This is a salad that we keep coming back to for its simplicity, flavor, crunch and nutritional benefits, especially in light of the early summer heat wave and the desire for light, clean, hydrating foods.
Why the emphasis on bitter greens and seeds?
Bitter greens, such as kale, mustard, dandelion, rocket, arugula and spinach stimulate natural detoxification of the liver, which is especially important in hormone health. The gut and the liver are the two main detox pathways of the body that process and get rid of excess estrogen in the body. In the past, a lot more bitter herbs and foods were incorporated into the diet, however as life and society has progressed, we have moved more towards sweet or savory (salty). Incorporating bitters into your daily routine is a simple and nourishing way to support gut health, liver detoxification and hormone balance.
Seeds, specifically the pairing of pumpkin + flax or sunflower + sesame, helps to regulate hormone secretions within the body and hormone excretions out of the body - depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle. Seed cycling, as it's referred to, is a method of using various seeds to support different phases of our monthly cycle to balance hormone levels, relieve PMS and perimenopause symptoms, stimulate menstruation if it’s absent (amenorrhea), increase fertility and support the body in healing more serious conditions like ovarian cysts, PCOS and endometriosis. The cycling uses alternating seeds high in specific oils and nutrients to balance the hormones that are prevalent in each phase.
This two-stage guide further explains how to support hormone balance and regulation, but essentially:
During the follicular phase (days 1-14), incorporate:
- Flax Seeds, which are high in lignans to block excess estrogen production.
- Pumpkin Seeds, which are rich in zinc, preparing the body for progesterone secretion in the next phase.
Fish Oil is also beneficial, as it contains EPA and DHA, which are important omega 3 fats found only in cold water fish.
During the luteal phase (after ovulation, days 16-28), incorporate:
- Sesame Seeds, as they are high in lignans to modulate estrogen and progesterone levels, in addition to omega 6 (which converts into GLA in the body).
Sunflower Seeds, which are high in selenium, further supporting liver function to prevent clogging from excess hormones, resulting in proper hormone excretion
Evening Primrose Oil can also be helpful during this phase, as it’s another source of omega 6s and helps to reduce PMS pain and boost fertility.
Things to be mindful of when experimenting with seed cycling:
- Always use raw (unroasted, unsalted/seasoned) seeds to ensure they have their medicinal properties in full. Use organic seeds when available.
- Seeds are high in fats and can oxidize when left in the sunlight and warmer temperatures. Try to keep seeds in a cool, dark place – preferably the fridge.
- Seeds begin to oxidize 15 minutes after they’re ground, so grinding fresh is best. If this is an inconvenience or not always available, store pre-ground seeds in the freezer and take the portion as needed.
- Seeds can be eaten with other foods, including smoothies, salads, soups or grain bowls. If you’re eating them with warm foods, add them to the dish after cooking to avoid denaturing the nutrients.
Inspired by Kristin Dahl's (of The Women's Wellness Collective) approach, we swapped our usual hunch for nuts and began tossing seeds in our salads to sync with our cycles and balance our hormones. Once we landed on this beautiful, rich turmeric tahini dressing, we knew it was a simple secret worth sharing.
Bitter Greens & Seeds Salad with Turmeric Tahini Dressing
For the salad:
1 large handful fresh, organic bitter greens
Handful of pumpkin + flax seed blend or sunflower + sesame seed blend (*refer to the seed cycling guide above)
Seaweed flakes, such as dulse or nori; we also favor adding kelp noodles to enhance salads
Dark Horse mustard seeds
For the dressing:
1 tbsp tahini (we find our favorite locally, from Stella's Grocery)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp turmeric powder (we source ours from Anima Mundi Herbals)
Pinch of sea salt, to taste
Layer the salad components in a large bowl and add any additional sources of crunch, flavor and taste as desired. To make the dressing, combine tahini, olive oil and turmeric in a small bowl and stir well with a spoon. Add additional tahini and/or olive oil as necessary until desired consistency is achieved and then flavor to taste with a pinch of sea salt. Dress the salad generously and then toss to coat the bitter greens. We encourage creativity and the addition of any other nutrient-rich Boketto pantry staples.