5 elements cooking

5 Elements Cooking 🍚🧑‍🍳

Chinese 5 Elements Cooking 🍚🧑‍🍳

5 elements cooking takes an holistic approach to maintaining health and well being. As part of a healthy balanced diet 5 elements cooking aims to promote harmony between the body and mind. In general terms a deficiency in any of the five yin and yang organs can be addressed by eating food which affects the element/s that needs to be strengthened and avoiding foods which weaken it. In western culture we often say “we are what we eat” which is a good thought to bear in mind when reading this introduction to 5 elements cooking.

5 Elements Cooking Healthy Eating Tips + Do's and Don'ts

5 Elements Cooking Healthy Eating Tips

  • Think of food as fuel used to fire the boiler (stomach) and release energy
  • Food is evaluated according to its vital energy (qi) and how it affects your metabolism, for example:
    • Foods with a cooling effect on the metabolism, counteract heat, cools the body and generates lymph fluid
    • Foods with a neutral effect on the metabolism helps harmonize the body and produces qi
    • Foods with a warming effect on the metabolism energize the body which becomes warmer.
  • Start every day with a healthy breakfast because:
    • You need to start the fire in the morning and keep it burning throughout the day
    • The best way to do this is with hot cooked food and hot drinks.
  • Start your main meal with hot soup because:
    • It keeps the fire burning and fills you up.
  • Chew food properly because:
    • Enzymes in the mouth pre-digest your food so your stomach can release energy quicker
    • You have time to enjoy the flavors and/or the company of others
    • Your brain has time to sense when it has had enough.
  • Use herbs and spices to enhance flavors and help specific internal organs achieve harmony
  • Only eat fruit as a snack between meals because:
    • Fruit causes fermentation, hinders digestion, causes acidity, swelling, produces mucus and toxins
    • Fruit can be spiced to help specific internal organs achieve harmony.
  • 5 elements cooking DO’s:
    • Use fresh in-season food
    • Cook vegetables lightly which aids digestion, rather than eating them raw
    • Think about combinations of food, herbs and spices which will help achieve harmony.
  • 5 elements cooking DON’Ts:
    • Avoid frozen food
    • Avoid processed and refined foods
    • Don’t microwave food
    • Avoid convenience foods
    • Avoid ice cold food and drinks
    • Minimize milk derivatives.

ADDucation Tips: Click the + icons to reveal other elements. Resize your browser to see more/less columns.

Elements (Wu Xing) Wood (mu 木) 🔥Fire (huo 火) Earth (tu 土) Metal (jin 金) 🌊Water (shui 水)
Color Green Red Yellow White Black (blue)
Benefits Green colored food is supposed to benefit your liver, gall bladder, muscles, eyes and joints. Red colored food is supposed to benefit your heart, small intestine and brain. Yellow colored food is supposed to benefit your spleen and digestive system. White colored food is supposed to benefit your large intestine, nose, lungs and respiratory system and skin. Benefits your kidneys, bones, urinary bladder, reproductive organs and ears.
Taste Sour Bitter Sweet Pungent / Spicy Salty
Yin organs (Zang) Liver Heart, pericardium Spleen, pancreas Lungs Kidneys
Yang organs (Zu) Gall bladder Small intestine Stomach Large intestine Bladder
Vegetables & fungi Green colored vegetables including Chinese leeks, green bell peppers, wasabi, green peas, lettuce, string beans, broccoli, wasabi, avocados, zucchini (courgettes) etc. Red colored vegetables including, sweet potato, carrots, chilli, red pepper, tomatoes, beets, okra, dandelion root, red bell peppers, scallions etc. Yellow colored vegetables including sweetcorn, taro, yellow sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, yellow peppers, soy beans, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga/swede, ginger, spinach etc. White colored vegetables including onions, daikon (radish), garlic, bamboo shoots, asparagus, white wood ear fungus, celery, cucumber, mustard green etc. Black colored vegetables including Eggplants (Aubergines), seaweed, Shiitake mushrooms, kale, wood ear fungus, water chestnuts etc.
Fruit Plums, green grapes, lemons, limes etc. Apple, strawberry, goji berry, dragon fruit, cherry, persimmon etc. Jujube (Chinese date), oranges, star fruit, lemons, pineapples, papaya, figs etc. Peaches, pears, bananas, melon, winter melon, apricots etc. Chestnuts, blueberries, black grapes, raisins, mulberry, pomegranate, raspberry, watermelon etc.
Grain
Wheat, oats, rye Amaranth, corn Millet, barley Hemp, rice Buckwheat
Legumes, pulses & beans
Mung beans, green lentils, lima beans etc. Red lentils, red beans etc. Chick peas/garbanzo peas etc. Navy white beans etc. Black beans, aduki beans, kidney beans, pinto beans etc.
Nuts & Seeds Brazil nuts, cashew nuts etc. Sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts etc. Pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, peanuts etc. Almonds, white sesame seeds, lotus seed etc. Black sesame seeds, walnuts etc.
Other foods Brown sugar. Egg yolk, bean curd, honey. Rice, noodles, tofu/bean curd, rock sugar. Sweet bean sauce.
Liquids Milk, soy milk. Black tea, black vinegar.
Avoid / Caution Soft diary Chocolate, sugar Meat Eggs Cheese
Odour Rancid Scorched Fragrant Rotten Putrid
Tea ceremony settings Spring wind
green, east.
Summer Dew
red, south.
Center incense
yellow, up and down.
Fall Sounds
white, west.
Winter sunshine
black, north.

Important! This ADDucation list is published for information only. Chinese 5 elements cooking is not a diet. Please always seek professional advice before making changes to your diet.

Chinese 5 Elements Cooking Theory Explainer

The Chinese five elements in connection with 5 elements cooking are wood (green food), fire (red food), earth (yellow food), metal (white food) and water (black food). In Chinese five element theory the relationships between the five Chinese elements forms four dynamic cycles:

  1. Creative cycle clockwise around the outside. Each element is the mother of the following element and the son of the preceding element. Wood feeds fire, fire creates (ash) earth, earth produces metal, metal collects (condensation) water and water nourishes wood completing the cycle.
  2. Weakening cycle counter-clockwise around the outside. The opposite of the creative cycle. For example; when metal ore is removed from the earth it becomes exhausted.
  3. Destructive cycle follows the straight lines. Each element exerts control to suppress or inhibit the following element.
  4. Suppression cycle backwards around the straight lines. If the acted-upon element is too strong, or the acting element is too weak, the cycle can temporarily reverse.

5 elements cooking
Chinese 5 elements cooking created by ADDucation and released under the Creative Commons Zero license. No credit required but always appreciated.

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