Diet, emotional health, exercise, food, health, mental health, motivational, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

A Chinese medicine guide to living well in Spring

I’m a bit slow on getting my spring living post out this year! Apologies to all of you who have been wondering what to do since the turn of the season, you can now relax with the information contained within this post.

Here’s a little song to get you out of winter and into the spring mood.

In Chinese medicine the season of spring is all about these:

  • Moving from the cold and slowness of winter into a warmer, more energetic state as our Yang Qi predominates.
  • There is an upward energy.
  • The mood picks up, life feels lighter.
  • And there is a need to move more and get active.
  • We need to stretch out and get flexible after the rigidity of winter.
  • Plants are sprouting fresh green shoots.
  • This is the time of the Wood element and the Liver and Gallbladder need care.
  • The wind picks up. This has been particularly noticeable in Brisbane in the afternoons especially earlier in the season.
  • There is more light and longer days giving us a good supply of vitamin D to support our yang Qi. Safe levels of sun exposure depend on where you live and are outlined here.
  • The colour is green in keeping with those fresh sprouts.
  • The flavour is sour which again brings a feeling of lightness and freshness.
Spring is a wonderful time to walk around the Jacaranda trees in blossom.
Spring is a wonderful time to walk around the Jacaranda trees in blossom.

If you don’t naturally feel this shift to spring or you want to maximise your spring energy to live in harmony with the seasons then here are some tips:

  • Go to bed a little later and wake a little earlier (just like the birds)
  • Get some outdoor exercise (eg. walking or qi gong) and sunlight in the morning before you start the serious stuff in your day.
  • Wear loose clothing and don’t tie your hair back tightly. Let everything flow.
  • Focus on relaxation and flexibility of your mind and body. Now is an excellent time to get into some meditation and/or yoga.
  • Sing, dance or do activities that lighten your mood.
  • Work within your limits so as to enjoy the movement and longer days but not to overtire yourself.
  • Be prepared for changes in the weather, so while most of your summer clothes are coming out, have a spare layer handy to protect yourself from a sneaky cold snap or some breezy conditions.
  • Do a spring clean. Get rid of the clutter and excess that might have been stored away during winter  (or the rest of the year). A spring clean can be in your house, body and/or mind. Make room for the new.
  • Open the windows. Get good ventilation in your space. Get some indoor plants.
  • Focus your attention to being positive, optimistic, open minded, tranquil, happy and friendly.
  • Enjoy nature. Go hiking, camping or anything you enjoy that takes you into the great outdoors.
  • Generally eat fresh, clean and crisp foods that are in season. Some Chinese medicine dietary tips include benefiting the:
    • yang qi through pungent foods (eg. onions, garlic, ginger, paprika, chives, mint and mustard)
    • liver through some sour foods – just enough to make you feel well but no need to over do it. A squeeze of lemon in your water or some natural yogurt can be beneficial.
    • wood element through green coloured foods eg. green tea, green leafy vegetables (kale, broccolini, baby spinach), peas, beans, asparagus, sprouts and celery.
    • Avoid very spicy and fatty foods at this time of year and don’t overdo the sour flavour.

For another post about spring health read here.

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

The perfect balance: Yin Yang cupcakes (gluten-free)

Yin yang cupcake iced solo webWhen I was studying acupuncture at college my sister and her partner made me the most decadent Yin Yang, liqueur infused, white and dark chocolate mud cake for my birthday. It was incredible! So when I knew that two of my Traditional Chinese Medicine Masters course buddies were celebrating their birthdays around the time of our latest on-campus workshop at the University of Western Sydney, I knew just what to make for them – Yin Yang cakes, but this time mini ones, to survive the journey from Brisbane to Campbelltown.

Like everything I bake, these were gluten and dairy-free (with one small exception that is easily removed, the white chocolate chip on top that makes the Yang in the Yin). I won’t pretend that these are in anyway healthy, just a suitable treat for people with dairy and gluten intolerance. They are high in fat and sugar. But they are a birthday treat and the eight or so people who ate them seemed to really enjoy them, so eat one, enjoy it and share the rest.

Yin Yang Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 80g nuttelex or coconut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour, extra

Icing ingredients

  • 1/2 container of tofutti (soy cream cheese)
  • 1/4 cup nuttelex or butter alternative
  • 1 cup of icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar, extra
  • 12 dark chocolate chips
  • 12 white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. Prepare 12 hole cupcake tray with cupcake papers
  3. Mix flour, sugar and sifted baking powder together.
  4. Mix in vanilla, nuttelex or coconut butter, eggs and water, beat well.
  5. Divide mix into evenly into two separate bowls.
  6. Add in sifted cocoa to one bowl and extra flour to the other. Beat each bowl until mixed well.
  7. Spoon mix into cupcake tray with chocolate on one half of the cupcake hole and vanilla mix on the other, until all holes are half full.
  8. Bake for 15-18 minutes.
  9. Allow cupcakes to cool.yin yang cupcake uniced web
  10. To make icing: mix tofutti and nuttelex together, then sift in icing sugar and mix well. Divide mixture evenly into two bowls. Sift the cocoa into one bowl and the extra icing sugar into the other. Mix each bowl so ingredients are combined well. To make a thicker icing add more icing sugar.
  11. Decorate each cake with white or chocolate icing on the appropriate half of the cupcake in a Yin Yang pattern (as in the photo). Finish the design off with a dark chocolate chip on the white side and a white chocolate chip on the cocoa side. Then refridgerate to set the icing.Yin yang cupcake iced web

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.