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Complementary Corner

Warming Winter Recipes

Renee Lehman

(2/2014) Winter is nature’s "resting season". It has been cold, there is less day light (which makes the days "shorter"), and there is a quietness outside. Many aspects of nature look dead (at least you may think that); however, nature is actually storing its potential deep in the earth and the roots of vegetation. Winter appears to be nature’s "low" point. However, this is only the external manifestation of Winter. Remember that the bulbs that are in the ground are not dead, and the seeds that fell to the ground from the trees/plants in the Fall are still alive. Life does not stop during the winter months. Nature is storing up energy and preparing to burst forth during the growth period of Spring.

The gifts that Winter gives us include the strength of reserves (storage) and endurance (just remember about the hibernating animals), wisdom, stillness, deep listening (the "quietness" of winter allows us to listen), reflection, strength, a solid foundation, and reassurance (Spring will come again!). The amazing thing about Winter is that the bulbs, plants, trees, and animals do grow and survive given nature’s stark and unfruitful appearance. The strength of reserves (storage) and endurance (just remember about the hibernating animals), and the ability to use these inner resources to survive and endure a more "barren" time relates to the true inner qualities of Winter. There is will and determination to see winter through to spring.

The Winter season in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is associated with the Water Element, one of the Five Elements, and also the Kidney and Bladder organs (see previous articles on the Five Elements within TCM). In TCM, foods are classified according to their energetic essences (or energetic qualities of temperature, taste, and ability to moisten and strengthen the body), and are supporting to us in many ways. During this time of year, consider eating foods that, based on the TCM perspective, are very nourishing to your Water Element. Consider eating foods that have a salty taste. Eat foods that come from saltwater (fish, seafood, and seaweeds); salty-flavored foods (if you don’t have blood pressure problems); walnuts; pine nuts; black sesame seeds; dark fruits (blueberries) and dark colored foods (red/black beans). These types of foods support your Kidneys (think about how kidney beans look like a Kidney) and Bladder. Finally, spices, like garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper are great to add to your food, especially when the weather is cold and damp.

Here are 3 wonderful recipes to help support the functioning of your Kidneys and Bladder this Winter (from Nan Lu, OMD of the TCM World Foundation, at

Baked Marinated Salmon With Scallions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and then bake the fish with this rule in mind: For each inch of thickness of the fish (measuring at its thickest part), bake it for 10 minutes.


  • Oil for baking
  • 4 or 5 scallions, washed and trimmed and then cut in half lengthwise
  • Marinade (see recipe below)
  • Salmon (about 1 pound) marinated overnight

Preparation of the Salmon

Cover the bottom of a baking dish with oil. (Use about 6 tablespoons of oil for an 8-inch by 12-inch baking dish). Line the bottom of the oiled dish with about ¾ of the scallions and spoon about ½ of the marinade over the scallions. Place the fish in the center of the dish on the bed of scallions covered with marinade. Spoon the remaining marinade over the fish and toss the remaining scallions over the marinade. Cover the dish with foil and refrigerate, allowing the fish to marinate overnight (if you are really pressed for time, this step can be several hours; however, the flavor is best when more time is allowed). Remove the dish from the refrigerator and bake uncovered at 425 degrees until fish is fully cooked. Serve hot.

The Marinade

This recipe makes about 5 to 6 tablespoons of marinade, which is enough for approximately 1 pound of fish. Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a small mixing bowl.


  • 2tablespoons of hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of ginger root, finely chopped

Seaweed Salad

Reconstitute a handful of mixed seaweed (you can buy dried seaweed salad mix or use wakame) by soaking in warm water for 6 to 8 minutes. Then drain the seaweed well and place in a serving bowl. Mix the following for the dressing: 1 tablespoon each of rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar; 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil; salt to taste; ½ teaspoon of ginger juice; toasted sesame seeds; and 1 finely chopped scallion. Add dressing to the drained seaweed.

Walnut And Black Sesame Seed Paste

Eat 2 tablespoons of this healing food every day for maximum benefit!


  • 1/2 pound of raw walnuts
  • 1/2 pound of black sesame seeds
  • 3 to 4 ounces of honey


Roast the walnuts at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Toast sesame seeds in a frying skillet (use a lid – a few may pop out of the skillet) over medium heat (tossing occasionally) until they have a nutty fragrance (usually 3 – 5 minutes). Grind the walnuts and black sesame seeds in a food processor or blender. Thoroughly mix the honey into the cooked nut mixture and then refrigerate.

Enjoy these nourishing recipes.

I hope that you enjoy the quietness of the winter!

Renee Lehman is a licensed acupuncturist, physical therapist, and Reiki Master with over 20 years of health care experience. Her office is located at 249B York Street in Gettysburg, PA.  She can be reached at 717-752-5728.

Read other article on well being by Renee Lehman