Anzac Biscuits & TCM
Traditional Chinese Medicine classifies herbs, spices, vegetables and animal products according to their flavour, temperature, channels they enter, actions, and indications. The properties of a herbal formula, which is just a combination of herbs, is derived from the properties of the individual herbs used. We can use this same approach when looking at prepared foods, drinks, medications and even biscuits!
Being Anzac Day in Australia I thought it would be fun to break down the humble Anzac biscuit to work out what the TCM properties are for this staple of Australian culture.
Anzac Day is perhaps the most important day on the Australian calendar. In 1915, on April 25th Australian and New Zealand forces first landed on the shores of Gallipoli to take part in WWI that resulted in the loss of more than 8,000 Australian lives.
Over the years Anzac Day became a day to commemorate all those that served in the Great War and, as other wars occured, those that served were honoured and remembered also. These days the Anzac Day traditional continues with dawn vigils, marches and memorial services. Australian children grow up knowing the sombre sounds of the Last Post and the frightening crack of rifles used in gun salutes.
There are conflicting ideas on why we eat Anzac biscuits on this day. Some say that these biscuits were sold in Australia to raise money for war efforts while others suggest Anzac biscuits were actually sent to soldiers overseas - as the ingredients could survive being freighted across the oceans by ship.
The following gives an understanding of Anzac biscuits from a Chinese medicine perspective. By looking at the properties of the individual ingredients first we can then understand the overall properties and energetics of the Anzac biscuit itself.
Action: Strengthens Qi and Blood, promotes bone growth
Channels: Lung, Large Intestine, Stomach, Spleen, Heart and Kidney
Indications: Calms the nerves, recovery from illness
Action: Clears heat, strengthens and regulates Qi
Channel: Spleen, Heart, Kidney
Indications: Fatigue, weakness, poor appetite
Action: Strengthens Qi, soothe the Liver, improves blood circulation
Channel: Lung, Stomach, Spleen, Liver
Indications: Dry mouth, weakness, fatigue
Action: Disperses cold, Strengthens Blood, Yin & Jing, promotes fluids
Indications: malnutrition in children, intestinal parasites
Action: Strengthens Qi and Blood
Channels: Lung, Stomach, Spleen, Kidney, Liver
Indications: Cough, stomach and abdominal pain
Action: Strengthens Yin, disperses cold, circulates blood
Channel: Stomach and Spleen
When these ingredients are made into a biscuit the result has the following TCM properties:
Actions: Strengthens Qi and Blood, Strengthens Yin, Regulates Qi and improves Blood circulation
Channels: Lung, Large Intestine, Spleen, Stomach, Liver, Heart, Kidney
Indications: Fatigue, recovery from illness, poor appetite (& hunger!)
Cautions: Excessive consumption may injure the Spleen and contribute to Damp accumulation.
Overall Anzac biscuits are quite healthy to eat. They give immediate nourishment and also sustained energy. They are beneficial for not only strengthening Qi and Blood but also for keeping the Qi and Blood circulating as it should. Minor functions include calming the Heart and strengthening the Kidney Qi. I can see how they would be of benefit to any soldier! However, because they are overly sweet, if eaten in excess they can weaken the Spleen function and cause damp to accumulate - go easy on them!
And finally, in case you want to have a go at making your own Anzac biscuits - here is a recipe. If you have never tried Anzac biscuits feel free to have a go at making them today! Keep in mind you can vary this recipe considerably. The biscuits will always come out good. Also, you may leave the biscuits to bake longer or shorter depending if you prefer a crunchy or chewy biscuit. I believe the perfect Anzac biscuit is crunchy on the outside with a slightly chewy centre. Put them in a tin after they have cooled down and they will last for some time. Here we go:
1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons Golden Syrup
1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda
Turn oven on to 175 degrees celsius.
Combine the dry ingredients (except the bicarb) in a mixing bowl.
Add melted butter, golden syrup and bicarb.
Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until everything is well combined.
Make balls of the mixture and place them on a baking tray.
Bake in a 175 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
*Tips - don't place the balls of mixture too close together on the baking tray.
Yours in Health and Wellness
Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine