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, health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Our changing diet: what Paleolithic man can teach us. (And it may not be what you think.)

I’m once again lecturing my favourite subject, Chinese dietetics, at Endeavour College of Natural Health this semester. And this has inspired me to write about dietary change for our change-themed Health and Happiness Collective blog hop.

Chinese dietetics is all about the joy of food! And how we can use it for healing according to Chinese Medicine principles. I love that last year some students with no interest in cooking were actually inspired to start cooking at home. That is a win for mankind in my books!

This semester I kicked off Lecture One with this TEDx video: “Debunking The Paleo Diet” by Christina Warrina, an archaeological scientist.

Now, I didn’t show it to them because I’m anti-Paleo Diet – because I’m not. I know many people who love living by the principles of The Paleo Diet and feel well doing so. I showed it to them because it gives an excellent history of our diet as we know it today compared with what Paleolithic man actually ate, (and yes, it does differ from the historical reasoning that is often quoted for The Paleo Diet). This talk does explore how Paleolithic Man may have actually eaten and gives us an idea of how we might eat if we had never had our ideas of food skewed by the low fat movement or the soup diet or whatever is being pushed by a celebrity to lose her ‘baby weight’ in New Idea.

Christina tells us that we simply could not eat what Paleolithic man ate in this day and age. Our foods have changed too much! We now have an abundance of foods Paleolithic man never had access to (because a lot of our foods have been developed into what we know them as now – she gives examples of carrots, broccoli and almonds – foods that just did not exist in Paleolithic times.) This is not necessarily a bad thing, it is a necessity to feed a highly populated planet and sure does provide us with variety and plenty.

We can take some excellent lessons for our diet today based on how Paleolithic man did eat:

  • Locally – Paleolithic man ate what was available when it was available. He/she ate locally. These days we can buy our foods from local farmers markets or wonderful co-ops like Food Connect.
  • Seasonally – There was no one Paleolithic Diet. It really varied depending on what was available in the region where they lived. In very cold climates diets contained more animal products and in the tropics plant foods formed the majority of the diet. Eating locally and seasonally also means that the foods you are eating are most likely more suitable for the climate that you are in. Warming foods in cold weather and cooler foods in warmer environments. The diet also changed with the seasons and food availability.
  • Fresh – Food was eaten fresh as it was available. This is a good lesson to us – fresh is best! Where possible choose fresh foods over their canned and heavily preserved counterparts.
  • Whole foods – Paleolithic man simply had to eat foods as they came. When eating meat they ate the whole animal including organs and marrow. Food processing was minimal as it was a manual process, although they had very simplistic tools for grinding grains and legumes. But we certainly aren’t talking about making white flour or tropical fruit juice here.
  • Less sugar – It really was impossible to eat the kind of sugar quantities that we eat now back in Paleolithic times. While I am not saying we need to quit sugar, rather just reducing our sugar intake to a minimal amount.

These principles underlie all good healthy diet systems. And Chinese dietetics is no different. In addition to the above, our system also pays close attention to food flavours, thermal energies and the organs the foods benefit in order to achieve a Yin/Yang balance in the body- but this is a topic for another time.

Since Paleolithic times our diets have changed regularly in accordance with nature (famines/extreme environmental conditions), war times, economic conditions, fashion and influence from the nutritional thinking of the day (eg. butter was good, then it was bad, now it is good again). We even eat quite differently now to the way in which our grandparents ate.

But it really all comes back to the five points above. No matter which diet you follow, those lessons from Paleolithic man are likely to lead to a wholesome diet and a healthier you!

And as a last thought, I wanted to leave you with this gorgeous little animated video on the topic of change in food production with Willie Nelson doing a cover of Cold Play’s Back to the start. (Two videos in one post? Crazy!)

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, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Warming, curried butter bean and vegetable soup for chilly nights

curried soupWhoa Brisbane! What’s with the suddenly freezing nights and mornings? I thought we were done with the chilly temperatures. (NB. Yes, I am soft. I live in Brisbane and anything below 10ºC is unbearably cold to me! And here is how I use spices to cope and here are some general ideas for staying warm.)

To survive winter’s last hurrah in the form of this recent cold snap I made this delightfully fragrant and delicious soup.

The root vegetables, beans and spices gently warm and nourish the body and digestive system (Spleen and Stomach) and boost energy according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Even the yellowy colour of the soup supports these organs and their corresponding Earth element.

Curried butter bean and vegetable soup

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 3 cups pumpkin, diced
  • 1/2 cauliflower, diced
  • 1 cup of cooked butter beans (or 400g canned)
  • 1 1/4 litre vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • handful of green beans, sliced
  • coriander, chopped, to garnish

Method:

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan. Fry onion, garlic, carrot, cumin seeds and mustard seeds until browned and crackling.
  2. Add turmeric and curry powders.  Fry for a minute.
  3. Add potato, pumpkin, cauliflower, butter beans, vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  4. Allow soup to cool a little, add half of soup to food processor and blend.
  5. Return blended soup to the pot. Add green beans stir over heat and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Serve in bowls topped with coriander.

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, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

New guest post for Alive Berry on eating well in winter

chai
Chili-choc-chai tea

I’ve had the good fortune of being asked to write for the brilliant online health magazine, Alive Berry.  Do check them out for all of your mind, body and soul needs.

Following on from my Wellness Ninja blog post from yesterday Three of my favourite spices for winter warming, my first Alive Berry post is A quick guide to eating well in winter. Enjoy it!

 

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, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Three of my favourite spices for winter warming

spices webI don’t like being cold and I’ll admit it, I spend most of winter looking forward to spring. Yes, even in the Brisbane winter. There are many ways we can keep warm in winter – and choosing the right foods is one of them. Here are three of my favourite flavours to spice up my life in winter. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we describe each substance by its temperature, flavour and action in the body – some foods have a warming or hot action on the body.

Enjoy this tantalising yet brief introduction to my top three favourite warming spices and how you can use them in your diet:

  • Cardamom: warming, pungent and slightly bitter. Cardamom is an excellent digestive stimulant. It is sometimes termed the “Queen of the Spices” and is probably best known for its use in curries but can also be added to cakes and biscuits. The pods can be chewed on as a breath sweetener. There is a restaurant I like to have breakfast at that makes a wonderful tomato relish with bursts of cardamom pods in it. Cardamom even pops up in gin and some liqueurs.
  • Cinnamon: hot and sweet. Again this spice is excellent for the digestive system and great for the common cold accompanied by runny noses and chills. Once again this is an excellent spice to be used in curries. It is also wonderful in porridge, pickles, chutneys and smoothies (adds some warm energy to a cold drink). It is a delicious addition to stewed fruits. In baking it teams well with apples and bananas in muffins, slices and cakes. There is a schnapps called Goldschläger based on cinnamon and several spirits and liqueurs that also take advantage of the wonderful flavour of cinnamon.
  • Ginger: warm (fresh) and hot (dried), pungent and slightly sweet. Ginger is one of the great digestive herbs. It is well known for calming a nauseous stomach. This spice is versatile – fresh, it can be used it in curries, stir fry, congee, dumplings, spring rolls or almost any Asian style dish. Pickled, it is an excellent accompaniment to sushi. I love to snack on crystallised (or nude) ginger in trail mix when I go hiking. It is also a lovely addition to biscuits and cakes, including as a decoration on icing. And for a real treat, I can’t go past dark chocolate coated ginger. Dried ginger can be added to baking and in curries. I occasionally add just a sprinkle to my rice porridge. Ginger is also made into wine, beer and ale.

These spices can be combined with black tea to make chai (spiced) tea which is a comforting hot drink for a cold day, although, each spice could be used on its own as a herbal tea. Mulled wine is another way to combine these spices to make a warming red wine beverage. Of course, it should only be consumed in moderation. I have a nice recipe for cardamom and ginger biscuits here.

What are your favourite winter warmers?

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, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Releasing the exterior: a soup to expel the common cold

spicy noodle soupWhat should you eat at the first signs of picking up the common cold? Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recommends increasing your intake of foods that are pungent in flavour, such as these:

  • onions
  • garlic
  • chili
  • mints and fragrant green leafy culinary herbs
  • ginger

You may have noticed that when you eat foods that have a pungent (spicy) nature they induce perspiration and help to loosen up blocked noses. Basically, pungent foods help us to excrete the stuck fluids in the upper and outer parts of our bodies. TCM refers to this area as the ‘exterior’, as the symptoms are not quite in the internal organs (eg. lungs) yet. Inducing perspiration and getting that blocked nose running helps to ‘release the pathogen from the exterior’. Better out than in?

While you are under attack, decrease your intake of any foods that will produce excessive phlegm or ‘tonify’ the pathogen (virus) in your system:

  • dairy
  • cold temperature and raw foods
  • animal protein
  • excessive sweet foods
  • excessive fatty foods

If your common cold comes with fever, sore throat and yellow mucous choose cooler foods such as mints and green tea.

If it is chills and clear runny mucous that are more of a problem for you choose  chili, cinnamon and ginger to warm you up.

I came across this incredibly delicious New Year Noodle Soup that ticks all of the boxes for a soup to ‘release the exterior’. I left out the cream from the topping and replaced the egg noodles with konjac noodles (popular in Japan) that are now marketed in Australia as SlimPasta. Konjac (ju ruo) is an Asian root vegetable. TCM has used it for resolving phelgm and blood stagnation. The soluble fibre absorbs water and can be shaped into a very low calorie pasta substitute. The noodles have a bland taste which makes them great for using in soups and sauces and a slightly chewier texture than a regular noodle. All in all, they were terrific in the soup.

For more information on preventing the common cold you should read: The art of war: your defences v the common cold.

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

It’s time for a detox – Traditional Chinese Medicine style

detox dietEvery now and then, maybe once or twice each year, I put myself on a detox diet.

Now I’m not one who is big on following a particular diet trend, a detox diet for me is more about establishing good eating and living habits – bringing myself back into line – back to basics – that kind of thing. It’s about prioritising what’s important – and that’s doing what makes me feel well.

Usually I get this urge after an extremely busy few months when some of my good habits have slid and I’ve been running from the clinic to social event to karate training to professional education seminar to giving a lecture while surviving on food that is far more convenient than it is worth eating. That’s when I know, it’s time to set things straight.

So my detox diet usually runs for about two or three weeks, and since I respond well to structure and routine I spell it out like this:

None of these

  • Dairy
  • Gluten and refined grains
  • Animal protein
  • Processed foods (this includes chocolate)
  • Added sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee and black tea

And plenty of these, organic where possible

  • Fresh vegetables
  • A small amount of fruit
  • Beans, peas and lentils
  • Wholegrains (non-gluten)
  • Plenty of herbs and spices (eg. ginger, garlic, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, parsley and coriander).
  • Water
  • Herbal and green teas

I take a few herbs and supplements for:

  • liver support 
  • good digestive function
  • healthy gut flora

I like to consider this as more about what you can have, and that is spoiling your body with excellent quality food that you deserve (none of that cheap, nasty processed stuff)! For me, this means I can eat as many gluten-free porridges, curries, casseroles, stir frys and soups as I like. Which is great because I love these foods.

Now, you don’t have to go without gluten grains if you don’t have a problem with them, I just feel better when I do avoid them. I’m also already a vegetarian so the meat thing isn’t a problem.

The part I struggle with most is avoiding sugar.  I have a sweet tooth and I love dark chocolate. The rest of the diet makes me stick to a good routine for two weeks and that’s long enough for me to remember my good habits and stick to them most of the time after that. I also find that if you fill up your body with good food it is very satisfying and you tend not to want the processed or sweet foods you might otherwise crave. These cravings are usually gone after only a few days. There are a few other tricks I have up my sleeve for people who struggle with sugar cravings.

A good detox program should also include some exercise, again use this as a way to set your future exercise routine.  Do exercise that you enjoy – if it’s outdoors in a green space it’s even better! Be kind to yourself during your program and add in a massage or two and some epsom salts baths.

Detox diets and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Detox diets are not part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) so this post is a little controversial.  TCM supports the body back to a healthy function but does not traditionally use therapeutic methods as a ‘clean out’, unless of course you are blocked up.  Detox diets do form part of naturopathic and ayurvedic thought.

My personal idea of a detox is not huge on the cleaning out side of things, but more on re-establishing a healthy diet and lifestyle routine. In TCM terms it’s all about supporting the Earth element – the Spleen and Stomach (or digestive system in western terms). It’s a plan for a set period of time (2-3 weeks) to get yourself back on track. I also do not subscribe to the raw food clean-out idea. A little is ok, but it depends on your constitution and you’ll probably need to see a TCM practitioner to work that out. My detox doesn’t usually include any juicing (or at least not copious amounts). When your body is functioning well, it can eliminate easily what it doesn’t need.

Detox programs aren’t for everyone.  It depends on your constitution and your signs and symptoms. I design different types of programs for my patients as individuals. Different foods, herbs, supplements and time periods. The goal is to re-establish (or establish in the first place) a healthy diet and lifestyle for a period of time that you can then stick to maybe 80% of the time thereafter.

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, exercise, food, food allergy, health, nature

Happy campers eat wholefoods

capsicum egg ringsI’ve just come back from a delightful little camping trip to Cunningham’s Gap in southern Queensland. While I really do love to rough it when I go camping, this trip was a luxury affair with a Weber Q barbecue, gas stove and gas camping oven, in addition to the traditional campfire.

bestbrook mountainThere are so many reasons why getting outdoors and going camping is good for your health.  Here’s my list.

camping vego breakfastIn between the horse riding, hiking through the beautiful forest of the Scenic Rim and taking afternoon naps, we cooked and ate some really great food altogether as a big group of friends.  There wasn’t a tin of baked beans or packet of Deb (instant potato mash) to be seen. And you don’t need the fancy cooking gear to cook like this – a campfire, butane stove, hot plate and a few pots will go a long way.

So here’s a snapshot of just some of the great wholesome camping food (all with vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options) we enjoyed on this trip:

  • Tofu and vegetable Thai red curry with rice (plus there was enough leftovers for lunch the next day).
  • Peanut butter, avocado and salad gluten-free wraps.
  • Scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and potatoes cooked on the barbecue.
  • A ‘hangi’ style meal with loads of vegetables: sweet potato, potato, pumpkin and corn served with a grilled chickpea and spinach patty.
  • Leftover vegies from the hangi meal cooked into bubble and squeak, with mushrooms and eggs cooked in capsicum rings on the barbecue (pictured).
  • Gluten-free chocolate berry cake baked in the gas camping oven for dessert.

Have you got some tasty camping recipes based on whole foods? I’d love to know about them.

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, nature

When to choose organic foods?

Dirty dozen foodsOrganic is the buzz word of the moment and everything from granny smith apples to tinned kidney beans to chicken breast fillets to cabernet sauvignon to body wash to tampons to cotton socks has an organic tag on it.

What does ‘organic’ really mean anyway?  (For anyone who remembers their grade 8 chemistry, ‘organic’ in a produce context refers to much more than the presence of carbon.)

According to Australian Organic, “organic produce is grown and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers, or GMOs with a focus on environmentally sustainable practices. Organic food is not just chemical-free. Organic farmers take a holistic approach to food production and handling, and the whole system is linked – Soil. Plants. Animals. Food. People. Environment. Health.”

As the term ‘organic’ is banded around by many companies to sell their wares, a savvy consumer will look for the term ‘certified organic’ to confirm that their produce is exactly that.  This is an excellent guide to understanding certified organic produce (e.g. food, clothing and cosmetics).

The downside of organic produce is that it can be more expensive than regular produce.  This lovely little guide (above) was produced to let you know which foods are the most pesticide heavy and so are best bought from organic producers.  It also lets you know which foods you can purchase from regular suppliers if price or availability is a factor in your buying decision.

But, when in doubt, choose organic.  It’s good for you, the farmers and your planet.

I’ve always loved Food Connect as a community supported agriculture (CSA) supplier of in-season organic fruit, vegetables and a wide range of other delicious produce.  Food Connect operates throughout South East Queensland and Sydney.

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

A heart warming curry and sweet tropical treat for Valentine’s Day

heart chilliThis week I leafed through a few of my vegetarian recipe books looking for inspiration for something interesting to make for a special someone.  Neither of us tolerate dairy well, so dairy-free was a must.  But really, I was searching for a menu that was flavoursome, fragrant and delicious.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the heart is represented by the fire element.  The temperature of the fire element is hot – warming and spicy – it builds our Yang energy (our internal fire), think of chilli, onions, garlic, ginger and the myriad of spices we have at our finger tips in the modern kitchen.  Interestingly, the corresponding emotion is joy.  Have you ever felt grumpy when eating a perfectly spiced dish?

What first caught my eye was a recipe for dessert: tropical fruit sushi.  This sounds weird but looks divine, and was the perfect mix of sweet rice, coconut, spice and the last of summer’s mangoes.

Continuing with the tropical Asian inspired theme, I chose a vegetarian Penang curry for the main course and tweaked the recipe to suit my preferences, maximising produce from my very own balcony herb garden.

Okay, so these weren’t cooked and eaten on Valentine’s Day, but I thought you might like to take advantage of these ideas for a romantic meal (even if it’s just for you – I’m all for spoiling oneself!)

Here are the recipes:

Eggplant and tofu Penang curry

Ingredients

  • 2 large red chillies (seeded and sliced)
  • 2 lemongrass stalks (white part chopped into 1 cm pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 400g cans coconut milk
  • 2 cups snow peas (trimmed)
  • 2 cups eggplant (cubed, salted, washed and dried)
  • 200g tofu (sliced and fried)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons basil, sliced

Method

  1. Blend chillies, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and salt in a food processor until herbs resemble a thick paste.  Add a little of the coconut milk to help this process.
  2. Add the paste to a saucepan and fry a little until fragrant.  Add coconut milk, eggplant and tofu, simmer.
  3. When eggplant is almost cooked add snow peas.
  4. Season with soy sauce and maple syrup, stir well.  Cook just until snow peas are tender.
  5. Serve with steamed rice and top with basil.

Tropical fruit sushi

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sushi rice
  • 150mL coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons caster sugar*
  • 1 mango
  • 4cm  fresh ginger (grated finely)

Method

  1. Boil rice with just enough water to cover it and allow to simmer for 3 minutes.  Drain.
  2. Then line a steamer with muslin, add rice and steam for 12-15 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Transfer the rice to a small saucepan and mix with coconut milk, nutmeg and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 6 minutes and rice mixture is thick and creamy.  Cool.
  4. Line a baking dish (18 x 25 cm)with cling wrap leaving enough at the edges to wrap over the top.
  5. When rice is cool spread into the baking tray at about 2 cm thick.  Smooth the top.  Fold cling wrap over the top. Refrigerate.
  6. Slice mango thinly and cut into small rectangles (2 x 4 cm).  You’ll need 16 pieces.
  7. In a small saucepan combine remaining 4 tablespoons of caster sugar with 1/2 cup water to make sugar syrup*.  Stir over a low heat until combined, then bring to the boil for 2 minutes until syrupy. Remove from heat and add mango and ginger.  Cool.
  8. Slice rice into 4 x 2 cm slices.  Top each slice with a piece of mango.  Drizzle with ginger syrup on the serving plate.

*The sugar syrup can be made with stevia instead – here is a recipe although you’ll only need 1/2 cup so reduce the recipe to an eighth.

Another idea for a love inspired sweet are these red bean heart biscuits.

And if you are not feeling the love, maybe Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you find your happy heart again.

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.