A few days ago I had a conversation with a publishing house which has an interest in a book project with me. The publisher and the editor are very food-passionate people and showed great curiosity for everything about the culinary delight. I really enjoyed the conversation with these likeminded people a lot. 😀
We talked a lot about Chinese and Asian eating habits and cooking methods. But also about much more than these culinary topics. Much to my surprise, the theme of “Chinese dietetics” was completely unknown to them. So I suspect that perhaps you neither have heard about this and would like to know a little about this topic.
Especially in todays time full of countless diet methods, dos and don’ts on our daily plates, a glimpse of this holistic nutrition might be helpful for all who feel quite lost in the jungle of this extreme diet society.
Simplified explained: We Chinese see a close connection between nutrition and medicine by considering all food as a kind of drug. Just like drugs, any kind of food can be healthy or unhealthy for our body depending on the life situation and well-being of the person. The conscious awareness of the selection and combination of different foods to promote health or prevent disease is called “maintenance of life”.
There are for example rules which goodies you should prefer eating and which you should rather avoid in the different seasons. For example, in winter you should consume more lamb and deer meat. When it is flu time you should cook and drink fresh ginger tea every day to prevent or alleviate the flu. Or in some specific life stages such as during pregnancy, crabs are a no-go for women…
Already as a little girl I knew these kinds of rules from my parents and grand parents. However, I did not know the reason for these rules at that time. They sounded to me like hearsay. As I started to study Sinology at University I came across the subject “chinese dietetics”. Suddenly I noticed all those rules do have some scientific logic and thousands of years of tradition behind them. Even today they are still an important part of the traditional Chinese medicine.
The basic idea about this nutrition science explained extremely simplified: all natural foods can be categorised into three groups according to their temperature behaviour: warm / hot, cool / cold and neutral.
Cool / cold = deceleration of the internal process
Warm / hot = active power, acceleration and dynamic
Neutral = has both the properties above
How to understand this exactly? You can try to Imagine that there is an energy oven in our body. In the oven a fire is burning all the time which symbolizes our energy. If we take more warm or hot food to us, the fire burns up really high and strong. If we eat more cool or cold food, the fire becomes weak or goes out. When eating the neutral food, the fire keeps just as strong as it was. Chinese try to make sure that the fire is not too strong and not too weak. Everything should be in balance.
For example, it is now winter and it is cold outside. Our internal process shifts down a gear. We are feeling cold. Then we need something to strength the dynamic of our inner process and to heat up our energy oven. Such as lamb or shrimps. But when you start to get dry lips and pimples, as currently it is the case with me, then you should refrain from lamb or shrimp and eat more food that is rather neutral.
Therefore, today I have a recipe that fits well with my current well-being. The new pimple on my face and the dry lips are the signs for too much heat in my inner oven. To reduce the heat in the oven, I need food that is neutral or even slightly cool.
With this soup I’m doing my body something good. Both corn and coconut milk have a neutral temperature behavior, mango rather chilling. This soup with these three main components will not increase the fire in my energy oven, but slightly soften it. Why then not take food that has a very cold temperature behavior? Well, remember? It’s still winter! In the winter we have anyway a slower inner process. Excessively cold food slows down the entire metabolism even more, which is not really good for the body.
So, as you see, there is no good or bad food. You just need to take into account an individual decision for what is good for your own body depending on your own life situation and of course the different seasons. As you can see, it is all about the balance. 😉
If you would like to know more about this, let me know. Then I can write more about it in the future. I’m curious about your feedback. 😉
Ingredients (4 servings):
500g corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
200g mango (peeled, seeded, diced)
1 shallot (finely diced)
1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)
200ml coconut milk
½ tsp Thai yellow curry paste (Asia shop)
2 stalks lemongrass (washed, peeled and halved)
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 pinch of turmeric
200ml vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
chives for garnishing (chopped)
- Heat the olive oil in a pot briefly, sauté the shallot and garlic briefly. Add the curry paste and sweat for a few minutes. Add the corn kernels, stir-fry. Then mix in the turmeric and cook briefly.
- Deglaze with coconut milk and bring to boil. Add the lemongrass, kaffir leaves with vegetable stock to the pot. Cook over medium heat (covered) for about 30 minutes.
- Add the mango cubes to the pot. Simmer the soup on low heat for further 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Blend the soup with a hand blender and strain with a fine sieve. Garnish with chopped chives.