This week gave our spleens a chance to recover from midterm exams in a most delicious fashion. B. drew upon his experience at Thai restaurants and made us his version of an “Emerald” curry. He paired this vegan coconut milk-based dish with the most delightfully aromatic rice you can imagine. It was so good that half of us stayed after class to eat more!
TCM DOS: Spleen Qi deficiency
TCM Diagnosis: Spleen Qi deficiency
Western Diagnosis: Gastroenteritis, Indigestion, Chronic Diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
C/C: Digestive problems: Abdominal fullness and epigastric Pn after meals; Abdominal bloating in between meals; frequent loose stools.
S/S: Diminished appetite, sallow complexion, bland taste in mouth, fatigue, lassitude, borborygmus, BM’s 3-4x/day, loose, sometimes watery. Occasional intestinal cramping on evacuation, tenesmus. Feeling of general heaviness. Symptoms worse after eating fresh fruits or vegetables. Symptoms worse during menses and week after menses.Symptoms improved with use of hot water bottle on abdomen, Pepto-Bismol.
Tongue: Pale body, slightly swollen, scalloped, thick white coat
Pulse: Deep, moderate, slippery
Treatment Principles: Tonify Spleen, transform damp
Foods and lifestyle that Tonify Spleen Qi: Sweet flavors with neutral to warm temperatures. Cooked, smaller portions eaten on a regular schedule. At least one warm meal per day. Grains, poultry, vegetables and certain fruits strengthen our middle burner.
Foods and lifestyle that injure Spleen Qi: Cold foods, especially iced drinks, frozen foods, ice cream, raw foods, cucumbers, watermelons, citrus, pineapples. Irregular eating, skipping meals, eating too late or too large a meal, eating while emotionally upset. Extended periods of mental activity can also weaken the Spleen.
Cooking methods that tonify Spleen Qi: Warming techniques like baking, frying, roasting, boiling and simmering increase the yang energy in foods, make the food easier to digest, balance the nature of cooling foods like vegetables, and strengthen the middle burner.
Curried Vegetables with Cardamom Rice
(makes approx 8 servings)
16 oz organic baby carrots, sliced
8 oz snow peas, sliced
(8) organic small red potatoes, quartered
(1/2) white onion, sliced
(1/2) head of cauliflower, cut into medium florets
(1) 8 oz can water chestnuts
(1) 8 oz can bamboo shoots
16 oz frozen petite green peas
(3) 14 oz cans of coconut milk
3 cups water
2 oz fresh Thai basil, chopped
2 tbsp dried Thai basil, chopped
2 oz fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp green curry paste
2 tbsp red chili oil
2 tbsp fresh ginger root, grated
4 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
12 white cardamon buds, crushed
1 piece of cinnamon bark
1 cup white rice (before cooking)
Rice: Place rice, cardamom, cinnamon bark and appropriate amount of water in
steamer and cook for 35 minutes.
Vegetables: Combine coconut milk, water, curry paste, onion, ginger, carrots, potatoes,
and chili oil in large sauce pan. Place on medium heat, bring to simmer for 10 minutes.
Add water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, cauliflower, snow peas and dried seasonings.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in parsley, basil, and green peas and lower heat,
cover and simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes and
serve over steamed rice.
Sweetness of coconut milk and brown sugar combined with warming spices (chili oil,
black pepper, cumin, curry) energizes middle burner. Ginger harmonizes middle, xforms
damp. Simmering warms the cool nature of the vegetables. Carrots, peas, and potatoes
strengthen Spleen. Aromatic spices move qi, invigorate spleen. Steamed rice
harmonizes Stomach, strengthens Spleen, stops diarrhea.