Seasonal Eating in Chinese Medicine – Winter Recipes
Winter with the drop of temperature is the time to slow down on physical activities because our body’s metabolic rate will be slower. It is also the time to eat nourishing food to help the body to preserve energy. Animals follow the law of nature and hibernate throughout winter. Human should also preserve energy and build up strength, preparing the body for regeneration and new growth in spring.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, tonic-taking in winter has a great bearing upon the balancing of Yin and Yang elements, the unblocking of meridians, and the harmonizing of Qi and blood. In the five elements theory of TCM, winter is when the kidneys are highly active and they have astringent and active storage functions that help in preserving energy. People should eat food with less salty taste in order to reduce the burden on the kidneys. Uncooked and frozen foods can damage the spleen and stomach and should be taken in moderation.
In winter when body’s resistance is low, elderly people are especially advised to take food tonics which can improve their body constitution and promote better resistance to illness. Food tonics can have much better healthful effects than supplementation and drugs.
The tonics include superior warming herbs, fatty and meaty foods. Our body is designed to absorb the rich and nutritional foods better at this time of the year. For people who have cold constitution with cold hands and feet, weak kidney health with frequent urination, cold and stiff body and constant pain in their backs and ankles, winter is the best time for them to correct these health problems when the body is most responsive to nutritional treatment.
The warming winter foods include chive, chicken, mutton, shrimp, ginger, garlic, walnut, mushroom, chestnut, mustard, vinegar, wine, gingko, red pepper and spring onion. For people who are cold in nature, they should also use the warming herbs such as dangshen, ginseng, astragalus, reishi mushroom, longan fruit and deer horn, etc. to promote yang energy.
Astragalus Dangshen Mutton Soup
Nourishes qi and blood, clears toxicity and promotes regeneration of skin.
- Mutton – 360gm (cut into pieces)
- Dried shiitake mushroom – 10
- Astragalus (huang qi) 黃耆 – 30gm
- Dangshen (dang shen) 黨參 – 30 gm
- Wash mutton and put in boiling water to cook for a few minutes, remove and rinse.
- Soak mushroom for about 30 minutes, remove stem and cut into halves.
- Rinse herbs and put all ingredients in a soup pot with about 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium heat and simmer for 3 hours.
- Add seasoning to serve. Drink soup and eat some meat.
Recommended for no more than twice per month in winter months for health promotion.
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