Diet, food, food allergy, herbal medicine, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Make your own Vietnamese rice paper rolls

IMG_1734We’ve been experiencing some sky high temperatures in Brisbane this summer, with more to come. Now, Chinese medicine usually frowns upon a large intake of raw and cold temperature foods but on days like today fresh, raw food is incredibly cooling and refreshing. If you want to know more about how to live well in Summer (including some cooling tips) click here.

So, I’ve been making some vegetarian rice paper rolls. These can be easily adapted to include the vegies that you like best – you can use my recipe just as a suggestion. My rice paper rolls recipe is vegetarian but you can substitute the tofu for organic chicken or duck if that is your preference.

Cucumber, lettuce and mint are considered to be thermally cold in Chinese medicine and that’s exactly why we’re using them on such a hot day. I like to team them up with some warming herbs including basil and coriander and a sauce that includes some fresh grated ginger and chilli to support the spleen and stomach (digestive system) with the extra burden of harder to digest raw food. So pay attention to your own body folks, and adjust the amount of raw food you eat that makes you feel well. Those with weak digestive systems or a tendency to ‘feel the cold’ would most likely do well to limit the raw food.

But back to the rice paper rolls (and they are gluten and dairy-free too) – here’s the recipe:

Vegetarian rice paper rolls

Ingredients

Vary the ingredient quantities to make the amount of rolls that you require. It’s easy to prepare some more salad ingredients as you go if you run short.

  • Rice papers (round, Vietnamese ones) – you’ll need 2 per finished roll
  • Lettuce leaves, medium size (can be fancy lettuces – mix it up with some different colours and varieties)
  • Carrot, grated
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced and about 10cm long
  • Yellow capsicum, thinly sliced. (Optional)
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Tofu, pre-fried. Cut into thin slices.
  • Mint leaves, about 3-5 per roll
  • Basil leaves, 2-4 per roll
  • Coriander leaves, sliced and sprinkle on each roll. (Optional)

Method

  1. Add some warm water to a large bowl.
  2. Soak a rice paper in the water for a few seconds and place on a clean, flat surface. Repeat with another rice paper and place it on top of the first rice paper.
  3. Lie a lettuce leaf in the half closest to you on the rice paper.
  4. Then top with some carrot,  cucumber and capsicum. IMG_1715
  5. Add on top the avocado and tofu slices. IMG_1716
  6. Then place a few mint, basil and coriander leaves on top. IMG_1717
  7. Roll the rice paper end that is closest to you over the top squeezing the ingredients in tightly*. Roll away from you and tuck the sides in before you have finished rolling it up.IMG_1720
  8. Repeat until you have made as many rice paper rolls as you desire. You can then serve them whole or slice them in half on an angle.  IMG_1724

*When you first start making these it will take a few attempts to get the filling quantity and rolling technique right, but once you have it these are easy to make.

A quick dipping sauce can be made with a dash of tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), sweet chilli sauce, rice wine vinegar and freshly grated ginger. Set the quantities to suit your own taste.IMG_1729

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.

aromatherapy, Diet, emotional health, fertility, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

In the summertime… you have these good living tips on your mind.

It’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere! And so here’s a cliché summery tune to put you in the mood – just press play as you read on…

I recently attended a workshop on living with the seasons and the theme of course, was summer – and how to do it well. Chinese Medicine places great importance on living with the seasons to optimise our health in the present but also in the seasons to come.

Here’s a few ideas on living well this season. Pick and choose the ones you like to make sure that you absorb a year’s supply of summer energy (or yang) while it is abundant.

Summer is all about these (and this is not conclusive and they are in no particular order):

  • hibiscusPleasure.
  • Blossoming. Showing your true, wonderful self to the world.
  • The Fire element. Red. Heart. Small Intestine. Bitter foods. Joy.
  • Fertility. Bearing fruit.
  • Watching thunderstorms.
  • Abundant yang.
  • Nourishment.
  • Walking barefoot on the sand and grass.
  • Sips of iced peppermint tea. (Cold drinks in moderation.)
  • Stargazing.
  • Soaking up a little sun. (How much do you need in your region?)
  • Prosperity and beauty.
  • Social butterflies. Extroversion.
  • Siestas.
  • An open mind, curiosity and an optimistic mood.
  • Rosewater, mint and cooling aromatherapy face & body mists.
  • Colourful, light and flowing clothing.
  • Pretty frocks.
  • Outdoor dinner parties.
  • A slice of fruit after a meal.

Not everyone loves the summer. Think of what makes you more comfortable in hot weather and prepare yourself in late spring or early summer with these:

  • A change in diet. Lighter, more cooling foods with bitter and acrid flavours. Read more about summer eating.
  • Lighter sheets and bedclothes.
  • A fan.
  • Earlier to rise, later to bed with an after-lunch nap if you can.
  • A change in wardrobe or at least storing your winter wardrobe away.
  • A new hat and/or sunglasses.
  • Getting close to (or in) the ocean, a lake or river.
  • Be most physically active in the coolest parts of the day.
  • Resist the urge to spend the whole day in airconditioning – get some summer air each day.
  • It’s okay to perspire but be sure to rehydrate by increasing your water intake.
  • Chat to your Chinese Medicine practitioner if you are still struggling to embrace the summer.

What does summer mean to you? And what tips do you have to enjoy the summer?

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.

aromatherapy

Spritz yourself cool with essential oils

peppermint leavesIt’s a very hot day today in Brisbane.  Some parts of South East Queensland are expected to hit 41°C.  Scorching hot!

I’m sitting at my computer marking my Musculoskeletal Acupuncture students’ assignment papers and struggling to think, my brain has sizzled.  However, a few brain cells must still be functioning as they’ve reminded me about some aromatherapy spritzers I used to make in my late teens for staying cool on a hot day.

Make this spritzer up, spray on your face and body, then stand in front of the fan.  Refreshed! Repeat as often as necessary.

Remember to use 100% pure essential oils (they should be labelled this way with the botanical name of the plant) in your spritzer, as you don’t want to be inhaling any more artificial chemicals than you are already subjected to and the therapeutic effects will only come from pure plant oils, not cheap  and nasty chemical fragrances.  My preference is Sunspirit Oils.  I’ve toured their testing laboratory recently (and also worked for them many moons ago) and was very impressed with the attention to quality of their therapeutic essential oils.

So here are a few recipes for your spritzer bottles.

Add to a 50mL spritzer bottle:

  • 45mL purified water
  • 1 tsp (5mL) vodka (I know, a waste, but it will help to disperse the oils)
  • 15 drops of essential oils, which could include your choice of:
  1. 6 drops lemon, 5 drops lavender and 4 drops peppermint
  2. 6 drops lime, 5 drops spearmint and 4 drops geranium
  3. Ultra cooling blend: 5 drops peppermint, 5 drops spearmint and 5 drops eucalyptus

Shake the bottle (each time before use), spritz away and chill out. Keep your spritzer in the fridge for even more of a cooling effect.

Still feeling hot?  Here are some ways to eat yourself cool – seriously.

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

Drying the damp: feeling well in humid climates

This week in Brisbane the heat and humidity have picked up and it’s no surprise that summer is just around the corner.

Humidity has a tendency to make many of us feel:

  • Heavy
  • Lethargic
  • Fluidy
  • Sweaty and sticky (a skin nightmare!) – use this scrub recipe
  • Unmotivated
  • Irritable or melancholy
  • Foggy headed
  • Not hungry, and yet still craving comfort foods and drinks
  • Nauseous and/or prone to loose bowels

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we refer to this syndrome as ‘dampness’.  That is, humidity from the environment, our lifestyle and diet has accumulated in our body and become stagnant, making us feel… bleh.

So, if this sounds like you in humid weather, what can be done?

  1. Keep moving – keep up the exercise even when you feel heavy and unmotivated, it will help you feel better.  Don’t sit for too long, get up regularly.
  2. Stay dry – don’t sit around in sweaty clothes or wet swimsuits.  Towel off properly and get changed.  Also be aware of your living, working and playing environments – are they well ventilated and dry?
  3. Keep up your fluids – it may sound counterproductive to drink more water (2-3L) but we need to promote urination to pass the excess fluid from your system.  That is, clean fluids going in so we can wash away the stagnant ones.
  4. Eat small meals, regularly, and make your lightest meal in the evening.  Don’t overeat.
  5. Reduce sweet, oily, rich and dairy foods – An icy soft drink, creamy gelati or fresh mango may seem like just the treat to give you a refreshing pick up but it will probably have the opposite effect, making you feel heavier and more lethargic than you were before.  Steer clear of  soft drinks, fruit juices, milk shakes, smoothies, ice cream, excessive high-sugar tropical fruits (eg. mangoes and bananas), fatty meats and greasy fried foods.  Before you get upset that I have taken your mango away (because let’s face it, they are delicious), a slice or two after a meal with a slice or two of pawpaw or pineapple is fine for aiding your digestion, we just shouldn’t go crazy on them.  While we are at it, an excessive intake of grains (eg. pasta dishes) will add to the damp feeling.
  6. Eat more light, bitter and pungent foods – these are what you can eat and will help your body reduce excessive fluids that are being held.  Make sure to eat small, light meals that include some ginger, garlic, onions, chili, caraway seeds, aduki (red beans) beans, mung beans, bitter leafy greens, alfalfa sprouts, celery and rye (if gluten is ok). A squeeze of lemon or lime in your food and water will be refreshing. Diuretic teas – nettle leaf,  dandelion, corn silk (here is a recipe on how to make it) and green teas are useful – drink them like they are water.  Barley water can also make for a refreshing diuretic drink, although not for the  gluten intolerant.
  7. Herbs and acupuncture – if the humidity is still knocking you around and the thought of doing anything on this list is beyond you, get some professional help from a herbalist or acupuncturist.  They will choose the right herbs (often bitters) and acupoints to kickstart moving the dampness so that you can then get back on track with the lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

If it’s more the heat than the humidity that is getting to you – here’s some ideas to help you feel cooler.

Eating a diet to resolve dampness isn’t fun.  But neither is feeling heavy, lethargic and unmotivated.  So, do what you can, keep moving and if you can make even just a few of the dietary recommendations you should feel lighter and brighter to enjoy this summer.

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

Eating to be cool, when you’re hot

sunSummer may have taken a little longer to manifest in Queensland this year, but now it’s out in force.  Hot and humid!  And that can play havoc in your body with headaches, lack of appetite or a ravenous appetite, nausea, fatigue, strong thirst, irritability and sweat pimples (here’s my favourite treat for clear skin).  Oh, what joy!

Food is one of the great delights in life, so how can we use it to survive summer heat? Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) classifies foods by their impact on your body according to their temperatures and actions, as opposed to western nutrition which classifies foods by their nutritional content.  Both systems have merit and even often overlap but today I’ve featured some summer eating tips from TCM.

To cool your body down, ditch these:

  • caffeine
  • excessive spicy (hot) and pungent foods
  • excessive sweet foods
  • red meat
  • fried, grilled, roasted and barbequed foods
  • alcohol
  • overeating

To increase ‘coolness’ in your body, increase these:

  • Steamed, boiled, blanched and raw (in moderation if they don’t upset your digestive system) foods and soups.
  • Fresh foods especially cucumber (- cool as a), celery, mung beans, spinach, greens, mint, watermelon, tomato, radish, asparagus, eggplant and bamboo shoots.
  • Bitter foods, eg. lettuce, alfalfa, pawpaw, quinoa and amaranth.
  • Salty foods (in moderation), eg. seaweed, soy sauce, miso and pickles.
  • Sour foods, eg. lemon, lime, grapefruit, vinegar, star fruit, strawberries, apple and raspberry.
  • Proteins such as tofu, tempeh, egg white,  white fish and crab.
  • Herbs and spices such as mint, lemon balm, white peppercorn, coriander and marjoram.
  • Herbal and iced teas made from peppermint, chrysanthemum and rose petals.
  • My old favourite, add a squeeze of fresh lemon to your drinking water and keep those fluids up.

Now, who said cooling foods should be boring?  This food list screams out a chance to enjoy some delicious vietnamese and other south-east asian dishes, not to mention Japanese miso soups and seaweed-based meals.

Is the humidity also bringing you down?  Here’s some tips to feel less ‘damp’.

Enjoy, and stay cool!

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.