Food As Medicine – Seasonal Harmony
By Ellasara Kling
Probably the most obvious aspect of Chinese healing arts is the focus on increasing health from the center of who we are. The ongoing movement between internal forces, external influences, general circumstances, who we are, where we are, and so on are all part of the overall configuration that form the picture of our health at any given moment. Essentially, we are always observing change and “coaxing” it along as an interactive partner in our transformation. Through this process of flux, insights arise and become today’s pearls of wisdom and tomorrow’s mundanity as we integrate them into our lives as we move along our energy path. The real wisdom is in the underlying, unifying field from which the “medicine” be it herbs, food, massage, meditation, qigong, taiji, or other, flows regardless of form or technique.
This season is Late Summer in Chinese Medicine which starts around mid-August and lasts until the Autumn Equinox. It is related to the Earth element, the color yellow, the Spleen/Stomach organ-meridian systems, it is nourished by the sweet/bland flavor, its environment is damp, its direction is Middle/Center. The Late Summer flows out of Early Summer and then into Fall. It comes from the bitter taste and is going into pungent. The flavor which balances it is Spring’s sour taste. (Hence, the popularity of sweet and sour sauces – natural balancing flavors.) This central placement of Late Summer is one of balance. In order to stay in balance, a person must have a deep feeling of trust/faith. The deeper our trust, the stronger our balance. During Late Summer, the early summer heat is beginning to cool and the earth energy is beginning to prepare for the Fall. Late Summer is a season of abundance and glorious colors. Everything is reaching its peak. The work of Spring and Early Summer is coming to fruition and these results are evident everywhere. Although fruits are prevalent in this season, excessive eating of fruit can lead to excessive mucus later on. Smaller meals that are well-chewed are beneficial just now.
Some foods for the late summer: Almond, Apple, Barley, Blueberries Buckwheat, Cabbage, Carrots, Cherry, Chestnuts, Chicken, Chive, Coconut, Cooked onion, Corn, Cow’s milk, Crab, Cucumber, Dates, Duck eggs, Eggplant, Figs, Fruits (sweeter), Garlic, Ginger, Grapes, Hazelnuts, Honey, Job’s tears, Lamb, Licorice, Lotus root, Mangos, Melons, Millet, Molasses, Mushrooms (especially button mushrooms), Oats, Oranges, Peanuts, Peaches, Peas, Potato, Pumpkins, Red Chinese Dates (Jujube), Rye, Squashes, Strawberry, Sugar, Sweet potatoes, Water chestnut, Watermelon.
Brunch Berry Cake
1/2 cup crushed walnuts – lightly toasted
1/3 cup granulated brown sugar
2 tablespoons buckwheat flour type�
Pinch of salt
1 large organic egg
1/3 cup firm silken organic tofu
2 cups of blueberries or blackberries
1 cup halved strawberries
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting or drizzle of honey (optional)
Mint leaves (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie pan with a light oil such as walnut oil
- Place dry ingredients – sugar, flour, salt and walnuts – in a food processor or blender and blend/process until it is fine.
- Add the egg and tofu, process until smooth.
- Fill the bottom of the pan with the blueberries or blackberries
- Place the halved strawberries cut side down in a pleasing to you pattern
- Pour the nut mixture over the top as evenly as possible.
- Bake for about 45 minutes at which point it will be set and a light golden color.
- Let cool for 10 minutes or more. Dust with confectioners’ sugar or drizzle with a bit of honey and decorate with mint leaves — serve warm.
1 Asian Pear or other pear or Gala/Fuji/Pink Lady apple
1 avocado — peeled/ halved/sliced in ½ “ pieces
1 small pink (or ruby red) grapefruit
2 FRESH water chestnuts if available in your area
½ cup lightly toasted walnuts
Small amount of baby arugula
Mint leaves – a few . . .finely minced
- After coring, Cut the pear or apple in very thin ½ moon slices and dip in lemon water so the slices retain their color
- If you have walnut halves, turn them into slightly crumbled pieces
- Slice the avocado as above and dip in lemon water so it retains its color
- Peel, and cut the grapefruit so that you have removed the pith from the outside. Cut into bite size chunks.
- Peel and dice the fresh water chestnuts
- Peel fine strips of the lemon zest and mince very finely
- Place a small amount of arugula on the serving dish so that it cover the dish in a thin layer, arrange all the fruit on the arugula in a pattern that is pleasing to you. Sprinkle the walnuts over the fruit. Garnish with lemon zest and mint leaves.
Blend together in a blender: Walnut oil/lemon juice/red wine vinegar/1/8 tsp ginger/crushed – sieved fresh raspberries(to remove all seeds) /salt/sugar or honey . . drizzle over salad.
- Place room temperature eggs in a sauce pan and cover with water and over high heat bring to a boil. (cook uncovered)
- Reduce heat somewhat and cook about 5 minutes
- Let stand until cool
- Tap eggs lightly with the back of a spoon so that you crack the shells but they are not coming off. You want a “crackled shell” look on the eggs when they are peeled.
- Add all the other ingredients to the saucepan, cover saucepan, and over low heat simmer for about 1 hour.
- Let stand in water until it is cool, drain and peel.
- Your eggs will have a “crackle” pattern and a delightful flavor.
Carrots and Turnips
- Bring carrots, turnips and veggie broth to a boil – reduce and simmer until veggies are just tender and drain. Toss with lemon juice, peel and rosemary.
- Alternately, you can add the lemon juice, peel and rosemary to the veggie broth along with 1 TB of cornstarch that has been diluted in 1 TB cold water and reduce until you have a nice sauce.
- With a slotted spoon, place the peaches one at a time gently in the boiling water for 1 minute
- Remove with a large slotted spoon and put the peaches gently one at a time in the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking
- Very carefully and tenderly remove the skin from the peach – the red color will have transferred on to the peach flesh and will make a beautiful presentation.
————————————————[Ellasara is a long time student of Master Nan Lu. She is now participating in LifeForce, Tao of Medical Qigong with Master Lu. She has deeply studied Chinese Nutrition and Food Cures for many years both formally and informally. She has a background as a chef, personal chef and caterer as well as having worked with people on improving their perspective on food and health. She teaches “Seasonal Harmony” a cooking class for balanced eating according to the principles of TCM/Five Element Theory and shares Wu Ming Qigong for Breast Health. For more information on food/health/Chinese medicine/Qigong/taiji Visit: www.taoofhealing.com]