I’ve written before about holiday cooking verses everyday cooking and weight loss verses weight management. I hear often from my patients that they are “busy”, “don’t have the time,” didn’t “plan well,” etc. Healthy cooking and food preparation are skills. As such, they will get better with practice. I used to get really stressed out about putting together a complete and healthy (and palatable) meal whose parts would all finish at the same time. Today I share my go-to, midweek, casual entertaining, anytime, healthy, delicious, and satisfying meal that has been a consistent part of my life for years – including on a recent vacation!

I like it because these ingredients are always on hand, so this meal is always an option. The ingredients are simple and basic, but quite tasty and satisfying. I can come home from work at 6:15p, and be eating by 7:30pm. Read the rest of this entry »

Congee/Jook/Rice Porridge

February 4, 2014

One of the reasons I like to travel to Asian countries is the food.  It took me about 5 days to actually find rice porridge in Thailand thanks to an included breakfast buffet at my first hotel, but it was well worth the wait.  My first variety had rice, fish (white, mild), parsley, spices, and a side dish of oil and spices.  Other varieties I found had vegetables, chicken, and pork.  The basic method of preparing any congee variation is to boil rice in a lot (6-12 times the amount of rice) of water, until the rice has softened and broken down.

Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests congee to those with a weakened digestive system or who are recovering from illness, but it’s also eaten daily by the general public in Asia.  Read the rest of this entry »

In eating in accordance with the seasons, we should now be turning our focus to making dishes that are well cooked and warming in nature.  As the temperature drops, we can aid our bodies in digestion by adding more warming herbs and spices and consuming dishes that are well-cooked and warm (as opposed to raw and/or chilled).

If your hands and feet feel particularly cold after a certain meal, chances are it was too cold in nature for your body.  If you feel warmness in your extremities and body after a meal and have good energy, that particular dish helped to support, not extinguish, your metabolic fire.  Matt Stone writes a lot about this topic.  Although he speaks in terms of thyroid and metabolism, many of his observations correlate to the ideas of spleen and kidney yang in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

The following recipes are intended to serve as a base or outline.  They are the result of my own personal trials.  They will continue to evolve as I hope your creations do too.  The important part is the effort.  Good ingredients cooked with good intention make healthy food.   I particularly like these recipes because they are both vegan and paleo friendly, dairy and gluten free, and yummy!  Read the rest of this entry »

A lot of my patients who are parents ask me for ideas of snacks for their kids.  Since these foods are often packed for lunch or eaten on the go, convenience is a considered factor.  Unfortunately, most convenient snacks are processed experiments disguised as food.  Scientists work hard to make them highly palatable, usually by playing to our preferences for fat, salt, and sweet flavors.   In order to cheaply make a lot of product that has a long shelf life, inferior ingredients are chosen then enhanced by sugar/salt/fat until they taste so good we can’t help but to crave more.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each organ system has a corresponding flavor.  For example, the heart’s associated flavor is bitter, and the spleen’s flavor is sweet.  One must eat the right balance of the 5 flavors (bitter, sweet, acrid, salty, sour) in order to nourish each organ system.  Eating too much of 1 flavor or not enough of another flavor can create an internal imbalance.  So, it’s not that “sweet” is bad.  But too much concentrated sweet, for example, can damage the spleen.

The proper way to eat sugar is when it’s consumed in its “protective gear,” the way Mother Nature packaged it.  Read the rest of this entry »

I have written about the importance of eating in accordance with the seasons as well as the importance of eating cooked vegetables and the effects of eating too many uncooked, raw vegetables especially for those with weakened digestive systems.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) encourages those with weakened digestive systems to focus on easy to digest, cooked, and warming foods while reducing or eliminating too many raw, chilled, and cooling foods.  Why do I write so much about this topic? Read the rest of this entry »

Food for Thought: Seaweed

February 12, 2013

We live in a society that often pairs the ideas of healthful eating and weight loss with long lists of foods to avoid.  I think it is equally important to focus on what we SHOULD eat.  Choosing to think about what we can eat is a more positive thought process than missing and feeling deprived of all of the things that we can’t (or shouldn’t) have.

I see the faces of my patients when I recommend that they omit a possibly offending agent.  “No cream in my coffee?”  “No popcorn at the movies?”  “No cereal for breakfast?  But I’ve always had cereal for breakfast!”

When I first set out to regulate my blood sugar levels (and therefore my hormones, emotions, and digestion), some of my most ingrained, nostalgic, and emotionally charged foods were to be off-limits.  Read the rest of this entry »

After reading a lot about the “Paleo diet”, I recently shifted my already health-conscious diet to one more similar to our ancestors’ (early man).  Paleo enthusiasts subscribe to eating poultry, meat, and fish that are raised in the wild and not commercially farmed.  Pasture-raised, free range chicken and eggs, full fat organic dairy, wild fish, grass-fed beef, leafy grains and other organic vegetables, grass-fed butter, lard, coconut and olive oil, fruit, nuts, seeds.  Bacon.  No grains (think pre-agricultural era).

While certain things seemed to move in a positive direction for me eating this way, others did not.  I couldn’t understand why?  My diet had never been so clean.  No processed foods, sugar, wheat, or any grains, and I even cut out dairy and caffeine for a significant amount of time.  I was frustrated and upset.  Confused. Read the rest of this entry »

Eggs:  They got a bad rap for some years due to their “cholesterol raising, heart disease-promoting” saturated fat.  But in fact, properly raised eggs (you can find them pasture-raised at your local farmer’s market) were and continue to be a healthy option.  Use caution to avoid over-consumption of commercial eggs which are high in Omega-6 (inflammatory) fats. Read the rest of this entry »

Probably nobody ever got heart disease or cancer from eating too many vegetables either.   In fact, countless studies and articles suggest that the benefits of eating vegetables may include preventing and reversing long term, chronic illnesses.  Most diet plans even allow for “unlimited vegetables.”

I am constantly reading articles, watching documentaries, reviewing patient’s food journals, and I concur.  Eating more vegetables is related to better health.  Physical and emotional.  It’s also understood that high fructose corn syrup, sugar, trans fats, and refined carbohydrates are not good and can lead to degenerative diseases.   Unfortunately, many Americans’ diets are greatly lacking in the vegetable department.  Personally, I think a good goal is to eat 2-3 cups of cooked, non-starchy vegetables each day. Read the rest of this entry »

You have heard me discuss the idea of “eating in accordance with the seasons” in previous blog entries. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), in order to maintain a physiological balance of yin and yang, it is necessary to consider the foods we eat as they relate to the season we are in.  For example, during the cold winter months it is wise to eat more warming foods and spices like cinnamon and ginger, and in the hot months of summer we should eat more cooling foods like melons and mint.

Mother nature further guides us by providing different foods each season.  When we preserve a healthy yin/yang balance, we are promoting healthy sleep, appetite, emotional balance, immune function, and energy.

Grocery shopping in modern America is confusing for seasonal eating.  We can seemingly buy all foods all year round.  But have you tasted a strawberry recently? They are less sweet, less juicy red, and less satisfying than those we could buy a few months ago, in the heart of the summer months.  Read the rest of this entry »