, drained leaves separated, and cut into julienne strips about 1/2 inch wide.
  • 2 cups finely shredded or grated carrot.
  • 1.5 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained.
  • 24 spring roll skins (or substitute Filipino lumpia wrappers, or whole wheat flour tortillas), separated and folded into quarters.
  • 5 tablespoons canola or corn oil

Seasonings:

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1.5 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1/4 Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or low sodium soy sauce)
  • 1/4 cup rice wine or sake
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/5 teaspoons ground corriander
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried chiles or dried chile flakes
  • Fresh Cilantro Vinaigrette (mixed together well)
  • 1/3 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or low sodium soy sauce)
  • 1/4 cup clear rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons rice wine or sake
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves.

Directions:

  1. Cut the pork loin across the grain into very thin slices about 1/8 in thick, then cut into 1.5 inch squares. Put the slices in a bowl, add the premixed seasonings, and toss lightly to coat the slices. Cover with plastic wrap, and let the pork slices marinate for 1 hour, or longer if possible.
  2. Arrange the shredded vegetables and bean sprouts on a deep platter or in a shallow bowl in separate concentric circles, leaving a space in the middle for the pork.
  3. Whisk together the ingredients for the cilantro vinaigrette, except for the cilantro, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a serving bowl, sprinkle in the cilantro and stir.
  4. Steam the spring roll skins for 10 minutes and set aside, covered.
  5. Heat a wok or a large skillet, add 2.5 tablespoons of the oil, and heat until very hot. Add half the pork slices and stif-fry over high heat until the pork changes color and is cooked, about 1.5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Reheat the pan, add 2.5 tablespoons of oil and the remaining pork, stir fry as directed. Remove and drain. Arrange the pork slices in the center of the vegetables. Serve with the steamed wrappers or flour tortillas and Fresh Cilantro Vinaigrette. Each diner takes a wrapper, arranges some pork on top, spoons a little vinaigrette over, and rolls it up like a spring roll, folding in the sides to a form a compact package. Yummers for our tummers!

From A Spoonful of Ginger, by Nina Simonds.



In the spring we need to cleanse, but not in an extreme way. Here is a perfect revitalizing elixir drink to compliment the nourishing spring rolls. These two make a perfect balanced meal to prep your body for the spring cleansing time that is now upon us.

Shuly’s Revitalizing Drink

Shuly, an Israeli friend whose mother is an expert herbalist, passed on the recipe for a refreshing elixer, which originated in Senegal, West Africa. He whips up some of this thick, frothy drink anytime he or his freinds are feeling low. It is especially energizing (and simply delish!) when you have a virus or are suffering from exhaustion. In addition to pepping you up, the ginger is warming. The lemon is leaded with vitamin C, and the pineapple contains digestive enzymes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple or canned chunks in juice
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 in piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Honey to taste

Directions:

Blend all ingredients, including the honey, in a blender. Add more juice if you prefer a thinner drink.

From Wise Concoctions, by Bonnie Trust Dahan.