Health Blog

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The Besto Pesto

Pesto recipe healthy foodsWhat do you bring when you are invited to someone’s place and you want to bring food? If you’re like me, you might stress a bit about what foods most people will like, what is easy to make, and what is healthy, all while being sensitive to people’s dietary sensitivities. Ok, so this is not nut-free. But it is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. It takes only minutes to make. You can bring a combo of vegetables and/or crackers along with it. And, it’s also modifiable to your taste.

I recently made this pesto for 2 events I attended, and it was successful. I tried making a kale pesto before this, and was glad I didn’t have to bring it anywhere. I grew to like it, but it was pretty “kale” tasting at first, so probably wouldn’t be popular among the general population.

Here’s a picture of my dog Hana eating a leaf of basil that I dropped. What?! Who knew she’d like basil. 

Besto Pesto
Basil is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and heart healthy. Plus it's yummy!
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup raw walnuts (I used walnuts, but you could also try almonds or pine nuts, or I even tried hazelnuts)
  2. 1 lemon, squeezed (I found 1/2 a lemon was enough if the lemon was big)
  3. 2 pinches fine black pepper
  4. 1 pinch cayenne (optional; I skip this ingredient)
  5. 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  6. 1 Tbsp hot water
  7. 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  8. 1 tsp nutritional yeast (supposed to be optional, but I think it tastes best with this)
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend.
  3. Yup, just 2 steps. Easy.
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Happy Year of the Goat

24 Hours Traditional Chinese Medicine and AcupunctureHappy New Year! Again.

It’s the lunar new year for 2015, and a second chance to do the things that will help make this a great healthy and happy year!

It’s the Year of the Goat, and though we might think of goats as being able to eat and digest anything, it’s really not true. In fact, goats will choose to eat the healthiest foods they can find, so they are actually a good model for us to eat more greens and perhaps even prepare for the detox cleanse time of our upcoming spring.

Check out my article in 24 Hours Vancouver: Eating like a goat means greens

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Long Live Your Healthy Heart!

24 Hours Traditional Chinese Medicine and AcupunctureAccording to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), your heart is king. Makes sense. Without it pumping oxygenated blood to the rest of your body, you would be dead. We now have machines that can take the place of the heart, but that was not always the case, and we would rather not have to rely on that, if we can help it. So, in honour of February’s Healthy Heart Month, here are some of my tips, as written in 24 Hours, to help your heart be healthier. Health: Honour King by Using Restraint

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Bone Broth and Vegetarian Broth

Ok, so if you’re a vegetarian, then this first recipe is not for you. Not to worry though, the second recipe will be.

If you’ve been checking out trends in the food world, then you’ll know that old is new again, as bone broths are all the rage right now. Kobe Bryant was prescribed it for an ankle sprain, and he and the Lakers have been eating it regularly since to heal injuries and recover faster. No longer a young player, perhaps he’ll be using that (and hopefully some acupuncture too) to heal his newly torn rotator cuff.

For vegetarians, here’s a vegetable stock, rich in minerals and very restorative. 

Roast Chicken and Astragalus Bone Broth
This was the simplest recipe I found, and it's very adaptable, depending on the kind of veggie scraps. No waste! I also recommend adding in some astragalus root to help support your immune system.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 leftover roast chicken carcass
  2. vegetable scraps (celery leaves, onion trimmings, carrot peels, garlic etc)
  3. 2 bay leafs
  4. 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  5. 1-3 Tablespoons of astragalus root
  6. water
Instructions
  1. Add the chicken carcass, vegetable scraps, bay leafs, and astragalus to a slow cooker.
  2. Pour filtered water over the carcass to cover.
  3. Add apple cider vinegar. The apple cider vinegar will help to extract the minerals out of the bones.
  4. Cook in your slow cooker on low heat for 24 hours or longer.
  5. By adding water to the cooker, you can continue to cook the broth until the chicken bones become flexible and rubbery.
  6. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve and pour into storage containers.
  7. The broth should gel, but it is not necessary.
Notes
  1. Bone broths are rich in minerals, glucosamine, and chondroitin, helping to restore joint health, digestive health, skin, and immune system.
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
Vegetarian Astragalus Broth
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Ingredients
  1. 4 medium zucchini, finely chopped
  2. 15 oz (450g) of green string beans, chopped
  3. 1 small bunch of parsley, stems and leaves, chopped
  4. 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 stalks of celergy, finely chopped
  7. 1 tsp sea salt
  8. 1-3 Tbsp astragalus root (optional)
  9. 4 cups water
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a pot.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil.
  3. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes with lid on.
  4. Strain and use as broth. If you leave out the astragalus, you can keep in the veggies and eat it as is, or blend it for a thicker soup.
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/

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Improve Your Brain Power with a Mental Workout

24 Hours logoQuick, what’s your sibling’s cell number? When is the date for your next haircut? What’s the password to your online banking? No, I don’t actually want to know any of these things! But, do you know the answer without checking your phone, calendar, or personal computer? Many of us use many tools to record items that we’ll need to know, but find hard to remember. And, that mental quickness can diminish with age. But there are things you can do to keep yourself sharp, as discussed in my most recent 24 Hours article Give your body a mental workout.

 

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Treating depression, anxiety, stress with wonder

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s easy to feel wonder and awe when looking at, listening to, feeling, or tasting something new, unusual, or unique. I have had the opportunity to visit many awe-inspiring and wondrous places, both natural—like the Serengeti and Kilauea Volcano—and man-made—like Gaudi’s Familia Sagrada and Machu Picchu. That feeling of “wow!” that grabs your attention is undeniable.

But how often do we feel wonder in our normal everyday lives? The other day I was driving to yoga when I had one of those moments. It happened spontaneously, that feeling of wonder, about something that I do on a near daily basis. I felt wonder about the fact that I was moving a heavy metal object with me inside of it with just the push of a pedal and a turn of a wheel.

This was nothing new, unusual, nor unique, and yet there it was—wonder. If you think about it though, it is pretty amazing, and there are plenty of wondrous things around us if we care to look. One of the benefits of looking for elements of wonder in our day is that it brings our attention to the present moment. We need to slow down for a bit to notice. And, along with wonder is often a feeling of gratitude for just that experience.

In this fast-paced world of nose-in-phone, short-attention-span living, taking these moments becomes even more important to help us bring balance to our lives. Feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, fear, worry, anger, frustration, detachment, and loneliness can be managed. It’s hard to feel those emotions at the same time as experiencing a feeling of wonder.

The moment I had was not planned—I was not trying to feel awe. It just happened. We can, however, cultivate this by setting aside a brief time to stop, take in some deep breaths, and observe. Pay attention to nature, animals, people, and even your own body so that you can notice some of the things that are amazing. Then allow yourself to really feel that feeling.

Every day I see people at my clinic who are overwhelmed. I would like to prescribe a daily dose of wonder.

 

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Happy Husband Roasted Vegetable Chowder

After my husband separated his shoulder 2 days before New Year’s eve, he was feeling a bit down–he was in pain and not able to do his regular activities. And, since he is normally our cook, that left me to prep meals. I needed something simple that would last for at least a couple of meals, so I found this soup. Turns out my husband loves this soup! Cheered him up and he said it’s now his favourite soup of all time. 

Happy Husband Roasted Veggie Chowder
Serves 5
Vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free
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Ingredients
  1. 1 sweet potato, diced
  2. 1 yellow-fleshed potato, diced (I used 4 small potatoes)
  3. 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  4. 1 onion, diced
  5. 1 cup (250 mL) sliced cremini or button mushrooms
  6. 1 cup (250 mL) frozen or fresh corn kernels
  7. 1 Tbsp (15 mL) coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  8. 2 garlic cloves, minced (I doubled this, as I like garlicky and it's good for cold and flu season)
  9. 4 cups (1 L) vegetable stock (not sodium-free)
  10. 1 - 14 oz (398 mL) can full-fat coconut milk
  11. 1 1/2 cups (350 mL) cooked chickpeas (I used rinsed canned ones)
  12. 1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
  13. 1/2 tsp (2 mL) sea salt
  14. 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground black pepper
  15. 1/4 tsp (1 mL) grated nutmeg
  16. 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped fresh parsley (I missed out on the parsley, but later added sauteed Swiss chard)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C)
  2. Toss all veggies in oil and roast on rimmed baking sheet for 25 minutes
  3. Transfer roasted veggies to a large pot
  4. Stir in stock, coconut milk, garlic, chickpeas, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  5. Bring to a boil
  6. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
  7. Before serving, stir in fresh parsley (or sauteed Swiss chard or kale).
Adapted from Allison Day, RHN; Alive Magazine
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Candy Cane Chocolate Coconut Cookies

C-C-C-C-Can you get any better than this?! I need to make these! But I think I’m actually going to wait until after Christmas is over, as I’m already overwhelmed with sweet treats galore. If you make them first, tell me what you think.

Candy Cane Chocolate Coconut Cookies
Yields 10
I think that the author of this recipe is on to something huge here. Check out her blog Healthy.Happy.Life (http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/) for more amazing recipes. I passed on doing a cookie swap because I really didn't have time for it, but if I would have done it, this is the cookie I would have brought!
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Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup oat flour
  2. 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  5. 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  6. 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  7. 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. 1 1/2 Tbsp cold non-dairy milk
  10. 1/4 cup crushed candy cane
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Combine oat flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl
  3. Fold in the vinegar, vanilla and coconut oil.
  4. Stir well until a thick crumbly dough forms.
  5. Fold in the cold non-dairy milk and candy cane pieces.
  6. The dough should thicken up as the cold liquid touches the coconut oil-infused dough.
  7. Lightly grease a baking sheet or use a baking cookie mat.
  8. Form small dough balls with your hands and press the balls into flat circles with your palms. (or roll out dough and use cookie cutters to make your own fun shapes!)
  9. Place on cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes (cook a bit longer if you like a crunchier cookie texture, less for soft and fudgy)
  11. Allow cookies to cool at least twenty minutes before serving. (not sure I will have the willpower to wait!)
Notes
  1. If you want to make your own oat flour, you can blend dry whole oats in a powerful blender.
Adapted from Healthy. Happy. Life
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Don’t suffer the Christmas bloat

24 Hours logoYou know what I’m talking about. You look in your closet to figure out what to wear to go to the next holiday celebration and you ask yourself, “What will stretch without showing my bloated belly?” Instead of having to cover up, avoid the holiday bloat by making better food and drink choices. That doesn’t mean that you have to avoid all the fun! Just choose wisely and follow some of my simple pieces of advice given in my 24 Hours Vancouver article, Avoid the Christmas bloat

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