Lotus Root & Red Rice

I came home late by bicycle. The wind was cold along the bike path from Venice Beach to the Marina, wind into my ears and through my thin jacket. I was hungry, my laptop satchel was weighing on my left shoulder, and all I could think of was lotus root.

It may seem like an odd thing to crave, but for several days I have been fantasizing about kinpira renkon, or lotus root. I sent a message home requesting the red rice be made in the Zojirushi rice cooker, and the lotus root, perhaps? I wasn't sure how the fresh lotus root was to be prepared. I remembered the taste of it at one of our favorite Japanese restaurants, prepared expertly with sesame oil, sake or mirin, and sesame seeds.

When I arrived home, face flushed from riding the bicycle in the cold ocean air, this is what was waiting for me on the table.

The lotus root, renkon, was simply prepared by peeling the outer layer of the root like a carrot, and then slicing it into discs. The discs of lotus root were then sautéed in sesame oil in a saucepan. Dashes of mirin (rice wine) and sake were added, and a little shoyu (soy sauce). The lotus root was plated with black sesame seeds and a sprinkle of shichimi togarashi (mixed chili spice). I absolutely love togarashi. Its ingredients are: red chili pepper, roasted orange peel, black and yellow sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, seaweed, and ginger.

Then, the red rice. It's a sweet rice blend with azuki beans. The red color of the beans color the rice red. It's very sticky and sweet. This dish is nourishing, especially for women. My acupunturist, Dr. Mao, otherwise known as "Dr. Wow" from Sex and the City, put me on a rejuvenating diet to support my Second Spring, or female midlife transition.

I am reading his book, Second Springwhich contains a wealth of knowledge of natural secrets for women reaching their midlife transition. Regeneration and revitalization of a woman’s life force allows her to blossom into her potential. The Chinese call a woman’s midlife transition (perimenopause and beyond) her Second Spring. Dr. Mao explains:

“A woman’s Second Spring is the renaissance of youthful vitality and sexual vigor she enjoys when she takes advantage of the secrets and natural powers of Chinese medicine. When the body begins to undergo the changes that take her through perimenopause, menopause, and beyond, in the Chinese perspective, this is a time for celebration in a woman’s life, when she is possessed of wisdom and graceful beauty. This positive outlook on aging stands in stark contrast to the Western stigma against growing old. Second Spring describes an important opportunity for self-discovery and renewal in women’s lives.”

Since I am now beginning my own Second Spring, I am inspired by the Chinese approach to women’s rejuvenation. The treatment I received yesterday begins my series of acupuncture with Dr. Mao, to revitalize my jing. “Jing” is our life essence. In Taoist philosophy, three aspects of our whole being are shenqi, and jing. Qi or Chi, is our energy. Shen is our spirit. Jing is the juice, the mojo, the juicy life force that has to do with our sexual energy; reproductive, and also our life passion. I’ve been wearing a lipstick called “Jing-a-ling” lately. How serendipitous. Maybe my mojo is having a little jing-a-ling Second Spring?

Certain foods that are good for a woman after childbirth, or postpartum, are also excellent for nourishing a woman's jing, or life essence. Foods like Lotus Root & Azuki Beans with Sweet Rice.

Lotus RootLotus root has many curative powers. The plant of the lotus is rich in iron. Iron fortifies the blood and has vitamin C, anti-oxidants, polysaccharides, and polyphenols. If you are emotional, anxious, nervous, or unable to sleep, raw lotus root juice has been known to calm and ease the nerves. All parts of the lotus plant are used in herbalism.

Azuki BeansAccording to traditional Chinese medicine, azuki beans benefit bladder and reproductive functions and the kidneys. High in protein and low in fat, azuki beans contain potassium, fiber, folic acid, B vitamins, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin. These wondrous beans also contain minerals such as iron, zinc, and manganese. Azuki beans are rich in soluble fiber.

As Dr. Mao mentions in his book, Second Spring:

If you have the blahs in the sex department, it may be because of a nutritional deficiency. Instead of buying some new lingerie, try modifying your diet to include foods that have well-established benefits for the libido. Pungent, spicy foods— garlic, onions, chives, cinnamon, ginger, peppers, coriander, and cardamom— can activate arousal centers and increase blood flow to the lower body. Eating arginine-rich foods will keep you stoked with this amino acid, a precursor to the hormones testosterone and estrogen, so have plenty of eggs and meat in addition to the powerhouse sources, nuts and seeds. Shellfish such as oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops contain a rich supply of zinc, which is also essential for manufacturing hormones. Eat right and you’ll say mm-mmm in more ways than one!

Other sexy secrets from Dr. Mao’s book Second Spring:
  • Little Miracle from Wild Oats– Dr. Mao recommends adding oats, avena sativa, to your diet to support healthy testosterone levels for your libido
  • Flax for your Flagging Sex Life— Add some flaxseed which contain lignans, a phytoestrogen that improves good levels of estriadol
  • Libidinal Lift from Sea Cucumber— Sexy sea cucumber looks phallic (yes) and delivers a rich supply of mucopolysaccharides and chondroitins, B vitamins, minerals and zinc
  • Cardamom: bees do it!— In Asia, cardamom has long been valued medicinally for circulation and energy. Cardamom is a stimulant for overall well-being! Chinese doctors say it revitalizes sexual desire. And orchid bees are drawn to cardamom as well, and use it to synthesize pheromones.