Diet, food, food allergy, health, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

New Launceston workshop: Cook Healthy Japanese Food

Hello! It’s been a little while since my last post (I’ve been busy) but I’m here to say that the great Sam Seghers from Mindful Menus and Redcliffe Yoga & Massage is coming to Launceston (from Redcliffe, QLD) to team up with me for a fun and informative workshop!

Cook Healthy Japanese Food – Saturday 11th August (1pm-3pm)

Header Cooking Healthy Japanese Food

So Sam is a whizz with Japanese cookery (having lived there for 14 years). She is going to take some great Tasmanian fresh produce and create several tasty Japanese dishes. And she’ll be able to answer all those tricky questions you have about ingredients like:

  • the seaweeds (e.g. wakame and kombu – what on earth do you do with them?)
  • tofu (how do you cook it so it doesn’t taste like a sponge?)
  • mushrooms (e.g. shiitake, king oyster – what do you do with them?)
  • green tea (e.g. what to look for in a good Japanese tea and how to brew it)
  • miso (everyone is talking about it – what is it and what do you do with it?)
  • And many more…

All food prepared on the day will be gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegetarian and vegan although we are also happy to discuss substitutions for other diet styles, food allergies and intolerances.

My job in all of this is to introduce you to the exciting world of Chinese Dietetics. This will change the way you think about food in a very healthy and balanced way.

In Chinese dietetics we talk about the thermal nature of a food (e.g. cold, cool, neutral, warm, hot), the flavour (bitter, sweet, pungent, salty, sour) and the organs that each food has an affinity with. You’ll discover that no wholefood should be considered good (eat tonnes of it) or evil (avoid it at all costs) for every person in the same way. We’ll talk about balance of thermal nature and flavours in your meal. And we’ll go through the Chinese dietetic properties of each food we use in the recipes on the day and the over all benefits of the dish (including the cooking methods) so that you know which ones will benefit you most.

During this time you’ll also enjoy the most amazing healthy Japanese afternoon tea banquet of all the dishes we have created on the day.  Having been lucky enough to have attended several of Sam’s Japanese banquets in the past I assure you that these dishes are delicious!

If you’re interested in learning a little more about Chinese Dietetics here’s a post I wrote a while ago on balancing the five flavours in a meal.

To book tickets to Cook Healthy Japanese Foods visit our Eventbrite page.

For further information on the event visit the event on Sarah George Acupuncture on Facebook.

To book an appointment at the clinic or for 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, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncategorized

Banana coconut fritters – pikelet style

I’ve recently signed up to get an organic vegetable box delivered each week from the fabulous Farmer Foster. Together with a bounty of great vegetables is an array of beautiful fruit.

vegetable box farmer foster

One such fruit I have in abundance is bananas. I’m a sucker for a banana fritter so I decided to experiment with a dairy and gluten free version with no added sugar; let’s face it, bananas are just about sweet enough anyway!

According to Chinese dietetic theory bananas are considered to be sweet in flavour and cold in thermal nature. They have an affinity with the Stomach and Large Intestine so together with their flavour and thermal nature they moisten the fluids (Yin) of these digestive organs. Bananas are traditionally used for dry throats and constipation. Autumn and winter bring dryness so a lot of us need some extra Yin nourishing at this time. Frying the fritters and adding a touch of cinnamon helps to warm up the bananas a little too.

banana coconut fritter served

Banana coconut fritter recipe

Ingredients

  • 300g bananas, mashed
  • 3 tbsp brown rice flour
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of stevia to taste
  • cinnamon to taste
  • coconut oil for frying

Method

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together.
  2. Add mashed banana and mix until combined.
  3. In a frying pain, heat coconut oil to medium heat and shallow fry heaped dessertspoons of banana mixture until golden on each side.
  4. When cooked, remove fritters from pan and place on a plate covered with a sheet of paper towel.
  5. Serve warm, sprinkled with toasted coconut and if desired a scoop of coconut milk icecream.

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, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncategorized

Carrot cake goodie balls

I have resisted the goodie ball/bliss ball craze so far but recently at an Endeavour College of Natural Health open day I came across a recipe that was a must try: these Carrot Cake goodie balls (gluten and dairy free) designed by a former student of the college. And I have to say they were absolutely delicious and a better alternative to other snacks that have been hanging around since the holiday period. They’re great to fit into the lunch box too. I’m now a goodie ball convert.

I did put my own spin on them to Chinese Medicine them up a bit. Given that the ingredients were raw I wanted to add a little more warming spice to the mix to aid digestion (there is cinnamon in them already though) as the recipe is quite rich. That was the addition of some uncrystallised ginger (like the crystallised but without the sugar crust on the outside) and I replaced the sultanas with currants, just because I like them more. The nut base is made with walnuts which already have a warm energy too.

So this recipe has Earth element written all over it. Sweet, orange coloured and carrot flavoured with some nice spice. It’ll nourish your Spleen, Stomach, Qi and Yin.

What are your favourite goodie balls? Why not share the recipe in the comments below. Let’s have a goodie ball recipe swap!

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, 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.

food, food allergy, recipe

Orange, macadamia & dark chocolate biscuits (dairy & gluten free)

orange macadamia chocolate biscuitsToday I’m sharing with you a real treat. One of my favourite biscuit recipes that I have been baking for years.

These biscuits just about melt in your mouth. They are just so… yum.

I make them with brown rice flour (why not increase the fibre whenever you can) and the sweeteners I’ve used are coconut palm sugar and a caster sugar/stevia combo. I like to bake without dairy but if you want to substitute the fat for butter go right ahead.

This recipe also makes a bumper batch of about 36 biscuits (depending on how big you roll them). They disappear surprisingly quickly so you need about 36 I reckon!

Orange, macadamia & dark chocolate biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dairy free butter alternative
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar/stevia blend (or 1/2 cup caster sugar)
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used pink Himalayan salt)
  • zest of one orange
  • 120g dark chocolate (I use 85%) chopped into little chips
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of uncrystallised ginger, chopped, optional (it’s very good)

orange macadamia chocolate ingredients

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease two large biscuit trays.
  3. Beat butter and sugars until creamy.
  4. Add egg and beat until combined.
  5. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt until combined well.
  6. Add orange zest, chopped chocolate, macadamia nuts and uncrystallised ginger. Mix well until all of the flavourings are evenly distributed through the dough. orange macadamia chocolate mixture
  7. Roll into heaped teaspoonfuls and place on biscuit trays.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Allow to sit on try for a minute or so, before transferring to a wire rack. orange macadamia chocolate biscuits tray

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.

food, food allergy, recipe

Carrot and goji berry cake with frosting: gluten & dairy free

carrot and goji cakeSo I’ve recently had my wisdom teeth extracted. All I can say about that is OUCH and, thankfully, it’s all over now and I’ll never have to go through that again. As I was beginning to feel better I was tiring of mushy food so decided to make a cake. Even though I couldn’t open my mouth wide, small spoonfuls of cake were digestible without a whole lot of chewing. Plus, it meant I had something nice to serve visitors.

This cake is free from refined sugar, gluten and dairy. I’ve also added a food herb called Chinese wolfberry (gou qi zi) to the mix. You may know these little red fruits as goji berries. I got lazy with the icing so it is made with icing sugar and soy cream cheese but you could leave it off or substitute it with any of these dairy and refined-sugar free options if you want to skip the icing sugar: maple orange frosting, easy cream cheese frosting or cashew cream cheese frosting.

The cake was delicious and enjoyed by those who tried it. I can also vouch that is excellent served with Earl Grey tea.

Carrot cake & g0ji berry cake with dairy-free cream cheese frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown rice flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder added
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup of macadamia oil (or oil of your choice for baking)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup of soaked goji berries
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 container of Tofutti non-dairy cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup of non-dairy spread (eg. nuttelex)
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Walnuts or pecans, chopped, to decorate

Method:

  1. Preheat over to 160°C and grease a 23cm round tin, lining the bottom with paper.
  2. In a large bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and soda together. Make a well in centre.
  3. Whisk oil, maple syrup and eggs together until changes colour and is combined.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients gradually until mixed through.
  5. Add carrots, nuts and goji berries.
  6. Bake for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours or until golden and a skewer comes out clean from the middle of the cake. Allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before turning onto a cake rack.
  7. When the cake is cool, make frosting: blend tofutti and non-dairy spread until completely mixed through. Sift icing sugar into the cream cheese mix. Mix thoroughly. Add lemon juice and combine well. Spread frosting over the cake. Decorate with chopped nuts.

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, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

How to balance the Five Flavours perfectly in a meal

The more colours the better! Vegies for the omelette.
The five flavours in fruit and vegetable form.

In Chinese Medicine we class every food according to its temperature, affinity with different parts of the body and its flavour.

There are five key flavours and a food may fall into more than one category. Each flavour has a different effect on the body, as follows:

  • Bitter (Fire element): drying and downbearing. Bitter foods are good for promoting excretion of excess fluids (dampness) and stimulating digestion.
  • Sweet (Earth element): warming, strengthening and moistening. Sweet foods give us fuel for energy and are particularly useful in times of weakness. They also nourish our body fluids.
  • Pungent (Metal element): aid circulation and promote sweating. Pungent foods help to move stagnation and tension in the body, as well as improving blood flow. These foods also push ‘upwards and outwards’ promoting a sweat which is why they are also used during acute colds and flu.
  • Salty (Water element): cooling, softening and moistening. Salty foods can alter fluid balance in the body and in some cases may promote bowel movements. They soften hardness (think of epsom salts in the bath).
  • Sour (Wood element): astringe and preserve fluids. Sour foods close the pores and promote an inward movement to nourish our body fluids and subdue anger.

While all of the flavours need to be consumed in moderation and then increased or decreased according to each person’s current health condition, sweet and salty foods should be particularly used sparingly in modern diets, unless a person’s health condition suggests otherwise. A Chinese Medicine practitioner can guide you in this area.

In the modern diet, bitter foods are eaten rarely and there is usually cause for most western people to increase their intake of bitter foods.

For a person in a good state of health we usually recommend a consumption of all of the flavours in moderation. Cooking in Asian cultures often pays close attention to the seasoning of dishes to represent a balance of flavours. A classic example is ‘pho’ (Vietnamese noodle soup) which is served with fresh chilli and mint (pungent), lemon/lime (sour), carrot and mung bean sprouts (sweet), green leafy vegetables (bitter) and fish and/or soy sauce (salty).

Here’s a western recipe (that I have blogged about before) which brings together these five flavours perfectly:

Mediterranean eggplant salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants, cubed, salted, drained and dried
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon currants
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 6 roma tomatoes, quartered lengthways
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 red chillies, sliced finely
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, discard flesh and slice rind finely
  • a few handfuls of green leafy vegetables: baby spinach, cress and/or rocket leaves

Method:

  1. Warm olive oil in pan and fry eggplant until golden in small batches.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
  2. In same pan, saute cumin seeds, garlic, currants and almonds until golden.  Add tomato and oregano until browned.  Remove from heat.
  3. Add fried eggplant, chilli, lemon juice, parsley, preserved lemon and spinach to the tomato mixture.  Season with black pepper.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to serving.

Here is the breakdown of this recipe according to the flavours:

  • Bitter: oregano, parsley and green leafy vegetables.
  • Sweet: eggplant, currants, cumin, tomato and almonds.
  • Pungent: cumin, garlic, oregano and chilli.
  • Salty: preserved lemon, eggplant (once salted and rinsed).
  • Sour: tomato, lemon juice and preserved lemon.

Perfect balance. Enjoy this recipe. It’s delicious!

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, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Chocolate beetroot cake: gluten and dairy free

choc-beet cake sliceJust prior to undergoing the knife for my hip operation I went crazy (rather, had a ball in the kitchen) preparing meals for the post-op recovery phase. I put a lot of thought into the ingredients that I would and would not use, and as promised earlier, I will blog about this sometime soon.

But for now please enjoy this delicious chocolate beetroot cake recipe from the post-op phase. I wanted it to be nutritious (for a cake) containing lots of nuts and beetroot (to promote tissue healing) without foods that disagree with my body – gluten and dairy. I also opted for maple syrup over refined sugar as the sweetener. It’s even iced with a chocolate and cashew icing made without refined sugar. This was to give me a sweet treat to brighten my days in recovery.

Here are some of the Chinese medicine properties for some of the key ingredients:

  • Cocoa: neutral temperature, sweet and bitter in flavour, cocoa is considered to be strengthening and stimulating.
  • Beetroot: neutral temperature and sweet flavoured, beetroots nourish the Stomach, Spleen and Heart and move Liver Qi and Blood, promoting blood circulation.
  • Almond: neutral temperature and sweet flavoured, almonds are moistening and benefit the Lung, Large Intestine and Spleen.
  • Walnut: warm in temperature and sweet flavoured, walnuts tonify the Kidneys and reduce inflammation.

This cake is rich and moist, and still delicious after I took it out of the freezer (where it was frozen individually piece by piece). The cake is still sweet overall so keep serving sizes small and be aware that a high daily intake of sweet foods is not recommended – moderation is the key!

Find the chocolate beetroot cake recipe here. (I shared it on my clinic’s website first.)

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, food allergy

Chocolate cream-filled biscuits: gluten & dairy free

choc cream biscuitsThis Mother’s Day just gone, I baked these biscuits for my Mum.

Mum, like many of you out there, has trouble finding tasty gluten and dairy free biscuits, that are also soy and nut (almond and cashew) free – she has a few food intolerances. As you know, I love to rise to a food intolerance baking challenge! These biscuits aren’t really in the healthy sphere (high sugar content alert) but they are a great treat for people with the food intolerances described above.

These biscuits passed my mother’s taste test, so I thought I’d share the recipe:

Chocolate cream-filled biscuit recipe

Makes 12 (or 24 unfilled biscuits)

Biscuit ingredients:

  • 115g coconut oil (solidified)
  • 100g sugar (I used a sugar/stevia mix so halved this amount)
  • 105g brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 170g brown rice flour
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Filling ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (solidified)
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease or line two biscuit trays.
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda and mix well. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, use electric beaters to cream coconut oil and sugars, until changes colour.
  4. Add egg and vanilla extract, mixing through.
  5. Gradually add the flour mix into the wet ingredients. Mix until completely combined.
  6. Roll mixture into heaped teaspoon sized balls and place on baking trays. For flatter biscuits (than pictured), flatten the balls slightly.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  8. Cool on rack. choc cream biscuits rack
  9. For filling: in a small bowl cream coconut oil, and then gradually add in sifted icing sugar, mixing thoroughly. Add vanilla extract and mix through to give even colour.Choc cream biscuits filling
  10. Sort cooled biscuits into pairs of similar size/shape and spread a teaspoon of filling on the flat surface. Place another biscuit on top. And you have a chocolate cream filled biscuit!choc cream biscuits gift box

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, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Almond, ginger and blueberry slice

ginger almond blueberry slice plateAs regular readers of this blog may be aware I am a big fan of ginger. Aside from its myriad of therapeutic properties, I value it just because it so delicious!

So here is a slice based on ginger that I baked for our wonderful team of ladies I work with at the clinic in West End: The Acupuncture and Natural Therapies Centre. We have an excellent team of health professionals at this thirty year old health centre: three acupuncturists (Nicola Macdonald, Amber Fulton and me), another massage therapist (Sia Carlyon) and two lovely ladies at the reception and dispensary, Shelley and Jane.

So this recipe’s key ingredient Chinese medicine properties are:

  • Ginger: Warm, pungent and sweet. It benefits the Lung, Stomach and Spleen.
  • Almonds: Neutral in temperature and sweet, they benefit the Lung, Spleen and Large Intestine.
  • Blueberries: Cooling, sweet and sour. Blueberries benefit the Liver.

Even though the sugar is reduced in this recipe, overall it is still sweet in flavour and so tonifies the Earth element and Qi, and nourishes the Spleen and Lung. It is high in fibre and protein (for a sweet snack) but should still be only consumed in moderation.

The recipe is adapted from this one and I have altered it to be lower in sugar, gluten and dairy free with added blueberries.

ginger almond blueberry slice

Ginger, almond and blueberry slice

Ingredients

  • 175g coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar & stevia combination (equivalent to 1 cup caster sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 100g almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 125g ‘naked’ uncrystallised ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 70g flaked almonds

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C.
  2. Grease an 18 x 28cm rectangular baking tin. Line with baking paper.
  3. Beat coconut oil and sugar together until light in colour and well mixed. Beat in egg, then alternate the additions of coconut milk and flour.
  4. Add almond meal, ground ginger and uncrystallised ginger and mix thoroughly.
  5. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and press down evenly with a clean fist.
  6. Evenly distribute blueberries on top of mix, pressing in gently.
  7. Evenly sprinkle flaked almonds over the top of the slice.
  8. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden.
  9. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in pan, then cool on a rack.
  10. Cut into small squares or fingers.

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.