Turmeric Chai Tea

Chai TeaWinter is the BEST time to make chai. In addition to being warm and delicious the spices each have their own important medicinal properties to contribute.

 All of these spices are powerful antioxidants. The turmeric adds anti-inflammatory, liver support. The sweet spices provide additional digestive ease as well as balancing the flavor. The fat in the coconut milk improves absorption of the active constituents in the turmeric (as does the ground pepper, so don’t skip the pepper!).

Although I usually try to minimize the use of sweeteners, the taste of this tea is vastly improved with the addition of honey. To be extra careful about sugar, use the licorice root as an alternative in order to eliminate or reduce the honey.

The quickest way to make the chai is to use the dry spice option, but if you have a few more minutes and access to the fresh herbs, there’s a worthwhile additional taste bonus!

Ingredients

 3 heaping teaspoons powdered turmeric OR 6 (inch-long) pieces of fresh root, chopped
1 heaping teaspoon ground cloves
2 tsp cardamom (freshly ground is amazing)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger OR 4 tsp chopped fresh ginger)
¼ tsp ground pepper
3 pints (6 cups) filtered water
honey to taste OR 2 tsp licorice root simmered an extra 10 minutes before adding sweet spices
coconut milk to taste (be liberal!)

Directions

Bring water to boil, then add dry spices. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes
OR
if using fresh herbs (ginger, turmeric) simmer the chopped roots for 10 minutes. Include the licorice root if you are using that for added sweetness. Then add the remaining dry spices and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Strain.

Add honey, stir to melt, then add coconut milk to taste.

Kinds of Hunger

When you are hungry, what part of you is calling out to be fed?

I read a very helpful book recently, Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays, M.D. She discussed the different kinds of hunger, many of which have little to do with actual physical hunger. See if you recognize any patterns from your own experience:

Eating Strawberry

  • Eye Hunger (if it looks good you eat it, hungry or not)
  • Nose Hunger (delicious food smells entice you to eat – it’s all about stimulus, not real hunger)
  • Mouth Hunger (just want “something” to satisfy oral craving)
  • Stomach Hunger (can be habitual, soothing or anxiety eating as well as a truly empty, hungry stomach)
  • Cellular Hunger (this is the deepest “real” hunger-your cells need nutrients)
  • Mind Hunger (based on fads, clock-time, “should and shouldn’t” rules)
  • Heart Hunger (buried emotion or loneliness, seeking fulfillment)

With this helpful understanding, we quickly realize that trying to satisfy all these different kinds of hunger by eating food is really rather…uncreative and off-target. Try some strategies that are better focused on satisfying these different urges. Enhance your daily meals with beauty (dishes, flowers, candles). Enjoy good smells without reflexive eating, and when you ARE eating, take time to really smell your delicious food.  Also enjoy non-food fragrances that please you, such as essential oils or fresh flowers.

When you eat a meal, “invite your mind” by paying attention to the taste of healthy food in your mouth, and stop eating before you are completely full. Consider the role of thirst – we often mistake thirst for hunger. And don’t be afraid of letting yourself get good and hungry occasionally. Our primitive brain urges us to eat the second we have a minor twinge of hunger for fear there may be a shortage.

Eat nutrient-dense, real food. That is the best cure for “cravings” as it will satisfy your body at the cellular level.

And we all have tried to satisfy heart hunger with food–knowing that will never work. Feed your emotional needs with connection, intimacy and service to others.  When you eat a meal, feed the heart by taking care in preparing and eating your food. We each deserve nourishment on a deep level.

Here’s an exercise to help you learn more about your own patterns of eating and the drivers behind careless eating.

  • When you feel hungry, rate your degree of hunger on a scale of 0-10 for each different kind of hunger
  • Learn more about “who” inside you is hungry and nourish that part of yourself appropriately. Stomach and cellular hunger are the only types to feed with food.

Use all of your senses to increase your enjoyment and satisfaction when you eat food. Mindful eating can help us understand the emotion behind certain foods and come to know ourselves more deeply. And, when we learn to eat only in response to “real” hunger, many aspects of our health will gradually come into balance, including better digestion, energy and appropriate weight.

 

 

 

Put credit here #2

Beet Salad with Pumpkin Seeds

Beets are such a power food for your liver that you should find several ways you enjoy eating them. This recipe uses the whole beet, including greens, so make sure to pick out a bunch with nice fresh leaves. The combination of citrus and basil make this recipe a winner!

Ingredients

Salad:
4 large beets
¼ pumpkin seed
1 bunch beet greens
2 scallions
¼ lb feta cheese (optional)

Dressing:
3 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 TB balsamic vinegar
¾ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 TB finely chopped fresh basil

Directions

Slice off beet greens and wash/scrub beets well. Slice in half and place in top of steamer filled with water. Bring to boil and steam until beets are tender but not mushy (about 20 minutes). Run under cool water and slip off the skins. Cut into cubes and set aside to cool.

Toast pumpkin seeds by placing them in a dry skillet over low-medium heat. Move the skillet back and forth over the heat with one hand and stir the seeds with a wooden spoon using the other hand. This will toast the seeds evenly and prevent burning. When the seeds begin to give off a nutty aroma they are ready. Remove from skillet and set aside to cool.

Wash the beet greens well and chop into bite sized pieces. Place in the steamer and cook until tender (about 3-5 minutes). Place in colander (or carefully use steamer) and run cold water over them to halt cooking. Squeeze excess water out of the greens.

Place all dressing ingredients in jar and shake well. Place beets, beet greens, pumpkin seeds and scallions in a salad bowl (save a few pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on top). Pour dressing over salad and toss gently. Crumble feta cheese on top if using. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Variations: add 2 TB orange zest (highly recommended!)

from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair

kale with sweet potatos and pecans

Kale with Sweet Potatoes and Pecans

Kale is such a power food it is well worth finding the ways you like it best. Some find the flavor of kale to be a bit strong. In this recipe it is tempered by the sweetness of the yams, raisins and spices, and complemented beautifully with the complex flavor of the toasted pecans.

Ingredients

 2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced or grated fresh ginger
1 cup (I medium) garnet yam
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup broth
3 cups dinosaur kale, rinsed & stemmed (about 1 medium bunch)
1/3 tsp sea salt
2 TB golden raisins (cut into smaller pieces if they are “jumbo”)
¼ tsp maple syrup
2 TB lightly toasted pecans

Directions

 Start toasting the pecans before you start cooking the vegetables. Place them on a small baking sheet and toast at 300˚ for 10-12 minutes, stirring once or twice. Set aside to cool. (Toasting at lower temperature preserves the nutrients better than high temperature toasting).

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan, then add the ginger and sauté for 30 seconds until aromatic. Add the sweet potato, cinnamon and broth. Stir until combined, then cover briefly to soften for 2-3 minutes. Add the kale, salt and raisins and sauté until the kale is a darker shade of green and the sweet potatoes are tender (about 5 minutes). Stir in the maple syrup, check for flavor and add another pinch of salt if needed.

Garnish with the toasted pecans.

From Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz

How Toxins Affect Your Health

Most likely when we hear the word “detox” we think of Hollywood stars checking into fancy resorts to recover from their lifestyle excesses. Truth is that we all need to detox on a regular basis to protect ourselves from accumulating an ever-greater body burden of chemicals from plastics, pesticides, organic solvents, heavy metals, etc. Spring and fall are the best times to enter a period of conscious eating and liver support to help your body clear out some of the unwanted “freight” we’ve taken on board.

Detox programs and “cleanses” abound. Avoid approaches that include laxatives (herbal or otherwise) or overly aggressive ways of pushing detox. The first time you detox it’s best to use a mostly food-based approach so you can start gently. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your body’s ability to off-load toxins (it will feel like headache and flu).

Pick a three-week period for your detox when you can be focused and committed. Here’s a simple approach to start with:

• Start with cleaning up your diet: lots of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, filtered water, clean protein from pastured animals and wild fish.

• Emphasize foods that support your liver: beets, artichokes, garlic, dandelion and other bitter greens, lemon juice, etc.

• Set aside inflammatory foods such as wheat, sugar, alcohol and dairy for your “spring cleaning”.

• Provide support to your detox pathways with gentle liver support herbs such as burdock, milk thistle and other herbal allies.

• Commit yourself to 30 minutes of daily exercise such as walking.

There are many levels of detox—it’s just like peeling an onion. Aim to remove only a few outer layers the first time you do it. The second time around you can go deeper. In the meantime, learn how to minimize your ongoing exposure from everyday sources such as the water you drink (see “resources” for water filter recommendations), your personal care products (go to www.ewg.org to learn which products are pure), and the food you eat (hint: organic food is not only richer in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but also reduces your chemical exposure from food – one of the greatest inputs into your body as you eat several times each day!)

You will be pleased—and maybe surprised—at the benefits to be gained by undertaking a careful, appropriate detoxification program. Renewed energy and concentration, improved skin, clearer breathing, better sleep, improved digestion, and losing a few extra pounds are all common outcomes after a good detox. Whether you go it alone or join a group, it’s an experience you will want to repeat for your own continuing good health and well-being!

Check out the detox program we offer seasonally to see if it might meet your needs. It’s called “Dump The Junk” and we’ve been seeing great results for 5 years with this individualized, science-based program.

Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.com

 

Allergy Season

Natural Remedies-Allergy Relief

Allergy season is here…OTC allergy relief medicines are flying off the shelf, and on my walks at Lake Chabot I can hear the sneezing and wheezing! I can even hear my neighbors sneezing! Many drugstore medicines can make you feel drowsy so it is nice to know that some herbs and nutrients can help calm down your allergic response. Herbal teas or tinctures including nettle, eyebright and goldenrod can be helpful. The cooking spice turmeric can help reduce allergic inflammation. Vitamin C itself is a natural antihistamine and is especially effective in a whole food form that includes the bioflavonoids such as quercitin and rutin. A good quality fish oil can also help calm the inflammation response. Local honey can help reduce reactivity as well. If you are suffering from allergies this season, call the office for suggestions on nutrients and herbs that may help relieve your symptoms. It is always advisable to consult with an herbalist who can consider your allergy symptoms in the context of your overall health.

Stress

Lack Of Sleep Causes Stress

HuffPost Survey Reveals Lack Of Sleep As A Major Cause Of Stress Among Americans

Ninety-one percent of us felt stressed by something in the month of March, with 77 percent of us feeling stressed “regularly” — defined as weekly or more. Men and women reported being stressed equally as often, though that stress can be triggered by somewhat different things.

Those are among the results of a national survey of more than a thousand Americans 18 and older, conducted online for the Huffington Post by an internal research team. It is to be an ongoing project, with different facets of the research being highlighted in relevant sections of the Huffington Post in the coming weeks, and follow-up questions planned to dig further into some of the most interesting findings.

Read the rest of the story here

Marinated Asparagus Salad

Make the most of the remaining asparagus season! Local asparagus is available for only a short time – we are so lucky to have access to the fresh, tender spears harvested in the nearby Delta. My French grandmother grudgingly shared her vinaigrette dressing, and I have increased the antioxidant power by punching up the herb content. Enjoy the simple bliss of this marinated asparagus salad.

Ingredients

Salad:
1 bunch asparagus, snap off stems from the bottom
1 scallion
1 tomato
1 cup of sprouted and cooked red or black beans, or use one can of beans, rinsed and drained
Feta cheese (optional)
Kalamata olives (optional)

Dressing:
1 medium clove of garlic
4 TB Olive oil
2 TB balsamic or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 TB+ fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, marjoram)
Salt and fresh ground pepper (if you use feta cheese and olives extra salt may be unnecessary) 

Directions
Crush garlic clove through garlic press into medium sized bowl and set aside to allow time for the beneficial enzymes to develop.

Cut asparagus into bite sized pieces after snapping off the tough ends. Steam lightly until just cooked (you really don’t want it soft). When cooked, run under cool water and set aside to cool off while you make the dressing.

To the garlic in the bowl, add the mustard, oil and vinegar. Chop up the herbs finely and stir in. If you are using additional salt (no feta and olives) add to dressing along with freshly ground pepper. Stir vigorously (or whisk) to combine.

Cut up scallions and tomato; add to dressing and toss. Add asparagus and beans, then toss thoroughly with the dressing. Salad flavors improve with some time to marinate, but it’s fine to eat immediately.

Substitutions: Instead of asparagus you can use green beans, or any other steamed vegetable. In winter, you can add radishes for color when tomatoes are not in season. Leftover chicken can be added for a further boost in protein.