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.

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Some of the products we made in the Body Product Class

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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.

Sprouting is EASY!!!!

Sprouting is Fun and Easy!!!

Sprouting is Fun and Easy!!!

I used to be intimidated by making my own sprouts… now it is a serious addiction. I read this awesome book over the winter called Indoor Gardening: Seed to Salad in Seven Days by Peter Burke. It makes sprouting super fun and easy! I used to sprout in a mason jar and sometimes my sprouts would smell strange or start to look like I really shouldn’t eat them. Then I read the Indoor Gardening Book and it made so much sense. Now I sprout in potting soil with kelp flakes at the bottom, cover with wet newspaper for 4 days (leave them in the cupboard to do their magical sprouting) and then let them hang out near a window to grow and green up for 3-5 days and I have beautiful, delicious sprouts! I just cut them fresh as I want to eat them or add to smoothies. The best part is that when I am done I have a super nutrient rich soil and nitrogen block to add to my compost bin or mix directly into my garden soil. It is a win win situation… it feeds me, my garden, cleans the indoor air and really adds to the feng shui in my home.

I really like Peter’s book because he makes sprouting really user friendly and he breaks it down to be super simple. He has trouble-shooting guides and even recommendations for the types of sprouts that work the best. Pictured above are peas, daikon radish, sunflower, alfalfa, and kale sprouts! I usually start 2 pots every other day so I have a constant supply going. Sprouts are so good for you and have all the nutrients of the adult plant jam packed into the tiny one you are about to harvest… how awesome!!! They are a great food especially over the winter and spring since that is what nature is getting ready to do anyway! I love them and I hope you do too!

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.