Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year

A few quotes for a new year from 11th Century Abbess, mystic, lyricist and writer of all things holistic, Hildegard von Bingen.

Every element has a sound, an original sound from the order of God; all those sounds unite like the harmony from harps and zithers.

I, the fiery life of divine wisdom, I ignite the beauty of the plains, I sparkle the waters, I burn in the sun, and the moon, and the stars.

The earth which sustains humanity must not be injured, it must not be destroyed.

The soul is a breath of living spirit, that with excellent sensitivity, permeates the entire body to give it life. Just so, the breath of the air makes the earth fruitful. Thus the air is the soul of the earth, moistening it, greening it.

There is the Music of Heaven in all things and we have forgotten how to hear it until we sing.

Underneath all the texts, all the sacred psalms and canticles, these watery varieties of sounds and silences, terrifying, mysterious, whirling and sometimes gestating and gentle must somehow be felt in the pulse, ebb, and flow of the music that sings in me. My new song must float like a feather on the breath of God.

When the words come, they are merely empty shells without the music. They live as they are sung, for the words are the body and the music the spirit.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Community Acupuncture

It's here. Economical acupuncture!

I am so excited. I am well aware firsthand that acupuncture is incredibly effective in treating a whole slew of conditions and imbalances. I am also keenly aware that most people I know can't afford ongoing treatments. It hurts my heart every time someone says they always wanted to try acupuncture or really need it and don't have the discretionary funds to pursue treatment. I trust that community acupuncture is the answer.

The group format for acupuncture is ideal – we participate as groups in yoga, meditation, and other restorative activities at low-cost rates. Plus, in community acupuncture you can share in the healing with your friends and family by coming together for treatments. There is also strength in numbers. Group or collective energy is more potent and effective in the healing process. So don't do this alone.

Here's how it works. You come in for your first scheduled appointment wearing loose and layered comfortable clothing. We chat for a brief time as you fill out forms. I continue the intake by performing pulse and tongue diagnosis. You enter the treatment room I prepared with five seats, soft lights and meditative music. You will sit in a chair while I place sterile single-use needles in specific locations in the ear and from the elbows to the hands and from the knees to the feet. I might also need access to your shoulders. Other participants will take a seat as frequently as every 15 minutes. Rest and meditate for 40 minutes. I will remove the needles and walk with you back out to the reception area. That's it.

So let's do this! Make your appointments now; treatments beginning January 6. Sessions range from $20-40 which makes ongoing treatment possible for everyone!

Tuesdays Allyu Spa 11:30 am – 1:30 pm

Wednesdays Elemental Health 9:30 am – 12 pm

Thursdays Elemental Health 4 pm – 7:30 pm

Stay tuned for neighborhood monthly offerings at community centers and yoga studios.

Third Week of Food Delivery

My computer was getting de-virused two weeks ago so I didn't post the recipes. And last week I was recuperating from my own virus so I didn't want to infect my friends by delivering food. So here what I made last time.

I barely remember the proportions of ingredients since these were from two weeks ago, but I will give it a try.

Curried Quinoa

1 ½ cups Quinoa

1 T each Turmeric and Mustard

1 – 2 tsp each Allspice and Nutmeg

Dash of Cayenne, Pepper and Salt

2 -3 cups stock

1 cup cooked beans, I used tiger eyes

4 Dates, chopped

2 cups collards, minced

Handful of pumpkin seeds

I placed the spices in an enameled pot; stirred them over a low flame until I could smell the aroma. I poured the quinoa into the spices and tossed that mixture for 3-5 minutes. I added 1 cup of stock, stirred briefly and covered. It is similar to making risotto. When the liquid is absorbed, add another cup. When that is absorbed. mix in the cooked beans, chopped dates, pumpkin seeds and another ½ cup of stock. When that is absorbed, add the minced collards and if you need more stock, add another ½ cup.

Veggie Pie

2 ish cups thickened broth

2 carrots, minced

½ medium onion, minced

1 cup broccoli, tiny pieces

Small package of baby portabellas, sliced

½ - 1 cup peas

Salt and Pepper

You can use prepared soups like potato leek or mushroom, or a vegetable stock. I made my own and thickened with potato starch. I don't remember all the vegetables I used but I minced them all, sautéed them with olive oil, added the sliced mushrooms and then the peas and then the broth. I poured it all into the unbaked pie crust and topped the filling with another crust.

Pie crust

Hm I'm not sure which I used for this one but let's go with

1 ½ cup quinoa flour

1 ½ cup sorghum (milo) flour

1 cup shortening

Cold water

Cut the shortening into the mixed flours until it resembles a coarse meal. My cuisinart is deceased so I cut this one by hand. Ah the good old days of elbow grease. Alternate adding drops of water and stirring until the dough holds. Separate into 2 balls. Place in refrigerator for a short time if the dough is soft. Either on parchment or plastic wrap, roll out one ball. It is best to either place a piece of plastic wrap between the dough and rolling pin or enclose the rolling pin with plastic wrap to keep the dough from adhering to the pin. Remove the top layer of plastic. Carefully secure your hand between the counter and the bottom layer of plastic. Quickly flip the rolled dough into a greased pie plate and carefully remove the plastic. Form the dough into the plate. Do the same for the top crust after you pour the filling.

Bake at 375 for about an hour.

Sweet mixed nuts

1 cup pecans

½ cup pumpkin seeds

½ cup slivered almonds


Brown rice syrup

I melted shortening in a saucepan over a low flame and tossed the nuts and seeds in it until the liquid mostly absorbed. Brown rice syrup is very thick and not as sweet as other liquid sweeteners. I added the brown rice syrup blop by blop since it is so thick. I think it was maybe 1/3 of a cup or maybe more. It thinned out and coated the nuts and seeds as I stirred it all together. I transferred it all to a large sheet of parchment paper to cool then wrapped it up in the paper.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

CRAVE Holiday Shopping Party

I worked the CRAVE Party last night at the Cultural Center. The event touted as a green holiday event with 40+ locally owned businesses was teeming with after work holiday shoppers. My colleagues and I represented Allyu Spa. First, I love the Cultural Center – from the free events to the art to the architecture – it is hands-down one of my favorite places. Have you checked out the Tiffany Room? A beautiful Tiffany glass dome ceiling and decent acoustics.

Anyway, back to the CRAVE party. The week prior to the event the Allyu spa coordinators created holiday gift baskets at every price point from all the amazing retail we carry – from incense and accessories to Spa Ritual nail polish and accessories to Astara skin care products to various other good-for-you sundries. We took photos but I think you will find those on the Allyu Spa blog next week.

At the Allyu booth, we offered those holiday baskets and free mini-spa services. Three nail technicians, one esthetician and one acupuncturist (me) busily pampered and educated and balanced women while they festively shopped after work.

Of the women who sat in my chair last night, 90 plus percent experienced acupuncture for the first time. As each woman cleaned her ear with an alcohol swab, I informed them of what I was going to be doing and what it was for and then, amidst the din of holiday music and reveling shoppers, they relaxed for 15 minutes. I needled five acupuncture points in the ear – all organ energy and all body systems are mapped onto the ear. The five points I needled comprise a protocol which is effective for smoking cessation, cravings, addiction, weight management, and overall de-stressing and relaxation. I can also customize a treatment with an extra point for any specific concerns. Most of them were surprised and a few shocked that they felt "more chill". One even tested the treatment by calling up anxiety, frustration, and who knows what else, but, nope, none of the sensations could muster any response from her. Skeptics are the best marketing for acupuncture!

I saw a few familiar faces of clients from Allyu, my old Edgewater neighborhood (Metropolis Coffee!) and met a few new people as well. Check out Eva May. Her storefront is up in Andersonville. She sweetly traded a hand silkscreened t-shirt from her collection for the auricular acupuncture.

You can take a peek at those holiday gift baskets down at Allyu or try the auricular acupuncture for yourself. Allyu will offer $25 group treatments at noon on Tuesdays beginning January. And, the acupuncturists at Elemental Health (including me) will offer $25 sessions one evening each week, but the specifics are yet to be determined. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday Open House

All the practitioners at

Elemental Health

invite you to our

Open House

Sunday December 14

3 - 6 pm

We will offer

  • Auricular Acupuncture 30 min for $10 (profits will benefit charity)
  • Reflexology 15 min for $15
  • Chair Massage 30 minutes for $30

We will have locally produced gifts available

Join us for refreshments and conversation

A Dose of Methyl Paraben?

I delivered week two of food to my friend last night. We got to catch up. Mom looks great! I had a perfect wintery night chatting in the kitchen; a cup of tea in one hand and a three week old sleeping on my chest for a few hours. My friend and I will always discuss health, healing and wellness and other silly things. I've not had my own child, yet have a wealth of information from my stint as a nanny, as a day care teacher, and always as a friend of a new mom. She had a doozy for me this time.

First, the little guy gained a half a pound his first week. According to the pediatrician that's unheard of for an exclusively breast fed baby but other healthy friends' MDs said the same thing. Next, the doctor shared that Vitamin D is missing from breast milk. That's not exactly true. Yes, I know it is winter and I know we live in that northern area most deficient of Vitamin D. My friend does give the little one daily sun baths which definitely compensates, and thanks to his fair skin tone he needs less than 2 hours each week of sun exposure. Regardless, the pediatrician prescribed infant Vitamin D drops. Vitamin D is sort of like the missing link in the body's absorption of calcium and phosphorus. The doctors are concerned about bone and heart health. The prescription remained unfilled, but when the now 3 week old started with a few sniffles Dad picked it up from the pharmacy.

When mom looked at the ingredients, she was shocked. Should I really knowingly give my child methylparaben, polysorbate 80, sodium hydroxide, red food dye, and caramel coloring just to get a dose of Vitamin D? Am I being a negligent mom by knowingly depriving my child of a vitamin or by knowingly feeding my child synthetics? Many of my friends have chosen to postpone or abstain from all vaccinations. That is a personal educated choice. Children's immune systems are fully intact by age two. My personal choice would be to keep their systems clean and pure of synthetics at least until that age. Most of my friends have chosen to use only glass bottles, natural cloth diapers, organic pesticide-free food, and all those other good things. Here blatantly on a label for all to see are chemicals preserving and coloring a vitamin easily sourced from the sun, oily fish and fish oils and fortified milk.

First of all, red food dye and caramel coloring is apparently to appease the parents' vision and palatability because a 3 week old isn't seeing much right now. Caramel coloring is an emulsifier as is Polysorbate 80 – keeps the ingredients combined. Polysorbate 80 is a common emulsifier in cosmetics, vitamins, vaccines and even ice cream and milk products and has been proven to damage fertility. Sodium hydroxide is a pH buffer. Hello, if you didn't use synthetic ingredients you wouldn't need to buffer the medication.

Then comes the methyl paraben. I understand medicine needs preservatives but there are natural alternatives like soy lecithin and beeswax. Parabens offer an inexpensive way to increase the shelf life of products and to inhibit the growth of bacteria, molds and yeasts even though they are known to be highly toxic. Scientific studies have found that parabens have the potential to cause cancer. The estrogen activity of this ingredient has been directly linked to the development of certain cancers, including breast, prostate, ovarian, and uterine.

Health conscious folk have been lobbying for years to have laureth sulfates, parabens, and phlatates removed from personal care products. Product ingredients can be searched on and the site includes a risk ranking and the effects the ingredient has on the body. Cosmetic companies have made some changes but for the most part, consumers are absorbing chemicals with every use. Unfortunately, I found no resources for medications free of synthetics.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Second Week of Food Delivery

I didn't cook for my friends last week since they were being thankful with and fed by family and friends for the holiday.

I stated at the end of the last entry what I would be cooking this time and my ideas changed some. I was watching the grey windy sky and all I wanted was roasted root vegetables and gingerbread, but since I was feeding someone else I also made some veggie burgers.

Here's what I made

Veggie Burgers

These vary depending on what I have on hand. Today I didn't have much variety of vegetables so these were protein-packed burgers.

1 cake of extra firm tofu, drained

½ cup or so of flax meal

A few shakes of sesame oil

A few tablespoons Braggs amino acids

Slivered almonds, crushed

¾ cup cooked lentils

½ medium onion, chopped

Small wedge of purple cabbage, chopped

Broccoli stalks, peeled and chopped


Salt and pepper

Brown rice flour

Cook the lentils. If you drained tofu before you've got your method. If I'm in a hurry I press the cake between paper towels or tea towels with my hands until the towels are barely damp. I mix the tofu, sesame oil and Braggs amino acids, thyme, almonds and flax meal and let it sit while I chop the veggies and sauté them in a skillet olive oil. I hand blend the sauté veggies once they've cooled and add it to the tofu mixture. Drain the lentils, mash them a bit if you like and add to the burger mix. Add salt and pepper. In a glass pie plate, I pour a handful of flour. I form into small patties and coat both sides in the flour. You can bake or pan fry them.

Roasted Root Vegetables

This rendition of roasted veggies is a little different than most I make. I wanted some sweet and tart flavor with the earthy sweet and bitter flavors of sweet potatoes and rutabagas.

Dad handed me a bag of tangerines when I departed from my family thanksgiving gathering. "Too many seeds," he grumbled. Uh, thanks? I deseeded one and squeezed the plentiful juice as well as the juice from half of a lemon into a ceramic baking dish. I added a couple dozen fresh cranberries and a dollop of brown rice syrup. I peeled and cut the 2 sweet potatoes and 1 small-verging-on-medium rutabaga into large chunks and added it to the dish. I baked at 425 until the veggies were soft and absorbed nearly all the citrus juice.


Vegan and gluten-free! As far as I am concerned my oat flour is gluten-free. Oats are gluten-free; most are packaged in plants that process wheat so if you are allergic to wheat or gluten be careful. I purchase all my flours online from Purcell Mountain Farms. The flours are organic, but since they also process wheat, the flours are not guaranteed gluten-free.

My first gingerbread was insanely moist and amazing flavorful but it was dense yet delicate and falling apart. The pumpkin puree wasn't enough of a binder. You can certainly add an egg to this or a Tbsp of flax meal or some potato flour (starch). For the second batch, I just increased the flour to 2 ½ cups total and added another tsp of baking soda. It helped.

¼ cup Earth Balance

½ cup molasses

½ cup soy creamer

¼ cup maple syrup

½ cup brown rice syrup

¾ cup pumpkin puree

1 cup oat flour

1 ½ cup sorghum (milo) flour

2 tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp total: allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon

With flame on low, I melted the Earth Balance in a saucepan, added molasses, soy creamer, maple syrup and brown rice syrup. In a large bowl, I sifted the flours, baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger, and other spices. I incorporated the liquid into the flour mixture. I mixed in about 6 oz pumpkin puree. Pour the mixture into an oiled square ceramic baking dish. Bake at 300 for 75 min.

I made another batch in a small rectangular baking dish with fresh grated ginger and I topped it with about 12 fresh cranberries and some slivered almonds. I might make it a little more Swedish next time with grapefruit rinds and lingonberries.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Research: Autumn births and asthma connection

A recent study out of the Asthma Research at Vanderbilt University states babies born in autumn months – 4 months preceding the peak cold and flu season – are more likely to develop asthma. Genetics predispose the development of asthma, but environmental exposure to viruses may activate the genes.

Autumn, Metal element season in Chinese Medicine, is related to the Lung and the Large Intestine and our immune system. The mucus membrane lining of the digestive tract, lungs and sinuses are our defense against infection. Dry membranes are open to viruses and bacteria and membranes congested with thick mucus hold onto the bacteria. Both states can contribute to frequent or recurrent infections.

Autumn is the season when nature begins to contract and move inward. A person born in this season, open and exposed and no longer in the protection of the womb is definitely not heading toward a more reserved, hibernated state. Any infant will be susceptible to infection in the first few months of life. The lung is the last organ to mature in fetal development and continues to develop during early childhood, so it would be understandable respiratory issues could be a concern.

That being said, I know twelve or more Autumn-born people. Without any time-intensive research, funding or controls, I can say only one of them has had asthma since childhood and recurrent immune system imbalances with no genetic predisposition; another has chronic genetic colon issues; and another has a Metal personality but no Metal physical imbalances. If I extend autumn to August 30, a 14-month old with a genetic predisposition to asthma has experienced multiple colds and ear infections in her first year. The remaining people have Fire and Earth imbalances. So from my unofficial research, genetics would contribute to respiratory imbalances and the season of birth, in theory would as well, but contributes to about 20% of the Autumn-born people in my life.

I don't think a parent can prevent a child from developing asthma but you can influence your infant's respiratory health. My advice is to keep the little one completely clothed, including a cap. In Chinese culture, caps are worn for the first year. Wind, the element that carries infection, can enter through the open fontanel or at the nape of the neck causing colds in infants. Keep the home environment free of drafts and free from humidity and dryness. Use vaporizers and humidifiers with a drop or two of essential oils with antimicrobial, antibacterial or antiviral qualities. As a breastfeeding mom, keep your body healthy and balanced through diet, exercise, and rest (when you can!).

Essential Oils (the short list)

  • Cinnamon Leaf
  • Cypress
  • Eucalyptus
  • Grapfruit
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Sweet Orange
  • Patchouli
  • Spearmint
  • You may find some great blends as well like Thieves from Young Living Oils

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vision vs. Execution

Babies! A friend had her first baby last week. I got the honor of participating in the early part of the process. I needled acupuncture points to begin labor. I get so excited being part of the team that welcomes a new soul into the world.

My baby shower gift is providing food for mom, dad and baby for at least the first month. I could say it's an excuse just to see the baby! This week, I made my first delivery. Here's the menu:

Sundried Tomato Winter Squash Risotto

Creamy Potato Leek Rustic Vegetable Soup

Pecorino Plum Parsley Scones

After making all the food, I realized it was carb-heavy. Better to start with easy to digest foods the first week, since mom is breastfeeding. Bitter flavor is the only taste we acquire, so I thought it best to wait on recipes including kale, collards and rutabagas until week four and beyond!

Sundried Tomato Winter Squash Risotto

I realized halfway through the "pour, absorb, stir" risotto process that risotto is best eaten immediately. It doesn't keep well. That's ok, the winter squash I wanted the store didn't have, so the stringy variety was falling apart as the risotto cooked. It wasn't going to be a picture perfect entrée anyway.

1o sundried tomatoes softened and diced

½ cup butter/shortening

2 cups firm non-stringy winter squash, roasted and cubed

½ cup onion, diced

1 clove garlic

2 ½ cups Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups lightly packed arugula

1/3 cup julienned basil

2/3 cup pecorino cheese grated


Saute onion, garlic and sundried tomatoes for 10 minute over medium flame. Add the rice, stir and toast it for about 3 minutes. Add the wine, let it evaporate. Add the stock in portions, about 2/3 cup at a time until absorbed. Stir once after adding each portion of stock. Slowly adding stock brings out the creaminess, not the sticky starchiness. When the rice is just about done, add in the arugula and basil, stir until the greens wilt. Add the grated cheese and squash cubes and stir and serve.

Creamy Potato Leek Rustic Vegetable Soup

I ended up pureeing the potato and leek since I was a little lazy in the uniformly chopping the leeks. Long stringy chunks of leek would have been a little too rustic for anyone.

2 lbs or about 4 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 cups water

2 cups leeks

1 cup onion diced

1 cup red or orange pepper

2 cups spinach

4 cups mushrooms, quartered

1 large tomato

Fresh basil and Italian parsley

1 tsp salt

1 ½ cups milk (almond milk)

½ cup vegetable stock

Boil potatoes in 4 cups of water until soft. Sauté leeks and onion in olive oil, transfer to potato and water. Either transfer in sections to a food processor to puree or just use the handblender in the pot like I did. Sauté diced pepper, add in the mushrooms until reduced. Transfer those to the soup pot, add the chopped tomato, herbs, milk, salt, and stock. Stir and serve.

Pecorino Plum Parsley Scones

I was out of my usual flours, but was hellbent on making scones. I love the flavor combination of the deep purply sweet September plums with the bitter Italian parsley and the salty sharpness of pecorino cheese; it makes a great salad with Italian fare. I combined those three into scones; the ones I made turned into crispy crumbly drop scones thanks to the combo of rice flour, hazelnut meal and oat flour. Here's what I would do instead.

2 cups ripe plums, chopped

1/3 to ½ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

½ cup grated pecorino cheese

1 ½ cup sorghum flour

1 ½ cup quinoa flour

½ cup butter

½ - 1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 T maple syrup

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in the butter to the dry ingredients. Beat ½ cup of buttermilk with the egg and maple syrup. Slowly add the dry to the wet. If too dry to handle, add small amounts of the additional ½ cup of milk. If it's too wet you can add more flour or just make drop scones. Fold in the plums, parsley and cheese. Pat or roll out onto a surface and cut into 12 triangles and bake at 350 for 25 ish minutes.

Next week is Veggie Burgers, Baked Beans, and Apple Pie!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fit Day or Not

A friend is clocking her calories and exercise at I decided to give it a try. I have slowly been gaining weight over the last few years; there are many possible or combination of reasons. Could be slowing metabolism, could be reduced exercise, could be increased stress/cortisol levels, and could be a shift in diet.

Maybe this will give me a glimpse at what it is or is not. I am just tracking what I eat and my exercise level. I am not making any changes in either so I can get an idea of what is going on right now and assess what can be altered in the future.

The site is pretty comprehensive with many report options – graphs and charts galore! The anal-retentive or OCD planner in me drooled at the charting options. As long as I log my food intake accurately and activities, I can track my nutrition level - percentage of carbohydrates, fat and proteins, total nutrition, nutrition as RDA and DV, nutrition budget, calories over time, calories eaten, fat breakdown; Activity and metabolism; Trends – calories eat vs burned and calorie balance over time; weight changes, and goals for weight and calories and measurements. I can also keep a calendar, a journal and track my moods. That won't be happening but, yes, a comprehensive site marketed to the planner in me.

Each day I typed in food I ate. The program pulls up options and you choose one to add to your food list. Each food on the list has a nutrition label just like packaged foods. You could just pick one that is closest to what you've consumed or you can create your own food item and input the nutrition label data. For homemade soup that consisted of rice and beans and a water broth, I just entered beans, dried, cooked and the approximate portion size and rice, brown, cooked and its portion size. I cheated a little there. There were many options on the food list for cellophane noodles, but the nutrition labels didn't match so I created my own. I realize even if I am not making the best food choices, I rarely eat more than 1500 calories/day. I think that's good.

Each day I typed in the exercise for the day. Well, I don't exercise outside of walking right now, but the program already gives you a freebie. The program deducts over 2000 calories just for living and breathing. Great! Again I typed in walk in the search, the program pulled up options. I picked the walking pace that matched my walking pace to and from work, entered the distance and the number of minutes. I could have included other walking activities – paces walking around the office, up and down stairs, carrying supplies, etc but I didn't bother.

There is an option to alter your metabolic rate. I played around with the option, but since I have no way right now to quantify or prove my metabolic rate I left it alone.

I've only completed 2 weeks and it has yielded some insight. A number of the products I consumed this week weren't my usual fare. It was very much "revert to childhood" week. You may have noticed I said products not foods. Vegetables, grains, and herbs comprise 90% of what I purchase and the remainder is shortening, oil, gluten-free waffles. This week I was at the grocery store 4 times. Yep. I bought prepared items, not just prepared items FROZEN items. I bought a frozen pizza Monday, crispy battered fish fillets and skinny cow ice cream sandwiches Thursday. Whoa Nelly. I must be going through a crisis. I also grabbed a chicken breast and a cabbage cranberry walnut salad for lunch one day. Adding that to all the pizza from the previous insane week with no time to cook, I knew fats in my pie chart of carbs, fats and protein will comprise a big slice.

I barely got a green vegetable or an orange vegetable in me this week. I think the best I managed was one bunch of kale, plenty of green apples and does homemade apple pie count? Needless to say my RDA or Daily Value of vitamins was a bit scarce on calcium, magnesium, folic acid, some B vitamins as well as vitamin C and E.

With that knowledge, I dug out my multivitamin, my probiotics, and my chlorophyll and prepared plenty of greens and oranges for the next week. I pulled out the yoga schedules for the neighborhood studios. I will keep you posted on how my charts alter and how my life alters.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Reading From Julie's Gathering

Here is the excerpt of Paul Bowles from a travel piece out of Their Heads are Green
and Their Hands are Blue

Immediately when you arrive in the Sahara, for the first or the tenth time, you notice the stillness. An incredible absolute silence prevails outside the towns and within. Even in busy places like the markets, there is a hushed quality in the air. As if the quiet were a conscious force, which resenting the intrusion of sound, minimises and disperses sound straight away. Then there is the sky, compared to which all other skies seem faint hearted efforts. Solid and luminous, it is always the focal point of the landscape. At sunset the precise curved shadow of the earth rises into it swiftly from the horizon, cutting it into light sect and dark section. When all daylight is gone and the space is thick with stars, it is still of an intense and burning blue. Darkest directly overhead and paling toward the earth, so that the night never really grows dark.

You leave the gate of the fort or the town behind, past the camels lying outside, go up into the dunes, or out on the hard stony plain and stand awhile alone. Presently you will either shiver and hurry back inside the walls, or you will go on standing there until something very peculiar happens to you. Something that everyone who lives there has undergone, and which the French call le bapteme de la solitude. It is a unique sensation, and has nothing to do with loneliness, for loneliness presupposes memory. Here in this wholly mineral landscape, lighted by stars like flares, even memory disappears. Nothing is left but your own breathing and the sound of your heart beating. A strange and by no means pleasant process of reintegration begins inside you, and you have the choice of fighting against it and insisting on remaining the person you have always been, or letting it take its course. For no one who has stayed in the Sahara for a while is quite the same as when he came.

Perhaps the logical question to ask at this point is ‘why go?’ The answer is that when a man has been there and undergone the bapteme de la solitude, he can’t help himself. Once he has been under the spell of the vast luminous silent country, no other place is quite strong enough for him. No other surroundings can provide the supremely satisfying sensation of existing in the midst of something that is absolute. He will go back, whatever the cost in comfort in money for the absolute has no price."

Paul Bowles from Their Heads are Green and Their Hands are Blue

You can also view a reading and accompanying video artist interpretation of the excerpt at

Monday, September 22, 2008

Acupuncture for Fertility cont'd

Here's the piece that the Today Show did on the use of Acupuncture for Fertility.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Acupuncture for Fertility

My fall newsletter isn't up on the website yet, but this post does link to the pdf of the workshop series.

Here is a little information on how Chinese Medicine can assist with the fertility process.

Acupuncture and herbs can assist in whatever fertility journey a couple chooses, whether assisted only through holistic methods or assisted through both holistic and hormone therapy. Understanding the basic physiology and

the signs of fertility and monitoring those signs daily can further assist a couple on their journey. Many times lifestyles need to be altered even just temporarily, and other lifestyle or dietary additions are beneficially implemented. And, as with any journey, this one requires time and patience.

Acupuncture is noted to relieve stress. Our regular lives of home and work and all that is in between can cause stress, add the many lifestyle changes needed to monitor and regulate fertility cycles, and the weight of the outcome of the process and the time and patience needed, your body is definitely in fight or flight mode. Shallow breathing, increased respiration, altered blood circulation, heightened external awareness, poor sleep. All these responses are activated by the stress hormones released from the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus also releases some of the initial inhibiting and releasing hormones responsible for fertility. When our bodies are focused externally in fight or flight mode, the internal focus of pelvic blood flow, oxygenation, and just general homeostasis is compromised. The hypothalamus is less able to assist in the fertility cycles.

Acupuncture is able to regulate menstrual cycles allowing for a better prediction of ovulation. Acupuncture increases pelvic blood flow increasing the endometrial lining which is the earth for the embryo implantation and its nourishment. Acupuncture can increase sperm count, integrity and sperm motility.

Acupuncture can assist the hormone therapy fertility process as well. Side effects of the hormones received can be reduced, hormones are regulated, ovulation, egg quality and the number of follicles can be improved, immune system can be strengthened, decreased chance of miscarriage and increased chance of live births.

A practitioner will implement a treatment plan including frequency of acupuncture treatments based on menstrual cycle, Western medical imbalance or hormone therapy schedule; monitoring techniques, dietary, supplemental , and stress reduction suggestions specific for you.

While pregnant, a woman can experience relief with acupuncture from morning sickness, from water retention, low energy, assistance with gestational diabetes or poor glucose clearance. Acupuncture can assist in altering breech positioning and can assist in labor induction. Post partum, acupuncture can assist in regulating lactation and assisting with postpartum depression and physical recovery.

If you would like more information or would like to attend the fertility workshops, just call or email me.

My Home

I might be procrastinating, no, I AM procrastinating, I'm working from home today. But, working from home gives me ample time to contemplate my new digs. I wasn't so sure what I thought of living in a tiny place and a garden unit though it is located exactly where I wanted to be.

There are and will continue to be surprises. I found out a couple weeks ago I pay for the gas for the entire building's clothes dryer. Mmhmm. Surprise! I am waiting to hear if I also pay for the hot water for the washing machine. I have a feeling there will be a surprise with the heating too. I have 2 radiators but I also have these dial-able wall-mounted mini space heaters. If heat comes only from the mini units, I'm going to be cold this winter. If heat comes from the radiators, I'll be moderately comfortable (no radiator in the bedroom) but I will have to move my artwork…it's attached to the radiators.

Technically the management would prefer I call my apartment 1F which I am sure is beneficial to the property value or tax assessment or something I know nothing about, as well as allowing them to charge more for a 1F unit than a Garden unit. And, I pay more for a tiny space where I want to live than the massive previous apartment. That doesn't seem quite right.

As long as I rent, I will always be the older stodgy tenant compared to the "kids" who live in the other units. I am past my partying years and I certainly don't smoke on the porch stoop. I am awakened 3 times between 2 and 5 am every morning to occasionally the washer and dryer humming, the loud stumbling of the bar-closing youngsters or the rank odor of cigarette smoke wafting into my apartment from the porch. I would like to meet these people who need to do their laundry at 3 am?

I didn't consider that I live on the same level as insects. Yep. Surprise again! I've done battle with ants and the ranks are dwindling! And the spiders have retreated as well. My latest tactic was the best. Let the ants roam the kitchen so they find there is nothing of interest and never send follow-up troops again. I think it worked.

I am also at potential flood level. During a couple torrential downpours last month, while watching trees uproot and gutters overflow on to the sidewalk, I wondered if one could apply for renters insurance online at midnight. And, since I live in the basement did I need to really go into the official basement behind my apartment during the tornado sirens.

My cat and I are still trying to adapt our playtime to a smaller area. It's been very unsatisfying. She used to kick her ball full force a good 15 feet and I could kick it in return. Now, full force kicking causes a series of ricochets or, thanks to a sloped floor, me retrieving toys under furniture.

On the plus side

Being in the location I wanted, I am a block from my favorite inexpensive restaurants and affordable neighborly wine store, and much closer to Lula Café for brunch and Monday night Farm dinners if I ever don't work on weekends and Monday nights. I have a park a block away, many massive old churches, and a school playground across the street. I like hearing the kids play basketball, the church bells on Sunday, and having a patch of grass to sit in.

It is definitely amusing to watch my cat stealthily and silently leap from couch to window sill to peer at the local squirrels that taunt her. And, we have a token black squirrel just like up north! People may have heard of my past experience with squirrels – one racing through my previous apartment tossing my bag of cayenne (my squirrel deterrent added to the bird feeder), one waiting at my back door occasionally looking for the economy size bag bird seed, or of the one squirrel that angrily tsk'd at me and followed me along the power line everyday as I walked down my alley to the L. Could have been the same squirrel, but, regardless, I have history with them so I watch my sidewalk level windows with caution.

I can (for the most part) see every room of my apartment from any room. I am now aware of my recurring color theme of turquoise and orange. Who knew? Not me.

My living room "art" is once again complete with a road bike hanging on the closet door. Seven weeks have passed since my racy road bike was stolen. A friend lent me her classic Raleigh Technium 420 to quicken my 45 minute/3.5 mile walk commute to 15 minutes and it completes my art collection when I'm not riding it.

My kitchen is the biggest room in the apartment. I feel the creative cooking coming on for this Fall, not this assembly of raw fruit, veggies and nuts or heating up of gluten-free waffles I am currently doing this Summer. And, I think the room will be ant-less when the cool weather hits. Though I haven't been keeping much food in that room, my kitchen supplies do need ample space. My collection of work texts and paper files need the next largest space…and that space does NOT exist in this apartment. Please do NOT open my hall closet when you visit.

A tiny apartment has allowed me to downsize belongings and get back to what is really important. After 8 years in a massive apartment, I really spread out and collected "things". I unloaded about 3 dumpsters full of belongings and donated several bags more. The ONE man that moved my boxes and furniture didn't understand how a single woman could own so much stuff. What could one unmarried woman own? A few cups, some plates, a fork… Yes, he was surprised. I admit I still had more boxes than one woman should have, but come on over and see that there doesn't seem to be much here.

A small apartment can be cleaned up in a jiffy unlike the previous place. I used to spend a few hours mopping, and now I can sweep and mop the entire apartment in what feels like minutes which makes me want to clean frequently.

A small apartment is easier to appropriately de-clutter (none of this hiding it in a room or an unseen corner like in the old apartment) which is really key for the feng shui I've done. Less rooms, less stagnant energy, less feng shui accessories and props, less feng shui to conduct.

I now see that less IS more. I am great at ranting about the negative, but all those things are minor. In this tiny apartment in the neighborhood I wanted to be, I see more. I know more certainly what I want and what I don't want. I see more of me. I see my patterns, my abilities, my strengths.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A day to remember

Look what I found! An old blog post never posted. Reading it over, it was a good thing I forgot to post it. I was truly down during that couple months and I had no qualms grumbling about it in writing. The only thing that I will share (besides the recipes), in retrospect it is the funny crème de la crème eyebrow raising, wanna-jump-off-a-bridge experience of my late spring, is this:

My day off turned me into emergency dental crisis assistant. I drove a friend to her oral surgeon in the far west suburbs. I took care of all the paperwork, payment and scheduling. After all these good little deeds, the middle aged dental assistant told me, "Your daughter is ready to leave". Excuse me? I have been mistaken as my 30-year old friend's mother!

My jaw dropped and my friend's jaw would have dropped had she been able to move hers. Granted, I am old enough to be someone's mother, maybe a teenage-someone's mother if I really wanted to be a young mom. After a long pause and both my friend and me changing hues between white, pink and red, I stated "I am not anyone's mother."

But, everything that got me down then is in the past. And these were some of the drinks (no, not wine) that obviously got me through it.

Blueberry Honey Chai

1 container Knudsen's Blueberry Juice

Same amount of water

5 Scoops of Metropolis Chai (chunky combination of aromatic spices and black tea)

Lemon Honey (from my Italy vacation)

Heat the water. Steep chai in heated water. Mix in a little honey, let cool and pour equal amounts of tea and blueberry nectar into containers and refrigerate.

Rose LemonLimeade

Tried and true -
helped me rise above and re-center my energy and focus

Juice of 4 lemons and 4 limes

2 quarts of hot water

A handful of rosebuds (can get in the bulk spice/herb section at natural food store)

Agave nectar to sweeten

Combine all ingredients into containers. I just keep the rose petals in the drink – looks great in the bottle.

Hibiscus pomegranate orange made the cloudy days just a little brighter.

A handful of dried hibiscus flowers (I order from ranchgordo)

1 quart of hot water

1.5 liters of pomegranate juice (POM is rich and tasty; but I have neighborhood Middle Eastern groceries to support)

Juice of 4 large juice oranges

Steep hibiscus in hot water, can remove flowers or retain. Cool. Combine equal portions hibiscus tisane, orange and pomegranate juices.

Jasmine Rose Nutmeg Green Tea

I am loving nutmeg right now and both jasmine and rose gently nudge the body's qi to keep on movin'

For one nightly cup:

1 tsp jasmine green tea

2 rosebuds

A scraping of nutmeg (or a pinch of powder)

Steep in a mug of hot water and enjoy

Monday, September 15, 2008

Crunchy Snack

Light jacket or warm sweater weather (whichever is your preference) is momentarily upon Chicago. We've got warm sun, grey cloud masses and a light cool breeze. Sounds great for those of us who love Autumn; I still hope we squeeze another week or two of summer out of September.

I picked up my winter comforter from the cleaners this afternoon, walked home through Bucktown on sidewalks of felled and drowned brown leaves while on the phone making Thanksgiving travel plans with the parents.
(If you were wondering I'm traveling to them this year.)

I came home and instantly pulled out
some pecans and Cathleen's "Everyday Jasmine Tea". Maybe it was the cool weather or the Thanksgiving talk, but creativity hit. As the tea water heated, I put my hand into the spice cabbie and came out with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. I am out of allspice. Time for a trip to Fox and Obel because I am a sucker for their packaging and spice tins.

I grabbed the agave nectar and one medium egg from the fridge and the olive oil from its spot. I am making some spiced mixed nuts.

Of course when inspiration hits, no ingredient measurements occur. I beat together 1 egg white, one long and one short squirt of agave nectar, and a teaspoon or so of vanilla. In the bowl, I dumped raw pecans, almonds and pepitos. Maybe that combination came to 1 1/2 cups. Olive oil was drizzled on the nuts as well as a dash of salt. I made sure all the nuts were very lightly coated with oil. I tossed on a good teaspoon or 2 of nutmeg, a dash of clove, and at least a tablespoon of poured out and there was no salvaging it so it was a heavy tablespoonful. I stirred the oiled nuts and spices together, poured on the agave nectar egg mixture, and stirred it all again.

I lined a square pan with parchment paper and poured the spiced nuts into the pan and evenly layered the mixture, and placed it into a 250 degree oven. I checked it once after a long time (sorry, i was researching online and have no idea how much time passed) and turned the chunks of nuts over. I removed them after another 30 minutes and let cool. Some pieces were a little soft when I removed them from the oven, but after 15 minutes they were crunchy like the rest.

At the moment, I have another batch in the oven which does not include an egg white. Agave nectar is a liquid and doesn't harden so I don't know how well these will turn out (this batch was in the oven for an hour and a half and cooled for a half hour and is still ooey-gooey. Incredibly tasty, but stick-to-your-fingers messy). The egg white adds the crispness to the coating, so I don't know if I will have a vegan version for my friends this Friday.

Even though April is National Pecan month, pecans are perfect for Fall. With all the holiday season and rich comfort foods coming into the kitchen, pecans are touted as cholesterol lowering and blood sugar lowering nuts. According to some sources pecans helps lower cholesterol, assist with weight loss and keep sugar levels low. The nut contains heart healthy unsaturated fat which lower cholesterol; mono and poly unsaturated fats lower appetite and keep you satiated. I have nothing really to support pecans keeping blood sugar in check, but pecans contain zinc which is beneficial to blood sugar levels and the nut is practically zero on the glycemic scale so it will not raise blood sugar levels. Add a little cinnamon to your pecans, like in a handful of spiced mixed nuts, and you have two ingredients beneficial to blood sugar levels.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Savory Corn Muffins

These muffins were eaten so quickly, I have no photo!

Since I work weekends, making muffins and getting to a Labor Day weekend party made a packed day for me but also a fun one. Friends famous for their secret BBQ recipe hosted a party on the patio. I decided corn muffins would be a great addition to the BBQ.

I went savory with this one. And, yes they were great with the rest of the meal.

Sundried Chive Cheese Muffins

1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour (I used 1/2 cup brown rice and 1/2 cup sorghum - the brown rice is grainy - not the best option with corn meal - swap it out for 1/2 cup millet or another 1/2 cup sorghum)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 egg
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 cup soy creamer (plus a little more if necessary)
1/4 cup olive oil

1/8-1/4 cup chives, chopped
6 sun dried tomatoes, softened and chopped
1/2 cup almond cheese, grated (i used 1/4 cheddar and 1/4 pepperjack)

corn removed from 1 cob (fresh cooked)
I soaked my corn cob in water, placed in on oven rack at 450 degrees and turned occasionally for 10-15 minutes. I removed it from oven, de-husked and knifed off the corn.

Mix together egg, agave nectar, soy creamer, and olive oil. In another bowl combine dry ingredients. Add chives, sundried tomatoes and almond cheese to liquid ingredients. Combine dry and wet ingredients, add in 1/2 the corn. Add more creamer if needed. Portion into 12 greased muffin tins. Portion the remainder of the corn on top of the muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Life right now

I haven't been around in several months. I wasn't baking and I wasn't cooking and I wasn't much inspired. I took a few continuing education classes abroad and locally. All of which were amazing. I moved across town. I trained for my MS bike ride. I rode my MS bike ride on June 21 and 22 atop my new 2007 Trek 1600. I had quite the time adjusting to a road bike ... I didn't figure out the gears until minutes before I took off from the starting line! Hey, it's Chicago, there are no hills and no need to shift!

The ride took place in DeKalb, IL. I did some acupuncture and Elemental Oil fundraisers and along with outright contributions I raised about $1200 and our team raised at last count $13,600! We're still working on raising our contribution.

Two days or so BEFORE the ride, I broke my toe. MmHmm. I moved to a new apartment and early one morning, before my Alterra or Metropolis coffee and before putting on my glasses, dragged a wood hutch from the bedroom to the kitchen. The beast got stuck on a bump in the wood flooring, I lost my grip and heard a was my toe. I hopped around my kitchen, found I had no ice or ice packs in my freezer, laughed. I just moved in, of course, there was nothing in the fridge! I laid on my couch, held my toe, my cat mustered her healing abilities and laid across my foot, I got up, went outside, walked around thinking I could "walk it off". I found a pair of old mary jane Keens that had a wide enough toe to accomodate my throbbing foot for the ride. Needless to say it really didn't "make" my biking ensemble.

But I rode 120 of the 175 miles! Headwinds in the rolling countryside are something to contend with. When the traffic directors and police are having difficulty standing, imagine us on super lightweight road bikes!

The saddest thing is

my bike is gone.

Yes, today I rode over to the Metra station, attached 3, yes THREE, locks in, around, and through the tires, frame and bike rack. I returned 2.5 hours later and she was gone. The other 80 bikes were still there, but my baby is right now being stripped, painted, torn apart for the amazing Shimano components, or sold to someone who has no idea of the GOOD that bike did in 2 days on the MS ride through DeKalb.

In addition to that, I am in the throes of making the difficult decision to ease off from life as an acupuncturist. It has been a rewarding, educational and relationship-building experience but a slim financial existence for three years. I am beginning the new experience of reworking my dusty resume, networking and looking for a rewarding and sustainable position to supplement a part time pursuit in healing with Chinese medicine.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Raw Food and Me Update

The process of detoxification is more than a physical cleanse. There may be substantial physical debris collected in the liver, colon, or any other organ, but we all have emotional debris. I may not have noticed much in the way of physical changes with my cleanse in January and currently with raw food meals, but I will confess decades of memories, people, and conflicts surfaced. It took a few days of insistent floods of memories and sensations before I welcomed them in. Once I did, ironic events allowed me to revisit similar situations or the exact physical locale of my memories. I finally worked (hopefully completely) through a couple patterns. I am making a concerted effort to incorporate some authentic traits and qualities that got waylaid over the years. It is possible that the whole process could be a little overwhelming; you may only know this because you just won’t be able to handle the same amount of stress or requests from others. These situations could also be opportunities for learning improved boundaries. At certain points within the cleanse I just needed to step back from assisting friends and clients in their process.

I also learned that a raw diet hasn’t worked at a total foodstyle for me. One, I can’t eat that many nuts. Every entrée consist of and some sides contain cashews, pistachios and walnuts. The food also tends to have an odor that permeates the refrigerator that no amount of baking soda can absorb. I am able to obtain my daily need of oils from sautéing veggies or from adding flax or hemp oil to smoothies or breakfast cereals and getting protein from legumes instead of nuts. Two, my body shut down the first two weeks fearing starvation; maybe if I was persistent my body would learn otherwise but raw food is an adjunct to my regular foodstyle. Think before you decide to consume surf and turf. I found out and so did my companion that I can not tolerate an animal product-based meal in the midst of three months of raw food.

I have noticed energetic shifts with the diet change. I have to say that when I didn’t eat raw food for a week, my energy level was slightly lower but still adequate but literally the moment raw kale and sun dried tomatoes hit my tongue, every cell realigned and I zinged back to life. I was a little shocked. The week away from raw food, I ate veggies, beans and a little wheat. Apparently, there is a major difference with raw food veggies than the lightly sautéed veggies I would normally consume. I mentioned previously I wanted to incorporate raw food to raise my vibration – increasing my sensitivity to energy. Fruits and vegetables are higher vibration foods because they are “alive”. Animal products and grains are lower vibration foods. I can say I do have a greater sensitivity within the work that I do.

I haven’t delved into researching raw recipe and I didn’t try to make any at home but my favorite side from Cousins has been lacinto kale (surprise, surprise always my favorite) with goji berries or sun dried tomatoes. Since all is raw they “massage” their greens. Nope, haven’t tried massaging my vegetables. But you should try some lightly steamed kale with the berries and a light sweet vinegar oil dressing. The other item I call eggplant jerky and they call bacon – dehydrated eggplant slices coated with raw cayenne-laden tomato paste is very tasty and a little chewy. Also, the ravioli with the nut crème filling is decadent.

Since we are part of the macrocosm and influenced by anything happening out there in the universe, you might want to plan a cleanse around the planetary activity. I’m serious! I was told Mars was in retrograde this January and that time period would bring up anger and conflict. I was irritated and annoyed with imagined violence to anyone I called “idiot” under my breath. It wasn’t very nice of me but I really didn’t need the planetary alignment to influence my liver as I was attempting to be kind to it. There were other shifts in the macrocosm during these few months; so many people were in a state of emergency in their lives.

So in concluding your inclusion in my raw food experience:
Decide which approach is most manageable for your lifestyle
Plan it out – consider upcoming life events, planetary changes and seasonal changes
Be aware of the process
Be flexible and accommodating to what you and your body need
Don’t be attached to expectations or outcome

I came across short interview in February’s
Natural Health magazine with Carol Alt, model and raw foodist. Here is a raw recipe from her new raw “cook” book.

If you have any nut sensitivities this isn’t for you. The raw tomato sauce even at Cousins is so good!

Broccoli Cannelloni
Thinly sliced zucchini and a creamy cashew filling replace traditional pasta and cheese in this hearty meal. To sprout sunflower seeds, rinse and set in a sprouting container for 2-3 days.

½ c sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 2 hours
¼ c water
½ tsp fresh lemon juice, plus a ¼ cup
1 T cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 T fresh thyme
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
½ c chopped fresh basil
½ c fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp Himalayan salt
2 broccoli stalks (with crowns) cut into chunks
1 T nutmeg
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T chopped fresh sage
½ c raw cashews, soaked 2 hours
½ c sunflower seeds, sprouted
1 lg zucchini
¼ c raw pine nuts, optional

In a blender, combine sun-dried tomatoes, water, ½ tsp lemon juice, olive oil and thyme. Blend until smooth.

In a food processor, combine sun-dried tomato mixture with fresh tomatoes, basil, oregano and ½ tsp salt. Pulse until combined; do not puree. Pour into bowl and set aside.

Wash food processor, towel dry, add broccoli and finely chop. Add nutmeg and rosemary, process until incorporated.

Transfer broccoli to mixing bowl and without washing food processor, combine sage, cashews, sprouts, ¼ c lemon juice, and remaining salt. Process until smooth.

Stir cashew mixture with broccoli until well blended. Set aside.

With mandolin or vegetable peeler, shave long wide strips from the zucchini. Place 4 strips side by side, overlapping slightly.

Place a few tablespoons of broccoli cashew mixture along zucchini ends. Roll the zucchini slices over the mixture to make a long filled tube. Repeat with remaining zucchini strips and filling.

Serve in pool of tomato sauce. Top with more sauce and add pine nuts if desired.