Go for the Goji: Springtime Goji Berry Recipes

Goji berries have been a trending Superfood for the last couple of years, however they have been a staple in Traditional Chinese Medicine long before they made an appearance on the Dr. Oz Show.

Goji berries, or Go Qi Zi, are used to nourish and tonify the Liver and Kidneys for yin and blood deficiency patterns with symptoms like a sore back and legs, low-grade abdominal pain, and impotence. They also benefit the essence and brighten the eyes, which is needed when symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision, and diminished visual acuity manifest. Goji berries are also good for moistening the lungs and healing from a consumptive cough. They can also be combined with any number of herbs, such as Chrysanthemum (Ju Hua) to fight headache. They are on the sweeter side and are sold dried at Chinese markets, and are therefore perfect for soups and teas.

A congee is a thin porridge made out of rice that is eaten throughout China as a breakfast food. It’s often simmered for very long periods of time to break down the rice. However, this Goji berry congee can be whipped up in about an hour and will give your Liver a fantastic boost.

Recipe: Goji Berry Congee

Ingredients:
– 1/4 cup of Goji Berry
– A slice of Fresh Ginger root
– 1/2 cup of Haiga Rice
– 1/2 cup of Long grain White Rice (or Short grain White Rice for slightly thicker starchier texture.)
– 4 cups of water (to begin with.)
– 3 or 4 cups of water (to add later as the Congee thickens.)
– Pinch of salt to taste
Optional Toppings:
Soy sauce, Diced tofu, Miso, Chopped scallion
Tip: If you only have Haiga or Long Grain White Rice, you may use those. This rice combination was created for the best texture.

Directions:

1) Rinse the rice several times until water is somewhat clear, then drain the water.
2) Add 4 cups of filtered water, rice and ginger together in a pot and cook on the stove at high heat until water boils. Stir it occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking at the bottom (even when there is plenty of water in the pot.)
3) Turn the heat down to medium, and cook for about 40 minute (or until rice is very soft and breaking apart.) Keep adding water to keep the rice soupy to avoid burning at the bottom.
4) When the rice is broken apart ( may like tiny flower blossoms), add Goji berries. Cook another 10 minutes. You may add more water for soupy or less for thicker Congee.
5) Add a pinch of salt to taste.

If sweet is more your style than savory, one of our acupuncturists recommends this tasty Chinese dessert soup that is good for the blood and heart.

Recipe: Traditional Chinese “Dessert” Soup

Ingredients:
– Snow fungus, dried, 50g
– Chinese red dates, 5-6
– Goji berries, 2 tbsp
– Water, 300ml +
– Raw local honey, 1-2 tbsp
-Bai he (lily bulb) 1 tbsp, cut up

Directions:
1) Soak the snow fungus overnight or for at least 4 hours until very soft.
2) Drain the water, trim off the yellow bits of the snow fungus and then cut into small pieces.
3) Add the snow fungus and raw local honey to a pan of water and boil very slowly and gently for 25 minutes on a low-heat, check on stir occasionally. Keep the lid tightly sealed.
4) Add the red dates, lily bulb and goji berries (and a drop more water if necessary) and continue to boil on a low-heat for another 10 minutes.

You can pick up Goji berries and Chinese red dates at our office, as well as at your local Chinese Market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Recipes from: http://www.hensenlifestyle.com/recipe-goji-berry-congee/

Snow Fungus, Chinese Red Date & Goji Berry Soup Sweet Soup

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Standard Process: 21 Days of Internal Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung, and with it so has our Liver Qi.

Spring is a season of rapid growth and transformation, however the season’s transitions can feel a little bit rocky if your Liver Qi is off balance. Common signs of an unbalanced Liver are mood swings, irritability, eye problems such as blurry vision, and digestive upsets. To restore balance and flush out any toxins out of your system it is often suggested that one should do a cleanse.

So, what exactly does that mean? In previous blogs we’ve talked about the benefits of an elimination diet that gives your liver and digestive system a break by eliminating certain foods from your day to day diet. Eventually there are several days where you are eating easy to process fruits and vegetables and nothing else, and then you slowly re-introduce grains, meats, and other foods that are harder on the body to break down.

A cleanse takes that concept a step further, starting with only fruits and veggies for up to two weeks and then slowly introducing other food types over a total of twenty-one days. The Standard Process cleanse is unique in that it not only offers you a toxicity questionnaire to see if you would benefit from the cleanse, and what areas of your life and diet need improving, but it also includes a supplement regiment to go along with the diet change.

To start on the Standard Process journey, check out their question: https://www.standardprocess.com/Standard-Process/Purification-Program/Toxicity

From there, it’s time to go through your pantry. Standard Process provides a list of recommended fruits and vegetables to stock up on that will be most beneficial during the cleanse and be the best for your body. They also include a list of approved fats (cooking oil is included, along with what types you should use) and lean proteins that can be added back into your diet on Day 11 of the cleanse, spices, flours; anything that would impact your diet they have listed out for you.

It sounds like a lot, but Standard Process also offers 24/7 support. There’s a smartphone app for the cleanse to help guide you through the journey, from daily tips and tricks to a personal journal to track your mood and thoughts. It’s not uncommon for mood fluctuations to happen during a cleanse; you’re rapidly shifting your diet and flushing out your system, and the body sometimes needs a little bit of time to adjust. The app lets you track physical and emotional feelings, water intake, body measurements, personal insight, and activities. It also helps to keep you on track, tracking your foods and providing you with cleanse-friendly recipes.

Standard Process also provides you what outlines of what your daily diet should be as you continue on with the cleanse, when you should take your supplements (which are included when you purchase the Standard Process Cleanse) and even walks you through the ‘new normal’ after the 21 days are over. How do you re-introduce foods in a healthy way? Where should you start? How strict should your diet be now that the cleanse is over? Standard process walks you through all of that, making the whole cleanse as healthy and welcoming as possible.

So, what are the benefits of switching your diet up completely for 21 days? Less bloating, better digestion, better sleep, shinier hair, increased energy and vitality, clearer thinking, improved weight management, and so much more.

To find out even more about the Standard Process cleanse, check out their website: https://www.standardprocess.com/Standard-Process/Purification-Program#.WrGj-W3waM_

Want to purchase the program and give it a try? Give us a call at (925) 280-6026 and we will order it for you.

 

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Going Nuts for Cocos: Why Coconut Oil is the Answer to Everything!

Who doesn’t love coconuts? Coconuts are delicious! They elicit a feeling of sunny days, sandy beaches and palm trees waving in a breeze. Aside from being delightful in your cocktail, coconut water is known for its high electrolyte content and hydration magic (net zero, anyone?). There are more brands than I can count that are now offering coconut water as the perfect post-workout beverage and it doesn’t stop there. Coconuts have benefits that are even more powerful and it’s found in the oil extracted from coconut meat. The oil is touted as being able to help with: immunity, digestion, skin care, infections, heart health, stress relief, oral care, and the list goes on and on. More research is being done every day to nail down all of the little miracles coconut oil is responsible for. Now there was a time before coconut oil fandom where people believed that the saturated fat would clog arteries, raise cholesterol, and increase risk of heart attack. Turns out, this is only true of oils that have been partially hydrogenated – these types of oils create trans fat and kill off the good fatty acids and antioxidants. Virgin, organic, and unrefined coconut oil have fatty acids (such as lauric and and capric), vitamins (E, K), and minerals that give coco-oil its power. There are so many benefits of using the tree nut, it’s hard to know where to start so we ended up throwing together a laundry-list of uses for you to try out! Feel free to leave us a comment below with your favorites….Happy Oiling!


The Miraculous Tropical Tree Nut & Its Oil

coconuts-Coconut-oil-on-spoon

  • Oral Care | Known as Oil Pulling, swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes can help pull out toxins, remove plaque, and possibly even whiten your teeth. This practice has been used for thousands of year in Ayurvedic medicine and is back in action. Coconut oil is a great option for oil pulling because of its sweet taste and aroma.
  • Skin Care | The moisturizer of all moisturizers! Lathering coconut oil all over your body daily will keep your skin super hydrated and super soft. Coconut oil has anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties so it is ideal for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis and also for any rashes or fungal infections. The nourishment this oil brings to the skin also makes it a go-to for wound care.
  • Cooking Care | Coconut oil is great to cook with as it is a very stable oil and has a very high smoke point at 350 degrees. The oil has tons of beneficial fatty acids and anti-oxidants and is actually good for your heart health! The oil produces a very delightful and sweet taste and is especially delicious in a stir fry, curry, baked goods, tea and smoothies!
  • Hair Care | Frizz beware – coconut oil is the ultimate smoother for your locks. Its also wonderful for applying to the ends of your hair to lock in moisture. You can rub it into your scalp before bed and rinse out in the morning – it’ll strengthen hair and give it a shine!
  • Immune System Care | Coco oil has anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Taking just a teaspoon of coconut oil at the beginning of the day can help with fighting off any bacteria or germs that might be making you feel a little under the weather. Cooking with the oil or adding it to your drinks is an easy way to get it into the system.

 

Sources: http://jezebel.com/the-craze-for-coconut-oil-and-its-many-magical-miracle-1612286639 & http://www.coconutoil.com/

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Float Your Way to Bliss: The Benefits of Sensory Deprivation Tanks

Last month I got to try a sensory deprivation tank or “float chamber” for the first time. I was really excited because I had heard the multitude of benefits of spending time in these pods that allow you to become weightless and tune out your main senses – sight, sound, touch. The float pods are filled with thousands of pounds of epsom salt which let you become completely buoyant. The water is kept body temperature so it is easy to get into and sustain. Once you’re in the pod, you close the door and allow yourself to relax. There is plenty of space in the pods so it’s easy to keep away from the walls. Once you find a comfortable body position, you instantly drop into a meditation. My first thought was wondering why I ever left the womb! You get to float for about an hour so there’s ample time to get situated, focus on your breath, and observe what comes up. After the float, I was so relaxed, my muscles felt like they had released all tension, and my joints felt really lubricated. Float chambers are also recommended for: anxiety relief, reducing stress hormones, pain relief, muscle/joint relaxation, and getting some quiet solo time to restore sanity 🙂

Related image

The two float spas I know of are in Oakland – ReBoot Float Spa and Oakland Floats. Here are their websites:

http://www.rebootspa.com/

http://www.oaklandfloats.com/

Give their pages a scroll – there’s lots of good information on floating and FAQ.

Happy floating!

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Summer Comfort: One-Pot Collard Greens Recipe

We’re well into Summer and I’m sure we’ve all been to our fair share of cookouts and BBQs. While I’m certainly not tired of outdoor potlucks, it can be hard to find a good dish to bring that is easy to share, satiating, and not loaded with tons of mayonnaise or sugar. I stumbled upon this fantastic recipe for a one-pot collard greens dish. This recipe is especially awesome because it uses international spices to boost flavor and make the digestive process even easier. We probably don’t need to go into all of the benefits of eating cooked greens because we all know that you can’t go wrong with more leafy vegetables on your plate but just in case you were wondering: collard greens will provide lots of vitamin K, A, fiber, and calcium. They have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol and have antioxidant properties. Check out the recipe below and show up to the next cookout with a dish that will be as tasty as it is nutritious!

Image result for collard green

Ingredients:

2 large bunches of collard greens

2 large red onions

1 ounce raw ginger

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms

4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon raw sugar 2 tablespoons sea salt (or to taste)

4 tablespoons medium yellow or red curry powder

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces (1 cup) coconut milk

4 ounces chopped roasted peanuts (optional for garnish)

2 Roma tomatoes (optional for garnish)

 

Directions:

Roughly chop both onions, mushrooms, garlic and ginger. Add olive oil to a 3-to-4 quart pot on medium heat. Let the oil heat up a little bit. (If it starts smoking it’s too hot.) Then add chopped items — saute until they start to sweat and caramelize. Stir gently with a large wooden spoon while adding salt (to taste), black pepper and curry powder.

Wash and thoroughly clean the collard greens to remove any grit. Cut off the stems but don’t throw them away. Stack the leaves in piles of three-to-four, then roll them tightly. Take your knife and chiffonade the rolls — that’s a fancy verb that means to cut them into strips.

Slowly add the strips of collard greens to the pot, then fold the seasoned vegetables on top. Cook over medium heat.

The moisture in the greens will evaporate from the heat of the water, decreasing their volume.

Once you see steam coming from the pot, your greens are ready for the final step. Gently stir in the coconut milk, then cover the pot and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes, depending on how tender or tough you want your greens to be.

Serve greens with optional garnishes like sliced or diced raw onions and tomatoes and crushed peanuts.

 

 

 

 

 

*Source: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/07/13/536883340/cooking-collard-greens-with-a-west-african-and-caribbean-twist

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Surya Namaskar: Salute the Sun!

In Vinyasa yoga, Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation, is a sequence of yoga poses that is meant to energize, invigorate and rejuvenate the body. This sequence is a great way to start the day or to start your yoga practice. Each movement is done on either an inhale or exhale and a focus on the breath while moving through the sequence is the most important part of the salutation. The breath and movement combination will get the blood flowing and leave you feeling strong but relaxed. If you don’t have the time for a full yoga class or are just beginning the path of yoga, this sequence will take less than 10 minutes and is the perfect way to drop in to your mind-body connection by intentionally breathing and moving the body. Here is a breakdown of the poses and a video for you to see how it looks when all of the poses are linked together. We recommend doing the sun salutation 5-7 times in a slow and intentional manner to really absorb the benefits.

Surya Namaskar A

  1. Start in Tadasana – mountain pose – with feet together, belly pulled in, shoulder blades resting down the back and palms together at the heart.
  2. Breathe in & lift the arms up and swan dive the hands down into a forward fold on your breath out.
  3. Inhale – bring your hands to your shins or above the knees for a flat back. Lengthen through the crown of your head and bring shoulder blades in towards each other.
  4. Exhale – plant your palms in front of you and step back to a high plank position. Pull the belly in and engage the core strongly. Push your palms as much as you can into the earth to stay strong and straight.
  5. Breathe in and bring your knees down to a modified plank position. Walk your hands out a little bit in front of you and slowly lower all the way to the ground while you breathe out, hugging your elbows into your body on the exhale. This is a modified chatturanga dandasana.
  6. On your breath in, lift the chest using the back and core muscles while pushing the tops of your toes into the earth for cobra pose.
  7. Exhale, – bring your forehead back to the ground.
  8. Inhale – tuck your toes and bring your hips up and back for downward facing dog. Palms are rooted into the earth, heels are pulling towards the ground and neck is fully relaxed. Exhale and stay in the pose. Allow yourself to move around in this pose to really feel where the tension is. You can bend your knees and straighten them, shift your hips from side to side, or come up on your tip toes and then back down. Remember to stay with breath in this pose.
  9. On your next inhale, look forward and bend your knees.
  10. On the exhale, step your feet to meet your hands and stay in your forward fold.
  11. Inhale, halfway lift again with hands to shins

 

Posted in Ayurveda, Breathing Exercises, Earth and Air Wellness, Exercise, Health Coaching, Meditation, Pleasant Hill, Seasons, Walnut Creek, Wellness | Leave a comment

Beat the Heat: Chilled Zucchini + Mint Soup!

Summer is finally here! & the heat won’t let us forget it. Long and hot days make getting anything done that much more laborious and some days it’s unthinkable that you would want to use the oven or stand over your stove for an hour. Enter easy and quick zucchini soup! Zucchinis are hydrating, have lots of vitamin A and magnesium, and also give omega-3 fatty acids. They’re all over the farmers’ markets right now so it’s time to make them the star of any dish. This soup also has mint, scallion, and lemon, which makes it incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating. With ingredients this simple, it’s a no-brainer to get this soup on your weekly summer dinner plan. You’ll thank yourself the next time you come back hungry to a hot house and want to eat ASAP. Enjoy!

Image result for zucchini soup

7 Ingredients

  • 1 large zucchini, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Directions

  1. If you have a high-speed blender: Combine all ingredients plus 3 cups cold water until smooth.
  2. If you have a regular blender: Bring a pot of water to boil. Carefully measure out 3 cups and add to blender. Add lid and let mixture sit about 15 minutes so hot water cooks vegetables. When cooked, vent blender to release any steam, cover blender, and blend until very smooth, adding cold water if necessary to reach desired consistency. Chill for 1 hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Recipe from https://greatist.com/eat/recipes/chilled-zucchini-soup

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Yoga Nidra: The Power of Yogic Sleep

The first time I experienced Yoga Nidra, I was hooked. It was the most relaxing, deep, and profound meditation that I had ever experienced. After the initially daze of coming out of such a calm state, I had such a sense of grounding and rejuvenation that lasted well into the next day. Now onto the specifics … Yoga Nidra is an ancient meditation technique that gets you into a deep conscious state of rest. Technically, the meditation is supposed to put you into a theta brain wave where you are in between a waking and sleeping state. This state is supposed to allow you to access your subconscious level where you can achieve both physical and emotional healing. In practice, Yoga Nidra is quite simple: You lay on your mat with blankets and bolsters to become as comfortable as possible. The yoga practitioner will then guide you to a very relaxed space – your eyes are closed and you are breathing calmly. Once the room has settled in, the practitioner leads you on a journey with your awareness. You’ll become aware of their voice, your body, the space, all while allowing yourself to completely relax into your mat. You use the practitioner’s voice to stay tethered to the experience while the rest of your body and mind drift off. Yes, you may fall asleep. That actually happens pretty often for people just starting out. Eventually, you’ll find a very deep state where you can hear the voice but your consciousness feels like it is somewhere else – almost like you’re dreaming. This is a must-try experience that has really profound benefits! It can help your sleep patterns, help with anxiety and depression, help to relax tension in the body, and it’s also incredibly soothing. If you’re interested, you can find a class at Just Be Yoga in Walnut Creek on Thursday Nights. A google search for Yoga Nidra in the East Bay Area will also point you to other studios that offer this class. I highly recommend giving this a try as it is the most relaxed state that I have felt out of a variety of meditation techniques and practices. If you want a little more information on what you’re getting into, here is a fairly typical flow to a Yoga Nidra class/meditation from Lindsay Kellner of MindBodyGreen:

 

  • Set your intention.
  • Feel your connect to yourself and others.
  • Physical body: Sense and perceive your physical body and arrive in the present moment by doing a body scan.
  • Energetic body: Count breaths, elongate breaths, and experience the sensation that arises from the breath work. This raises awareness of where energy is stuck and where it’s flowing.
  • Emotional body: Invite the polarity of opposite feelings and sensations into your practice, like warm and cool, left and right, safety and fear. Often we experience emotions on this polarity: For example, someone living in fear desires safety. Yoga nidra teaches us that we don’t need the positive end of the polarity to be comfortable, safe, fearless, joyous, and vulnerable.
  • Body of intellect: Notice thoughts, beliefs, and images that arise in the guided exploration of opposites. They offer insight into your long-held belief systems and answer why we are the way we are.
  • Body of joy: Recalling memories that are pure joy and at ease helps reset a mental baseline and can alleviate anxiety levels while offering an ever-present sense of calm.
  • Body of ego-I: Through guided mantra and meditation, become aware of the witness inside us all and check (and recheck, and recheck) your ego.
  • Natural state: Recognize the power of the mind to facilitate emotions from an inner and outer state. This helps bring awareness of our inner witness, the consciousness inside each one of us that’s remained the same since we can remember. In this state, we recall the intention and desire set at the beginning of practice and integrate them with our re-patterned consciousness before coming out of the meditation

Happy Yogic Dreaming!

 

 

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“Shooooo”: The Healing Sound for Your Liver!

In QiGong and Chinese Medicine, practitioners believe that each one of our organs are not only associated with a physical element and an emotional feeling but also a specific sound. These sounds are made through breath work and are thought to be able to balance any energy stagnation or blockage. The Spring season is connected to the liver and our livers help to support blood flow and quality of eyesight. Thus, this breath work will help to nourish the liver but has secondary effects on the circulatory system and vision. These healing sounds also have effects on the emotions and the sound for the liver can help turn anger (associated with the liver) into feelings of personal power. The sound of the liver is “Shooooo” – made by puckering your lips and using the middle-high range of your voice. You begin by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth while making the sound then inhale again and repeat. This creates a very rhythmic, intentional breath that instantly balances, calms and rejuvenates. We have a short YouTube video below on how to perform the healing sound with the correct sitting posture and arm movements to get the most benefit for the liver. We’ll be transitioning out of Spring soon into the high energy Yang of Summer so now is the time to take a moment to prepare through breathing and healing sounds.

 

5 Minute Liver Sound Healing Video!

Posted in Acupuncture, Breathing Exercises, Chinese Medicine, Earth and Air Wellness, Health Coaching, Meditation, Pleasant Hill, Qigong, Seasons, Walnut Creek, Wellness | Leave a comment

You’ll Want A Pizza This!: A Healthy Alternative for Your Pizza Cravings

Summer is on our heels! That means lots of sunshine, parties, and reasons to come together around tasty but not always the healthiest of foods. Of all comfort and party foods, I probably crave pizza the most. Warm, cheesy, flavorful with dozens of options for toppings…what’s not to love? That being said, I’m always on the hunt for a way to fulfill the craving (it happens much too often) without having to deal with the digestive discomfort that comes with the indulgence. Luckily, people have been experimenting with all kinds of alternatives to the traditional bready pizza crust and the one we’re sharing today has us intrigued! With the most simple ingredient list I’ve probably ever seen, this Socca pizza recipe is a no-brainer. Chickpeas have a lot of nutrients in their own right – protein, fiber, blood sugar regulation – so using chickpea flour bumps up the nutrition in your pizza pie right away. With a nutritious crust, picking out toppings and being creative with the rest of this gluten-free, grain-free, vegan recipe should be really fun! Find the link to instructions below:

Socca [Chickpea Crust] Pizza Recipe!

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