Note: Many people, especially women, enjoy eating lots of salads that are made from raw uncooked vegetables. I realize that this is a way of eating that makes some people quite happy and these people do not appear to have health issues as a direct result of this. However, for others, eating raw uncooked vegetables can have serious health consequences. In fact, many people find it is impossible to believe that after they have developed health issues, that it is related to their eating these raw vegetable salads. I am not advocating that everyone stop eating salads. This blog is intended to explain from Chinese medicine’s point of view why it is healthier to cook your vegetables than it is to consume them raw. And if you are concerned about losing nutrients from cooking vegetables, you can get just about as many nutrients from cooked vegetables as you can from raw vegetables as long as you do not overcook vegetables.
The answer to “why do we need to cook vegetables” is because Chinese medicine believes that raw vegetables will weaken the spleen Qi (which is responsible for our digestive system and the body fluid metabolism). As a result of spleen Qi deficiency, we can develop malnutrition, anemia, stomach gas, become overweight, have abnormal bowel movements including diarrhea or constipation. This can form mucus toxin in our body which also called “Candida”. The mucus toxin will cause even more serious health problems like high cholesterol, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroid, dizziness, fatigue, chronic yeast infections, and tumors in the body.
In Chinese medicine and Chinese culture, we encourage people to eat lightly cooked vegetables. If we want to eat raw vegetables, in order to get the most nutrients from them, I suggest drinking raw vegetable juice or making vegetable smoothies. Make sure to drink these after your meal.
As an example of how powerful cooked vegetables are in maintaining and healing your health, cooked green leafy vegetables can dry out the dampness or mucus in our body.
Which vegetables you cook and how you cook these is incredibly important as the type of vegetables and how you cook them represent self-healing techniques. Most of us were never taught this and always thought of vegetables as a side dish that you were supposed to eat because they were “good for you”. However, vegetables represent one of the most important ingredients in maintaining a healthy life and curing illnesses.
In this blog, I will pass on to you the cooking experiences I have acquired during my lifetime according to “eastern diet philosophy”.
I started chopping vegetables at age 10 and started cooking dishes at age 12. Most of the cooking techniques are self-taught and learned through trial and error over many years. They are not learned from a cook book.
I hope that my techniques and recommendations will help you to learn the basic skills of eastern cooking and especially how to cook vegetables. None of my dishes use MSG. The flavor comes from the vegetables themselves and ingredients.
Practice is the key to success. I hope you can cook as often as possible with my techniques and create for both your family and self these tasty dishes.
There are 3 ways to cook vegetables:
3. Stir fry
All three ways use high heat in order to cook quickly. The cooking time is controlled within 6 minutes in my teaching.
First boil the water in the pot.
Add the vegetables to the boiling water and only allow these to remain for 1 or 2 minutes.
Add a basket steamer to a pot. Add enough water to bring to the bottom of the basket (about 1-2 inches). Bring the water to a boil.
Place your vegetables in the basket steamer, cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Stir Fry
Vegetables cooked using the stir fry method should only be cooked for 2 to 4 minutes depending on the type of vegetables you are cooking.
How to Stir Fry
You will need:
½ Pound Vegetables
1 Green Scallion Chopped
3-4 Slices Ginger Root
2-3 Cloves Garlic Finely Chopped
1. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the wok.
2. Heat until you see a little smoke.
3. Add half green scallion and the 3 to 4 sliced ginger to the hot wok.
4. Cover the wok for 15 second until the flavor comes out.
5. Put the chopped vegetable into the wok and start stir fry. The cooking time for each vegetable is listed below.
6. Add sea salt and the garlic at the end of cooking.
Here is a list of vegetables that are very beneficial for the liver, with their cooking times.
1. Broccoli: Use only sea salt and garlic when you stir fry. Cooking time: 5 minutes.
2. Carrots: Must stir fry since the vitamins in carrots can only absorbed with an oil base.
I use soy sauce, black vinegar and garlic at the end of cooking. Cooking time: 5 minutes.
3. Celery : Same as Carrots or just use sea salt and garlic. Cooking time: 4 Minutes.
4. Eggplant: Steaming is the easiest way to cook this vegetable. Steam time is 5 to 6 minutes, use soy sauce, black vinegar, garlic, and sesame oil.
5. String Beans: A healthy vegetable that can benefit the thyroid gland. When doing stir fry, use only soy sauce or only sea salt with garlic, no vinegar. Cooking time: 6 minutes.
6. Asparagus: When cooking in a stir fry, only use sea salt and garlic in the end of cooking. Cooking time: 2 minutes.
7. Zucchini: When cooking in a stir fry, only use sea salt and garlic in the end of cooking. Cooking time: 4 minutes.
8. Mushrooms: Stir fry with scrambled eggs. Use soy sauce and garlic at the end of cooking. Cooking time: 2 minutes.
9. Green Leafy Vegetables: Use only salt and garlic when comes to stir fry. No soy sauce and vinegar.
Here are some different types of green leafy vegetables and their cooking times:
Spinach: 2 minutes
Kale: 4 minutes
Watercress: 2 minutes
Bok-Choy: 4 minutes
Dandelion: 2 minutes
I suggest that you eat one pound of green leafy vegetables (cooked) per day, 3 to 4 times per week. This diet is especially important after you ate heavy meals in the restaurants.
Salad – Mediterranean Salad
Tomato, cucumber, sweat pepper (green, yellow and red mixed), radish, onion or green scallion, dill, olive oil, lemon or balsamic vinegar.
It is preferable for you to eating a salad after your meal. It is good for digestion, absorption, and controls the amount of the main meal.
Tofu Soup or Vegetable Soup
Tofu 1 or ½ lb box, mushroom, prefer fresh shitake mushroom 5 or more. A small bunch of spinach or watercress( a quarter pound ), 2 branches celery, 2 organic eggs, sea salt, cilantro, sesame oil, ginger, scallion, white pepper.
1. Put ½ tablespoon vegetable oil into a wok.
2. Heat up the oil.
3. Put ½ green scallion and 3 or 4 slices fresh ginger root (chopped fine) into the wok.
4. Cover the wok for 15 seconds.
5. Put sliced shitake mushroom into the wok and start stir fry the mushroom for one minute.
6. Pour one quart water into the wok, boil the water, now the flavor from the mushroom.
7. Put tofu (cut to small square pieces), celery (cut into small pieces) into the soup first and boil them for 5 minutes.
8. Put a quarter pound spinach or watercress in the soup and bring the soup to boil. Pour 2 organic eggs into the soup like you make Chinese egg drop soup.
9. At the end, add 2 or 3 drops of sesame oil, sea salt, cilantro, and very small amount of white pepper.
Ingredient: Seaweed, organic egg, ½ box tofu.
Cooking is the same as vegetable soup. At the end, add sesame oil, cilantro, sea salt, and very small amount white pepper.
Ingredient: one box tofu, prefer medium firm, 2 green scallions, sesame oil, sea salt, white pepper.
Mix everything together, smash the tofu, makes sure to chop the green scallion very fine.
All of the cooking I taught in here is time-saving , easy making, and delicious, Hope you enjoy it!
For more advanced cooking skills and to learn more about Chinese cooking and diet, please call me to make an appointment. I will be happy to teach and help you. Following an eastern diet is an important element in preventing disease and it will help you to live a long and healthy life.
Dr. Feng Liang