In Chinese medicine theory, the amount of dampness present in our digestive tract and through out the body can deter the health of the spleen-pancreas and therefore of digestion in general.
Dietary factors which contribute to dampness: Too many raw, cold, sweet or mucus forming foods. The digestive fire of the spleen and pancreas is extinguished by an excess of raw food and cold food.
The appropriate amount of raw food in the diet depends on the strength and condition of the individual, the climate and the person’s level of activity. Robust and overheated people usually benefit from an increased intake of raw foods; warm climate and greater physical activity also increases one’s ability to tolerate raw food in the diet. Intake of highly sweet and other mucus forming foods needs to be limited; these include meats, eggs, dairy, fats such as lard and butter, oils, nuts and seeds as well as foods containing concentrated sweeteners. A small amount of mucous, however, is necessary in the digestive tract and along all mucous membranes. Moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates such as grains, vegetables and legumes help supply a light beneficial coating, although large amounts create excessive deposits. Over consumption of dairy, eggs or meat cause mucous conditions as do highly processed and chemically treated foods.
Leek – more mild than onions and garlic, leeks more subtly support energy movement physically, emotionally and mentally. They are warming, detoxifying and help to disperse dampness.
Farro – is an ancient grain that has been around for thousands of years which is growing in popularity recently. It is a hard wheat that thrived in the Middle East and Mediterranean more than 9000 years ago. Farro is nearly fat free and completely cholesterol free, making it a heart healthy choice and perfect for vegetarians or vegans. Farro is a great source of iron and is extremely high in fiber. Wheat nurtures the heart and as a cooling food and yin tonic can calm and focus the mind.
Pumpkin – considered to be a warming Qi tonic that is medicinal to the spleen, stomach, large intestines and lungs. It improves energy and blood circulation. Dries dampness, promotes discharge of mucus from lungs and throat.
Thyme – warming herb that supports the lungs, spleen, kidneys and heart. Helps Qi circulation and lung congestion.
Goat cheese – is less dampening than cow’s milk which allows us to use some here to add some tang.
White pepper – Black pepper is warming but white pepper is cooling. Dries dampness.
Roasted Pumpkin Farro with Goat Cheese and Thyme
Prep Time / Cook Time
10 minutes / 75 minutes
- 1 Cup Farro
- 1 Small Pumpkin
- 1 Large Leek
- 2 Cups Vegetable Stock
- A Few Sprigs Thyme
- Pinch Pepper
- 4 Ounces Goat Cheese
Cut pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, lightly oil the cut side and place cut side down in a roasting pan at 400 degrees for approximately one hour, more or less depending on the size of your pumpkin. Allow to cool slightly, scoop out the pumpkin and set aside. Dice the leek and toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 15 minutes.
To cook the farro use vegetable stock at a rate of about two parts liquid to one part farro, rinse and add farro to boiling stock and simmer while covered for about 25-30 minutes until grains are tender yet firm and chewy.
In a medium size pan combine the cooked farro, roasted pumpkin, roasted leek, thyme, white pepper and 1/3 of the goat cheese. Stir to combine over medium heat and adjust seasoning. Crumble the remaining goat cheese on top and finish with more fresh thyme leaves.
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.