Have you ever been so stuffed up that you’re afraid to eat?
When allergy season is driving you nuts, sometimes it can be hard to figure out what to eat that won’t make things worse.
Here are 3 of my Favorite Medicinal Foods, described in Chinese Medical Terms, and some ideas on how to eat them.
- Raw Onions. Cooked are also good, but the spice in raw can get things moving right away.
Benefits: High amounts of quercetin, detoxify food and body
How do onions detoxify food? In many traditional cooking cultures such as Persian, Indian, and Chinese, meat is cooked with onions by itself or in broths to detoxify the meat. I suspect the French eat French onion soup to detoxify the body before or after a long night of fun and alcohol.
The mild spiciness of onions helps ‘kick things out” of the bloodstream. This is what my teacher in Chinese Medical school would say, and in Western terms, it means that they detoxify the bloodstream, get the lymph moving, and are antioxidant, or scavenge free radicals.
Delicious ways to add raw onions to your meal:
1.Chop them up and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Add cubed tomato and sea salt if you like. Use this as a relish on a chicken sausage.
2.Thinly slice and add lemon juice. Add this to grilled shawarma sandwich, grilled chicken, a salad, or to tacos.
3. Chop or lightly blend 3 green onions and a handful of other herbs such as italian parsley, cilantro or basil with 2 eggs and salt. Cook this green mix into a frittata in a cast iron skillet with olive oil and turmeric powder in the pan. Enjoy with lemon, tomato, and pita bread.
Note: Soaking thinly sliced onions in water for a few minutes takes the edge off the spice and makes it easy to eat a lot of them in a salad, on a sandwich, or over a rice dish.
- Clear Hot Broth or Miso Soup
I make a vegetable broth with whole onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, mushrooms, celery. I use reishi mushroom, but keep it easy. If you are an herbalist and want to experiment, Astragalus, Ginseng, or Dang Gui can also be cooked into the broth for immune boosting, or parsley and leeks help the body drain out toxins through the urinary system.
Simply boil any vegetables, barely cut (less work, and easy to remove with tongs), for 15-20 minutes. If you don’t plan to use miso, you may choose to add salt.
Benefits: Clear, warm, savory, non acidic broth first thing in the stomach is simply love and kindness to the digestive system. This can clear residual mucus in the stomach and make way for the rest of what’s coming for the day. The warmth relaxes the vascular system in the lower part of the body, allowing pressure in the upper (sinus and face pressure) to drain downward.
Food temperature (hot meal vs cold) and savory vs sweet are majorly considered in Chinese medicine and make a big difference in overall health, optimal digestion, and longevity.
Ever notice how western “diets” recommend lots of sweet shakes, nutrition bars, and salads? The cold and sweet aspects of these “meals” are not taken into consideration in western culture (the focus is on calories, fat, protein, glycemic index, etc.) but are the focus in Eastern traditions. They can freeze up the digestive fire, causing food to stagnate and create mucus or inflammation. This stagnation builds up, and pressure rises to the head, exacerbating allergy symptoms.
I believe fresh raw fruits and vegetables are highly nutritious and beneficial in hot weather, but that it’s important to consider these other attributes when deciding what you feel like eating.
Additional benefits: Vitamins, minerals, quercetin (garlic is also high in quercetin)
I keep a jar of this broth in the fridge and on mornings when I don’t know what to eat, I make a single serving of miso soup by heating it up stovetop and adding a spoonful of miso. Freshly sliced chives or green onions on top can also help open the sinuses.
Sipping this is so easy on the digestion and clears up digestive sluggishness, making it easier to then start with real food.
Helps break food down so its less likely to turn into excess mucus, detoxifies food and body, generous amounts of quercetin and zinc
In hot weather, I do love to eat salad. I make a dressing with chopped fresh ginger, seasoned rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), sesame oil, olive oil, and salt.
Optional: chopped garlic, chopped green onions (these open the sinuses)
First chop the medicinal foods–green onions, ginger, garlic and put them in the bowl with vinegar while you prepare the rest. This way, the vinegar can start to extract the flavors and qualities.
I use this dressing over organic mixed greens and cilantro with chicken or broiled salmon.
You may have noticed that most of these also include lemon or vinegar. These can help the digestive system break down food, and also extract the medicinal qualities of the herbs and vegetables.
The most important thing is to do what works for your body, and ideally, you develop a taste and craving for seasonal healthy fresh foods. If ginger is too warm and spicy, then don’t use it. If lemons or vinegar are too sour for you, then they aren’t ideal. Every body type is different, and even in the same body, things change over time.