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.

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.

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.

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, food, food allergy, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Delicious vegetarian nachos (gluten and dairy free)

nachosOne of the areas my patients seem to struggle with is how to eat well when life is busy. Limited time means that eating wholesome, healthy, homemade food can seem out of reach and so it becomes that fast food is an easy replacement if the meal isn’t skipped altogether.

I’d suggest having a few quick and easy recipes up your sleeve for busy nights when you don’t have time to cook your ideal healthy homemade meal.  (Here‘s some other ideas for anyone who finds being busy and healthy mutually exclusive.)

My first fall back is an omelette packed with veggies. It’s fast and nutritious. Here’s my recipe.

Another quick meal is vegetarian nachos. I try to squeeze in as many nutritious foods as I can into these. I’ve ditched the dairy (no sour cream or cheese here) and well, these nachos are bulked up with so many other great ingredients that you just don’t need it.  Plus, they are so much tastier than any nachos I’ve had anywhere else.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective I see this as a yin and blood nourishing meal.  The red kidney beans, spinach and tomato mix support the blood. Avocado provides good oils for the body and nourish our yin. The chili and onion are pungent and warm aiding the digestion of the richer, cooler and more nourishing ingredients.  From a nutritional perspective, this meal is full of fibre and contains a good serve of vegetarian protein.  The lycopene in cooked tomatoes are particularly good for prostate health in men.

Ingredients

  • Organic corn chips
  • Kidney beans (best case scenario: soaked the night before and cooked, otherwise 1 can of organic canned kidney beans)
  • Cooked tomatoes (here’s a nice way to replace canned tomatoes to avoid the BPA lining in the can, otherwise 1 can of organic diced tomatoes)
  • Organic salsa (as hot as you like it), 1 jar
  • Avocado
  • Half a lemon
  • Half a red onion, finely diced
  • Baby spinach leaves

Method

  1. In a small saucepan mix and heat kidney beans and tomatoes.
  2. Mash avocado with onion and squeeze lemon juice into mix.
  3. Spread half the corn chips onto a large plate and top with spinach leaves.
  4. Spoon half of the hot tomato and kidney bean mix over the corn chips.
  5. Top with half a jar of salsa.
  6. Lastly, serve with half the avocado mix on top.

You should have enough of the corn chips, bean mix, salsa and avocado mix to make a second serve.

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, health, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Quick & easy Japanese-style rice-egg breakfast

IMG_0376This week I’ve finally got my act together and started riding to work again.  It really is the best way to get to work (and here’s why). However, this transport method has always presented a breakfast challenge for me, as I leave early in the morning and really do love a hot, fancy breakfast (following the Traditional Chinese Medicine view on meals that is – “eat breakfast as an emperor“).

But, I’m incredibly pleased to report that I have found the hot and fancy cook-at-work breakfast solution: tamago kake gohan (translated as “egg sauce over rice”). I ate this dish when I was training in karate and exploring traditional medicine in Japan last year and loved it.  A gorgeous friend gave me a small rice cooker for Christmas so I’ve taken it to the clinic and put the dish into action. I have been mighty impressed with the tasty and satisfying results.

As a side note, grains are copping a bit of a beating at the moment.  While it’s not good to eat too much of anything and that some grains are also not digested well by some people, it is worth noting that if you do tolerate grains and eat them in moderation they can be health promoting – after all the Japanese have the longest life expectancy and use rice as a staple food.

Japanese-style rice & egg breakfast

Ingredients:

  • 1 small rice cooker cup of brown rice
  • 3 small rice cooker cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1-2 teaspoons tamari
  • a small piece of a nori sheet, cut/torn into little pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Method:

  1. Add rice, water and grated ginger to rice cooker and follow cooking instructions.
  2. Just before rice is cooked, beat raw egg and add tamari to taste.
  3. When rice is cooked and still steaming hot, transfer to a bowl and pour egg/tamari mixture over the top. Stir through.  The egg will cook a little in the hot rice.
  4. Top with nori and sesame seeds.

Note: It tastes MUCH better than it looks!

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, health, mental health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Happy new year! And highlights from the Woodford Folk Festival

DSC00608Happy new year to all of my lovely readers!  I hope your 2013 is shaping up just dandy so far.

I have been lucky enough to spend the 2012/13 transition at the Woodford Folk Festival.  Again this year I was speaking at the fabulous Blue Lotus health and healing venue with my wonderful naturopathic colleague, Kathleen Murphy.

We spoke on “Gluten & Grain Intolerance” and “Vegetarian v Omnivore diets”.  Kath gave the nutrition essentials and I was able to give the Traditional Chinese Medicine spin on each of these.  Both talks were well attended with a great crowd who asked lots of excellent questions.  If you were there, thanks for being such an awesome audience – especially if you came to our New Year’s Day morning talk.  Good health vibes to you!

DSC00639Additionally, we ran a new workshop in the Children’s Festival this year – “Bath time – soothe time”.  In essence it was all about calming babies and small children before bed.  We chatted about good digestion tips, essential oils, herbal teas, acupressure and massage.  The highlight for me was giving a four-year old her first massage – she just about melted into her chair.  See, massage is for all ages, and kids (big and little) love ’em!

I’ll write more on the gluten and diet talks on this blog in coming days.  So stay tuned.

So, as usual, I have returned to reality, still with my post-festival glow (why do I love Woodford? – find out here) and hit the ground running at HealthWise Clinic practicing Monday to Friday for all of January.  If you are in need of re-stoking your glow for 2013 come and see me in the clinic.

May 2013 be your most radiant year yet!

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.