Monday, August 11, 2008

Eating Your Way to Health: Soup

One of the easiest ways to incorporate Chinese herbs into your life is by adding them to soup. Here are a few tasty herbs that you can add to any soup - some of them may already be familiar to you.
  • Da Zao - chinese dates. Tonifies qi, sweet flavor.
  • Sheng Jiang - fresh ginger. Aids digestion.
  • Huang Qi - astragalus. Tonifies qi.
  • Gan Cao - licorice root. Tonifies qi, harmonizes the spleen and stomach.
  • Yi Yi Ren - pearl barley. Strengthen the stomach, and also has anti-viral properties.
  • Shan Yao - chinese yam. Tonifies qi and yin.
  • Gou Qi Zi - goji berries. Sweet and warming, gou qi zi tonifies blood and is good for the eyes. It's also been recently "discovered" by American supplement companies, so you can find lots of different "Himalayan goji berries" and "Tibetan goji berries" products on the market - pills, extracts, juices. Don't be fooled - the best gou qi zi is from Ningxia province in China, and "Tibetan" goji berries are probably from there too.
Here are a few herbs that are good to use in the winter. They are all very warming.
  • Ding Xiang - cloves. Disperses cold, warms the interior.
  • Rou Gui - cinnamon bark. Similar to above.
  • Du Zhong - eucommia bark. Tonifies yang, strengthens the lower back.
  • Gan Jiang - dried ginger. Warms the interior, expels cold. Has a spicier taste than fresh ginger.
These are just a few ideas. If you're not a vegetarian, soup is a great way to eat meat. Because it's a wet cooking method, the meat gets very tender - which is both delicious and easy to digest. It's much easier on your digestive system than roasted, fried or grilled meat.

For more ideas on cooking with Chinese herbs, take a look at this book - Traditional Soup and Herbal Tea (which is tri-lingual in Chinese, English and Indonesian) and this website, for some herbal soup recipes.


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