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A Tale of Chestnuts – Winter, Chinese Medicine & Lower Back Pain

Chestnuts, who are you?

Chestnuts ripen at the end of autumn, when we begin to see them appearing in the markets or grilled on street corners.

Despite the “nutty” look, chestnuts are very different, as they are low in calories (about 245 grams per 100 grams of grilled chestnuts), low in protein, high in carbohydrates and have no cholesterol. In addition, they are rich in vitamin C (26mg or 35% of the recommended daily intake for adult women), as well as in the vitamin B group, including vitamin B6 (25% of the recommended intake), vitamin B9/folic acid (17% of the recommended intake), niacin (B3) and thymine (B1).

What is so good about chestnuts, according to Chinese medicine?

Traditional Chinese medicine philosophy focuses on eating certain foods at certain times of the year, in order to help balance the body and prevent infection by certain seasonal pathogens. Chestnuts, which appear during the fall, are known for their warming effect according to traditional medicine textbooks, such as the "Encyclopedia of Herbs" (Ben Cao Gang Mu). This warming capacity strengthens the “Kidney Qi” and improves blood flow.

According to Chinese medicine, the kidneys, which are located in the lower region of the back, are “in charge” of the bones and control the lower part of the body. As such, they strengthen the back, knees, ankles and tendons.

If kidney energy is sufficient, it will transfer the energy (Qi) and blood to these parts of the body, thus making them strong, flexible and healthy. Lack of kidney energy, especially in the cold winter time, will affect blood circulation, resulting in lower back, knee or ankle pain, swelling or stiffness around the knees and ankles as well as frequent urination during the night, decrease in libido, impotence and menopausal symptoms.

Chestnuts are just one of several foods that support the kidneys, warm the body and improve blood flow, thus reducing pain, but cannot solely support a deficient kidney. Accurate diagnosis will lead to a combined treatment that includes acupuncture, herbs and specific nutritional recommendation.

How do I cook them?

Chestnuts are very easy to cook. To prepare the chestnuts, make a small crack inside the nut itself in the shape of X and then ... either place on a baking tray in pre-heated oven (180C) for 20-30 mins until you see the peel crack (see picture) or boil for 10-15 mins.

Eating 10-15 of chestnuts several times a week is recommended.

Once prepared, a lot of yummy dishes can be made - a few examples shown below ...

Japanese Chestnut Rice (Kurigohan)

Original recipe:

400 grams of short Japanese rice

600 ml of water

400 g chestnuts

1 tablespoon Sake

1 tablespoon of Mirin

1 tablespoon soy sauce

For serving: black sesame seeds

  • Rinse the rice in cold water until the water becomes clear

  • Mix the rice, water, Sake, Mirin and soy in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the fire and cover the pot. Cook the rice until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

  • Remove the pot from the heat, add the chestnuts and cover again, leaving it to “steam” for about 10 minutes.

  • Serve in bowls, sprinkled with black sesame seeds.

Roasted root vegetables with apples and chestnuts

Original recipe:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup vegetable soup

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 sweet potatoes (option: use pumpkin), large, peeled and diced

2 medium red onions, coarsely cut into strips

200 grams of whole chestnuts

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

Salt and fresh ground pepper

2 medium beets, peeled and diced

2 tart apples (e.g. Smith) cut into eight slices

  • In a small pot combine the apple vinegar, vegetable soup, butter and maple syrup and bring to boil. Cook on medium-high heat until reduced by half, approx 15 minutes. Meanwhile...

  • In a large roasting pan, mix the sweet potatoes/pumpkin, onion and chestnuts with olive oil and thyme; Season with salt and pepper.

  • Place the beets in between the other vegetables and roast for 20 minutes.

  • Mix the vegetables gently, add the apples and roasts for another 20 minutes, or until all the vegetables and apples are soft and lightly browned.

  • Add the sauce and stir again. Transfer to a serving dish and serve.

Bon Appetite & Best of Health!

Want to continue the conversation with Gil?

For reservations up to 24.12, first treatment at 50% discount; a series of 4 treatments at 10% discount. Contact me at 054-6567959 or 03-7440888

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