I have Earth and Wood elements out of balance these days, Earth especially so, and I have more Fire than anything else (WHICH I LOVE! FAST WALKING! TORCH IT! STAY UP ALL NIGHT! CRUSHING ON EVERYONE! etc.), so I’m eating nutritionally to try and smooth things out. I’m starting with the Earth element, because it is the most out of balance, (Fire and Earth are next to each other in the Generating Cycle, which means that a deficiency of Earth can cause Fire to get out of control and in turn make Earth even more deficient). Food as medicine is especially appropriate with this pattern because Earth element in the body is all about food and digestion.
Earth’s flavor is SWEET, which is easy to find not in sugary foods, please (although your Spleen will DEMAND these from you when it’s tired), but in naturally sweet foods, namely complex carbs (grains, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fruit). The Earth governs the Spleen, an organ which loves to be warm, and whose function is to break down food into the energy that gets you through your day (when a patient comes in with a symptom of ongoing fatigue, the Spleen is usually the first thing Eastern medicine thinks about, in terms of diagnosis) – so it follows that the Spleen likes warm foods that are well-cooked, like soups, and stews, which are served hot and are easily broken down.
I also like to eat a lot of roots in the Winter time, because Root energy is good for our Kidneys at this time. In the Winter, we want to conserve and replenish our stores as much as possible, because we are drawing on our reserves more than at other times in the year. We’re using more energy to generate heat, and constantly pushing ourselves past what our bodies really want in the colder weather, which is to stay in bed and nest (do you notice craving longer mornings and earlier bedtimes in the Winter? That is your body’s healthy adaptation to the season). So this is a Root Stew, full of things that grow underground – the chokes, parsnips, carrots, and celeriac all hold root energy.
Then we need to balance out the Sweet flavor (which totally predominates), by adding a good dose each of Spicy, Salty, and Bitter – this keeps it balanced. Hence the paprika, which is spicy, thyme and sage which are bitter, and salt. We are not just balancing flavors here, but elements – Spicy is Metal, Salty is Water, and Bitter is Fire. A splash of ume plum vinegar or saurkraut on the side adds Wood (Sour), and a handful of fresh coriander breaks up the texture, lightens the flavor, and helps your body cleanse heavy metals – giving you a delicious dinner of
SWEET EARTH ROOT SOUP
Ingredients (organic wherever possible, it’s 100% worth it whenever the extra cost is manageable):
4+ good-sized cloves of garlic
3 Jerusalem artichokes
1 fat or 3 small parsnip(s)
1 fat or 2 small carrot(s)
1 small celeriac root
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup short-grain brown rice
+a bay leaf
+dried thyme (buy/harvest home-grown a fresh bunch and dry it yourself for a week)
+dried sage (see above)
+sea salt (pink because PINK)
Rinse and start the rice soaking in a little water (or sprout it overnight if you’re incredibly organised, which I am not).
Fry finely diced onion in 1T coconut oil. When the onion starts to soften, add the veggies (peeled and cut into 1cm cubes) spoon by spoon, stirring well to ensure everything is coated in oil. Stir while you chop and add, and once all the veggies are in, add 1T smoked paprika, and keep stirring for another 5 mins until the veggies start to smush together and start to get a little dry. Then! Stir in the chicken stock, little by little. Add the soaked rice, bay leaf, couple of pinches of dried thyme and sage, pink salt to taste, and a good dollop of butter, and leave to simmer until the rice is thoroughly cooked (usually around 30mins).
BONUS EARTH POINTS: for singing whilst cooking, which adds to the Earthing qualities of this soup, because the Spleen’s sound is singing.
Eat slowly, staring off into middle distance, chewing every sweet mouthful as many times as you can. Your Spleen will love and reward your thoughtful gifts with excellent clarity of mind.