~Seasonal News from Sound Acupuncture~
Sound Acupuncture is located in the Sound Healing Arts Center, with a group of other individual practitioners. The Sound Healing Arts Center has evolved since we opened in 2013, and it is currently a privilege to share the office with Dr. Michael Neely, DC, Audrey Marshall, LMT, Laura Wesen, LMT, Brandi Hughes, LMT, and Vivian Folsom, LICSW.
~~Fall and Chinese Medicine~~
~In Chinese Medicine, we view each season of the year as important in the balance of the others. Winter balances summer, spring balances fall, yin balances yang. And just like yin and yang have characteristics and influences that are important to each, so do the seasons have varying impacts on our health and well-being. Autumn is the metal season in Chinese medicine. Metal is associated with the color white, and the Large Intestine and Lung organs. As you can imagine, these organs are involved in cleaning out, and bringing in. The associated emotion is grief, which can be triggered by letting go. As we clean out and let go of things that we no longer need, our psyche grieves the loss of the familiar. Emotion in balance is a healthy part of life, and grief is a normal response to loss. Be careful not to become too mired in your grief though! Balance the letting go function of the large intestine with the bringing in function of the lungs. Breathe deeply. Get outside when possible and experience the crisp fall air and the scents that the season gives us. Nature is cleaning out as well, dropping leaves which are no longer productive, bringing sap back from the branch tips into trunks and roots, letting seeds fly on the wind or bury into the ground with rotting fruit. This is the time to prune your fruit trees, plow under your summer crops, and put away your summer clothes and toys. Let go, move forward.
Metal in balance presents as optimism, fresh ideas and new perspectives. Balanced metal also gives us a sense of our self worth. We are equally able to let go of the old unnecessary thoughts or items in our life, and be open to new ideas and thoughts, people, places and things.
When we are out of balance in the metal element, we might view everything pessimistically. The imbalance might also express itself as an inability to let go of things or people, living always in the past, refusing to move on with or from a project (occasionally presenting as irrational striving for perfection!), or possibly just stubbornness or a weepy depression.
~ Consider these helpful tips and recipes for harmonizing with the season~
~ Do a "fall" cleaning! This is a very good time to go through your house and clean out the clutter. We are moving from summer, when we were frequently outside the house, to the colder seasons when we will be mostly inside. Make the inside of your house more pleasant by getting rid of the unnecessary.
~ Take walks outside in the crisp air and breathe deeply! Nice days in fall are a great time to be outside enjoying seasonal activities. Wander through a corn maze, go to the pumpkin patch, take your kids trick-or-treating instead of sending them by themselves. Bring in new experiences like an apple harvest or cider making party, or taking Thanksgiving gifts of food or decorations to neighbors (new or old!). And take all of your cleaned out clutter to a charity for donation.
~ Add moderate amounts of pungent foods like garlic, leeks, ginger, mustard and horseradish to your diet. These foods will help to open up the lungs and the nose (which is associated with the lungs). Having open healthy lungs will help the large intestine do its job as well. Think of a teapot with the tiny hole in the lid. Without this opening at the top, you would not be able to pour the tea, as there would not be a fair exchange of air. Your lungs and large intestine work in harmony this way.
~ Fall is a time of colds and flu. Help prevent these illnesses with saline nasal rinses. Also keep your immune system strong by avoiding sugar (go EASY on the Halloween candy!), which has been shown to drop immune function immediately following consumption. If you suffer from asthma or a chronic cough, fall is a great time to visit your acupuncturist and work on these conditions. Also, put away the light clothes that were appropriate for summer! Bring out the sweaters and long sleeves that are called for by the cool fall weather. Wearing light clothing won't bring back warm temperatures, but it will take a toll on our defensive Qi as it tries to regulate our body temperature.
~ Fall is a great time to start learning yoga, Qi gong or tai chi. These exercises are not too strenuous, and they emphasize deep breathing and muscle tone, as well as building strong Qi. Fall is a time of moving inward to stillness (winter), so cut down on the marathon running, and instead opt for exercises that are more inwardly directed, and which may be done indoors. Also, let go and clean out those things that are stressful, as stress weakens the immune system. A good rule of thumb is to turn inward in fall, and live calmly without overexertion or extremes. Fall is not a time of extreme yang or extreme yin, so moderate those things in your life that may fall into an "extreme" category.
Some recipe ideas for fall~
But first, a word on cooking oils. Every cooking oil is rated to a 'smoke point.' Once heated to a certain temperature, all oils will smoke. At this time, chemical bonds are being broken and reformed, and oils start to become carcinogenic, and produce trans fats. Carcinogens can cause damage to cells and increase the possibility of cancer. Trans fats clog our arteries and can lead to heart disease. In general for cooking, oils with high smoke points are better, because you are less likely to reach them. Oils with a low smoke point are better to use for salad dressings or other dishes in which the oils are not heated. To see a list of cooking oil smoke points, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point. Remember, fall is about the lungs, and indoor air quality is important too! Smoky oils lead to poorer air quality in your house.
~~Potato Leek Soup~~
~2 lbs potatoes, cubed
~3 leeks, rinsed and sliced (make sure to slit them lengthwise and wash the dirt out of the layers!)
~1 large onion, chopped
~5 cloves garlic, chopped
~4 cups chicken or veggie stock
~6 tbsp ghee (or butter, or coconut oil)
~2 bay leaves
~1 tbsp thyme
~celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan salt to taste
~fresh ground black pepper to taste
~paprika to taste
In a pressure cooker, Dutch oven, or stockpot melt the ghee over med-high heat. Add in the cubed potatoes and sauté, stirring frequently, until they start to lightly brown. Add in the leeks and onions, and sauté until they soften. Add the garlic, thyme and turmeric and stir to briefly sauté, about 30 seconds. Add the stock and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. If using a pressure cooker, secure the lid and cook at 15 psi for 5 minutes. If using a Dutch oven or stockpot, put the lid on tightly, adjust the heat so the soup is simmering and cook for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are very soft. *Optional: blend part of the soup to make it creamier, and mix it back in.
~~Sweet Potato Fries with Tahini Dipping Sauce~~
~sweet potatoes, about 1 medium per person (I like the red garnet 'yams', but any variety will do)
~salt (I prefer pink Himalayan salt for these, but sea salt is great too)
~coconut oil or butter
~ Preheat the oven to 350*F. Slice the sweet potatoes into fries. Grease a baking sheet by rubbing it with about 3 tbsp of oil or butter. Toss the sweet potato slices onto the baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes. Check them at that point, toss them around in the oil or butter (which will be all melted by now), and return to the oven. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft inside and to desired texture out the outside. More oil will result in slightly crispier exteriors, but be careful of burning the narrow ends, as they will cook faster in the oil.
~ 2 garlic cloves
~ 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
~ 1/2 cup well-stirred tahini (Middle Eastern sesame paste)
~ 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
~ 1/4 cup water
~ 1/4 cup olive oil
~ 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
~ 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
~ 1/4 tsp ground cumin
Mince the garlic finely, and then mash it into the salt. Mix the garlic/salt mixture into the other ingredients, and stir to combine well. This makes a lot of sauce, but it can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.
~~Ginger Curry Fried Rice~~
For the Rice Cooker or Pressure Cooker:
~ 2 cups rice (brown or white jasmine are preferable)
~ 1 medium onion
~ 1tsp cumin
~ 1tsp turmeric
~ 1 tsp garlic powder
~ 1tbsp chicken or veggie bouillon
~˝ tsp salt or to taste
Soak rice overnight. Rinse rice well and mix all the ingredients together in a rice cooker or pressure cooker. Add water and cook according to the directions with the rice cooker or pressure cooker for the rice you chose. Allow rice to cool to room temperature.
For the wok:
~ 2 chicken breasts sliced, or 1 lb shrimp or prawns
~ 1 large onion
~ 4 tbsp grated fresh ginger
~ 6 cloves garlic, minced
~ 2 carrots, chopped
~ ˝ head cabbage (I like savoy cabbage or napa cabbage)
~ 1 or 2 cans water chestnuts
~ 1-2 cups snow peas or sliced green beans
~ 2 tbsp yellow curry paste (or to taste)
~ about 4-8 tbsp coconut oil, as needed (start with fewer, add more if needed)
~ up to ˝ cup water or coconut milk (with ˝ tsp bouillon in if you like)
When the rice (see above) is cool: in a wok or very large sauté pan, heat the oil to high heat. Add chicken if using (if using prawns/shrimp, steam them at this time), and sauté until no longer pink on the outside. Add carrots and onions (and green beans if using), sauté until they start to soften. Add ginger, garlic, curry paste and mix well into the oil. Add the water or coconut milk as needed to make a thin sauce in the pan. Add the rice to the chicken/shrimp and veggies, and mix well. Toss in the cabbage, water chestnuts, snow peas (if using) and mix with the rice. Cook over med heat until everything is heated through. Salt to taste. Optional: garnish with chives or bean sprouts.