Ying Yang Xue

"If something is cold, heat it. If something is hot, cool it." –Huangdi Neijing

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Curry favor with your Spleen

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)
Cooking Directions:
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.

Requisite action shot!

Cake to Soothe the Savage (Liver) Beast

N. took the treatment of liver qi stagnation to another level–the CAKE level!  This delicious creation was just sweet enough, with a delicious punch of kumquat and sesame seeds.  She focused her liver qi stagnation recipe  on the manifestation of depression, including lots of ingredients to move qi and calm the shen.  I know that *I* was in a better mood after eating this treat!

TCM DOS: Depression due to Liver Qi Stagnation

Western DX: Depression

TCM S/s: emotional disorder, depression, sighing, distension and pain in hypochondrium, stuffiness in the chest, insomnia, loss of appetite, irregular menstruation, PMS, irritability, belching, feeling of difficulty swallowing

Tongue: thin white and with red sides

Pulse: Wiry, slippery

Recommended Foods: Foods that help regulate Qi, relieve depression, transform phlegm, nurture the Liver and Tranquilize the heart such as: longan, litchi, lotus seeds, wheat, mulberry, oyster, oranges, basil, kumquat, plum, sesame seeds, onion/leek.

Foods to Avoid: cheese, eggs, cream, ice cream, red meats, nuts, pizzas, lard, shortening, margarine, deep fried foods, chilies, and excessively hot, spicy meals, beer and excessive intoxicants in general, raw vegetable juices, refined sugars, artificial preservatives, artificial colorings

Helpful cooking Methods: stews, soup, bake or steam instead of Deep fry

Kumquat Cake


10 kumquats

3 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

2 cup water


Cut kumquats into small pieces and take seeds out. Mix wheat flour , water and sugar together and blend it. Add the kumquats. Then blend it again and let it stand out for 30minutes. Sprinkle sesame seeds on over the top.

Place it in the oven at 400F for 30-45 minutes.

Check out the yummy kumquat pieces--that'll get your qi movin'!

Soup to Soothe the Liver

This week we focused on Liver Qi Stagnation, which proved to be very apt since it’s midterm week!  K. made us a special soup that’s not all that it appears: a creamy asparagus soup that’s not overwhelmingly “asparagus-y,” nor did it contain cream!  This vegan delight relies on its spices to pack a yummy punch, not to mention its sunny hue!

TCM DOS: Liver Qi Stagnation 


DOS: Feeling of distension of hypochondrium and chest, hypochondriac pain, sighing, hiccups, melancholy, depression, moodiness, fluctuation of mental state, alternating chills and fever, nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, poor appetite, sour regurgitation, belching, feeling of pulsation in epigastrium, churning feeling in the stomach, abdominal distension, borborygmus, diarrhea, unhappiness, lump in throat, feeling of difficulty with swallowing, irregular periods, painful periods, distension of breasts before periods, pre-menstrual tension and irritability. Tongue: body color may be normal or slightly red on the sides, thin white coating Pulse: string taut, wiry (especially on the left side)

Western Correlations: Stress, anxiety, depression, acid reflux, IBS, PMS

Foods you should eat: watercress mustard greens tumeric onion basil bay leaf cardamon marjoram cumin fennel dill ginger black pepper horseradish rosemary any mints lemon balm angelica root prickly ashbark taro root sweet rice beets amasake strawberry cabbage peach turnip root kohlrabi cherry cauliflower broccoli chestnut brussel sprouts pine nuts sprouted grains beans fresh veggies fruits

Most powerful to break up Qi stagnation: lemon lime grapefruit rye romaine lettuce asparagus amaranth quinoa alfalfa radish leaves citrus peel dandelion root bupleurum chaparral milk thistle seeds chamomile licorice root oregon grape root vinegar

Foods to eat less or eliminate/cooking methods: high saturated fats, hydrogenated and poor quality foods, nuts and seeds (exceptions are above, or if they are made easily digestible), chemicals in food and water, prescription drugs, highly processed or refined foods, alcohol, coffee, excessively sour foods or drinks, greasy fatty oily foods, foods that are hard to digest, spicy pungent “hot” foods, over eating in general, heavy red meats

Cream of Asparagus Soup


1 tablespoon of olive oil


1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms (baby bella substituted)

1 bunch of asparagus

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

2 tablespoons of fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon cumin


salt and pepper

1 cup unsalted cashews

2/3 cup of water

½ lemon juiced

In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add 2 sliced leeks, 1 cup of sliced cremini mushrooms, and 1 bunch of chopped asparagus; cook 4 minutes. Add 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, 1 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper to taste; simmer 20 minutes and puree. In a food processor, mix together 1 cup of unsalted cashews and 2/3 cup of water until smooth. Stir mixture and juice of 1/2 lemon into soup; heat 2 minutes.

Such a vivid color (thanks, turmeric!)

great partner for N's kumquat cake!

Super soup to boost the Spleen

We’re back for another exciting semester of Chinese Nutrition and Dietary Therapy!  I’m looking forward to what class 35 brings to the table–literally and figuratively!–in regards to interpreting and arranging foods geared towards helping a variety of imbalances.

We kicked off the semester with L. cooking for SP qi xu.  She brought some specificity to the assignment, creating this dish for her Spleen qi deficient son (whose signs and symptoms are listed as a case study below).   We should all be so lucky to have mothers that are doctors and chefs!  The tasty soup was a success, with most of us diving in for seconds (and thirds).  What surprised us the most as a class was how the look of the soup (a red, borscht-y vibe) differed wildly from its warm, spicy, almost chili-esque appeal.   This is sure to get your spleen AND your taste buds revved up!

TCM pattern: Spleen Qi Deficiency 

DOS: Damp-Phlegm obstructing the lung d/t underlying Spleen deficiency

Western Dx: Chronic Rhinitis

S/S: Profuse clear, white and slippery nasal discharge worse in am or post greasy meals, occasional sneezing upon awakening in am, frequent/loose BM, poor appetite, dizziness esp. in am, and hard time getting up in am.

T: Pink, moist, swollen with teethmarks

P: Rolling

Foods to add: Adzuki beans, cooked veggies especially beets, leafy greens, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, stews; apples (sweet and organic), apricots, dates, figs, grapes, raspberries. Drink warm drink like hot tea or room temperature water post meals.

Foods to avoid: Candy, celery, dairy, raw salads and vegetables, frozen foods, fruit juices, cold drinks, melon, pork, radishes, sugar, tofu or any fried, greasy, oily foods.

Helpful cooking methods: Steam instead of Fry. Cook with spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, fennel, garlic powder, nutmeg, ginger powder, pepper, sweet basil, and orange peel. Eat easy to digest food like soups, stews and cooked veggies.

Sp Xu Bean Soup


2 teaspoons whole cumin seed – promote bean digestion

7 cloves of garlic (smashed) – pungent, sweet, warm; Sp, St, Lu; warm MJ, reinforce St, aiding digestion, promote energy circulation

1 large red onion – pungent and bitter, warm; Lu, St, Li; activate yang and sending Qi downward

½ cup black beans – sweet, neutral; Sp, Kid; tonify Sp

¼ cup small red/adzuki beans – sweet, neutral; Sp, Li, Si; reinforce Sp and remove damp

1/8 cup garbanzo beans – Sweet flavor; benefit the St; contain more iron than other legumes and a good source of unsaturated fats.

¼ cup lentils beans –  neutral, mild flavor; stimulate the adrenal system

1 dried red chili pepper – pungent, hot; Sp, St, Li; warm MJ, reinforce St, restore appetite.

1 teaspoon turmeric powder – warm, bitter; promote protein digestion; healing properties/anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger – pungent, sl warm; Lu, Sp, St, warm MJ & Lu to transform phlegm/dampness

2 tomatoes (cubed) (wash seeds out) – sweet, sour, cool; St, Liv; promotes digestion, poor appetite

2 carrots (cubed)  – Sweet and neutral/ propensity for Sp, Lu, Liv. Reinforce Sp and aid digestion and send counterflow of qi downward.

1 beet root (cubed) – sweet, neutral; congested chest, poor energy circulation

1 Chicken breast cut up in small pieces – sweet, warm; Sp, St; warm MJ, nourish Sp, enriching & nourishing Q & blood.

Salt and peppers to taste

Bouillon to taste (optional)


Soak red/adzuki, black, and garbanzo beans for 5 hours, then boil until tender

Add lentil beans, chili peppers, ginger, turmeric, and cumin

Brown chicken with garlic and onions and pour into original mixture.

Add tomatoes, beets and carrots and cook until tender.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Additional ingredients if you like roots

Yucca root

Taro root – pungent, sweet, neutral with a light toxicity; reinforce Sp and St


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