Monday, December 31, 2007


Another year is closing, more vistas to come.

I don’t have resolutions. After 17 years of saying I am going to get my couch reupholstered, after 8 years of saying I am going to get my Van Gogh prints matted and framed, after 2 years of saying I am going to meet my next and final man; I just take things day by day.

Really all we need to know is if you are 100% in yourself or being your true self, you cannot go wrong. But when you break that statement down, others’ reactions and complexes and your own stuff influence you every day, it’s not that easy.

This last month I released a few obligations which didn’t resonate with me, but those obligations had a purpose at the time. I feel free-r and more focused and excited. I didn’t realize how weighted down I was nor did I realize at what point they began to have that effect.

I anticipate much happening in the next 4 months. I’ve had some epiphanies, in my sleep, about shifting current things. (Sleep is my work time too.) I have several continuing education courses coming up, all of which are integral to niche-ing my practice. (This is a necessity where we are three independent acupuncturists in one location!) All these things completely resonate with the true me.

I am getting reacquainted with aspects of me that I left by the wayside while focusing on other things that seemed more crucial. Other than attaining basic needs, I have no idea what could have been more crucial than being myself.

Here’s some a little diddy that I wrote 10 years ago (also resoluted I’d make it a book), at a point I was pretty much truly me. It’s a little silly but it’s still me. Here goes:

I wish Bliss

I wish I moved to the beat

of a drum


Made my own music

Made people dance through the fields of life

with me

I wish I swayed with the wind


Sunbeams shown through the palms

of my hands

Dive into life


Breathe the water

Taste the air


Suck the sky

Color the black holes


Brighten the dark side

Find the happiness


Bask in the lightness of me

Touch the earth sky water everyone and me

at once


Laugh all the while

Run barefoot through this life to the next


Run so fast I live both lives at once

Run my toes through my hair

My body through the grass

Stretch in the knowledge of






copyright 1998 lisoleil

My wish for you is be truly you and celebrate that this New Year’s eve!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Authentic Holiday Gatherings

Not since the mid-90s have I spent Christmas with friends. Not to dismiss quality time with family over the other years, but my favorite holiday memories have been with my friends. Potluck dinners, everyone happy and wanting to be together, curling up with hot drinks and sharing ideas. This year we were a small group sharing an Indian meal of sag paneer and chana masala (made lovingly by one zen chef/occupational therapist), samosas (made by a Devon Street baker), salad (made by 4-season salad lover), and carrot halva. The meal was followed by curling in front of the tv (a treat for me) watching Bob Marley in concert and Elvis in Blue Hawaii. A very non traditional celebration but completely authentic and real.

My contribution was cherry tamarind chutney and an experiment in non-dairy, non-cane sugar carrot halva.

This is what I did:

Carrot Halva
1 lb carrots, grated
1 qt combination of soy milk and soy creamer
3 pods of cardamom (or pinch of powder)
2/3 cup agave nectar
¼ tsp rose water
1/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup of hazelnut flour

Combine carrots, soymilk, and contents of 3 cardamom pods (or pinch of powder) and simmer a really long time. The dairy recipe even says to be patient. Soy cannot be boiled or the milk is destroyed, therefore you will have to be very patient. You must s i m m e r, watch and stir the entire time. When it reduces by half add the agave nectar and rose water. Eventually you want the mixture to hold a shape or at least, when stirred, not flow back to cover the other side of the pot. Add 1/3 cup almond flour, if it is still not thickened enough; add the 1/3 cup hazelnut flour. Spoon into serving dishes, garnish with a whole almond and hazelnut. Serve hot or cold. This made 7 - 1/3 (heaping) cup servings

This is what I learned:
Start with 1 pint of soy milk. If it seems the carrots are cooked enough with that amount, stick with the pint. If you need more add a ½ cup at a time. Why? One, I started the halva at 8 pm and finished at 4 am. I don’t want you to be surprised that you’ll be in the kitchen for 8 hours. Maybe I was TOO careful not to boil the soymilk, but I wanted to get it right. At the 7th hour, I was standing prepared to thicken with an egg yolk to custard dessert. Two, I think the carrots were a little over-simmered with 8 hours on the stove and with 1 qt of milk.

Cherry Tamarind Chutney
1 loosely packed cup of cherries
1 T tamarind paste
2 dried orange slices
minced ginger root maybe 1 – 2 tsp
1 cup water
the last of my pear vinegar maybe a ¼ cup

1T allspice
1 T coriander
juice of half a lemon
1/3 cup minced sweet onion

In a small sauce pan combine cherries, tamarind, orange slices, ginger and water. Bring to boil and simmer with allspice and coriander until cherries are break-ably soft. Add vinegar. Puree in food processor, spoon into bowl and combine with lemon and onion. To allow flavors to enhance, refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Chilis Are Not Created Equal

Once the morning sun disappears, the afternoon brings an icy biting wind. We need to warm up our internal system to guard against the onslaught of the Midwest weather. It is definitely chili weather in Chicago.

Outside of my mom’s and my own chili and the Heartland Café a couple times, I really haven’t taste-tested chili. I was in a rush to get from point A to B, ran into a veggie restaurant and ordered a chili plate to go – chili, rice, and a vegan corn muffin. I cracked the to-go container open when I got to point B. Hm, when a food item contains (or IS) the word chili, I am expecting some flavor of chili – could be ancho, could be garden variety chili powder, or something with a kick. My friends, this was a pinto bean stew – thick brown non-seasoned sauce with uber-amounts of pinto beans and nothing else. It wasn’t unpalatable but it was not chili. For an obnoxious price ($13.59 to be exact) I received 1 cup of brown rice, 1-ish cups pinto bean stew, and an undercooked more-like-a-dumpling corn muffin. A couple days later, once again in a rush, I grabbed a to-go cup of chili from a restaurant in River North. Hm, again, what should be in a chili? This was a ground beef variety. It contained your garden variety chili spice, a little onion, a few black beans, meat and grease. Not a veggie to be found. A ladle of chili – roughly 6 ounces – cost 10 cents more per ounce than the chili plate. I understand they are downtown and have greater overhead, but their tuna sandwich costs less than 6 ounces of chili. I spent about $10 to make an entire vat of organic veggie chili today and even selling it at 3 times the cost; you would pay $2.50 per cup. And I am throwing in a side of sautéed swiss chard.

I like my chili semi-thick, chunky tomato, some strong chili flavor – smoky or not, onion, garlic, peppers, and a root vegetable. I can take or leave the ground meat.

So here is chili that I made recently. It isn’t exactly what I like since the little store down the street didn’t have any prepared tomato products so I grabbed some real tomatoes, blanched them, removed the skin and core. The flavor will be more chili, less tomato and not as thick.

I cooked ½ cup dry adzuki beans, then tossed them into the slow cooker with 5 small vine tomatoes, 10 diced sun-dried tomatoes, a diced green pepper, potato, carrot, a small to medium diced sweet onion, and 2 large garlic cloves; 1 dried ancho pepper, 1 T chili powder, 1 tsp chili g powder, 1 tsp marjoram, several black peppercorns, a large pinch of salt and poured 3 or more cups of water to fill the cooker. I want a long simmer to marry the flavors and make it a little stewier with the starchy potato. I let it cook overnight and throughout the morning.

It was just ok, but here is one I made a while back

1 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves
1 cup adzuki beans (cooked)
2 dried ancho pepper
10 sun-dried tomato
1 16 oz can crushed tomato
1 T chili powder or more to taste
1 tsp each fennel, rosemary, and salt
10 black peppercorns
4- 6 cups combination of Vegetable and Tomato broth
(can add some tomato paste if you wish)
1 ¼ lb ground turkey

Simmer onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Add beans, peppers, both tomatoes and broth. In separate pan brown turkey with spices and add to pot. Simmer until done. (if no turkey used then just toss spices into pot and stir).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Around the Corner

You won't have to look at the 2007 newsletter review from Surfacing Wellness & Health, here is the opening page thoughts.

I don’t know about you but I am clamoring to fill the last weeks of December with family, errands, social activities and work. 2007 is nearly over.

As I put my review together, I have been able to look back on what I have done, learned, moved from and to, created and avoided.

My new year’s eve activities in recent years are rather introspective and forward thinking; this compilation has allowed me to start that process 3 weeks sooner than it would normally occur.

Here is my hint for preparing for the new year...

Make your goals attainable. Make mini-goals.

If your goal is get Angelina Jolie’s body—make sure you include bullet points of start smoking, hire a daily personal trainer, eat less calories, and increase stress.

Maybe your goal is to achieve several creative activities each week, that’s admirable but why not start with one activity per month? If you are able to attempt more than one each month you won’t be disillusioned or disappointed.

I have weight loss goals but first I want to be healthy. If that means improve cardiovascular strength and respiratory endurance and remain at my current weight from here on out, I can accept that. I can also accept that I shouldn’t grab a muffin on the way to the office, that I should drink water diligently, and eat regular meals with 60% veggies, 25% carbs and 15% protein.

I also want to get back to the creative arts I used to use, but I am being easy on myself to just dabble in one for the first few months of 2008.

Don’t be so hard on yourself or you will not attain what you (possibly unrealistically) want to accomplish. We get everywhere one step at a time; it’s easier to take a step then jump off the cliff to get to your goal.

I was just in Italy, sometimes a trip off a cliff looked very appealing. When I got to my destination by foot or bike and looked up at the cliff I previously admired, I shuddered. I was very proud of where I was and how I got there. You can do it the same way.

Prebiotics, Probiotics, Antibiotics

This was supposed to be in my December newsletter, but it didn't fit. I did get it in the 2007 review newsletter which will be available next week on my website.

Our intestines contain communities of microbes—good and bad. Pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungi grow to claim more territory from L. Acidophilus and other beneficial bacteria. As long as a healthy balance remains, we are free from diarrhea, constipation, nausea, bloating, ulcers, other GI concerns and cancers, as well as free from yeast infections and lowered immunity. Our intestinal walls contain eighty percent of our immune system. Poor diet, lifestyle, medications can alter the gut flora lowering our immunity.

We are more educated on the benefits of probiotics for intestinal health and immunity. Practitioners recommend taking probiotics or yogurt following a course of antibiotics to facilitate the growth of the beneficial bacteria the prescription destroyed. Probiotics change gut chemistry to deter harmful bacterial growth, create compounds that destroy existing microbes, and crowd out bad bacteria competing for nutrients and more space throughout the intestinal walls. Bad bacteria usually feeds on sugars and insoluble fiber, good bacteria prefers a little healthier fare.

Now you can encourage good bacteria growth with every day foods or supplements considered prebiotics. Soluble fiber provides bulk to clear waste and carcinogens from the intestines, prebiotics, in the form of soluble fiber, take that one step further and facilitate the growth of good bacteria. Inulin and FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) are the most common soluble fiber foods we ingest. When you add asparagus, artichokes, onions, bananas, garlic, leek and chicory to your daily meals you are increasing your inulin and FOS intake. FOS is also found in psyllium, oat bran, and apple pectin. Fiber in oats, barley, berries, and legumes also encourage probiotic growth. Dietary phenol found in legumes, tea, red wine, fruit, berries and dark chocolate inhibit harmful bacterial growth. All these common foods promote health gut flora.

Prebiotics will encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria and work with probiotics to reduce disease risk and improve intestinal health. These foods and supplements could reduce inflammation from bowel disease, encourage beneficial bacteria, lower cholesterol, increase resistance to infection, increase calcium uptake for improved bone health. If you are treating a specific condition you may want to try a supplement to receive an accurate dose. Daily amounts larger than 8 grams can increase GI discomfort.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes

Just for the heck of it, I made a fully gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner a couple years ago. No guest had any food sensitivities and all thought it was a little odd I made this meal for them. It was purely for myself – proving it could be done and be incredibly edible.
Of course I can’t find all the recipes therefore I probably didn’t write them down while I made them. I remember soup, stuffing, gravy, a massive juniper berry, anise seed, peppercorn, marjoram and thyme encrusted turkey, cranberry sauce, apricot cherry salad dressing with brussel sprout salad, I am sure plenty of greens, mashed potatoes, gluten-free biscuits and gluten-free agave-sweetened pumpkin pie and apple pie and crusts.

Here are a couple ideas from the dinner

Ezekiel Bread Stuffing
13 slices of bread, cubed (cubes easiest when frozen)
Toast on baking pan
Saute for 10 minutes:
1 small onion
1 carrott
3 garlic cloves
1 -2 cups celeriac
Mix sauted veggies with toasted cubed bread with powdered 2 T. each marjoram and thyme (I pulverize fresh or dried whole leaves in a food processor).Add 3-4 cups stock and 4 eggs. Pour into covered casserole and bake 45 min at 375 degrees

Turkey wing tips and neck and drippings
Potato and/or tapioca starch
4 cups stock
Splash of cream or soy cream
I sauté the wing tips and neck of turkey with 4 cups of stock (can be store bought or home-made), bring to boil uncovered. Allow to simmer with cover for 1 hour, then add to pan with turkey drippings, add potato starch or tapioca starch until it begins to thicken over low heat and a splash of cream or soy creamer.

For a vegetarian version use the Imagine brand vegetable stock or non-chicken stock, a few dollops of miso or a few squirts of Braggs amino acids.

Chestnut Mushroom Soup

Roasting and peeling chestnuts yourself is time intensive; anything you can make from absolute scratch tastes so much better than canned or preserved chestnuts. I don’t have an ideal way to roast and peel chestnuts nor do I recall the actual soup that I made for Thanksgiving last year but here’s an idea of what I did.

1 ¼ lb chestnuts – roasted and peeled
1 small onion
½ lb celeriac or parsley root
¼ - ½ lb crimini and shiitake mushrooms
6 cups stock
1 cup or more milk alternative
olive oil

Peel 1 ¼ lb chestnuts and cook in saucepan with about 6 cups stock. Chestnuts will fall apart if they didn't while attempting to peel them. Peel about ½ lb celeriac or parsley root. Chop root along with a small onion and a 1/4 to ½ lb crimini and shiitake mushrooms and sauté all in butter/oil. Add to chestnuts and cook for 20 minutes. Puree in processor til smooth adding milk alternative to thin it out.
I am sure I added some fresh herbs to the finished product as well.

Chestnut roasting and peeling – slit the shells on the domes face with a sharp knife. Place in baking dish with some water and roast in 475 degree oven for 8 minutes. Peel while still hot. I remove one nut at a time and keep the others in the oven. Makes for some burned fingers but it gets the job done. The pesky inner skin is difficult to remove and hot water will usually be of assistance.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pureed Soups

I know most of my recipes don’t have complete measurements. I just toss things together and I estimate quantity for recipes later…if I remember to write it down. So bear with me as I struggle to measure while concocting. Soups aren’t a science, there’s personal preference for thickness, smoothness, dimension and flavor. Play with your food.

Pureed Soups
I have used all the vegetables of the celeriac soups as veggie patties (grated raw or grated roasted) or as mashed potato alternative too.

Celeriac * Fennel * Sage soup
1 –ish lb celery root, cubed
1 large fennel bulb and light green shoots, chopped
1 T. olive oil
pinch of salt
1 –ish cup soy or nut milk
1 –ish cup broth or water
fresh sage leaves (can fry whole leaves in oil and use as garnish or sauté chopped with vegetables)

2 – 3 cloves garlic
Saute chopped veggies, garlic and salt in olive oil. Add liquid and simmer til veggies are soft. Puree and serve.

Celeriac o Turnip o Apple soup

1 – 1.5 lb celery root
2 -3 med turnip
1 roasted granny smith
Broth, enough to thin to soup consistency

I had an extra peeled granny left over from pie baking day. I roasted it and the exterior remained dry and white but the inside was complete mush. It was awesome. I roasted it along with the celery root and turnips. Neither was majorly soft but celeriac was easy to chop. Toss all into soup pot with broth. Simmer until soft and puree.

Pumpkin Coconut Curry soup
2.5 cups pumpkin roasted
7 – 14 oz coconut milk
7 oz nut or soy milk (optional)
2 cups water
1 T each turmeric, ginger, coriander, allspice
2 T mustard

several shakes cayenne
pinch salt

In enameled cast iron soup pot over medium low heat, toast dry spices stirring continuously so spices don’t burn. The aroma of the spices will release within 5 minutes of heating and stirring. Add oil and pumpkin and incorporate with spices. Stir in 7 oz of coconut milk with the 7 oz of nut or soymilk for less fattening soup or 14 oz of coconut milk for full fat rich variation. Pour in 2 cups of water and combine with soup. Puree with immersion hand blender or transfer to blender or processor. Flavors will intensify if stored 24 hours.

With the above ingredients soup will have mild rich flavor with little dimension other than the kick of cayenne. To heighten flavor, try adding either 1 roasted granny smith, pureed; or 2 roasted parsnip, pureed; or 1 stalk lemongrass simmered with the 2 cups water; or julienned mint, basil, cilantro. These alternatives will provide you with 4 completely different soups.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Don't Get Sick

This might come too late for some people and I am sorry if you are already sniffling, sneezing, blowing or coughing. I have recently returned from a trip to find friends and clients suffering from colds and allergies. Even though that is a logical condition to experience with the season change, it doesn’t have to happen, really!

In Chinese Medicine a cold is an exterior condition since it is an acute pathogen entering the body from the external environment. The first step is prevention – keeping your exterior (immunity, skin, pores and joints) strong. I have successfully kept seasonal and winter colds away for several years. I’ve gotten the scratchy throat or minor sinus drainage but halted it from sinking deeper into my lungs avoiding cough, fatigue and time off from work.

An herbal formula like Jade Windscreen taken for several weeks prior to seasonal changes will strengthen immunity and balance Lung and Liver reducing seasonal allergies. Foods high in vitamin A, C and zinc and basic herbs such as rosehips, echinacea, parsley, nettles, ginseng, and barley grass will bolster the immune system. Energy boosters like Emergen-C help in a pinch.

The second step is know your very first symptom of a cold, don’t deny it’s a cold and treat it before it gets lodged into your respiratory system. The Chinese Medicine theory regarding colds is that Wind, the pathogen that causes the cold, enters at the nape of the neck.

General early signs of a cold: mild tiredness, headache, joint or neck aches,

chills, aversion to wind or cold, throat pressure or scratching, sinus sniffles,

sneezing or clear drainage. Fever, sore throat, fatigue or sinus pressure are

usually signs the cold is present and not an early sign. Each person is different

and you may have an early symptom that is not listed.

This second step reverses the pathogen’s progress. A practitioner recommends a tea with the action to vent energy up and out through the skin, or gua shas the neck and upper back, or needles points which will vent out the pathogen and strengthen the immune system. Gua sha, application of tool on the skin surface, causes the body to push out the Wind pathogen. Applying pressure and friction to the upper back and nape of the neck moves energy and blood mimicking the effects of sweating. The pores are stabilized reversing the pathogen’s progress.

If you want to treat yourself, you should sweat it out literally. Staying with the theory that the cold came in through your pores, push it out with sweat. Sweating will open your pores to release the pathogen. You don’t want to sweat to exhaustion since releasing sweat also releases your vital energy. If you have already been sweating since your early symptoms, you actually want to stop the sweating so don’t use the following instructions.

Drink a cup or two of hot tea of fresh herbs simmered and steeped in water – ginger or peppermint or cayenne or the sure fire scallion tea (3 – 5 stalks); or drink First Defense (my tactic for the last 8 years) a granule tea from Life Rising Herbs. Then take a steamy hot bath, stay warm keeping your pores open but protected by covering up and drink more tea while remaining warm and covered. Sweat away.

If you’ve been sweating from the start, this means your energy is a little on the weak side and you need to rest and to take herbs that will close the pores and increase your energy. Try drinking cinnamon twig and fresh ginger tea or a vegetable leek soup – foods that are nurturing, warm and slightly sweet natured.

The third step, if you didn’t catch your first sign of imbalance (most people get stuck at denying it’s a cold), is prevent it from reaching your lungs. To prevent that cough and mucus, you may need to let it run its course or get in to your local herbalist. Basic herbal formulas are as numerous as drugstore remedies. Over-the-counter cough suppressants do just that they suppress the cough pushing it deeper. It could just allow the pathogen to lie dormant until later in the season or push it down into the digestive system causing other symptoms. A cough causing discomfort, lack of sleep, or fatigue can benefit from a cough formula or syrup from Chinatown or an herbalist/acupuncturist or from some acupuncture and other herbal teas.

Autumn Dryness

I anxiously scan the trees for color changes from the airplane window on the descent into Chicago. Days prior to leaving town, I noticed a few deep red leaves appear along the Skokie Swift L ride. Would I miss the last blast of energetic color? I sighed. I saw significant dryness in the trees and in the air but the last shout from nature before the long hibernation of Winter was yet to come.

Metal is the element corresponding to Autumn. The turning of our yang active energy to the contemplative yin of Water of Winter mirrors the last vestiges of the foliage color explosion. Autumn’s seasonal climate and changes affects the Lung and Large Intestine organ energy making us susceptible to allergies, colds, and other respiratory symptoms.

One day back in town and I feel the effects of the Autumn dryness. I pull out an herbal formula to protect my lungs. Maintaining the yin fluids of the lung with herbs will prevent a dry scratchy or hacking cough.

But, what about food? What could I eat to protect my lungs? What would I recommend to clients?

Soy (tofu, tempeh, soymilk, miso), spinach, asparagus, millet, barley,

salt, seaweed, white fungus, apple, tangerine, pinenut, persimmon,

peanut, pear, honey, barley malt, sugar cane, whole sugar, oyster,

clam, mussels, pork, pork kidney.

Dryness in Chinese Medicine is decreased fluids of the body resulting in dry skin, itching, chapped lips, dry nose and throat, thirst, or unproductive cough. It particularly affects the Lung. Diet, excessive exercise, climate, or prolonged illness can lead to Dryness depleting the yin cooling moistening fluids of the Lung. Clients living in the standard Chicago apartment with radiator heat usually present with Dryness resulting from the intense dry heat hissing through the metal coils all winter.

I actually have a two fold task - protect my Lung and clear my skin. Skin is the physical expression of the Metal element in Chinese Medicine. I could feel and see the outcome of my two week “diet” of indulging in pasta, bread, tomatoes, and dairy and no green vegetables. My pores were congested, skin was peeling in the Lung area of my face, and my skin undertone was red and heated. Returning to my usual diet will be a start but I need to scour away the residue of congested dampness from my last two weeks. I want an easy fix.

The two-fold remedy of increasing moisture and removing dampness is handled delicately. Promoting moisture must be done in moderation or it will increase the level of dampness in my body. Scouring the dampness must be done gently or it will counter the effects of moistening drawing it all down and out of the body. As a result of my contradictory conditions I don’t get an easy fix.

Food is a gentle way to treat both ends of the spectrum. I munch on radishes during the day; make a stew with turnips, mung beans and mustard greens. I make a warm brussel sprout and sorrel sauté. The bitter pungent radish, turnip, and mustard along with brussel sprouts will reduce the indulgences of my trip; the nourishing and cooling mung bean will ease the heat from the espresso and sugar excesses. A pear tart is a beneficial treat. I focus my protein on white fish mainly to avoid animal fat counteracting the effects of the pungent vegetables. Fish is cooling and yin protein and very much an expression of the Water element. Water follows Metal in the Five Element cycle so I am supporting and building Metal strength from the foundation by working with Water.

Other than some of the seafood (mussels, clam, shrimp, oyster) any food I eat that benefits Lung and Large Intestine will improve my skin condition since Chinese nutrition heals from the inside out.

Lung Moistening foods

apple, apricot, avocado, banana,

cucumber, fig, irish moss, mulberry,

papaya, peach, pear, persimmon,

pinenut, radish, strawberry,

tangerine, walnut, watercress

Intestine Moistening foods

alfalfa sprouts, almond, apple,

apricot, banana, beet, carrot,

cauliflower, honey, okra, pear,

peach, prune, pine nut, seaweed,

sesame seed, soy products, spinach,



Soup Cubed

1 yellow onion diced

4 cloves garlic chopped

6 turnips cubed

3 med parsnips cubed

1 ½ lb celeriac cubed

1 lb butternut squash cubed

8 cups cut greens – any combo of mustard, turnip, collard, broccoli rabe

4 cups miso broth

1 cup cooked mung beans

turmeric, mace, cayenne

splash of vinegar


Pour a small amount of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Toss in as you cube and chop each: onion, garlic, parsnip, turnip, celeriac, and squash. Stir as you add in each vegetable. Add pinch of salt, ¼ to ½ tsp each turmeric, mace and cayenne. Stir and sauté til most vegetables are softened. Add mung beans and miso broth. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Slowly add in greens. Add splash of vinegar.

Brussel Sprout Sorrell Saute

20 brussel sprouts shredded

2 cups sorrel leaves

Saute sprouts and sorrel for 5 – 10 minutes. Sorrel will pretty much melt while brussel sprouts will begin to wilt but maintain some body and crunch. Toss with dressing and serve.


1 fuyu persimmon or one very ripe hachiya persimmon**

Orange zest


Olive Oil

Umeboshi Vinegar* or Lemon juice

Agave nectar, if desired

Stew a chopped persimmon in small amount of water, puree with orange zest; continue to blend adding olive oil and vinegar until salad dressing consistency.

*Vinegar is astringent and can be used when no issues with candida exist. Ubeboshi Plum vinegar is appropriate in moderation for excess dampness or candida, otherwise lemon juice is a cooling alternative.

**Hachiya persimmon is very tart and draining unless completely ripe.

Pear Tart

4 cups pears thinly sliced lengthwise

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup agave nectar

½ cup chopped walnuts


1 ½ cups rice flour

2/3 cup tapioca flour (or starch)

2/3 cup potato flour (or starch)

1/3 cup flax meal

1 stick butter or equivalent other solid shortening

1/8 cup agave nectar

Lemon zest

Incorporate crust ingredients together to make dough. Pat crust into greased or parchment lined 9 inch rectangular pan. Carefully mix pears with cinnamon and agave nectar. Place pear slices onto crust. Bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes. Add walnuts coated with a small amount of agave nectar and/or olive oil for the last 10 minutes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Soup Challenge update

Here is the link for the Soup Challenge on Running with Tweezers:

You get to see all 54 entries.

I have to admit I have been in a creative rut this last year cooking within the parameters of a client's focused diet. Viewing the 54 entries into this competition is providing me with a necessary creative kick-in-the-bootie. Watch out next year!

Monday, September 10, 2007

running with tweezers

there's a little soup challenge happening at running with tweezers.
and, as is my habit, i haven't written any creations down. For this light chowder, i just had to wing it.

Millet Chowder (gluten and dairy free)

1 medium red bell pepper

3/4 cup green beans

½ cup vidalia onion

½ cup celery root

1/2 cup of millet (uncooked)

fresh thyme

2 ½ cup broth

3 cups soy milk

½ tsp salt

3 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp thyme

2 tsp marjoram

lemon and ginger zest

more nutmeg

In large enamel pot, saute in 2 -3 T olive oil diced vegetables:

1 medium red bell pepper

3/4 cup green beans

½ cup vidalia onion

½ cup celery root


1/2 cup of millet (uncooked) and several sprigs of fresh thyme

Stir nearly constantly toasting millet for 5 minutes.


1 ½ cup broth and ½ tsp salt to millet and vegetables

bring to boil and simmer covered until millet is fluffy and water absorbed


2 tsp nutmeg, 1 cup broth and 3 cups soy milk or soy creamer to millet and vegetables. Stir then simmer, do not boil.

Pan sear herb encrusted scallops

Powder 2 tsp of thyme and marjoram and 1 tsp nutmeg

Apply to scallop and sear in oiled pan for a couple minutes

Ladle soup into bowls, add 3 scallops and top with lemon zest, ginger zest and pinch of nutmeg.


First, you should know I really am not a lengthy talkative person. I process internally or unconsciously, provide the short verbal statement and leave at that. In actuality instead of the pages that follow, I would just write:

I realized what my desire for this holiday and struggle to achieve my trip to Italy symbolized for me and how it altered my personality, my self-perception and worth.

Short sweet blog.

Secondly, if you jump from A to Z you will have no need for my recall of steps B thru Y and can head half way down to some recipes. Here it is for the rest of you.

My plan to bike Italy began 6 years ago after catching a travel special on PBS one Friday night. Daydreaming about travel and researching it was a welcome respite from studying, working, and the emotions of the end of a long relationship. I was particularly drawn to bike the Apian Way. I felt as if I walked it before and need to return. Everything in Europe has more history than in the US, but the diversity of activities that passed through this road over the centuries drew me to the conclusion “I am biking the Apian Way when I graduate”. After much research, I learned most of the Way was gone or now interstate roads. I couldn’t see myself biking that. So I extended my daydreams to the rest of Italy.

I eventually mapped out biking from Naples to the Amalfi Coast. A friend who’d recently returned from a family wedding in Amalfi nearly lost his eyes from surprise when I said I was biking there. I had read the roads were a bit difficult, but after hearing his rendition, I realized I might need to modify my expectations. My fantasy travel was pieced together from bike excursions I’d read online or from various travel books.

Being also drawn to the nuraghi in Sardinia, I mapped out a course there as well. Archeology is my first love and the chance to use the library at the Field Museum brought my heart to a new level of palpitations. Nuraghi are cone shaped, stone built mounds, homes from prehistoric residents of Sardinia. Approximately 7000 of these homes litter the island in somewhat isolated areas. Viticulture (wine making) is evidenced even back then. I do like wine.

As graduation approached, it became clear I did not have the means to get to my destination. I was in bike-ready shape; leanest and meanest I’d ever been. Well, for a number of reasons I couldn’t embark on a trip. And, as I embarked on my life as an acupuncturist, I realized it wasn’t going to happen for a really long time. I put away the itinerary, the maps, and the books. I ceased the 2 hour daily gym workouts and used my bike only for commuting.

Soft, defeated, heartbroken and very sad I continued to live my day to day struggle with the fantasy still in the back of my brain.

[Enter my brother]

Ok, my brother is awesome – insanely talented, intelligent, observant and dry. All my friends understand my stance. He is and always will be my big brother. Thoughts and feelings may not be verbalized or expressed, but we’ve got that subtle sibling way of showing it even if it’s not acknowledged.

Jump to December, 2006 with me. I receive a somewhat cryptic email; it might be a joke because it is from my brother, which seems to say I’m going to Italy. I sit, I stare, and it sinks in. I call a friend, luckily she picks up so I can scream, “IMGOINGTOITALY!” She mimics the excitement but has no idea what she heard, “WHAT?” “IM GOING TO ITALY!” and we commence with a little squealing or some variation of what excited girls are supposed to do.

Next I call my brother to clarify what I’ve just exploded about and yes, we are going Italy. After a crazy busy business traveling year, he has accumulated frequent flyer miles equivalent to two international airfares. Sometimes I question that since he tends to give more than he is able, maybe he bought the tickets. I don’t know. So at this point, my brother surpassed awesome and I am feeling a bit guilty.

In the next week, two friends offer me holiday gifts with an Italy theme. It’s synchronicity because neither of them knew about the trip or my 6 year fantasy. I don’t need to pinch myself.

Other friends voiced concerns over food. As far as I am concerned, I will fear no gluten and will continue to limit sugar consumption. I don’t have intolerance to most foods, for preventative health I limit my gluten and refined sugar intake and avoid yeast 99% of the time. I bake and cook without these items because I can and I appreciate the challenge and exercise for my brain to create something alternatively edible. I am certain fish and vegetables abound as it is a Mediterranean area, but maybe I am being idealistic.

In the end, my brother has done all the planning and will be bankrolling the trip because I seem to still be in the fledgling stage of my practice. I am content with camping, biking and bussing, partially because I want this to be a cost effective trip. My brother wants a little more comfort than I do and is a little more realistic of the experiences to come. He has done more traveling than I. We will have a roof over our heads each night; we will have a car for some of the time; we will have reservations and tickets. I do hope he learned a modicum of the language because I didn’t get around to that. He laughs at my attempts to pronounce the most basic words.

I didn’t open a travel book until just now – three weeks before the adventure will commence. I didn’t want to jinx it; I didn’t want to feel the guilt of dependency on someone else and their money. The reality is I am going and I have to deal with all of that or I won’t even be present the coming events. I have composed and translated online a few sentences that I know I will use. I will be faced daily with my avoidance when I hear Italian spoken and I smile and silently with raised eyebrows ask my brother what is being said. Opening the travel book brought back a flood of tears of gratitude, my sense of adventure, imagination, and a new soundtrack for now or maybe my life - the hokey live-the-impossible-dream. My brother did that.

Now if you’re going to miss me, here are a few or more Italian recipes to throw together.

Caprese ala Vegan

2 large heirloom tomatoes, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

a whole lot of fresh basil, julienned

1 cup of cooked quinoa

1 block or 1 ½ blocks of Mozzarella Almond Cheese

Olive Oil

A pinch or 2 of rock salt


I just toss all this together gently, drizzle on some olive oil, and maybe add a squeeze of lemon or a little lemon zest. I let it sit refrigerated a couple hours at least so the garlic and basil infuse every little bit of cheese and quinoa.

In this little recipe, the quinoa just adds a bit of protein and a little more dimension. It can be omitted. You can always make this more traditional with slices of tomato and slices of Almond Mozzarella, olive oil and julienned basil littered atop.

Decadence on Bread

This is particularly decadent because of the bread. Red Hen Bakery in Chicago makes a Ring Bread or King Bread. I’ve never clarified, I just ask for the bread and they hand it to me. It is ring-shaped, crusty with lots of yeasty goodness, and roasted garlic swirled throughout. This is another caprese variation:

Cut ring bread open

Slather 2 of the following on either half:

basil pesto - ground almonds, garlic, olive oil, basil and parmesan (if you can have it)

thyme, tarragon or marjoram pesto – same ingredients above

olive tapenade – olives (black or green – its lovely to have a pitter around), garlic, oil

Drizzle on olive oil.

Layer slices of tomato and mozzarella. I go all out with the real cheese.

Place the top bread slice on and cut carefully through into individual portions. I generally need to place toothpicks (decorate with a peperoncini, salami cube, cheese cube or basil leaf) through to keep slices intact.

Gluten-free Baked Lasagna

When I make this for myself, I make the more time consuming version. I apply the ingredients to each cooked lasagna noodle, roll it up and align them in a baking dish. I make less, I eat less, my body is happy and I don’t chide myself for eating too much.

1 box Rice or Artichoke lasagna noodles

1 jar Tomato sauce

1 16 oz container Ricotta*

4 ish cups steamed carrots, broccoli or rapini, and greens (spinach, chard, or arugula)

fresh herbs (basil, oregano, or marjoram)

4 -5 cloves garlic, minced

½ - 1 lb grated cheese

I blend the steamed veggies, herbs and garlic in a food processor.

Layer noodles uncooked with sauce, ricotta or ricotta substitute, processor-ed veggies, and meat** if you want it. Top with sauce and grated cheese and bake until bubbly and done.

To make the roll-up baked version, cook noodles until almost done (bendable but not al dente), rinse with cold water. I usually end up mixing all ingredients together into a chunky paste and apply to each noodle. I know it sounds unappetizing but it works. I roll them up and place orderly into baking dish. Once it is filled, I pour on tomato sauce and grated cheese and baked until bubbly done.

Bake uncooked noodle version at 350 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes

Baked cooked roll-up version at 350 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes

*If allergic to cow’s milk, use goat yogurt in lesser quantity mixed with egg

If vegan, use tofu. I usually mix tofu with bread crumbs (gluten free), some herbs and maybe some lemon zest

**If I have extra baked turkey or some cooked ground turkey on hand, I will add ½ to 1 lb

Gluten-Free Spumoni Brownie

It’s not ice cream, though you can make that if you’d like. This is quicker - a cherry pistachio brownie.

1/3 cup quinoa flour

¼ cup each : tapioca flour, rice flour, flax meal

5 Tbs cocoa powder (you can use carob)

1 Tbs arrowroot

2 tsp baking soda

¼ cup agave

3 Tbs shortening (butter)

½ cup milk alternative (soy, almond, rice…)

2 tsp vanilla

Frozen pitted cherries have less sugar but for nostalgia you can use maraschino cherries


Incorporate agave, vanilla, milk alternative, and shortening. Combine flours, cocoa or carob and arrowroot and baking soda.

Combine wet and dry until thoroughly incorporated. Fold in cherries. Pour into greased baking pan, top with pistachios.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean-ish

Top with (soy) whipped cream, an extra cherry and more pistachio

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Friends are great, aren’t they?

That was my thought for the evening. Despite humidity that just won’t go away, I made hot tea. Not just any tea, but the green tea anemone. The anemone is the performance artist of green tea. Several leaves are bound together. Dry, it is a tight ball of tea leaves. Toss it into hot water and watch it perform. I guess it provides a moment for de-stressing, even a ritual. Not quite the ritual of a tea ceremony, but it was exactly what I needed.

I prop my chin in my hands and watch the green tea anemone slowly float to the bottom of the tall glass and begin its unfolding, I smile through the moment. This thoughtful friend of mine gifted me special tea anemones because these have flower petals hidden inside! She found tea that mirrors the oils I create in my practice. The subtle healing properties of flowers combined with the herbal properties of green tea are likened to the combination of the subtle healing properties of essential oils and Chinese herbs in Elemental Oils. See, friends are great.


Most people know me as a coffee aficionado, essentially pretty particular. If I’m going to have coffee I’m going to have a good cup of coffee as a real Americano or in a French press. If you stop by sometime you will notice I keep very small amounts of Alterra, Metropolis, Stumptown, or Intelligentsia around, but I have a massive collection of tea.

A small portion of my stash comes from jet-setting friends as remembrances from travels to Israel, England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, China, Japan, Russia, France, and Italy. (I remembered you all.) Most of my collection I order from Specialteas. I love their tea, especially the green tea. I can think of 15 varieties, but I know I have more. Yes, they all vary by the same characteristics that coffee and wine vary – taste, color, body, tannin or acidity. Some days I want a stronger fermented or malty taste, other days I want grassy crisp flavor, or maybe a sweeter floral jasmine or peony.

White Tea

Young soft sometimes fuzzy buds of leaves, and contains the most antioxidant properties.

White tea is usually a great alternative for the caffeine sensitive or for whom tea is too drying.

Green Tea

Mature leaves used in the majority of green tea varieties. We’ve got sencha, bancha, kukicha, genmaicha, and dragonwell to start with.

My foray into tea began with pai mu tan (white peony). Sundays afternoons, a couple with whom I shared an Angelic Organics food share would sip white peony green tea and eat mung bean tea cakes while I divided out veggies. That was a long time ago.

Intelligentsia used to carry a green earl grey – drinking that was like a 2 for 1!

A basic green with grassy taste

My favorite memory with sencha tea is skipping a continuing education class (before I was licensed) with a friend to sip cherry sencha while lying on the lawn of
Balboa Park reading our new used books from bookstore

Roasted, full flavored leaves

"Twig tea" because it is made from the twigs and branches of the plant
This is generally my rainy, foggy morning at home tea

Green tea with toasted rice

I suppose it is delicate, but it’s not my favorite

Partially fermented and therefore has more caffeine and a stronger flavor.

I was told by a tea seller at a conference that no one loves all green teas; you either love oolong or you hate it. I just pursed my lips, nodded and walked on. As usual I don’t fit the supposed norm; I haven’t met a variety of green tea I didn’t like.

There is no other green tea that you want aged. Aging is for wine but Pu’er tea is the exception. This one is fermented and aged and classified just like wines. Seriously robust and great for digestion (and hangovers).

You know as well as I do that tea has antioxidant properties. Every magazine or television show has informed you over many years. Antioxidants assist the body in removing free radicals - those lovely molecules generated by cells of our body upon exposure to toxin, viruses, germs, fungi, stress, pollution, and chemicals. At first they are beneficial to us destroying unwanted invaders but everything is affected by imbalance.

Free radicals begin to attack the cellular DNA which directs key cell activity, the body wards off attack with antioxidant defense – free radical scavengers. I could go on and tell you all that happens but essentially free radical damage is partially responsible for aging and disease. There are many aspects of nutrition that will help on the antioxidant front. I will only say so many times, “EAT MORE GREENS.” So instead drink a couple cups of tea daily, you will receive a mild to moderate caffeine boost and will get busy on the free radicals. my old standby cute but the novelty has worn off 3 years later green tea anemone with flower petals now has powdered green tea. Look mom, no bags!

And if you’d rather:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Loosely defined recipes

For $3.77 I was able to buy enough (non-organic) veggies for a salad. I know, I should be in rhythm with the earth, but when it is an amazing 80+ degree day in September, I am making salad!

Testosterone anyone? brassicas and beans are beneficial for testosterone (photo and beans from

1/2 head of small red cabbage, chopped

1 cup of green beans, chopped
1 cup of broccoli stems, diced

1 large cucumber, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 cup quinoa, cooked
3/4 cup of ojo de tigre beans, cooked
several sprigs of dill chopped
juice of 2 limes
a dash of rock salt
(optional: I added a drizzle of scotch bonnet pepper agave i made awhile back)
almonds and pepitos for garnish and more crunch!

I am content eating most of my vegetables raw or steamed. Here are some ideas for alternative ways to eat some of the veggies I mentioned in the previous post.

I love to cut in half, brush with olive oil and grill it. It will end up tender, less bitter and tasty.

Brussel Sprouts
There's always just steaming them whole and quick saute in butter and garlic

Wilted Brussel Salad
For winter, shred brussel sprouts and radicchio, add dried fruit and beans and toss with a warm dressing usually of fruit puree or juice with lemon, herbs and oil. The salad will wilt with the addition of a warm dressng. A great addition to a cozy meal at home.

Mustard Greens
Spicy Miso Soup
Miso paste can be bought at most natural food stores either in the a refrigerated area or in the asian section. Simmer miso, do not boil or it will lose its healing properties.

Mix a tablespoon of miso paste to small amount of simmering water until the paste is dissolved. Add that to 2 cups of water simmering in pot with sliced ginger and garlic. Add more miso if you prefer a richer broth.

Cut up a heaping handful of mustard greens and add to pot and continue to simmer til wilted.

Serve warm.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

tis the first

Woohoo, we've got Trebuchet font! Matches my website. It's the little things that make life go round.
I've been wondering how, how should i get my information out there. I don't talk much, I don't journal much but maybe a weekly blog will keep my mental creative juices flowing. A new years resolution in September. It works.

(photo from

So here I post the first quicky of an article that a friend gave the A-OK on:

I reluctantly face the reality of Summer passing into Autumn into Winter. The Midwest autumn contains a hint of summer warmth, but the truth is our personal and collective rhythm should shift with the rhythm of the Earth.

In the Five Element theory of Oriental Medicine, Autumn is Metal. We’ve left the Fire element behind us with Summer, and the Water of Winter isn’t far off.

The expansive outward yang energy of Summer is waning. Metal is contraction, condensation and crystallization - the time of more yin, inward and downward movement. The Metal element is connected to the skin and pores, the Lung and Large Intestine. Therefore an imbalance in Metal can result in respiratory or skin problems, constipation or immune dysfunction. Autumn, Metal, and related organs release and let go. This is the time to reflect and to let go of which no longer serve us.

This summer, the abundant rain swelled the wooden door in my backyard. It would stick, a hard yank and slam would announce each tenant’s coming and going. That dampness of summer rain swelled and stagnated the door just as the excesses of our sociable summer can accumulate in our bodies causing sluggishness, foggy-headedness, and maybe digestive or sinus issues.

I needed to exert more energy to open my backyard door just as it would take more energy to work with my sluggish body. Eventually the sun dried the dampness from the door, but sometimes a person needs more than warmth from the summer sun to clear the dampness from the body.

The sweetness of summer fruit, juices, pastries and ice creams can add to the dampness that causes sluggishness and heaviness. Balancing all the seasonal flavors of sour, bitter, spicy, bland, salty and sweet will reduce potential for imbalance. Introducing bitter and spicy flavors will cleanse the body of the damp excess.

Lungs are most susceptible to imbalance and the most easily strengthened during the Autumn. Respiratory imbalances will be fraught with mucous and tight heavy-headedness. Infections will cling to the dampness throughout the winter without intervention.

To flow with the seasonal rhythm and to strengthen the Metal element, experiment with pungent greens and warming spicy teas to activate qi (energy) to push outward and upward raising warming yang energy and maintaining yin. Look for arugula, radish, kale, mustard and turnip greens, horseradish, chives, and brassicas – cabbages, brussel sprouts, broccoli rabe, radicchio, and endive. Make herbal teas with fresh nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cinnamon.

You will clear away dampness and strengthen the immune and respiratory systems for the next season. Practice yoga, qi gong, or receive tonifying and cleansing acupuncture for the Lung and Large Intestine.

Watch the leaves change and fall and feel the North winds blow, follow the same rhythm turning inward and reflecting and you will be living more balanced and harmonious.