Asian Spinach Salad: Chasing Away the Winter Blues with Magnesium

It’s hard not to be tired and bummed out during long stretches of frigid, cloudy winter weather. This year, Dexter and I have been feeling the winter doldrums more than usual. I even considered buying some natural supplements like St. John’s Wort or 5-HTP to help us focus on work and maintain better moods. I get a little freaked out by supplements, and neither Dexter or I was willing to go to the doctor to ask questions about these over-the-counter supplements, so we decided to turn our attention to our diet.

I was so excited when an issue of Vegetarian Times arrived with “feel good meals” written across the cover. The article contained information about nutrients known to boost your mood, what foods they can be found in, and healthy recipes using those feel-good ingredients. The first recipe we tried focused on magnesium.

According to Vegetarian Times, “[Magnesium] supports a healthy nervous system, and low levels can exacerbate common symptoms of depression, such as anxiety, confusion, and low energy.” Two ingredients that pack a strong punch of magnesium are pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas) and spinach (or other dark, leafy greens).

The first night I made this, I didn’t add edamame to the salad but served bowls of it on the side. That was a lot of edamame to eat by itself, so I decided it would work better in the salad. I also served Chong’s All Natural Spring Rolls, because the rest of the meal was so darn healthy. (We may or may not have had carmelitas for dessert. I was proud my batch lasted a whole week.) Dexter thought that slicing the spinach into ribbons made the salad harder to eat, while I thought it made eating easier. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Asian Spinach Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Adapted from Vegetarian Times, January/February 2011
Serves two as a main course

Salad:

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups (3 oz) baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup toasted unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup shelled edamame
  • 2 green onions, chopped (optional–I forgot to buy these but think they would’ve been good)

Dressing:

  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 T canola oil, peanut oil, or sesame oil (for a more Asian flavor)
  • 1/2 t garlic chile paste (I would use more next time–there was no kick to the dressing; or, try 1/4 t sriracha chile sauce as recommended in the original recipe)
  • 1/4 t grated fresh ginger (I felt it could have used more–I also have a little crush on ginger)
  • salt to taste, about 1/8 t

Directions:

  • Coat small skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Pour eggs in skillet and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until firmly set. Transfer omelet to cutting board to cool.
  • Grab a wad of spinach and roll it up; then cut thin slices to make short ribbons. (You could stack 5 or 6 spinach leaves and roll them up. If I ever work in a gourmet restaurant, I might do that. Grab-wad-slice is good enough for me.) Transfer spinach ribbons into large bowl.
  • Make dressing by combining all ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Chop omelet into 1/2-inch strips. Add to spinach. Add carrots, pumpkin seeds, edamame, green onions (if using), and dressing. Toss and serve.
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