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

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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.

What does Vegan Acupuncture mean anyway?

I first moved to Portland 10 years ago to attend graduate school for Traditional Chinese Medicine at OCOM. There were two things that greatly surprised me: that Portland was a vegan mecca and that I would face many challenges as a vegan at a school for TCM.

Unfortunately veganism is not something that is looked very highly upon in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncturists will often say that if someone is vegan or vegetarian that they are “blood deficient” or need to build up the blood. Why is that? It is because in TCM we look at the nature of the foods we eat as important to our health. If someone has a weak constitution or recovering from an illness or surgery they need strong, nutrient rich foods to build them back up… i.e.. animal products (this is the theory anyway). Now I am a vegan and was a vegan many years before I went to school for TCM and I have studied vegan nutrition extensively along with nutrition from a TCM perspective. There are many other foods that nourish the blood and are super nutrient rich that are plant-based. I will get to those shortly, but first I want to talk a little bit about the theory that makes many TCM practitioners believe you have to eat animal products to be healthy and build the blood.

In TCM theory our blood is made by the Spleen (this is obviously much different than what we know of the spleen in western physiology). The Spleen and our digestion need to have digestive fire in order to transform the foods we eat into the essence that will become the blood.  Animal products already have a warming nature (they are mostly warm-blooded and active creatures) so the pathway is shorter in that they turn into blood faster than eating plants. This is where the theory of TCM directly conflicts with my personal beliefs and clinical experience.

I get around this cognitive dissonance by eating plant foods that build my blood. Below is a list of foods that build the blood.

Blood Building Foods: dark leafy greens (kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, parsley, cilantro, nettles, dandelion greens), beets, carrots, black sesame seeds, blackstrap molasses, goji berries, kidney beans, legumes, peanut skin, avocado, apricot, grapes, almonds, and brown rice. You can see from this list that it’s pretty easy to get lots of blood building nutrient dense foods in a vegan diet. My favorite way to get lots of those dark leafy greens is through green smoothies!!!

Enjoying a Green Smoothie

Clinical Experience: many people that I treat have chronic pain, allergies, fatigue, digestive issues, and trouble maintaining a healthy weight. These are all symptoms usually related to diet and lifestyle or inflammation in the body. When I can get someone to cut out processed foods and animal products the results are amazing! I get to see people totally transform and feel better than ever before. This is what inspires me everyday and makes me so grateful to be able to help people heal themselves.

Hemp Maca Power Smoothie

When I don’t have time to make breakfast or I am just wanting something a little lighter so I can go to yoga class and not feel like I have a brick in my stomach I like to make this power smoothie. It is really simple and gives me lots of great energy throughout the day.

Hemp Maca Power SmoothieHere is the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 tablespoon maca powder
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
  • 2 cups water

Just place all ingredients in blender and blend to desired consistency. Since maca has a slightly bitter flavor you can even add some dates for sweetness. I love using maca since it is warming in nature and helps to tonify the yang (hot and energizing part of our constitution). It is also considered an adaptogenic herb meaning it regulates your nervous system to maintain homeostasis in the body.

Hope you enjoy this smoothie as much as I do!

Yummy Smoothie Time!!

Yummy Smoothie Time!!

 

 

Hawthorne Berry a Holiday Favorite

hawthorne berries close 6 Jan 12

Hawthorne Berry or Shan Zha is an herb that is extremely popular is both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine alike. In Chinese Medicine we use this herb to alleviate food stagnation by assisting in digesting meats and greasy foods and to nourish the heart and improve circulation. In Western Medicine hawthorne berry is used to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and help maintain a healthy weight. Since the most gluttonous of all holidays is quickly approaching (Thanksgiving) I thought it would be a great herb to focus on this month.

It was Thanksgiving 23 years ago that I decided to go vegetarian, and then subsequently vegan and more recently gluten free. When I was 12 I had my first pet, Buddy, a parakeet. This little bird really made me think twice about the turkey focused holiday and I decided I could not eat my beloved Buddy’s relative the turkey. So I am thankful for Buddy for laying the groundwork for many positive changes that I have come to make. I am also very thankful for my amazing and supportive family. Okay now back to the topic at hand… hawthorne berries!!!

Since we tend to eat lots of high fat foods during the holidays hawthorne berries are a perfect herb to help us digest our favorite holiday foods. Hawthorne berries are available in tea, tincture, powdered and capsule form. Making tea is a great way to enjoy this herbal medicine and you can have it with your meals to help you digest your food.

Hawthorne Berry Tea

  • 1-2 teaspoons dried berries
  • 1 cup water

Boil water and pour over berries. Let steep covered for 8-10 minutes. Strain out the berries and enjoy! Can also add some sweetener and or lemon juice to taste. A sprinkle of cinnamon is good too.

Formulas for Improving Digestion

There are many great Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas for eliminating food stagnation and helping to aid digestion of our heavy holiday meals.

Bao He Wan- Contains hawthorne and other herbs like Shen Qu* (fermented massa) to digest all types of foods. *Shen Qu is a fermented product, but sometimes contains gluten.

Curing Pills (Kang Ning Wan)- is another great formula for reducing food stagnation, but again contains Shen Qu (gluten).

Mu Xiang Shen Qi Wan- aids in digestion and is even supportive for digestive issues from a stomach flu. Gluten Free!!!

Even though there are great formulas and herbs to improve digestion the best way to feel good over the holidays is to eat healthy foods, eat slowly and chew your food!!!

Here is a great blog for more fun things to do with Hawthorne Berry. Have fun!

 

 

Finally it is Fall in the Pacific Northwest

leaves

Well we finally moved back to Portland, Oregon after living at the coast for the past 5 years. This has not changed my passion for all things vegan and gluten free. Especially since my daughter was born almost 2 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

My Ideal Day… Yoga, Buckwheat Pancakes, Green Smoothies and More!!!

Today started out by going to Yoga… there is a lovely yoga studio in town called Cannon Beach Yoga Arts. You can check out their schedule here. Anyway I took a Vinyasa yoga class to start off my day. All I had before class was some peppermint tea to help me hydrate and detox (ie. sweat more) in the class. In Chinese Medicine we use peppermint to release the exterior and it is slightly cooling in nature. Releasing the exterior typically means promote sweating, but it is also helpful in the first stages of a cold or flu. Western herbalism uses peppermint in a different way; to regulate peristalsis in the intestines and soothe an upset stomach. The essential oil is also helpful for headaches and clearing the sinuses too.

Okay enough on the properties of peppermint. Here is how my day was ideal… tea, yoga, and then on my bicycle ride back home it was slightly cool so I wanted something warm for breakfast. We had just gone to Bob’s Red Mill in Portland and had a ton of raw buckwheat, so I decided on buckwheat pancakes. We had the buckwheat in it’s whole form, so I blended it up dry in the vitamix for only 10-20 seconds and used the flour/meal to make delicious blueberry pancakes. After enjoying the pancakes I made a green smoothie and off to work I went. The pancake recipe is a small one so you may want to double it.

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

  • 1 cup raw buckwheat (ground=1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (I almost always add cinnamon to blueberries or lemon zest)
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • enough water to get the pancake batter consistency

Mix dry ingredients first and then mix in wet. The consistency you are looking for is like a runny oatmeal. Start with adding just a little water and then slowly add just enough for the right consistency. Use a large pan or skillet on medium heat and put some coconut oil in the pan to coat the bottom. Coconut can tolerate medium to high heat so it’s great for making pancakes. Flip the cakes when one side is browned to your liking and enjoy!!! I love maple syrup and sometimes I will take a small pan and heat up the blueberries and a little maple syrup to make blueberry syrup and it’s delicious!

Pear, Mango and Spinach Green Smoothie

Pear, Mango and Spinach Green Smoothie

Pear Mango Spinach Smoothie

  • 2 ripe pears
  • 1/2 ripe mango
  • 2 cups spinach packed (or other greens)

Place all ingredients in blender and add 1-2 cups of water, just enough to blend to a uniform consistency. This is my favorite smoothie to date since it tastes so much like pear, and I LOVE pears!!! It made 6 cups of smoothie, enough to have a couple cups in the morning and take a big jar to work for my lunch. After work I am going to make my favorite meal ever!!! Portobello mushroom steaks, yams, and greens… recipe to be posted soon.