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Harmony in a Pot: TCM inspired Braised Lamb

by Melissa Jin L.Ac.


In the ancient philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the balance of Yin and Yang plays a crucial role in maintaining health and well-being. One of the best ways to do this in the wintertime is to add more warmth to our cooking. So, let's bring this wisdom to our kitchen as we prepare a soul-warming and nourishing dish – Braised Lamb infused with TCM-inspired ingredients. In TCM, lamb is considered to be the warmest of meats, especially when paired with cinnamon and star anise, making it the perfect dish for this time of year. Get ready to embark on a culinary journey that not only delights the senses but also promotes harmony within the body.


- 1.5 kg lamb shoulder, cut into chunks

- 4 slices of ginger

- 3 cloves of garlic, minced

- 2 tablespoons soy sauce

- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine

- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce

- 1 tablespoon light molasses 

- 1 cinnamon stick

- 2 star anise

- 3 dried red dates

- 1 tablespoon goji berries

- 4 cups water or beef broth

- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

- Salt and pepper to taste


1. **Marinate the Lamb:**

  In a bowl, combine the lamb chunks with soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and honey. Allow the meat to marinate for at least 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to penetrate.

2. **Prepare the Aromatic Base:**

  Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, sautéing until fragrant. This aromatic base will form the foundation of our TCM-inspired dish.

3. **Braise the Lamb:**

  Add the marinated lamb to the pot, searing each side until browned. Pour the water or beef broth, ensuring the lamb is submerged. Bring it to a gentle boil.

4. **Infuse TCM Elements:**

  Introduce TCM elements by adding cinnamon sticks, star anise, dried red dates, and goji berries to the pot. These ingredients not only enhance the flavor but also offer health benefits according to TCM principles.

5. **Simmer to Perfection:**

  Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the lamb simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours. This slow cooking process allows the meat to become tender and absorb the rich flavors of the TCM-inspired broth.

6. **Adjust Seasoning:**

  Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. The dish should achieve a harmonious balance between savory, sweet, and aromatic flavors.

7. **Serve and Enjoy:**

  Once the lamb is tender and the flavors have melded, serve the dish over steamed rice or noodles. Garnish with fresh herbs for a burst of color and additional health benefits.

Experience the magic of TCM in your kitchen with this Braised Lamb recipe. As you savor each bite, relish not only in the exquisite flavors but also in the knowledge that you are nourishing your body with ancient wisdom. This dish is a celebration of balance and harmony – a true gift to your taste buds and well-being alike. 

Flavors of the Season: Autumn Edition

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the combination of apples, goji berries, and ginger can be seen as a harmonious blend that aligns with the principles of balancing energies and promoting overall well-being. Each ingredient carries specific properties that, when combined, create a holistic synergy. Let's explore how this combination aligns with TCM concepts: 


Nature and Flavor: Apples are considered cooling in nature and have a sweet and slightly sour flavor. This aligns with TCM's concept of balancing Yin and Yang energies. The cooling nature helps clear heat and excess Yang energy, while the sweet and sour flavors nourish the body's fluids. 

Spleen and Stomach: Apples are known to support the Spleen and Stomach meridians in TCM. They aid digestion, promote the movement of Qi (energy), and strengthen the digestive system.

Goji Berries

Nature and Flavor: Goji berries are considered neutral in nature and have a sweet taste. This balance of energy aligns with TCM's aim to maintain equilibrium between Yin and Yang. The sweetness supports the Spleen and Stomach energies. 

Liver and Kidneys: Goji berries are believed to nourish the Liver and Kidney meridians in TCM. This can help enhance vitality, improve vision, and support the body's ability to balance Yin and Yang energies. 


Nature and Flavor: Ginger is warming in nature and has a pungent and slightly sweet flavor. Its warming properties are used to dispel cold and support Yang energy in TCM. The pungent flavor can promote circulation of Qi and Blood. 

Spleen and Stomach: Ginger is often used to invigorate the Spleen and Stomach energies, aiding digestion and reducing dampness or coldness that might hinder these systems. 

Benefits of the Combination in TCM Terms

Balanced Energy: The combination of cooling (apples), neutral (goji berries), and warming (ginger) ingredients helps balance the body's Yin and Yang energies, promoting a harmonious flow of Qi and maintaining overall vitality. 

Spleen and Stomach Support: The blend supports the Spleen and Stomach meridians, enhancing digestion, promoting the assimilation of nutrients, and ensuring smooth energy flow throughout the body. 

Liver and Kidney Nourishment: Goji berries' influence on the Liver and Kidney meridians, combined with ginger's warming properties, can help nourish these vital organs, leading to improved vitality and better regulation of Yin and Yang energies. 

Qi and Blood Circulation: The pungent properties of ginger can promote the circulation of Qi and Blood, enhancing overall energy flow and supporting optimal organ function. 

In TCM, the art of combining ingredients isn't just about their individual properties; it's also about how they interact and harmonize within the body. The combination of apples, goji berries, and ginger can be seen as a holistic approach to nurturing the body's energies and promoting well-being by addressing imbalances and supporting vital organ functions. As always, it's recommended to consult with a qualified TCM practitioner for personalized guidance, especially if you're addressing specific health concerns.

Embracing the Beauty of Autumn: A Season of Transformation

As the warmth of summer begins to wane and the days grow shorter, a familiar sense of anticipation fills the air. The arrival of autumn, with its crisp air, vibrant foliage, and cozy vibes, marks a time of transition and transformation. Just as the leaves change their colors, we too find ourselves undergoing a metamorphosis, both internally and externally. Let's delve into the magic of autumn and explore how we can make the most of this captivating season. 

Nature's Masterpiece: The Changing Leaves

Autumn is perhaps most renowned for its breathtaking foliage display. As the temperatures drop, the leaves of deciduous trees transform into a stunning palette of warm oranges, fiery reds, and golden yellows. Taking a leisurely stroll through a park or forest during this time can be a truly enchanting experience. So why not plan a day trip to witness this natural spectacle firsthand? Bring along a camera to capture the essence of autumn and create lasting memories. 

Embrace Coziness and Comfort

With the arrival of cooler temperatures, it's time to embrace all things cozy. Dust off those warm sweaters, scarves, and blankets that have been tucked away since last year. Create a cozy corner in your home with soft lighting, plush cushions, and scented candles. Fall is the perfect time to indulge in your favorite hot beverages, from pumpkin spice lattes to soothing herbal teas. As the wind rustles the leaves outside, you can immerse yourself in a good book or catch up on your favorite series. 

Harvesting New Beginnings

Autumn is traditionally a time of harvest, when farmers gather the fruits of their labor from the fields. Metaphorically, it's also an opportunity for us to take stock of our own lives and reflect on our achievements, challenges, and aspirations. Consider setting new goals for the upcoming months, whether they're related to personal growth, career advancement, or creative pursuits. Just as the earth prepares for a period of rest, we can prepare for our own journey of self-improvement. 

Culinary Adventures with Fall Flavors

The fall season brings an array of delectable flavors that are synonymous with comfort food. From apple pies to hearty soups and roasted vegetables, autumn's bounty offers a wealth of culinary delights. Visit local farmers' markets to source fresh, seasonal produce and experiment with new recipes in your kitchen. Don't forget to invite friends and family to share in the joy of cooking and savoring these delicious meals together. 

Outdoor Adventures

While the weather might be cooler, autumn presents a fantastic opportunity to explore the outdoors. Whether it's hiking through the forest, cycling along scenic trails, or picnicking in a park, there's no shortage of activities to enjoy. The moderate temperatures and the colorful backdrop make it an ideal time to connect with nature and engage in physical activities that invigorate both body and mind. 

As we bid farewell to summer and welcome the arrival of autumn, let's approach this season with open arms and a sense of wonder. The transformation unfolding in the world around us mirrors the changes we experience within ourselves. Whether you're seeking tranquility, creative inspiration, or simply a chance to revel in the beauty of nature, autumn offers it all. So grab your favorite sweater, take a deep breath of the crisp air, and embark on a journey of exploration and self-discovery this fall. 

Recipe: Apple and Goji Berry Herbal Infusion

In Chinese medicine, apples are considered a nourishing fruit that supports the digestive system, promotes fluid balance, and harmonizes the body's energy. When combined with goji berries, which are known for their antioxidant properties and ability to support overall well-being, you create a delightful herbal infusion that's both soothing and healthful. This recipe is a wonderful way to enjoy the benefits of these ingredients while embracing the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. 


  • 3 Large-sized apple (organic if possible) sliced, I prefer green because of the sour nature
  • 3 tablespoons dried goji berries 
  • 4 slices of fresh ginger 
  • 6 cups water 
  • Agave (optional, for sweetness) 


1. Prepare the Ingredients:

  • Wash the apples thoroughly and cut it into thin slices, leaving the skin on. The skin contains valuable nutrients and is an important part of the recipe. 
  • Rinse the dried goji berries under cold water to remove any impurities. 

2. Boil the Water:

  • Bring 6 cups of water to a gentle boil in a pot. 

3. Combine Ingredients

4. Simmer

  • Let simmer on low fire just 15 minutes 

5. Serve:

  • Strain the infused liquid into a glass heat safe pitcher. 
  • Sip the herbal infusion slowly, savoring the subtle sweetness and nourishing qualities of the ingredients. 


  • This herbal infusion can be enjoyed warm or chilled, depending on your preference and the weather. 
  • Feel free to adjust the quantity of goji berries to suit your taste. You can add more or less, depending on how pronounced you want the goji berry flavor to be. 
  • Remember that the skin of the apple contains valuable nutrients and fiber. By leaving the skin on, you're maximizing the health benefits of the infusion. 
  • While this recipe draws inspiration from Chinese medicine principles, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional if you have specific health concerns or conditions. 

Sip and savor the comforting flavors of this apple and goji berry herbal infusion, knowing that you're nourishing your body according to the principles of Chinese medicine. It's a gentle and delightful way to incorporate these traditional healing ingredients into your modern lifestyle. 


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!