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Master Cleanse Salad

Shed the Winter Blahs with Fresh Food, Fresh Ideas

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Spring is just around the corner, and Pittsburgh is feeling ready for it.  The hibernation period will soon be coming to an end.  There’s a lot of talk out there about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or the winter blues, which is due in part to a lack of sunshine.  We certainly need more of it, which seems to be an instant mood boost.  But winter also brings with it a few months of heavier eating. The holiday season is prone to being heavily fueled by sugar and booze.  The cold months to follow don’t exactly inspire us to bounce out of bed and make a cold salad. It can take a lot of personal motivation to face the cold and do the self-care things we know we should be doing. Kudos to those who do! But now that spring is near, you may be feeling a natural motivation to start eating lighter and fresher.  That’s biology at work.  Humans are designed to work with nature, even though we’re hell bent on working against it sometimes!

Ancient Wisdom

According to the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring is about the energy of the liver and gallbladder.  In TCM, these organs are known to be prone to congestion from heavy, rich foods, and emotions like anger. Bitter green vegetables that sprout in the spring are thought to support these organs, and thus emotions.

In both ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic practices, the shift from winter to spring becomes about moving through the heavy and trying to stay warm energy of the past few months. It’s about the dawn of a new phase, awakening the system in preparation for summer’s high energy.

It’s a great time to try a new exercise class, experiment with eating more fruits and veggies, even start a new business! You might feel a creativity surge as the temperatures warm. Go with it!

Eat with the Season

“Cleanse” is a word that is thrown around a lot. There are devotees on both sides of the aisle, for and against it.  But if the idea of a mild juice cleanse appeals to you, for that internal clean slate feeling, opt for juices lower on the sweet and fruity side, and heavily based on the green veggie side.  Or you could slowly start to increase your exposure to bitter greens like arugula and watercress as they come into season with a small handful blended into a morning smoothie. Try them scrambled into some eggs, or wilted with some olive oil and garlic. It’s a good time of year to increase your consumption of fruits, and get in some movement to induce sweating a few times a week, if not daily.

A fantastic leafy green that comes into season this time of year actually grows in most yards.  Dandelion greens. One cup of raw dandelion greens is a good source of calcium, potassium, and a great source of Vitamins A, C, K and folate. As it can be very bitter, it pairs well as a raw salad with a tart and semi-sweet dressing. If you aren’t comfortable harvesting from your yard, you will soon begin seeing them at the grocery store.

Try the following easy recipe to get your body and mind ready for Spring!

Master Cleanse Salad

A food based play on the popular ”Master Cleanse”
Course: Breakfast, lunch, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Fresh, Healthy


  • 1 Cup Chopped young dandelion greens (If the leaves are large and older, remove center stem)
  • 1 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice (Or juice of half a lemon)
  • 1 Pinch Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped medjool dates, prunes, or fresh red grapes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sliced almonds Optional


  • Rinse and chop dandelion greens, removing center stem if it’s tough.
  • Whisk dressing ingredients (olive oil, maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper)
  • Toss greens with fruit, nuts and dressing.


If the dandelion greens are just too bitter at first for your palette, mix them 50/50 with a mild green like romaine hearts. The quicker you use the greens after purchase, and fresher they are at the time of purchase, the less bitter they will be! Avoid dry, sad, yellowing leafy greens.

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Caitlin is a health coach and massage therapist who uses the principals of functional medicine to help clients improve their overall health and wellness. A former professional dancer, you can find her singing and dancing in her kitchen to The Bee Gees or Lady Gaga while making her kids delicious and healthy baked goods. She blogs about her cooking adventures at www.caitlinscupboard.com

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