Late Summer arrived near the beginning of August. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a rare type of ancestral medicine that has remained quite flexible and integrated, Late Summer is one of its five seasons. It falls between Summer and Fall and is time when the yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) energies are balanced. When Fall arrives, we slip more into yin energy — where warming foods are needed.
Late Summer is a time to pay attention to spleen and stomach health. It is interesting to note that the Spleen is viewed as a very important organ in TCM. It is the ‘mother’ of all organs and makes sure that nourishment is carried to all the other organs in the organ systems so that they can do their work well. If the Spleen is deficient, the other organ systems will be as well. In Western medicine, I often hear of Spleens being completely removed — it is quite common! And, this is not surprising that a culture that is so negligent of the ‘mother’ energy would do something like this instead of consider other means of balancing the body and supporting the Spleen.
With that said, the spleen/stomach is connected with the taste of sweet. Each organ system in the body is linked with one of five tastes (sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, and sour). Ways to nourish your spleen/stomach organ system are many, from foods to personal practices. The spleen responds to mutually beneficial emotional exchanges (such as deep listening), hugs, massage therapy (go see your massage therapist!), and support groups. The spleen also likes nourishing bone broths, jook/congee/kitchari (which I will share a recipe below), honey, fruits, and spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, and nutmeg. (A lot of my information above comes from Mary Lane’s beautiful lil’ book, “Divine Nourishment” — definitely check it out.)
Yesterday, to honor Late Summer, I made a jook using a recipe that I adapted from Mary Lane’s book that I mentioned above (jook, congee and kitchari basically all mean the same thing). The recipe calls for brown rice and millet as grains, which both have the lowest amounts of phytic acid of all grains (phytic acid normally needs to be neutralized in an acid/water wash before cooking/eating). So, you can soak your grains the night before in water with a splash of yogurt, buttermilk, and whey…however, it’s not necessary. This dish is seriously nourishing and your spleen will love you! Also, feel free to improvise, as you can see in these two posts, there are a lot of adaptations to this recipe.
Black turtle beans from the garden that I sprouted
Late Summer Jook
Serves 6 people
5 cups bone broth (I used chicken, feel free to add meat to this — I didn’t)
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup millet
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tablespoon tamari sauce
6-7 chopped chanterelle/black trumpet mushrooms (you can use shiitake as well)
3/4 cup corn cut from the cob (or frozen corn)
3/4 cup sprouted black beans (or mung, adzuki beans)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil (optional)
2 Tablespoons animal fat (optional)
Toppings (after cooking is complete) — (this is what really makes jook amazing) — ground seeds and nuts of any kind, kim chi (highly suggested, sauerkraut will work as well), sliced hard-boiled egg, chopped scallions — feel free to get creative here!
Put your crock put on high. Pour in the bone broth. Add the grains. Then add all other ingredients.. Let simmer for 4-6 hours or until creamy and tasty! Enjoy!