My grandmother Louise attended Tuskegee Institute, according to Mom, in 1927 and 1928. How cool was that – not only for an American (and a woman!) of African descent to go to college during that time, but also to attend what would later become known as one of the premier Historic Black Colleges!

george_washington_carver2I can’t help but wonder if Grandmother Louise studied with Dr. George Washington Carver. Dr. Carver is best known for teaching Southern farmers how to cultivate peanuts and other foodstuffs in order to yield plenty of food year after year. At the same time, Dr. Carver taught techniques to replenish and fortify the soil and avoid soil erosion – both at Tuskegee Institute and in many of the Southern communities.

I’ve been a huge fan and follower of Dr. Carver’s work – he was a scientist, an herbalist, and a spiritual man who understood the inner nature of plants. He listened to and “talked with” the plants, and was quite successful in his work as a result.

So , when one of my favorite organizations promoting nutrition and health – the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) – announced that their annual Wise Traditions Conference was to be held in Montgomery, Alabama (40 miles from Tuskegee University), I made it my business to go – and I convinced Mom to go with me!

The 5-day trip took place during Veteran’s Day weekend; the conference’s focus was on teaching about healthy fats. Eating an abundance of healthy fats like coconut oil, grass-fed butter & ghee, olive oil, avocados and whole nuts & seeds are vital for balanced health. Following are just a few advantages of including good fats in your diet:

  • Increases focus and memory
  • Helps with weight management
  • Helps reduce inflammation in the body
  • Contributes to better digestion and supple joints
  • Actually prevents and addresses cardiovascular disease (rather than causing it)
  • Makes vegetables and all foods taste really good!

There were many fantastic speakers at the conference – and the price of admission included 5 delicious four-course meals! In some respects, it was more like a foodie convention than a nutrition/healing arts convention. The WAPF promotes food preparation and consumption following the ancient practices of indigenous peoples around the globe. There was an abundance of Southern style meals (with most dietary needs accommodated), along with dishes from other parts of the United States, represented by the many peoples who have migrated to the U.S. over the centuries. It was all absolutely delicious, and most nourishing!!

For more information about WAPF and the Wise Traditions Conference, visit their website at www.westonaprice.org.

george_washington_carver-laboratory_equipmentBetween attending the conference and eating the delicious food, Mom and I created several opportunities to visit some of the historic sites in Montgomery, and to visit Tuskegee University. Mom and I experienced great pride and honor being in the presence of such history – and walking on the very campus that Grandmother Louise attended, as well as where Dr. George Washington Carver worked and taught about a century ago. We walked on the campus, visited the Carver Museum and the Tuskegee Airmen Museum & Hangar.

The connection of learning more about real food nutrition and at the same time experiencing the ancestral energy of family along with history in the agricultural South was very enlightening. It opened our hearts and minds to great healing for our families, our communities and yes – our nation.

My affirmation for you this holiday season is that you embrace your loved ones (even if not in person), enjoy high quality, nourishing food, and get some well-deserved rest.

Happy Winter Solstice!
Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukkah!
Happy Kwanzaa!
Happy New Year 2017!
With Love and Appreciation,
Dr. Doris

“Sometimes you just have to flip it.” ~ James Brown

Fortunately, my real time exposure to the KKK has been very limited. During my undergrad years at UCSB in the late 1970s, one year for Halloween a young man decided to dress as a klansman. I happened to cross his path, and in a fit of anger, I pointed my finger in his face and shouted: “That’s not funny!!”

Not slighting the terrorism, death and destruction that the KKK has wrought, I realize as I recount my experience that I recall the incident like it was yesterday. All the anger – and fear – came flooding back, like a post-traumatic response to growing up in a racist country/world. In an effort to process these experiences, and as a way of not only fighting back but also bringing about a level of healing, it may be time to let a little air out of the KKK balloon, simply by flipping it – changing the meaning of what it stands for.

That’s why I’m hereby declaring that KKK now stands for something healthy and life-giving:

Kefir, Kimchi and Kombucha!!!

KombuchaWhen it comes to creating and maintaining a healthy gut and a strong immune system, these 3 K’s are deliciously unmatched!

Your gut is teeming with all kinds of bacteria, yeasts, other fungi, and many other elements that actually dictate your overall health. The new KKK – probiotics – contain beneficial bacteria that keep a delicate balance in your gut to maintain overall health. This is done through the process of fermenting high quality milk, vegetables and sweetened tea, respectively. Following is a brief explanation of the new KKK:

  • Kefir – The souring of milk and certain other liquids with the use of a special starter grain. The souring happens as the kefir grains eat the milk sugar, aka lactose. It is best to use high quality milk (organic & non-homogenized or raw cow’s milk, or goat’s milk). Coconut milk and water, as well as other non-dairy milks can also be made into kefir. Kefir is similar to yogurt, but is of a thinner consistency, while yogurt is made without a starter.
  • Kimchi – These are fermented vegetables, including cabbage or napa cabbage, daikon radish, ginger, garlic, onions and other vegetables. The concept is the same as that of sauerkraut, but with more color and spice. Fermented veggies are easy to make, easy to eat and easy to digest. See our upcoming Kimchi Party!
  • Kombucha – Sweet tea is fermented using a starter called a scoby. The scoby feeds on the sugar in the sweet tea, resulting in a slightly effervescent, soured and mildly alcoholic beverage.

Gut & Psych?

Interestingly, though it may seem like a stretch, there may be some correlation linked between the health of your gut and that of society.

I had some great conversations about the subject of flipping it with Dr. Matthew Silverstein, a clinical psychologist, specializing in the treatment of psychological trauma, in West Hollywood. Our conversation focused on what happens when a society is besieged with any kind of trauma such as that invoked by the ku klux klan.

Dr. Silverstein says that for many individuals, the present memory of the ku klux klan is a toxic memory, one that brings pain and anger – both physically and mentally:

“For so many folks who have been exposed to unimaginable horrors, how does one ‘digest’ this? These kinds of memories, left in an unprocessed, ‘undigested’ form, can produce a type of chronic stress that can lead to irritability, chronic anger and worry, and even depression. Unprocessed traumatic memories are saturated and highly conditioned meaning they can feel fixed or frozen in a way that informs how the present moment is experienced. This, in turn, causes not only mental strife, but can also cause physical symptoms.”

Dr. Silverstein continues:

“Our mind is constantly attempting to help us digest experiences of the day. This mental digestion empowers us to transform negative experiences – detoxify them and eradicate them so that we can all thrive in health – without fear of any kind. Then our mental energy is freed up, charged up and available for making full use of the life in front of us.”

“This kind of mental digestion, especially in the face of generations’ old traumatic memory takes ongoing mindful inner work.”

Flipping it, then, is a useful strategy to change the context from a sense of brokenness to repair, to relieve stagnation and restore health. In the long run, flipping it ultimately changes society and creates vibrancy.

Accordingly, Probiotic KKK begins to reverse trauma in the gut. In the same way as when our outer society becomes imbalanced, the inner society of the digestive system becomes imbalanced when eating foods that are not in our best interest. Substances like white sugar, white flour, processed vegetable oils and packaged, no-nutrient non-foods cause the imbalances that lead to chronic disease, including Cardiovascular Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and cancers.

Probiotic foods like kefir, kimchi and kombucha are delicious foods that are part of a nutrient-dense diet. These foods help heal the gut from previous traumas inflicted on the digestive system via ingestion of non-foods (as well as societal stressors). This KKK supports and encourages the ingestion of highly nutritious foods, and helps balance functioning of the body and brain.

Imagine what harmony in your gut could feel like. If your gut can be in balance and in harmony, imagine the possibilities for our society!  Imagine…

References & Resources

Alex Lewin, Real Food Fermentation: Preserving who Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen. Quarry Books: 2012.

Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. New Trends Publishing: 1999.

Natasha Campbell-McBride, Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Medinform Publishing: 2010.

For more information on Dr. Silverstein and his work, visit www.drmatthewsilverstein.com.

You may also be interested to check out Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary’s work on Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome. Visit www.joydegruy.com.

Butter(Feel free to sing along!)

Crisco Kid –
Was a friend of mine,

Crisco Kid –
Was a friend of mine,

Cakes and cookies tasted so divine,
Chicken Tofu perfect every time!

But then I found out something really weird,
Revealed some dark and deep seated fears.

Crisco made the arteries really clogged,
Not unlike a swampy marshy bog!

Heart disease, stroke and diabetes,
It all somehow seems so needless,

Crisco Kid –
Another disappointment,
Capitalistic methods for exploitment! (Yes, I made up the word!)

So the question begs,
What is really real??

How is health
Restored to the people?

Olive, Coconut, Butter through generations,
Tastes better than Crisco and uplifts the nations!

Well… Well… Well…

Well… Well… Well…!!!

Crisco Kid
Ain’t no friend of mine!

Country Crock – Ain’t no friend of mine!

Margarine – Ain’t no friend of mine!!

I Can’t Believe – Ain’t no friend of mine!!! ………..

This fun poem/song remix focuses on Crisco and all hydrogenated oils, but it also addresses the oil and fats industry and how the public has been brainwashed into believing that certain high-quality saturated fats like butter, ghee and coconut oil cause weight gain and disease, and vegetable oils like corn, soy, and safflower oils are good for you.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is, good quality fats like extra virgin olive oil, virgin and extra virgin coconut oil, and pure butter from pasture raised cows are better for you and actually promote health and vitality in your entire body. This includes your digestive system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system and nervous system, among others. Following is a very brief breakdown of how wonderful these fats are and how they nourish your body and restore health:

  1. Digestive System: When we eat low fat foods or the wrong kinds of fats like hydrogenated and vegetable oils, we become malnourished and crave more foods – especially starchy and sweet foods. It is precisely these starchy and sweet low fat foods that have contributed greatly to the epidemic of obesity and chronic disease in the USA. By contrast, a diet rich in high quality fats like coconut oil can actually help the body be nourished and the appetite satiated. When the diet is low in carbohydrates and higher in good fats like coconut oil, the body will burn fats directly and help increase metabolism. In turn, weight loss may occur more easily and chronic illness patterns like pre-diabetes, hypoglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, gas, bloating, and even constipation may be resolved. The bottom line: Fat does not make you fat!
  2. Cardiovascular System: We’ve been taught that saturated fats like butter and coconut oil will clog the arteries, create a pattern of high cholesterol, hypertension and atherosclerosis, and thereby cause heart attack, stroke and other chronic circulatory disorders. In truth, it is the low fat diet that is replete with refined starchy and sweet foods, along with most vegetable oils that create the inflammatory processes in the cardiovascular system, in turn leading to these imbalances. A Mediterranean diet that includes high quality fish oils, olive oil and butter from pasture-grazed cows prevents cardiovascular disease and increases vitality. And cholesterol becomes largely a non-factor for most people, because it has been recently discovered that moderately high cholesterol levels are not risk factors for CVD after all! The bottom line: High quality fats are essential for great circulation!
  3. Endocrine System: Continuing briefly the discussion about cholesterol, this is one of the substances that is vital to the proper functioning of the endocrine system. Our bodies make the bulk of cholesterol, which is a hormone in and of itself, and relatively small amounts are contributed via the diet. Certain fats – especially fats like butter, ghee, fish oils and virgin/extra virgin coconut oil – can be catalysts to help the body produce and maintain the proper ratio of hormone activity in the body to keep the entire endocrine system balanced. This is true especially for children and expectant/lactating mothers, but applies across the board to all people. The bottom line: High quality fats are essential for proper functioning and balance of the endocrine system.
  4. Nervous System: Here, we refer to the brain and spinal cord – the body’s computer system. High quality fats like fish oils, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and nuts like walnuts are essential for brain functioning! These not only help develop and maintain the ability to focus and sharpness of mind, but they also help prevent debilitating illnesses like Alzheimers Disease, also known as Type 3 Diabetes. And for growing children, no diet should be without a good amount of these fats. Children need carbs, veggies, fruits, proteins and plenty of fat in their diet. This can help prevent or address disorders like Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum disorder, or malnutrition. The bottom line: High quality fats help create and maintain proper brain functioning.

Our ancestors knew what to eat in order to be as healthy as possible, even before the advent of modern medicine. Honoring some of those traditions, especially the high quality fats, may surely contribute to greater health, more vitality, and longer life. And nature always provides the best to bring about and maintain balance, health and wholeness.

But don’t take my word for it – at least not yet. Check out these books and website links first – and then throw the Crisco, margarines, and bottled vegetable oils away, and replace them with the real food fats: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter from pasture-raised cows, avocados and whole nuts and seeds.

If you have questions or need more help with this, please contact me.

References

  1. Weston A. Price Foundation
  2. Selene River Press
  3. Mercola
  4. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon
  5. Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill by Udo Erasmus
  6. Coconut Cures, by Bruce Fife
  7. Back to the Basics of Human Health: Avoiding the Fads, Trends and Bold-Faced Lies, by Mary Frost

Spaghetti SquashWhen increasing the fat content in the diet, it’s a great time to also reduce the amount of starchy carbohydrates. When we think of the Mediterranean diet, we tend to automatically think of a large plate of pasta with sauce. While there may be some truth to this today due to the general rise in the consumption of carbs – pasta, potatoes, bread and the like are consumed in relatively small amounts in traditional Mediterranean style cooking. Vegetables, fats in the form of rich sauces, and protein foods make up the bulk of the traditional Mediterranean diet.

Winter squash is a great way to move away from high carb foods. They are packed full of nutrients: their yellow or orange color indicate they have beta carotene – the precursor to Vitamin A. They are also high in Vitamin C and have good quality fiber. They are tasty and filling, yet have half the carbs and calories of grains and potatoes.

In Asian medicine, squashes are known as foods that enhance and heal the Earth Element, so they’re great for improving the digestive system – the Spleen/Pancreas Complex. Winter squashes keep for a long time after harvesting, and make delicious soups and side dishes.

My favorite winter squashes include butternut, acorn and spaghetti. I use butternut to make soup, acorn to stuff with veggies, and spaghetti for – well – spaghetti! Here’s my recipe for Spaghetti Squash a la Mediterranee:

Ingredients:

1 medium-sized spaghetti squash, about 3-4 pounds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and loosely chopped
1/4 pound shiitake or other mushrooms, loosely chopped
1 large, ripe tomato, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons butter or ghee, preferably from pasture-raised cows
Salt & Pepper to taste
High-quality Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut spaghetti squash length-wise down the center; remove seeds.
  3. Place squash cut side down on a glass baking dish; add 2 tablespoons water to the dish.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until squash can be easily pierced with a fork. (Sometimes I bake the squash the day before, and store covered in refrigerator until ready for use.)
  5. When baked squash is cool enough to handle, heat olive oil in a heavy pot or large skillet. Add onion & garlic; sauté at medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Add mushrooms and let cook another 4 minutes.
  7. Add tomato; cook 5 minutes more.
  8. Using a fork or a spoon, remove the inside of the squash – it will look a lot like angel hair pasta. Add directly to the pot with the other vegetables.
  9. Add basil; stir to incorporate all ingredients.
  10. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes.

Serve hot, with optional Parmesan cheese grated on top. Serve with roasted chicken, baked wild salmon, or marinated and grilled tempeh. Serves 4-6.

Year Of The Wood GoatWelcome to the Year of the Wood Goat/Sheep! Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, falls on the second new moon after the Winter Solstice. This year’s Lunar New Year was Thursday, February 19.

If you are born in a year of the Goat (1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015), you are generally believed to be gentle, calm, mild-mannered, shy, stable, sympathetic, amicable, and brimming with a strong sense of kindheartedness and justice. Goat people have a special sensitivity to art and beauty and a special fondness for quiet living. They are wise and compassionate and can cope with business matters cautiously and circumspectly. In their daily life, they can be economical. They are willing to take good care of others, but they may tend toward pessimism and hesitation, and would do well to avoid these traits.

Although they look gentle on the surface, they are tough on the inside, always insisting on their own opinions. They have a strong inner resilience and excellent defensive instincts. Though they prefer to be in groups, they do not want to be the center of attention. They are reserved and quiet, most likely because they like spending much time in their thoughts. Goat people like to spend money on fashionable things that give them a first class appearance. Although Goats enjoy the finer things in life, they are not snobbish.

If Goat people are in mental and emotional good spirits, this should have a positive effect on their physical health. They should get out among nature and commune with the great outdoors. Fresh air, trees, sunshine and high-quality food will all do wonders for their health. Goat people should have a regular schedule for meals and keep their sleep and waking times consistent.

Generally speaking, Goats are private. Therefore it may take time and effort to get to know those who are born in a year of the Goat. Goat people seldom share their personal lives. This is the reason why many Goats may have few intimate friends. Once they become friends, their friendship is peaceful and fulfilling. They work hard for those they love.

There seems to be some ambiguity about whether this is the Year of the Goat or Sheep. The Chinese character can refer to either of the animals. However, in terms of traditional Asian culture, the zodiac symbol is said to be more likely a Goat. The Sheep is honored because of its docile nature, and because it is so adored – very “cute”, and producing wool for warmth and milk for food.

May this year 2015, the year of the Goat/Sheep, be the best year ever for you and your loved ones! May you enjoy peace, joy, prosperity, and most of all, love.

Zen“Those who act with bravery and courage will overcome diseases.” ~ Inner Classic of TCM

On my recent annual trip to Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, I was so thoroughly enjoying the perfect peacefulness of the early evening and the pure bounty of nature, when there was a mishap. Somehow, while walking towards my cabin, the end of a branch jammed itself into my big toe, underneath the cuticle. OwOwwOwww!!! You might not know this about me, but I’m such a baby when it comes to these things! I really don’t like pain (that’s why I’m such a good acupuncturist). I immediately started thinking the worst: I’m going to lose my nail, I’m going to be in pain, I’m going to develop an infection out here in the wilderness.

Of course, none of that happened. It was indeed an act of bravery on my part as I dislodged all the foreign matter from underneath my big toe nail (you have no idea!). My immune system took over (with a little help from soap & water, peroxide and neosporin; and later, the hot mineral baths and coconut oil). The initial pain told me that there was an invader that broke through the skin. Then the blood pushed out any bacteria from the site of the wound. The slight swelling revealed my body’s inflammatory response to the intrusion. Clotting factor quickly closed up the wound. White blood cells and fibrin went to the area and created a scab.

In the long run, all is well. Being at Tassajara helped me to be very zen about it, and the wound healed rather quickly. In fact, the branch punctured a couple of very applicable acupuncture points (Yin Bai/Spleen 1 & Da Dun/Liver 1) which helped me to chill out even more. Needless to say, I very much enjoyed my time away – as usual!

So after that long introduction, let’s look at your amazing immune system. The immune system is made up of several components, comprising your body’s natural defense system. Those components are:

  1. White blood cells
  2. The entire digestive system, including the intestines
  3. The lymphatic system
  4. Certain organs, such as the lungs, liver and spleen
  5. The endocrine system, including the pituitary, thyroid and adrenals
  6. The skin

Sometimes we think the immune system is limited to warding off colds and flu. In reality, your immune system works in a variety of scenarios:

  1. Any kind of pathogenic factor that may invade the body, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, molds, etc. In Asian medicine, these pathogenic factors include wind, cold, heat, dampness, dryness and fire.
  2. Any injury, for example surgery, accidentally slicing your finger instead of the zucchini, or getting bruised during kick-boxing class.
  3. Allergies, including environmental sensitivities – pollen, ragweed, alfalfa, dust, cigarette smoke, vehicle exhaust fumes – the list is very long.
  4. Diet and poor nutrition – sensitivities to certain foods, chemicals and food colorings, preservatives, excito-toxins, packaged-fast-convenience (non)foods.
  5. Emotions and stress – anything that causes undue stress and/or unbalanced emotions can activate the immune system.

Generally, the immune system becomes “activated” or stimulated by detecting some sort of invader in the body, whether from the external or internal environment, and immediately going to work to rid the body of the offending substance. White blood cells are considered the body’s first line of defense, including granulocytes, lymphocytes, and monocytes. It is in this collection of white blood cells that normally all types of invaders are neutralized and/or destroyed. Of course, this explanation is a gross simplification of the process that the body and its immune system go through to keep the body alive and maintain balance; it’s much too complicated to go into further detail here. The idea is that the immune system makes sure the body stays healthy and maintains homeostasis.

The immune system is very sensitive in detecting detrimental invaders. In fact, it can, in some cases, go into attack mode when it seems there is nothing to attack. This is when diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can develop.

These and many others are known as auto-immune diseases, where the body’s immune system “attacks itself.” Auto-immune diseases are often caused by a combination of factors, including (but not limited to) allergies, viral infections, dietary imbalances, exposure to toxins, stress, and endocrine imbalances. Know that this is not a default of the immune system; your body is indeed very intelligent. Once you give your body what it needs (and take away what it doesn’t need), the inflammation often abates and the imbalance goes into remission.

How can you best care for your immune system as naturally as possible?

  1. Eat good food. Nutritious food, made from wholesome ingredients and balanced for your body, will help ensure a healthy immune system.
  2. Get good rest. This is critical, as your body repairs itself during periods of rest and sleep.
  3. Exercise. This circulates not only the blood and cardiovascular system, but aids the lymphatic and other waste systems to eliminate wastes from the body.
  4. Get Acupuncture treatments. This is a great therapy to balance the immune system. Because acupuncture breaks the skin in very specific sites, the body will go into self-healing mode, targeting the organs and/or meridians accessed by the acupuncture needles. Also, herbs and supplements may be prescribed at this juncture to enhance the acupuncture treatments.
  5. Detoxify Regularly. Cleansing and detoxifying your body once or twice a year not only jumpstarts weight loss and balances the body overall, this practice also keeps inflammation at a minimum and ensures a more balanced, strong immune system.
  6. Manage stress. Deep breathing, meditation, Tai Chi, and Yoga are all helpful. Notice other ways to find and/or create happiness & joy in your life.

AlmondsAs Autumn approaches, nature lets us know it’s time to shift from foods that are cool and crisp to foods that are more oily in nature. In summertime, salads, melons and cooling drinks have been the order of the day to beat the heat. In Autumn, however, the environment becomes dry and dusty, often with the heat from summer lingering on.

While it’s okay to continue to enjoy the bounty of cooling summer foods and methods of preparation as we transition into Autumn, we must also add some oily foods. One of my favorite foods for this is almonds.

The almond is an incredible food that doubles as medicine. As a food, it is very balanced in carbs, protein and fat, making it an ideal source of nourishment. As medicine, it is neutral in temperature, sweet in flavor, and influences the lungs and large intestines. The oil contained in almonds lubricates the intestines. Almonds ventilate the lungs, relieve cough and asthma, transform phlegm, and alleviate constipation.

I love eating almonds straight, or as almond butter. But I think my favorite way to enjoy almonds is through fresh almond milk. You won’t believe how easy the following recipe is, taught to me by one of my favorite herb teachers, Cathy McNease. Make this, and you won’t want to buy the store-bought stuff ever again!

Makes 1 Liter/Quart

Ingredients:

3/4 cup fresh, raw almonds, shelled. You may optionally blanch them by covering with hot water, then slipping the skins off once the water is cool. This will ensure that your almond milk will be white in color – like cow’s milk.
1 Liter/quart filtered water, divided
1 tablespoon grade B maple syrup or fresh local honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment:

Large bowl or pitcher with cover
Storage container or jar with cover
Cheesecloth
Blender

Instructions:

  1. Rinse almonds. Place in large bowl or pitcher. Cover with 2 cups filtered water.
  2. Cover and store in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours.
  3. Place almonds and soak water in a blender (nothing fancy needed). Blend. Strain into large bowl or pitcher through cheesecloth. Squeeze out all the liquid goodness.
  4. Put the almond meal that’s in the cheesecloth back into the blender. Add the remaining 2 cups filtered water. Blend. Strain into the same large bowl as the first batch.
  5. Put a small amount of the almond milk back into the blender. Add either maple syrup or honey, and vanilla. Blend. Reunite with the big bowl.
  6. Store almond milk in a clean 1-2 Liter/Quart pitcher, jar, or other container with a lid. Keep under refrigeration and consume within 5 days. Use as you would any kind of milk.

I love making smoothies with almond milk. To really open up the lungs, add ½ ripe pear, some of your favorite berries, and ¼ – ½ small-medium avocado to 1 cup of the almond milk sweetened with honey. Blend and enjoy. Feel your lungs open up immediately! This is great for asthmatics, any type of bronchitis or dry feeling in the lungs.

One last thing – use the almond meal as an ingredient in baked goods or as a facial and body scrub to add softness and luster to your skin. Keep this refrigerated also and use within 5 days.

Yin Yang SymbolI have recently returned from a week-long Tai Chi Spring Intensive training in Idyllwild. Master Tung Kai Ying taught a wonderful group of us to go deeper in understanding and moving through the various Tai Chi forms we have been learning. It was indeed inspiring! It was hard work, but also a great respite. The clean, mountainous setting of Idyllwild was ideal – fresh, cool air and water, lots of sunshine, and great camaraderie.

Tai Chi Chuan is a moving meditation originally practiced by the Chinese for the past few millennia. Also known as shadow boxing, Tai Chi is a widely practiced martial art that physically develops balance and coordination, as well as enhances emotional and physical health. Tai Chi combines deep diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation with slow and gentle movements, both isometric and isotonic, while maintaining good posture. The movements flow almost imperceptibly from one into another with grace and beauty.

There are numerous styles of Tai Chi Chuan to choose from. The most widely practiced are Yang, Chen, Wu and Sun styles. The movements range from very slow and large to quick and compact. Each style also employs various exercises and has several forms within the one style. For example, Yang style has several standing meditations, slow forms, fast forms, and several other martial arts practices, sometimes using weapons such as knives or swords, and sometimes with an opponent. In fact, Tai Chi Chuan is considered a martial art much in the same way as Kung Fu, Aikido or Capoeira.

Tai Chi is part of a larger philosophy and way of living that strengthens the body, eases emotional stress, and facilitates an acceptance of one’s own peace. That larger philosophy is incorporated by traditional Chinese medicine, and more specifically, the concept of Qi (pronounced chi). Qi is the life force energy that flows through each of us. When this energy is in abundance and flows properly, an individual is generally in good health, not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If the Qi becomes depleted, blocked or stagnant, imbalance and illness will usually result.

Tai Chi builds energy in order to maintain an abundance of Qi, and also to keep the energy flowing properly in the body.

The benefits of Tai Chi Chuan are numerous. As a meditation, it calms the mind, allowing one to become more focused and in tune with the Higher Self. Many studies have been done, both in the East and the West, as to the positive health benefits of Tai Chi. Equivalent in aerobic activity to walking about 6 kilometers per hour (3.5-4.0 miles per hour), Tai Chi helps to lower blood pressure, ameliorate cardiovascular function and improve or facilitate breathing.

Tai Chi ChuanThe slow, deliberate movements lubricate and strengthen the muscles and joints, break up stagnation and allow for the smooth flow of Qi, thus making this a wonderful exercise for those with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Regular practice also helps in the prevention of osteoporosis and improves balance, thereby reducing frailty and falls. Its meditative and exercise components indeed make Tai Chi helpful for all types of chronic conditions, as well as to maintain good health.

While it is true that people who are approaching their elder years tend to be more attracted to Tai Chi Chuan, this moving meditation is for people of all ages. Tai Chi Chuan is a great way to achieve and maintain a strong, supple, flexible, youthful and peaceful body, mind and spirit.

Back at the Academy here in Los Angeles, I find myself loving Tai Chi Chuan more than ever. My body feels stronger, my mind clearer and calmer. I endeavor to maintain and grow in that strength and calmness. I know that there is really only one way to do this: Diligent Practice.

Resources:

  • www.tungkaiying.com
  • Tung Kai Ying, Learning Tai Chi Chuan. Kai Ying Tung Academy of Tai Chi Chuan, Los Angeles: 2012

KaleWe all know the benefits of eating greens. They are nutritious, have good fiber, are detoxifying, and contribute to overall great health.

The recipe offered below is an Afro-Asian style of greens that I like to prepare. I was told to post it, so here it is! Note: I never measure ingredients, so all measurements are approximate. Please use your own judgment.

These greens can be served with your favorite rice, corn bread, and/or protein of your choice. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Organic is always best):

3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
5-7 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Bunches Collard Greens (or mix with Kale), washed and sliced thin
½ Head Green Cabbage, washed and sliced thin
½ Lemon, juiced
1-2 Tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
Himalayan or Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
1-2 Tablespoons Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Heat coconut oil in a good-sized pot.
  2. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic.
  3. Add the greens, then the cabbage.
  4. Let simmer down a bit (10 minutes?)
  5. Add lemon juice & Bragg’s Aminos.
  6. Simmer another 10-20 minutes (or transfer to crock pot and cook on low for 2 or more hours).
  7. Add apple cider vinegar and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve hot; serves 6-8.

2014 Year of the Wood HorseGong Xi Fa Cai!!

In Chinese astrology, Horses are known for being strong-willed and unbridled as well as charming and intelligent.  The Horse is self-centered by nature and wants things done his/her way.  People born in the Year of the Horse are performance and success oriented, and have remarkable powers of persuasion.  They will set out to sway people to their way of thinking – in a most charming way!  People find it hard to resist the Horse’s positive and self-assured outlook on life.  If you were born in 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, or 2014, you are a Horse!

Wood Horses are thought to be the most reasonable of the 5 types of Horses (fire, earth, metal, water & wood, after the 5 elements of traditional Chinese medicine).  Wood Horses are less impatient than the others, finding it easier to be self-disciplined and organized, but they are still very strong-willed and resist “being dominated.”  Those born in 1954 and 2014 (occurs every 60 years) are born in the year of the Wood Horse.

May this Year of the Wood Horse – 2014 – bring peace, joy, prosperity and great health to you and yours!