Not to talk about the weather.....but, this weather! In the past couple of weeks, I have been in California, Tennessee, and New York, and in all three places, the temperatures have swung, dramatic rains and winds have blown through, and everyone is suddenly coming down with something. But why?
In five element theory, which underlies Chinese medical theory, early spring (here too early this year) is a time when the season can't make up its mind whether it's cold or warm, dry or wet, and the pendulum swings back and forth for a while. Because our bodies are intimately attuned to the environment around us, rapid changes in temperature and climate can be difficult for our protective qi (similar to our immunity) to adjust to, leaving us unprotected for a day or two when the weather changes. Hence, our immunity dips, and we become susceptible to the colds, strep throat, and flu that I have seen so much of in the past few weeks.
Even though it may be 30 degrees out today and 60 out tomorrow, it's still winter out there, and your body still craves and needs warming foods to keep your immunity up -- and colds out. To support you in this, I have designed a delicious vegetarian alternative to bone broth, which uses vegetable and herbal ingredients! And if you're a meat eater, feel free to add in those bones.
It takes just a little bit of prep work to put together a large stockpot of deeply nourishing vegetarian mineral broth, which can serve as a soup unto itself, or a liquid base for whole grains, beans, soups, and more. One pot will boost your immune system and carry you through to the proper arrival of spring, and you can customize it with your favorite Chinese herbs according to my suggestions. Follow the recipe below, or download it here, and happy cooking!
Vegetarian Immunity-Boosting Mineral Broth
You can also add in the optional herbal suggestions noted below -- whether cooking in the broth itself, or mixing the herbal tea into the broth later on. If you choose to add the herbs right into the broth, add them after the broth has been simmering for an hour or longer, no more than 1 hour before the broth will be done.
½ bunch celery, cut into thirds
1 leek, most of green part trimmed, in thirds
4 carrots, in quarters
2 red potatoes, quartered
2 sweet potatoes, Japanese sweet potatoes, and/or yams, quartered
1 large unpeeled yellow onion, quartered
5 unpeeled garlic cloves, halved
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley or cilantro (or use half a bunch of each)
1 piece kombu (6”)
8 black peppercorns
4 whole allspice berries
1-2 bay leaves
6 quarts filtered water, or enough to cover vegetables and fill pot
½-1 tsp salt, or more, to taste
Rinse vegetables and leave them all unpeeled.
Combine everything, except the salt, in an 8-12 quart stockpot. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 2-3 hours.
Strain the broth and toss the solids. Add salt to taste.
Let the broth cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
Store in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Optional vegetable / herbal additions
Add in one or more to the base recipe, choosing based on your current health concerns.
- 1-2 8” pieces of burdock root, in quarters...to cleanse the liver + blood
- 10 dried shiitake and / or maitake mushrooms...to strengthen essence + immune system
- 1 unpeeled 4” piece fresh ginger, quartered...for cold/flu season, + to stop nausea
- 1-3 unpeeled 2-3” pieces of fresh turmeric...to decrease inflammation + any/all types pain
- 5-10 pieces astragalus...for fatigue, low immunity, + illness recovery
- 10 pieces shan yao (dried Chinese yam)...for fatigue, weak digestion, + chronic cough
- 2 tbsp goji berries...to improve eyesight + energy, + slow aging