When it comes to eating, balance is very good. A balanced diet, of the food group variety, for our good health – a balance of flavours, for the yum factor. And if you’re a contestant on a cooking show or just out to impress, your meal has to look balanced on the plate. Because we don’t just dish up dinner anymore, we ‘plate up’, apparently.
While I’ve blogged before about finding a recipe for balance, without having to be a masterchef, there is actually quite a bit to the concept of creating yin yang balance in our diets and in individual meals.
Prefacing this post by saying I’m not an expert, I’ve been experimenting with some recipes and researching the basics.
Achieving balance between foods that are yin and those that are yang fits within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which promotes a balance of yin and yang for good health and wellbeing and to treat disease.
Basically yin and yang each have different energetic qualities of ‘Qi’ or ‘Ch’i’, that influence everything in our universe, including our health. ‘Qi’ needs to flow freely through our bodies for us to enjoy good health and imbalances of yin and yang energy will block the flow of ‘Qi’.
Some conditions are considered yin – such as arthritis, which is worse in the cold, while a red rash or high blood pressure would indicate an excess of yang. Disease presents itself as an excess of either yin or yang, and specific foods are often prescribed, along with herbal tonics, acupuncture and other treatments, to rebalance the patient’s body.
Foods follow yin and yang characteristics – some are considered more yin and are identified as being cold or cool and moist. This doesn’t mean they can’t be cooked or heated, it just means they have a cooling effect on the body and also promote dampness. Not surprisingly watermelon and cucumber are two foods that are considered to be very yin. Others are considered yang – including hot and drying foods such as onion and chilli. Again, not surprises. Yin foods tend to be sweet and salty, yang foods tend to be sour and spicy. But as the list below shows, sometimes the categories foods fall under aren’t as obvious.
Cooking methods also are considered more yin and yang – steaming, poaching and boiling (which all use moisture) are considered yin methods, while roasting and frying, especially deep frying on high heat, are yang methods.
Highly refined foods are said to have ‘dead energy’ in them, while foods that are very yin or very yang are also to be avoided in favour of foods that offer a balance of yin and yang energy (neutral foods). Yin and yang foods also come in acidic and alkaline types, and it’s also recommended that this is taken into account in an overall balanced meal and diet.
The Feng Shui Institute recommends that for a healthy and well balanced diet, meals should contain three parts yang and two parts yin.
Chinese cooking aims for a balance between yin and yang, hot and cold, sweet and sour, moist and dry – a lot of thought goes into a Chinese banquet along with the soy sauce (yin BTW)!
The photo above is my Asian (Vietnamese style) Sweet & Sour Ginger Chilli Chicken with mint, brocolini, mushrooms and snowpeas.
I’ve come across a number of different food lists: Here is a very comprehensive one:
|VEGETABLES:Alfalfa sprouts Artichoke
Rabbit SPICES:Cilantro leaf (coriander)
|VEGETABLES:Bell pepper (capsicum)
Fresh water fish
Sheep & goat
Red pepperMEAT:Deep-fried or grilled meat.
Here are a range of links you might want to explore for more information:
Happy cooking, and healthy, balanced and tasty eating – that’s Yin Yang Yum!