Winter Recipes in Chinese Medicine
Winter, with the drop in temperature, is the time to slow down physical activities as our body’s metabolic rate slows down at this time of year. 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 a 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, as it is 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 warming herbs such as dangshen, ginseng, astragalus, reishi mushroom, longan fruit and deer horn, etc. to promote yang energy.
Winter Recipe – Lamb Thigh & Warming Herbs Soup
Lack of appetite, cold hands and feet and general weakness due to being overworked.
Warms the center, promotes blood and qi, promotes vital fluids and prevents aging.
INGREDIENTS (3 servings)
Rou Cong Rong
- Lamb thigh 羊脾肉 – 360gm
- Broomrape (rou cong rong) 肉鬆蓉 – 15gm
- Chinese Yam (shan yao) 淮山 – 30gm
- Angelica Sinensis (dang gui) 當歸- 9gm
- Asparagus root (tian dong) 天冬 ( 去心 ) – 9gm
- Astragalus / Astragali Radix (huang qi) 北耆 – 6gm
- American ginseng 花旗參 – 9gm
- Atractylodes Rhizoma (pai chu) 白朮 – 6gm
- Glutinous rice 糯米 – 60gm
Shan Yao – Chinese Yam
1. Rinse lamb and put in boiling water to cook for a few minutes. Remove, rinse and drain dry.
2. Brown lamb in a wok with no oil.
3. Rinse herbs and rice and put together with lamb in a slow cooker with 6 cups of boiling water. Turn on high heat and let it cook for at least 4 hours until meat is all tender.
4. Add salt and 2 spoonfuls of wine and serve.
Dang Gui Chinese Herb
Not suitable if you have a cold or flu. Take once a day with a meal.
For people who may be too weak to accept this enriching recipe right away, it is recommended to start taking astragalus and dates tea, a couple of times per week for two weeks before taking this recipe.