Now that the fresh foods of summer are behind us, are you wondering how to eat during the fall and winter seasons? Traditional Chinese food is considered holistic and is used to harmonize the body, mind, and spirit. All foods have their own energy and characteristics that help balance our bodies and support health during seasonal changes.* This makes sense on an intuitive level; cold foods and drinks are appetizing in the summer, while hearty warm soups and stews are appealing in the winter.
According to Chinese tradition, fall is a critical time to prepare your body for winter.
In fall and winter, it’s important to keep warm and prevent dryness. Here’s a primer on foods to eat during these colder seasons, according to traditional Chinese theory.
Foods to Defend Against the Dry Weather*
Food plays an important role in ensuring your body can adjust to the changing seasons. The dry weather can cause a number of temporary occurrences in our bodies, such as:
- Itchy throat
- Dry nose
- Chapped lips
- Rough skin
- Dry stools
To help combat the dryness of winter, your diet needs to promote the production of body fluids and their lubricating effects throughout the body. Start with foods that moisten the lungs, such as apples, pears, and persimmons. These fruits contain a lot of water and are very good at getting rid of fire in the heart and stomach, which may be left over from the summer. Other moistening foods include:
- Lily bulb
- White fungus
- Nuts or seeds such as almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, and sesame seeds
- Lotus root
- Carb or pork
In addition to eating moistening foods, the body also needs extra fluids to deal with the dry environment. It is a very common practice to eat porridge for breakfast and traditional Chinese soup for dinner that is made with the above ingredients.
Foods to Eat in Fall and Winter to Support the Lung System*
In Chinese tradition, the fall also correlates with the lung system, which dominates the skin, respiration, body fluids, metabolism, blood circulation, and immunity.*
Pungent foods and herbs induce perspiration, as well as stimulate and help clear the lungs, while sour foods have astringent properties and thus prevent the loss of body fluids.* Luckily, there are many foods to eat in fall and winter that can help support the lung system.*
Pungent Foods and Herbs
- Bay leaves
- Caraway seeds
- Chillies and peppers
Savory Rice Congee is a traditional Chinese breakfast, though it can be eaten at any time of day. The inclusion of warming and pungent ginger supports health during cool and cold weather.*
Basic Savory Chinese Congee (Porridge)
Time: 2 hours
1 cup rice
8 cups water
½ tsp salt
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (for garnish)
Sliced green onions
Put rice and water into pot. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook for 1.5 hours, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent sticking. (If you have a slow-cooker, it’s easy to add the ingredients at bedtime at low heat to be ready for breakfast.) Ladle into serving bowls and add fresh ginger to serve. Add additional toppings as desired.