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Winter Nutrition: A TCM Perspective

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and naturopathic medicine are similar in that they both adhere to the principle of balance. You’ve heard of yin and yang, good and evil. Well, the same concept applies to the foods that we eat: “hot” foods versus “cold” foods.

A general premise during the winter season states that because the outside environment is cold, we need to ingest foods that are more warming to the body and avoid foods with a cold nature. Foods with cold properties include raw fruits and vegetables and treats like ice cream. In TCM, the properties of foods can be changed by the cooking process, so TCM does not advocate avoiding fruits and veggies, it merely states that a balance has to be struck. It’s still important to get in your intake of fruits, but rather than eating cold salads or greens, it is preferable that you cook your vegetables. Warming foods include soups, meats, peppers, ginger and spices like turmeric (the yellow colour found in curry dishes).

Here is a basic congee recipe to keep you warm during the winter season. Congee can be viewed as a substitute for chicken noodle soup. Enjoy!

Basic Congee Recipe:
1 cup rice
9 cups water
1 tsp salt
ginger, garlic, etc… (optional)

In a large pot, bring the water and rice to a boil.
When the rice is boiling, turn the heat down to medium low.
Cook on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice has a thick, creamy texture of porridge (1 – 1.5 hours). Garnish with green onions or add chopped coriander leaves at the end.

You can add anything to congee from different meats, seafood, vegetables and spices. If adding meats, do so at the beginning.

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