the yang within the yin

Welcome to the first Saffron Zen post of 2011!  I know it’s about time.  As winter progressed and we approached the New Year, I could sense myself contracting, like I was going into hibernation mode.  According to Chinese Medicine, that’s what is supposed to happen during the winter season.  Winter corresponds to the element of water and the kidneys, bladder and adrenal glands.  Winter is the time to store our energy, nourish our bodies, minds, and souls.

The kidneys are where our chi, our energy, is stored to be used in times of stress, illness, and as we age.  They can be thought of like a seed which stores so much potential energy for the life that will one day spring forth from it.  Stress is the main source of kidney chi deficiency.  As our chi is depleted, our adrenals get burnt out trying to keep up with us in the non-stop pace we set for ourselves, especially during the holidays.  In times of stress, it’s important to take time out to also relax, restore, and rejuvenate.  Most importantly, winter is the time of year when we need to sleep!  Remember that thing we’re supposed to get 8 hours of per night?  Shoot for 9 hours instead.

However, TCM theory also says that in the dead of winter appears yang, the sun energy, light.  Since the New Year, I’ve noticed a pretty major, though subtle, energetic shift.  I’ve been wanting to go out more, socialize, see and be seen.  It almost feels like a blossoming, an opening of my spirit.  It’s the yang within the yin.

 

So although we’re oh-so-gradually heading into the yang time of year, and even though it was 70 degrees and sunny today in So Cal (sorry for those of you in New England where it just snowed 2 feet in a day),  it’s still January, and we still need to be nourishing our kidney chi by resting, relaxing, and enjoying warm soups, hearty whole grains, and lots of ginger tea.  That was a really long sentence.  At any rate, here’s a recipe for miso soup that should not only warm you up in no time, but also is an amazing cure for the cold that everyone seems to be catching right now.

Miso Soup
adapted from 101 cookbooks

3 oz. dried soba noodles
4 c. water
2-4 Tbsp. miso paste (I used white, but experiment with other kinds)
Handful of spinach, or other leafy greens
2 green onions, tops removed, thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Cook the noodles and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Pour some of the hot water into a bowl and whisk in the miso paste to thin it out.  Add the thinned miso paste back into the sauce pan.  Taste, and then add more if you like, using the same method as before.

Keep the noodles separate until just before you serve the soup, otherwise they can get mushy.  Just before serving, divide the noodles between two or three bowls, add the greens, onions, and red pepper flakes, and pour the broth over them.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Note: You can also add mushrooms (I like shiitake mushrooms, plus they’re great for the adrenal glands), tofu, cilantro, ginger, etc.  It’s fun to play around with miso soups, trying all kinds of variations depending on your mood.

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