Yes, it’s vegan—but it’s delicious and filling! And easy.

I’m over food labels. Sometimes I eat a meal that is “Paleo.” Sometimes my meals are “low fat,” and sometimes they are “vegan” or “vegetarian.” The most consistent characteristics about my food lately is that it’s real, seasonally appropriate (no watermelon in January!), and digested well. Read the rest of this entry »

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).

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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 »

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 »

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 »

In the current state of my ever-progressing diet, I eat a (mostly) whole foods diet. I say “mostly” because I do have the occasional cracker or pita chip, eat out a few (1-3) meals a week, and like to have a slice of pizza (but only in NY or NJ!).  Trading chemicals, pesticides, and hormones found in processed conventional foods for the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are dense in real foods seems an obvious choice for better health.

Wheat is cheap in part because it is subsidized by the government.  Farming techniques have favored a strain that is higher in gluten (a protein found in wheat) than in years past.  Gluten adds to a product’s texture and chewiness and overall marketability, but also tends to be difficult to digest – especially for those with weakened digestive systems.  Unfortunately, wheat is also the most present grain in our country’s food supply.

But all grains are not created (or hybridized or modified) equally.  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 »