Xiangsheng and Xiangke: Foods that React to Each other

"The Plan" By Lyn-Genet Recitas

An American friend recently introduced a book to me that is gaining popularity in the US called, The Plan. It describes in detail that certain healthy foods we eat regularly do, in fact, cause us to gain weight. The author uses concepts that are regularly used in Chinese discussions of health and makes them accessible to a Western audience. “Inflammatory foods” cause “inflammation”, which produce negative effects on your body and can effect weight gain and loss.

All of this talk of inflammation reminded me of a poster I saw in a Chinese medical hospital room years ago. It basically outlines both appropriate and inappropriate combinations of food. This Chinese-medicine concept seems to be the foundation of the theories in The Plan book.  It seems this ancient concept, which can help us better understand how our bodies work, has worked its way to the discussion table of American households. Continue reading Xiangsheng and Xiangke: Foods that React to Each other

Understanding The World of Tea

Is Oolong tea a kind of green tea? Is Long Jing a kind of tea or a brand?  Which one does what for you? These questions have been on my brain longer than my stay here in China (since 2005). After all, tea is the most consumed drink in the world after water. There are certainly more than a few reasons for that! After discussing the specifics with Chinese friends, tea aficionados, and tea shop owners, I can safely say that the mystery around tea is not so complicated after all. Let’s start generally and get more specific as we go along!

One Plant: All (leaf) tea comes from the same species of plant. Just like apples all come from apple trees… Varieties exist among all species and those varieties include:  Green, Oolong, Black, White, Yellow,and Pu’er. Processing and growing techniques are other ways that teas get their distinctive colors, flavors, and characteristics. For specifics on processing, check out the image on the right. The following disambiguations are listed from lighter to darker tea varieties.


Continue reading Understanding The World of Tea

Tea Time! Before 3:00pm

jlh-teatime2Traditionally, in England, tea time was used as a way to keep the Queen Mum from feeling sleepy in the afternoon. (But you don’t need to supplement your tea time with crumpets!) Just make sure you drink tea after breakfast or lunch.

Tea is a stimulant and if taken in the evening it is almost certain to keep you up at night. Eating and drinking healthy shouldn’t cause insomnia, so don’t watch your evening program with tea or coffee… try warm water instead.

More recently I’ve been creating my own stomach-soothing beverage. I buy fresh turmeric root at Whole Foods and wash it off really well. Then steep the root for a few minutes before filling the cup completely with hot water. To learn more about healthy, natural teas just visit this article: Learn to Brew 5 Fresh and Healthy Teas at Home

Warm Water

When it’s meal time, never ask this question: “OK, everyone, do you want to drink Fresca or Diet Coke?”

You should be putting sugar in delicious Asian meals instead. Not only are the above two choices full of useless sugar, they are often served cold. Your body doesn’t deserve to be treated this way, so you should ask for water instead (no ice). Ya, you might get some strange looks the first couple times, but I promise they will understand someday.

My sainted grandfather used to say that “cold water isn’t good for yer gizzards.” After I realized that gizzards are not a some kind of lizard that lives in my body, I started to take his suggestions seriously. Really, your body is usually at a high-90s (30s ‘C) temperature. Shocking your body with iced beverages is unhealthy, although it won’t kill you (right away).

Drink warm water when you wake up and drink warm water when you have meals. If you plan a soup with your meal, then don’t worry about drinking the water.