New Year’s Resolution: Seasonal Eating

Every January many of us resolve to make changes to better our health. One of the most common of these goals is to eat right in order to lose some extra weight. Sadly, only about 8% of us actually manage to achieve this goal long-term. There are a few ideas of proper diet in Chinese Medicine that can help many more make this particular goal a reality.

Seasonal Eating

In Western culture, we use lots of salads, raw veggies and cold smoothies to cut calories, increase fiber intake and hopefully, shed some pounds. While these foods are all very nutritious, their raw state and often “cold” quality can cause digestive function strain that, in the long run, will hurt rather than help attaining an appropriate body weight by disrupting fluid metabolism and making the body collect unwanted fluids.

steamed vegetables
Steamed Veggies. If you want some recipes, feel free to email or call us.

When it’s cold outside, we should be putting warm foods inside to support the natural temperature of our digestive process. It’s best to choose foods that would have been available at this time of year before the invention of refrigeration, freezing and long-distance shipping. This means we should be eating more things like root vegetable (beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions), fermented or pickled foods (sauerkraut, pickles), healthy grains (rice, oats, quinoa or wheat if you tolerate it), legumes (beans and peas), and lean organic meats, fish an poultry. Warm the food up! It’s cold outside, and your insides work best when warm. Lightly saute, stew, steam, or roast meals. Soups are awesome in the winter. Try some new spices like ginger, curries or chilis. Experiment with a steamer, slow cooker, or pressure cooker.

By eating appropriate, fresh, freshly prepared foods we strengthen and protect the digestive system in the body. This will reward us with less cravings, better digestive health, a more even metabolism, less puffiness and fluid buildup, and long-term healthier weight and energy regulation. By thinking long-term for our bodies we set ourselves up for lasting success and good health into the new year and beyond.

Chai

Winter is a time for chai, which is one of the most wonderfully warming and stimulating and good tasting thing is you can drink in winter that is truly healthy for you.

chai tea

Literally translated, Chai means “tea”, funny enough. As you can see, calling it “chai tea” is a bit redundant.  Funny, no?  This article over at Mental Floss will give you some very interesting chai word history: Don’t “Chai and “Tea” both mean the same thing?

Give the following recipe a try at home in your crock pot. Ingredients are easily found at any health food store including the Outpost, Whole Foods and such. Done right, this is far better and healthier than the often over – sweetened, syrupy versions that you may find it coffee shops in United States.

This is a recipe to be modified to suit your taste.

First, buy the following ingredients from the Outpost store (or other health food store):

  • 4 TB Green Cardamom Pods, crushed
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 10-15 2” cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns
  • 6 quarter-sized pieces fresh ginger root
  • 4-6 cups milk alternative (almond milk or cashew milk)
  • Optional: few drops stevia extract as sweetener (stevia can also be bought in a powder form)
  • 2 black tea bags

Directions: Bring 1 ½ gallons of water to a boil in large pot.  Add above herbs.  Lower heat to a simmer & simmer for 60 minutes.  Strain herbs.  If you prefer to add black tea, at this point steep black tea bags for 5-10 minutes (steep: to let tea bags sit in hot  water). The final step is to add milk substitute & stevia & serve warm.  Refrigerate remainder of tea, for later use (re-heat before drinking again).

What To Eat in Winter

‘Tis the season…to eat the correct foods in winter. With the winter solstice having just passed and the temperatures get a bit colder, the following ideas from Chinese medical theory apply.

The most important thing would be to eat foods that are warm, both in their effect on the body and also in their temperature. An example of a food that is “warming” is lamb which happens to be the most warmingcooked lamb food on the planet. Feel free to eat plenty of that in the season. Soups and cooked vegetables are more optimum then cold, raw foods this time of the year. Unfortunately, as the temperature drops in northern climates, the metabolism in the human body also drops so cooking foods makes it easier for your body to break foods down.

 

Anther suggestion is to eat foods that are black, interestingly enough…….the reason being black foods nourish kidney and adrenal function which are susceptible to imbalances in the winter months in cases of deficiency.  Examples of unique and tasty black foods would be black lentils, black sesame seeds, black walnuts or perhaps a variety of seaweed (such as hijiki, arame or dulse, which can be made into tasty salads).

Should you eat a “raw food” diet?

People often use “raw” diets and assume it is very good for their body, sometimes ignoring the signs that their body is having trouble with a completely “raw” diet.

Not to be controversial, but the question is not “should a person eat raw foods or not?”; rather, the question is “is the individual person’s metabolism strong enough so that they could eat raw foods, break those foods down and get the nutrients?” and if so, “when (what time of the year) should a person eat raw foods?”

Our clinical experience shows us people may eat raw foods and think things are great, but have bloating that they attribute to detoxification, when in actual fact those symptoms are coming from a lack of breaking down foods that are raw.

Basically, raw foods, like everything, could be consumed in moderation for best health results, especially in winter when a person’s metabolism is weaker. Summertime is the best time to eat raw foods in higher quantity.

There are a small number of Americans in our experience who can fully metabolize large volumes of daily raw foods without any troubles, and those individuals have an extraordinarily high, hot–burning metabolism for sure.

To learn a bit more so that you can decide what would really be best for you, read our newsletter here: Raw Vs. Cooked Foods

Eating Before Bedtime: An Acupuncturist’s Point-of-View

Digitized copy of the Suwen (First Volume) of the Yellow Emperor's Classic.
Digitized copy of the Suwen (First Volume) of the Yellow Emperor’s Classic.

The ancients of Chinese medicine had some pretty brilliant ideas about the body and how it functions. One of the fundamental text books in Oriental Medicine (and in Acupuncture) is called The Yellow Emperor’s Classic.

Written before the birth of Christ, it is a documented conversation between the Chinese Emperor at the time and his Acupuncturist, Qi Bo. The book explains in detail the subtlety of the body and its relation to the natural world around it. It contains the basic concepts of Oriental Medicine and most acupuncturists are required to read it at some point through their training.

One key tip as an example of the medical brilliance of this time period is the following:  always eat your evening meal no less than two hours before going to bed at night.

Why?

The body’s first instinct is to deal with whatever is in the digestive system, all other functions are put on the back burner until that is accomplished. In Oriental Medicine, we believe that the body heals itself while you’re sleeping.

The liver is the most active between 1:00am and 3:00am; during that time, it should be purifying the blood. In this case, if a meal is eaten and not fully digested before this time, the liver may not be able to fully do its job, which can lead to many issues down the road. An immediate feeling would be one of “food stagnation,” that weird feeling in your stomach when it feels full and uncomfortable after you’ve eaten late at night and gone straight to bed.

Modern assistance for busy lives would include the following: if you have to eat close to when you lie down to sleep occasionally, use digestive enzymes with that meal (such as the ones that we carry in the office) to break down the food more rapidly. If you have any questions about your specific situation, feel free to give us a call at (414) 332-8888 or email us at info@milwaukeeacu.com.

To your happy digestive system, using the brilliance of Oriental medicine…

Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.

Food as Medicine: The Winter Months

Utilizing food as medicine is a powerful tool that anyone can use to not only feel their best, but to avoid ailments that correspond to their life or environmental stresses that may be present. The concept of using food as medicine is a long held tradition of civilizations throughout human history, yet sometimes can be forgotten in our fast paced and often stressful world. The following is meant to give you an idea of what type of conditions affect your body and its ability to function based on environmental factors, and how you can balance these factors by choosing the appropriate foods.

12641392491982759135Inhalation_diagram.svg.hiWe will begin with the present winter months, and how choosing the right foods (as well as avoiding some others) can help to balance your body’s function as old man winter blasts us with factors such as cold and dryness. The lung’s function is very important to staying healthy during the winter months. It acts as the “front line” of your immune system, and is also very susceptible to external conditions. This is due to the proximity of the lung to the outside world. When you step out on a sub-zero morning and take that first icy breath, your lung is literally taking in the external environment with very little to filter out conditions that are hard on it. This, coupled with our tendency to stay indoors with little outside ventilation like open windows, is why it’s not a coincidence that winter is the most prevalent season for colds and flu.

Based on the two main factors present during the winter season, cold and dryness, we can choose foods that both warm and moisturize our bodies. We can also focus a bit more on boosting lung function so that our immune systems remain strong during the cold and flu season.

cinnamongingerhoneyonionSome foods to include for winter are ginger, green onion, cinnamon, and honey (not necessarily all together!) Ginger and green onion warms the body, ginger especially for the lung. When used together they also have a powerful immune boosting effect that can ward off early stages of colds such as that tickle in your throat or a mild body ache. Cinnamon also warms the body and gently increases circulatory function, which is lessened by the colds constricting effects. Honey is warming as well but is also moisturizing, helping to keep tissues from becoming affected by the dryness factors present during winter.

There are also foods that can directly boost lung function to keep the immune system strong. Both pears and broccoli help the lung, and can utilize the above listed ingredients perfectly. Pears gently cooked with honey and cinnamon make a great winter snack or dessert to come home to after a long winter day. And broccoli lightly stir-fried with ginger and green onions is a delicious side dish for any meal.

Both of these dishes can help boost your body’s function to remain strong during this very taxing season, but some foods should be avoided during the winter months. Raw foods have a cold factor to them, as the body needs to spend resources to warm them up for digestion. We should therefore lightly cook any vegetables during the winter. This also means that cold beverages are especially taxing on the digestive function and should also be avoided.

By adding these easy to find ingredients and avoiding the cold and raw ones, we can all bear the long winter with better health and vitality.

Be Healthy: Coffee vs. Tea

 

We want to make sure you know that our main purpose is to make sure you stay healthy. So…at the risk of infuriating millions of Americans (likely because of the fear of the headaches they will experience from withdrawal if they discontinue use), I am writing this to offer one perspective. Then, you should make the decision that is best for you.

The downsides to coffee: it is highly acidic, leading to inflammation which can cause many health problems. Also, it is apparently very difficult grow, therefore massive quantities of herbicides and
pesticides are used in its cultivation. Additionally, the “buzz” you get from coffee is not the caffeine; rather it is the caffeine stimulating the release of adrenaline. Over time, this leads to depleted
kidney/adrenal function.

The solution (should you decide to kick the habit): start gently on the following steps. Watch out…at some point it may get bumpy, as withdrawal isn’t very pleasant!

Note: To minimize any withdrawal symptoms, it is important to make the following transitions:

Drink only organic regular coffee for a few days.
Drink half organic, half organic steam-distilled decaf for a few days.
Drink organic steam-distilled decaf only for a few days. (FYI: there is still caffeine in decaf coffee. The decaffeination process never removes all of the caffeine.)
Drink green tea for a few days.
Drink Chai tea (Indian Spice tea with little or, better yet, no black tea). We have a fantastic recipe here.

 

Do you have a question that you would like answered? email Curry: Curry@MilwaukeeAcu.com

Amanda’s Grilled Portabella Mushrooms

Mushrooms are very versatile and there are a number of different ways you should cook them, depending on the variety of mushroom. This is one of my favorite recipes, especially when I am short on time or when I want something that isn’t as heavy as eating meat. This recipe involves little preparation and cooking time…you’re looking at about 20 minutes of actual work.

Ingredients:

4-6 large portabella caps

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped onion

2-4 cloves minced garlic (I use 4 since I LOVE garlic)

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I have also used red wine vinegar on these and they were delicious. I’m not a huge fan of vinegar, so I usually omit this part.)

Directions:

Whisk together the olive oil, onion, garlic and vinegar.

Clean mushrooms, remove the stems and dry them off.  Place them gill side up on a plate.

Pour the marinade over the mushrooms and let them sit for about an hour.

Grill or broil 4-5 minutes on each side.

Serve immediately.

 

There are a few different serving options as well. Sometimes I sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese over them. Other times, I make a sandwich with sprouted bread, pesto, Parmesan, spinach and sprouts.

Mexican Style Vegetarian Loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained well
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained well
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chili peppers, hot or mild, drained
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn, unsweetened
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Sea or kosher salt to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/3 barbecue sauce, no sugar added (look for one that has honey or molasses)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet add oil, turn to medium-low heat and sauté onions until tender, about 4 minutes. Add kidney beans, black beans, green chili peppers and corn, continue to sauté until beans soften up, about 3 minutes. Add oregano, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, salt and cayenne pepper, stir to combine.

Combine, in a large mixing bowl, bean mixture and bread crumbs. Lightly spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray, add bean mixture, shape into a loaf. Bake for 30 minutes, add barbecue sauce and bake 1 additional minute. Remove from oven and allow to set 5 minutes. Cut into 8 slices and carefully remove each slice with a spatula.

Tip: This loaf is perfect for leftover sandwiches. After being refrigerated overnight, the loaf holds together really well.

Click here to see original recipe.

The Power of The Pumpkin!

 

A pumpkin’s beautiful orange color means that it has a high level of carotenoids, which assist in staving off free radicals and help with premature aging. Pumpkin seeds are a rich protein source- one ounce is the equivalent of 7 grams of protein. They are also rich is essential fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits including promoting healthy skin, brain power, and prevention of health diseases such as arthritis and high blood pressure.

Enjoy these healthy vegan recipes that you can add all fall and winter long!

Comforting Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Pecans

Ingredients:

1/3 cup regular oats

1 cup almond milk

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3-1/2 cup pumpkin

1/2 tbsp chia seeds

Pinch of sea salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

1/8th tsp nutmeg

Toppings:

Chopped pecans (approx 1 tbsp)

1 tbsp almond milk

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1/2 tsp 

 

Pinch of cinnamon

 Directions: 

In a medium sized pot, heat the oats and almond milk over medium heat until it comes to a low boil. Stir in the pumpkin and chia seeds. Heat over low-medium for about 5-7 minutes stirring frequently. Now add in the spices and vanilla and heat for another 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour into a bowl and add toppings. Serves 1.

 Pumpkin Pie Monster Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup almond milk

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1 heaping tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg)

1 tsp blackstrap molasses

1/2 frozen banana OR 1/2 serving Protein powder

2 large ice cubes

Directions

Add all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Serves 1.

All recipes were adapted from Ohsheglows.com.