As already mentioned, the Bearded Grain seasonal node is characterized by dampness and summer’s heat. This is especially so in parts of the world where this month is the rainy season. Therefore, in general, this time of year one should avoid eating too many sour foods, instead focusing on bitter flavors. For example, in China there is one type of famous tea called Qing Shan Lü Shui 青山綠水 – “Clear Mountain Green Water.” This wonderful tea from the Sichuan region is not an actual tea plant and has no caffeine. Rather, it is the first flush of an herb called Ku Ding Cha 苦丁茶, “bitter spike tea.” The taste of the young plant is very mildly bitter at the beginning with a faint sweet aftertaste. It is the perfect damp draining and mildly cooling herb for this summer that replenishes Qi as well with a mildly sweet nature. If anyone is in the vicinity of my office and wants to try some, please stop by! The other side of this is that mild sour flavors are good for people who are dehydrated or who live in climates that are too dry this time of year. A simple refreshing and rehydrating drink is water with just a little lemon juice squeezed in.
Since this a hotter time of year, during the warmest days in have patients focus on mildly heat clearing and bland foods. Also eat foods that expel summerheat and nourish fluids to stop thirst. These foods include melons and fruits, leafy greens, rice, beans, and bean products (such as tofu). The foods that should be minimized in the diet include greasy foods and meats. This is the time eat more vegetarian for sure. Patients who are slightly cold or Qi deficient can eat more mildly warming fruits such as cherries, lychees, longans, coconut milk, and apricots. Patients with warm patterns can focus more on cooling fruits such as watermelon, bananas, pears, tomatoes, persimmons, and cucumbers. Balanced temperature fruits for just about everyone are pineapples, grapes, apples, peach, coconut flesh, oranges, and ginkgo nut.
Recipe for Bearded Grain – Licorice and Mung Bean Congee (Gan Cao Lü Dou Zhou 甘草綠豆粥)
- Rice 150g
- Mung Beans (lü dou 綠豆) – 50g
- Chinese licorice root (gan cao 甘草) – 50g
- Rock sugar to taste
- Rinse the rice and mung beans, wrap gan cao in teabag to make removing easier (optional)
- Place gan cao in about 1750 ml (about 7 cups) of water, bring to a boil and simmer until water is a yellow color
- Add in mung beans, bring to boil again and then simmer on low for about 40 minutes until beans soften
- Add in rice and continue cooking for about 30 minutes until the rice starts to beak apart and mixture is the consistency of congee
- Remove from heat, add in rock sugar to taste (optional)
This recipe aromatically opens the Stomach, strengthens the Spleen and transforms damp, and clears heat and disinhibits damp. It should be used with caution in patients with Spleen and Stomach vacuity cold, or patients with chronic diarrhea. The source text for this recipe was the Ming Dynasty encyclopedic work, the Pu Ji Fang (Prescriptions for Universal Relief).
I hope everyone is happy and healthy this early June!