Summer and the Command of Yang Qi

Travis Kern, L.Ac.

The Summer season is full of classic images and experiences like beach lounging, hiking and swimming, backyard barbecues, and outdoor fun. It's a season of adventure and exploration, energized by the warmth in the air and by the extra long days that make us forget how late the hour might actually be. Summer is the fruition of a promise made in earliest days of Spring when the long dormant seeds and hibernating animals just began to stir. The ground was still cold, and in some places covered in snow, when the movement of the seasons first whispered the words that reanimated the sleeping Yang. 

Understanding Yin and Yang

Imagine a burning oil lamp. The oil is dominated by Yin. It is substantive, slow moving, tangible. The fire burning on the lamp is dominated by Yang. It is hot, moving, and bright. The place where the fire touches the oil, where the oil transforms into the flame, is the point where we can witness the transformation of yin into yang. This relationship is infinitely divisible such that we can find Yin in things that are Yang like fire and we can find aspects of Yang in things that are Yin like oil. 

Yin and Yang are two forces at play in the entirety of existence. They are words that represent different aspects of substance and activity. Yin and Yang are mutually dependent, mutually consuming, and constantly changing into one another. They are not static qualities but instead are dynamic descriptors that work at the most macro and micro levels. They are not religious terms or even ideas that represent a specific belief system. They were imagined and codified by ancient people trying to understand the world around them, and they have stood the self-critical test of time. 

Summer is the time for doing, for achieving the things you thought about and imagined over the Winter and those same things that you started to make happen in the Spring. Now is the time to bring your ideas into reality and set yourself up for the leaner and colder times of the coming Winter season. 

For now though, enjoy the weather and your outside times! Get grilling. Harvest some backyard veggies or visit your local farmers market. In the summer season you can enjoy your favorite cold treats and indulge in the fruits of the season like Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Eggplants, and Zucchini. Get up earlier and stay up later. This is the time in the year when you can really flex your boundaries and explore the complexity of living. 

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As always, foods in season and grown locally are you best friends.

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Get Outside and Get Moving. Summer is the time of activity.

Things to Eat:

Berries of every kind
Tomatoes and Peppers
Snap peas and Green Beans
Eggplant, Zucchini, and Summer Squash
Fresh Cheeses like Mozzarella and Chevre
Bright herbs like Basil, Mint, and Cilantro
Fish and Seafood

Things to Do:

Eat lighter meals
Build that playhouse
Sit on the back porch
Enjoy a glass of rose
Get up earlier than you usually do
Enjoy the sunsets, even when they're late
Spend time near moving rivers and streams

Things to Cook:

Grilled Beet, Quinoa, and Feta Salad

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2 large red beets*
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2-3 handfuls loose leaf lettuce (like Arugula, Red Leaf Lettuce, Curly Endive)
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
¼ cup roasted almonds, whole or sliced
1 ounce feta

2 whole scallions, minced
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar***
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 slices sourdough bread
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic

1. Light Grill to medium-low heat.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Scrub beets well and slice off the top and bottom then remove any wispy parts of the
beet. Drop into the boiling water and cook for 12-15 minutes, just until the beet starts to be tender. Drain and rinse with
cold water. Let sit until cool enough to handle.
3. Take the parboiled beet and slice into ¼" slices. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon
pepper. Place beet slices on the grill and cook until charred on both sides, 6-8 minutes per side (depending on heat.)
Remove and quarter each slice.
4. Combine lettuce, quinoa, almonds, and feta in a large bowl. Add cooked beets and toss to combine.
5. In a small food processor or blender, combine scallions, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Run until dressing has
6. Dress salad if desired or serve dressing on the side.
7. In addition to the salad, to make the garlic toast, brush sliced bread with olive oil. Cut the end off the garlic clove and
rub on the bread. Grill along side the beets but only for 30-60 seconds on each side (if grill is hot.) Serve salad with
slices of toast or cut into cubes and use as croutons.

*Beets are one vegetable that if it looks healthy, I won't peel. However, if you want to peel the beets. Let cool after parboiling
and peeling before cutting into slices.

**This makes a little extra dressing but I find the blender/food processor handles it a bit better. Store extra dressing in an
airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

***I love the light, refreshing taste champagne vinegar adds to vinaigrette, however, if you can't find it, apple cider or white
balsamic works as well.

Recipe by Naturally Ella at