Some Quick Tips to finding Balance in the Summer

NOV_2009_PICS 1325We’ve reached the beginning of August and although our weather has been a bit out of whack (at least here in NYC) we still have more of this summer season to look forward to.  We’ll have more  long days and plenty of sunshine.  In Chinese Medicine, this time of the year is considered to be of utmost yang.  It is also the season of warmth, growth, connection, creativity, and activity.

In the Chinese Medicine Five Element Theory, the season of summer pertains to the fire element which is related to the heart, small intestine, and pericardium.  It is interesting that the element for this season is fire; not only is it the hottest time of year, but we also have this inner heat or energy in us that wants to move outward.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the function of the heart is not only to pump blood throughout our bodies.  Our thinking, memory, consciousness, thoughts, and emotions all pertain to the heart.  Therefore, while enjoying ourselves during the summer is at the top of most people’s agendas, we should also make sure to keep our heart, mind, and spirit healthy and in balance.

Below are some tips for keeping in balance with summer and the fire element, as well as to cool you down:

–          Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water

–          Stay calm and avoid anger

–          Add cooling foods to your diet like watermelon, oranges, cucumber, dill

–          Wear loose-fitting clothing (lighter colors are best for this season)

–          Get enough restful sleep

–          Rest during the middle of the day

–          Try to cut back on heavy, greasy, fried foods

–          Try acupuncture treatments to cool the body, calm the mind, and improve sleep

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Kombucha Series- Part 1: What is kombucha and what are the health benefits?

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Hi everyone!  Lately I’ve grown to love the taste and fizzy feel of a cup of cold kombucha.  In this series about kombucha, I am going to walk you through the steps towards making your own kombucha tea at home.  First, I want to give you some background information about it.


Kombucha is a type of fermented tea with many beneficial probiotics.  It’s origin seems to be uncertain.  Most sources say that it originated in China as it was used in ancient Chinese Medicine.  Other sources say that it originated in Russia, Japan, or Korea.  It seems to me as if many cultures have their own version of this healing drink since it has many different names as well.

The Kombucha drink is made from tea, vinegar, sugar, and a scoby (kombucha culture).  According to www.cultturesforhealth.com, “A kombucha starter culture (a.k.a. kombucha scoby, mushroom, mother) consists of yeast and bacteria existing in a symbiotic relationship. When combined with brewed tea, sugar, and water and allowed to ferment for 5 to 30 days, the resulting kombucha tea beverage has a slightly carbonated zing and is packed full of B- vitamins.”   

What are the health benefits?

Kombucha has many healing properties.  Here are some of them: It helps the body detoxify, improves joint health, aids digestion, helps to balance the body’s pH, boosts the immune system, and provides plenty of healthy probiotics.

If you would like to know more about kombucha, check out this link:


http://www.acupuncture.com/herbs/kombucha1.htm

I Became a “Crunchy” Mom and I Didn’t Realize It

I’m new to the whole parenting thing…..ok……I have a little more over a year under my belt but I believe I am still brand new.  There were many things I did not know.  I knew how to treat a sick child and I knew how to take care of babies and kids for a short time (babysitting experience) but parenting is a whole other ball game.  When people told me that my life would change, I did believe them but now I think that they totally under-emphasized how much.  
 
I did seek lots of advice in the early months (still do actually) and I read plenty of books.  However, I also did things instinctively, what felt right for my baby and my family.  What I didn’t expect was so many labels for different parenting styles.  I’ve met other parents who’ve asked me if I was a holistic mama, an attached parent, a crunchy mama, or a silky mama.  About a year ago, I never even knew what these terms meant.  I just thought I was a mom who wanted what’s best for her baby and family while trying to raise him as naturally as possible in this modern age.
 
That being said, after my baby boy was born and I started wading through sleep and breastfeeding, I began to lean more towards what people would call “crunchy mom” behavior.  I breastfed a lot, wore my baby frequently, and co-slept in a side-car arrangement.  I became an advocate in the no-cry sleep and vaccine awareness.  Although, I do have a holistic background since I am an acupuncturist with a focus on pediatric care I don’t think I have the same views as when I was pre-baby. 

I gravitated towards a more holistic type of parenting and it fit very nicely with our family and lifestyle.  I felt good caring and nurturing my baby this way, it felt natural to me and my son thrived on it.  I do understand that this is not for everyone and I encourage all moms to discover what feels right for their family.  And do not let anyone judge you for how you parent your child.  The most important thing is to be the best parent you can be. 

Congee Recipe

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About a month ago, my husband came down with a bad cold.  Although, his first reaction was to try to grab his over-the-counter medicine he decided to give my suggestion a try and ate a huge comforting bowl of warm congee.

The wonderful congee has different recipes and is available all of Asia under different names.  In Japan, it is called okayu, jok in Thailand, and lugao in the Philippines.  Each has their own unique way of making it with a variation of flavors.

Below is the basic congee recipe with some suggestions that I encourage you to try including how to make a great cold remedy with it. 😉

So what exactly is congee?  It’s overboiled, watery white rice.  Here is one simple recipe from the book “The Healing Cuisine of China” by Zhuo Zhao and George Ellis. To prepare a basic congee add 1 cup of white rice to 5 cups of water.  Bring the water to boil over a high heat. After it boils, bring the heat down to about medium, cover it, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  Make sure you stir the rice frequently so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.  Boil the rice until it is mushy and soft.  You can also add water to make it a consistency of watery gruel.

For a common cold remedy I added about 5 cloves of garlic and 4 teaspoons of chopped scallions (white heads only).  Afterwards, cook it for 5 additional minutes.  It should be consumed hot, once a day.  There are many other things you can add to have a fine congee.  You can add chicken, eggs, vegetables, fish, or beef.  You add specific Chinese Herbs if you’re looking to enhance certain medicinal properties.  You can even add fruits to make it sweet.  You can even use chicken broth in place of water (though I prefer homemade stock). There are so many varieties for this dish.

So I encourage you to give it try and have fun! 🙂

How do you like to eat your congee?