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The Fire of Summer & A Soothing Smoothie Recipe to Beat the Heat!

The Fire of Summer & A Soothing Smoothie Recipe to Beat the Heat!

We are now fully in the midst of the Fire season, aka summer. Fire represents all things joyful and soulful: passion, creativity, spontaneity, inspiration, charisma, drama, and connection. Fire is a tricky element in that it fuels any number of wonderful, magical qualities in our lives, but it has a tendency to burn so brightly that it can transform into an entity that rages out of control (think anxiety and insomnia) or burns itself out completely (think depression and adrenal fatigue).

The Fire element is connected to the Heart organ network in Chinese medicine, which means that it is intimately involved in the physical functions of our Heart (i.e., circulation) as well as the mental-emotional aspects (i.e., love, joy, and empathy). The associated color is red, the sound is laughter, and it houses the mind-spirit and opens to the tongue. The connection to the tongue is one reason why kind, compassionate speech is healing both for others and for oneself. Both our thoughts and words matter in Chinese medicine.

The sparkling, fun, optimistic nature of Fire is contagious, but we must be cognizant of the need to tend to our Fire element to ensure that it remains within a healthy, balanced range. As we move deeper into the fire of summer, we we may notice a flaring of our own internal heat. An excess of heat in the body can manifest as: fever, inflammation, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, mania, flushing, skin rashes and acne, hypertension, constipation, nosebleeds, acid reflux, and more.

One of the key ways in which we can assist our bodies during times of seasonal transition is through our diet. Just as the plants that grow and thrive shift with the seasons in response to changes in the environment, so must we. As we tune into the cycles of nature, and recognize these cycles within ourselves, we can begin to match our internal rhythms to those of the greater ecosystem in which we live.

Indigestion can easily occur during the summertime, so a lighter, fresher, more diverse diet is best. While Chinese Medicine often advises against the consumption of cold, raw foods, this is the time of year when it is appropriate to incorporate more foods that are cooling in nature. These are foods that have a cooling & calming effect on the body, and are often sweet, bitter, or astringent. We can use cooling foods to balance the heat of summer, while also incorporating a variety of foods that align with the increased energy and activity of the season. Consciously adapting our diet to one that calms the digestive fire during the summer season can assist us in maintaining a state of emotional calm, while increasing our capacity to handle stress, properly absorb nutrients & eliminate waste, and to look & feel radiant.

Choosing seasonal & locally grown fruits and veggies that can be found at the farmer’s market or delivered via your local CSA is always a great way to follow the cues of nature. Some examples of foods that can help cool & hydrate your body during the summer are: zucchini, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, daikon radish, seaweeds, watermelon, apricot, cantaloupe, peach, citrus, asparagus, sprouts, bamboo, white mushroom, snow peas, summer squash, watercress, mung beans, fish, cilantro, mint, dill, parsley, basil, and cumin.  Sip on water or coconut water infused with slices of lemon and cucumber and fresh mint leaves throughout the day. Foods to avoid this season are rich, greasy, fried, and spicy foods, as well as excessive alcohol, caffeine, and meat consumption.

Eat in moderation, chew each bite thoroughly, and practice gratitude for that which nourishes you. Be aware that over-consumption of any food, especially cooling foods, can lead to indigestion, sluggishness, bloating, & loose stools, so it is often wise to incorporate a small amount of warming herbs or spices to assist in the digestive process. For example, try adding fresh ginger or cardamom to a smoothie or mealtime tea. Try the following smoothie recipe to start your summer day off right!

 

Soothing Summer Smoothie Recipe:

Add the following organic (& ideally locally grown) ingredients to your blender. Blend, garnish with a fresh mint sprig, and enjoy in small, delight-filled sips!

1 persian cucumber (sliced into rounds)

¼ large fennel bulb (sliced) + several pinches of fennel leaves

1 celery stalk (chopped)

1 large carrot (chopped; raw or steamed & then frozen)

1 large handful of greens (baby spinach or kale is nice)

½ white peach (optional depending on your desired sweetness)

½ cup blueberries or raspberries (frozen or fresh; also optional)

Juice of ½ a lemon or lime

Handful of fresh mint

1 small knob of fresh, peeled ginger

1 large handful of sprouts (I like sunflower & broccoli sprouts, but feel free to explore)

1 tablespoon of chia, hemp, and/or flaxseeds.

½ tablespoon bee pollen

1-2 teaspoons adaptogens, such as moringa powder, tocos, or chlorella.

1 cup Coconut water, kombucha (flavor options are endless these days, but do yourself a favor and try the Love or Happiness flavor from Brew Dr. Kombucha - both of which are perfect for the season of the Heart!), water, or any mixture of the 3.

If you like a creamier smoothie, you can try adding ⅓ avocado and/or replacing 1 or more of the above liquids with a nut mylk.

You can also add a scoop of collagen peptides for some extra protein and gut support. We like Vital Proteins wild-caught marine collagens, or their vanilla & coconut water pasture-raised, grass-fed collagen peptides. 

Enjoy!

Saturday Afternoon Botanical Bliss Truffles

Saturday Afternoon Botanical Bliss Truffles

I've been having an exceptional amount of fun lately making tasty, salubrious, spirited herbal concoctions using powders from Sun Potion & other delightful alchemists. I have some combo of adaptogenic herbs in my morning tea on a daily basis (all about that Reishi at the moment - I swear it is to credit for keeping me allergy-free this season!), but today I was craving more of a treat & had some extra time on hand to spend in the apothecary...I mean, kitchen. 'What in the world is an adaptogenic herb?!', you may be wondering! Allow me to elaborate...

Adaptogens are non-toxic herbs that "can stimulate, activate, or promote a response [to stressors] in multiple nonspecific ways, including the building of a reserve of adaptive energy.” They posses a bidirectional intelligence which allows them to either restrain & temper any hyperactive functioning or bolster & invigorate the functioning of underactive systems in the body on the cellular level, especially the neuroendocrine & immune systems!* They can guide the body back into a state of equilibrium, even in the midst of the seemingly ceaseless onslaught of myriad stressors in our modern world.

These beauteous truffle babes are filled with adaptogenic tonic herbs, raw cacao, & magic. Warning: these may incite high vibes, enhanced immunity, upgraded cognition, rejuvenated hair/skin/libido, overall well-being, & long-lasting bliss. Consume at your own risk 😉 Cheers to healthy pleasures & superfood mavens Sun Potion for procuring the highest quality organic/wild crafted herbs! Today's batch of treats feature Anandamide, He Shou Wu, Mucuna Puriens, & Tocos. Yum. 

You can come try some of these at our Healing Arts center where I intend on offering samples of what I'm making from time to time! You can also purchase the herbal powders (as is, or in custom combinations put together for your unique constitution) at our clinic & use this little recipe I've whipped up (see below) so you can make them at home! 

 

Botanical Bliss Truffles Recipe (can't help but giggle a little bit at the name I christened them with - the joy is already bubbling & we haven't even gotten to lick the bowl yet!):

Wet ingredients: 
1/2 cup raw cacao butter
1/2 cup coconut oil or coconut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 ground vanilla bean)
Monkfruit crystals (1 tsp or more; start small & add more depending on desired sweetness)

Dry ingredients: 
1/2 c Anandamide + 1/2 c Raw Cacao Powder
1/4-1/2 c raw coconut flakes
2 tbsp Chia Seeds
2 tbsp blanched almond flour
1 tbsp Lucuma
1 tbsp Tocos
1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
Raw honey (1 tbsp or more depending on desired sweetness)

Additional adaptogenic/superfood herbs (approximately 1/4-1/2 cup in total; keep in mind you are already getting a divine blend of herbs from the Anandamide cacao powder, so this step is totally optional & open to interpretation):
I used: He Shou Wu + Mucuna Puriens + Maca; but some other great options are: Chaga, Cordyceps, Reishi, Ashwaganda, Schisandra, Pine Pollen, etc. there really are no limits!

Rolled in any combination of the following toppings (again you can play with this part & get creative with other toppings you enjoy). Some of my favorites are: 
local bee pollen
raw coconut flakes/shreds
lucuma, cinnamon, cardamom, raw cacao, maca, &/or tumeric powder
raw cacao nibs
hemp seeds
sesame seeds
goji berries
celtic sea salt or himalayan pink salt

1. Lightly warm the wet ingredients until liquified; I like to put them in a bowl placed atop a pot of boiling hot water so as not to expose the raw ingredients to too much direct heat; melt the monkfruit crystals into this mixture (but don't add the raw honey in at this point - you will add this in later)
2. Place all dry ingredients in blender or food processor & add wet ingredients; blend until fully integrated; it will seem way too wet to form into balls at this point, but have no fear....
3. Scoop the mixture into a bowl (a metal bowl will work best because the mixture will cool faster) & place in fridge for 30 minutes or more (until mixture has hardened enough to be molded)
4. Cover a cutting board with parchment paper & spoon the chocolate mixture out & roll into smooth balls. 
6. Roll the balls into the superfood toppings (you can put the toppings into the bowl one-by-one & toss balls until covered. Alternatively you can add on your choice of superfood toppings in various corners of the parchment paper on your cutting board & roll balls into them by hand). 
7. Enjoy! (These can be kept in the fridge or freezer for future consumption)

 

(For more on adaptogens, check out Winston & Maimes book, Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief)

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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Easy Peasy Homemade Cough Remedy

Easy Peasy Homemade Cough Remedy

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This winter has been gnarly health-wise. I don't think anyone has been entirely immune to the yuckiness. I have seen way too many colds, ear infections, and lingering coughs for my liking. I am grateful to have the awesome tools of Chinese medicine to support my patients through this season, but it is essential to have at-home remedies on hand as well. In case you, your family, or friends are suffering from one of those above-mentioned lingering coughs, here is a super simple recipe for a Grapefruit and Honey Tea that will ease coughing, boost immunity, and soothe your whole respiratory system.

Personally, I don't think it is a coincidence that many varieties of citrus are at the height of ripeness during the winter months, when our bodies need their tart, vitamin-packed goodness the most. This recipe utilizes grapefruit for its high vitamin A and C content as well as its bitter, heat clearing properties. Bitter flavors drain heat and infection out of the body, from the Chinese medical perspective. Honey works synergistically to balance the bitterness of the grapefruit as well as nourish the throat and lungs. Raw, unfiltered honey retains anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties while moistening the lungs and calming a cough.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Grapefruit and Honey Tea

Step 1: Clean and chop up 1 large or 2 small organic grapefruits (leave the peel on).

Grapefruit-1
Grapefruit-1

Step 2: Place in a pot with 4 cups of water (use half the amount of grapefruit and water for just one mug-full of tea) and bring to a boil. Simmer on low, covered, for 15-20 minutes.

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Grapefruit-2

Step 3: Strain the liquid into a mug and, if you want to get every drop of goodness, squeeze the grapefruit pieces once they've cooled a bit.

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Grapefruit-3

Step 4: Add raw honey to taste and enjoy! Raw, unfiltered buckwheat and manuka honey are two excellent choices for sweeteners. Keep in mind that bitterness is also a primary therapeutic property of this tea, so please don't sweeten all of the bitter flavor out of it :-).

Halloween Doesn't Have to be SUGARY Scary!

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Halloween Doesn't Have to be SUGARY Scary!

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The sugariest day of the year is right around the corner. This post offers fun and yummy non-candy treats for all the cute pumpkin faces who ring your doorbell this Friday night...

I have plenty of childhood Halloween memories that revolve around seemingly endless amounts of candy, but the fact of the matter is that sugar has a hugely negative impact on immunity and overall health. I believe that the body can tolerate almost anything when used in moderation, but Halloween is not exactly the most moderate sugary experience for most kids. Here are some easy ways to mitigate all the sugar floating around this Oct 31.

Halloween Treat Ideas that Aren't Scary (1)
Halloween Treat Ideas that Aren't Scary (1)

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