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.

acupuncture, emotional health, health, mental health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The acupuncturist and the broken heart

Today is the 16th February, just two days after Valentine’s Day.  It’s gorgeous to see that many people are wandering around still exhibiting the after-glow generated by gifts of flowers, chocolates, champagne and time with their loved one. (Although, shouldn’t it be like this most of the time?)

Valentine’s Day, even though it’s origins are in nothing more significant than a greeting card marketing exercise, has become symbolic to many as a day to celebrate romantic love.  This day has been responsible for igniting new love, but sadly, with the pressures it brings, has also been known to be a catalyst in the demise of relationships.

Recently, I have seen several patients in my clinic, looking for support in matters of the heart.  (Yes, who would have thought it?  Acupuncture can do more than just relieve physical pain!)  So, today it seems timely to discuss ‘the broken heart’ from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective.

Break-ups are rarely ever easy, for either partner, and the emotions they conjure up can create undesired effects in our bodies.  The old saying “time heals all wounds” is applicable here as the broken-hearted embark on an emotional journey (often laced with mysterious physical symptoms like nausea or muscle tension) to mend.  When these issues do not resolve in a timely manner, professional counselling is highly recommended.

The five element theory that is deeply rooted within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) gives us some clues in treating matters of the heart.  This theory pairs the organs of the body with emotional states.  Whilst, the heart is seen as the organ that is tied to our ‘spirit’, many other organs are also tied to common emotions that may be experienced following a break up.  I should point out here, that in TCM each organ is given some additional ‘energetic’ functions in addition to their biomedical functions so you can have a TCM ‘liver disorder’ without having a physical liver problem.

So, simply and generally put, the five elements can explain some of the mental and physical symptoms of a broken heart as follows:

  • Fire Element – Heart and pericardium – the pericardium is the protector of the heart and emotionally characterised by feeling anxious or a lack of joy.  Physical symptoms may include insomnia, palpitations or inappropriate behaviour.
  • Wood Element – Liver – for feelings of anger, ‘stuckness’, resentment, irritation, frustration, depression and mood swings.  Physical symptoms may include neck and shoulder tension, chest tightness, nausea and digestive disorders that have a direct correlation to your emotional state.
  • Earth Element – Spleen & Stomach – for feelings of worry, obsessive thoughts and inability to concentrate.  Physical symptoms may include lack of appetite, low energy, digestive disorders and sweet cravings.
  • Metal Element – Lungs – when grief and sadness are the principal feelings surrounding the break-up.  Physical symptoms may include low energy, respiratory disorders, concave chest posture, weak voice and skin problems.
  • Water Element – Kidneys – when fear is a primary emotion.  Physical symptoms may include poor memory, urinary problems, reproductive system disorders and lower back ache.

Through discussing a person’s emotional and physical symptoms an individualised acupuncture treatment for supporting someone with ‘love sickness’ can be designed.  It would usually include some lifestyle advice so that the patient may begin to take control of their own situation and feel better, more quickly, between treatments.  I have seen many patients respond well to acupuncture treatment in gaining clarity of mind and renewed energy allowing them to face their new path with enthusiasm.

What to do now? Check out my five Chinese Medicine tips for mending a broken heart.

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.