Later Summer Food As Medicine
By Ellasara Kling
Following Spring and Early Summer is the “additional” season known as “Late Summer” during which Nature continues its upward and outward energetic flow as plants are now coming into their maturity. Nature is now hitting its height and preparing for Autumn when the energy begins to literally “fall”. But, for now, it is the lazy days of summer heat, and, in many areas lots of humidity. Consequently, you will find some recipes here that are cooling and light. During Late Summer, as in the two prior seasons, outdoor activities are inviting, the world is magnificently beautiful, and most people become just a bit more upbeat during the summer as they harmonize with its energy.
Some Foods That Harmonize With the Late Summer Season:
Almond, Apple, Barley, Buckwheat, Cabbage, Carrots, Cherries, Chestnuts, Chicken, Chive, Coconut, Cooked Onion, Corn, Cow’s Milk, Crab, Cucumber, Dates, Duck Eggs, Eggplant, Figs, Garlic, Grapes, Hazelnuts, Job’s Tears (Also Known As Chinese Barley and Coix Seeds) Lamb, Licorice, Lotus Root, Mangos, Millet, Mushrooms, Oats, Peanuts, Peaches, Peas, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Red Chinese Dates (Jujube), Rye, Squashes, Strawberry, Sugar, Sweet Potatoes, Water Chestnut, And Watermelon.
Additional notes on Late Summer: Late Summer is associated with the Spleen/Stomach system; the predominate taste is Sweet and Bland, its element is the Earth; it’s color is yellow and when out of balance it’s primary symptom is “over thinking”/”worry”. The Spleen/Stomach system is the “Mother” to the Lung/Large Intestine and is the “Child” of the Heart/Small Intestine. The Liver/Gall Bladder “control the Spleen/Stomach system, which in turn, controls the Kidney/Small Intestines.
One of the many “healing techniques” of Chinese medicine is through the use of foods to, balance and harmonize the body. Dietary recommendations in this way are not the same as most western medicinal diets as the emphasis here is to use foods that strengthen and tonify the organ systems ’ functionality to assist it to come into greater balance. Recently, Dr. Lu spoke about the benefits of the dandelion. Often viewed in the U.S. as a troublesome garden weed, this little plant offers healing benefits from the top of its pretty, bright yellow flowers (a terrific tonic wine), down through its green leaves, which are a liver tonic, especially good for breast health, and edible all year long, down through its roots which make an energizing tea and have been known as a relaxant when specially prepared as an inhalant. Further, Dr. Lu compared the dandelion to the rose in an interesting way. The rose is regal and cherished for its visual beauty and aroma. It has some medicinal use, but not nearly as much as the dandelion, who humble in appearance, offers so much even in its “puff balls” that carry its seeds far and wide. The “puff balls” go with the flow following where Nature leads them and grow in almost any terrain without special care. Wherever they land, becomes home. Wouldn’t we all like to have more of that quality in our lives? The freedom that comes with following Nature in perfect trust, to grow and be humbly pretty and completely useful wherever we are without effort or pretense?
A tea of ginger and nutmeg together as a tea are said to strengthen the Spleen/Stomach.
1cup water, 1 tsp minced fresh ginger, ½ tsp ground nutmeg. Bring to a boil, simmer for 15 min. Drink ½ cup 2x a day before meals.
Staying Cool in humid weather:
3 cups of water, 1-1/2 TB chrysanthemum flowers. Simmer for 15 minutes. This flower tea is naturally sweet and highly refreshing on hot, humid days even though you will drink it warm.
Kam Wo Tea: Available at Asian markets is a fabulous hot weather refresher.
1 cup water for every ¼ cup of mung beans. Mince ½ tsp tangerine rind &1 tsp minced ginger. Mix together and simmer until the beans are completely tender. Makes a wonderful breakfast cereal or hot weather soup.
Seasonal Good Eats
- 1 qt water
- 1 lb carrots
- 3 TB walnut oil
- 1 sm onion
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 small sweet potato
- 2 TB coriander or cumin (depending on personal taste preference)
- 1 TB chopped parsley
Heat oil in dutch over, add chopped onion until it sweats, add chopped celery, carrots and potato, reduce heat and add water, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cover. While the soup is cooking, toast either the coriander or the cumin in a small skillet in 1 tsp of oil and set aside. When the vegetables in the dutch oven are tender, puree in a blender or food processor until they are velvety smooth. This may take 2-3 times through. Return to pot and heat. Add the toasted spice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chopped parsley as garnish.
Broiled Pineapple with Mango Sauce
- 1 Mango (peeled, pitted)
- ½ cup orange juice
- 2 TB lemon juice
Puree all the above ingredients until smooth and then strain through a sieve or cheesecloth.
- 1 pineapple
- candied ginger slices cut into julienne strips
- white wine
- enough light oil to lightly oil a baking sheet
Peel a pineapple making certain to remove the “eyes”. Cut into 1” horizontal slices (should have at least 6 slices) and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Divide the ginger on top of each pineapple slice. Drizzle white wine over the top of the pineapple slices. Broil until the pineapple slices begin to become golden brown. Serve with mango sauce.
4 cups mixes fresh vegetables: red bell peppers, zucchini, yellow summer squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, all cut into large pieces for grilling. . .Remove the stems of the mushrooms and grill the whole caps or cut into sections if using a large portabella mushroom.
- 3 TB walnut oil
- 1 Tb lemon juice
- 1 TB ginger juice
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- salt & pepper
Mix together in a large bowl and add vegetables and toss so they are lightly coated and let sit for about 20 minutes. Grill on skewers or separately in a basket. (Can also be sautéed indoors this way). Generally, pepper and mushrooms take 5-10 minutes on a grill whereas squash can be done in 5 minutes.
Corn & Snow Fungus (Bai Mu Er – White Elephant Ears)
Snow fungus is available in Asian markets. Generally, the packages of snow fungus that are very white have been processed with sulfites. When the slightly yellow” looking fungus is added to water, they become white. A mall piece of fungus goes a very long way. I suggest softening them in hot water by letting them soak for about 15 minutes and then removing them from the water. There is a “core” on the bottom, gently cut it away with a scissor, toss the soaking water out and start fresh at this point. Put the fungus, which is quite beautiful as it softens– fluttery and whimsical, into a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until it is done – some people like it still crunchy and others more mushy – experiment and decide for yourself. When it is almost done turn up the heat and bring back to a boil, and add your corn kernels to the water. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, which is all that corn requires.
Snow fungus is good for the lungs and large intestine (fall dominate) and corn is good for the stomach (late summer dominate) making them a good health team and a tasty side dish.
- 6-8 cups of watermelon (be sure to keep some green and white rind on some of the watermelon)
- ½ cup of thinly sliced scallion whites
- ½ cups toasted walnuts
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1/8 cup orange juice
- 1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp allspice
Mix thoroughly and pour over watermelon that has been placed in a very large bowl. Toss gently with the cilantro, scallions, and walnuts.
Lemon/Lime Grilled Chicken
This dish is said to reduce inner heat and thirst.
- 2/3 lb of organic chicken breast sliced into large thick strips
- 1 lemon sliced very thinly
- Juice of two lemons and two limes
- ½ cup light oil
- 1 T soy sauce
- ½ cup T white wine
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 3 T sugar
- 4 cloves crushed garlic
Toss the chicken strips in the marinade and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
Place on very hot grill and cook until completely done. Can also be broiled indoors.