The color of food serves as a great compliment in culinary art, but in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it can also act as a guide to eat accordingly in different seasons for health reinforcement.
In TCM, food is categorized into five colors according to its nature and complimentary function. Usually, Black foods are best for winter, green for spring, red for summer, yellow for late summer and white for autumn.
As we might have noticed, Beijing’s autumn can be quite dry and easily bring damage to our digestive system and cause coughing and sore throat. The following are some of the most popular white foods that are believed to be the best remedies to not only relieve coughing but also help to nourish our skin.
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, you may also consider to add a pear in autumn. In TCM, autumn is a season to nourish the lung when the lung energy becomes dominant. Pear is considered to have a cold and nourishing nature that helps to balance the yang in our body and prevents dryness. Eat it raw if you like but it functions better in treating coughing when cooked in soup.
White fungus is also called snow fungus. It is similar in texture to the black fungus which is commonly used in Chinese cold dish and hot pot. White fungus is commonly cooked in sweet soups, with pear or papaya. The taste is refreshing and women love it because it also helps to nourish the skin. It is worth mention that white fungus can help reduce lung damage from smoking too.
Beautiful lily is more than just an ornamental flower. Lily bulb, which is typically gathered in the autumn, cleaned, then sun dried, is one of the most suitable autumn recipes. The moisture nature of lily bulbs can help calm the uneasiness sprit during seasonal change. It can be cooked sweet together with other ingredients such as white fungus and honey, or quick fried with celery and garlic.
Lotus seed can be purchased in both Chinese grocery stores and pharmacies. It has similar function with the above ingredients but with a stronger cold nature. If you have a fever or a sour throat from eating spicy food, lotus seed can quickly suppress the heat, but it may cause diarrhea from having too much. For general health care in autumn, we suggest you adding less than a handful of lotus seeds and make a sweet soup with pear, white fungus and lily bulbs. The trick is to use crystal sugar (cold nature) instead of regular sugar, and to cook slowly with gentle fire.
Yes, lotus does us tremendous benefits. Its root is not only edible, but also delicious. You can cook lotus root in many ways: steam it, stew it, or fry it. It has strings in it after you slice it off, which looks like spider net to me. The best dish that I like it to be cooked is stew it with chicken.
Yams with peel look like a rusty, yet wooden rod, that’s why many Chinese people would call it “Iron Rod Yam”. It is usually steamed to eat. The texture is starchy, without quite any flavor, but many Chinese people love dipping it with sugar to eat. When you peel it, be very careful of its mucus, it can cause you irritated skin and make you feel very itchy.
This kind of bean is much bigger than regular beans that we see every day. It tastes very starchy. People boil it with pepper and aniseed, the flavor is ok. You can take it as staple food.
Indigenous to Southeast Asia, fresh water chestnuts need to be peeled from its muddy coating, or you can use it in stuffing. It’s good for clearing your lung. Very good for smokers. You can take it as fruit.
We hope you enjoy a better autumn with the white food. However, do not get obsessed with only the white. The fundamental theories about TCM are all about balance, and life is supposed to be colorful.