Restorative Winter Foods and Herbs from the Oriental Tradition

By the time this comes out, we will likely be into serious winter weather, and if the Farmer’s Almanac is correct, plenty of accompanying storms. In my last article on Fall dietary support, I mentioned facilitating the shift of the season and letting go [of summer warmth and perhaps more]. With the unseasonable warmth of November, our bodies may have been easily lulled into complacency, rather than cranking our internal thermostats.

This is a time of stoking our fires with warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, and pepper. Sounds like a chai-style tea, eh? You may feel drawn to the Yogi tea brand the coop carries, and you will find any number of other teas with these spices on the shelves. Other warming herbs and foods include lamb, chicken, rosemary, and cayenne.

In China, Winter is associated with the water phase, [or element], and the kidneys and bladder, which are particularly susceptible to [you guessed it!], cold. There are a few foods that especially boost the kidneys. Lamb, which is also a great blood tonic, is one. Walnuts are another. Any berry [as I have mentioned before!] but particularly Goji berries and rosehips are fantastic for the kidneys, and our essential energy that is so difficult to replenish.

Unfortunately, the holiday season is usually awash with overly sweet foods. I say awash, because the Chinese have a concept of dampness within the body that is associated with many health concerns, including respiratory illness, digestive complaints, excess weight, and some muscular and joint problems. An overload of sweets is sure to tax the system and adrenals overall, and will lead to an accumulation of internal dampness. Commonly dampness blocks circulation, so that the hands and feet tend to cold although the core is warm. So aim to treat yourself with the mildly sweet root vegetables and squashes available now, and steer away from the intensely refined flours and sugars of typical holiday cooking. By being easy on your digestion, you will stay a lot warmer and energetic. Plenty of dark leafy greens will help your colon manage the richer foods you crave. And provided they are local, they are much sweeter, now that they’ve been well frosted. Of course, you also need the healthy  [organic, free range] fats and oils to stay warm. Have a great winter, and get outside and soak up some vitamin D! For more information about herbs specific to your health concerns, contact Abi at 594-4766.