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Trump. So now what?

Trump election healthy move forwardI’m a silver-lining-seeker, an other-side-of-the-coin-thinker, an uplifting-quotes-subscriber. But these last few days have been tough. I know I probably shouldn’t post something political, but it’s both political and non-political, as what is happening now is affecting how many are feeling. I’ve read postings on Facebook by friends who state that something good will come of this, though there are a surge of postings by people who’ve experienced hatred, verbal abuse, physical assault, and other crimes at the hands of people in support of Trump (I recognize this is not the majority). And this is just a few days in. I find that hard to stomach. I find it hard to tell myself to breathe deep and let go. I find myself riled up!

So much so that I jumped out of bed to write this.

The fact is that I do still believe in our better selves (no, not bitter selves). That includes everyone. I think that people are acting out of hatred in response to their own fears and insecurities. But it doesn’t make it any easier if you are the victim (or potential victim) of any of that hatred. And I find it hard to reconcile, as I personally can’t imagine taking those steps of aggression toward people of a different race, gender, sexual identity or preference, or religion. But I am not in the shoes of those people. I was not taught the same things. I’ve been fortunate.

I will not, nevertheless, allow that hatred to rear its ugly head in my presence. My Japanese-Canadian grandparents know/knew racism. They were moved from their homes in Port Moody, BC to internment camps in ghost towns. They had their property taken from them by our government. Some of their neighbours and friends tried to help. Some did nothing. Some stood aside, allowing it to happen. Some cheered as it happened. My grandparents and their families did as they were told. They said, “Shikata ga nai.” That literally means, “There is no way.” In other words, there’s nothing we can do, so let it be done. They quietly accepted.

After the war, they were not allowed to return to their homes. Their property had been sold, so they had next to nothing. They were told to either return to Japan (some had never been there, having been born in Canada!) or move east of the Rockies. It’s my mother’s generation (the Sansei—3rd generation) who spoke up in the 1980s, asking for apologies and financial concessions. They also fought and won an end to the “War Measures Act” that allowed the government to suspend civil liberties and personal freedoms.

I often use the mantra, “shikata ga nai, shikata ga nai, shikata ga nai,” when I’m faced with something that seems out of my control. It can be a good mantra to help relieve stress and tension.

But, today I realized something. In this case, that’s the wrong thing for me to say. We all have something we can do. I had a conversation with a patient who is a financial planner. We got talking about how many people in the U.S. are angry and feel their poverty is outside of their control and caused by others. There may be some merit to that. But it’s also possible that they didn’t understand how to best take care of their limited finances. It’s not taught in schools. In fact, many otherwise well-educated people don’t understand much about managing their finances, investing wisely, or saving effectively. He tries to change that by reaching out to those he knows to help them understand the basics. Maybe those of you with that knowledge could shout a bit louder that you can help.

What if you’re a history teacher? Rather than just have your students memorize dates and events (that was my history class in high school), you could discuss key historical events and their impact, both good and bad. Help us learn from our past mistakes. Remind us where we’ve erred before so we can correct our actions now and in the future.

Each of us can rest a bit easier knowing that if we have something we do well, we could do that with a little more oomph. Something that provides more good in this world. And that can be with anything that we do.

When I purchased something at a store today, the salesperson asked me, “Would you like to donate a dollar to…Donald Trump?” He smiled mischievously and I laughed. This morning as I headed into the Skytrain station, the guy handing out free newspapers was shouting, “Have a wonderful day!” and “Happy Thursday!” He didn’t need to do that, but he clearly wanted to uplift those around him. When my cell phone’s screen went dark and wouldn’t display anymore, I had to take it in to get it fixed. At the phone kiosk, the young guy behind the counter was extremely friendly and helpful. At first, I didn’t want him to be. I was mad that I had to spend my time getting this item fixed when I bought it less than a year ago. But, he didn’t let my grumpy mood alter his attitude. Soon enough, my mood was softened.

Since I’m in healthcare, my offering is going to be health-related. I try to teach people how to take care of their health. When you are sick, tired, in pain, or just not feeling well, you aren’t your best self. You may be more likely to snap at people. You might have less energy to do your best job. You could find yourself unwilling to push yourself to go that extra step to provide more good in this world.

So, I pledge to keep trying my very best to make each of you healthier so you can spread more of your own positivity.

Now I think I’ll use the mantra, “Hoho wa arimasu”—“There is a way.” Or perhaps “noli illegitimi carborundum” (look up this phrase online).

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Easy Vegan Slow Cooker Recipe Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry and Coconut Rice

easy vegan slow cooker recipe healthy food vegetarian natural healthOk, so we’re on a slow cooker kick and this month’s easy vegan slow cooker recipe is a reflection of that. The squash curry I posted last month was delicious, but I find cutting up squash to be a lot of work (and I’m scared to lose a finger!). This month I’m sharing another curry in the slow cooker recipe, but it uses one of my favourite vegetables, sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) and vitamin C, both excellent immune system support nutrients. They are also a good source of B vitamins, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and dietary fibre. My friend who we shared this curry with was really happy that I added sweet potato, as people often mix up yams with sweet potato. They’re both delicious, but I think this easy vegan slow cooker recipe is better with sweet potatoes.  

I also substituted the basmati rice that was called for with Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice, a black rice that’s rich in antioxidants and is considered a blood tonic in TCM.

Sadly, I forgot to add the spinach, though I did have it ready in my fridge. And we were so psyched to eat that I forgot to take a picture of the food for this blog until after we had already packaged it up for leftovers (that are now also eaten). So, here’s my not so stylized picture of what was a delicious meal!

Easy Vegan Slow Cooker Recipe

Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry & Coconut Rice
Warms you up from the inside!
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Curry
  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil
  2. 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  3. 1 clove garlic, minced
  4. 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  5. 15-ounce can chickpeas (about 1 1/2 cups)
  6. 2 cups canned or boxed chopped tomatoes
  7. 2 cups small cauliflower florets
  8. 3-5 carrots, sliced
  9. 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  10. 1 can coconut milk
  11. 1 cup vegetable broth
  12. 1 tablespoon garam masala
  13. 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
  14. 1 teaspoon salt
  15. 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach, chopped
Coconut rice
  1. 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown basmati rice (I used Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice, a black rice)
  2. 1 can light coconut milk
  3. 1/2 cup water
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
Curry Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a pan
  2. Sauté onions, garlic, and fresh ginger for 7 minutes or until lightly browned
  3. Transfer onion/garlic/ginger mix to your slow cooker
  4. Add remaining ingredients, except for the spinach
  5. Heat on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours
  6. Before serving, stir in the spinach, and heat for 5 more minutes.
Rice Directions
  1. Add the rice, coconut milk, water, and salt to a saucepan
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes
  4. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit covered for 10 minutes
OR
  1. Put rice ingredients in a rice cooker and let that do the job (that's what I did)
Adapted from Pop Sugar Fitness
Adapted from Pop Sugar Fitness
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Why do we sigh? What does it mean?

why do we sigh health information Traditional Chinese Medicine TCMDid you know that the average person sighs about 12 times an hour, or about every 5 minutes? You likely don’t even notice that you’re doing it, unless someone points it out, perhaps asking if you’re okay. So, why do we sigh?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), frequent sighing is a sign of what we call “Liver Qi stagnation.” We sigh because we are trying to release bound up energy in the chest that might be caused by frustration, irritation, depression, resentment, anxiety, or other emotional tension.

Why do we sigh?

If you hear someone sigh, what do you think is going on for them?

* sigh

It’s interesting that in a study done on the perception of sighing, experimenters found that participants given different scenarios of people sighing guessed that it was out of sadness. But, the participants themselves felt they sighed mostly out of frustration. 1

It seems there is a mental/emotional purpose for sighing. It can be a bit of a reset. 2  People given puzzles to solve sighed when they took a short break from a challenging problem, though they often hadn’t even noticed the sigh.

Sighing is also essential to proper lung function. It’s amazing that for every type of breath you take—regular breathing, deep conscious breath, sigh, yawn, cough, etc.—a different neuron is activated in your brain’s breathing centre.

In our lungs are tiny balloon-like sacs where oxygen enters and carbon dioxides leaves. These are called alveoli. These delicate little balloons sometimes collapse, rendering it hard for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide gases. When we sigh, we take in twice the amount of air as a normal breath, thus opening these collapsed alveoli. If we don’t sigh, our lungs will eventually fail. 3

So sigh away, it’s vital to your health!

However, if you notice the need to sigh more often and notice yourself feeling moodier (or maybe people are avoiding you!) and/or you are experiencing digestive issues or hormonal imbalance, then come in for acupuncture or herbs. While the sighing can help temporarily release some stress, unless it’s taken care of, it will continue to disrupt other aspects of your health.

* ssssiiiiiiigggggghhhhhh

 

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Easy to learn acupressure for better digestion

bloatingAte too much at Thanksgiving? Already digging into the Halloween candy? Not to suggest that you continue to overeat or eat junk, but don’t you wish there was something you could do to help improve your digestion? There is. Acupressure for better digestion is easy to learn and simple to do.

This is the first of a series of blogs I’m going to do on acupressure for simple health issues.

What is Acupressure?

First of all, let’s cover the basics about acupressure. It’s pressing on specific points on the body,  stimulating the tissue underneath to treat health conditions or symptoms. You can use your fingertips, thumbs, or even something like a capped pen or Qtip. Choose something that is not going to pierce your skin. If you want that, then you’re looking for acupuncture and you’ll need to see a qualified professional like me!

Pressing on the points will elicit a sensation of a bit of tenderness or maybe even mild tingling or aching. If it’s painful or sharp, you’re pressing too hard–go easy on yourself! If you feel nothing, either you don’t quite have the correct point, you’re not pressing hard enough, or that point is not currently useful for you.

Press each point for 10-30 seconds, usually on both sides of the body, but one at a time.

Acupressure for Better Digestion

Stomach 36 (ST36)

If you’ve seen me in clinic, you’ve probably experienced this point, as it’s good for a wide range of health conditions. As you can see from the English name above, it’s the 36th point along the acupuncture Stomach channel. That’s a decent indicator that it’s a great acupressure point for improving digestion. Research has also found a connection between this point and digestive health. 1,2,3,4

ST36 is 4 fingerwidths below the bottom of your kneecap (patella), just to the outside (lateral side) of your shin bone (tibia).

acupressure for better digestion ST36 point

acupuncture for digestion ST36 acupuncture point

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spleen 6 (SP6)

Another multi-use point, this one is also relatively easy to find, as it’s likely to feel tender when you press it. Actually, all the points should feel tender when you press them. 

This point is 4 finger widths up from the tip of your medial ankle bone (malleolus), behind your shin bone (tibia). 

acupressure for easy digestion SP6 acupuncture

SP6 acupressure for digestion natural health

 

 

 

 

 

Large Intestine 4 (LI4)

Often known for its ability to help relieve headaches, tooth pain, or other pain conditions of the head and face, it’s also helpful to treat pain in many places of the body. Additionally, as a point along the large intestine channel, you can use it for acupressure for better digestion, treating digestive pain and cramping, diarrhea, and constipation.

There are several ways to locate this point. One way is to squeeze your thumb close to the rest of your hand, and then locate the highest point in the muscle between the thumb and index finger. Press firmly and feel around until you find the spot that is tender.

acupressure point for digestive pain cramping LI4

acupressure acupuncture for digestion natural health LI4

 

 

 

 

 

Pericardium 6 (PC6)

This is one of the most widely researched and accepted points for use with both acupuncture and acupressure for better digestion, particularly for treating and preventing nausea, whether from pregnancy morning sickness, chemotherapy or other medication side effects, motion sickness, or illness. 1,2,3,4

You can either buy motion sickness bands, like those pictured below, or use your thumb or finger to apply pressure on this point. 

Find this point on the inside of your forearm, 3 finger widths up from the crease of your wrist, between the two tendons that pop up when you flex your wrist or make a fist.

motion sickness P6 acupressure for digestionnausea natural treatment P6 acupressure for digestion acupuncturenatural health nausea treatment P6 acupuncturemotion sickness bands nausea P6 acupressure

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Acupressure for Better Digestion

This is simple advice for simple, acute (short-term) digestive issues. If you have chronic or serious digestive health problems, you don’t need to keep suffering! Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), including acupuncture, Chinese herbs, supplements, and food cures can be your solution. Ask me your digestive health questions.

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Squash and Chickpea Curry Slow Cooker Vegetarian Recipe

slow cooker vegetarian recipe healthy squash chickpea curryI made this slow cooker vegetarian recipe, and my husband and I both liked it so much that we actually had it 4 nights in a row! Part of the reason for that was being busy and perhaps lazy, but another part of it was definitely the taste. Yum!

Plus, as the weather cools downs and so many are fighting colds, this recipe is like a panacea–boosting the immune system, decreasing inflammation, stabilizing blood sugar, and so much more.

Slow Cooker Squash and Chickpea Curry
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
  2. 2 cups cubed peeled potatoes
  3. 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  4. 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  5. 1 onion, diced
  6. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  8. 3 Tbsp mild curry paste
  9. 1 can light coconut milk
  10. 1 cup vegetable stock
  11. 1/4 cup natural cashew butter or peanut butter
  12. 1/4 tsp salt
  13. 2 cups packed shredded Swiss chard or kale
  14. 1 cup frozen green peas
Instructions
  1. In slow cooker, combine squash, potato and chickpeas.
  2. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
  3. Stirfry onion, garlic and ginger, stirring occasionally, until onion is light golden, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add curry paste; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add to slow cooker.
  6. Add coconut milk and stock to slow cooker.
  7. Stir in cashew butter and salt.
  8. Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours or until vegetables are tender.
  9. Stir in Swiss chard and peas.
  10. Cover and cook on high for about 15 minutes or until Swiss chard wilts.
Notes
  1. I've also done this stovetop when I have less time. It freezes great and makes for even tastier leftovers.
Adapted from Canadian Living, December 2006
Adapted from Canadian Living, December 2006
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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How to store food oil: Fridge, Cupboard, or Stovetop?

food oil how to store food oilOk, so I promised a blog about how to store food oil more than a month ago, but you know how summers go…

I do (eventually) keep my promises though. Like so many things in life, I’ve found some sources that have said to do other than what I’ve listed below, but most of them made the recommendations I’m making. This is a small part of my nutrition book I’m still working on.

Unfortunately, I’ve fallen behind on my book writing time, as I’ve been busier working more time in clinic (not a bad thing for me!). It’s always a matter of adapting and modifying while trying to stay on target (am I the only one who thought of Star Wars with those last 3 words?). Oh, and in cutting and pasting my book piece below, I notice I made another Star Wars reference in the very first paragraph. 

How to store food oil

As with almost all food products (honey is an odd exception), oils can go rancid. Depending on the type of oil, some will spoil faster than others, so it’s important to know how to store food oil properly, and how to identify oils that have gone bad (not to the dark side—as you’ll see, oils generally stay “good” longer in the dark).

Oils that are rancid smell different—sharp, bitter, or unpleasant. I think it tastes like Playdough, but others might say it tastes like crayons or putty. Keep in mind that the best before date may not tell the whole story. If you have an open half-used bottle of olive oil that has been sitting for a while, smell it to see if it’s still okay. The air in the bottle is called “headspace,” and oxidation from that air causes free radicals (usually “free” is a positive word, but not in this context) that can cause us health damage if consumed regularly. You won’t likely get sick from it from just a few doses, but the taste will also be altered, potentially ruining the flavour of your food.

Heat, oxygen, and light are all enemies of oil. The more saturated the oil, the most stable it is. This is why coconut oil makes a good cooking oil and is often jarred in clear containers, while olive oil makes a better salad oil and comes in dark glass bottles. The most sensitive oils are the essential oils and polyunsaturated fats. They often have to be stored in the fridge.

I know it’s convenient to have your cooking oils stored on or around your stove, but if they are exposed to heat, they will deteriorate more quickly.

Check your oil containers to find out how they should be stored, but here are some general rules:

Keep in fridge

Polyunsaturated oils are best kept in the fridge once opened. Some of these oils may become more solid and cloudy while being stored in the fridge. If it does, remove it from your fridge and have it at room temperature for an hour or two before use.

  • Flax seed oil
  • Grapeseed oil (can be stored at room temperature—assuming your room is less than 21°C/70°F—for up to 3 months or in fridge for up to 6 months)
  • Hazelnut oil (same as grapeseed oil)
  • Hemp oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Truffle oil
  • Walnut oil (same as grapeseed oil)

Keep in cool, dark place

Some of these oils can also be kept in the fridge to keep them lasting longer, though because of their higher quantity of saturated bonds, they are more likely to become solid.

  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil (very stable, this oil is often solid or semi-solid at room temperature)
  • Macadamia nut oil (though high in polyunsaturated fats, it is also naturally high in antioxidants that help keep it stable)
  • Olive oil
  • Peanut oil

Do you have any tips on ways you’ve learned how to store food oil? Share in comments below.

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Black Bean Mushroom Vegetarian Chili in a Slow Cooker Recipe

Black bean chili vegetarian slow cooker recipeIt’s that time of year again. I know I can use my slow cooker year-round, but I find I put it away when summer arrives, and take it out again when the temperatures drop. This vegetarian slow cooker recipe is just screaming to be made on a crisp fall day, and you can make it time and again over the fall and winter months.

Healthy Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipe

Black Bean Mushroom Chili in a Slow Cooker
When I look at this recipe I think cozy, comforting, warming, and nourishing.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 cups dried black beans, rinsed
  2. 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 1/4 cup mustard seeds
  4. 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, or ground cumin
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, or ground cardamom
  7. 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  8. 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  9. 8 ounces tomatillos, husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped *
  10. 1/4 cup water
  11. 5 1/2 cups mushroom broth, or vegetable broth
  12. 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  13. 1-2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I don't like spicy, so I skip this)
  14. 1 1/4 cups grated Monterey Jack, or pepper Jack cheese (optional--I skip the cheese, but you could also use a dairy-free cheese substitute like Daiya)
  15. 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (optional--I skip this too)
  16. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional--I love cilantro, but not everyone does; it's a love it or hate it herb)
  17. 2 limes, cut into wedges
Instructions
  1. Soak beans overnight in 2 litres of water.
  2. Drain the beans, discarding soaking liquid (unless you want your chili to be very gassy!)
  3. Combine oil, mustard seeds, chili powder, cumin and cardamom in a pot.
  4. Place over high heat and stir until the spices sizzle, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add onions, mushrooms, tomatillos and water.
  6. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are juicy, 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Uncover and stir often until the juices evaporate and the vegetables are lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Add broth, tomato paste and chipotles; mix well.
  9. Place the beans in a 4.7 L or larger slow cooker.
  10. Pour the hot vegetable mixture over the beans.
  11. Turn heat to high.
  12. Put the lid on and cook until the beans are creamy, 5 to 8 hours.
If you want
  1. Garnish each serving with cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro.
  2. Serve with lime wedges.
Notes
  1. * Apparently, if you can't find fresh tomatillos, you can either look for canned ones or use under-ripe tomatoes and add lime juice
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Ch-ch-ch Chia Seed Pudding

Do you remember the ch-ch-ch chia pet commercials? Who would have ever thought that something more useful could come out of those little seeds? 😉 Well, chia seeds are rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), fibre, and protein. And, they are like magic for making a nutritious and delicious pudding. This chia seed pudding recipe my go-to recipe for when I need to bring a dessert and I don’t have much time.

Chocolate Chia Pudding
Yields 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup chia seeds
  2. 3 cups almond, coconut, or hemp milk
  3. 2 – 4 Tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
  4. 1 tsp vanilla – optional
  5. 1 – 2 Tbsp raw cocoa powder
  6. Pinch of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Place everything in a bowl and stir well.
  2. Cover bowl.
  3. Let sit in fridge for 20 minutes or longer. Overnight is also okay.
Notes
  1. I prefer it less sweet, so I reduce or skip the honey.
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Think fermented foods are gross? Some tips

Watch my video below or read the text under that for tips about a few ways to eat (and enjoy) fermented foods.

* Note that putting yogurt in muffins will cook out the good bacteria, but there are many other ways to sneak it into your food (e.g. smoothie).

 

natto fermented foods healthy food grossI’ve tried a number of fermented foods that I’ve wanted to spit right back out (ayran and poi, for example). And some I’ve not been able to get past the smell of (natto and stinky tofu). But don’t be offended if those are your favourite foods. My grandmother grew up eating natto, so she loves it. I think it looks like chunky mucus and smells like rotten garbage. Nothing I’d want to eat. But, the first time people try beer or alcohol, they also tend to think it doesn’t taste good. Our tastes change with exposure.

A friend once proved that to me when I told him I would not eat Marmite (New Zealand’s version of Vegemite, a food paste made from leftover yeast extract). He quietly snuck it into sandwiches he made for me. He started with tiny, miniscule amounts so I wouldn’t notice. Then gradually increased the amount bit by bit. Eventually, he opened up my sandwich as I was partway through eating it to show me that I had been happily eating something that I had once thought of as vile.

My mother used to sneak yogurt into my dad’s food because he doesn’t like yogurt. Not knowing it was there, he didn’t mind it. Though he still says he doesn’t like yogurt. Sometimes it’s also mind over matter.

Nevertheless, there are a huge number of fermented foods, all with different flavours, so I’m sure there are some that you will enjoy from the start.

Did you know that even coffee and chocolate are made from a combination of fermentation processes?

(By the way, this is a sidebar in my TCM healthy nutrition book I’m writing.)

Summary of how to like fermented foods

  1. Include just a little, so you can barely taste it (or not taste it at all). Easier to do if you are the cook and the fermented foods-hater doesn’t know they are eating it.
  2. Mix it in other foods that will hide the flavour.
    1. Yogurt or kefir in a smoothie. Check out this delicious lassi recipe! 
    2. A bit of sauerkraut on a burger. Try it on a bean burger recipe.
    3. Chop up fermented veggies really small and add them to a salad.
    4. Find a chutney you’ll like–there are so many options, from fruity and sweet to savoury or spicy. 
  3. Just because you don’t like one kind of fermented food doesn’t mean you’ll hate them all. Explore your grocery shelves and online ideas and recipes.
  4. Remember that tastes change. And sometimes we actually learn to like something we didn’t like once upon a time. I’ve discovered this about Brussels sprouts, fish, tomatoes, and olives (provided those olives are in Greece when I eat them).
  5. Try this easy sauerkraut recipe.

What are your favourite fermented foods and fermented food recipes?

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Sauerkraut Recipe for Good Bacteria Probiotics

sauerkraut recipe healthy food good bacteria probiotics

So why would you make your own sauerkraut recipe when you can simply buy it in a store? Well, because like anything homemade it often tastes better (unless you screw up the recipe, which I have been known to do). And because this way you know you have a true fermented product, not a sterile, no good bacteria (probiotics) vinegary cabbage. The basic recipe is simple, but I’m sure you could modify it to play with the flavours. 

A few years ago I was in Germany for some biopuncture training. We noticed that we didn’t have a lot of vegetable options when we’d eat out, but sauerkraut was almost always included. I’m sure it helped us to digest the meat (don’t eat sausages anymore, so might be harder to travel through Germany now), bread, and beer. Though I was glad to get back to fresh veggies at home, it was delicious and I love this sauerkraut recipe below!

Have you ever made sauerkraut and do you have any tips?

Sauerkraut recipe basics
The minimum amount of time to make a sauerkraut is 3 days, but taste it to see if it's long enough. Longer time helps develop the flavour more as it ferments further. Put it in the fridge (or cold cellar) when it tastes right to you.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 medium head green cabbage
  2. 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
  3. 1 Tbsp caraway seeds (optional)
  4. Two-quart wide-mouth canning jar or two-quart mason jar
  5. Smaller jar that fits inside the larger mason jar
  6. Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing the smaller jar
  7. Cloth to cover the large jar
  8. Elastic band or string to secure the cloth
Instructions
  1. Clean and rinse everything well.
  2. Discard any wilted or limp outer leaves and trim out the core of the cabbage.
  3. Slice the cabbage into very thin ribbons,
  4. Place cabbage in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Sprinkle salt over the cabbage and massage it in, squeezing the cabbage with your hands until the cabbage becomes limp and watery (like coleslaw). It will take 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Optional to mix in caraway seeds.
  7. Stuff the cabbage into the large canning or Mason jar, tamping it down with your fist.
  8. Include the liquid that was squeezed out of the cabbage while you were massaging it.
  9. Optional: Place one of the larger outer leaves of the cabbage over the surface of the sliced cabbage to help keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid.
  10. Put the smaller jar into the large jar and weight it down with the stones or marbles.
  11. Cover the mouth of the large jar with the cloth and secure it with your elastic band or string.
  12. For 1 day, press down the cabbage by pushing on the inside smaller jar every few hours (obviously go to bed, don't stay up or wake yourself to do this).
  13. * If the liquid hasn't risen above the cabbage after 24 hours, then dissolve 1 tsp of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to your larger jar to submerge the cabbage.
  14. Ferment for 3 to 10 days, keeping it away from direct sunlight.
  15. Check it daily to make sure cabbage remains submerged in liquid.
  16. Taste it after 3 days. When it tastes good (may take more than 3 days), remove the weighted jar and put a lid on the large jar. Refrigerate it.
Notes
  1. Try to have the temperature at cool room temperature, as having it too cold will make it ferment really slowly and too hot will sometimes make it mushy.
  2. If you notice a foam or white scum on the top of your cabbage, this is part of the fermentation process and you can skim it off either during fermentation or before placing in the fridge.
  3. If you see mold, skim it off right away and make sure the cabbage is still fully submerged.
  4. As a fermented food, your sauerkraut will last for at least 2 months. Longer if refrigerated.
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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