1. Start the day with hot water and lemon
Lemon moves the Liver Qi, which is helpful with Stagnation – a common problem during Christmas with over indulgence! Beginning the day warm drinks and foods is very important as the digestion needs to be slowly watmed up; if we were to give it a deluge of cold fluids it would weaken digestive function for the day because it damanges the Yang (fire) function. So smoothies or juices are best consumed once the digestive system has been gently awakened.
2. Add fermented foods and pickles to your diet
Fermentation is an ancient form of food preservation, the healing properties of which have been appreciated by many cultures for centuries, for example Japanese pickled vegetables, Korean kimchi and German sauerkraut. In Chinese medcine, sour flavours support the Liver energy and move Stagnation of Qi, so bring out the pickles on Boxing day. Victoria loves pickled herrings and she swears they cure a hangover.
3. Boil your turkey bones for bone broth
The Chinese believe in the power of ‘like feeding like’. So one of the best ways to nourish Blood and Qi is with foods made with bone marrow, so when roasting be sure to use the juices from the meat as these not only taste delicious but contain the goodness from the marrow. Bone broths, made by simply simmering bones to create a stock, have been used for thousands of years, especially to help people recover from illness. In Paris apparently the first restaurants were little street cafes that sold restorative broths or soups. My favourite ingredients to add to chicken or turkey stock include leek (roughly chopped), celery, a couple of onions (halved with the skin left on), a couple of bay leaves, 2 cloves, a spring of time and a small handful of black peppercorns. Remove as much of the leftover turkey meat as possible then cover the bones (and any juices from the pan) with water and the rest of the ingredients. Bring almost to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, leaving uncovered for at least a couple of hours. Skim off any froth and then allow to cool before passing through a fine sieve or muslin cloth. Chill in the fridge where it will keep for two days or freeze for up to a month. This stock forms the base of a delicious turkey noodle or vegetable soup, the perfect recovery food after the excesses of the holidays.
4. Stop eating before 7pm
The earlier you can stop eating in the evening, the more your digestion will thank you. When we go to bed with a full stomach, our digestion struggles with that excess food all night. Ideally, breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and have supper like a pauper. This is one old wive’s tale that stands the test of time.
5. Drink mostly herbal teas
At this time of year, I recommend herbal teas even more than cold water, as not only do I love the ritual of making a pot of tea, I think it is easier when the weather is cold outside and there are such lovely varieties now available (including my new range, if you want a treat!). Drinking tea is one of the easiest ways to balance out indulgences at any time of the year, it’s a healthy habit that is good for the body and the soul.