A Recipe to Support Blood Yin Deficiency

by Travis Metzger |

A Recipe to Support Blood Yin Deficiency

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.

Blood deficiency is caused by inadequate intake of nutrients, by the inability to absorb nutrients, or by the loss of blood through gastro-intestinal bleeding or excessive menstrual flow.  Chronic diseases and stagnant blood that inhibit formation of new blood are additional causes. It is important to build the blood through nutrition and encourage the digestive absorption of nutrients by building the Qi energy of spleen and reducing damp conditions.  

Yin nourishing foods tend to be sweet and cool and you would want to favor more sour and salty foods.

With a little practice, becoming aware of at least some of the actual dimensions and energetics of  the food we eat is not difficult. Keeping a few of these things in mind and ensuring that your digestive system is working properly via your "middle burner" (Jiao) will go a long way to keeping your body nourished and your Yin balanced along with adequate blood formation and circulation.  The following recipe is an example of keeping all of these things in mind.

spaghetti squash nourish yin

Spaghetti squash on its own is a little bland so these bold flavors work well to raise the level of this dish, the earthiness of the kale with the smokiness of the chorizo and paprika along with the heat of the garlic and the surprising kick from the preserved lemon make this a delicious side dish or a wonderful meal on its own.  If you are new to using preserved lemon you are in for a treat, typically used in Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes the unique pickled taste cannot be duplicated with fresh lemon or lime, these are powerful, a little goes a long way.

The small addition of dairy as sour cream is optional, it adds a nice light textural balance that helps to smooth out the dish.  From a Chinese medicine perspective dairy foods provide a rich source of nourishment and for this reason, should be treated with respect. Their over-consumption easily leads to the accumulation of phlegm and dampness.  However, they are very strengthening for the Yin, blood, and Qi and will effectively nourish deficiency in the body.

Spaghetti Squash with Kale, Chorizo and Preserved Lemon

Servings: 2


  • Spaghetti Squash 3 Cups –  Qi tonic, medicinal to the spleen and stomach, improves energy and blood circulation
  • Chorizo 1 link – Tonifies Yin, blood and Qi
  • Olive Oil 1 Tablespoon - Neutral
  • Garlic 2 Cloves – Warming, promotes Qi circulation, removes toxins
  • Smoked Paprika 1/4-1/2  Teaspoon – Warming, support blood circulation
  • Lacinato Kale  5 Ounces –  Slightly bitter, benefits the stomach and immune system
  • Preserved Lemon ¼ large or about 1/8 Cup – Sour, resolves stagnation and cleanses the blood
  • Lemon Juice 1 Tablespoon – Cooling and sour, promotes blood circulation, tonifies Qi and removes toxins
  • Sour Cream 1/8 Cup (optional) – Strengthens Yin, blood and Qi while nourishing deficiency
  • Water 2 Ounces
  • Sea Salt - Cooling
  • Black Pepper – Warming and promotes Qi circulation


Cut Spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds and place cut side down on a baking sheet and place in a 400 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly and pull the squash apart with a fork so it resembles spaghetti. Remove the casing from the chorizo link and cook the chorizo over medium high heat until it is in crumbles and cooked through.  Add the chopped garlic and paprika and continue cooking a couple of minutes. Remove the chorizo and garlic and set aside. Add the chopped kale to the oil and allow to cook down, season with salt and pepper to taste and add the water, continue cooking until the water is gone and kale is tender.  Return the chorizo and garlic to the pan along with the preserved lemon and lemon juice, stir and remove from heat. Add the sour cream and stir to combine. Mix the kale and chorizo with the spaghetti squash and serve.

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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