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.

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.

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

The Traditional Chinese Medicine word on GORD

yinyangfoodsLast semester I researched gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) for my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) masters program. Here’s a summary:

What causes GORD?

GORD affects around 25% of the adult population on a regular basis. The disease is characterised by heartburn and gastric acid reflux. Standard care for GORD includes medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and prokinetic drugs although their success rate is relative to the cause of the individual’s condition and these medications are often associated with complications from long term use.

GORD has been linked to a variety of genetic, dietary and lifestyle factors. An Iranian study identified that GORD was significantly more likely to occur in individuals who had:

  • a higher pickle consumption
  • psychological distress
  • dyspepsia
  • halitosis
  • nightmares
  • restlessness
  • took aspirin
  • a family history of GORD.
  • smoking caused an increase in the prevalence of GORD however this was not significant (p=0.055).
  • Other studies have shown that a high body mass index (BMI) can increase the risk of GORD.

Factors that significantly decreased an individual’s risk of GORD included having a higher fruit and vegetable (fibre) intake and interestingly, a higher fried food intake.

Descending the rebellious ‘reflux’ Qi

TCM places particular importance on eating meals at regular times, in moderate quantities and at a relaxed pace so as not to disturb the downward flow through organs of the digestive system, particularly the Stomach.

In TCM, it is the Stomach that is the first organ to receive the food to be digested. It is known as ‘the origin of fluids’ and is said to prefer foods which are moist to assist in the lubrication of the digestive system and a general function of providing moisture for the body. The energy (or Qi) that is extracted from the food strengthens the whole body but is particularly reflected in the limbs. The process of worrying or overthinking while eating will stagnate or drain the energy of the digestive system, disrupting good digestive processes.

Primarily GORD is classified as a disorder of the descending function of the Stomach Qi resulting in Rebellious Qi. The rebellious Qi moves in an upward direction causing the characteristic burning sensation in the epigastrium and acid regurgitation. There are various reasons why your gastric acid may move upwards rather than staying in your Stomach where it belongs.

How to put out the fire of heart burn

Discuss your condition with your practitioner. They will be able to assess your individual condition and offer an individualised treatment plan which may include:

  • Acupuncture: Several acupuncture studies have shown promising results and some acupuncture points have been studied to identify a mechanism of action for GORD treatment. Acupuncture has been shown to increase the effectiveness of PPIs when used concurrently in the treatment of GORD.
  • Herbal medicine: TCM and Kampo herbal formulae may offer relief for GORD. Meadowsweet and slippery elm powder are often the western herbalist’s herbs of choice for GORD.
  • Reduce your risk factors: decrease pickles in the diet, address psychological stress and dyspepsia, discuss your aspirin use with your doctor, stop smoking and maintain a healthy BMI. Increase your fruit and vegetable consumption.
  • Mindful eating: eat regular meals in a relaxed manner until you are about 80% full.
  • Relaxation: Find ways to eliminate the causes of stress (where you can) in your life and learn to ways to unwind. This may include meditation, yoga, massage, acupuncture or seeking psychological counselling.

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, fertility, food, food allergy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Vegetarian quiche: a tasty gluten & dairy-free recipe

quicheOn the weekend I gave this paleo quiche recipe a whirl. I have to say that I was mightily impressed.

The great thing about the paleolithic diet is that they don’t use grains or dairy and so us gluten and dairy-free people can borrow their recipes.

Even though you have to make the base (which is made from almond meal, eggs and fresh herbs), it’s still quite a quick and easy recipe.

I doubled the zucchini and onion in the recipe – but would love to try this recipe with some sweet potato and maybe some olives to add  sweet and salty flavours to the recipe, plus some extra colour. I’d also add another one or two eggs to the filling to have it rise a little higher on the base when cooked. Use coconut oil instead of butter in the base if you are doing the dairy-free version.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, this quiche is a Yin and Blood nourishing dish. The almonds are moistening for the digestive system and lungs, and the eggs nourish the fluids and blood of the body (particularly they are noted as a female reproductive organ tonic). If you want to nourish the Blood further, add spinach or kale to this recipe.

The base was delicious and minus the savoury herbs would make an excellent base for a sweet fruit tart. This will be my next cooking experiment and I shall report back! Watch this space…

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.

acupuncture, Diet, emotional health, food, food allergy, health, herbal medicine, massage, mental health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Irritable bowel syndrome: feeling better with complementary medicine

I see many patients each week who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The good news is that I often find that with some good questioning and an individualised treatment plan covering the multiple aspects of this condition, a patient’s abdominal pain and bowel habits often respond for the better.

IBS is the most common digestive condition that patients seek help for and, believe it or not, accounts for up to a third of visits to gastroenterologists.

IBS is diagnosed by eliminating other disorders through medical testing.  An IBS diagnosis is made when a patient has recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort for at least three days of the last three months and at least two symptoms from the following:

  • Improvement of pain with bowel movement
  • Onset associated with a change in the stool frequency
  • Onset associated with a change in the stool consistency

The causes of IBS are poorly understood and so this means that conventional treatment is targeted towards reducing the symptoms. Interestingly, it is antidepressant medications that seem to offer the most relief to IBS patients from the pharmaceutical model.  Additionally, antispasmodics and anti-diarrhoeal medications are often trialed.

There are many natural therapies that have been used traditionally for digestive conditions and some of these treatments have shown statistically significant results in clinical trials.

  • Herbal medicine and nutrition therapy do have plenty to offer a patient with IBS and this is backed by clinical trials. One of the most effective herbal remedies tested in double blind clinical trials is a herbal formula known as Iberogast. A study found that Iberogast significantly reduces abdominal pain and other IBS symptoms. I use a lot of Iberogast with my IBS patients when I feel that the formula fits their pattern and it usually brings excellent results.
  • Probiotics have also been the subject of several clinical trials and there is good evidence for their use in IBS.  They are particularly useful in patients who suffer from bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain. Probiotics enhance the gut barrier function and inhibit pathogen binding. Many probiotic strands are available, so you need to work with a practitioner to get the correct strands and dosing. In addition to supplementing with probiotics, increasing probiotic rich foods (such as yoghurt, keffir, miso, tempeh and sauerkraut) may be beneficial.
  • Fibre, particularly soluble fibre such as psyllium husks, is also supported by research for use in IBS, particularly where constipation is a predominant factor. Soluble fibres should be taken before meals for a greater impact on the lower digestive system.
  • Dietary causes play a part in IBS. It is worth having your diet assessed by your practitioner to identify if there are any foods that are aggravating your system. I often refer patients for food sensitivity testing which takes some of the guess work out of finding out which foods aggravate your symptoms and diets based on this testing have significantly reduce symptoms in clinical trials. Not all patients need to follow a dairy and gluten free diet – however this does work well for some – testing helps us to identify which foods are causing your problems.
  • One of the most important factors in treating IBS is managing stress and anxiety. Seek assistance in resolving ongoing life stresses or anxieties. Hypnosis is well supported in research for managing IBS. Additionally, choose counselling, meditation, yoga, massage and relaxation techniques to help you feel more relaxed. Acupuncture is excellent for enhancing relaxation and has been used for thousands of years for alleviating digestive pain and bowel disorders too.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has several diagnostic patterns for IBS. One of the most common is known as “Liver invading the Spleen”. Basically, this means that when feeling emotions such as frustration, resentment, irritability and anger your digestion system is weakened and your symptoms are worse. If you have this pattern you may suffer from alternating constipation and diarrhoea, and it is hard to pinpoint any foods that make your condition worse. (Here’s a little more on Liver Qi Stagnation, the precursor to Liver invading the Spleen.) It is no surprise then that it is the antidepressant medications that have shown the greatest improvement in this condition from a pharmaceutical point of view. There are many drug-free stress reduction options, and these are listed in the last bullet point above. This brain-gut connection highlights the importance of an holistic strategy in the management of IBS.

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

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.