Seasonal eating is a key part of TCM diet and nutrition and it is a bit more than just eating your seasonal farmers market’s produce.
The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar year, divides the year into 24 seasonal points 二十四节气 (also called “solar terms”). These 2-week long seasonal periods make up the 5 seasons. There are certain foods, both dried and fresh, that are more suitable for a particular seasonal point. Since the dietary recommendations for adjacent seasonal points are often similar, and many of you live in climates that may not experience all 24 seasonal points, so we’ve summarized this wisdom into 5 seasons to make the information more practical.
For example, if you live in the Southern hemisphere, you should refer to “Winter” when you are experiencing “Summer.”
Let us eat with season and tune-in to mother nature.
Winter Seasonal Points 节气
Beginning of Winter | 立冬 | 11.07 - 11.21
Winter is coming from that day on, and crops harvested in autumn should be stored up.
Light Snow | 小雪 | 11.22 - 12.06
Light Snow refers to the time when it starts to snow, mostly in China's northern areas, and the temperature continues to drop.
Heavy Snow | 大雪 | 12.07 - 12.20
Around this day, the snow becomes heavy and begins to accumulate on the ground as the lowest temperature drops to around zero degree Celsius in northern China.
Winter Solstice | 冬至 | 12.21 - 01.04
On the first day of Winter Solstice, the Northern Hemisphere experiences the shortest day and the longest night in the year, as the sun shines directly at the Tropic of Capricorn.
Lesser Cold | 小寒 | 01.05 - 01.19
During Lesser Cold, most areas in China have entered the bitter cold stage of winter. The ground and rivers are frozen. The cold air from the north moves southward continuously.
Greater Cold | 大寒 | 01.20 - 02.03
Greater Cold is the last solar term in the annual lunar calendar. In this period, snow, rain and icy cold weather exert a big influence on people's lives.
Winter Dietary Key Words
Salty and Sweet flavors
Replenishment and nourishment
Yang, Warming, Black-toned foods
Vegetables: scallion, garlic, carrot, root vegetables, fennel, leek, chestnut, potato, radish, winter bamboo shoot, cooked cabbage, mushroom, asparagus, Chinese yam
- Fruits: grape, pomelo, tangerine, mulberry, apple
- Protein: black soybean, walnut, black sesame, sunflower seeds, hempseed, bone broth, lamb, beef, venison
- Carbohydrates: black rice, purple rice, glutinous millet, glutinous rice, rye bread, whole wheat flour
- Herbal: goji 枸杞, jujube dates 红枣, longan 桂圆, safflower 红花, Chuan Xiong 川芎, Dang Gui 当归, astragalus 黄芪, Sichuan pepper 花椒, turmeric 姜黄, cordyceps 虫草, bay leaf 月桂叶, black pepper 黑胡椒
- Others: miso, ginger, alcohol, wine, spices, black tea
- To Limit: iced/cold beverages, raw foods, cold/cooling herbs