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 »

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 »

In general I encourage cooking at home to eating out.   It is much easier to make a poor food choice than a healthy one in this country.  The standard American offerings are devoid of micronutrients and are full of sugar, unhealthy fat sources, and questionable animal byproducts.  Unfortunately, they are also cheap, readily available, and palatable.

Until our food quality improves significantly in this country, it is up to us as consumers to sift through the options and choose those that are highest in absorbable nutrients and least in offending agents.

The DC metro area recently had a power outage.  One of the most difficult challenges for me was that I couldn’t grocery shop, prepare, and store food.   Other circumstances like moving, emergencies, and unexpected life occurrences might make cooking at home impossible.

I think the occasional meal at a French or Indian restaurant is part of a healthy lifestyle, but I think it is also wise to have go-to easy, healthy options for when life leaves us with a warm refrigerator and a dark kitchen.

Below I list three of my top choices for eating out in the DC/Maryland area.  Read the rest of this entry »

Everyday recipes should include few ingredients and steps.  One can either make a big batch for multiple leftovers, or prepare with ease after a long day.  Roasted cauliflower is convenient and tasty:

1-2 heads of cauliflower

Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Olive oil, preferably in a mister Read the rest of this entry »

So often I hear, “I tried every diet, and nothing has worked.”

For this discussion, it is first necessary to define what a “successful diet” is.  Is the goal of your diet to lose weight?  Gain muscle?  Correct a leaky gut?  Achieve pregnancy?  Reduce anxiety?  Gain energy?

Most of my efforts in experimenting with different diets have been centered around weight loss and management.  But since reaping other health benefits with dietary changes, I have expanded my personal definition of a “successful diet.”  If you learn something that leads to better health, is that not success? Read the rest of this entry »