A Traditional Chinese Medicine Twist on a Holiday Classic: Roasted Chestnuts

by Travis Metzger |

A Traditional Chinese Medicine Twist on a Holiday Classic: Roasted Chestnuts

Temperatures are dropping fast and while the onset of winter means reluctantly digging out all the winter gear, it also means the return of the quintessential holiday snack immortalized by Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”.  

The comforting smell of roasted chestnuts with the monogrammed "X" sliced into each shiny brown shell immediately evokes the holiday season and the smoky, sweet flesh of the chestnut.

A Qi and Yang Tonic in this Holiday Classic

But it is also recognized by Chinese medicine as being a "Qi and yang tonic" that is sweet and warm, while its functions and indications include nourishing the stomach, fortifying the spleen, supplementing the kidneys and treating constitutional vacuity.


Chestnuts for Traditional Chinese Medicine

All this can translate into the useful application of eating or cooking with chestnuts to control a nagging holiday cough.

Sage for Chinese medicine recipe

Unless you live in New York City where street vendors sell hot roasted chestnuts on cold winter days, you will likely be popping some of these in the oven yourself.  My recommendation - you’ll want to make extra as they are versatile and delicious when mashed with potatoes, layered into a gratin, pureed into a silky soup and even in a comforting and healing hot breakfast congee.

Enjoy the holidays!

Roasted Chestnuts with Thyme and Sea Salt

Serving size

About 6-8

Prep Time / Cook Time

15 minutes / around 25 minutes


1 Pound Whole Chestnuts in the Shell

2 Ounces Unsalted Butter

A Few Sprigs Fresh Thyme

A Couple Pinches Sea Salt


Score the flat side of each chestnut with a pairing knife (BE CAREFUL!) and soak in hot water for a couple minutes. Strain and toss with melted butter, sea salt and thyme. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the shells begin to peel back and they smell nicely roasted. Remove from oven while still warm remove shells and as much of the skin as possible.

The recipes on The Way are intended as an East meets West look at food and its relationship to health and nutrition. Food is powerful, and every bite can either greatly benefit your system or effectively work against it. In Chinese Medicine, each grain, vegetable, meat, fruit, and spice has unique properties that can be harnessed to help us achieve and maintain balance in our bodies. Our recipes seek to incorporate some of the age-old principles of Chinese medicine into the culinary practices more familiar to the West.

Dining with Culinary Artist Travis Metzger is an unforgettable experience. You can taste the passion, creativity and culinary expertise in each of Travis’s one-of-kind recipes. Most would agree that Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs in their original form taste less than delectable, but Travis has proven that TCM for today can taste great with DAO Labs. Travis develops unique flavors for each DAO formula to complement the proprietary blend of herbs and their health benefits. After extensive training at the New England Culinary Institute, Travis ran some of the finest restaurants across the country before starting his own in Minneapolis. To survive the stresses and physical challenges of the kitchen heat, Travis focused on combining natural ingredients for healthy AND delicious eating and juicing.

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