Fall Into Health


Autumn in Traditional Chinese Medicine is associated with the Metal element. The Metal element correlates to the Lungs and Large Intestine. Their primary function is to take in new things and let go of the old. The Lungs control inhalation-exhalation and also control the opening and closing of our pores. Our skin is governed by the Lungs and one way to renew and give new life to our Lungs is through our skin. Our skin protects us from any external evils also known as pathogens like bacteria or viruses. Here are some steps for supporting the Lungs during the fall.

  1. Practice meditation that involves focus on breathwork. For instance the mantra by Thich Nhat Han, “breathing in I relax breathing out I smile”
  2. Take care of our skin and help it let go of what is not wanted. Exfoliate your whole body with a sugar or salt scrub. See recipe below.
  3. Use a detoxifying massage oil to nourish your skin and perform lymph massage while applying the oil. See this site for making calendula oil, a detoxifying oil you can make at home. You can also just use some extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Or spice it up by adding a couple drops of your favorite essential oils.
  4. Nourish your Lungs with food. Pears are a great food to moisten the Lungs if you have a dry cough or tend towards dryness in your body. You can also make stewed pears (add walnuts to tonify the yang) that nourishes the yin and yang and is aromatic to help open the Lungs.
  5. Take an herbal formula to support our Wei qi or protective qi. Like Jade Windscreen Yu Ping Fang San. This supports the Lungs and prevents us from catching a cold or flu. Make sure to see a practitioner of TCM to help you get the right formula for your constitution.

Have a beautiful Fall and stay healthy and happy!


Lovely Calendula Blooming in the Garden


Spicy and Sweet Body Scrub 6oz.

  • ½ cup brown sugar or turbinado sugar or sea salt*
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • (can use almond or sesame oil as well)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (powdered)
  • ½ teaspoon ginger (powdered)
  • ½ teaspoon clove (powdered)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground rice
  • (or 20 drops vanilla essential oil)
  • *optional* add 10 drops cinnamon EO

Mix all ingredients in a glass or metal bowl, using a whisk to uniformly mix. Scoop into storage container. Use on moistened skin to exfoliate, then rinse. Not intended for using more than 1 x per week. *Can also use sea salt for this recipe, especially Epsom salt to penetrate tight muscles. Use caution since salt is more abrasive and can sting on freshly shaven or sensitive skin.

Beets are a Beautiful Blood Building Food

The Fall Equinox has come and it is time to celebrate the amazing colors of the season. This time of year is considered the transition between Earth and Metal in Chinese Medicine. We are into the full phase of harvest time or late summer which represents the Earth energy in its fullest. There is just a sprinkling of color and leaves changing, that will soon indicate we have moved onto Metal or Fall. One of the beautiful colors I have in my garden are beets and beet greens.

Beets are a beautiful red color. To just call them red seems so inaccurate, the color is deep and the red veins in the leaves are more vibrant than my words can do justice. So like the veins and brilliant color you can see, the root is even shaped like a heart. These are one of those foods that even without nutrition training you can imagine how it can really nourish our heart. In TCM we say beets have blood building and Liver cleansing properties. The root itself is so sweet and nourishes the Spleen and Stomach as well. The leaves are more bitter to nourish the Heart and sometimes have a slight astringent quality that nourishes the Liver.

One amazing discovery I had about the regenerative properties of beets was made in my compost bin. I would get whole beets and use the greens for soup/smoothies and the root I would roast; I would then have a section of the beet that still has a little of the root and a the smallest amount of foliage on the top. I would throw this into the compost bin. Then a few weeks later while turning my pile I saw fresh leaves growing out of the top. So I started just planting this little bit in my garden and here are the results:


I can’t decide what my favorite part of beets are, the root or the leaves! They are both so delicious. Use beet greens as a green in any green smoothie; they are mild tasting and so so good!

Here is a recipe for beet roots used in soup:

Beet Soup with Lemon Dill Sour Cream

  • 3-4 Beets
  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • 1 Potato
  • 1/2 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2-3 cups beans (I used black beans)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (optional for more texture)
  • Beet greens or 1/2 bunch kale
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt or liquid aminos to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon each (oregano, cumin, celery seed, chipotle or black pepper)

Wash and cube beets and potatoes (no need to peel them). In a large skillet saute beets with half the onion and half the sweet potato for 5-10 minutes until the beets are starting to get tender. Add enough water to the pan to cook fully cook beets and sweet potato and blend in a food processor or blender. Set Aside.

Then in another pan cook the rest of the onion and cubed potatoes and boil for 10 minutes with the seasonings listed to make a nice veggie broth. I used about 4 cups water, but feel free to use more or less depending on how thick you like your soup. Add the rice, beans, and whole lemon halves after they have been juiced and cook for another 5-10 minutes. I added the kale, cabbage, and juice of 1 lemon at the end since I don’t like my greens very mushy. Add salt to taste and REMOVE the lemon halves. Then add the pureed beet, sweet potato and onion mixture. Remember to garnish with some delicious Lemon Dill Sour Cream (see recipe below).

*side note on why I add the lemon halves to the soup… the skin of the lemon has all the essential oils and a very potent lemon flavor so I like to add them just to up the lemony goodness.

Lemon Dill Cashew Sour Cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews (soak them first if you don’t have a high-speed blender)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon + a little lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • pinch of salt

If using a high speed blender add a little bit of water and blend until super thick and creamy (almost as thick as sour cream). Then put in freezer while heating up soup to thicken and spoon it on top. If using a food processor make sure to soak the cashews ahead of time (at least 4 hours… can even soak overnight for convenience) and only add water as needed. You may want to double this recipe to have some amazing sour cream on hand… keeps in refrigerator for about a week.

Beet Soup with Lemon Dill Sour Cream

Beet Soup with Lemon Dill Sour Cream

Strawberry Ginger Syrup for Motion Sickness

Ginger photo


Fresh ginger root or Sheng Jiang (in Pin Yin) is a great food and medicine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine fresh ginger is pungent and warm in nature. It is used to release the exterior (meaning it can help treat beginning stages of cold or flu), it warms the center to stop vomiting or nausea (because it is a warming herb that helps descend the Stomach Qi) and it is also used to reduce toxicity (that is why it is traditionally served with sushi; to prevent seafood poisoning).

Even in Western Herbalism we see that it is used for nausea and stomach upset and some companies even make it into yummy candies for all to enjoy. Well my 3 year old daughter does not really like those candies (too spicy for her) and they are kind of a choking hazard so I make ginger syrup for her when we travel. She is really affected by motion sickness in the car and sometimes in airplanes so I wanted to be sure to have some on hand for her. The last time I made ginger syrup I thought it was crazy sweet, but she still wasn’t the biggest fan (still too spicy). So while making it last time I had a brainstorm… add strawberries to the syrup. This was such a hit for her! It basically tastes like strawberry jam with a mild ginger kick at the end. I put the syrup into tincture bottles and let her self administer, good thing the dropper is so small because she just kept taking more and more. This was perfect for our trip to California, she was great on long car rides and on the airplane.

The recipe for ginger syrup that I made the first time was from Rosemary Gladstar’s Book Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide. Then for my own version I added strawberries and did not use as much sweetener as she recommends. By the way I super highly recommend any book by Rosemary Gladstar she is one of my favorite herbalist ever! And that book is super user friendly for anyone to be able to use.

Strawberry Ginger Syrup

  • 3-5 strawberries (chopped)
  • 1-2 inch size piece of fresh ginger root (chopped)
  • Water
  • Maple Syrup, Agave, Coconut Nectar or Honey

Start by chopping up the ginger and add to a pan that has enough water to cover the ginger and cook down by 1/2 and still have some liquid. You really don’t need much water it just helps to keep the mixture from burning and to extract more spice from the ginger.

Slowly bring this to a boil and just let it boil off 1/2 of the volume of liquid. Then strain out the ginger and strawberry bits. Pour the strained liquid into a small glass so you can note how much liquid you have. Then pour approximately the same amount of sweetener in. You can then pour the combined liquids back into the pan and heat up to really incorporate them.

I know these are all approximations, but to give you an idea of how much I ended up with… I filled 2-2oz. tincture bottles with the finished product. Plus a little extra for me to add some hot water to and have a delicious tea. Since this doesn’t have as much sugar make sure to keep refrigerated when possible and use up with in the week. If you omit the water and simmer the ginger in honey as Rosemary Gladstar recommends then you can keep this in the refrigerator for a couple weeks (if it lasts that long).


Jade Airplane ride 2.jpg

Jade looking for more yummy “medicine”


Blood Building Hot Cereal with Goji Berries

goji berries

Goji Berries or Gou Qi Zi are an awesome Traditional Chinese Herb. They are used to help build the blood, supplement the energy, and build the Liver blood and are good for the eyes. They also happen to be super tasty. Since I have a 2 year old and we are raising her vegan it is always on my mind to make sure to get her the right kinds of foods that will keep her healthy and strong. In Chinese Medicine veganism is sometimes looked upon in not the best light because there is a fear that if you don’t eat animal products you can become blood deficient. Well I have been vegan for almost 20 years, had a vegan pregnancy and then gave birth to an amazing daughter. Pregnancy and childbirth are some of the things that can really tax our bodies and take a lot of extra blood and energy to accomplish. Many of my non-vegan friends had issues with anemia during pregnancy and I was never even close. I was hiking and riding my bike right up to the day Jade was born.

Goji Berries are a fun herb to grow in the Pacific Northwest too, but I am yet to find the best location in my garden. The first year I was growing them I got a few berries and then not much since. I think they just needed a bit more sun than what I was giving them. If anyone has some tips on growing them in the NW please let me know.

Toddler Approved Hot Cereal

Toddler Approved Hot Cereal

Here is the hot cereal recipe:

Hot Cereal with Goji Berries

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 2-3 TB Coconut flakes (unsweetened)
  • 1 TB sesame seeds (unhulled)
  • Generous handful of Goji Berries

Put all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cover with water about a 1/2 inch over the dry ingredients. Then bring to a boil and cover, turn down heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. I also added a pinch of cinnamon and a couple TBS of coconut oil.

Chinese Medicine Properties:  The goji berries, sesame seeds and coconut are blood building. The bland flavors of oats, millet and quinoa are beneficial to the Spleen and Stomach and are good for supplementing them which is also helpful in building the blood. The cinnamon is good for increasing digestive fire, which is important since too many blood building foods can be harder to digest. The cinnamon helps to aid the digestion. Enjoy!!!

Healthy Holiday Cookies

Christmas CookiesI usually don’t make Christmas Cookies or Holiday Cookies, but am motivated to send some to my brother. He has moved to his on the road lifestyle, I decided that I needed to send him some holiday cheer in the form of vegan and gluten free goodness!!! You can follow my brother, Michael and Tara’s blog here at RVegan Adventures. Get it RV and Vegan… Awesome!!! Currently they are stopped in Texas, which in my mind is a far, far away place you don’t mess with that is even farther away from vegan goodies.

Hence my inspiration this year to attempt to make healthy Holiday Cookies. They are the same base dough with some slight tweaking. Although there is still some sugar there is 1/2 of what would normally be in a cookie and plenty sweet from all that coconut. Also coloring is from plant sources: chlorophyll and turmeric.

Here is the base dough: (Split into 4 balls, each kind of cookie makes a dozen or more)

  • 3 cups Bob’s Redmill GF flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (organic that has tapioca flour and no corn starch is preferred)
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup coconut oil (unrefined and melted)
  • 1/2 cup or more rice milk or nut milk (see directions)

Mix all ingredients and add just a little more rice milk until dough is easy to form and you are able to roll it out. I know some sugar cookie recipes require refrigeration to make the dough easier to work, but honestly I am not that patient and I have a two year old running around so it is a better idea to just get it done as quickly as possible. I then divide the dough into 4 equal balls.

Here are the variations:

Green Christmas Trees with Red Lentil Ornaments

Add 10 drops chlorophyll to turn dough green, roll out, cut cookies and then sprinkle some red lentils on the top. Bake 10 minutes at 350.

Tree Cookies

Christmas Cookies

Lemon Almond Drop Cookies

Add juice of 1/2 lemon, pinch of turmeric (for color), zest of one whole lemon, and I also added 5 drops lime essential oil (since I was out of lemon). Roll into balls and then bake for 11 minutes at 350. I pressed an almond into the center and although the picture doesn’t look very yellow they are yellow.

Christmas Cookies

Chocolate Star Cookies

Roll out dough and cut into star shapes. Bake 10 minutes at 350. After cookies are cooled I melted equal parts vegan chocolate chips and coconut oil. Then I dipped the cookies in the super runny chocolate mixture so just the face side had chocolate, but hey you could dip the whole thing in too!!

Christmas Cookies

Raspberry Walnut Linzer Cookies

First I made 1/4 cup walnut meal and put that in a bowl. Then I added 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon. Mix this up. Then add your last dough ball and thoroughly incorporate. Roll out balls and put a generous thumbprint indentation in the center. Then add small spoonful of raspberry jam to make a pool in the center. Bake these for 12-14 minutes at 350. Don’t make the mistake I did and sample while still warm!!!! The jam inside turns into runny liquid hot magma and burns your hand, mouth, whatever it touches. Once these are cool the jam becomes semisolid again.

Hope you enjoy these cookies!!! Happy Holiday! And remember Peace on Earth starts with Peace on Your Plate, GO VEGAN!!!

Giving and Receiving: An afternoon of Yoga, Self-Care and Gift Making

Giving and Receiving: An afternoon of Yoga, Self-Care and Gift-Making
with Anastasia Gambill and Genevieve Johnson
Sunday, December 6th 2-5pm
Cost: $40 (includes gift-making materials), $35 for Yoga Refuge membersAs we enter the season of festivities, feasts, and family, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and fall into habits of stress. How can we celebrate our loved ones and learn to give and receive without becoming maxed out? Can we care for ourselves first so that we have more generosity of spirit for others?

The first half of this 3-hour workshop will combine meditation and intention setting with a gentle yoga practice that will help you to refocus your holdiays into a celebration of self care and giving from the heart. After this nourishing practice, participants will enjoy a tea tasting and learn to make an enlivening body scrub, refreshing toner, and a soothing salve, all wonderful as both gifts and self care. Materials will be provided and you will leave with gifts in hand! Workshop participants will also get a 10% discount for the afternoon on any items in the Yoga Refuge boutique, which includes yoga mats, yogi toes towels, handmade eye pillows and other accessories for self-care practice.


Some of the products we made in the Body Product Class

Fall into Good Health


The leaves are so beautiful!!! We have been back in Portland now for just over a year, after living on the coast in beautiful Cannon Beach. This has not changed my passion for all things vegan and gluten free. Especially since my daughter was born almost 3 years ago. With her arrival I have been on the quest to not only do vegan and GF, but also as many super densely packed nutritious meals with minimal ingredients.

As all of you Portlanders know we have had an amazingly beautiful spring, summer and fall! Very dry in fact. At times a little too dry with the surrounding droughts. But alas the rains have finally come and mother nature has indicated that Fall is here.

Fall in Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Fall is a time of the Lungs, which belong to the Metal Element. This is traditionally a time when dryness and wind have a factor in our health. The Lungs are associated with the exterior of our body and when we catch a cold (or wind-cold in Chinese Medicine) the Lungs have been compromised. This is evident by the chills, fever, body aches, sniffles, and cough that may be productive or dry.

What can we do in Chinese Medicine to treat a cold/flu?

First and foremost there are many common herbs you probably already have in your kitchen that are great for those beginning stages of a cold; ginger, green onion, mint, garlic.

Make a really strong ginger tea with a 2-3 inches chopped fresh ginger root in 6 cups water. Boil the ginger and let simmer for 15 minutes and add some maple syrup or honey to cut the super pungent flavor (optional). Let the tea cool slightly and drink throughout the day.

Go see your acupuncturist or get one!! They will have some great formulas on hand like, Yin Qiao San, Gan Mao Ling or Chuan Xin Lian. These are all great formulas to have on hand for the cold and flu season, but you want to make sure to get them from a trusted source. Also acupuncture can cut the time you are sick in half and who doesn’t want to feel better now.

How we can strengthen our immune system to prevent getting a cold/flu

The best way to strengthen our immune system is to eat a whole foods diet that has lots of veggies!!! This is probably redundant to many of you who would be reading a health blog. But still eat lots of veggies!!!

In TCM we look at things a little differently, our immune system has a direct link to the Lungs (remember they govern the exterior of the body to protect us).

Some simple foods to support or tonify  the lungs are: nourishing soups (recipe below), pears, pumpkin, apple, brown rice, porridges, and mushrooms.

Foods that can help get phlegm out of the lungs are: garlic, fresh ginger, fennel, and seaweeds.

Foods for a dry cough (meaning the Lungs need to be moistened) are: microalgaes, pears, string beans, herbs like lily bulbs, marshmallow root, and licorice tea.

Miso Ingredients

Time for Fall Soup (Nourishes the Lungs)

  • 2-3 stalks green onions
  • 3 cloves garlic (double with a cold)
  • 1-2 inches fresh ginger (double with a cold)
  • 2 astragalus roots (optional for extra immune boosting)
  • 4-5 mushrooms (I prefer shiitake)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1/2 package tempeh
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup miso

Chop the green onions, mushrooms, carrot, celery, and tempeh (the garlic and ginger can be grated ro finely chopped). Add the 2 astragalus roots whole (so you can remove them before eating the soup). Add all ingredients to the water and boil for 8-10 minutes. After all veggies are tender turn OFF heat and add sesame oil and miso. A tip for the miso is to whisk up with 1/2 cup water before adding to soup so it will be uniform in texture. Also we add miso at the end after heat is turned off to preserve all the healthy probiotics.

This soup has nourishing ingredients (astragalus, carrots, mushrooms, celery, tempeh and miso) to boost the immune system. And it has Lung opening and phlegm reducing herbs (green onions, garlic, and ginger).

Also by boiling the ingredients we preserve the nutritional elements in the soup broth and this method of cooking is seen as very neutral in Chinese Medicine. Meaning that it is great for all constitutions so enjoy!!!

Miso Soup