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November 28, 2011

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Eat right to store energy for winter

WHEN Xiao Xue (light snow) starts, the weather should get colder, according to the Chinese tradition.

To protect yourself against the cold weather, TCM doctors recommend foods with relatively high calories to preserve yang ("hot") energy. Black foods that reinforce kidney (where energy is stored) are highly recommended.

Xiao Xue, one of the 24 solar terms, indicates the start of snow falling in the country. The temperature will continue dropping although there may not be much snow in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River region that includes Shanghai.

Xiao Xue usually lasts from November 22 or 23 to December 7 or 8.

During this period Chinese farmers will prepare cold-proofing measures for the plants and start making preserved ham. Traditional Chinese medicine doctors also recommend people wear warmer clothes to preserve body heat.

Meanwhile, nutritious yang-reinforcing food can help warm the body up from inside, according to Dr Pan Huaxin, a veteran TCM doctor specializing in internal medicine at Shanghai Chinese Clinical and Medicine House.

Eating high-calorie foods is recommended in the season for energy storage. High-quality protein is always necessary, while glucose and fat should not be completely skipped.

Lean pork, eggs, fish, dairy products, beans and other foods rich in carbohydrates and fat content are all good choices in winter.

Foods with strong yang energy include mutton, jujube and longan. Still, doctors warn against eating too much to prevent breaking the energy balance and causing pathogenic heat related problems like ulcers, a sore throat or dry lips.

Adding some "cold" (yin) foods in the "warm" (yang) foods is ideal. For example, add some "cold" turnip or lotus leaves to mutton stew to create a mild "warm-reinforcing" dish. Eating "cool" foods like celery, cabbage and lily's root also helps.

Kidneys play an important role in storing energy in winter. Black foods are highly recommended in the season, according to the theory of the five elements - fire, wood, earth, metal and water.

Both kidneys and the color black belong to the water element, which corresponds with winter.

Sesame, champignon mushrooms, black beans, fungus, kelp, soft-shell turtle and longan are all on the list of good winter foods.

? Black bean, longan, dang gui (angelica) and mutton pot

Ingredients: mutton (1,000g), angelica (10g), longan (10g), black bean (100g), some dried lotus leaves

Preparation: 1. Cook the black beans in water until they are soft.

2. Chop the mutton and boil quickly to skim off foam.

3. Put all the ingredients together in a stewing pot with water.

4. Stew for about 3 hours.

Benefits: Helps reinforce yang energy and boost circulation.

? Sesame and jujube congee

Ingredients: sesame (20g), dried jujubes (25g), rice (150g), sugar as needed

Preparations: 1. Quickly pan-fry the sesames and grind into powder.

2. Make congee with the jujubes, sesame and rice.

3. Add sugar to sweeten.

Benefits: Helps reinforce yang energy and boost circulation.


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