Winter Recipe - Mutton & Carrot Soup

By Vicky Chan of NourishU


Blood and qi deficiency which manifests as lack of energy, dizziness and headache, numbing of extremities, lack of appetite and night blindness.

Therapeutic Effects

  • Nourishes the spleen and liver to promote blood and qi
  • Improves eyesight
  • Improves appetite
  • Strengthens and tonifies the body

Winter Kidney Recipe : Chinese Medicine LivingChinese Yams


(2 to 3 servings)

  • Mutton - 640gm
  • Carrot - 320gm
  • Chinese yam (shan yao) 淮山 - 80gm
  • Ginger - 5 slices
  • Honey dates - 5

Chinese Red Date Recipe : Chinese Medicine LivingChinese Red Dates / Honey Dates - This image from


1. Wash mutton and cut into pieces and stir-fry them slightly with cooking oil and ginger.

2. Cut carrot into pieces. Rinse herbs.

3. Put all ingredients into a pot with adequate water (about 10 cups) and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for 3 hours.

4. Add seasoning to serve. Drink soup and eat some meat only.


Not suitable for people with hot liver syndrome which manifests as red, itchy eyes.

Lamb Carrot Winter Soup for Kidneys : Chinese Medicine LivingThis delicious image from

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If you would like a downloadable information sheet that will tell you all about how to live in harmony with the Winter Season in Chinese Medicine, you can find it here - The Winter Season in Chinese Medicine.


Black Foods for Kidney Health

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The kidneys, in Chinese medicine, are considered the "root of life" as they are responsible for many vital functions in the body. The kidneys store what is called "essence" which is derived from each parent and is established at conception. The essence determines our health and vitality throughout our lives, which is why the health of the parents at the time of conception is so important. The kidneys also govern birth, growth, reproduction and development and are important for sexual health, so we want to always make sure that our kidneys are healthy and functioning optimally. Winter is the season associated with the kidneys, and for this reason winter is the best time to strengthen the kidneys. There are many ways to keep your kidneys strong like martial arts, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and conveniently, the foods we eat.

The colour associated with winter and the kidneys is black, so in Chinese medicine eating black foods is beneficial for the kidneys, helping to strengthen and protect them. Below are five black foods that are excellent for strengthening the kidneys, they also all happen to be delicious, which is awesome.

Black Rice

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

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Rice is a staple food in most of Asia and has been for thousands of years. You may not have heard of black rice, or ever seen it in the grocery store, but black rice has been eaten throughout Asia for centuries. It is often referred to as "forbidden rice" because in ancient China it was grown in very small quantities and reserved solely for the emperor. Thankfully, black rice is now available to everyone, but it is still very rare, especially compared to other rice varieties. You can sometimes find it in health food stores, and it is worth trying as its health benefits are impressive. Black rice is literally smashed with antioxidants, in fact it has the highest level of the antioxidant anthocyanin of any known food. Black rice also reduces inflammation, protects the heart from atherosclerotic plaque which can lead to heart attacks and stroke, detoxifies the body, helps to prevent diabetes by slowing down sugar absorption in the blood, improves digestive health and is naturally gluten free. Black rice is also... excellent for kidney health. :)

Black Lentils

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

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Lentils are loved by vegetarians worldwide for their high levels of protein and the ease with which they can be added to any meal. They are low in calories and high in nutrition. They lower cholesterol because of their high levels of soluble fiber - which also helps to stabilize blood sugar. Lentils improve digestion and protect the heart because they are an excellent source of folate and magnesium which are both important for heart health. Lentils help with weight loss because they are good sources of fiber and protein, yet they are very low in calories and contain virtually no fat. Lentils are also an excellent source of energy due to their fiber and complex carbohydrates and their high iron content helps to produce energy and aids in metabolism.

Black Garlic



Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living
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Black garlic was developed in Korea and has been gaining popularity for the past several years for its distinctive flavour and its impressive health benefits. The process of how black garlic is made is described below (its pretty elaborate!) - this description is from Dr. Mercola's website -

Black garlic is produced by “fermenting” whole bulbs of fresh garlic in a humidity-controlled environment in temperatures of about 140 to 170 degrees F for 30 days. No additives, no preservatives... just pure garlic. Once out of the heat, the bulbs are then left to oxidize in a clean room for 45 days. This lengthy process causes the garlic cloves to turn black and develop a soft, chewy texture with flavors reminiscent of “balsamic vinegar” and “soy sauce,” with a sweet “prune-like” taste.

This process of "fermentation" seems to supercharge garlic's already enormous healing properties. For example, the compound S-allylcysteine which is a natural component of regular garlic and a derivative of the amino acid cysteine was found to be in much higher concentrations in black garlic than its white garlic counterpart. This compound is thought to reduce the risk of cancer and lower cholesterol. While regular garlic has antibiotic, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, black garlic seems to have these properties, but on steroids which makes it even more effective than its white garlic cousin at fighting infections. Black garlic has also been proven to have twice the amount of antioxidants as white garlic making it excellent for fighting disease. Antioxidants protect cells from damage (free radicals) which leads to disease and accelerate the aging process. Eating foods high in antioxidants is one of the best things we can do to keep our immune systems strong and help fight disease.  They also help to keep the body from aging prematurely by protecting it from free radical cell damage.

Black Beans

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

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Black beans are one of my favourite foods. They are easy to prepare, high in dietary fiber, an excellent source of protein, full of antioxidants and very affordable. My favourite way to eat them is to fry up a chopped onion in some butter, add a pinch of Himalayan salt then add a can of black beans and fry them up until the liquid is almost gone. They are delicious and good for the whole body, especially the kidneys! (they even look like little kidneys). Black beans also help protect the body from inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and are excellent to add to your diet if you are trying to lose weight. Black beans improve your overall digestion as their high fiber content helps to flush toxins out of the digestive tract which helps protect against digestive problems like constipation, Crohn's, IBS and others. Black beans are also excellent to include in your diet as they provide long lasting energy as they keep blood sugar levels balanced. Black beans are a wonderful addition to any diet as they have so many amazing health benefits!


Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Oh delicious blackberries! I am always anxious for summer to arrive as it is the season of all those delicious berries. Blackberries have many health benefits. They are rich in bioflavonoids and packed with vitamin C. Blackberries are also very high in those desirable antioxidants that help us fight damaging free radicals - which can lead to cancer and other diseases. Blackberries are low in both sodium and calories which makes them part of a healthy diet and helpful if you are trying to lose weight. Something less known about blackberries is that they help to promote the healthy tightening of tissue which makes them a great way to keep skin looking young and healthy. Prolonged consumption is also beneficial for the brain, increasing brain function (and we could all use a little more of this, no?) keeping you more alert, thinking clearly and improving memory. The tannins in blackberries also help to reduce intestinal inflammation, relieve hemorrhoids and soothe the symptoms of diarrhea. Blackberries are also often used in oral care products like gargles and mouthwashes because of the astringent effect of their tannins.

In Chinese medicine we are taught to live according to the seasons. The winter is the season associated with the kidneys, and it is at this time of year that it is the most beneficial to eat foods or participate in any other activities that benefit the kidneys. The colour associated with winter and the kidneys is black, so eating black foods is healing and strengthening to the kidneys. It is also good to remember that foods with a dark blue, purple or black colour have the highest concentration of antioxidants which have numerous healing properties including protecting against free radical cell damage, the effects of which lead to cancer and other serious diseases. My philosophy is always to eat foods that are as close to nature as possible, and these are some of the best to include in your diet during the winter season. They are delicious, and your kidneys will love you for it. :)

This fancy chart designed by Chinese Medicine Living.


Black Foods for Kidney Health | Chinese Medicine Living

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Living According to the Winter Season with Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The ancient Chinese created a system of medicine that has evolved over thousands of years and is still used today to effectively treat modern diseases. Chinese medicine is only a part of a greater concept the ancient Chinese used to live their everyday lives. It is a branch that springs from a larger tree that encompasses all aspects of life. This is why the doctor of Chinese medicine does not only deal with the body or physical aspects of one's health, they are teachers educating patients on how to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle, because this is how we attain health, and the Chinese knew it. It is deeply entrenched in their medicine.

Chinese medicine teaches to live in harmony with the seasons, and according to Chinese medicine theory, there are five seasons - winter, spring, summer, late summer, and fall. Each season has many associations which help us to change our habits as the season's change so that we may create more balance between our bodies and the external environment.

When Chinese medicine was being developed thousands of years ago, people were living in a state of complete harmony with nature. They rose with the sun, ate what grew in each season and were acutely aware of their natural environment as it had a direct effect on every aspect of their lives. The lives of the people had a flow that changed depending on the time of year. Things like what foods were eaten were dependent on what happened to be growing at that particular time and what was available. When to get up, how to dress and what kinds of activities we're engaged in were dependent on the important connection that people had to their environment. Because these simple steps were taken people were able to stay healthy throughout the year and had the tools to keep their immune systems and their organs strong so that they could ward off disease.

This fancy chart was made by Chinese Medicine Living

Winter in Chinese Medicine

Winter represents the most Yin aspect in Chinese medicine. Yin is the dark, cold, slow, inward energy. This is compared to the Yang of summer whose energy represents light, hot, quick, expansive qualities. The summer weather is warm, the days are longer and people are out being active. In Chinese medicine, we believe that the diet and activities in winter should be adapted to enriching yin and subduing yang.

Winter, in Chinese medicine, is associated with the Kidneys which hold our body's most basic and fundamental energy. It is believed that by harmonizing oneself with the seasons you can stay healthier and prevent disease, so winter is a good time to strengthen the kidneys. Rest is important for revitalizing the kidneys, which is why some animals hibernate in winter. It is also a good time to look inward, reflecting on ourselves with meditation, writing, or other inward practices such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong. These practices help us to connect to our inner selves and help to support kidney energy. They are very helpful to relax the mind, calm our emotions and raise the spirit.

The sense organ associated with the kidneys is the ears, and our ability to hear clearly is related to kidney health. The quiet and stillness of winter allow us to hear more of the world than the buzzing activities of summer. This forces us to slow down, rest and relax.

The body part associated with the kidneys are the bones, so it is important to pay close attention to the bones in the winter months making sure to tonify and heal any problems in this area. This is also why winter is a time when Chinese medicine prescribes bone broths as nutritional therapy, as they are warming, nourishing and especially good for the bones. Bone broths are also powerful Jing tonics, as Jing is produced by the bones. Jing is depleted by activities such as extreme and prolonged stress, lack of sufficient sleep, working long hours, and excessive behaviours like too much drinking and drugs. Winter is the best time to supplement the body's Jing supply and bone broths are just what the doctor ordered.

Activities in Winter

Activities should represent the season with a turn inwards, with more self-reflection, quiet time writing, meditating, reading and other soul-nourishing activities. Winter is a time to slow down and feed ourselves both physically and spiritually. Internal martial arts and meditative practices are particularly helpful at this time of year. One should go to bed earlier and sleep later to receive the full healing effects that sleep has to offer.

Many people love winter. They feel energized with the coming cold and love to be out snowboarding, skiing and going for walks in the snow. For others, winter causes them to retract, stay inside and can cause some to feel sad or even depressed because of the lack of light and reduced physical activity. The good news is that winter can be enjoyed by everyone if we live, eat and exercise according to the season and pay attention to our bodies preferences.

Winter Foods

Winter Foods in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

There are many foods that are beneficial for us to eat during the winter season. These foods are the ones that naturally grow in this season - squashes, potatoes, root vegetables, winter greens, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, apples, and pears. In winter, our bodies need warming foods like soups made with hearty vegetables, and rich stocks cooked with animal bones are best. Foods that specifically nourish and warm the kidneys are:

  • black beans
  • kidney beans
  • broths cooked with bones
  • lamb
  • chicken
  • walnuts
  • chestnuts
  • black sesame seeds
  • dark leafy greens

A small amount of unrefined sea salt is also helpful as the taste associated with the kidneys organ is salty, but remember, moderation in all things is important. For more on the subject, you can read this - Black Foods for Kidney Health.

Cooking should be for longer periods using low heat and less water. This infuses foods with heat that helps to keep the body warm in the cold winter months. Hearty soups, whole grains, and roasted nuts are good on cold days and offer nourishment to feed the body and tonify the kidneys in cold winter months.

The principle of harmony between what we eat and the season is based on hundreds of years of practical experience. Chinese nutritional therapy is an important component of Chinese medicine and truly believes that you are what you eat. The food that we consume has a profound effect on the body, affecting our health and wellbeing. Foods become part of the body after being consumed (internal) and the weather and environment have an effect on us externally. Chinese dietary philosophy suggests that you embrace native foods along with eating locally grown, organic and chemical-free foods that grow in season. According to TCM the thing about the modern diet which is the most unhealthy is that we are able to eat foods all year round that may be grown unnaturally with the use of pesticides rather than ones grown naturally for only part of the year. This is the way nature intended us to eat. Eating natural foods that grow in the present season is what our bodies are designed for and prefer. This is one of the main ways that Chinese Medicine guides us on how to remain healthy all year long.

Winter Foods in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This lovely image from TCM007

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