Improve Your Digestion to Boost Your Immunity

by Travis Metzger |

Improve Your Digestion to Boost Your Immunity

In Chinese medicine theory we think of the digestive system as having three burners (San Jiao), digestion equals the dispersion of retained pure substances throughout the body while impure substances are removed as waste.  The process of digestion is a function of the stomach and spleen or middle burner, the stomach is the pot on the stove that cooks foods and liquids while the spleen is the fire under this pot that helps movement and transformation while aiding the stomach in sending the pure substances to the rest of the body which ends up being the basis for creation of Qi.  The stomach does not want to be too dry so it can keep cooking and the spleen does not want to be too damp so it can keep the fire going. Keep this somewhat unusual but relatively simple analogy in mind as you think about your diet and selecting ingredients when creating meals.

Your immune system needs to be supplied with healthy air, water, exercise, and nutritious food to ensure that external forces do not impair the body's ability to heal or cause an illness.The human body’s immune system is an impressive defense mechanism.  Your lifestyle can affect how well your immune system can protect you from bacteria, emotions, injuries, poor diet or social habits, overwork, lack of exercise or not enough sleep.  While we pay more attention to the health of our immune system during the winter – cold and flu season, anyone?  - it’s vital that it’s given attention continually, as we’re susceptible to viruses and infections year round.  Good nutrition is essential to a strong immune system.  You can help protect yourself against infection and boost your immunity by including foods that are filled with energy and nutrients in your diet.  

Quinoa is one of the world’s most popular health foods - gluten free, all nine essential amino acids and packed with protein the benefits are undeniable.  Shiitake mushrooms support the spleen and strengthen Qi. Mushrooms are a good source of germanium, an element that improves cellular oxygenation and enhances immunity.  The silky smooth bell pepper vinaigrette brings balance to the dish and when paired with the quinoa, leeks and goat cheese you’ve got an immunity strengthening crowd pleaser on your hands.

Chinese Medicine Benefits

Quinoa - Strengthens Yang and Qi

Shiitake mushroom - Strengthens Qi and Spleen 

Leeks - Promotes Qi circulation, counteracts cold

Garlic - Strengthens lung and spleen, promotes Qi circulation, removes toxins

Chicken stock - Strengthens spleen, tonifies Qi

Roasted red peppers - Counteracts cold

Dijon mustard - Strengthens lung, promotes Qi circulation

Red wine vinegar - Promotes Qi circulation, counteracts cold, removes toxins.

Quinoa with Roasted Leeks, Shiitakes, Goat Cheese and a Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Serving size: 3-4

Prep Time / Cook Time

15 minutes / 30 minutes

Ingredients (quinoa)

  • 1 C quinoa 
  • 1 1/2 C  shiitake mushroom 
  • 1 1/2 C leeks 
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • 1/2 C goat cheese
  • 1 ½ - 2 C chicken stock 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients (roasted red pepper vinaigrette)

  • 2-3 roasted red peppers 
  • 1-2 cloves garlic 
  • 1 T dijon mustard 
  • ¼-½  C red wine vinegar depending on acidity level you like
  • ½-¾ C canola oil 
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Rinse quinoa and simmer with chicken stock until stock is absorbed, season with salt and pepper.

Roast shiitakes and leeks with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.

Add minced garlic 75% through the roasting process, stir a bit and continue roasting being careful not to burn the garlic.

Roasted red pepper vinaigrette - blend peppers, garlic, mustard, S&P and vinegar until smooth then slowly add the oil while the blender is running. 

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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