Food For The Seasons
“The forces of winter create cold in Heaven and Water on earth; they create the kidney organ and the bones within the body, and the emotion of fear.”
Winter is an extreme season. With the cold weather, hibernation of animals, decrease in plant life, and fewer daylight hours, winter was the toughest season to maintain health in the ancient world. As Huang Di (the yellow emperor) explains, “During the winter months all things in nature wither, hide, return home, and enter a resting period…. Therefore, one should refrain from overusing the yang energy. Retire early and get up with the sunrise, which is later in winter.
Certain foods should be consumed in winter. Chinese medicine strongly believes that it’s always best to eat seasonally—produce that is currently in season is often the food that best addresses seasonal complaints. In winter, vegetables such as Pumpkin, Cabbage and celery are ideal. The foods need to be cooked longer, at lower temperature and with less water; this is a great time for soups and stews.
Below are a list of foods that are in Season and other foods that should be added to the list during winter
Leek, Potato, Pumpkin, Turnip, Celery, Beetroot, Silver beet, Cabbage, Lemon / Peel, Orange’s / Peel, Figs
Bay Leaf, Capers, Coriander, Dill, Nutmeg, Pine Nuts, Rosemary, Garlic, Ginger, Cinnamon
Grains / Nuts/Legumes
Wheat germ, Millet, Barley, Rye, Oats, Lentils, Beans, Walnuts, Peanut, Chestnuts
Lamb, Chicken, Pork, Beef, Oysters, Anchovies, Mussels, Prawns
(The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine (the Neijing Suwen) ~240 B.C. translated by Maoshing Ni, Shambala Publications ISBN 1-57062-080-6 © 1995 further edited by Paul Farago Resources)
Winter: Chicken and Ginger Soup
We all like Chicken soup in winter, here is a Chinese variant with Ginger, the idea is to make soups with high yang vegetables and herbs, and include meat to balance the dish. A favourite winter soup, is chicken soup.
Chicken whole /portions
Parsnips x 1
Onions chopped x 1
T/spoon Ginger, finely cut x 1
Gloves of Garlic crushed x 3
Pumpkin x 1cup
Celery stick x 1
Silver beet x1
Cabbage x 1 cup
Barley x 1 cup
Chestnuts x ½ cup
Capers x 1 t/spoon
Turmeric x 1 pinch
Dill x 1 pinch
Sea salt x 1 teaspoon
Add chilli to taste if desired
Take whole chicken or portions and bring to the boil together with two chopped potatoes, and whole diced Turnip, 1 tablespoon of ginger. When the potato and chicken / portions are somewhat cooked, add diced vegetables and spices.
The diced vegetables should include three diced cloves of garlic and 1 chopped onion, since these are essential for adding yang. You can then add the rest of the ingredients to the mix as well as 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and add additional herbs, pinches of turmeric, and chilli if you like to add that for a zing!
The overall effect of this recipe is to warm the body, clear dampness, support the Kidney Yang and strengthen the immune system. The cabbage helps to strengthen the blood, and is beneficial for the stomach and intestines. The chestnut and the garlic help to support the yang and counteract dampness, while the ginger supports the immune system. All in all a great recipe to ward the cold and flues.