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Cold Outside & Warm Inside

by Melissa Jin L.Ac.

Baby it’s cold outside in NY. I have woken up to snow and there will be ice to follow. Not for me, but I like to eat with the season even if the season sometimes can’t make up its mind. Today I’m going back to some familiar roots and dressing up a Sopa de Pollo (chicken soup). I like to put that first spoon up to my lips and feel that steam coming right off. We start off with some basic ingredients like chicken. This can be either a whole chicken or just dark meat. I like dark meat so I’ll be using thighs only today. Let’s talk about flavor. Chicken is one of those beautiful meats that can gain so much flavor if you let it marinate in seasoning. 

I love to have many aromatics. I love to open the lid and have that smell engulf the my entire kitchen further wafting into the house. 

Clean and rinse 2 pounds of chicken with cold water.  Pat dry and season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 packet of sazón,  1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.  Add fresh lemon  juice. I start by marinating my chicken with the spices and adding in my lemon that was already squeezed. I like to leave the meat in the fridge for at least four hours, sometimes overnight. 

I like to quickly sauté the onions and peppers along with the garlic. These all open up the orifices eyes, ears, nose and mouth. 

Start by dicing 1 medium white onion, and half a green pepper, 3-5 cloves of garlic, and 5 sprigs of fresh cilantro.  Bring a pot to medium heat, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and begin to brown the chicken for 5 minutes. Add medium diced onion, ½ diced green bell pepper, garlic, 2 tablespoons of sofrito and stir, 1 tablespoon of bacon fat (optional), 1 tablespoon of capers, and 1 small can of tomato sauce. Add 8 cups of chicken broth and add 1 packet of sazon, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 3 bay leaves, salt to taste, and fresh cilantro.  Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over medium low heat for 25 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking, prepare your vegetables.  After 25 minutes, add the diced potatoes, 3 small corn on the cob cut in half, 1 cup of carrots, and yellow plantains (this is optional).  Add 1 cup of fideos (2 & ½ bunches)  and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with a bowl of white rice,  tostones and crisp bacon or chicharrón depending on what you like.  

Many people ask why talk about food. Food in my mind is love. The love we show ourselves, our friends and family. The true caring we show our own bodies. I look at most dishes from the perspective of what are my five flavors. I personally like to taste all five within a dish if I can. 

I spent many a day sitting at my grandma's table waiting for her rice - I couldn’t wait to walk into that house and smell her cooking, and I hope the same for you! Below is the recipe for this incredible dish.


Sopa de Pollo

2-3 lbs of chicken cut down to chunks 

Note if using drum sticks only make slits in the meat 

1 medium onion diced 

1/2 green pepper diced 

1/2 diced red Chile pepper 

3-5 cloves of garlic finely diced 

5 sprigs of cilantro 

2 tbsp of olive oil 

1 tsp salt 

1/2 tsp black pepper 

1 packet of sazón 

2 tbsp of sofrito 

1 lemon 

1 tbsp of capers 

1 small can of tomato sauce 

1 tsp of oregano 

3 bay leaves 

8 cups of chicken stock/ broth 

1/2 cup of chopped carrots 

1 plantain sliced yellow 

1 cup fideos 

4-5 short corn on the cob 

1 cup of diced potatoes 

2 plantain verde (green)

3 strips of crisp bacon fat rendered to the side 

White rice

Being Intune with the Seasons - Mid to Late Summer

by Melissa Jin L.Ac.

The summer brings to us a time of great sunshine, more blue skies, and a host of fruits and vegetables. With any season, the goal is always to live in accordance with the demands and unique properties of that season to remain as healthy as possible. This becomes especially true as we begin to approach the end of that season. Centuries of Chinese Medicine tradition tells us how to best approach this. Specifically, the seminal text on Chinese Medicine, “The Huang Di Nei Jing”. 

For the summer months, you can get away with going to sleep a little later than normal and still getting up early. The key is a little, not staying up till two am and waking up at 6 am. It is also very important to be as physically active as you can be. In fact, this season demands you be at your most physically active. This does not mean running ten miles a day or heavy weight lifting every day. However,  if you would normally take the train or car to work or the local store, walk or bike instead. Do calisthenics a few times per week. Take extra walks. Simple but effective. 

The next important point, which is probably the hardest for many of us, is to limit how much anger you let loose. More than any other time of year, it is important to add more calming and stress relieving activities. The best ones in this season are those that help you calm your mind like meditation, yoga, or maybe just quiet walks through nature. This combined with more vigorous exercise will help keep all that excess energy from getting stuck and giving you all kinds of pain and stiffness. The calmer you are, the less likely that same frustration will rise to your head and give massive headaches. It is hot enough this season without adding to it. 

Of course, what may be the most important part is eating in accordance with the season. Many of us know the seasonal TV shows and sports, but have no idea what fruits and vegetables are in season. For the summer season, brightly colored fruits and vegetables that are steamed or lightly sauteed are best. To beat the summer heat, watermelon, apples, lemon, and limes are among the best. Watermelon in particular is great for its cool thirst quenching properties and to help us stave off heat exhaustion. Many of the best berries are also in season like strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.  Some great summer vegetables are green beans, fresh ears of corn, summer squash, and tomatoes. You may find many more from this U.S. department of agriculture website:

Adding in some amount of spice on very hot days is also a great idea. It may seem counter intuitive, but adding a small amount of hot peppers, cayenne pepper, black pepper, or fresh ginger can help to make us sweat and release heat from the surface. Just don’t overdo it or you risk getting too hot. 

In the last month of the summer, as is the case now, it is time to add in some foods like millet, corn, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and peas that are a bit more mild as the hot weather winds down. Preparation becomes a little more simple and less spices should be used to keep the digestion running at optimum levels. We can start to reduce the total exercise a little as well. We want to be especially careful not to overtax ourselves or our digestion with the change of seasons as this upcoming one, from summer into fall, is the most notorious for making us sick.

Wishing you all the best of health with the seasons!