One of the things we look at in Chinese Dietary Therapy is, what are the effects of particular cooking styles on the “energetic” quality of the food; here energy refers to the warming characteristics of the dish.

Whereas steaming and quick boiling are mild, and introduce the least amount of heat energy by cooking, and therefore are excellent for spring and summer vegetables and for folk with heat disorders like eczema, baking is a nice way to bring heat energy deep into the foodstuffs, and is excellent for people who are cold and weak, cold and damp, or for most of us in the cold seasons.

The “hottest” cooking method is deep frying, and winter is the time when I allow myself small amounts of deep fried food like falafel…in fact home-made falafel, with its wonderful mixture of spices and onions, has become a New Year’s tradition somehow.)

Here’s a nice dish that combines the grounding qualities of parsnip and hard squash, with the nourishing effects of beans and meat or tofu. It features prunes and raisins that help keep the intestines moving in the cold weather, and mild spices that balance the sweet taste of the squash, sweet potatoe, and dried fruits.

In Ayurvedic terms this dish strongly pacifies Vata, due to its overall sweet flavor and warm moistening qualities. It is not a bad dish for either Pitta or Kapha, since it is not extreme in any one direction, and the beans pacify Kapha, and Pitta is balanced by the sweet taste.

With unbalanced Pitta, just drop the pepper.
With unbalanced Kapha, use more beans and less meat.
With unbalanced Vatta, don’t use tofu.

Baked Root and Squash Stew


* Butternut Squash, 1 small
* Parsnip, 1
* Sweet Potato, 1
* Kidney beans, cooked, 4 ounces
* Ground beef or Lamb or cubed Tofu or Tempeh, 8 ounces
* Yellow raisins, 2 tablespoons
* Turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon
* Allspice, 2 tablespoons
* Bay leaves, 5
* White pepper, 1/2 teaspoon
* Salt, 1 tablespoon or to taste
* 1 medium to large brown onion, sliced
* Prune juice, 3 oz or 4 to 5 prunes
* Olive oil for sauteing onions 2-3 tbsp
* Water, 3/5 cup


1. Peel and chop Squash, Parsnip, and Sweet Potato into large chunks and set aside.
2. Saute onions in oil until slightly brown.
3. Add crushed Tofu, Tempeh, or ground beef.
4. Saute until meat or tofu is browned.
5. Add powdered spices and salt and keep stirring for 3 minutes on very low heat to bring out the fragrance of the spices.
6. Add chopped vegetables, prunes or prune juice, raisins, and water, and stir for a few minutes.
7. Place in covered baking dish, and place in pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, or cook on stove top on simmer in heavy pan with lid for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

Serve with a cooked grain such as rice, millet, barley, or quinoa.

Copyright eyton shalom, san diego, ca 2009 December, all rights reserved, use with permission.

Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

Pin It on Pinterest