Traditional Chinese Medicine dietary theory comes to the conclusion that most people will benefit from eating a basic middle burner, "spleen supplementing" diet that does not include too many raw or cold foods. Simplistically, it is important to lightly cook your vegetables to allow the body to absorb more of their nutrients but not to overcook them.
People with spleen weakness and dampness should eat a lot of lightly cooked vegetables along with small amounts of animal protein such as turkey and a bit of cooked fruit as well.
If you are thoughtful about your Thanksgiving dinner you should be in good shape from a Chinese medicine perspective.
My Green Bean Dish for Better Holiday Digestion...and Flavors
I am not going to dismiss or disparage "the classic Thanksgiving green bean dish", you know the one, but ... often times green bean dishes in general are covered in a heavy sauce that is likely too sweet or too salty and usually completely overpowering.
This version is less sweet, not overcooked, and a little unusual, in a good way!
A few ingredients in this recipe are maybe a bit unique, and while a couple can be substituted, you will definitely want to track down some fermented black garlic.
Fermented black garlic is an “aged garlic” that has a wonderful somewhat exotic concentration, the cloves are soft and creamy which allows them to dissolve into the dish. Aged garlic is a good antioxidant and is great for digestion.
Togarashi is a Japanese red chili blend that typically contains: seaweed, orange zest, sesame seeds, ginger, red chili, black pepper. (You will love this blend and will start using it on everything including popcorn!)
If no togarashi you could add a touch of sambal chili paste along with a little extra sesame, orange and ginger. The seaweed adds a touch of umami but the fermented garlic gives you plenty of that.
Calamansi vinegar is an amazing vinegar made from a sour sweet citrus fruit of the Philippines, this can be substituted with any good citrus vinegar or rice wine vinegar and an extra splash of orange and lemon juice (a French group named Huilerie Beaujolaise makes the Calamansi vinegar along with several other fabulous vinegars, you should check them out).
Green Beans with Flavors of Fermented Garlic, Orange and Sesame
- Green Beans: 8 ounces – neutral in thermal nature, sweet and tone the spleen and kidneys
- Water: 2-4 ounces
- Olive Oil: ½ ounce
- Sesame Oil: ½ ounce – cool and sweet, tonifies Yin
- Ginger: ½-1 teaspoon – warming, stimulates digestion and boosts circulation
- Fermented Black Garlic: 4-5 large cloves – Warming, promotes Qi circulation, removes toxins, tonifies spleen and stomach
- Orange Zest: 1 orange – aids digestion and transforms mucus
- Orange Juice: 1 orange or about ½ cup - helps aid digestion, reduce intestinal gas, pain and bloating
- Calamansi Vinegar: 1-2 teaspoons – warming, promotes Qi and blood circulation, removes toxins
- Togarashi: 1-2 pinches – blend of warming and cooling ingredients
- Sesame Seeds 1-2 pinches – blood and Yin tonic that supports large intestine
- Sea Salt: pinch
- Black Pepper: 1-2 twists – Warming and promotes Qi circulation
Heat a medium sauté pan to medium high heat, add the green beans and about 2-4 ounces of water and partially cover for a couple of minutes to give a quick steam. The beans should be ready just about the time the water is cooked off. The beans should be bright green and still quite crisp at this point.
Add the olive oil, sesame oil, ginger and fermented garlic and sauté for a minute or two. Add the orange juice, orange zest, sesame seeds, calamansi vinegar, a pinch of togarashi, sea salt and a twist of pepper and allow ingredients to cook down into a sauce (the garlic will soften and dissolve into the sauce).
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.