Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Turning up the Agni!

Agni is the "fire" that drives digestion and metabolism in the Hindu medical practice of Ayurveda. The digestive and absorption process is called Pakwagni (digestive fire).
So, while the temperature is dropping, it makes sense to turn up the digestive heat which in turn warms you from the inside out! Also consider eating more healthy, warming, concentrated foods. Dark orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, winter squash, and carrots provide immune nourishing beta-carotene and the warmth of their shades of orange colors. Also adding Spices will increase the warming quality of you food.

Grounding roots (especially those that grow in cold climates) such as onions, rutabagas and turnips can help one better acclimate to the seasons. Other warming foods include arugula, mustard greens, and watercress. Nuts, seeds, and their butters make excellent warming and insulating snacks. Icy cold drinks can cool you quick.
When consuming food from the refrigerator, take the item out and allow it to get to room temperature before eating.
Think blended Carrot Ginger Soup, or Squash Pudding. Blend your Squash in a Vitamix with Dates, Vanilla, Pumpkin Pie Spices and a little Water or Almond Milk. Voila! You have a Pudding or Filling for a Pecan and Date Crust. Enjoy this with a warming cup of Chai Tea.

The flavor associated with winter is salty and a perfect time enjoy the wonderful mineral rich Sea Vegetables such as Kelp, Nori, Hijiki, and Dulse which can be used to season food. Celtic or Himalayan salt contain more minerals then table salt. Black colored foods such as Black Sesame Seeds, uncured Black Olives, and Chia Seeds make wonderful warming winter condiments.

Culinary herbs and spices which support the feeling of warmth and improve circulation include:

Black pepper (Piper Nigrum) is a member of the Piperaceae (Pepper) Family, has antiseptic, and antioxidant properties.
Cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum), a member of the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) Family, is an expectorant, thus helping to open the respiratory passages.

Cayenne (Capsicum Frutescens), a member of the Solanaceae (Nightshade) Family, is rich in vitamin C, and helps relieve chills, coughs and congestion. Sprinkling a bit of cayenne pepper between one's shoes and socks can help warm the feet when needing to be outdoors. (Avoid the eyes and mouth!)

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Cassia) is a member of the Lauraceae (Laurel) Family, helps dry dampness in the body and warms people that are always cold and suffering from poor circulation. Cinnamon is antiseptic and an excellent digestive tonic.

Garlic (Allium Sativum), a member of the Liliaceae (Lily) Family, helps one be more resistant to infection. Garlic is a potent vasodilator and improves circulation by helping to prevent the blood from clumping together.

Ginger (Zingiber Officinale), a member of the Zingiberceae Family, is a natural antioxidant and antiseptic. It improves circulation to all parts of the body. Ginger baths are warming, muscle relaxing and cold and flu relieving and can be made by simmering eight ounces of ginger into a half gallon of water, simmering at a low boil for twenty minutes, then straining into the bathtub.

Horseradish (Armoracia Lapathifolia) is a member of the Brassicaceae (Mustard) Family. It is high in vitamin C, and aids in the digestion of fatty foods. Horseradish is antiseptic and a strong decongestant; helping to open congested respiratory passages.

Also consider removing your food from the Fridge and allow some time for it to come to room temperature prior to eating. You can always warm things to 105 degrees in a Dehydrator or on the stove. This is a wonderful rule to go by in winter. I take advantage of the warmth and my handy food thermometer!

As I write this I am enjoying a warming cup of Chai Tea with home made Vanilla Almond  Milk, YUM!


2 Cups water
1 Cinnamon Stick
10 Cardomom pods
10 Whole Cloves
1 Tbl Ginger finely minced 1 Cup Almond Milk
3 tsp Rooibos Tea
Stevia, Agave or Raw Honey to Taste

Pour water in saucepan
Add the Cinnamon, Cardomom, Cloves and Ginger
Bring up to a simmer, cover and simmer for 10 minutes
Add Tea Leaves, cover, and turn off the heat
After 2 minutes, strain the tea into two cups
Add Almond Milk warmed to 105 degrees and Sweetener of choice


Friday, December 16, 2011

Nourishing Warming Soup

As we move toward the Winter Solstice and a New Year, I am feeling a need to add as many healing and strengthening ingredients to our recipes. Cracking open my favorite books on Herbs, Chinese Medicine and Macrobiotics ignites a spark of creativity as I find myself in my pantry gathering the ingredients for this Nourishing Soup! 

By making a Broth of Nettle Tea, Burdock, Dried Shitake Mushrooms and Wakame Seaweed we are supporting the organ pair associated with Winter which is Kidney/Bladder. 
In traditional Chinese medicine the element associated with winter is water, which has a floating energy. Water energy goes deep inside the earth; it is the root and basis of life. This is the time of hibernation and inward self-reflection, when the energy is still on the surface, yet active underneath. 
Winter is a time of conservation and storage. Because the kidney, along with the urinary bladder, is predominant in this season, winter is the time to build, conserve, and store kidney chi through rest and self-reflection. The time of day that the Urinary Bladder peaks is from 3:00 to 5:00 PM and the Kidney from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. 
Foods with floating water energy go deep into the body and strengthen the kidney, urinary bladder, and reproductive organs. 
The most beneficial foods for this time of year are burdock, buckwheat, black soybeans, and black sesame seeds. Dried foods, like Shitake Mushroom, also contain concentrated energy to build inner strength. 
The taste associated with winter and the water element is Salty. Winter cooking includes warming soups, more oil, rich bean dishes and sea vegetables which are all strengthening to the kidney.

4 Dried Shitake Mushrooms Soaked (save soaking water) 
3 Tbl Finely sliced Burdock Root
1 Onion diced
1 Clove Garlic minced
2 Stalks Celery diced
1 Carrot diced
1 Cup of Cabbage minced
3 Tbl Dried Nettle Leaf Tea 
2 Strips of Wakame Seaweed
1 tsp peeled and grated Ginger 
4 tsp White Miso diluted in 2 Tbl water
7 Cups Filtered or Spring Water (includes Shitake soaking water)
4 Scallions Sliced on a Diagonal 

Shiitake Mushrooms provide high levels of protein (18%), potassium, niacin and B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. They have natural antiviral and immunity-boosting properties and are used nutritionally to fight viruses, lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Lentinan, an immunostimulant derived from shiitakes, has been used to treat cancer, AIDS, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibrocystic breast disease, and other conditions with impressive results.
Burdock Root is a great source of many non-starch polysaccharides such as inulin, glucoside-lappin, mucilage...etc that help act as good laxative. In addition, inulin acts as prebiotic helps reduce blood sugar level, weight and cholesterol levels in the blood.
Burdock root contains a good amounts of electrolyte potassium (308 mg or 6.5% of daily required levels per 100 g root) and low in sodium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
It also contains some valuable minerals such as iron, manganese, magnesium; and small amounts of zinc, calcium, selenium, and phosphorus.

Mineral- and vitamin-rich Nettle is a naturally nutritious way to help maintain a healthy urinary tract and flush toxins from your system. It is said to uplift a weary body, reduce fatigue and also improve thyroid, kidney and bladder functions. Nettle is also considered an age-old remedy for allergies and respiratory problems, as well as an old-time women's herb that helps to regulate menses and stimulate lactation in nursing mothers.

Wakame Seaweed is a good source of Vitamin A, C, E and K, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and supports healthy Thyroid function.

 In a sauce pan bring Water, Shitake, Burdock, Onion, Garlic, Celery, Carrot, Cabbage and Wakame to a boil
Turn down and simmer covered for 15 minutes
Add Nettle Tea to the pot and simmer an additional 10 minutes
Pour through fine mesh strainer
Set aside Shitake Mushrooms and remove stems
Place Saucepan with Broth, Wakame and Shitake on burner and bring up to a simmer
Turn off, add  grated Ginger and Miso
Place a Shitake in each serving bowls and add Broth
Garnish with Scallions 

Share this Nourishing Warming Soup with family and friends and "let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" to quote Hippocrates!  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nourishing Cacao Tonic

As I sit here looking out my window watching snow falling, collecting on branches and creating a little winter wonderland. I begin to develop a strong desire for hot cocoa. Not just any hot cocoa but my Nourishing Cocoa Tonic chock full of vitamins and nutrients!


12 Ounces Spring Water
1 Tbl Vermont Chaga Powder
10 Raw Almonds, soaked overnight and peeled
2 tsp Raw Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Maca Powder
2 tsp Lucuma Powder
2 tsp Yacon Powder
¼  tsp of Vanilla Powder
2 Drops Stevia Liquid

Pour water into a small sauce pan, add Chaga Powder and bring to a boil
Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes covered
Strain and pour into a Vitamix Blender
Add peeled Almonds and blend on high, higher, highest 
Add the rest of the ingredients and blend 
Do not strain, but enjoy this luscious vitamin and mineral rich Tonic 

Nutritional Information:
Almonds are so nutritious due to their vitamin content. Almonds are also rich in folic acid and vitamin B therefore when consumed during pregnancy it helps to reduce birth defects of fetus. Copper content helps in proper development of bone and improves nerve functioning. Almonds function as powerful antioxidants due to its Vitamin E content. It helps in improving blood circulation and lowering of cholesterol thereby providing added cardiac protection. Not only this, it helps to stabilize blood sugar as well. Therefore it can be the best snack for diabetic patients. One of the other significant health benefits of almonds are due to its laetrile content which serves as an anti cancer component.

Chaga contains a complex "cocktail" of phytonutrients and immune activating compounds such as Beta Glucans (Complex Carbohydrates) or Polysaccharides also found in Algae, Yeast, Oats, etc. Chaga's Beta Glucan - polysaccharides are a potent immune activator. The Beta Glucans are powerful immune boosters that work by stimulating the body's ability to set up cellular defenses. Beta Glucans are largely responsible for modulating immune deficiencies.

Cacao contains Theobromine a weak but effective stimulant, containing substances that are chemically and pharmacologically related to the brain lipids anandamide (the word "anandamide" is derived from "ananda" which is Sanskrit for "bliss"). This would account for the euphoric sensation some feel when indulging in chocolate.The theobromine naturally found in raw cacao is a mild, non-addictive stimulant that some believe can treat depression.The much touted nutritional benefits or raw cacao range from reducing cataracts to improving heart function to alleviating stress. Amongst the loftiest claims in raw food culture is that raw cacao (without added sugar or dairy products) will reduce your risk of cancer as the high levels of antioxidants reduce the amount of free radicals in the body.

Yacon powder has a slightly sweet flavor and is known worldwide as the future food for diabetics. Due to its unique carbohydrate composition, Yacon stores carbohydrates as fructooligosacharides (FOS), which makes it an ideal Superfood for diabetics and those watching their sugar intake. It contains inulin, an indigestible sugar, which means that although is has a sweet flavor, it contains fewer calories than would be expected.
Yacon is also beneficial in colon-related problems and also acts as a prebiotic that balances the flora and flow in the intestines. It has also proved effective against parasites and fungus.
Lucuma Powder is from a very nutritious fruit with high levels of beta-carotene, B vitamins and iron, with significant amounts of calcium and phosphorus.

Maca is a root vegetable that is widely used for medicinal purposes and can be found in powder and various supplemental forms. Claims of its benefits include increased energy and moods, sexual enhancement, immune system function and disease-fighting properties. Maca is used to treat conditions such as osteoporosis, stomach cancer and stomach ulcers, erectile dysfunction, depression, leukemia, AIDS, HIV and tuberculosis.

Stevia extract is a super-sweet, low-calorie dietary supplement that helps regulate blood sugar and supports the pancreas. It is valuable for anyone with diabetes and hypoglycemia.

I love using my best China or colorful mug to serve this in. I find it makes this treat that much more special.


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration.  These ingredients are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Nourishing Immune Building Soup

While so many people are lining up for Flu Vaccines, I am in my "Kitchen Apothecary" cooking up an Immune Building Soup! Consider having this soup throughout the flu season to keep your immune system strong. This will prove to be a great support if you are feeling weak or experiencing cold or flu symptoms.

Why is this soup immune building, you ask? Well, let's take a look at the ingredients!  Millet is a wonderful Gluten-Free Grain which has a cleansing effect on the body. It is considered a Prebiotic which actually supports healthy Flora in the intestinal tract. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and Astragulus is a wonderful immune boosting root. Ginger supports lung health and is warming to the body. Kale also supports lung health while giving you a mega dose of many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients which help to detoxify the body. Kombu Seaweed is high in Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and also has the ability to enhance flavor when cooked into a recipe. I like to think of it is Mother Natures MSG!
Grains of Millet

Immune Building Soup
1 Onion small dice
4 Cloves of Garlic minced
2 Tbl Olive Oil
3 Carrots small dice
2 Celery Stalks small dice
1 Cup Corn
2 Sticks of Astragulus, which can be found in the bulk herb section of your local Coop or Herbal Apothecary
3 Kale leaves sliced into 2 inch strips
1 Cup Millet
6 Cups Water

2 inch piece of Kombu Seaweed soaked for 10 minutes
2 tsp Peeled and Grated Ginger
1 Tbl Two Year Barley or Chick Pea Miso diluted in 1/4 cup of Water
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Astragulus Root
Heat the olive oil in large sauce pan

Add Onion, Sea Salt and cook for a couple of minute
Add Garlic and cook for a minute
Add Carrots, Celery and Corn, and mix
Add Millet and mix
Cover with water, add the Astragulus, Kombu and simmer covered for about 30 minutes 
Salt and Pepper if needed and cook for 5 minutes
Add Kale and Grated Ginger and cook for 2 minutes
Turn off, remove the astragulus sticks and add the Miso 

Grated Ginger 
So for this glorious season of Winter, may you keep strong and healthy listening to your body and nurturing yourself with this immune building soup. Till next time, stay warm and toasty.