I have received a number of requests from the readers of Seasonal Adjustments to provide more information on how to acquire nourishment in preparation for winter. As winter approaches we naturally begin to store energy. Just as the bears put on weight and the squirrels gather nuts we too feel this calling of nature.
Put very simply we gather energy (qi or chi) in 2 ways … from our parents and ancestors which is called prenatal chi, and through the breath and from the foods that we consume which is called postnatal chi. It is very difficult to build our prenatal chi because it came to us before birth. However there is a lot that we can do to build our postnatal chi. In this issue we will look at a few nourishing recipes that build chi as well as some chi building breath and movement techniques.
Porridge is a very nourishing breakfast as oats are a warming tonic for the chi. A variety of ingredients can be added to supplement the porridge’s nourishing action. Molasses can be added to strengthen the Blood as well as dates with cinnamon and ginger. Marmalade moves stagnation and helps to resolve phlegm. Miso with ginger warms and strengthens the Kidneys. These additions to porridge increase its healing and nourishing effects as well as give new life to an old stand-by.
One of my favourites is Squash Bisque. It requires very little energy to digest while strengthening the Spleen and building our chi stores quickly. The recipe is as follows:
• 1 tbsp olive oil 3 cups vegetable stock
• 1 tbsp butter Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 cup diced onion Ground nutmeg to taste
• 4-5 carrots ½ cup heavy cream (optional)
• 1 squash (spaghetti, butternut, acorn, etc)
Roast carrots and squash until soft. Remove from oven and cool so that they are easy to work with. Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion in the butter and oil until tender. Mix the roasted carrots and squash into the pot. Pour in vegetable stock and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heart, and simmer until vegetables are tender. In a food processor or blender, puree the soup mixture until smooth. Return to the pot, and stir in the heavy cream. Heat through but do not boil. Serve with a dash of nutmeg.
Try the following recipe for Dill Salmon Bake at dinner to build your chi. The salmon nourishes chi and blood. The wine is nicely warming. The potatoes strengthen the chi and the onions warm the body and counteract phlegm, dampness and stagnation. The dill benefits the digestion.
• 3 pounds potatoes
• 1 pound salmon
• 2 large onions
• 2 glasses white wine
• 2 ounces butter
• 4 teaspoons dill weed
• salt to taste
• pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes until about three-quarters cooked. Meanwhile slice the onions in rings and cook gently in a little butter for 10 minutes or until they start to soften. Cut the salmon into 1 inch chunks. Put all the ingredients into a greased ovenproof dish in layers, onions, then potato, then salmon, then onions, and potato again. Sprinkle with the dill and salt as you build up the layers. Pour in the white wine and set a few knobs of butter on top. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, cover and bake for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees. Enjoy!
This chi building exercise that you may choose to practice can be done sitting or standing. Stand or sit with your spine long, tall and erect. Breathe fully and deeply all the way down to the lower lobes of your lungs. This gently pushes the belly out. Exhale as you gently pull your belly button in towards the spine. Allow each breath to be full and complete. Gently place the backs of your hands on your back between the bottom rib and the top of your hips. Breathe fully and deeply as you briskly yet gently rub this area with the backs of your hands until you feel warmth in your lower back. When you feel that you are complete place the palms of your hands onto your lower back and breathe. Visualize warmth moving through your body into each and every cell.
Keep warm, dress in layers and cover your Kidneys when going outside. Eat warm and nourishing foods. Laugh every day and enjoy your harvest!