Seasonal Harmony for Winter
By Ellasara Kling
“It is a great adventure to contemplate the universe. . . to view life as part of this universal mystery of greatest depth, is to sense an experience which is very rare, and very exciting. . . .It’s a feeling of awe, this feeling I have about the glories of the Universe”
Richard P. Fenynman, Physicist & Nobel Prize Winner
The theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches the idea of following the seasons which flow one into another in an endless cycle of Spring/Summer/Late Summer/Fall/Winter and back again to Spring and so on. Each season has its pattern of relationships and “rules” for its period of time as it waxes forth from the preceding season and wanes into the next. There is no definite moment of beginning or ending. At some moment it does, however, reach a pinnacle of its nature. Some of the attributes of this Winter season are noted on the chart below. These relationships give us information about taking care of ourselves during Winter and for understanding some deeper meanings to experiences we may have.
Winter is a Yin season, filled with cold and more darkness than the brighter, warmer Yang seasons of Spring and Summer. We need to have strong Kidney Qi to support Liver energy in the Spring and now is the time to save Kidney energy rather than over spending it. Plan more rest time, more time with congenial friends and family just “hanging out”, travel less, meditate and sleep more. The energy of the Universe has now descended, the leaves have fallen, the bright harvests have finished, it is now a time to slow down, conserve ones energy, and quietly build your Qi in preparation for the coming Spring.
Teeth tapping supports the Kidneys tap your teeth together lightly 50 or more times at least once a day.
Support the Bladder Meridian by keeping your neck, back of legs covered and warm. Your neck, back and feet should be kept warm and dry, protected from wind. Notice a chill in the back of the legs? Rub in some warming massage oil or muscle liniment so that the heat can enter deeply into the meridian. Also, keeping the front of the body warm and free from wind is highly advisable for maintaining health.
Even in Winter, sunlight is available and is especially healthful in the morning (from sunrise to noon). If the weather is permissible, go outside for an early morning walk. A terrific way to wake up!
Some Foods that Harmonize with Winter:
Black Beans, Black Mushrooms (and Crimini and Shitake), Blackberry, Black sesame seeds and oil, Black soybeans, Blueberry, Bone marrow, Cabbages, Cardamon, Celery, Chard, Chicken and Black bone chicken, Chinese Yam, Cinnamon, Clams, Cranberry, Duck, Ginger, Job’s tears, Kale, Kidney beans, Kohlrabi, Longan (when dried is said to relieve anxiety), Lotus seed, Miso, Mulberry, Mutton, Ocean Perch, Parsley, Pine nuts, Raspberry, Rutabaga, Seaweed, Shrimp/Prawns, Soy Sauce, String beans, Turnips, Walnuts, Wood ear mushrooms.
This is a time of year for hearty, warm soups, root vegetables, avoid raw foods and cold drinks, also avoid very spicy foods that create sweating (which leads to open pores and cooling). Eat foods that have bitterness to them and be careful not to over indulge in the salty flavor.
START YOUR DAY WITH: Winter Energy Cereal
- 1/2 cup of rice
- 6 cups of water
- ½ cup toasted black sesame seeds
- ½ cup TB toasted crushed walnuts
- 3 TB honey
- ½ tsp salt
Cover the rice in 2 cups of water and soak for 2 hours.
Toast the walnuts and crush. A simple crushing method is to place the walnuts in a plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin.
Toast the black sesame seeds.
Drain the excess water off the rice.
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and mix.
Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the rice is thoroughly cooked and all the water has been absorbed. Stir the cereal frequently as it is cooking. The texture of the cereal at this stage is like a thick porridge or cornmeal mush. The rice is creamy and the sesame seeds are still slightly crunchy.
To make into a breakfast cereal: add ½ cup boiling water to ½ cup of cereal – optional: a touch of cinnamon Yield: 4 cups
Serving size ½ cup
Shrimp and Kale with Shitake Mushrooms
- 12 large Shrimp (about 1¼ pounds), shelled, deveined, rinsed well under cold water
- Pat them dry with a clean towel before cooking.
- 4-6 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 3 large cloves of garlic, sliced lengthwise
- 2 scallion whites– thinly sliced into rings
- 2 cups shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced (or Black mushrooms or Crimeni)
- ½ cup fresh tangerine (or orange) juice
- ¼ cup flat parsley (or cilantro) leaves only – chopped and packed tightly
- I large bunch Kale –ends trimmed, greens separated from tough stems
- 1 thin round slice of ginger
- 1 cup white wine
- Salt and pepper
- Thin tangerine or orange slices for garnish
Make the Shrimp
Heat a large wok/skillet and then add 2 TB oil, add the 3 garlic cloves and heat till they sweat and then add the shrimp. Stir fry in the oil and garlic until thoroughly cooked (add additional oil if necessary): set aside
Prepare the mushrooms
Slice the mushrooms and put in the wok/skillet with 1 TB oil, when the oil is heated, add a sprinkle of salt to the bottom of the pan to prevent oil splatters add the mushrooms, as the mushrooms cook, pour the juice over them (be careful to avoid splatters when adding liquid to the hot oil). When the mushrooms are cooked through but not “cooked down,” add the parsley leaves, toss them in with the mushrooms and set everything aside.
Prepare the Kale
Cut the bottom stem off the kale and cut the leaves horizontally into thin ribbons – -wash in cold water to remove any “sand” that may be stuck to the leaves. Drain well, but let water adhere to leaves.
In a wok/heavy skillet heat 3 TB of oil salt and pepper and ginger. . . heat for about 1 minute and add the kale. . .
Toss the kale in the oil so that it coats lightly and the garlic/salt & pepper mix into it.
Tossing every so often sauté the kale till it get a nice dark color and begins to wilt just slightly.add the wine and cover for about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Remove the slice of ginger.
Serving: Toss the Mushroom mixture in with the Kale, put on a platter and put the shrimps on top. Garnish with thin tangerine or orange slices.
Baked Apple with Walnuts and Black Cardamon
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup hot water
- 1 tsp. ground black cardamom
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 TB of chopped crystalized ginger slices
- 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 4 large gala/fuji/honey crisp or apple of your choice that bakes well. Try to choose apples with a stem.
Combine honey, hot water, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and lemon juice in a 8” pan and stirring often, cook until it is thick, syrupy and well-blended together. Stir in the chopped walnuts, and coat them thoroughly. Remove from heat.
Prepare the Apples:
Cut each apple at the point where the top begins to curve down into the apple, so that when removed it is like a lid.
Remove the core of the apple (seeds) and discard.
Scoop out a well in the apple, leaving most of the apple intact.
Fill the well with the walnut mixture and place the apples standing upright on a baking dish. Place the “lids” on the apples.
Place in a 325 degree oven and bake for 30-45 minutes – this will depend on your apple choice, how your oven bakes, the baking dish you chose and so on.
Serve with any left over filling on the side.
Ginger Tea is a simple, easy and excellent way to dispel cold: Peel about 1-2 inches of the root and chop it into about 3-4 cups of cold water in a pan. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. You also can add red dates (Rinse your red dates well and cook for at least 5 minutes), goji berries and honey while the ginger is cooking. Wolfberries (Goji berries) and red dates with ginger is an excellent healthful tea.
Eat Seasonal, Buy Local, Think Global!
Wishing you good health! Remember to smile from the heart at all things.
The information in this article is based on the theories and principles of Chinese Medicine/Five Element Theory. Ellasara, a practitioner of Wu Ming Qigong, has been studying with Master and Dr. Nan Lu for many years and has participated in special classes through TCM World Foundation and the Tao of Healing in New York City. For comments, questions, consultations, firstname.lastname@example.org