Kitchen Tips

Winter Warriors: Chinese Tips on Using Food as Medicine

Beat the chill this winter by treating food as medicine with our guide to medicinal Chinese ingredients, including essential herbs and spices that can help ward off the common cold and fight infections. Plus, not only are they good for you, they taste delicious.


A sweet and aromatic spice that’s used across Asia in soups, curries and medicinal teas, cinnamon and its cousin cassia bark are packed with antioxidants. They also contain anti-inflammatory properties, can help fight infections and repair tissue damage, may reduce the risk of heart disease, and can treat the common cold. Add a quill or two to this warming Chinese dong po pork recipe for food as medicine that tastes fantastic.

Dong Po Pork


The compound that gives garlic is trademark fragrance, allicin is one of the powerhouses of medicinal foods. Studies have shown that it may reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels prevent dementia. It’s also said to reduce the severity of the common cold by up to 70%, even more reason to load up on this flavour-packed ingredient. Beat the winter chill with this warming chilli garlic beef recipe or try this garlic roasted soy sauce lamb, which calls for 10 cloves!

Chilli Garlic Beef


Whether you use it fresh, as a dried spice, in a tea or in a juice, superfood ginger should get a workout this winter. Make a hot toddy by brewing sliced fresh ginger with honey, lemon and a splash of whisky, add ginger to healthy Chinese soups, or create a heart-warming chicken soup with ginger and coriander, which will help keep the cold at bay.

Chicken Soup with Coriander Ginger and Udon Noodles Recipe


If you only reach for one medicinal food this winter, make it ginseng. Steep this wonder root in boiling water to make a homemade tea, or read about the top three ways to use ginseng to ward of winter ailments.

ginseng tea- Top 3 Ways to use Ginseng to Ward off Winter Ailments

Goji berries

Also known as wolf berries, goji berries have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. And with good reason. They’re high in beta-carotene and vitamin C, and have been known to boost the immune system – a must during winter. Add them to your morning muesli, snack of them with a handful of almonds, or use them to add delicate sweet-sour flavour this steamed coral cod.

Steamed Coral Cod with Goji on Lotus Leaf

Hairy melon

Don’t let the name put you off. Hairy melon, or Asian melon as it’s also known, is said to work wonders on the kidneys and chapped lips, a common complaint during winter. Add it to your favourite green smoothie, or try this Asian melon with pork starter.

Asian Melon with Pork

For more on the health benefits of Asian foods and using food as medicine,read about nutritious Japanese ingredients and vital Thai spices.

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