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Simple Recipes for Fall Immunity

Easy Tom Kha Broth

This is a perfect, warming broth for fall weather. I enjoy it most as an accompaniment to fresh salad rolls, or when I’m simply not in the mood for a full meal.

Medicinally, use this broth if you feel the onset of a cold coming on. If you’re experiencing chills, an increased sensitivity to cold weather, an aching neck/occiput – this is a perfect sipping broth! The chicken broth and coconut cream strengthen the qi of the spleen and heart. The ginger and chili flakes are warming herbs which help drive out cold and “release the exterior.” The recipe below calls for chicken stock. Here’s a vegan version of Tom Kha if that works better for you.

Ingredients

  • 1 quart chicken stock (homemade is best but you can use premade if you don’t have any on hand or simply don’t have the time. Rosemont Market sells chicken broth that they’ve made in-house; you can find it in the freezer section)
  • 7 ounces creamed coconut or coconut cream (I get coconut cream from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • juice of 2 limes (sometimes I use 3, depending on how sour I want it to taste)
  • fish sauce to taste
  • cilantro to garnish

Instructions

Put all the ingredients in a pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes until piping hot. Add fish sauce (go slowly – it’s salty!) to taste. Add some cilantro. Enjoy!

Note: If you’re interested in making a more traditional Tom Kha, see this recipe, which includes the immune-boosting Japanese mushrooms. And read this, if you want to know more about the healing benefits of chicken soup.

Sweetened, Baked Pears Ripe pear on a wooden background

According to Traditional Chinese medicine, Fall is the season of ‘dryness’. It’s also the season of runny noses and coughs! We all know from experience that we’re more susceptible to colds during this season. The “dampness” of late summer is replaced by cooler weather, and our nose, throat and lungs tend to dry out, making us more susceptible to viruses. (It’s important to recognize that the airway epithelium is the first line of defense against airborne pathogens, so when our nose and throat dry out, we’re not as protected from viruses and bacteria.)

So keep ’em moist, folks!  (You can quote me on that.)

Pears are supportive of the Lungs; their cooling and moistening nature can help the lungs, nose, and throat. They can also eliminate heat and excess mucus. Walnuts also support the Lung and have a strong action against phlegm.

If you decide to use this dish medicinally, consume baked pears once a day, for at least 4 days in a row.

Ingredients

4 unpeeled pears
2 tbsp raw honey
1/3 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 cup apple juice

covered casserole dish

preheat oven to 350 degrees

Instructions

1. Grind walnuts in a food processor or spice mill until they are powdered.
2. Wash pears. Halve the pears and scoop out seeds and pith, leaving an indentation for the dry ingredients.
3. Mix walnut powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon peel. Add this to the scooped out pears. Add a bit of honey to each pear (drip honey over the dried ingredients).
4. Pour apple juice in the bottom of the casserole dish. Cover.
5. Bake, covered, for about 35-40 minutes or until soft. Enjoy!

 


GUTS AND BOLTS: Understanding the 5 Viscera

Important things first. When I did an image search for the word “viscera” to find a picture for this post, the overwhelming result was this:

Apparently, Viscera is a professional wrestler who enforces the evil agenda of the Ministry of Darkness. Note the "gothic" look he has cultivated: white-out contact lenses, a bleached mohawk, and form-fitting, bedazzled leather.
Apparently, Viscera is a professional wrestler who enforces the evil agenda of the Ministry of Darkness. Note the “gothic” look he has cultivated: white-out contact lenses, a bleached mohawk, and form-fitting, bedazzled leather.

 

What I was actually looking for was this:

These blokes and their partially-exposed viscera stop for a friendly game of poker.
These blokes and their partially-exposed viscera stop for a friendly game of poker.

In Traditional Chinese medicine, the 5 viscera (Wu Zang)  include the heart, the spleen, the lungs, the kidneys, and the liver. When we talk about these organs in the context of TCM, we are talking about a wide and interrelated set of functions that include the physical organ as well as the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects associated with that organ. We are NOT referring to your organs from a Western medical perspective. In other words, if we talk about treating congestion in your liver, we are not implying that there is anything physiologically wrong with your liver that would show up in a lab.

So, next time you overhear your acupuncturist say “Okay, Joffrey Baratheon, we’re going to work on clearing fire from your liver, you sinister rat!”

Little dude has some serious liver fire.
Little dude has some serious liver fire.

you will know that “liver fire” is a term used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and that we are not implying that there is an actual flame coming from the organ that sits in the right upper quadrant of Joffrey’s abdominal cavity.

Though the TCM perspective of the body differs in many ways from the Western perspective, the two systems actually complement each other quite nicely – even some of the functions associated with particular organs sometimes overlap within the two systems. Here’s how I explain the differences and similarities between Eastern/Western medicine to my patients – olive oil and balsamic vinegar surely hold their own space in your kitchen cabinet, right?  But mix them together you’ve got a simple vinaigrette! If life is like a box of chocolates….then whole health is like making a tasty vinaigrette!

Over the next month I’ll post all kinds of amazing information about your guts! We will review the 5 viscera, and I’ll explain how these major organs experience imbalance.  I’ll answer the most common questions I hear in the clinic, like “What are signs of imbalance?” and “How did this organ become imbalanced?”  I’ll share all kinds of creative ways to restore balance when you feel outta whack (before you even have to see your doc, or your acupuncturist). And of course, I promise to go on some ridiculous tangents that have absolutely nothing to do with the subject since we must always keep things interesting and helpful, but never overly serious.

The goal of the next month of posts is simple –  I want to help you understand your body so you can be proactive about nurturing yourself into a state of balance that feels good to you. It’s the best kind of healing, really, when your spirit and your earthsuit make nice and work together so you can better ride the big surf without falling from your board.

The most tubular metaphor for life as we know it.
The most tubular metaphor for life as we know it.