The way we cook our food will affect its vitality and different methods are suited to different individuals. Cooking is a form of alchemy which releases a food’s potential to nourish us. Here are a few possibilities and their benefits.
Soups and Stews. These have the benefit of releasing nourishment easily into our system and are particularly helpful for those with weak digestive systems. They are unlikely to congest our system because they are already so well digested by cooking.
Casseroles. The casserole is similar to soups and stews but tends to be a warmer method. The long oven method infuses the fire energy more deeply into the food and this method is especially good for cold people or cold weather.
Roasts. This is a very warming method of cooking ideal for winter and for those with a cold constitution. One of my personal favourites is roasted vegetables (see recipes).
Salads. Salads are not common in China but have a place here in the west. Raw food is generally cleansing and cooling and suits those with an excess and hot constitution. In our culture of excess some salad is helpful provided our digestive system is strong enough. However the raw food fads imported from California do not sit well here in a climate which is too cold and damp to tolerate the overconsumption of raw foods. Having said that, a garnish of freshly picked greens from the garden or hedgerow can make each meal more vibrant and counterbalance some of the effect of our increasingly weak diet.
Steaming and boiling. These are considered fairly neutral methods of cooking which do not significantly increase a food’s energetic temperature but nevertheless help release nourishment easily to our bodies. Steamed food tends to be mildly cleansing and steaming is generally a better, more gentle option for those seeking the radical cleansing effects of the raw food diet.
Stir fry. This classic oriental method is now popular in the west. This is a tasty and nourishing method, a little warmer than steaming. It is also very quick which has obvious appeal in the fast track western world. Adding ginger and garlic or other warming spices helps make the food warmer and often easier to digest.
So you don’t need to eat Chinese food or learn to handle chopsticks to benefit from the knowledge that has been accumulated over so many centuries. You simply need to understand your own unique constitution, adopt a few simple principles, learn a little bit of new language and turn your kitchen into a playground for new ideas. In fact it would probably create new health problems in your body if you adopted wholesale a diet that grew up in another culture and climate, and it would certainly be more expensive and ecologically insane to become dependent on imported foods that can’t be grown at home. Native foods are the right foods for you (although exactly what is ‘native’ is a good question) and there’s no need to go off in search of obscure foods that you can’t even pronounce.
All that remains is to encourage you to explore the world of Chinese food energetics a little further and to wish you bon appetit.