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

Warming, curried butter bean and vegetable soup for chilly nights

curried soupWhoa Brisbane! What’s with the suddenly freezing nights and mornings? I thought we were done with the chilly temperatures. (NB. Yes, I am soft. I live in Brisbane and anything below 10ºC is unbearably cold to me! And here is how I use spices to cope and here are some general ideas for staying warm.)

To survive winter’s last hurrah in the form of this recent cold snap I made this delightfully fragrant and delicious soup.

The root vegetables, beans and spices gently warm and nourish the body and digestive system (Spleen and Stomach) and boost energy according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Even the yellowy colour of the soup supports these organs and their corresponding Earth element.

Curried butter bean and vegetable soup

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 3 cups pumpkin, diced
  • 1/2 cauliflower, diced
  • 1 cup of cooked butter beans (or 400g canned)
  • 1 1/4 litre vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • handful of green beans, sliced
  • coriander, chopped, to garnish

Method:

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan. Fry onion, garlic, carrot, cumin seeds and mustard seeds until browned and crackling.
  2. Add turmeric and curry powders.  Fry for a minute.
  3. Add potato, pumpkin, cauliflower, butter beans, vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  4. Allow soup to cool a little, add half of soup to food processor and blend.
  5. Return blended soup to the pot. Add green beans stir over heat and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Serve in bowls topped with coriander.

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, fertility, food, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The aubergine eggplant: a therapeutic culinary delight

Mediterranean eggplant salad webDo you say eggplant or aubergine? This is one of those topics that can generate a heated dinner party discussion.

I say eggplant. But feel free to substitute aubergine in your head if it makes you happy.

And I do love a good eggplant dish. This weekend I have been enjoying this versatile fruit (yes, it has seeds which classifies it as a fruit) in a variety of tasty ways. There are just so many ways you can cook with it, including:

  • Stuffed
  • Baked
  • Fried, barbecued or grilled (then used as you wish – I love it in this warm salad with preserved lemons – pictured)
  • Stir-fried (one of my favourite dishes when I was studying in China was an eggplant and garlic dish)
  • Steamed
  • In casseroles
  • In curries (one of my favourite curries features pumpkin and eggplant – it is to die for!)
  • To replace toast (eggs on grilled eggplant slices) or lasagne noodles (layer eggplant slices)
  • In dips (as in baba ganoush)

If you’ve never cooked with eggplant before, this is how it can be prepared to reduce bitterness and reduce the amount of oil they soak up in cooking.

The humble eggplant has some fabulous Traditional Chinese Medicine therapeutic uses including:

  • Clears heat from the blood (e.g. red rashes, heavy menstrual bleeding , haemorrhoids or bleeding disorders in general).
  • Moves blood, harmonises the Liver and the Uterus (e.g. painful periods, irregular periods or clotted menstrual blood).
  • Reduces swelling and eases pain (e.g. premenstrual oedema, breast tenderness or mastitis).
  • Regulates and cools the intestines (e.g. constipation or diarrhoea where the stool is smelly and the patient feels hot or experiences burning sensations).
  • May be soothing for someone repressing emotions (e.g. anger, frustration, irritation and resentment).

Just a note, if you do suffer from menstrual or bleeding disorders these should be discussed with your health professional for appropriate investigations and  treatment options.

Have you got a favorite eggplant recipe?

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, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Releasing the exterior: a soup to expel the common cold

spicy noodle soupWhat should you eat at the first signs of picking up the common cold? Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recommends increasing your intake of foods that are pungent in flavour, such as these:

  • onions
  • garlic
  • chili
  • mints and fragrant green leafy culinary herbs
  • ginger

You may have noticed that when you eat foods that have a pungent (spicy) nature they induce perspiration and help to loosen up blocked noses. Basically, pungent foods help us to excrete the stuck fluids in the upper and outer parts of our bodies. TCM refers to this area as the ‘exterior’, as the symptoms are not quite in the internal organs (eg. lungs) yet. Inducing perspiration and getting that blocked nose running helps to ‘release the pathogen from the exterior’. Better out than in?

While you are under attack, decrease your intake of any foods that will produce excessive phlegm or ‘tonify’ the pathogen (virus) in your system:

  • dairy
  • cold temperature and raw foods
  • animal protein
  • excessive sweet foods
  • excessive fatty foods

If your common cold comes with fever, sore throat and yellow mucous choose cooler foods such as mints and green tea.

If it is chills and clear runny mucous that are more of a problem for you choose  chili, cinnamon and ginger to warm you up.

I came across this incredibly delicious New Year Noodle Soup that ticks all of the boxes for a soup to ‘release the exterior’. I left out the cream from the topping and replaced the egg noodles with konjac noodles (popular in Japan) that are now marketed in Australia as SlimPasta. Konjac (ju ruo) is an Asian root vegetable. TCM has used it for resolving phelgm and blood stagnation. The soluble fibre absorbs water and can be shaped into a very low calorie pasta substitute. The noodles have a bland taste which makes them great for using in soups and sauces and a slightly chewier texture than a regular noodle. All in all, they were terrific in the soup.

For more information on preventing the common cold you should read: The art of war: your defences v the common cold.

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

TCM & the super grains: quinoa and amaranth

quinoa amaranthTonight for dinner I whipped up a reasonably quick tagine with Japanese sweet potato (the one that is white on the outside and purple on the inside), baby spinach and chickpeas – it’s an adaption of this recipe without the okra. Not wanting to accompany the meal with a gluten grain and needing a change from brown rice, I picked up a packet of mixed grains including white, red and black quinoa (pronounced keenwah) with amaranth.

These grains, or technically seeds, have long been used in South America and are often more easily digested than other grains with the added benefit of a higher protein content. They do have a stronger flavour than rice and wheat (nutty perhaps) but I find that they combine well with strong flavoured foods, such as a fragrant and spicy tagine. So it ended up being a Moroccan – South American fusion, but it worked.

We would assign qualities to these grains in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as follows:

Quinoa

  • Warming
  • A strengthening food
  • Tonifying for Kidney Yang (stokes your internal furnace – builds energy, warmth, sex drive and fluid metabolism).

Amaranth

  • Cooling
  • Dries dampness (excess fluids)
  • Benefits the lungs

I cooked the quinoa and amaranth mix in my rice cooker with a 1 cup of grain to 2 cups of water. If you also make the tagine, I’d recommend increasing the cumin and harissa to bring out more of those beautiful Moroccan flavours.

quinoa amaranth tagine

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, exercise, food, food allergy, health, nature

Happy campers eat wholefoods

capsicum egg ringsI’ve just come back from a delightful little camping trip to Cunningham’s Gap in southern Queensland. While I really do love to rough it when I go camping, this trip was a luxury affair with a Weber Q barbecue, gas stove and gas camping oven, in addition to the traditional campfire.

bestbrook mountainThere are so many reasons why getting outdoors and going camping is good for your health.  Here’s my list.

camping vego breakfastIn between the horse riding, hiking through the beautiful forest of the Scenic Rim and taking afternoon naps, we cooked and ate some really great food altogether as a big group of friends.  There wasn’t a tin of baked beans or packet of Deb (instant potato mash) to be seen. And you don’t need the fancy cooking gear to cook like this – a campfire, butane stove, hot plate and a few pots will go a long way.

So here’s a snapshot of just some of the great wholesome camping food (all with vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options) we enjoyed on this trip:

  • Tofu and vegetable Thai red curry with rice (plus there was enough leftovers for lunch the next day).
  • Peanut butter, avocado and salad gluten-free wraps.
  • Scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and potatoes cooked on the barbecue.
  • A ‘hangi’ style meal with loads of vegetables: sweet potato, potato, pumpkin and corn served with a grilled chickpea and spinach patty.
  • Leftover vegies from the hangi meal cooked into bubble and squeak, with mushrooms and eggs cooked in capsicum rings on the barbecue (pictured).
  • Gluten-free chocolate berry cake baked in the gas camping oven for dessert.

Have you got some tasty camping recipes based on whole foods? I’d love to know about them.

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.