Monthly Archives: August 2014

What is the best diet for YOU?

It seems that every couple of years a new diet takes over that completely rewrites how we eat. Its endless benefits are touted, as is new research that attempts to contradict the logic behind the last dietary trend. With so many people yelling about ‘their diet’, which will now finally give you the energy, stamina, and health that you have always sought, it’s hard to know what to do and which diet actually is the best.

The answer in two words…it depends. Though this is certainly an unsatisfying answer, it is a reality that takes into account the very different body types that people have. There is no universal diet, because there is no body that universally functions the same. Of course there are some basic guidelines that all people should follow, no one will thrive on a diet of fried foods, but in terms of eating organic whole foods, exactly how one should eat depends entirely on your body. Different people process food differently. The same meal that can make one person constipated will not affect another. It’s important to know your body, how it functions, and how it reacts to different foods. Your body is intelligent and will tell you what it is missing and what it needs.

A comment I often get from people when I am doing nutritional counseling is that they know they should be eating healthy but that their body is definitely not craving vegetables. This is of course unsurprising. Years of eating processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat leave our bodies without a compass for the foods it needs.  The beginning of getting back to our dietary intelligence begins with the simple yet complex advice that author and food researcher Michael Pollan gives ‘eat food’. If you can follow this simple rule and begin paying attention to your body you will realize that it has been speaking to you for years, and now you have the ability to listen!

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Fermentation Experimentation

My first experiment with sauerkraut did not go as planned. It was summer and I was living in Taipei, Taiwan. The temperatures were in the high 90s with humidity so high that mold was growing on my suitcases. Ignoring what should have been common sense given these conditions, I decided this was the time to experiment with making sauerkraut. I followed a basic recipe (mostly), waited, and soon had cabbage sporting an amazing array of mold. I learned two things that summer about sauerkraut: first, it is not foolproof, and second, you must follow the recipe to a tee. Going in with this knowledge, and the mild temperatures of the Bay Area, my next attempt was a success. The secret I had missed in my last try: completely submerge the cabbage beneath the brine. Anything you miss will mold.

In order to make sauerkraut, you literally chop up a couple of heads of cabbage (I like to grate mine), pour on a couple tablespoons of salt, mash it down in a crock, cover it with the outer cabbage leaves to keep the cabbage down, and put something heavy directly on the cabbage so the brine will rise above it. I got my recipe from the great man of fermentation, Sandor Katz. His book “Wild Fermentation” is a must for anyone who wants to embark on a fermentation journey!

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Chinese Herbs in Your Kitchen – Ginger

Though you may not know it, your kitchen is likely home to several different Chinese herbs. In this entry we will highlight the wonderful herb, ginger. Ginger, the rhizome of the plant Zingibar Officinale, is an herb native to Southern China. It is an aromatic, spicy herb that is considered warm in TCM. In Chinese medicine three primary forms of ginger are used: sheng jiang or fresh ginger, gan jiang or dried ginger, and pao jiang or quick fried ginger. Each of these forms imbues the herb with different properties.

Fresh ginger, which is likely the form you have in your kitchen, is used to fight colds and flus that are marked by chills. It helps warm the body and promotes mild sweating, which can help relieve symptoms. The herb is also well-known for its ability to relieve gastro-intestinal disturbances. It is safe for use during pregnancy and is often utilized for its ability to help with morning sickness. Historically, its use in many seafood dishes is due not only to its delicious flavor but to its ability to prevent seafood poisoning. Recent studies have shown that ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve arthritic pain.

Of the countless ways to use ginger, the easiest is making ginger tea. Simply remove the skin, toss a few pieces in a pot, and boil. It can be drunk as is or you can add lemon and honey to mellow the strong taste. Enjoy!

Quick tip!

This came to me from a chef in San Francisco. I have always heard to just take a knife to peel ginger. Though I patiently (sometimes) peel my ginger, without fail I end up losing a ton. To save time and ginger, use the side of a spoon and scrape the outside. The skin comes off quite easily and there is no loss of ginger!

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Herbal Medicine – Health Benefits of Raspberries

I feel blessed. I moved into a place with a large garden that was tenderly loved for many years. It’s a historic home, an old farmhouse, whose rich soil now effortlessly bears fruit each year. One of the garden’s gifts are fresh raspberries. This is my first time having a raspberry pulled fresh off the vine. They are warm and full of life, full of the sun. They are a perfect mix of tangy and sweet and they taste like summer.

Fu Pen Zi – Chinese Medicine

Fu Pen Zi - Chinese Medicine

Fu Pen Zi – Chinese Medicine

 Raspberries are not just delicious, they also have numerous health benefits. According to TCM food theory raspberries benefit the liver and kidneys. They nourish blood, treating anemia, and also help with frequent urination. Their sweet flavor helps strengthen the body, especially those in a weakened state. The herb Fu Pen Zi, which is the dried unripe raspberry, has many of the functions of ripe raspberries but is more effective in its treatment of these conditions. It is used specifically for frequent urination and premature ejaculation. In addition it improves vision. And in animal studies Fu Pen Zi was seen to have estrogenic like effects and elevate testosterone levels.

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