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:

beets-in-garden

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

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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!!!

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.

SIGN UP HERE

Some of the products we made in the Body Product Class

Fall into Good Health

leaves

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

Playing in the Hay: An Unconventional Cure for Hay Fever

I had the privilege to visit Green Acres Farm Sanctuary on Saturday. It was a work party I found out about from PAWAPortland Animal Welfare Advocates. We got to do lots of hay clean up for composting and then put down fresh hay for the animals to roll around in and munch on. It was awesome to see how happy the ducks and chickens were with their new fresh spaces. And it was super awesome to see such a fun group of people working together to help out some amazing rescue animals. 

What I really was the most surprised with was how my hay fever was totally non-existent. I used have severe allergies to grasses and hay and when I was a kid going to a farm if I touched anything I would practically just break out in hives. I honestly believe that because I have a super clean and anti-inflammatory diet that my allergies have disappeared. It was only more of a confirmation to see such a drastic change when I was just playing (well working) in the hay!!!

Hershey the Calf at Green Acres Farm Sanctuary

Hershey the Calf at Green Acres Farm Sanctuary

So what the hay… try to go vegan and see how much better you feel! Go vegan for this “little” guy named Hershey, he’s a steer at Green Acres who is only a year old. He was brought in by someone at a veal auction that was disturbed how the animals were treated and brought to the Sanctuary when he was only 3 days old!!! He is awesome and wants to play and is doing amazing because of dedicated animal lovers!

NW VEG VANCOUVER POTLUCK AND CHINESE MEDICINE TALK

NW Veg Business Member

Thursday, March 26 (6:30 PM)

Join us for a community potluck followed by a presentation on Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective on Healthly Vegan Living by Genevieve Johnson, L.Ac., acupuncturist and herbalist. Genevieve will also give us a demonstration of how to balance our foods using a Chinese Medicine Perspective.

Genevieve Johnson, L.Ac. is an acupuncturist and herbalist that focuses on plant-based nutrition and a healthy lifestyle for optimal well-being. She first became a vegetarian at the age of 12 when she was given her first pet, Buddy a parakeet. A few years later she decided to go vegan. When she was in college she had great success with acupuncture, herbs and diet dramatically impacting her health and decided to become an acupuncturist. She has worked in a variety of clinical settings ranging from hospitals to drug rehab facilities and private practice. She now practices at Portland Family Acupuncture in SE and downtown. Genevieve has lots of great recipes and resources available on her website veganacupuncture.com.

Come to the potluck at 6:30, the talk at 7:30, or both! The potluck and demo will be in the Oak and Elm Rooms at the Marshall Center, 1009 E. McLoughlin, Vancouver, WA 98663 [see map]. This is just over the I-5 Bridge – very quick to reach from Portland.
For the potluck, please bring a plant-based (no animal products, including honey) main dish, salad, or dessert; a card listing its ingredients; and plates and utensils for your use. Need plant-based ideas? Click here. If you come alone, figure the amount to serve 4-6; increase the amount 4 servings for each additional person in your party/family. Northwest VEG potlucks are alcohol-free events. For more information email info@nwveg.org. A donation of $2-5 is suggested to help cover the cost of the room rental.