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Elemental Family Focus on Immunity: My Three Simple and Straightforward Immune-Boosting Dietary Tips

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Elemental Family Focus on Immunity: My Three Simple and Straightforward Immune-Boosting Dietary Tips

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Do you know a sure-fire way to eat to keep your immune system strong, as well as how to support a run down or sick system? I have three simple and straightforward tips to keep in mind this holiday season. Read on to discover what they are...

I know the holidays are fast approaching, and I am not trying to ruin all the fun, but I do believe that having a few guidelines to follow when facing the feasts ahead can help to keep you healthier. The tips in this post are mainly applicable to when you are feeling run down or when you are actually sick; however, the way you treat a sick system is usually optimal for illness-prevention as well.

Main point here: Try and make choices about what you eat with care, mindfulness, and moderation, and your system will thank you for it. And above all, enjoy what you eat! Savoring your food encourages proper digestion.

Chinese medicine has observed the influence of diet on health for thousands of years, and nutritional advice is often incorporated into my healing protocols as an acupuncturist. In the Chinese medical view, diet is intimately connected to the proper functioning of all systems, and impacts the quality of your blood, energy reserves, and immunity. What we eat, as well as how we prepare and eat it (cooked or raw for example), matters big time.

Diet is a tricky part of supporting immunity because it isn’t as simple as just wanting to eat right. Most of us want to eat well and to feed our kids a healthy, immune-supportive diet. The break is usually somewhere between the wanting, the doing, and the know-how. All sorts of things get in the way of putting real food on the table on a regular basis: time, money, interest, knowledge, overwhelm, and did I mention, TIME?

The fact remains though, dietary choices are always important, especially when you are trying to stay healthy or slogging through an illness. What you put in your system holds even more weight when your body is run-down, since it can make the difference between maintaining wellness and plunging headfirst into a cold or flu.

My Three Simple and Straightforward Immune-Boosting Dietary Tips:

1) Eat. Warm. Food.

Cold and raw food is damaging to the root of our immunity, the gut, which we acupuncturists refer to as the Spleen organ system. The Spleen appreciates and thrives on a diet of primarily warm foods, versus the ice water and salad-obsessed Standard American Diet (aka SAD – a fitting acronym really). This is especially true in the winter, when the Spleen is up against environmental chill as well as cold in our diets.

General fatigue and muscle weakness, bloating after eating, and easy bruising are all signs of Spleen weakness, so taking a break from cold and raw food can support proper functioning of the Spleen, rather than taxing it further.

Old wives tale-y though it may be, soup is an incredible food. It is, wait for it, warm and can be filled with any number of nourishing ingredients. Miso soup with plenty of scallions is good at the onset of a cold or fever, and chicken soup with veggies has cold-fighting properties. There is a special kind of soup called bone broth that is a mainstay of traditional diets the world over. Bone broth is a powerful nutritive and immune tonic. Stay tuned for soup and bone broth recipes on my site this winter!

2) Cut down on the refined sugar.

Sugar is delicious (duh), but it is also bad news when consumed in inappropriate quantities. In moderation, and in health, our bodies can metabolize some amount of sugar (especially of the fruit and honey varieties). But if you are stressed, sleeping too little, and eating poorly, then sugar becomes a bad guy in and of itself. Sugar lowers your immune power and generates heat (Chinese medicine-ease for inflammation) in the body.

If you are desperate for something sweet, go for an apple drizzled with honey and cinnamon or a few squares of real-deal dark chocolate (Endangered Species and Theo are two of my favorite brands).

3) Dairy is phlegmy and therefore not the best choice when you are also phlegmy.

Dairy is a cold (see #1 above) and damp-producing food in the eyes of Chinese medicine. Barring an allergy or intolerance, dairy can be a healthy part of the diet, when consumed in small to moderate amounts (same as #2 above), especially when the dairy products are organic and varied (choosing goat and cow milk cheeses for example). But when you are dealing with phlegmy conditions, manifesting as sinus congestion or phlegm anywhere in the respiratory tract, from the nose to the lungs, then removing dairy from the diet will make it easier for your body to clear the gunk that is already there.

IN SUM, if you are experiencing the beginnings of a cold in the form of a runny nose, scratchy throat, sneezing, fatigue, or even just feeling "off," then give up the raw/cold food, sugar, and dairy for a bit. By choosing foods that are clear, light, and immune supportive (and eating the not-so-healthy stuff in moderate amounts), you will lighten the digestive load and your immune system will be respond in kind.

 

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Awesome Autumn Apple-Pear Crisp

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Awesome Autumn Apple-Pear Crisp

Today I am sharing one of my favorite autumn apple recipes, chock full of delicious and nutritious, immune-boosting ingredients...

While I am grateful for the warm and sun-drenched life here in Southern California and how we never lack for idyllic days, one of the main things I miss about living on the East Coast is fall. I miss fall with a deep, empty ache in my gut. I crave the crisp September air that displaces the brutal, heavy heat of summer with a laughable swiftness. I miss simply needing to wear a scarf and sweater occasionally.

Each of the five Elements in Chinese medicine ~ Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood ~ is associated with a season. For us Metal types, we resonate most directly with autumn. So it gives me some consolation that my longing for crackly autumn leaves and drizzly skies is rooted in my constitution. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sunshine, but I am wired for clouds and apple season. Sorry, beaches, it’s not you…it’s me.

In order to simulate a little bit of fall in my LA kitchen, I recently made this delicious and nutritious fruit crisp. There are lots of reasons that I love this recipe. It is immune boosting for sure, and inspires cozy feelings with its cinnamon-y smells. It is flexible ingredient-wise and can thusly fit any number of dietary persuasions or restrictions. It is equally edible as a vegan treat or made with butter, sweetened with maple syrup or deriving its sweetness purely from the fruit. I used organic apples and pears because that is what I had in the house, but raspberries or blueberries are a welcome addition.

The acupuncturist in me loves this crisp because its flavor profile is balanced, and highlights ingredients like apples and pears that strengthen the organ that is most taxed during the fall and winter cold season, the Lung. Warming cinnamon and ginger harmonize the digestive system (the root of all immunity, see this post), and pair perfectly with the tart and cooling lemon juice. Lemon harmonizes the Liver, the organ that mitigates the impact of daily stressors on our body and immune reserves.

Awesome Autumn Apple-Pear Crisp

Apples in Collander 2
Apples in Collander 2

Ingredients for the Fruit Filling:

3-4 organic apples

3-4 organic pears

Juice of 1-3 lemons (to taste)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

Ingredients for the Oat Topping:

1.5 c oats

1.5 c whole wheat flour (can substitute gluten free flour, like almond or coconut)

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

1/3 c coconut oil, melted (can substitute butter)

1/3 c maple syrup

Step 1:

Cut up apples and pears into slices of equal-ish thickness (keep the peels on to retain fiber and nutrients).  Arrange in an even layer in baking pan.

Apples in pan 2
Apples in pan 2

Step 2:

Drizzle the lemon juice, honey, and vanilla over the fruit. Next add the cinnamon and ginger. Stir to distribute evenly.

Step 3:

Mix oats, flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, melted coconut oil, and maple syrup in a large bowl.

Step 4:

Evenly cover the apples and pears with the oat topping.

Apples pre-cooking
Apples pre-cooking

Step 5:

Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the fruit has softened to your liking.

Apples cooked
Apples cooked

Enjoy as dessert, breakfast, or a mid-day snack. Store leftovers in the fridge. It is great hot or cold/room temp. Yum!

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Elemental Family Focus on Immunity, Part 2: Do You Know Where 80% of Your Immune System Lives?

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Elemental Family Focus on Immunity, Part 2: Do You Know Where 80% of Your Immune System Lives?

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Welcome back to immune prep central! Part 2 of our series is about the relationship between your immune system and your digestive system.

The phrase “immune system” might conjure up an assortment of connotations from your high school biology days: bacteria and viruses, innate and acquired, antibody and antigen, and so on.  The science-y talk ends here, but the point is there is an even more salient fact about your immune system that most of us haven’t been taught. One of the most important predictors of your immune function is already within you and can have either a hugely beneficial or a dramatically negative influence on your ability to fight off illness.

Okay people, drumroll please: 70-90% of your immune system actually resides in your GUT. Your gut is host to your body’s largest population of immune cells, and the proper functioning of those cells relies on a remarkable, and largely uncharted, community of trillions of bacterial cells, known collectively as the microbiome. Those coils upon coils of small intestine house all of the intestinal bacteria that play an essential role in doing the digesting that we are oh so familiar with, but it turns out that the small intestine is the site of the majority of your immune response as well.

Your microbiome is a vast, diverse, and unique assortment of a multitude of strains of bacteria and other organisms, that essentially make you, you! Turns out, you are so much more than just what you eat. The microbiome consists of a mix of both helpful and opportunistic bacteria. The microbiome is truly a new frontier within us that is only beginning to be explored, categorized, and understood, with incredible and exciting ramifications for health conditions in a wide range of categories, from auto-immune conditions to ADHD to depression.

Probiotics are all the rage in the health-o-sphere these days, and for good reason. Probiotics comprise the good guys in your microbiome. Although the majority of them live in your digestive tract, probiotics exert a significant influence well beyond your belly. Probiotics are the key players in overall wellness and maintaining a balanced, healthy system. They rule the roost in three essential realms of your wellbeing: digestion, immunity, and brain function.

To go a little more in depth, here are just a few reasons why probiotics are such an integral part of your immune system:

  • If you think of your gut microbiome as a garden, then the probiotics are the flowers and the opportunistic bacteria are the weeds. The more flowers there are, the less room there is for weeds to grow. The flowers protect your gut by crowding out the weeds and preventing them from sticking to the gut lining.
  • As explained earlier in the post, your gut is host to your body’s largest population of immune cells. Probiotics serve to amplify and enhance the immune activity at these sites.
  • Probiotics act as an immune barrier in the gut, only allowing certain things to pass into the bloodstream, and blocking illness-causing pathogens.

How do you know if you need to take probiotics? Well, most of us do. What type and for how long will vary widely, but if you have ever taken an antibiotic (and I mean ever in your life), then you probably want to explore getting on a probiotic.

My recommended brands for general immune and digestive health, and the ones I carry in my office are:

  • For infants – Klaire Labs Infant Probiotic (powder) or Metagenics Ultraflora Baby (drops)
  • For toddlers and older children – Metagenics UltraFlora Children's (chewable) (or one of the above infant products if your toddler isn't into chewables)
  • For teens and adults – Klaire Labs Therbiotic Complete or Metagenics UltraFlora Spectrum (capsules)

If you are interested in learning more about your microbiome, here are two very worthwhile links to check out:

1) Super informative article by Michael Pollan about the microbiome:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html?pagewanted=all

2) Great slideshow about the microbiome:

http://discovermagazine.com/galleries/zen-photo/m/microbiome

(Featured image courtesy of probiotics.org)

Thanks for reading and please be sure to check out Part 1 of the series here: http://elementalfamily.com/fall-focus-on-immunity-preparatory-medicine/. We'd love to have you join our virtual Elemental Family to stay in the loop with these types of posts in the future! You can opt-in on the home page here: http://elementalfamily.com.

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Elemental Family Focus on Immunity, Part 1: Preparatory Medicine

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Elemental Family Focus on Immunity, Part 1: Preparatory Medicine

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This post is the first in our Elemental Family Focus on Immunity series, where I will be touching on various aspects of supporting and preparing the immune system for the upcoming cold and flu season…

Happy end of summer, friends! This is a special time in our house because my daughter is starting kindergarten this fall! How the heck did that happen? Just the thought fills me with a myriad of conflicting emotions: excitement for all of the new and enriching experiences ahead of her, sadness for the inevitable passage of time that starting school really brings home, and, to be totally honest, a fair amount of trepidation at all of the germs that are awaiting her in a school environment.

As a practitioner who treats both children and adults, I certainly deal with a fair share of germy-ness, but it feels different when I know I won’t be there to make sure my daughter washes her hands before she eats or doesn’t accidentally use someone else’s cup, and so on. In the hopes of tempering my anticipatory germaphobia, we’ve recently started a simple and straightforward immune boosting regimen in my house. Cold and flu season is just around the corner, and Chinese medicine truly shines in its preparatory approach to illness.

Preparatory medicine is a unique approach to supporting immunity and it differs in one significant aspect from preventive medicine. Preventive medicine is a buzzword in our ever-evolving healthcare landscape and is focused on early screening, counseling, and other interventions to detect and prevent disease. This is an invaluable practice, especially when it comes to serious and life-threatening illness.

Preparatory medicine, on the other hand, is more applicable to the day-to-day illnesses that I see on a regular basis in my clinic, and that many of you parents are more than used to dealing with: coughs, colds, fevers, tummy upset, etc. Preparatory medicine offers the perspective that building immunity is a developmental process. Successfully fighting these types of illnesses contributes positively to the complexity of a flexible and robust immune system.

Trust me, as a parent this is a very challenging concept to keep in my brain. No one wants to see their child or partner, or self for that matter, feeling icky and down for the count. It is lousy for sure, but it can help to remember that much of our immune system is acquired over time, so with each illness the body really does get smarter and stronger.

So, what does preparatory medicine look like?

  •   Thinking ahead to the next challenge on the horizon, be it seasonal or developmental
  • Supporting your unique adaptive style to ensure as smooth a transition as possible into the next stage: for my daughter this meant preparing her both emotionally and physically for the transition into school
  • Treating the body in preparation of that next challenge, ie starting immune prep well before cold season hits or prepping the body for spring allergy season during wintertime

Now that we have set the appropriate expectations around getting sick, we can move into tools for HOW to prepare the body! Over the next few posts, we will cover dietary, supplement, lifestyle, and wellness massage recommendations.

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Building Blocks of an Elemental Family

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Building Blocks of an Elemental Family

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What does it take to build a strong, loving foundation for your family that is grounded in mutual respect? Read on for a few pointers from an amazing holistic pediatrician, who also happens to be one of my mentors: Stephen Cowan, MD. Every single item in this post is a rich and thoughtful observation on children and parenting from a mindful and respectful place. Read carefully and digest slowly. My own commentary from the Chinese medical perspective follows...

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-10250/11-things-i-wish-every-parent-knew.html

Stephen's 11 "things" (they are fleshed out fully in the link above): 1. Growth and development are not a race. 2. Creating family traditions encourages strong roots and a healthy life. 3. We grow in cycles. 4. Encouragement is not the same as indulgence. 5. Pushing your buttons is a spiritual practice, and children are our spiritual teachers. 6. A symptom is the body’s way of letting us know something has to change. 7. Be prepared. 8. Healing takes time. 9. The secret of life is letting go. 10. Trust yourself: You're the expert on your child. 11. Take the long view.

All 10 of these influence my work with children, and serve as building blocks for The Elemental Family practice, but my current favorites are numbers 1, 5, and 10.

"1. Growth and development are not a race."

Chinese medicine takes the long view on children's development. Strict milestones are rarely used. As alluded to in item number 3 above, the classical Chinese medical texts state that development over the life cycle occurs in 7 or 8 year cycles (7 years for girls and 8 years for boys - which accounts for girls' earlier physical and emotional maturation as well as their earlier arrival at the other end of the reproductive spectrum). Stephen's observation is one of the core concepts of my approach to pediatrics, which is to meet every child where they are at developmentally. They are each their own unique, incredible, perfect being and deserve to be seen as such. This kernel of wisdom has encouraged and allowed me to step back and observe children on their own terms as well as in relation to their family dynamic as a whole.

"5. Pushing your buttons is a spiritual practice, and children are our spiritual teachers."

I believe that viewing your child as your spiritual teacher imbues the adult-child dynamic with a healthy level of mutual respect. Next time your child has a meltdown, thank them for the opportunity for personal growth! Our children are developing and changing by the minute, and aren’t we as well? Working on yourself as a human being is a core concept of mindful parenting and also a basic tenant of seeking treatment with Chinese medicine. What better way to get in touch with your physical and emotional state of being than by allowing yourself to deeply reflect on what might not be working in your or your children’s favor.

Take a moment and think about the last time your child made you feel frustrated or exhausted or downright angry. Instead of seeing your child as blatantly trying to make you crazy (although it can certainly feel like that), Stephen's observation asks that we choose instead to take a deep breath (or two), look within and carefully consider what is being triggered for us. Next, ask yourself how familiar those triggers might be and if you are ready to work on clearing them out. It takes courage and effort, but the rewards of being able to stay grounded and calm for the sake of a child who needs nothing more than your love and patience are beyond worth it.

"10. Trust yourself: You're the expert on your child."

Chinese medicine believes (and Western science is also coming to understand) that the gut contains its own unique form of intelligence, complete with emotional and physical manifestations and ramifications. This lens gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "Trust your gut." Unfortunately, it can be difficult to even hear what your gut is trying to tell you in the first few sleep-deprived months (or years) of parenthood. That said, once you have an opportunity to quiet your mind, you will find within you the impulses necessary for authentic listening and parenting. Sure there are some helpful hints out there - in the form of advice from well-meaning friends and family, plus the double-edged sword known as Google - but ultimately YOU are your child's best resource.

(Pic credit: http://www.mamalisa.com/blog/a-childs-drawing/)

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Simply Being: Meditation Made Accessible

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Simply Being: Meditation Made Accessible

I recommend this app to just about every person who walks into my clinic: "Simply Being" by Meditation Oasis. I have seen this app truly transform people's confidence in their meditating abilities while reducing life-changing amounts of stress and anxiety in the process. What I love about this gentle and encouraging guided meditation app is that you can customize your meditation experience. If you need to reset your internal stress response in the middle of a busy day, choose the 5 min option. If you are having trouble falling asleep at night, choose 20 min and dose off with a deeply relaxed and quieted mind. Enjoy!

Check out the apps on the Meditation Oasis website here: www.meditationoasis.com/smartphone-apps

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Simply-Being1-200x300

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Acupuncture Myths

Acupuncture Myths

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Chinese medicine suffers from an image problem. Let’s dispel a few myths here and now to help you understand what to expect when seeking out treatment at The Elemental Family… MYTH #1: Chinese medicine treatments must include acupuncture.

TRUTH: Chinese medicine treatments certainly can, and usually do, include acupuncture, but that is just one tool in a wide and varied toolbox. At the Elemental Family, I choose the most appropriate and efficacious treatment methods based on your individual needs and comfort level. This is especially true when it comes to working with kids! Many pediatric treatments are completely needle-free (although I find the majority of kids to be both curious and brave enough to try a “tap” or two).

Aside from acupuncture, Chinese medicine offers herbal formulas, nutritional recommendations, hands-on techniques including massage techniques, gua sha and cupping, as well as moxibustion and heat therapy. Your treatments will incorporate as many of the above as needed to create the most healing protocol for you.

MYTH #2: Chinese medicine is actually magic/voodoo and cures you in one treatment.

TRUTH: Sorry to burst the bubble on this one, but the healing process takes time, no matter what the intervention. Chinese medicine is a full medical system that has been used for thousands of years all over the world. It has powerful effects, but it is also a subtle intervention that requires time, patience, and trust to create the conditions necessary for lasting change in the body and mind. If you are ready to make this commitment to your health, Chinese medicine will provide the well-worn, centuries-old scaffolding to support you.

Progress is seen most rapidly with consistent weekly or bi-weekly treatments. Consistent treatment allows you to see how your body actually responds to this medicine, and it enables me to make adjustments on a regular basis to optimize your healing process. Chinese medicine treatments have a cumulative effect in the body, meaning that the more frequently you remind your body of the healthy patterns you are trying to establish, the more quickly you will reach your goal.

MYTH #3: You must choose only one type of medicine for yourself and your family and stick to that philosophy for all ailments, at all times.

TRUTH: Different types of medical systems have very different strengths and they should be recognized and utilized accordingly. Integrative medicine (combining Western and Eastern therapies in the same clinical setting) is gaining a huge foothold in this country for this very reason. Western medicine provides life-saving and life-altering treatments with the use of miraculous technology. It also excels at damage control – think of any episode of TV medical dramas (Greys, ER, you get the picture). However, the vast majority of ailments, including many of the health epidemics that are afflicting our society (allergies, ADD, the Autism spectrum, diabetes, etc), are of a chronic nature and they don’t require or respond to emergency medical treatment. Chinese medicine and other holistic systems excel at jump-starting your body’s own healing capacity and setting the stage for stronger health down the road.

Discover the Most Potent Gut-Healing, Immune-Boosting Tonic You Can Make in Your Own Kitchen

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Discover the Most Potent Gut-Healing, Immune-Boosting Tonic You Can Make in Your Own Kitchen

Bone broth is an ancient food that is currently undergoing a renaissance in the holistic wellness world. I am seeing bone broth pop up everywhere these days - in segments on NPR, at my local health food store, and at a stand in my neighborhood farmer's market here in Los Angeles - and for good reason. There isn’t a more potent gut-healing, immune-boosting health tonic that you can make in your own kitchen with minimal expense and minimal effort.

I’ve been experimenting with cooking bone broth various ways this winter and am excited to share my findings with you! What surprised me most about the process was #1) the ease of making and #2) the amazing versatility of the end product. I used it in almost every meal I cooked the week following the bone-broth-making, and found it to be a stellar way to enhance the nutrient-power and flavor of everything from rice to lentils to chicken soup. (For a veggie version, just google "Vegetarian Bone Broth" or check out this link: http://www.organicauthority.com/a-vegan-bone-broth-recipe.)

There are infinite variations on a theme for broth. These variations include differing cooking times, what additional ingredients you throw in, and the viscosity of the final product. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how deep you would like to delve.

So, why should you put in the time and effort to make bone broth? Here a few of the benefits:

1) Immune boosting tonic – drink a mug of broth daily to boost immunity in the winter months, use it at the onset of a cold to shorten an infection, or to strengthen your system when healing from illness or surgery.

2) Gut-healing properties – bone broth is excellent to rebuild a gut that has been negatively altered by antibiotics, poor diet, or stress. (See this post to read more about how your gut's microbiome might have been damaged in the past and what you can do about it.)

3) Rich source of nutrients and minerals (the ultimate quality is contingent on the ingredients you use, of course), including gelatin and electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

In sum, EVERYONE can benefit from this! Broth is medicine for infants who are suffering from digestive issues like reflux, colic, or failure to thrive, for preschoolers who are exposed to cold upon cold from their peers, and adults who are stressed to the max and eating on the run most of the time. If you can put in the time to make a pot of bone broth at the beginning of your week, I promise that every member of your family will reap the benefits. Plus it makes preparing other meals a cinch when you have such an excellent base to start with!

Bone Broth Recipe:

Necessary ingredients:

  • 1 gallon cold water (~16 cups)
  • Bones of 1 organic chicken (you can use a store-roasted bird or roast your own) or grass-fed/pastured beef bones (pre-roasting the beef bones is optional and adds flavor and depth)
  • Carrots, celery, onion – chopped (alternatively, save ends, peels, and stalks of veggies from the previous week’s cooking in the fridge or freezer and add these to the pot instead)
  • Fresh parsley – 1 bunch
  • Apple cider vinegar – 2 tablespoons per gallon of water
Bone broth ingredients
Bone broth ingredients

Optional ingredients (for added mineral-y goodness):

  • Shitake mushrooms (fresh or dried)
  • Seaweed – kombu, wakame, or hijiki
  • Raw herbs: Codonopsis Root/Dang Shen, Gogi berries/Gou Qi Zi, Astragalus/Huang Qi (available from your local acupuncturist)
Bone broth herbs
Bone broth herbs

Stove Top Version:

1) Add all ingredients (except the parsley) to a large pot. Allow to sit for 30-60 minutes before turning on the heat.

Bone broth cooking start
Bone broth cooking start

2) Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

3) Cover and let simmer gently for 6-12 hours. (You can simmer for up to 24+ hours. The longer you simmer, the richer and more nutrient-dense the stock.)

Bone broth on the stove
Bone broth on the stove

4) Add parsley about ten minutes before the end of cooking time.

4) When finished cooking (and the broth has cooled a bit), use a slotted spoon to remove all the bones and veggies from the broth. Press these ingredients through a cheesecloth to reserve all the liquid. Pour the rest of the broth through a fine-mesh strainer.

Bone broth for straining
Bone broth for straining

5) Allow to cool completely (either on the counter or in the fridge) and remove the fat that congeals at the top.

6) Store in the fridge for 5-7 days. You can freeze small amounts for later use as well.

Ta da...

Bone broth final product
Bone broth final product

Crock Pot Version: (My preferred method in terms of letting it cook overnight without supervision.)

1) Add all ingredients to a large crock pot. Let sit for 30-60 minutes.

Bone broth crock pot
Bone broth crock pot

2) Press start and let it cook for 12-24 hours. (You can start on high and switch to a low setting if your crock pot has variable settings.)

3) Once cooking is completed, follow the Stove Top Version instructions above from #4 on.

Enjoy and please let me know how it goes at your house!

~Brooke

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I know what I am doing in 2016.... Do you?

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I know what I am doing in 2016.... Do you?

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Hello my Elemental Family! I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful holiday season with your own beautiful families. Along with all of the holiday celebrations and the fast approaching New Year, a more modest but equally significant event occurred a week ago: the Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice ushered in the official start of winter and was ushered out here in Los Angeles by the most magnificent sunset I have ever witnessed. It seemed as though all of nature was celebrating the transition into a quieter and more contemplative season. See featured pic!

Welcome, winter! As you all know, there are 5 Elements in Chinese medicine that govern both our external, natural world as well as our internal states of wellness and dis-ease. Out of the 5 Elements (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood) the winter season is associated with the Water Element.

Water is the most meditative of the 5 Elements. Water represents your introspective and imaginative nature. Intellectual and philosophical, Water types are prone to deeply considered thought and curiosity about the mysteries of life. Similar to a frozen lake in winter, Water types can appear subdued and a bit aloof, but there is a whole lot of activity going on just under the surface.

The Water Element is associated with the Kidney organ network in Chinese medicine and governs the physical realms of fertility and reproduction, brain and bone health, as well as the rate and gracefulness of the aging process. Fear is the primary emotional expression of Water, and wisdom is the accumulated experiential knowledge of a well-honed Water Element.

One of the best ways to cultivate and enrich your Water Element is to incorporate a meditation practice into your life. Mindfulness meditation is a particular type of meditation practice that involves learning how to simply BE in the present moment, with awareness, an open and receptive attitude, and a non-judgmental, compassionate heart. Simple yet incredibly profound, these concepts can be challenging to incorporate into daily life, which is exactly why this is called a practice.

So, you might be wondering what the point is exactly, and why you should invest the time to meditate at all? Sitting quietly in meditation grants you access to all of the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that come along with being embodied and alive. This is not always a comfortable experience, taking a closer look at our own minds and habits and natures, but I promise you that it is beyond worthwhile.

Meditation shares many benefits with another modality that is familiar to readers of this blog: acupuncture. Meditation and acupuncture both provide a unique gateway to peace, calm, and de-stressing on a profound level. They are both proven to relieve pain, anxiety and depression, lower high blood pressure, and significantly modulate stress levels for the better.

Both meditation and acupuncture are quieting yet activating experiences. This state of settled activation is one sign of an integrated and balanced nervous system. From this place of integration, you gain the clarity in your life to respond versus react to challenging situations, to be truly present in your relationships with others and yourself, and to appreciate each moment simply for what it is.

I invite you to explore your Water-y, meditative nature in 2016 – through the avenues of meditation and acupuncture. I certainly will be, and I would love for you to reap the benefits of these healing practices as well. Elemental Family, Center for the Healing Arts is here to serve all of your family’s wellness needs this winter. As far as getting started with meditating, please check out the following free resources and see what resonates with you.

1) InsightLA – a fantastic resource here in Los Angeles for learning to meditate in supportive group classes, as well an online resource for guided meditations (in the Audio section of their website) ~ www.insightla.org

2) Simply Being – my favorite app for simple and accessible guided meditations ~ www.meditationoasis.com

3) David Ji – a meditation guru who sends out new meditations each week if you join his free online community ~ www.davidji.com

4) Calm.com – a website that provides meditation music and scenery 24/7, along with guided practice

There is no wrong way to do this – any effort you put in will be rewarding. How sweet is that? See you in 2016!

xo Brooke

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