January 23, 2016
It’s a snow day! It’s a snow weekend! So far we have about 3 inches of snow; with 20+ more expected. I love it! We are hoping the power stays on, but while we have it, we hammered out some cooking. Simmering on the stove right now is a HUGE pot of vegetable soup. I’ve been making it a lot lately. It’s easy, it uses whatever you have on hand, and it’s good! It also is a good dish to eat in the winter, as eating warm soups in cold weather allows us to live in accordance with the seasons.
Always start with mirapoix (onion, celery, and carrot – these 3 ingredients should always be on hand, in my opinion).
Sautee mirapoix in olive oil until onions become translucent. Salt, pepper.
Add some finely chopped garlic.
What fresh vegetables do you have? Today we had a head of cauliflower and 5 small Yukon gold potatoes. Cut these into small pieces and add to the pot. Salt, pepper.
Cover with broth/stock/water. I’ve used all variations here from homemade bone broth to plain water. Today I used a box of vegetable broth and topped with water.
Bring to a boil and then simmer until vegetables have softened.
What vegetables do you have in your freezer? I am a huge fan of frozen vegetables and we always have a freezer-full of them. They’re good for when you run out of fresh vegetables, you can buy them organic, and because they are usually blanched and flash frozen, they retain their nutritional benefits. Today I used the rest of a bag of frozen broccoli, 1 ½ bags of chopped frozen spinach, a bag of cut green beans, and ¼ bag of peas.
Add these to the pot, add more water if necessary, and add more salt. You’ll want to add salt every time you add a layer of new vegetables; more if you’re using water, less if you’re using a boxed broth.
Allow all to simmer for a while. It’s ok to cook the vegetables well (I like them mushy!). All of the nutrition leaks out into the soup, so you are not losing any of the “good stuff.”
Today we had some leftover parsley on hand (from this meatloaf recipe that was made into meatballs this afternoon), so I added that at the end. Salt and pepper to taste, and tada!
Vegetables have good flavor, and lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic can make for a very easy, very filling, and very yummy nutrient-dense HUGE pot of soup to carry you through a week. . . or at least a long blizzard weekend. Here’s hoping for power so we can reheat leftovers🙂
In good health,
PS. I realize it’s been some time since I wrote a blog entry. I’ve been working on a project, and I look forward to telling you more about it soon!
August 7, 2015
I don’t completely avoid any food/food group, but pasta and wheat products in general aren’t things I tend to eat in large quantities. I was curious to see how Italians ate pasta, and my recent visit provided a lot of insight.
In the US some diets condemn pasta like they would trans fats or soda. The mantras of “the gluten will destroy you,” and “too many carbs will make you fat and give you diabetes” have permeated many of our belief systems.
Observe Italians, and it’s clear that pasta does not make (at least some) people obese. I saw many slender people order, and finish a plate of pasta. . . with wine, cheese, and bread! “When in Rome”…
I had pasta with at least 1 meal/day
I had bread with most meals
I had my share of pizza
…and gelato, cheese, olives and olive oil
At the end of my 8-night stay, I felt great! Digestion was in tact, immune system strong, and my pants fit me great when I got home (I do not weigh myself).
I’m not certain which were the beneficial variables, but I saw several major differences in Italy than the US.
The restaurants got their bread from the same places everybody bought their bread, which was coming from a local baker. The bread is more airy, less dense and chewy, and is cut into small pieces when served. Word has it that Monsanto hasn’t gotten its hands on European wheat, which makes me trust it that much more.
Pasta servings were generous, but not huge.
Fresh ingredients were everywhere – like tomatoes and basil growing in a gas station parking lot!
Cheese was often of the fresh mozzarella variety, which falls on the easier-to-digest end of the cheese spectrum.
Olives and olive oil were grown and processed locally. Perhaps my favorite things I had there.
I walked much more than I do in my normal life. On average 20,000 steps/day according to Jason’s fitness tracker.
Dinners were long and relaxed, and I never left feeling uncomfortable.
The act of being on vacation helps to lower stress hormones, and I agree with patients’ reports of food being better tolerated than in “normal life.”
Upon returning home we tried to recreate some of our favorite noshes. On my first bite of bread, my heart sunk. I could tell immediately that our bread was more chewy, dense, and therefore harder to digest.
For a while, I have had a healthy go-to easy pasta meal, and since Italy I’ve been having it much more frequently. You can make it gluten free/dairy free/vegetarian if those are your things.
Easy, easy, easy. What you’ll need:
*A LOT of leafy greens; they are the main ingredient. Spinach is my favorite here, but chard or beet greens work great too. Frozen works too. You need a lot, though. 4 cups+ per person/serving as the greens shrink considerably when cooked. At least 1 whole bag of spinach per person if that is how you buy it. Remember, cooked vegetables are good! Rinse off dirt.
*~1/2 – 1 cup cooked pasta. My personal recommendations are organic durum wheat semolina, or something like this brown rice and quinoa pasta that we get from Trader Joes.
*Your favorite tomato sauce. Mine is Rao’s marinara. It’s pricey, but I wait until it’s on sale and buy by the case.
Heat all in a saucepan covered with a lid until the greens have wilted. Stir.
I usually include grilled or baked chicken or meatballs (made from this meatloaf recipe) and some Parmesan cheese. You can prep and eat or prep and take to work for an easy to reheat lunch.
You are what you eat.
In good health,
May 26, 2015
“Dry Needling” is a term used by physical therapists, chiropractors, and some medical doctors. It is a procedure in which solid needles are inserted into trigger and motor points of muscle bellies with the intention of resetting the muscle, improving function, and decreasing pain. Since these needles are not hollow and filled with an injectable substance, they are called “dry needles.” That sounds a lot like acupuncture, right? In fact, these practitioners are using the same needles as licensed acupuncturists. Because they are billing the procedure as “dry needling,” they are able to get paid from insurance even though they are not licensed acupuncturists (L.Ac.).
I have several problems with non-licensed acupuncturists inserting needles into patients. Read the rest of this entry »
April 14, 2015
I’d like to share with you 3 recipes that I have been enjoying lately. I believe them to be crowd pleasers as well as nutrient-dense, relatively easy to digest, and delicious. Please leave comments with your feedback if you try these recipes!
You’ve heard me discuss the importance of including a warm, cooked grain with breakfast to ignite the digestive/metabolic fire (the spleen yang in Traditional Chinese Medicine terms). To include more protein for a heartier breakfast, try making this protein pancake. Read the rest of this entry »
January 6, 2015
If it’s Sunday, you can be sure that I will be cooking a big batch of vegetables. In the warmer spring and summer months, I make my version of a ratatouille, but in the colder months I like to make my version of Indian Vegetables. Living in accordance with the seasons includes eating more warming herbs and spices in the colder months, and Indian cuisine has many.
One of the first things I took away at the start of my degree in Oriental Medicine is the idea that cooked vegetables are easier to digest than their raw counterparts. Cooked vegetables are recommended for weakened digestive systems, and over-consumption of cold, raw foods can damage digestive function. If food is difficult to digest and /or one presents with a digestive weakness, access to minerals, nutrients, and vitamins is difficult. Cooked vegetables take less digestive qi to process, allowing ease of access to nutrition and energy.
When I weighed over 200 pounds, my constitutional digestive weakness and improper diet of refined grains and sugar, dairy, and greasy/fried food resulted in an accumulation of phlegm-dampness. During the healing process, and ever since, I’ve included as many cooked vegetables into my diet as I can, and it is a constant variable in my health accomplishments. Read the rest of this entry »
November 25, 2014
An interesting thing happened when I ate a “strictly clean” diet: My once strong digestion weakened. For a period of time I had no wheat, gluten, dairy, flours, white rice or potatoes, sugars (except fruit), or artificial sweeteners. I ate a ton of vegetables, whole grains, root vegetables, organic (and often local) meat, poultry, and fish, and seasonal fruit. These weren’t extreme changes for me, but a more restrictive way of how I normally eat. The trend was slow and gradual, but negative, and it progressed in severity. Strange, right?
With fall came a new season of food choices. There was a marked increase in my intake of winter squashes, cauliflower, broccoli, apples, pears, and Brussels sprouts. It was insidious, but sure enough something further did not agree. My symptoms became concerning, but I figured I had to be able to fix them since these symptoms were not present just several months prior.
So began an era of trial and error and close observation. As I often recommend to my patients, I put on my “detective glasses” and went to work. I was finally able to narrow the culprit down to a few possibilities, and one day it was evident. Read the rest of this entry »
August 20, 2014
Back in November of last year a few things happened. I started taking a couple of supplements (Vitamin D and methylated folate), I treated 2 patients in 1 week with significant plantar fasciitis/foot and heel pain (what do you mean you have pain on the bottom of your heel??), and I walked about 11 miles one day in NYC carrying a heavy shoulder bag wearing Ugg boots.
Over the next few weeks, I developed an increased frequency of foot and heel pain (oh, so this is what they meant) with burning, achy arches, tired feet and legs, and bilateral heel pain. I didn’t take it too seriously at first. I needled myself, and waited for it to pass. It didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »