Posted by: Scott Stewart, LAc., Dipl.
Yin is most predominant during the winter months, while Yang hides. Qi and blood retreat to the interior in order to protect the vital organs from the harsh environment, and by doing so, they leave the exterior vulnerable to attack by the elements which carry pathogens.
During these cold months the body goes into a hibernation-like mode in order to conserve energy and rest; by doing so, the body will have enough energy saved up for growth during the spring. This is why it’s important to follow a diet according to the season (winter), and eat foods that are warming and nourishing, which supplement Qi, Spleen and Kidney Yang, and nourish blood.
These foods can include: free range, hormone free, and antibiotic free meats (lamb, venison, game, poultry, beef, and shrimp), spices such as: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, star anise, and cloves. Walnuts, pine nuts, and chestnuts are a good source of nourishment in the winter time.
Onions and garlic are warming, and so is pumpkin and squash. Acceptable drinks would be spiced teas or cider and red wine (in moderation). Winter is a great time to make hot and nutritious cereals and porridges like: oat bran, steel cut oatmeal, brown rice and Chinese pearl barley (Yi Yi Ren). The great thing about making hot cereals and porridges is that you can make them any way you like, sweet or savory; just add your favorite ingredients. Below you will find a recipe for a really tasty porridge to start your morning.
Sweet Congee (porridge)
Put everything into a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 ½ hours. Make sure the beans are done. The consistency should be between soupy and not soupy. Dish up, pour some coconut milk on top and enjoy!
Feel free to add or subtract from the recipe, the idea is to make something you can enjoy while being healthy.
Chinese Nutritional Value:
Brown rice – Sweet, upbearing, supplements Qi and blood, harmonizes the Stomach, strengthens the Spleen, produces and regulates body fluids, and is a diuretic. Carbohydrate, protein, vitamins B1, B2, B3, vitamin E, iron, potassium, and also rich in essential amino acids.
Sweet potato – slightly warm, nourishing, supports the formation of Qi and blood, disperses Qi stagnation, supplements the middle burner, strengthens Kidney Yin. Rich in vitamins A and C, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium, and potassium.
Black beans – warming, benefits the kidneys, builds blood, and a diuretic. Calcium, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, B1, B3, Folate, and fiber.
Ginger – warming, upbearing, strengthens the middle burner, settles nausea and vomiting, supports stomach Qi, transforms phlegm, relieves cough and detoxifies, stimulates blood circulation, and promotes secretion of digestive juices. High in essential oils and amino acids, cardio tonic,
Cinnamon – warming, upbearing, strengthens the central burner, dissipates cold, moves blood, loosens stagnation, promotes the secretion of digestive juices, and alleviates bloating.
Toasted black sesame seed – Warming, downbearing, supplements Liver and Kidney, and moistens dryness. Rich in essential fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, phosphorous, vitamin E, calcium, iron, selenium, silicic acid, and lecithin.
Organic Maple syrup – Nourishing. Maganese, iron, and zinc.
Coconut milk – Warm, diuretic, and moistens dryness. Lots of minerals, especially manganese, choline, and protein.