By Tara Gregory
The root of all Chinese medical theory is the concept of yin and yang. When the yin and yang of the body are in balance, there is health and vitality. When they fall out of balance, symptoms and illness arise. Everything in our body can be broken down into a category of yin or yang tissues, organs, substances, and actions. In the simplest terms, yang is anything that is warm, moving, bright, and active. Yin relates to cool, stationary, dark, and resting activities or things.
Living a really active life, full of mental and physical activity can slowly impact the yin of the body. We need a balance of reflection, rest, and repose to allow for the active, moving and shaking, playful or busy aspects of our lives. If we skip reflection and rest, then slowly various symptoms can start to pop up as a reflection of damaged yin.
The most common beginning hints of damaged yin is insomnia and restlessness. You may also notice dry skin, hair, and nails, and/or experience a tendency towards constipation. If you have constipation paired with all of the previously mentioned symptoms, that is a constipation stemming from lack of yin or good fluids in the body.
A simple, delicious treat can help to restore mildly damaged yin. Honey, black sesame seeds, and walnuts are all foods that nourish the Kidneys and yin of the body.Sesame and walnuts have an added benefit of their oils directly ‘going to’ the large intestine to help move things along. They can also help you feel less restless, and potentially even sleep better at night.
I was first introduced to this recipe as a Chinese Medicine student and have been enjoying it ever since! The warming spices make this recipe especially suited for the climate in the Northwest. Cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom all fire up digestion which helps to transform the moistening qualities of these ingredients into yin nourishing fluids. Enjoy these tasty treats daily to sleep well and stay regular!
Honey Sesame and Walnut Spice Balls
- ½ cup black sesame seeds
- 1/3 to ½ cup chopped walnut pieces
- 3-4 tablespoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8- ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- Roast the sesame seeds in a cast iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the seeds become fragrant. Make sure to shake the skillet occasionally to keep the sesame seeds from burning. Transfer the seeds to a bowl and allow to cool.
- In a food processor combine all the ingredients and whir until completely mixed. Adjust spices as desired.
- Roll into ½ – ¾ inch balls. If the mixture doesn’t stick together add more honey and whirl until incorporated.
This recipe is adapted from the educational and tasty cookbook, Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen by Yuan Wang, Warren Sheir, and Miko Ono.
*Photo credit: Lindsey Thompson