Restore Digestive Balance with Yin and Yang Foods

by Travis Metzger |

Restore Digestive Balance with Yin and Yang Foods

Yin and Yang are the two most fundamental concepts in Traditional Chinese Medical philosophy.  Rooted in ancient Chinese theory, these two opposing concepts are used to account for changes in the universe in a comprehensive manner.  

In terms of treatment, striking a balance between yin and yang is the most fundamental principle of clinical practice. Among the treatments based on this principle are sedating the excess and toning up the deficiency.  Yin and yang are two opposing and yet mutually complementary energies in the body that interact to maintain a balance that is very fundamental to good health.

Warming & Cooling Foods for Balance

Heat conditions should be treated with cold foods and cold conditions should be treated with warming foods, in other words you should treat yin (cool) with yang (warm) and yang should be treated with yin.  

Often times cooking with either all warm ingredients are all cool ingredients is not required and it is important to cook with balance. This recipe is a good example of how to bring yin and yang balance to your meals to support the middle burner, as we incorporate the cooling aspects of citrus and tomato with the warming aspects of scallions and chilies.

grilled corn recipe

I found all of these fresh seasonal ingredients at the Farmers Market this weekend and the benefits are as follows:

  • The medicinal benefits of scallions is that they are a warming Yang tonic that supports the heart, large intestine and stomach, they eliminate toxins, support blood circulation and serve as a digestive aid.
  • Corn is a Qi tonic that strengthens overall energy and supports the kidney, stomach and large intestine, it’s thermal property is neutral and its flavor is sweet.   Corn can be used to treat loss of appetite. 
  • Basil is a yang tonic that generates warmth and regulates Qi circulation.  It supports the kidney, liver, stomach, spleen and large intestines while having potent antioxidant properties and can aid digestion.
  • Parsley is a warming food that supports the bladder, kidney and stomach meridians, it helps regulate water imbalances and eliminates toxins.
  • Citrus are a cooling agent and are a general tonic for weak digestion and poor appetite that can help to clear mucus and phlegm.  
  • Tomatoes have both a sweet and sour flavor, are a yin tonic and are a cooling food that acts on the stomach and liver meridians. They clear heat and detoxify the blood.

grilled chili

A Yang Tonic that Enhances Blood & Qi Circulation

Roasting chilies imparts a smoky sweetness to savory dishes and the medicinal benefits are that they are a fast acting Yang tonic that enhances both blood and Qi circulation and increases body temperature.  The quick temperature rise causes perspiration, which cools the body back down.

Chilies treat the lungs, stomach, spleen and heart; they warm the internal organs, invigorate the stomach, aid digestion, diminish swelling and act as a blood tonic. They stimulate the digestive system and have antioxidant properties which can detoxify food.

Blending the mild, sweet Anaheim chili with the dark, rich Poblano creates a wonderful depth of flavor in this wonderful late summer/early fall dish.  Grilling the citrus imparts a unique accent to the vinaigrette which balances perfectly with the sweetness of the corn.

Experiment with whatever fresh produce you have available and add a protein if you like, remembering to keep in mind the yin and yang energetic balance for better digestion.

citrus vin recipe

Grilled Late Summer Vegetables with Citrus Vinaigrette

Prep/cook time about 45 minutes

Serves about 8

  • 4 Ears of corn
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 2 Bunches scallion
  • 1-2 Anaheim chilies
  • 1-2 Poblano chilies
  • Small bunch basil
  • Small bunch parsley
  • 3 Lemons
  • 3 Limes
  • 6 Oranges
  • About 2 Ounces rice wine vinegar
  • About 4-5 Ounces EVOO
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Honey  


Grill the Poblano and Anaheim chiles, turning frequently with tongs until skin is blistered and blackened all over, you can cover in a bowl and allow to steam for 10 to 15 minutes but the skin will also loosen by itself as the chile rests and comes to room temperature, remove the skin, cut in half and removed the seeds.  Grilling chilies also reduces the heat or capsicum burn and makes them more mild. I think of it as mellowing the chile so you can add the layers of flavor to a dish without adding the excessive heat.

Grilling the scallions won’t take very long and the green tips will go quickly.  The corn can go straight on the grill without the husks and getting a little char is good.  Grilling citrus is one of my favorite things to do and is a simple way to add a impart some great flavor. (Try using grilled citrus juices in cocktails or mocktails!).  Grill the tomato until the skin chars.

Once everything is grilled cut the corn from the cobs, dice the scallions, chiles and herbs and mix together in a large bowl.  Adjust seasoning.

The vinaigrette is made simply by juicing the grilled citrus and adding rice wine vinegar, honey, olive oil, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

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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