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.

food, food allergy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Choc-chilli cookies: gluten & dairy free

choc-chilli cookiesOn my last curry night I made two desserts featuring spices sometimes used in curry: cardamom coconut cake and chilli-choc cookies.

The cookies tasted like a delicious chocolate biscuit followed with a chilli burn. Not for the faint-hearted. Although, you can always just decrease the chilli if it’s not your thing. It is my thing – I love the chilli sizzle. And chocolate and chilli are a match made in heaven. I am also a big fan of chilli chocolate chai.

Chilli has many uses in Chinese Medicine dietetics. Used fresh it can warm you up to the point of breaking a sweat, which then actually has a cooling effect on the body.This is an excellent treatment for the early stages of a common cold – we call it releasing the exterior. Think about the effect of a spicy vietnamese soup (pho). Dried chilli has a warmer action (and if you don’t use it in sweat producing quantities) it can be an excellent spice to use to warm you up on cold days. Think about soups, casseroles and curries.

But for now, the cookie recipe. I converted this wonderful recipe I found over to be gluten and dairy-free, adapted the sweeteners and added a ginger centrepiece to each cookie.

Choc-chilli cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder added
  • 20g cocoa
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder (you can increase or decrease this)
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 50g butter or dairy-free alternative
  • 50g maple syrup
  • Uncrystallised ‘naked‘ ginger, cut into square slices

Method 

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Grease two baking trays.
  3. Sift flour, cocoa, bicarb and chilli powder.  Mix well.
  4. Add butter in spoonfuls and rub through with fingers until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  5. Add sugar and stir through.
  6. Add maple syrup and combine. You may need your hands for this.
  7. Take teaspoons of the mixture and roll into small balls and place on greased baking trays. Leave adequate room for cookies to expand in the oven. Flatten slightly. Poke a slice of ginger into the top of each biscuit.choc-chilli cookies uncooked
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  9. Transfer to cooling rack after they have been out of the oven for 5 minutes.

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, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Choc-orange-ginger truffles – gluten & dairy free

choc trufflesI whipped up these delightful sweet treats several weekends ago. (My! How time flies!) I really do have a soft spot for chocolate and these are a great way to indulge my craving without any dairy or a large amount of added sugar. Plus the flavours are to die for!

Orange, ginger, cardamom, almond, cashew, hazelnut. They were all made to be blended with chocolate.

Luckily, these little truffles are also rich enough that you can’t eat too many in one sitting. And they are best shared with friends after dinner.

“What are the Traditional Chinese Medicine functions attributed to cardamom and ginger?”, I hear you ask. All is revealed here.

Choc-orange-ginger truffle recipe

Ingredients

  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 50g raw cashews
  • 50g hazelnut flour
  • 100g dried pitted dates
  • juice of one orange (about 3 tablespoons)
  • grated zest of one orange
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2-3 green cardamom pods, ground
  • Uncrystallised ‘naked‘ ginger, cut into small pieces (1/2cm²)
  • Additional hazelnut meal and dessicated coconut for rolling

Method

  1. Add almonds and cashews to food processor and blend until ground. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add dates to food processor and blend until they resemble a paste. Add dates to nut mix.
  3. To nut and date mix, add orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup, cocoa and ground cardamom. Mix into a thick paste. Add hazelnut meal gradually to make mixture a good consistency for rolling.
  4. Take two plates and to one add desiccated coconut, and to the other add hazelnut meal. These will be for rolling the truffles in.
  5. Take a heaped teaspoonful of mixture and roll into a ball. Insert a piece of ginger into the middle of each ball and roll until smooth on the outside. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used. Then roll each ball in either coconut or hazelnut meal.
  6. Chill until ready to serve.

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

Chocolate strawberry tart – gluten & dairy free

During a cooking disaster one must remember this!

Last weekend I tried out a dish I have been curious about for ages. It was one of those chocolate avocado tarts that the vegans and raw food enthusiasts of the interweb claim to be as good as chocolate mousse. I’m neither vegan nor a raw foodie but am interested in dairy-free chocolate alternatives.

A found a recipe for one in a book I had at home which claimed it “had gained a reputation” in the town in which the author lived. Sounded like a winner.

This tart was to be consumed at a Saturday night gathering of some of my dearest acupuncture friends. And I have to say that the original chocolate avocado mix was a disaster! It tasted just as appetising as chocolate mixed with avocado sounds. So with much tinkering I resurrected it into the tart you find here. Still not confident that this was up-to-scratch to serve to my foodie health professional friends I considered swinging past the local shops for an emergency offering of a box of chocolates, just in case but ran out of time. I was lucky that being August in Queensland we have an abundance of fresh strawberries, some of which had been sold to me in a big punnet the day before at the clinic, fresh from the farm. These would have to do.

The funny thing was that everyone at the gathering had experienced either cooking or take-away food disasters (which all turned out well in the end) for the food brought along that night. I wasn’t alone.

The tart once significantly tinkered with, refridgerated, then popped into the freezer briefly, decorated with strawberries and topped with toasted shredded coconut was actually quite popular. I was shocked and relieved. A comment was even made that if I hadn’t mentioned that avocado was an ingredient they would not have been able to tell.

Being a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, I couldn’t resist including (un)crystallised ginger to the base and ground cinnamon and ginger to the chocolate mix to enhance the digestibility, warmth and balance to what is essentially a very cold, rich, yin-style dessert.

So here you go, the significantly-tinkered-with-recipe that was almost a disaster but turned out to be quite delicious in the end (as pictured):

Chocolate strawberry tart

Strawberry chocolate tart webIngredients:

Base:

Filling:

  • 150g  organic, fair trade dark chocolate (70-85%)
  • 4 small avocados
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter (I used almond, brazil and cashew nut butter)
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

Topping:

  • Large punnet of fresh strawberries, sliced.
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Method:

  1. Grease a tart dish.
  2. Gently toast almonds and coconut until golden in pan.
  3. Add to food processor and blend. Add dates and ginger pieces to almonds and coconut. Blend until mixture sticks together. Add some extra dates if mixture is not sticky enough.
  4. Add mixture to tart dish and spread evenly over base and sides, using your clean fist to press mixture down firmly. Put aside.
  5. Melt chocolate in a bowl over simmering water.
  6. Blend avocados in clean food processor until smooth. Add in melted chocolate, nut butter, maple syrup, ginger and cinnamon, blend until mixed well.
  7. Spoon chocolate avocado mix into tart base and smooth on top.
  8. Refridgerate until 30 minutes prior to serving.
  9. Gently toast shredded coconut until golden. Remove from pan and set aside for topping.
  10. Place tart in freezer for 30 minutes then top with sliced fresh strawberries and toasted shredded coconut.

If you so desire, you may serve this tart with cream (or a dairy-free substitute) with a touch of cointreau.

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

Choc-ginger-hazelnut biscuits

choc ginger hazelnut biscuitsThis weekend just gone I wanted to work through a few ingredients that were floating around in my pantry taking up space. It gave me the perfect opportunity to test run these rich and chewy chocolate almond cookies with a few of my own modifications. All of the ingredients I already had at home and the whole recipe took about 20 minutes from prep to eating time.

For the chocoholics among us, sometimes you need something on hand for a chocolate fix to prevent you from reaching that bit too often for those high sugar, low quality, impulse buy chocolates on offer. You need something with more protein, higher fibre and the option to control the sugar content that still hits the spot! These little biscuits do the job nicely in next to no time and with minimal washing up to do. Win-win!

Ginger is an excellent digestive herb and enhances digestion of the rich nut and cocoa ingredients. I could eat ginger with just about anything – read more about my thoughts on ginger and its many uses here.

Choc-ginger-hazelnut biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hazelnut meal
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup sugar/stevia blend (or 1/2 cup sugar or suitable sugar substitute)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons dark choc chips (dairy-free if desired)
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallised ginger

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line or grease two baking trays.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl.
  3. Add egg whites and vanilla extract to dry ingredients, stir until mixture has an even consistency.
  4. Add choc chips and ginger, mix through.
  5. Roll dessertspoonfuls into balls and flatten with a fork on baking trays.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool on baking tray.

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, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Gluten and dairy-free fruit and nut slice

fruit and nut sliceI’ve been asked a few times this week for my fruit and nut muesli slice recipe. These little delights are a life saver when I’m in a hurry to get out the door and need a quick snack that is gluten and dairy free, with low added sugar. Have them on hand so that you aren’t tempted by the things you know you shouldn’t be snacking on. Plus they are so much tastier than the ones you can buy with the added benefit that you can vary the fruits, nuts and seeds to those that you like most.

When selecting your fruits and nuts for the slice you might like to consider some of their general Traditional Chinese Medicine properties:

  • Almonds – moistens the lungs and large intestine, supports digestion
  • Figs – supports digestion, moistens the lungs and large intestine
  • Ginger – warms and supports the digestive system, relieves nausea
  • Goji berries (wolfberries) – moisten the body, nourish the blood
  • Red dates – energy tonic, nourishes the blood, supports digestion
  • Sultanas – energy tonic, nourishes the blood
  • Cherries – warming for the digestive system, nourishes the blood
  • Walnuts – warming and moistening generally, supports cognitive and  reproductive function

And here’s a little thought for those of us who find ourselves in a hurry a lot of the time.

Breathe.

And now here is your recipe…

Gluten & dairy-free fruit and nut slice

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal
  • A big pinch of Celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/s tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, liquefied
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of shredded or desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup of mixed seeds of your choice (eg. pepitas, sunflower seeds)
  • 1/4 cup nuts of your choice, crushed (eg. almonds, pecans, walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruits of your choice (eg. goji berries, blueberries, sour cherries, cranberries, figs, crystallised ginger)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Grease and line a 20cm x 20cm baking tin.
  3. Combine almond meal, salt, baking soda and mixed spice in a large bowl.
  4. In a jug mix coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
  5. Pour liquids into the dry ingredients bowl and mix well.
  6. Add coconut, seeds, nuts and dried fruits, mix well.
  7. Spoon mixture into tin and use a clean fist to firm it into an even layer.
  8. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  9. Cool on a rack. Cut into squares or muesli bar shapes to suit your preference.

I suspect this recipe would also make excellent biscuits if heaped teaspoonfuls of the uncooked mixture was rolled and flattened onto a greased tray for baking. If  you do this let me know how it goes!

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.