Diet, food, food allergy, herbal medicine, recipe

Make your own delicious Chinese tea eggs

Tea eggs finished product

Yes, Chinese tea eggs.

Just imagine something like a boiled egg soaked in soy sauce with a blend of black tea and spices similar to those used to make chai. And I do love chai.

Okay. That does sound weird but I assure you that these eggs are delicious. And they’re great in winter as the spices add a warming energy to the eggs.

Another ingredient in these eggs is tangerine/mandarin/citrus peel. You can make your own dried citrus peel if you like. In Chinese Medicine we refer to the peel as ‘chen pi’ and it’s used to resolve a condition known as ‘food stagnation’. That is, when you over eat or feel like you’ve got food stuck in your stomach that moves slowly. Chen pi is a good accompaniment to rich food to aid digestion.

I also substituted the soy sauce for gluten free tamari.

These tasty, protein-rich treats are often made for Chinese New Year but why not have them all year round?

Here’s the recipe I use.

And here is a photo journey of making my tea eggs:

Tea eggs boiling
Boil the eggs only for 3 minutes. Afterwards gently crack the shells without breaking through them.
Tea eggs spices
Prepare your spices, and put aside some soy sauce and a touch of sugar.
Tea eggs boiling spices
Add the spices and soy sauce to the water with the eggs with their cracked shells, then boil and simmer.
Tea eggs finished product
After soaking the eggs for at least 2 hours you can peel the eggs. The longer you soak the eggs the darker the marbling effect on the egg whites will be!

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

acupuncture, Diet, fertility, food, martial arts, nature, pregnancy, Traditional Chinese Medicine

10 things you should know about Chinese Medicine

I’ve spoken at a few Endeavour College of Natural Health open days now. Prior to presenting to the prospective students I always get to thinking about all of the things I love about acupuncture and Chinese medicine. This medicine really has been a great lifetime passion of mine. (“Really?” You say.)

So here are the top 10 reasons why I love acupuncture and Chinese medicine:

  1. Diagnosis and treatment are completely individualised. It doesn’t matter if you have osteoarthritis, endometriosis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), in Chinese medicine we are interested in your unique signs and symptoms and we may give you a Chinese medicine diagnosis which is completely different from that of another person with the same disease name but a slightly different presentation. Your treatment will be individualised just for you.
  2. Yin yang cupcake iced solo webThere are no super foods. Or good foods. Or bad foods. Or fad diets. I know that goji berries and shiitake mushrooms are seen as foods of the gods, and soy has a reputation as the fruit of the devil for every single person on the planet (according to nutrition in the media) but in Chinese medicine we just don’t see it that way. All foods have different energetic properties (eg. cooling, heating, move upwards or downwards, drain damp, nourish blood or open the pores) and so they are used to bring your body back into balance when it isn’t already. For example, if it’s hot it needs cooling and if you are carrying excess fluid you need to drain damp. Of course your body’s needs change as you age, with the season and with illness or regaining health. As this happens your diet also needs to change. It’s not black and white. Which is exactly what the taiji (yin yang) symbol represents: there is always some black in the white and vice versa. Be sensible with your eating, strive for balance and pay attention to how foods make you feel.
  3. 5 elementsThere is a strong connection to nature within the medicine. Five element theory is a way of applying the principles of nature to our bodies. It’s based on thousands of years of observation. We can describe and diagnose people’s temperaments and body conditions according to Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire. Each element relies upon and is interrelated to the others to keep delicate balance. Just like nature is. For example too much Earth can make us heavy, too much water can create fluid retention and too much fire can make us overheated. It’s a more complex system them this but those are just some simple examples.
  4. It can be an outright treatment, an alternative or a complementary medicine. So we all know that acupuncture alone is sometimes great for sorting out that sore shoulder or helping you sleep better. Other times acupuncture can work very well alongside other western medicine treatment. Some conditions that spring to mind are when we use acupuncture with IVF treatment or alongside chemotherapy which may reduce some of the side effects like nausea. As acupuncture does not involve ingestion of herbs or medicines it is rarely contraindicated with other therapies.
  5. Most people feel relaxed and emotionally ‘like a weight has lifted’ immediately following an acupuncture treatment. Patients often comment that they can fall asleep during an acupuncture treatment when they can’t take afternoon naps at home. It is a relaxing treatment and believe it or not – no the needles don’t really hurt most of the time. In fact relaxation has been described as a side effect of acupuncture in this study.
  6. ear acupuncture modelHaving a knowledge of acupuncture and acupressure is like having a first aid kit with you wherever you go. Symptoms like nausea and headaches can often be relieved if you know the right spots to push. I often take some ‘ear seeds’ with me when I go camping or hiking to manage musculoskeletal pains (these little seeds apply pressure to parts of the ear that correspond to other parts of your body – like acupressure. Anyone who has used a Sea-Band on their wrist for seasickness is doing acupressure – you place the hard bit of the band onto an acupuncture point! Of course, it can’t do everything and it’s always handy to have a regular first aid kit too.
  7. Energy flow is fundamental to Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Learning good posture and effective breathing is essential not only to good health but also being a good practitioner. Think of tai chi, Qi gong, yoga and martial arts. We apply these same postural and breathing techniques when inserting needles. But really, you can apply good posture and effective breathing to everything that you do.
  8. The history of Chinese Medicine is decorated with beautiful stories, poetry and artworks to document and share the medicine. An appreciation of the arts is also considered a part of holistic healthcare. I often describe to my fertility or pregnancy patients that one of the acupuncture points is called ‘zigong’ or ‘the palace of the child’. How gorgeous is that? We can incorporate these beautiful descriptions into meditations or visualisations during treatment.
  9. The future of Chinese medicine is bright as we are now seeing higher quality clinical trials to highlight traditional and new uses for our medicines. For example the research using fMRI to understand the effect of acupuncture needling on the brain is fascinating. Check out this BBC documentary for a look at this research. (It’s an hour long but it’s well worth it.)
  10. In Australia we are now a registered profession (just like physiotherapists and dentists). This means that acupuncturists, Chinese herbalists and Chinese medicine practitioners now have to comply with AHPRA regulations under the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA) including a minimum level of education (bachelor degree) and other professional and ethical standards. So in the interests of public safety and getting the most effective treatment for your condition always seek treatment from a CMBA registered practitioner. (For the record, dry needling is not registered in this way.)

Just a word of warning: nowhere here have I said Chinese medicine is a cure all. I just wanted to highlight the things that Chinese medicine does really well. For information about your own health please speak with a registered Chinese medicine practitioner.

What is it that you love about acupuncture and Chinese medicine? Tell me in the comments. I’d love to know.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, food, food allergy, recipe

My five top gluten & dairy-free sweet treats for 2014

Can you believe we’re nearly at the end of 2014? If you’re looking for some Christmas baking recipes well you may find them here.

I’ve just been perusing some of my recipe blog stats between seeing patients today and here are my top 5 sweet treat recipes from this year. They are all gluten and dairy free too. Click on the names for the recipes.

  1. Chocolate beetroot cakechoc-beet cake slice
  2. Almond, ginger & blueberry sliceginger almond blueberry slice plate
  3. Carrot & goji berry cakecarrot and goji cake
  4. Chocolate cream-filled biscuitschoc cream biscuits gift box
  5. Orange, macadamia and dark chocolate biscuitsorange macadamia chocolate biscuits tray

Enjoy!

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, emotional health, exercise, food, health, mental health, motivational, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

A Chinese medicine guide to living well in Spring

I’m a bit slow on getting my spring living post out this year! Apologies to all of you who have been wondering what to do since the turn of the season, you can now relax with the information contained within this post.

Here’s a little song to get you out of winter and into the spring mood.

In Chinese medicine the season of spring is all about these:

  • Moving from the cold and slowness of winter into a warmer, more energetic state as our Yang Qi predominates.
  • There is an upward energy.
  • The mood picks up, life feels lighter.
  • And there is a need to move more and get active.
  • We need to stretch out and get flexible after the rigidity of winter.
  • Plants are sprouting fresh green shoots.
  • This is the time of the Wood element and the Liver and Gallbladder need care.
  • The wind picks up. This has been particularly noticeable in Brisbane in the afternoons especially earlier in the season.
  • There is more light and longer days giving us a good supply of vitamin D to support our yang Qi. Safe levels of sun exposure depend on where you live and are outlined here.
  • The colour is green in keeping with those fresh sprouts.
  • The flavour is sour which again brings a feeling of lightness and freshness.
Spring is a wonderful time to walk around the Jacaranda trees in blossom.
Spring is a wonderful time to walk around the Jacaranda trees in blossom.

If you don’t naturally feel this shift to spring or you want to maximise your spring energy to live in harmony with the seasons then here are some tips:

  • Go to bed a little later and wake a little earlier (just like the birds)
  • Get some outdoor exercise (eg. walking or qi gong) and sunlight in the morning before you start the serious stuff in your day.
  • Wear loose clothing and don’t tie your hair back tightly. Let everything flow.
  • Focus on relaxation and flexibility of your mind and body. Now is an excellent time to get into some meditation and/or yoga.
  • Sing, dance or do activities that lighten your mood.
  • Work within your limits so as to enjoy the movement and longer days but not to overtire yourself.
  • Be prepared for changes in the weather, so while most of your summer clothes are coming out, have a spare layer handy to protect yourself from a sneaky cold snap or some breezy conditions.
  • Do a spring clean. Get rid of the clutter and excess that might have been stored away during winter  (or the rest of the year). A spring clean can be in your house, body and/or mind. Make room for the new.
  • Open the windows. Get good ventilation in your space. Get some indoor plants.
  • Focus your attention to being positive, optimistic, open minded, tranquil, happy and friendly.
  • Enjoy nature. Go hiking, camping or anything you enjoy that takes you into the great outdoors.
  • Generally eat fresh, clean and crisp foods that are in season. Some Chinese medicine dietary tips include benefiting the:
    • yang qi through pungent foods (eg. onions, garlic, ginger, paprika, chives, mint and mustard)
    • liver through some sour foods – just enough to make you feel well but no need to over do it. A squeeze of lemon in your water or some natural yogurt can be beneficial.
    • wood element through green coloured foods eg. green tea, green leafy vegetables (kale, broccolini, baby spinach), peas, beans, asparagus, sprouts and celery.
    • Avoid very spicy and fatty foods at this time of year and don’t overdo the sour flavour.

For another post about spring health read here.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, food, health, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Tea and you: brewing it, enjoying it & getting the health benefits

tea oolong cup
A delicious oolong tea known as Big Red Robe from the MayKing Tea range.

I really love tea so it’s no surprise that I snapped up an opportunity to do a tea appreciation course through Bright Learning with tea educator and enthusiast, May King Tsang (founder of MayKing Tea). With British Chinese heritage, May King brought the traditional English white and two sugar lovers and the green tea purists together giving us a lesson in making good tea (from picking the tea leaves, brewing them well and then appreciating them) as well as teaching us about some of the styles of tea, their flavour characteristics, health benefits, some tea-tech-talk, all while we enjoyed several cups of very tasty, good quality, loose leaf tea.

Here’s 10 things you may or may not know to ponder while you sip your cup of tea:

  1. Tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant with Chinese and Indian varietals. Herbals (eg. chamomile and peppermint) and rooibos are technically not tea as they come from different plants and are more correctly known as infusions, although we all call them teas anyway due to the preparation method.
  2. There are six types of tea: white, green, yellow, oolong, black and pu-erh. They are all made with the same tea plant but the leaves that are used, oxidisation and processing methods vary for each one. White and green teas are less oxidised than black teas are. White teas are made with just the bud and two first leaves from the branch. As tea leaves are oxidised they become sweeter (although this is only to a point and then they are more bittersweet like dark chocolate).

    MayKing Tea's delicate, white tea called 'white peony'.
    MayKing Tea’s delicate, white tea called ‘white peony’.
  3. Antioxidants are not only found in white and green teas. All tea leaves contain antioxidants and the content is much of a muchness between the six types of tea, so drink the type of tea you like best.
  4. Tea leaves do contain more caffeine than coffee beans per gram of raw material. However less tea leaves are used in making a cup of tea so there is actually less caffeine in a cup of tea than a cup of coffeeBlack tea does contain the most caffeine of the tea types, there is less in green tea and less again in most white tea. A type of white tea known as ‘silver needle’ contains a high level of caffeine as it is made with only the bud at the tip of the tea plant branch, and caffeine is more highly concentrated in these leaves. A Japanese style of tea known as matcha also has a high level of caffeine. Caffeine gives tea a ‘Yang’ property and l-theanine gives tea it’s ‘Yin’ relaxing, mood-enhancing property. This is why Asian and British cultures consider most problems can be fixed with a “nice sit down and a good cup of tea.” Choose the type of tea that you need according to your taste, mood, energy and the time of day.
  5. Tea can be flavoured by having herbs added to it (think Moroccan Mint green tea – which is actually a traditional Chinese blend that traveled with the spice trade). Tea leaves can also be flavoured by having herbs placed with the fresh pickings and infused under the sun for several days, the herbs are then removed so your brew is only made with the flavoured tea leaves. Some highly valued jasmine green teas are made this way. Some teas are ‘enhanced’ with artificial flavours so make sure to read the labels.

    MayKing Tea's osmanthus oolong tea. I loved this one, it reminded of my boat trip down the Li River in Guangxi.
    MayKing Tea’s osmanthus oolong tea. I loved this one, it reminded of my boat trip down the Li River in Guangxi.
  6. The water temperature required varies depending on the type of tea you are making. And you don’t need a fancy kettle or thermometer to measure this. Use fresh water (pH 7 is ideal) in the kettle each time and study the bubbles in the water level gauge to get the right temperature for the leaves you are using. Generally white and green teas need cooler water (70-80°C) and oolong, black and herbals need hotter water (around 90°C+). Here’s a guide to the temperature and bubble size to expect for each type of tea.
  7. Tea bags don’t contain the ‘sweepings from the factory floor’ but they aren’t usually made with excellent quality tea leaves either. Tea quality is best judged by examining the tea leaf itself so this is a reason to buy loose leaf tea. Also the more times a tea leaf has been cut, the darker your brew will be. The new triangular shape tea bags doing the rounds now often do contain better quality leaves than regular tea bags however they are usually made from a ‘plastic silken gauze’ which doesn’t biodegrade well, so not an environmentally friendly choice.
  8. You can leave your tea leaves to infuse in a white or green tea for about 3 minutes. Black and oolong teas can stay in contact with the leaves for as long as you like. The infuser size is considered to best if smaller for black teas and larger for green teas.
  9. Medicinally, in Chinese medicine, we consider that tea is slightly bitter-sweet, cooling to the body and benefits the Heart, Liver, Stomach, Bladder and Large Intestine channels. White and green teas are the most cooling and black teas are warmer. Tea is considered to be useful taken at the start of a ‘hot’ common cold, to assist in the digestion of heavy, rich and fatty foods, for scanty urination or taken as a strong brew for diarrhoea.
  10. It is considered that in brewing your cup of tea a process termed the ‘agony of the leaf‘ occurs: there will be a ‘tumble between the leaf and the water’ to produce that wonderful ‘liquor’ we know as tea.

    A delicious cup of osmanthus oolong tea.
    A delicious cup of osmanthus oolong tea.

Here’s more on tea and happiness, how to make corn silk ‘tea’ infusion and how to make chai.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

Diet, food, health

The single biggest dietary factor for reducing your risk of most chronic diseases is…

catalyst gut reactionGo on, guess?

We should eat more protein, paleo-style? We need to quit sugar? We need more ‘good’ fats or less ‘bad’ fats?

The answer to this question was explored on the last two week’s of ABC TV’s Catalyst program – Gut Reaction. (And although its a simplistic question, the research supporting the answer is worth paying attention to.)

The researchers explored how our diets are related to the state of our gastrointestinal health (in particular, microbes) and the impact this has on our overall health including our risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

The findings were actually completely unsexy and unsensational. Sad news for the diet and processed food industries.

The single biggest thing you can do with your diet to reduce your risk of these major chronic diseases is to eat more…. FIBRE!

Told you it wasn’t sexy.  It’s just common sense. But it’s nice to have some of the biochemistry to back up how the bacteria in our gut rely on a fibre rich diet to improve our immune systems which brings a myriad of other health promoting effects.

The good news is that eating more fibre is simple and easy, unlike trying to follow most fad diets.

As you know, I bang on a bit about eating a diet mainly comprised of plant foods in their whole, unprocessed (within reason) form – eg. not out of a box or a plastic packet. These new finding support this age old idea.

Do you know there are six different types of fibre? We should aim to include all of these in our diet regularly, if not daily:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Raw salad vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes and pulses
  • Nuts and seeds

I recommend flicking over to Catalyst and watching Part 1 and Part 2 of Gut Reaction.  They give some excellent examples of how hormones including insulin change drastically depending on the level of fibre in your diet.

Here’s some other sensible ideas on diet and getting more vegetables in your diet.

Have you got a favourite way of increasing fibre in your diet or some excellent fibre-rich recipes? Share them in the comments.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, food, health

How to eat more local, seasonal vegies each week: Food Connect

Today's vegie bounty from the Food Connect box.
Today’s vegie bounty from the Food Connect box: celery, potatoes (Dutch Cream), pumpkin (Jap), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chillies, Chinese greens, broccoli, lettuce, baby spinach, dill and radishes.

As an acupuncturist who aims to improve the overall health of each and every one of my patients, if there is one general piece of lifestyle advice that I could give nearly everyone it would be:

Eat more whole foods, particularly vegetables.

How many serves of vegetables should you aim for in a day?

Five serves per day. “What is a serve?” I hear you ask. Check out these guidelines. Generally, a cup of raw or a 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables is 1 serve. You’ll most likely need to spread them over at least 2-3 meals. (It’s okay to exceed your vegie intake but don’t exceed your fruit intake of two serves/day due to the sugar content.)

Don’t forget that some fresh produce is best eaten organic or chemical free. What are the dirty dozen?

How can you eat this many chemical-free vegies easily?

Let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time, many years ago, I was at a Mind Body Spirit Festival. A man walked around giving out organic carrots for people to taste. The carrot was deliciously sweet to taste. The man was Robert Pekin – the brains behind Food Connect. He gave me a brochure about his Community Supported Agriculture program he was about to start. I became a subscriber as soon as they opened and continued my subscription for years. Something happened and I got out of sync. I’m so glad that I am once again a subscriber and picked up my second box today.

Here’s why I love Food Connect:

  • You can purchase a vegie, fruit or fruit and veg box in different sizes from Food Connect.
  • If you don’t want a box, you can select your own foods from their extensive list. See here.
  • They also sell breads, flours (including brown rice flour), sauces, honey, eggs and lots more.
  • If you don’t want to order every week, you don’t have to. Or if you do, you can set up a standard order.
  • The produce is sourced locally within 400km of Brisbane and is either chemical free, bio-dynamic or organic.
  • The produce is in season, unlike many of the offerings in our big supermarkets.
  • You support local farmers and get to know a little about their farms. They are featured in the newsletter in each box and you can also do farm tours.
  • You choose which ‘City Cousin‘ you will pick your order up from. These wonderful people are found in every few suburbs.
  • It’s not that expensive. The box featured above and below cost $44. I’ve found this reduces my weekly food bill by not needing to visit the shops most days.
What a small vegie box might look like.
What a small vegie box might look like.

The produce in the box I picked up today had traveled only 184km. This would not be the case if I had bought the same items in a major supermarket.

Having a weekly order of vegies each week will increase your vegie intake easily. You will need to eat through them before the next order is due. It also saves you having to do day-to-day grocery shops. If your fridge and pantry are stocked with fresh vegetables already you will be more likely to eat them.

Tonight I turned my vegies into this delicious tofu and vegie curry:

Food connect curry

So make the commitment to increase your vegetable intake. If it’s not through a scheme like Food Connect, regularly visit farmers’ markets for your groceries or even grow your own fresh produce!

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.