HEALTH in Balance Winter Cuisine.

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Authentic Chinese medicinal food dishes are prepared according to traditional recipes and techniques, based on ancient ideas about how the human body operates. They described the effect of each kind of meat, grain, herb, or vegetable on the human body, how the body operates, and gave suggestions about what to prepare to stay healthy or cure disease.


It contains the basic ideas of Chinese food therapy. The text gave recommendations on what to eat for different health conditions and different environmental conditions. Ancient Chinese medical books list hundreds of plant, animal, and chemical ingredients and tell their specific effects on the human body. These books give ideas about the physical principals involved in human health, and they describe how herbs or special foods help, along with TCM techniques such as moxibustion and acupuncture.

Since that time , the basic ideas about food and health have changed little. See more on The History of Chinese Medicine. It is thought that a healthy body or organ has a proper balance of these things. When they are out of balance, there is disease or sickness. The environment or physical injury disrupts the balance. For example, cold weather causes a lack of qi or high yin in the body. So high yang foods are eaten. In hot weather when there is naturally too much yang, high yin foods are eaten.

Recipes for each season are described below. Healing herbs or animal parts can be added to the diet to heal disease. Many of the same herbs are used by Western herbalists and herbalists in other parts of the world for the same conditions, so this strongly suggests that the herbs have real medicinal effects.

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All foods are categorized by qi temperature, ranging from high yang to high yin, and one of the five food flavors sour, sweet, bitter, hot and salty. It is thought that people should generally include all the flavors in every meal and balance the "heat". Most Chinese people think that if too much of one type of food is consumed, it can cause an imbalance in the body. The ancient texts described not only what to prepare for meals, but also how to eat meals.

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You might be surprised at these Chinese customs about eating meals that have been part of the culture for hundreds of years. It is interesting that the Chinese believe that eating seasonal food is generally best. For example, in summer yin foods like melons and cucumber are available, and in winter high yang foods like garlic and onions are available for consumption as well as easily stored red pepper and other high yang herbs. It is as if nature produces the right healing foods for each season for people.


During cold and flu season in the late fall and winter, Chinese would refrain from eating melons, especially if they had a cold. If Chinese get sunstroke from hot Chinese summer days they avoid garlic and onions.

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Just like Westerners, Chinese people like to drink lots of hot soup on cold winter days. But their idea is to make soups with high yang vegetables and herbs , and include meat to balance the dish. A favorite winter soup, just like in the West, is chicken soup. Take chicken portions and boil them together with two chopped potatoes, or half a white Chinese turnip, and 1 tablespoon of ginger. When the potato and chicken pieces are somewhat cooked, add diced vegetables and spices.

The diced vegetables should include three diced cloves of garlic and one chopped onion, since these are essential for adding yang. You can also include a cup of carrots, a cup of mushrooms, a cup of zucchini or bok choy, or other similar vegetables. To the mix, add a teaspoon of sea salt, and, if you wish, additional herbs, such as several thin-sliced pieces of milk vetch root or pinches of turmeric. If you like red pepper, add that for a zang! Cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods are common when affected by winter depression.

Chinese Medicinal Cuisine / Food Therapy — Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Some individuals report feeling better during and after carbohydrate consumption. Rather than reaching for cake or cookies, choose a healthier option -- such as complex carbohydrates. Some of the best choices for complex carbs include whole grain breads and pastas, brown rice, legumes, millet and whole oats. In the cold, the last thing on your mind is likely a glass of cold water or iced tea. However, you become dehydrated just as easily in cold temperatures as you do in warm weather.

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To combat winter dehydration, a cup of warm tea is an excellent choice. Drinking tea counts toward a healthy daily intake of eight 8-ounce glasses of water. Ginger tea is a particularly good option, as this spice naturally warms your body. If you do not enjoy ginger tea, any spiced tea is a good substitute. Hot cider is another comforting, hydrating choice during cold temperatures. A layer of fat on your body acts as insulation to protect you from the cold, but that is not why fat is important during the winter.

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Your body uses fats to facilitate the absorption of vitamins A, E, K and D. Vitamin deficiencies, particularly vitamin D deficiency, can contribute to depression and damage your health. Sunlight aids in vitamin D absorption, and most individuals get less sun when temperatures drop. Healthy fats to add to your diet include fish, nuts, nut butters, olives, avocados and tofu.

If you opt for red meat, keep in mind that one serving is about 3 ounces and its consumption is best limited to three times weekly. Skip to main content. Healthy Eating Nutrition Nutrition in Foods. Hot Foods When the weather is cold, eating or drinking something hot increases the sensation of being warm.