Seasonal Cooking with John and Tracey Creates
Balancing your nutrition and body, according to nature, is most beneficial to your health, diet, and longevity.
The fondest memory I had as a child growing up on a farm was the walk to the barn, where I’d stop along the way and pick up a few snacks. Towering pear trees, loaded with pears the size of softballs, blocked out the sun on the skinny dirt road. Tightly knit blackberry bushes entangled their way up the barbed wire fence, which kept the cows out of the road. If you looked close enough, you could find strawberries nestled underneath the pear trees. If you made it through the outside grocery path, your next stop would be an old apricot tree and, beyond that, an apple orchard overlooking the river. It was a wonderful experience.
While studying Modern Chinese Medicine, I made a fascinating discovery that led me back to that fond memory. I discovered Traditional Chinese Medicine Food Therapy (which is used on an individual basis to cure pathogens and bring the body back into balance).
The best part was discovering the Five Seasons, cooking, and eating according to the seasons, which aides in preventing and healing certain pathogens within the body in specific cases. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, medicinal food dishes are prepared according to traditional recipes and techniques from thousand-year-old ideas concerning how the human body works. Each person is treated individually per their conditions.
In Chinese Medicine Cuisine (Food Therapy), the basic idea is to balance the Qi and the Body Fluids. It is also interesting to note that the belief in eating Seasonal Food is generally the best. Click Here to learn more information about Chinese Medicine Cuisine.
Now, I’m going to paraphrase a bit. In short, according to Chinese Medicine Food Therapy, there are Five Seasons (Beginning of Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn, and Winter). Just as nature around us changes, it affects us. According to TCM, the harmony between food and weather is based on practical experience: Foods eaten during the seasons (including environmental changes and factors) have different effects on the human body. It is suggested by Chinese dietary philosophy that you embrace native foods of your area, which includes eating locally grown foods and those in season. Choose fresh foods and not chemically treated, as well as remove processed foods from your diet.
As an example, I remember my Great Grandmother would always say, “It’s going to rain soon. I can feel it in my joints.” Well, yes, she was right. Even with fish, most fishermen know that it’s not a good time to go fishing when it rains because the fish’s bladder swells due to the barometric pressure. Certain fish sink deeper into the waters to relieve the pain, making them hard to catch.
I’m sure most have heard about having hot soups during the winter months or cold. Keeping warm fluids in you on a cold day was to ward off colds, right? Grandma was right about those warm soups, and that’s just only the beginning.
Think of Spring Seasonal cooking as Spring Cleaning for your body.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, if we eat seasonal foods that are similar in nature to the external environment(seasons), we will remain in harmony with the environment and adapt better to the seasonal changes and stay healthy. TCM believes that applying the basic principle “Nourishing Yang in Spring and Summer, and Yin in Autumn and Winter” is a way to build up energy and prepare for the coming seasons. It is also believed that certain foods in the wrong seasons can attribute to certain deficiencies, which could lead to specific aliments.
In the Autumn/Fall here, there are lots of fresh foods being produced naturally. Such as apples, pears, sweet potatoes, parsnips, pumpkins, etc. Nature is changing, and producing food in that change contains specific nutrients that will benefit us for the upcoming season…WINTER. It’s like nature knows what we need when we need it. Basically, nature supplies a boost for our immune systems.
Example 2: Summer is generally hot, and plants grow fast. Most people are more energetic, and the body’s qi and blood become more vigorous than in other seasons. TCM believes that the physiological changes make the heart over function, allowing too much Yang Qi to flow outwards to the exterior part of the body, affecting lung functioning. Excessive sweating scatters Heart Qi and weakens the mind, which can cause symptoms like becoming irritability, depression, restlessness, and sleeping difficulties. It is recommended to eat foods that keep the body cool and balanced, such as bitter gourd, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, bean sprouts, duck, and fish. Eat more veggies and fruits during the summer.
Did you know that it is a Chinese Tradition in the summer to make soups for clearing summer heat (meaning eliminating dampness and promoting digestion)?
Herbs, types of vegetables, fruits, and limiting specific foods per season are significant Seasonal Cooking measures.
For the upcoming posts in Seasonal Cooking, each season posted will include a list of acceptable foods and recipes related to that season.
Until next time- Love to you all and stay healthy! See you soon.
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