• The Lung network is abundant with Qi, and it has an affinity to pungent flavors.
• Eating excess cold and raw foods creates dampness or phlegm which is produced by the Spleen and stored by the Lungs. Dairy products such as: milk, cheese, cream, and butter create phlegm and can be harmful to the Lungs.
• Pungent is considered the flavor of the Lungs and moderate amounts of pungent foods like garlic, onions, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and mustard are beneficial to the Lungs. Pungent foods should not be over-consumed during the Fall as they can be too drying for the Lungs.
• A saying in Chinese medicine is that “the Lungs loathe dryness”, so it is beneficial to consume moistening Yin nourishing foods such as pear, pumpkin, nuts, seeds and honey.
• Most importantly, because the weather is cooling down, it is best too avoid cold and raw foods like salad. Soups and stews with heartier ingredients and longer cooking times are the most nourishing to the body during Fall and support the digestive system.
• Here is a recipe for Gingery Pumpkin Soup from the cookbook, Ancient Wisdom Modern Kitchen, Recipes from the East for Health, Healing and Long Life. Enjoy!
Gingery Pumpkin Soup
• 10-12 ounces pumpkin (about 2 cups when cubed)
• 6 whole cloves
• 2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 small onion (diced)
• 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced.
• 1 (1 to 2 inch) piece fresh ginger peeled and minced
• 1/2 cup unflavored soy milk (can substitute rice milk)
• A pinch of salt and pepper
• 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed and discarded.
1. Seed, peel and chop the pumpkin into 1 inch cubes.
2. Combine the pumpkin, cloves, and stick in a pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until the onions are translucent and soft (about 5 minutes).
4. When the pumpkin is done, remove the cloves form the broth.
5. Combine the pumpkin mixture, the onion mixture and the soy or rice milk, using a hand blender to blend it into a smooth puree. If you don’t have a hand blender, use a blender or food processor, working in batches if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Sprinkle the cilantro leaves on top of the soup for a flavorful and colorful garnish.
The key to health, according to Chinese medicine, is learning to live in harmony with the seasons. During Fall, Nature is slowing down, conserving energy, and moving inward. We must do the same by eating warming and nourishing foods, resting, sleeping longer, reflecting on our inner self and reeling in our mental energy. Now is the time to get a “tune-up” from your licensed acupuncturist to strengthen your Qi and your immune system in preparation for Winter.
Maggie Hofferber, L.Ac., MAOM
Autumn marks the beginning of the Yin cycle, where the the days become shorter, the weather is cooler, the air becomes crisp and the leaves begin to turn. As the leaves change color and drop, the old leaves go back to the earth, enriching the soil to promote the coming of a new harvest. The three months of Autumn are in charge of slowing the momentum of growth, and harvesting the Summer’s abundance. Summer, which is ruled by the Fire element, governs the Yang cycle. Summertime is full of energy, making it the perfect time for recreating outdoors. During Fall, it is time to turn inward, reflecting on life and preparing for the winter season ahead. Because Autumn is part of the Yin cycle, it is important to preserve one’s energy during this time, so as not to scatter the Qi. Here are some ways to help ease the transition of Summer to Fall.
Organize and Clean
Turning Inward and Processing Unresolved Emotions
Dress Warm and Wear a Scarf
Walk Outside and Breathe Deeply
1. In large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, heat oil. Saute onion, garlic, jalapeno, and ginger until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add curry powder and pumpkin. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
2. Stir in coconut milk and rice milk; bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer; cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add more milk or water if needed.
3. Add tofu and red bell pepper. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, uncovered, or until pumpkin is tender. Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Garnish with whole cilantro leaves. Serve hot.
Recipe from wholeliving.com
As the seasons start to turn again, so does the energy within the five Chinese elements. As we enter fall, the element of metal becomes the focus.
It is a time for transformation, letting go, and nourishing the body in preparation for winter.
We invite you to explore here the properties of metal energy and learn how certain foods can benefit our bodies during the months of fall.
Lungs & Large Intestine
The element of metal invites us to draw inward. It is a time to evaluate our lives, give purpose to what we do, and let go of the things that weigh us down. It is often the most challenging season in our Western lives, which tend to prize activity, constant development, and an outward social focus. In the fall growth happens through deepening and enriching instead of the expanding and unfolding growth of spring and summer. Understanding how our bodies work during this period can harmonize these transitions and make letting go a little easier.
There are two organs associated with the metal element; the lungs and large intestine (colon).
The lungs take in the crisp air of fall, allowing Qi to flow freely and effectively throughout the body. The new clarity of this autumnal air helps us to push out any stagnation that may have built up during the hot summer months.
The large intestine works together with the lungs, and both have a descending nature. The lungs allow Qi to descend through the body as the large intestine allows waste to descend and be eliminated. As material is passed from the small intestine, the large intestine absorbs the fluid and nutrients before discarding of the waste.
Our diet plays a crucial role in promoting and maintaining lung and colon health and function. If these organs are not properly nourished, they will not function adequately, preventing the transformation and "letting go" the body needs during this time. Below are foods particularly valuable during the fall for these organs to work together and perform at their strongest.
- especially those lighter in color such as white meats, tofu and beans help nourish the lungs.
- such as carrots, turnips, pumpkin, broccoli, kale and parsley help boost Qi and protect both the lungs and large intestine from illness.
Pungent and spicy foods
- such as onions, garlic, dill, ginger, fennel, and chili peppers are beneficial as they help cleanse the body as well as protect it and build immunity. They help transform the mucous, or dampness of the lungs, forcing it downward and into the colon for elimination.
This is an amazing, and amazingly healthy, energy bar. The recipe comes from The Community Co-Op, and you can't beat its combo of dried fruit, nuts and chocolate. This is a great way to get the benefit of nutrition packed nuts and seeds. Thanks Margot!
Margot’s Magic Energy Bars
1. Warm the honey in a large soup pot.
2. Add the chopped dates and simmer to soften the dates. Never let the honey boil!
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix into a thick batter.
4. Scoop the batter into a 9×13-inch cooking pan that has been sprinkled with coconut or extra seeds or seed meal, basically anything to keep it from sticking. You can line the pan with wax paper or not. You can cut the bars out at this time to make it easier to slice them once they have hardened.
5. Leave the pan in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Take it out and cut up the bars. Store them in the fridge or a cool, dry place.
Golden Beet & Sunflower Salad
Sprouted Bean & Kale Soup
Well, we made it through winter, and here we are back at Spring. What a wonderful time of renewed life, energy and new beginnings.
We will continue with our food theme and will share with you here information about Spring through a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, and how the foods we eat can play an important role in our overall health and well being during this season.
The Season of the Liver
The liver is the most influential organ during Spring. It allows our energy (Qi) to flow freely throughout the body, bringing life to the whole. During the quiet, restorative months of winter while the body tends to be more at rest, the liver stores blood and the Qi it contains. During activity, the liver releases the energized blood throughout the body and help maintains the smooth flow of Qi. When the liver is nourished and functions smoothly, it allows for the harmonization between the emotions, the body's movement and healthy skin and eyes.
It is important to make sure the liver receives the nourishment it needs to rejuvenate the body and allow it to get the "Spring" back into it's step. Eating the right kinds of foods and avoiding foods and other substances containing toxins is particularly important.
Nourishing Foods for the Liver
The foods we eat in Spring should correlate with the changes in nature that this season brings about. Eating more cold and raw foods is a good place to start. The body no longer needs the warm cooked through meals that are helpful to store the energy during winter. Instead, choose freshly sprouted foods, salads and greens. Foods with a sour taste help the liver flush out toxins. Add a slice of lemon to your water, eat pickled or fermented foods, add a splash of vinegar to your salads.
Sprouts - Certain sprouts are fairly easy to find in grocery stores, such as mung bean, broccoli and radish. If you are feeling adventurous, you can try sprouting your own beans and seeds at home. Adzuki beans, lentils and sesame seeds are good choices.
Leafy Greens - While all leafy greens are beneficial for liver health, try ones that can be eaten raw as part of salads or side dishes. Arugula, spinach and kale are great liver greens.
Beets & Carrots - These root vegetables are high in beta-carotene and plant flavonoids which help support the liver. As with the greens, although these can be cooked, try grating them raw over salads.
Vinegar & Pickles - These are the sour foods that will help the liver flush out toxins. Try adding a splash of red wine, rice, or balsamic vinegar to soups and salads. Also eat pickled and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kim chi and pickled relishes.
Citrus fruits - Again, these foods have that sour taste which is great for the liver. Try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drinking water, or squeezing them into juices. Grapefruits are also high in antioxidants.
Whole grains, legumes & seeds - These complex carbohydrates are good Spring time choices. Look for quinoa, black-eyed peas, lentils, sunflower and sesame seeds.
1. Prepare bulgur according to package directions. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cool water; drain.
2. Toast walnuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Place 5 teaspoons oil and shallots in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until the shallots start to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add mustard greens, dates and 2 tablespoons water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender and the water evaporates (add another tablespoon of water if the pan is dry before the greens are tender), about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar, salt and the prepared bulgur; cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
4. Drizzle with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with the walnuts before serving.
Recipe from EatingWell.
We would like to wish you a happy New Year and hope that you had a happy Holiday season.
In response to feedback from patients like you, we would like to make 2013 the Year of Food. Throughout this new year, we will focus our newsletter on diet and the ways in which foods relate to the practices and theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The information we share will help to deepen your knowledge of TCM, show how the seasons influence your body and how to respond to the changes of the seasons. The foods you eat are an essential part of optimizing your mind and body's potential, helping you to attain a higher level of health and well being. We are going to help you make the most of your food choices, and in turn, to make the most of what each season has to offer.
The Season of the Kidney
During winter, the kidneys become the organ of focus. The kidneys are the root of the body's energy, they govern the Yin and Yang qualities that are vital to all other bodily systems. Kidney Yang provides us with energy and warmth, whereas the Yin provides us with grounding and endurance. Both Kidney Yin and Yang are necessary to make it through the cold, dark, and lean months of winter.
The kidneys become more susceptible during winter and need extra support to nourish them to their full potential. Influences such as the cold penetrating weather, too much alcohol and caffeine and chemicals in foods take their toll on the kidneys. Stimulants in general tax the kidneys. That extra boost has to come from somewhere and the key to most stimulants - herbal or synthetic- is that they tap your kidneys to give you that jolt. Extra sleep (especially in winter) and a nutrient dense diet are a far better way to provide your system with the energy it needs. By wrapping up warm and reducing the amount of toxins in your diet you greatly benefit your kidneys during these months.
Eating Right For Your Kidneys
The foods we consume play a key role in supporting the kidneys and providing them with the nourishment they need to achieve their full advantage. This is the time to eat warm, cooked foods, with less broth and more sustenance. Try to buy organic foods where possible to limit the amount of harmful chemicals taken in. Below are foods that directly benefit the kidneys.
Whole Grains - such as bulgur, barley, spelt and quinoa. When cooked these grains tonify the kidney, aid in digestion and help center one's energy.
Root Vegetables - such as pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots and parsnips. These sweet vegetables benefit the spleen and stomach, aiding in digestion via the Earth element, which in turn tonifys the kidneys.
Winter Greens and Bulbs - onions, garlic, scallions open the Lungs to strengthen the defensive energy. The bitter flavor of kale and chard stimulate the heart and keep the Heart Fire and Kidney Water in balance.
Roasted nuts - walnuts and chestnuts are particularly good for tonifying Kidney Yang to support the kidneys and adrenals, as well as the brain.
Warming Spices - such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves keep us warm and, like the root vegetables above, tonify the digestion which then supports the Kidney.
Foods from the Sea - fish, shellfish and seaweed. Winter is linked to the element of water, and foods from the water are of great benefit to the kidneys. Choose darker, oily fish such as tuna and mackerel and be aware of where your seafood comes from and how it is produced. Click here for a handy fish buying guide.
It’s easy for the heat and activity of Summer to deplete vital moisture, minerals and oils. Staying hydrated keeps us cool, comfortable and supple enough to handle all this movement gracefully. Juicy vegetables such as cucumber, tomato and celery are good options. Many fruits, grapes, apples, berries, citrus and peaches, offer fluids in addition to nutrition. The most hydrating fruit is, of course, watermelon, which builds body fluids and cools heat in the Heart and Stomach.
Earth loves routine and rhythm. It’s good to eat at regular times, sleep at regular times, and move regularly throughout the week. Remember to turn inward, away from the heat of activity, this protects fire energy from burnout and calms the rush of hyperactive mind chatter. Try meditation, prayer or silent contemplation, or practice yoga and tai chi daily. Things that bring peace and a sense of rested confidence, such as seated meditation and breathing exercises can be used to restore harmony.
The color of Summer is red, while the color of Late Summer is yellow – the color of the early fall harvest. Green brings peace and harmony to the heart. Experiment with these colors; bring out a red or yellow throw rug or table cloth, try adding something green to your wardrobe, or make an arrangement of bright sunflowers.
Late in summer, start preparing for the crisp, dry and contemplative nature of autumn by bringing your awareness to the rewards of summer’s activity. Begin with an appreciation of the bounty of the harvest, gather with friends to reminisce and relax. Limit cooling foods such as tomato, spinach, tofu, chard millet, ice cream; allow cold foods to warm up to room temperature or warmer before eating; avoid excessive raw vegetables and fruits (especially citrus); as well as too many very sweet foods, liquids, and dairy products. Large meals and rich foods should be avoided as well.
By anticipating the cycles of nature and applying these principles in our life, it is possible to maintain a harmonious balance from season to season and year to year. In so doing, our energy flows smoothly and we are able to sustain a healthy physical, mental and emotional state despite daily stresses.
These seasonal newsletters give you insight on the effects of energy movement throughout the year and throughout your body.