Chinese people have a unique view on food since ancient times. We believe the seasonal changes directly affect our health. From spring warmth, summer heat, autumn dryness and winter coldness, we derive the longevity principles of sowing in spring, growing in summer, harvest in autumn and restoration in winter. Similar to the Yin and Yang concept, we should choose the right food in each season to complement the natural forces of that season, and to replenish the loss of nutrients. This is the Chinese naturopathic system called "Echoing with the Nature".
Spring : From the Arrival of Spring (in the first month of Chinese calendar) to Ching Ming (in the third month of the Chinese calendar), the warm weather wakes up the whole world from the winter. We might have dry lips and tongue in this season and drinking fruit juice or eating vegetables helps replenish the water lost. Spring is believed to be a period of heightened Yang energy, when everything blooms. Greasy, spicy and deep fried food should be avoided as it tends to boost Yang energy further. From the perspective of Chinese medicine, Qi (vital energy) of liver easily loses control in spring and causes dizziness.
Hence, consumption of food supplementing the liver, say, sweet food is recommended while refraining from eating too much sour food.
Do's in spring recipes : Chinese chives, lily bulk, Chinese wolfberry leaves, pea sprouts, leeks.
Don'ts: Lamb, quail, cinnamon, star aniseed, onion, Sichuan peppercorn, stir fried soy beans, uncooked spring onion.
Summer starts in the 4 th month of the Chinese calendar. Under the rising temperature, our bodies are especially prone to accumulated Heat and Dampness. The high metabolic rate causes much perspiration, at the expense of Qi (vital energy) and body fluid. The ida drink in summer should clear Heat, benefit Qi, promote body fluid secretion and quench thirst. When feeling fatigue and low in energy or having poor appetite and deterioration of the sense of taste in summer, do not eat greasy, spicy deep fried food. During menstruation period, women should refrain from eating uncooked food that is Cold in nature.
Do's in summer recipes: White lentils, mung beans, pear, watermelon, dark plum, sugar cane, strawberries, mulberries, grapes, coconut milk, lemon, watermelon peel. Persimmons, pineapples, water chestnuts, bitter melon, winter melon, hairy gourd, sweet potato, snake melon, cucumber, tomato, Chinese spinach, straw mushrooms, lotus roots, Chinese wolfberry leaves.
Don'ts: Lamb, longan, dried longan, lychee, Chinese chive, onion, kale, Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon, stir fried peanuts, stir fried cucumber, cold rice crackers, cold congee, cold rice.
Weather turns cool drastically in autumn, yet the unstable weather might lead to fluctuating temperatures. Plants start wilting and the atmosphere turns dry. Although it feels hot at times in autumn, cold fruit and melons are not recommended as they harm the spleen and stomach. The coldness and dryness in autumn makes us thirsty, causes low volume of urine and dry stool. Good autumn food should stimulate body fluid secretion, benefit Yin and moisturize the body. Qi of the lungs are especially prone to Heat-dryness attach and giving rise to sore throat. Food like lotus seeds, white fungus and dates work best to supplement the body without causing Heat accumulation.
Do's in autumn recipes: lily bulk, lotus seeds, white lentils, lotus roots, caltrop nuts, chestnuts, walnuts, white fungus, swallow nest, peanuts, red dates, snake, yellow eel, Chinese wolfberry leaves.
Don'ts - watermelon, cantaloupe, uncooked cucumber, eggplant, persimmon, banana, mung beans, chilies, stir fried peanuts, pop corn, star aniseeds, lamb.
The cold weather and slow metabolic rate means that replenishment of nutrients for the spleen and stomach is especially important. Use care in choosing supplements according to your body predisposition. Those with blood-asthenia should eat supplements that promote blood cell formation; those with Qi-asthenia should choose Qi-supplementary food; those who suffer from general body debility should eat food that moisturizes and benefits the central energy. Food of cold nature and uncooked or refrigerated food should be avoided as they harm the internal organs.
Do's : lamb, beef, dates, lotus seeds, white wine, ginseng, cinnamon.
Don'ts: clams, conches, crabs, snails, mung beans, uncooked melon and fruit, banana, persimmon, black flossy moss, iced beer, American ginseng, mint.
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