Hope for the bees

I’ve read stories about bee “colony collapse” with growing alarm–most of our food must be pollinated by bees to grow! I feel pretty powerless to do anything to help (aside from trying to have as many flowers as possible in my garden to attract the local honeybees).

Parasites seems to be a major factor in colony collapse, and I was excited to read this article about using mushrooms to address the parasites.

How great to solve this problem without chemicals–let’s hope they’re onto something here.

Check out the article here.

Happy new year

It’s prime hibernating season here in Boston! I just spent the week between Christmas and New Years relaxing and going out as little as possible (well, except to walk the dog…). The rest was much needed, but now, like everyone, I still have to do all the work I ignored while hibernating…

I generally don’t enjoy New Year’s Eve parties, so I thought this funny New York Times article was basically about me! My apartment routinely talks me out of going out at night, and in the summer it’s the back yard that does it…

Happy, healthy new year to all!

Foods to avoid

Check out this list of foods to be avoided at all costs. It lists the usual suspects (artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, corn, wheat), but it also provides nice explanations about why you shouldn’t eat them.

To me, one of the most important things on the list is artificial sweeteners. I talk to “health-conscious” people every day who tell me they drink diet soda. I never understand how they could possibly think it was less-bad for them than full-sugar soda. I would rather not have any soda, or mindfully drink small quantities of regular soda any day. Diet soda tastes terrible!

Spiced Tumeric Milk

Turmericroot

 

Tumeric has been in the news a lot lately and I’ve been looking for new ways to incorporate it into my diet. As with most healthy “fads” you have to take the hype with a grain of salt. Annecdotally, tumeric is a cure-all. I’m not sure we have had well-designed studies to support the annecdotal claims, but it seems that very few herbs have good studies that examine their benefits.

The benefit that interests me most it that it seems to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. At least we think it does–cultures that consume tumeric as part of their daily diet have much lower levels of Alzheimer’s disease

We use tumeric in our Chinese herbal pharmacopeia for it’s blood- and qi-moving properties. As we age our qi and blood tend to become more stagnant, so keeping things moving can keep us well as we age.

In my kitchen I usually make one Indian curry every week so I think we usually eat tumeric 2-3 times per week. I’ve also been experimenting with making my own Thai curry paste, which uses fresh tumeric root (and is magically delicious!).

‘m always looking for more ways to incorporate more tumeric into my diet and I came across this recipe for Spiced Golden Tumeric Milk. I like that you can use any type of “milk” for her recipe–not all of us want to drink cow milk, but I think this will be delicious with coconut milk.

For even more ideas on using tumeric check out this article at Well + Good.

 

 

Celebrating 10 years in Davis Square

This July marked my 10th year in Davis Square. I started Great Way Wellness Center quite early in my practice. I graduated from New England School of Acupuncture in 2003 and immediately began practicing in a chiropractor’s office in Cambridge. After about a year and a half there I decided it was time to set out on my own.

I lived in Central Square at the time and did not own a car. It was clear that I needed T-accessible space, preferably on the red line. I spent 6 months looking at spaces all up and down the red line, and even a few places on the orange and green lines.

Then I found a space in Davis Square and signed a lease to start on July 1 2005. It had dirty light grey carpet and sad light-grey walls, but it had windows that opened, new carpet on the way and the option to paint those walls any color. More importantly, it was small enough that I could manage it. When I started Great Way Wellness Center I opened with just the two rooms that I use now and the waiting room. About a year and a half later the opportunity came to expand and add 2 more treatment rooms so I took the plunge and expanded. Expanding allowed me to bring in other acupuncturists and massage therapists, a goal of mine in starting my own wellness center.

Davis Square today is a bustling village of restaurants, shops and cafes. 10 years ago it was still a little sleepy, but you could see the rising potential of the area. I love the mix of families, students, urban professionals and long-time Somervillens (or “Villens” for short).

Being an acupuncturist is challenging but rewarding work. When I decided to study acupuncture way back in 1998 I had no idea what the day-to-day of being an acupuncturist would look like. I fully understood that I would be self-employed (whatever that really meant), but nothing could prepare me for the work. I love the mix of patients who walk in my door–I’ve learned so much from them over the years!

Looking forward to my next 10 years and the new challenges that come my way!

Future garden wish list

After a solid year of house hunting we finally found just what we were looking for in Somerville. We moved in January of this year, right in the middle of that terrible cold we experienced this year in New England, when none of us could imagine a time when we it would be warm enough to garden.Poppies

Our new house is blessed with a tiny city yard, both in the back and the front. A well-established rose bush, a forsythia, and 2 smaller rose bushes make up the only planting in evidence anywhere in the yards.

Rather than plunge into any big gardening decisions I’ve decided to spend the year studying the light and soil conditions and to compile a gardening wish list. As I bike or walk around my new neighborhood I am trying to observe what my neighbors have found success with and see if it might work for my unique conditions.

The picture at the top of this post is of poppies, which are popping up all over town right now.

peony bud

Ive also been wondering about peonies, pictured to the left as buds. The blossoms are beautiful, and it seems like a hearty plant for our region.

Iris

I am also hoping to plant some irises.

I am looking forward to a summer of checking out all of the neighborhood gardens!

Four Cookbooks That Helped Me Survive the Holidays

During the holidays we all become obsessed with food. But if you’re vegetarian or have special dietary needs, this can make the season stressful. But it doesn’t have to. Here are a few cookbooks that help me make it through:

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food

Exactly what it says: everything vegetarian. This book is a must-have for any serious vegetarian.

The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook

Almond flour is the secret to making amazing and tasty gluten free treats.

La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life

More than just a cookbook, this guide shows you an entire lifestyle of great living and great eating.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

This book has lots of special holiday treats.

Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds are relatively new on the health food market, and I’ve been experimenting with them in a lot of my baked goods. They are a complete protein, and are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. They also have a decent amount of vitamins and minerals. They also pack a good amount of fiber, too. Click here for the nutrition data breakdown.

Chia seeds have a unique ability to absorb large amounts of liquids, opening interesting possibilities for consumption. They become thick and gelatinous when soaked in liquid, and can be consumed as a beverage (a chunky beverage, which is better than it sounds), or made into a nutrious gel that you can eat with a spoon. I have been using ground chia seeds in all of my gluten-free baking because they help things stick together.

It’s a nice travel food for those with food sensitivities–easy to pack, and when mixed with any liquid it becomes a nourishing and filling food source. I’ve been seeing juices on the market with chia seeds floating in them–just make your own by adding some to your favorite juice.

One of the tastiest ways I’ve been enjoying them is as a pudding. It’s easy and fast, involves no cooking (and few dishes), and is open to infinite variables. I don’t have a picture of it for you, though, but at the request of my patients I wanted to get the recipe up (and maybe I’ll add a picture later). It’s a bit like tapioca pudding, but it’s healthy instead of starchy.

I enjoy it both as a post dinner snack (it’s a great ice cream substitute). Depending on how much sweetener (and what type) you use, it can be a nice breakfast too (maybe with some granola or nuts stirred in).

It’s hard to call this a recipe, it’s really a ratio: 1/2 cup chia seeds to roughly 2-3 cups of liquid. I used coconut milk the last time I made it, but you can use any tasty, creamy base that you like.

The infinite variety come in with how you choose to flavor the liquid. Vanilla or almond extract? Chocolate? Warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves? All are nice, so it’s up to you. If you are using whole spices like cinnamon stick, cardamom pods or cloves, you’ll get a richer flavor if you gently heat the base for a few minutes, and then leave the spices to steep (and then remove before you add the chia seeds).

Here is a rough sketch for a vanilla pudding and a chocolate:

Chia Seed Pudding

1/2 cp Chia seeds
2-3 cups coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk or whole milk
2 tsp vanilla
2-4 tbsp of your favorite sweetner (I use 1/2 palm sugar, 1/2 maple syrup)

Combine all ingredients and stir with a wire whisk. Let chia seeds soak for at least 10 minutes, whisking occasionally to prevent clumping. Start with less liquid, adding more to achieve your desired consistency. You can also add more chia seeds if it’s too liquid-y

It’s ready to eat as is, or you can chill it for a while.

To make this chocolate, add 2 tbsp. cocoa powder, and maybe use the larger amount of sugar.

Taste for sweetner, add a bit more if you need it.

A quick-and-dirty chocolate chia pudding can be had by mixing your chia seeds into chocolate soy milk (or whatever chocolate milk makes you happy).

Eggs poached in stock with spinach and buckwheat

I made a lot of soup this winter and came to appreciate the joy of home-made stock. With just a little extra work, you can get a stock pot going and then forget about it for at least 45 minutes. Strain it and you have a flexible base for a lot of good meals. It freezes beautifully, so make more than you need and bank some in the freezer for a future meal.

Spring allergy season has begun early in Boston. It’s predicted to be an especially bad year because of our mild winter. It’s also several weeks early.

We felt particularly under the weather last weekend, so I decided to cash in two jars of stock from the freezer stash. A quick and healthy meal can be had with two eggs, some pre-made stock, some leftover cooked grains and a handful of something leafy and green. Enhance the flavor as you time an inclination permits. If we’re feeling really under the weather, I add a few cloves of garlic to the stock and boil for at least 15-20 minutes. This time I sauteed some sliced garlic in olive oil and added it at the end, along with some chopped green onions. I had leftover cooked buckwheat in the fridge, but really any grain would do. I especially enjoy small round grains like quinoa and millet.

Eggs poached in stock with spinach and buckwheat

3 cups stock
4 eggs
1 cup cooked grains (give or take), preheated
a few handfuls of baby spinach
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
2-3 green onions, sliced

Bring stock to a boil, taste for seasoning. Crack eggs into 4 small bowls (like ramekins). To poach eggs, bring bowl very close to the boiling stock and gently tip in. Repeat with other 3 eggs, giving each egg a little room. Gently boil for about 3 minutes.

While eggs are cooking, saute garlic in some olive oil, taking care not to let it brown.

Divid preheated grains between two large soup bowls. Top with a generous handful of baby spinach (you can use a lot here–it will reduce down to nothing once the soup hits it.

Stir sauteed garlic into broth, taking care not to break the eggs. Gently spoon 2 eggs into each bowl and divide the stock evenly between the two bowls. Top with sliced green onions.

Serves 2.