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Herbal Explorations

Crossing The Barrier: Applying TCM Food Therapy to American Cuisine

By: JK DeLapp

A Winter Eden
From West-Running Brook
By Robert Frost

A winter garden in an alder swamp,
Where conies now come out to sun and romp,
As near a paradise as it can be
And not melt snow or start a dormant tree.

It lifts existence on a plane of snow
One level higher than the earth below,
One level nearer heaven overhead,
And last year´s berries shining scarlet red.

It lifts a gaunt luxuriating beast
Where he can stretch and hold his highest feat
On some wild apple tree´s young tender bark,
What well may prove the year´s high girdle mark.

So near to paradise all pairing ends:
Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends,
Content with bud-inspecting. They presume
To say which buds are leaf and which are bloom.

A feather-hammer gives a double knock.
This Eden day is done at two o´clock.
An hour of winter day might seem too short
To make it worth life´s while to wake and sport.

The heart of Winter is a place of Stillness. Quietude of Spirit enshrouds the Landscape, and the Soul is laid to rest. Early to bed, late to rise; lightening of a work burden; calming and quieting of the Mind. Does this sound like any of us?

I am always amazed at just how much Movement exists in our culture during the Winter months. In December, there´s a little bit of an excuse, due to the holidays and the turning of the Western Year. Of course, many of us probably also observe the Chinese New Year, this year coming up on February 3rd. Traditionally, it involves 15 days of celebration! Holy hell...when am I supposed to get a break!?

I get my breaks with my meals. A 30-minute meal is unheard of with me. I don´t necessarily mean that I always take a long time to cook (although I often do for quite a bit of fun, entertainment, and creative release)–I mean more that I try to take my time to stop. I stop in order to make eating my meal an event, and an opportunity--to put my mind on food–and off of whatever it was I´ve been focusing on, creating stillness for a few moments.

Even now, as I´m sitting here writing (work), I´ve managed to take more than an hour to sit here and talk with one of my roommates about nothing (you may call it procrastination–I call it it...Respite!) over a bite of food and a few deep breaths of some incense. There is just something magical about moments of quiet–especially during these Winter months. It is, in a very literal way, what we are made for.

Speaking of being made for...what to put in my food?!

A friend of mine requested that I write a little about salts, oils, and vinegar--and who am I to turn down a request from a pretty girl?

Winter is actually the perfect time to talk about salts, oils and vinegar!


Salty, which is the taste of the Winter-Water Element, enters the Kidneys and Urinary Bladder, as well as serving to Soften Hardness and Accumulations. Most animal products have Salty as a taste and are not always "tasting salty," like you and I would normally associate salty as a taste. Mineral salts, on the other hand, do "taste salty," as well as enter the Kidney and Urinary Bladder channels, and Soften Hardness and Accumulations.

As a general rule of thumb, "salts" attract water and Fluids, which is one of the avenues of how I believe they serve to Soften Hardness, as well as employing the caustic nature of many electrolytic minerals, which break down cell walls and cellular debris, bursting through the envelope of many masses, phlegm accumulations, and cancers.

Salt is also an extremely grounding mineral, causing the body to pull heat into the body and away from the surface, effectively "cooling" the body, and centering warmth in the Lower Jiao. It works on the emotions in the same way, centering the psyche. Something to keep in mind when we have patients (or find ourselves) needing a lot of salt in their food. Consider their emotions, and if they are in need of stability, grounding, and being centered. These are interesting things to contemplate, as we are all called to be The Salt of the Earth.

**I highly recommend reading the section "Chapter 12: Salt" in Paul Pitchford´s book Healing With Whole Foods.

Black Salt; AKA Kala Namak
A highly sulfurous salt used in the Vedic tradition. It is a rock salt that is brownish pink to dark translucent violet as a rock salt, and light purple to pink when ground to a powder. Often compared to smelling a bit like rotten eggs (which I find to be unfair–I find the smell to be pleasant), Kala Namak is rich in hydrogen sulfide and is a great digestive aid.

In Ayurveda, with a little translation, it is used to Clear Stomach Heat and Regulating the Flow of Qi–relieving intestinal gas and heartburn, and to Moisten the Intestines–often used as a laxative for constipation. In Jammu, the northernmost state in India, it is used to treat Goiter...softening hardness.

It´s a stronger tasting salt that is often associated with side dishes in Indian cuisine, usually chutneys and chaats, as well as Chaat Masala, a curried dish made with dried mango powder. Usually it´s in pretty fruity tasting dishes. In my cooking, I like using it as a cooling spice, as it directs warmth to the Yin, lower aspects of the body, thus Cooling the Exterior. If I want a salt that cools–be it Yang Ming (Stomach, Large Intestine) or general Lower Jiao Deficiency Heat–I´ll use a little Kala Namak in my cooking. No one ever even notices that I used such a strong tasting salt in the dishes!

Rock Salts
Rock salts are mineral deposits that exist in places where, at some point in history, there existed some body of water (either Salt or Fresh water), and there are often found to be fossils present in many of the deposits, which I´m sure you´ve never heard before! They are, of course, usually removed before sale...imagine that PR nightmare! They exist as natural mineral formations, as well, where no body of water previously existed.

Rock salts form into one or more of 7 geometrical configurations. That´s not really important for you to know, but...I think it´s pretty cool. There is significance to each of the configurations, which, if I really wanted to unleash my inner nerd on you, we could go into. Let it suffice to say for now...they are highly structured deposits, which lend their orderliness to our Spirits. Rock salts are an interesting bunch of mineral deposits, and make for a great table salt.

Old salt mines have been converted around the world into health meccas, particularly for people that have difficulty breathing. You literally pay to stay in them like a hotel for a few days...cool! The ionic power of the salt deposits transform the water molecules in the air into a highly ionized air that is a powerful tonic for the Lungs, as well as providing a highly energetic, clean air to breath. You and I would understand this as air highly saturated with Qi! Just placing a bowl of salt in your bedroom near your bed or in your meditation room can accomplish this feat of Nature, purifying the air and providing Qi for you to take in and assimilate. Don´t forget to throw some into your food while you´re at it!

Sea Salts
Sea salts come from ocean water that has been evaporated by man, usually piled in mounds and dried by the sun and wind, and sometimes by kiln. When purchasing sea salt, it should be greyish or slightly off white. Very white Sea salt is often refined, and does not have a wide mineral profile.

There are two big differences between Rock and Sea salts. The first is visible to the naked eye, and is the key to distinguishing between them. Rock salts are dry. That´s right–they are dry. Their geometric arrangements are different and do not attract water in the same way that Sea salt does. Sitting on the table, it will be dry, and feel dry. Sea salt, on the other hand, will be moist–almost wet. It will look wet, and feel wet to the touch.

I take this to be important in the second difference–rock salts do not have as strong of a Softening Hardness property that Sea salts do. Rock salts, I believe, have a stronger action of Strengthening Bone and Nourishing the Water Element...almost a Nourishing Jing property to them. This is just my conjecture, but it is a distinguishing point I make when cooking...what am I trying to accomplish? I´ll flavor my food from there.

Sea salt has a different mineral profile depending on which body of water it comes from. Generally, just read where it originates–France, New Zealand, and the South East Pacific Islands are common places Sea salts available in the US come from. Experiment, and see if there is a taste you prefer most. If there is–there´s probably something you´re getting from it that you need. Pay attention to that.

Lastly–kiln-dried Sea salts are medical condiments in Asia, particularly in Korea. All the information I have found in this tradition is usually in a language I am unable to read. As a general rule of thumb, I would say that kiln-dried Sea salts are warming–or at least not as surface cooling, or possibly Warming to the Kidney–just as we often prepare/cook certain herbs to warm their properties, I´d say the same is true here. If you happen to have some information on this one–I´d really appreciate your input!

Totally a side note–depending on where you live in the country (i.e.–away from the ocean), applying a little bit of Sea (or Rock) salt to your lawn during the Winter is a GREAT way to fertilize your yard, especially if it is a nice grey salt. Generally, one 40-lb bag is all you need for an acre. Just toss it around by hand once a week until you use up the bag. It´s a really easy, inexpensive way to replenish the mineral content of your soils. Most trees and gardens LOVE this. Check with some local companies to find it in bulk–bakeries or nurseries, for example.

Black Salt–the other Black Salt
This kind of black salt contains activated charcoal. It´s an artisan salt that is generally credited for having a detoxifying affect. I translate that as this kind of Black Salt Clears Toxic Heat out of the Stomach and Large Intestine. From my own experimenting, I have found this to be true, and a very useful little thing to do with my meals. Works great both topically (for wound care), and internally (in your cuisine).

Smoked Salt
This is a salt that has been smoked over a wood fire. Make sure to distinguish between smoked salt and smoke-flavored salt, as the latter contains chemical additives to add a smoked flavor. It´s a cheap imitation–avoid it.

There are 2 main U.S. sources for natural smoked salt: Saltworks (www.saltworks.us/) , a Washington manufacturer of hickory, alderwood and applewood smoked sea salt; and Smokehouse Salt Company (www.smokehousesalt.com), a Texas manufacturer of hickory and mesquite smoked sea salt, as well as other great smoked products. Each company distributes retail product via websites and physical distribution channels. They are quite delectable!

I´m sure there´s a medical use to these various smokes, of which I would think they Cool the Blood and Stop Bleeding, probably in the Yang Ming Channels, as well as the Kidney and UB–but that is just conjecture on my part. Regardless...they taste fabulous!

Soy Sauce and Miso Paste
The last two "salts" are traditional foods that you and I are very familiar with–Soy Sauce and Miso Paste. When prepared traditionally (fermented for 1-2 years...2+ years being even better), they not only add flavor, but also impart a powerful medical function into your food–namely, Clearing Heat from the Stomach and Large Intestine. Miso Paste actually Clears Toxic Heat. If unpasteurized, they are also a great source of pro-biotics.

There is Soy Sauce and Tamari (Tamari being JUST soy beans, where as Soy Sauce (Shoyu, in Japanese) is a mix of soy beans and wheat), of which Tamari is best for people with gluten intolerance. Traditionally, they are fermented in humongous Cedar casks, much like wine is often fermented in oak casks–but on a much larger scale. As I mentioned before–they should be fermented for extended periods of time, as soy was not considered safe to eat outside of a long ferment (something that is NOT done with soy products of today´s day and age–one of the many reasons soy is not something I recommend you eat...unless properly–read, traditionally–prepared). They did it for a reason. That should be enough for us to understand.

Miso Pastes are the fermented remains of the making of Soy Sauce. Most–almost all–Miso Pastes and Soy Sauces available on the market are pasteurized, chemically-made, or short-fermented which I believe makes purchasing them a waste of money, as you forfeit the medical value of this great food while compromising your health when consuming them. Not to mention, many contain MSG and other food additives that often do not have to be on the label, since it is a "Standard Manufacturing Practice." If you´re going to use it...use the real thing! Someone just whispered Coca Cola in my ear...

Ohsawa is a Japanese company, and the only company that I am aware of that provides an unpasteurized Soy Sauce (Shoyu) to the American market, and is distributed by Gold Mine (www.goldminenaturalfoods.com), a brilliant little company that offers so many great heirloom and unique foods, as well as a variety of unpasteurized and traditionally lacto-fermented condiments like Sauerkraut and Ume Plum Paste. You always want to add this to your cooking after the food is cooked so as to preserve the gut-flora present in it.

**When soy sauce is needed for cooking–I´ll use an organic soy sauce that is pasteurized. For all other soy sauce additions, I add Ohsawa´s unpasteurized soy sauce after cooking when the dish has cooled down a little.

Eden (www.edenfoods.com) makes great-unpasteurized Miso Pastes.

The other great company of domestically made Miso Pastes is South River Miso Company (www.southrivermiso.com). Their Miso Pastes are fermented for either 2 or 3 years.

A cool little read on Miso: http://www.southrivermiso.com/store/pg/26-What-is-Miso.html

There are dozens of kinds of miso out there, all of which have various medical properties depending on what grains or sea vegetables they contain. That´s an extensive conversation I may delve into in another article. For now, suffice it to say, the darker the miso, the more warming and Nourishing it is–and the lighter it is, the less warming and better for the warmer months.

Medically, both Soy Sauce and Miso Paste Nourish the Spleen and Stomach, and Clear Stomach and Large Intestine Heat. Miso Paste, additionally, Clears Toxic Heat in the Stomach and Large Intestine.

Interestingly, Miso Soup is what the Japanese used to treat the radiation poisoning after the two atomic bombs were dropped on them during World War II. Radiation is a Toxic Heat. This is a fantastic food for cancer patients currently going through radiation and chemotherapy. It´s also a great food for anyone suffering from EMF Poisoning from electro-magnetic frequencies. If you work around electronics all day–read "computers and cell phones"...Miso is for you!


As a whole, oils tend to Nourish Yin–usually of the Lung or Stomach, although the Kidneys are often commonly Nourished, too–as well as Moistening the Large Intestine and Skin.

There is a tremendous amount of mis-information out there regarding oils. I highly recommend doing a little reading up, as an extensive writing about it here would probably discourage anyone from ever wanting to read another article again. Haha!

**I recommend reading the section on "Types of Oils" in Chapter 10 of Healing With Whole Foods, by Paul Pitchford.

**I also highly, highly recommend going to The Weston A. Price Foundation homepage (www.wesontaprice.org) and doing a search on "Oil" and reading through some of the articles.

Not all oils are created equally–nor are they manufactured safely–and in the case of soy, canola, cottonseed, or corn oil, do they even occur naturally! These are chemically manufactured oils–do not use them. We have been sold a bill of lies to create moneymaking food out of an expensive waste product.

Coconut oil is warm in temperature and sweet in taste. It Strengthens the Body, Reduces Swelling (inflammation), Cools the Blood to Stop Bleeding, Kills Worms, and Activates the Heart Function (Connects Kidney Ming Men to the Heart), and Dispels Internal Wind.

I do not recommend panfrying with coconut oil, as the smoke point is not high enough. It is great for baking, marinades, or used topically. I also don´t recommend cooking with it in cast iron...it has been my experience that it will ruin the seasoning.

Use on the head to Nourish Kidney Jing, massaging it directly into the scalp and hair before going to bed. This is a very common practice in Vedic medicine. Have you ever seen a bald Indian? Or one with dry, brittle hair? It´s a fantastic practice, especially during the Winter, and will not clog your pores or make your hair feel oily, especially if you give it a good rinse in the shower the next day. Coconut oil is the base for multiple scalp poultices in Ayurveda for this reason. The same should be true with us!

Interesting historical note–prior to World War II, Coconut oil was the number one oil used in the US for baking, and fell only behind butter and lard for it´s use in a pan. It was also the number one oil used in the confectionary industry, and is seeing somewhat of a resurgence there, although most of that coconut oil is fractionated and deodorized, and not recommended for consumption.

Sesame oil is neutral/slightly warm in temperature and sweet in taste. It Nourishes the Liver and Kidneys, Lubricates the Intestines (treating Dry Constipation), "Blackens Grey Hair" restoring natural hair color, and Benefits the Skin. Black Sesame oil also serves to Nourish Yin and Promote Lactation.

Sesame oil is very commonly used in Asian cooking. It is commonly used for stir-frying as it has both a high smoke point and does not overly flavor the dish. I use it frequently in my cooking, particularly during the Fall for its Moistening properties. If you ever come across Black Sesame Oil–purchase a few bottles! It´s hard to come across, but an extremely valuable oil to use in both cooking and medicine!

You can also purchase "Toasted Sesame Oil" which will be darker and much stronger tasting. This oil is warm, and is great to use for its warming property, as well as its toasty taste. I believe toasted sesame oil needs to be refrigerated once opened.

Butter and Ghee
My all time favorite oils to cook with! Butter and Ghee are warm and sweet, Ghee being more warming than Butter. It is a highly Nourishing oil, and Nourishes the Essence of each of the organs and glands and balances your hormones.

It is highly recommended to only use organic butter, and even better if only using grass-fed butter, and best if you can get it unpasteurized. **You can check with your local Weston A. Price Chapter Leader to find your most local sources: http://westonaprice.org/find-a-local-chapter.html

Butter increases the Digestive Fires, and aids in the assimilation of the nutritional content of your food. An interesting concept, as most vitamins are fat-soluble, which is a huge part of why so many vegetarians and vegans are often malnourished...their diets often lack the necessary fat-constituents in their diets that allows the body to properly utilize the rest of what is consumed. Often times, those necessary co-factors are found only in animal fats. We have canines for a reason.

In the Vedic practices, it is said that Clarified Butter (Ghee) strongly supports mental and physical renewal. They teach that the ojas, which is roughly what we call Jing, is depleted by sexual activity. Ghee is used to restore their sexual vitality. Sounds to me like Ghee Nourishes the Jing. It also Clears Gastro-intestinal Inflammation, in other words, Clears Stomach Heat (I´m guessing by Nourishing Stomach Yin).

Butter has a smoke point of 254°F, so I don´t recommend really high temperature cooking with butter. For high temp cooking, I recommend using Ghee, which has a smoke point of 400°F.

Interestingly, just as butter can be used to caramelize onions or other vegetables, my grandmother told me that back in the day, butter is what was used as sunscreen, as it protects you from burning and moistens the skin. She says that it makes your skin nice and brown. Am I mistaken, or did my grandmother tell me that she used to caramelize herself in the sun with butter??? I wonder how she´d taste on steak...

Olive oil is neutral in temperature, and sweet, sour, and astringent in taste. It Clears Heat and Toxic Heat from the Stomach and Large Intestine, Promotes Fluids, Clears Phlegm from the Lungs, and Benefits the Throat.

Olive oil is easily made by pressing olives. Back in the day this was done on stone mills, operated by hand. When I lived overseas in France, I had the pleasure of partaking in making some olive oil in an olive press that was excavated out of an old Roman town in the area...was pretty cool!

Commonly used in Mediterranean dishes, it has more recently gained popularity here in the States over the past 20 years due to many fad diets and government endorsements. In my personal opinion, it´s a pretty good oil to cook with, although I personally prefer cooking with butter, which really transforms the flavor of the dish. Olive oil is fairly "light" for an oil, and is great to use during the warmer months.

If cooking with olive oil, make sure to cook below the smoke point, which is a little above 400°F. However, I tend to find it smokes at a lower point, so I often do not cook with it. Just a personal thing, there.

Make sure to use Virgin or Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) when cooking. Do not cook with unrefined olive oil, which has a burn temperature of 212°F. It is best used applying directly, as in salad dressings, and is a highly nutritious oil to use in such a way.

Interesting historical note–in the Mediterranean, olive oil was often used in place of a shower, especially back during the days of the Roman Empire. Lathered from head to toe, it was then scraped off with a seashell, taking with it all of the dirt and grit, and leaving your skin moistened and sweet smelling. I´ve done it. It works.

**I cannot find any "medical" descriptions of the oil, so this is all conjecture on my part. Palm oil is warm in temperature and sweet in taste. The unrefined oil is an orange/red color, and Nourishes both Blood and the Heart. It has a strong Coursing of Qi and Blood action, and contains a very unique profile of carotenoids, and is the richest known source to contain a unique form of Vitamin E, tocotrienol.

Both the fruit and nut are used to make oil. I recommend cooking with palm fruit oil, and not the palm nut oil, as I think the taste is a little more pleasant. They both come from the same plant, which is the Oil Palm, and is native to West Africa, and is used in African, Southeast Asian, and Brazilian cuisine.

Palm oil is a very strong-tasting oil, and may take a little getting used to. I find it has a very pleasant taste in sautéing vegetables, caramelizing onions, and panfrying potatoes. I´ve made a few fish dishes with it, as well, and they´ve all turned out quite tasty.

Palm oil has a smoke point of somewhere in the ballpark of 450°F, which makes it a very stable oil for cooking. Frying potatoes in palm oil gives them a really cool color (orange/red), and the taste of the fried potatoes is not off putting. Rather pleasant and exotic!

Palm oil has recently seen an increase in use in the US in many of our processed foods. In it´s natural state, it is a highly nutritious oil–however, as it is being used, it is fractionated, bleached, and deodorized and is a highly chemically altered oil, which I don´t recommend you consuming in this way.

Peanut oil is warm in temperature and sweet in taste. It Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach and Improves Digestion, Regulates Blood, Moistens the Lungs and Large Intestine, Promotes Urination, and Benefits Lactation (especially roasted peanuts).

As with all nuts and seeds, especially oil-bearing seeds such as the peanut, they strongly Tonify the Body and are great for adding weight and strength. Peanuts and peanut oil are particularly useful for thin, dry, and generally deficient individuals that tend to be Yin Deficient, and with people with particularly high metabolisms. Not an optimal oil for people that tend to run Damp, or with people that have Liver Stagnation.

I grew up in the South, and peanuts and Southerners have a long history together. Boiled peanuts still bring a smile to my face...

Peanuts and cotton are often grown in the same fields, and cotton is one of the most highly sprayed crops. For this reason, I highly recommend using only organic peanut oil to avoid the toxic chemicals used in the fields.


Vinegars, being Sour, have a strong astringing property which, when properly harnessed, can hold the entire body together in a very powerful way. The end of Winter, especially is a great time to incorporate vinegars into your meals as a way of preparing the Liver and Gallbladder–the Wood Element, of which Sour is the taste–for the coming months of Growth.

Vinegar is also warming in temperature and is great for Coursing Qi. A splash of vinegar in a glass of water is great for relieving emotional stagnation, particularly in children, and is a great way to quell anger in adults.

Vinegar has a strong Relieving of Damp action, and is great to treat edema, excess mucus, aids in overcoming excess weight, and is a great foot soak for athlete´s foot or used topically for fungal skin infections.

I have found that a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar a few times a day does a very effective job of Clearing Liver and Gallbladder Damp Heat.

Vinegar is also great at treating parasites and most worms. Vinegar used as a salad dressing can both prevent parasitic infections, as well as aid in removing them from the digestive tract. It is also a great remedy for food poisoning. Ume Plum Vinegar, made from the same Wu Me that we use in our pharmacopeia, is a fantastic choice for eliminating parasites. Its plummy taste is also a refreshing and new taste for most dishes.

Distilled vinegar should not be used in cooking as it is highly demineralizing and depletes Jing.

There are several types of vinegar, of which I would recommend opting for organic, unpasteurized, unfiltered vinegars where possible. Apple cider, brown rice wine, white wine, and umeboshi vinegars all make fantastic additions to your kitchen. There are tons of artisan vinegars available these days, as well. Whole Foods and other more health-minded grocers are a wealth of options. Champagne and fruit vinegars add depth, artistry, and fun to any meal that calls for vinegar! Of course, a quick peek at the ingredient list will tell you, the Educated Foodie, the specific medical properties resultant from the various fruits and spices used in the production of that vinegar.

Now let´s talk about some food!

It´s a crazy world out there, and this Winter has been a particularly unusual one around the country. As the world about us fluctuates and tries to throw us into a frenzy, the best way to maintain your groundedness through it all is to stay true to the dietary principles, honoring the body and it´s needs within the confines of the season.

Make your meals, particularly during the Winter months, a sacred time for you to take a few minutes away from work and your busy weeks. Your body will appreciate the break, your digestion will run without a hitch, and your Inner Spark will continue to burn long and strong.

As a last note, with the Chinese New Year coming up on February 3rd, in the Taoist tradition, the 15 days leading up to the New Year are full of meditation and cleaning. Call it a Pre-Spring Cleaning if you´d like, but I think it is a great practice. Winter is a time of rest and respite, but it is also a time of gentle planning for the coming Spring and a welcoming in of the New Year with none of last year´s garbage lying around. Getting our affairs in order, as well as a mindfulness of our living spaces and inner abodes can only benefit our Spirits during this time of contemplation.

A Happy New Year to all of you, and may it be filled with a bit of rest, as the following year is the Year of the Dragon!

This Month´s Recipes:

Brussel Sprouts: JK´s Delicious "BS" Dish

Especially good for:

Brussel sprouts are in the cabbage family, and even look like cute mini cabbages. Brussel sprouts are slightly warming, and are sweet and pungent in taste. When eaten steamed they can create a bit of mucus, but I find when cooking them with vinegar, as in this recipe, it greatly diminishes that property. They Moisten the Intestines, Benefit the Stomach, Improve Digestion, and Benefit the Skin.

I find if they are not cooked all the way through, they can produce a little bit of intestinal cramping and/or gas. Nothing harmful, and a bit comical, to be honest–so just make sure to cook them all the way through, but not till they are mush. Use that artist´s hand you´ve been developing.

Cruciferous vegetables are also considered in the Western Tradition to inhibit cancerous growths in the Large Intestine.

This is a dish I learned from an old girlfriend of mine, and I´ve modified it a bit. It´s now a favorite of my parents, and often comes requested by my friends and roommates. This dish is great for indigestion.

Brussel sprouts are available all year long in most places, so this is a great dish for all times of year. **I prefer to use Coconut or Ume Vinegar, as I find the flavor is both tangy and exotic!

Most of us have never had a tasty brussel sprout dish, but I think this may change your mind at just how tasty they can be!


20-40 Brussel Sprouts, halved
Butter, Ghee, or other oil
Sea or Rock Salt, to taste
Vinegar--Ume, Coconut, or Fruit or Champagne
Soy Sauce, optional

**Vary the dish by making it with a different vinegar each time...sooo tasty!


**This dish can be made either on the stovetop or in the oven (at 400°F)
**You may need to make this in 2-3 batches, as you need the brussel sprouts

1. Cut the brussel sprouts in half and place them halved-side down in a cast iron skillet or ceramic bake ware and place a good amount of butter/oil in there so that they caramelize.

2. Stir occasionally to make sure they cook evenly through.

3. When almost finished, add a good dose of vinegar (and a healthy splash of soy sauce) and cook down the liquid until almost all the liquid has evaporated.

4. Salt to taste and serve piping hot.

Miso-Glazed Fish

Especially good for:

Fish is great to eat through the Winter, especially saltwater fish. Fish dishes are a great way to Nourish the Kidneys, and are a great break from the beef and lamb dishes that so often grace our tables through the cold months.

Most people have never had a miso-glazed fish, as it tends to be a rather expensive dish at nicer restaurants. This recipe comes from Aqua, in Las Vegas...so you´ll be serving yourself high class!

Any flakey fish will do for this dish–Sea Bass, Cod, or Salmon (wild caught!) are all great choices.

This is a very Nourishing dish, but is also great for any Excessive Heat conditions, or Deficiency Heat.

**I use the remaining marinade in this to make a miso soup, which is the next recipe.


1/3 cup Sake
1/3 cup Mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)*
1/3 cup dark miso (darker miso´s are best for the Winter)
3 tablespoons of Jaggery (Palm Sugar), Rapadura, or Muscavado Sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 6-ounce fish fillets (each about 3/4 inch thick)–Sea bass, Cod, or Salmon
2 Tablespoons chopped green onions
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
4 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

**Serve over a bed of rice or Soba noodles. Especially at this time of year, I prefer Eden´s Mugwort Noodles (Mugwort being Ai Ye...Moxa!) which are extremely tasty, and have the added addition of being perfectly tempered for cold weather. Otherwise, any organic rice or Soba noodle will be perfect!

*Check your local Whole Foods or organic grocer and purchase Ohsawa or Eden brand Mirin, as these are traditionally prepared mirins. Unfortunately, if it is not one of these companies, they will most likely made with industrial enzymes, instead of the traditionally fermented, nourishing foodstuff of the past.


1. Mix first 5 ingredients in shallow glass baking dish. Add fish and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

2. Preheat broiler. Remove fish from marinade. Place in a cast iron skillet, ceramic bake ware, or glass oven-safe dish. Add just a little marinade to the top, and reserve the remaining marinade for the miso soup.

3. Broil fish 6 inches from heat source until just opaque in center, about 6 minutes.

4. Transfer to your bed of Soba noodles. Sprinkle with green onions, basil, and cilantro, and any remaining juices from the pan and serve.

Miso Soup

Especially good for:

This dish is a staple in Japanese households, and quite frankly, I don´t understand why it is not a staple in American households. This is a painfully simple dish to make, and suits any situation, be it breakfast or dinner, high Summer or mid Winter.

This dish helps with just about everything, and is used as a home remedy to combat digestive disturbances, helps when feeling under the weather or coming down with a cold, helps with upset stomachs, is recovering from any kind of illness, cancer treatment and prevention, increases libido, and helps with tobacco or alcohol poisoning (and is great for help with kickin´ the ‘ole habit).

I always make this dish alongside the miso-glazed fish, just to be economical, but it is so simple to make that it is easy to whip this up any time you want a few hot bowls.

This dish can be made with just a seaweed stock, but I prefer to make mine with traditionally dried Bonito, which is a wood-smoked mackerel that is dried to a wood-like hardness and then shaved down to easily used flakes. Most Bonito on the market is not traditionally made–i.e. the flavor is just a chemical additive and is in no way a real food. I prefer to purchase Eden Bonito, which is available in most well stocked alternative markets, usually in the foreign section. www.edenfoods.com


½-1 cup of dried Bonito
3-4 Tablespoons of Miso Paste (white in the Summer, Black in the Winter–or you can mix the color of miso paste to the Season)
**Use the remains of the Miso-glazed fish marinade in place of this if making it alongside the fish dish–otherwise,
start from scratch with the 3-4 tablespoons of miso paste
1 Large piece of Kombu (Kelp)
2-3 Green Onions (or scallions), chopped. **I keep the whites and roots, as they are strong in yang and have a great
releasing the exterior property

Optional additions:
Bean Sprouts
Burdock Root
Daikon Radish
Fresh or Dried Mushrooms
Honestly...you can be as creative as you want with the additions!


1. Add 4-6 cups of water to a pan.

2. Soak the kombu in your pan of water for 3-5 minutes. Remove it and chop it up–you´ll be adding this after it´s finished cooking.

3. Add the Bonito to the pot and bring it to a boil.

4. Reduce to a simmer. Only takes 5 minutes or so. If you have the time, cook it for a while and the Bonito will eventually dissolve. Otherwise, you can strain it out with a spoon, or leave it in there, which is what I prefer to do.

5. If you have other vegetables that you´ll be adding, now is the time to add them to cook them for a few minutes.

6. If using the remaining marinade, turn off the heat and add in the remaining marinade.

**Add just a little fresh miso paste that has been uncooked to each bowl after finished cooking if using this option.

7. If starting from scratch, ladle out a scoop of the stock into a bowl and add the miso paste, stirring to dissolve. Gradually pour this miso mixture back into the pot and stir.

8. Ladle into your bowls and garnish with Scallions.

Is there something that you would like to be learning about specifically as we journey through the season? Are there any types of foods or dishes that you would like to be learning more about? Any questions and queries that you may have–nuherbs Co. and I would love to hear about them. Please do send up an email–we´d love to hear what you have to say: herbalexplorations@nuherbs.com