Energetics of Dandelion: Yes, It’s Edible!

It’s that time of the year when dandelions begin sprouting, destroying your yards! You’ll find these sunny yellow flowering plants dotting lawns almost year round, but they come back with a notorious vengeance each spring. You won’t typically find them in groceries, but did you know they are edible?They are also tortoises’ favorite snacks!

photo credit: Farmanac via photopin cc

They are chock full of vitamins A (more than in carrots)  B-complex, C,  and D, as well as minerals including iron, potassium sodium, calcium phosphorus and zinc. The often detested lawn blight seems to cure just about everything that ails you.  The genus name, taraxacum, is derived from the Greek taraxos, meaning “disorder,” and akos, meaning “remedy”.  This plant is used by many cultures, from Native Americans to Europeans and the Chinese.  Traditional Chinese Medicine uses dandelion as one of the top six herbs in its medicine chest.  Dandelion appears in the U.S. National Formulator and in the Pharmacopeias of Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, and the Soviet Union.

Dandelion is touted to purify the blood, detoxify the liver and gallbladder, dissolve kidney stones, improve gastro-intestinal health, assist in weight loss, clear acne, relieve both constipation and diarrhea, ease rheumatism, prevent high blood pressure and anemia, lower cholesterol and reduce gas.

The entire plant is edible. The root is a caffeine-free coffee substitute, similar to chicory, and also an ingredient in root beer. Dandelion leaves, which are deeply notched, flat and dark green in color, funnel water to the roots.  The leaves are used as a diuretic, helpful for liver problems, gall bladder function and high blood pressure.  The leaves may also normalize blood sugar levels along with lowering total cholesterol and triglycerides and raising HDL (good cholesterol), as proven in diabetic mice.  Tossed into salads and sandwiches, they boost flavor and reduce heartburn.  The flowers have antioxidant properties, helpful in preventing cancer. The petals, pulled from their green base can be used in numerous recipes like risotto, salads and cookies. Yum! You may have also heard of the the classic dandelion wine.

photo credit: Reuben Degiorgio via photopin cc

Avoid dandelion if you’re allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies or iodine.

Oddly, high quality studies of dandelion are lacking.

Dandelion is one of the Five Flavors. Dandelion is a bitter (yin) flavor, reducing both heat and damp conditions in general, particularly in those area affected by the liver, spleen-pancreas, lungs, and heart.  Dandelion and other bitter foods also tend to direct energy inward and toward the lower part of the body.

Gluten-Free Dandelion Flower Cookies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups gluten free baking flour
1 cup dry gluten free oatmeal
1/2 cup dandelion flowers*
1/2 cup ground macadamia nuts or pistachios (optional)
1/2 cup butter or vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Blend oil and honey and beat in the two eggs, sugar, nuts and vanilla. Stir in flour, oatmeal, baking soda and dandelion flowers. Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 12-13 minutes at sea level.  Add 2 tsp flour and adjust cooking time (check at 13 minutes and add 2-3 minutes if necessary) for high altitude.

*Use pesticide-free flowers, wash well in clear water; measure 1/2 cup flowers with green base then twist petals off green part; use only petals since the green is bitter.

Recipe courtesy of Vitesis.

Energetics of Chia: Superfood, Not Pet

A decade ago chia pets were all the rage. Today, chia seeds are known as a staple superfood in health-conscious households. Chia comes from Mexico’s Mayan and Aztec civilizations, who used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster. Evidence suggests that Aztecs used chia seeds dating back to 3,500 B.C.!

These seeds are the best plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are high in fiber, protein, antioxidants, and calcium. Chia seeds contain greater amounts of antioxidants than blueberries! They are often added to beverages, including kombucha and certain sweet drinks. When mixed with water or water-based drinks, the seeds cause the liquid to form into a gel with a slightly chewy and mildly crunchy texture, not unlike tapioca. They are also often added to cereal, sauces, yogurt, and baked goods. In fact, it is a great whole grain to add to muffins, breads, and more.

Chia seeds can also last almost two years without refrigeration. You can use chia gel as an egg-replacer.ll

Although rumored to aid in weight loss, research has found no such trend. This, however, does not diminish the extraordinary health benefits of chia.

Energetics: Promotes heart health, promotes cardiovascular health, reduces inflammation, reduces cholesterol, enhances cognitive performance, regulates bowel function, prevents hypertension, enhances satiety, regulates blood sugar, and lowers tryglycerides.

Cautions: If you have allergies to sesame or mustard seeds, there is a higher risk of you having a chia allergy. Consult your physician or refrain from consuming chia seeds if you are on high blood pressure medication or blood thinners.

Chia Chipotle Bean Burger

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Bean burgers make a fast, casual and tasty meal that is high in protein and fiber and low in fat. Go ahead and make this recipe your own: Play around with the veggies and seasonings and experiment with other types of beans — you can use kidney and cannellini beans, chickpeas, or even lentils.

1 15-ounce can black beans
1/4 cup chia gel (see recipe below)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup corn kernels or sautéed or cooked vegetables (alternatively, use frozen corn kernels, defrosted, or vegetables leftover from another meal)
1 teaspoon canned chipotle in adobo, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced cilantro or parsley (optional)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

1. In the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix or Blendtec), pulse the ingredients until blended. Do not over-process; you do not want to liquefy!

2. Form the mixture into patties.

3. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

4. Cook the patties until golden, about five minutes. Flip and repeat.

5. Alternate cooking method: Preheat oven to 325F. Place the patties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cook until golden, 12 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

6. Serve on hamburger rolls with the condiments of your choice.

Chia Gel

Makes 1 1/4 cups

1 cup cool water
1 3/4 tablespoons chia seeds

1. Pour the water into a sealable plastic or glass container. Slowly pour chia seeds into water while briskly mixing with wire whisk.

2. Wait 3 or 4 minutes and then whisk again

3. Let the mixture stand about 10 minutes before whisking again. Seal the container and store mixture in the refrigerator for up to two weeks to use as needed. Whisk before using. Note: Soaking in water will soften the chia seeds, but they will still be slightly crunchy.

Resources
Coates, Wayne. Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood.
NPR Staff. “Chewing Chia Packs A Superfood Punch.” NPR Books. http://www.npr.org/2012/07/15/156551074/chewing-chia-packs-a-superfood-punch
“Seeds, chia seeds, dried.” Self Nutrition Data. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2
“Top 10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds.” SFGate. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/top-10-health-benefits-chia-seeds-6962.html
Zelman, Kathleen M. “The Truth About Chia: Can chia seeds really help you lose weight?” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-chia

Power of Energetics: Digestion in TCM

Well, this is the last post in my Power of Energetics Blog series!  I hope you learned a little bit more about the how Chinese Medicine views food and how to use food as medicine.  Thank you for sticking with me! Here is my last installment! Enjoy!

To start, one needs to understand the difference between Western organs functions and TCM organ functions. In Western Medicine, the organ is located in a specific part of the body where specific physical tasks are performed, as well as there being hundreds of different organs and structures that work together to make the body run.  In TCM, there are 12 main organs that do the majority of the body functions and these functions are done at an energetic, physiological, mental, emotional, and spiritual level. Some of the functions associated with each organ align with Western Medicine model, others do not.  The difference can be difficult to process at first since the organ functions in TCM can be fundamentally different, but hopefully, these next few blogs can help cultivate an understanding.

The digestion process in TCM is the job of the Spleen.

The physiological function of the Spleen is to “transform and transport”, meaning that it transforms food and drink into gu qi and transports the gu qi to where it is needed. Gu qi is the nourishment needed to support the body via the processes of making qi, blood and healthy fluids.  The stronger our Spleen functions the better we extract nourishment and support the needs of our body.

The Spleen’s physical function is our thinking process. The Spleen governs our ability to study, concentrate, and process information. Therefore, the Spleen is needed to digest and process both food and information into something the body can use. You can see this connection in the “food coma” when we have a meal or overeat and then we get tired and mentally sluggish.  You can also see it when you have too much worry (considered overthinking in TCM) and your digestive system gets “knotted up” and we get nausea or a stomachache.

The Spleen’s emotional level is also tied to the digestive system.  At this level, the Spleen is our ability to meet our needs emotionally to give emotional nourishment and support.  We feel comfortable, secure, nourished and supported when all our needs are met.

Ways to Keep the Spleen Functioning Properly

  1. Eating with joy and a positive attitude. Eating food when we are in a happy and content place literally allows our bodies to accept food more effectively. When we start labeling food bad and good, we are cultivating guilt and resentment, which can impair the Spleen’s function.
  2. Be present and relaxed.  The Spleen works best when we are focused on enjoying the meal and are not distracted by other influences.  Try not to do anything other than eat during meals; no TV, reading, conducting business, etc.
  3. Chew well.  Chewing food lessens the work that the Spleen and Stomach need to do to transform food into nourishment.
  4. Try to stop before you are full.  When we overeat we create stagnation and as a result, our body ends up using more resources to digest the excess food. Chronic overeating will tax the Spleen and impair its ability to Transform and Transport, which then can create a domino effect on the other organs abilities to perform their functions as well.
  5. Do not drink too much during meals.  Drinking too many fluids during meals can dilute the digestive action of the Spleen and leads to weak digestion.  The Stomach needs warmth to “cook” and help the Spleen process food, and too much liquid will cool down things too much.  Drinking some warm liquids during meals is best.
  6. Too much raw and cold foods also injure the Spleen. Prolonged or excessive use of chilled or raw foods can impair the Spleen’s functions. As stated earlier, the Spleen and Stomach need warmth to process food.
  7. Do not eat late at night.  At night our bodies are in the yin phase, slowing down and preparing for sleep and repair.  Eating late at night can inhibit this process and lead to stagnation of food in the digestive tract, create heat, induce insomnia, induce dream-disturbed sleep, and other complications.  It is best to eat before 7:00 p.m. for optimal digestion.
  8. Listen to your body.  Cravings are not always a bad thing, sometimes the body craves certain foods because it is in need of that particular food’s nutritional or energetic quality.  If you see a pattern to your cravings, take note, your body may be trying to tell you something.

As always with anything please remember: A little bit is medicine, a lot is poison.

Power of Energetics: Enjoyment of Food

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This weeks blog topic is about the enjoyment of food. Eating is an expression of who you are. Enjoying food and eating, in general, can create feelings of joy and fulfillment. It is too easy today to just grab some food and eat on the go. We rarely take the time to eat slowly and actually enjoy our food.

The Art of Chewing

It is very important in TCM to chew your food slowly and thoroughly.  It is said that “the stomach has no teeth”, and thus chewing is a necessary component to proper digestion.

Eating and digestion begins with chewing. Food begins getting digested in the mouth via the enzymes amylase and lipase in saliva.  These enzymes help start the break down the food prior to its entry into the stomach.  Chewing grains and other complex carbohydrates turn them into sugars and allows the body to absorb oils, proteins, and minerals better.  Vegetables and grains when chewed until liquid will help release their full nutritional value. Incomplete chewing can leave you feeling heavy and dull and even create gas.  When digestion is efficient the body feels light and balanced.

Get into a new habit of properly chewing your food.  Begin by keeping count how many times you chew per bite.  This brings your attention to chewing and helps you start focusing on chewing.  Then, start chewing 30-50 times per bite, especially at the beginning of a meal.  Eventually, you will get into the habit and not need to count anymore. It really helps you concentrate on chewing if you set down your eating utensil between bites.

Balancing Appetite and Satiety

Habitual overeating is a large issue in society today.  This trend has many causes, from large size portions to eating on the run.  In TCM, you should never eat yourself until full, you should eat until you feel two-thirds full.  Following this rule will help combat that “roll me out the door” fullness, epigastric pain or pressure, gas, nausea, and indigestion.  Health and feeling your best comes from eating an appropriately sized meal that contains a variety of different types foods, a balance of all 5 flavors, and an eating a mixture of both solid meals and liquids meal, such as soup.

The hardest part of not overeating is combating cravings. When we crave certain foods and indulge in that craving, we tend to overeat due to the physical and emotional relief it brings. Specifically the appetite control center of the hypothalamus which recognizes each flavor and has to have a specific amount of food to be eaten to feel satisfied.  To achieve a balanced diet, one should try to overcome these cravings and eat less complex meals. Meals should be balanced between all five flavors, no matter the craving. A balanced meal should have sweet (earth), sour (wood), pungent (lung), salty (kidney), and bitter (heart) flavors represented. It should also be simple, which allows for easier digestion. An example of a simple balanced meal would be a congee cooked with garlic, scallions, leeks, and a bit of added salt (mineralized salt such as Himalayan or black salt work best).

With all this said, do not be too rigid about your diet.  This can result in a negative relationship with the food and can create more issues with food than help.  It is healthier to eat what you want than to overstuff yourself with another food trying to combat the craving.

 

While waiting for the next installment, please take a look at the foods in our other blogs to see how to choose the most nutritious groceries, how to store them to retain freshness, the nutritional benefits, and of course—the energetics. 

Power of Energetics: 5 Properties

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Yin and yang, is a constant factor in Chinese Medicine and energetics.  This week we are talking about the 5 properties of food—Heat/Hot, Warm, Neutral, Cool, and Cold —how they correspond to yin and yang, and how they affect the body.

 

 

When talking about the properties of food, if a food is heat/hot it is considered warming and if it is cold it is considered cooling.  When differentiating the properties foods that are extremely warming are considered heat/hot and food that are slighting warming are considered warm.  The same goes for cooling foods.  Warming and cooling foods correspond to yin and yang—where heat is yang and cold is yin.  When eating cooling foods, energy and fluids are directed inward and lower so the exterior and upper portions of the body cool first.  When eating warming foods, energy and fluids (especially blood) move up and out to the surface of the body.

images-4The properties of food also are a great example of yin with the yang (which I spoke about in my last blog), foods can have opposing properties.  For example, Siberian Ginseng can both lower high blood pressure and raise low blood pressure.  This can happen because food can be altered in the cooking process, ultimately transforming the yin into the yang.  The warming and cooling properties of food depend on multiple factors:

  1. Slow growing plants such as carrot and cabbage are more warming than those that grow quickly.
  2. Fertilization, which stimulates plants to grow quicker, creates a more cooling food/energetic.
  3. Raw food is more cooling than cooked food.
  4. Foods eaten cold are more cooling.
  5. Foods that are colored blue, green or purple are more cooling than the colors red, orange, and yellow. Example: a green apple is more cooling than a red apple.
  6. Cooking methods requiring more cooking time, higher temperature, or higher pressure are generally more warming.  Deep frying is more warming than steaming food and heatless methods of preservation or preparation, like fermenting, marinating or sprouting are cooling.

If possible do not microwave or overcook your food.  Microwaving food can damage the molecular integrity and diminish the Qi. If you must microwave your food, the best method is to put your microwave at a lower power and cook it in small increments of time until warm.  In general cooking your food moderately (whether in a microwave or on the stove) is the best for your body, as overcooking or eating too much raw foods can be overstimulating.

Heat/Warm

Unknown-2Excess heat can be caused by eating too many warming foods or an insufficient amount of cooling foods, to much activity or work, exposure to heat and extreme climates (even a cold climate), or the obstruction of the internal organs.  The entire body or just a part can be affected by an excess of heat.

 

 

Signs of Heat:

  • As heat rises the body fluids dry up. (ex. dehydration)
  • The body feels hot, avoidance or fear of heat, and attracted to cold
  • Head: Bright red tongue with a yellow coating, red face, red eyes, nosebleeds, canker sores, “rotten” breath smell
  • Heart/Mind/Body: High blood pressure, hemorrhages, inappropriate or incoherent speech, convulsions, delirium, full and fast radial pulse
  • Local inflammations, swellings, rashes, skin eruptions, and sores
  • Digestion: Constipation, dry and smelly stools, dark yellow or red urine, blood found in stool or urine, strong desire for cold liquids in large quantities, matter excreted is forceful and urgent, mucus and phlegm are thick and yellow or green

To combat an excess of heat one should eat less and increase fluid intake.  One should avoid red meat, chicken, alcohol and cigarettes as they increase heat.  Other food to avoid is yogurt, cows milk, eggs, clams, and can as can cause obstructions and aggravate heat.  Small amounts of almonds, sesame seeds, and fresh sunflower seeds can supply nutrients needed without increasing heat. One should also avoid pressure cooking, baking, or deep frying food.  Steam, simmer or eat foods raw.

For acute heat symptoms use the liquid forms of cooling vegetables or fruit juices, broths, and herbal teas.  These liquids should not be served cold, cold foods and drinks actually weaken the body.

Another form of heat is called deficiency-heat or deficiency-yin. This is the most common form of heat nowadays.  Deficiency-heat is produced not by an excess of heat, but by a deficiency in yin, specifically in the yin fluids and structures that provide balance for heat in the body.  Basically, the yin aspects of the body are so low that heat appears to be in excess. This is also a symptom of people who have yin of inferior quality, usually caused by overeating rich and denatured foods.

Signs of Deficiency-heat:

  • Hypoglycemia, diabetes, tuberculosis, and anxiety disorders
  • Wasting diseases where there is a long term inflammation and infections from viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, an other pathogenic microbes
  • degenerative disease eventually become marked with signs
  • Fluids: drinking small amounts of fluid often throughout the day, dryness of the tongue, mouth, cough or breath
  • Body: Tends to be thin (extreme cases result in emaciation), vertigo, spasms, cramps and moving pains, pulse is fast and thin
  • Mind: Insomnia, irritability, uneasiness, worry, excess thought
  • Color: Fleshy pink or fresh red tongue and cheeks
  • Heat: Low intermittent fever, palms and soles are hot and sweaty, night sweats

The modern person is a great example of deficiency-heat; uneasy, anxious with an abundance of energy (deeper energy lacking), and relationships are filled with irritations and fighting.  One just need to look at the causes of deficiency-heat to see the correlation.  Stress, excessive noise, competition, consuming warming nutrient deplete substances (alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, synthetic drugs) all deplete yin quickly. Also, overconsumption of spicy foods and food grown on wasted soil are also very yin depleting. A scary trend is emerging in our offspring where they lack the ability as a whole to supply sufficient yin fluids to themselves,  thus perpetuating the abundance of people with deficiency-heat symptoms.

The earth also reflects this deficiency-heat, as high quality sources of nutrient-rich food and clean water dwindle away.  Yin nurtures and stabilizes, the earth needs yin to grow and create.  To support not only your own body, but that of the earth’s, eat only local and organic food.

To combat deficiency-heat one can do activities that cultivate and harmonize yin, such as yoga, meditation, or connecting with the earth (gardening).  One should avoid intoxicants and refined food.  Meat, eggs, and other animal by-products are a good source of yin, but be careful as overconsumption can create sticky mucus.  Also be wary of refined food, especially foods high in sugar, as they offer a quick, temporary yin fix but will ultimately deplete both yin and yang.

Cold/Cool

Cold arises from the lack of physical activity, eating too much cooling food, or an overexposure to a cold environment.  Cold can also be caused by deficient yang resulting from insufficient warming foods or a constitutional weakness from birth. It takes longer for a cold person to build warmth than for a hot person to lose heat, which means that it is much harder for a person in a cold pattern to get back to normal.

Signs of Cold:

  • Areas affected are kidneys, bladder, bones, hair, emotional fear and sexual function
  • Causes Contraction: Body bends or moves around with difficulty and pain can be intense and fixed.
  • Body: Chilled sensation, dislike of cold, attraction to warmth, overdressed, body excretions will be copious and clear(clear urine, watery stools, or thin watery mucus)

To combat cold work on fears and insecurities, become more active, avoid long baths, and keep kidneys, legs, and lower abdomen warm. Use warming foods and cooking methods—avoid cooling or raw foods.  Do not eat or drink below room temperature and do not eat or drink anything too hot.  Moderate amounts of animal by-products are warming, especially butter. Eat extremely warming foods (ex. hot peppers) sparingly, as too much heat has a cooling effect.  The same principle goes for concentrated sweeteners.

 

Property

Temperature

Food

Yin Cold Bamboo shoot, water chestnut, sugar cane, tomato, watermelon, banana, grapefruit, persimmon, mulberry, star fruit, seaweed, kelp, crabs, clams, sprouts, watercress, lettuces, and salt .
Yin Cool Millet, barley, wheat, buckwheat, eggplant, cucumber, celery, peppermint, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard leaf, spinach,  amaranth, pea, mung bean, pears, cantaloupe, apple, pineapple, persimmon, coconut, strawberry, orange, tangerine, mango, papaya,  green tea, tofu, mushrooms, egg white, sesame oil, cream, yogurt and cheese.
Harmonized Yin/Yang Neutral Rice, corn, taro, sweet potato, potato, turnips, carrot, cabbage, radish leaf, beetroot, soybeans, adzuki beans, peanut, cashew, pistachio, black sesame, sunflower seed, plums, fig, grapes, lemon, olives,  shiitake mushroom, (sea) shrimps, pork, duck, oyster, beef,  egg yolk, royal jelly honey, milk, soybean milk, and sugar.
Yang Warm Coriander, chives, onion, leeks, green onion, asparagus, sweet peppers,  spearmint, pomegranate, apricot, peach, cherry, lychee, raspberry, chestnut, pumpkin, glutinous rice, dates, walnut, pine nut, mussels, lobster, fresh water shrimps, chicken, venison, ham, goat milk, maltose, brown sugar, cumin, clove, fennel, garlic, ginger (fresh), dill seed, nutmeg, rosemary, star anise, Sichuan peppercorn, sweet basil, tobacco, coffee, vinegar, wine, vegetable oil.
Yang Hot Black pepper, cinnamon, ginger(dried), chili pepper, and mustard seed.

 

Once an understanding of one’s personal constitution of cold or warm is reached it is easy to create a diet specific to keeping the balance of yin and yang in the body. If one is not clearly of a cold or warm constitution, then a diet balanced in both properties is best.

 

While waiting for the next installment, please take a look at the foods in our other blogs to see how to choose the most nutritious groceries, how to store them to retain freshness, the nutritional benefits, and of course—the energetics.   

Power of Energetics: 5 Flavors (Part 2)

images-3Part 2 about the 5 flavors in Chinese Medicine with respect to their thermal properties (warming vs cooling), remedial actions (drying, moistening, etc.), where their energy is directed and how they are used therapeutically.

In this part we are going to focus on the last of the 5 flavors, Bitter and Sweet flavors.

 

 

I would like to restate that occasionally food is assigned a certain flavor property that might not correspond to the actual taste. Flavors are assigned to designate and reflect the properties of food, not just taste.  There are also many foods that have more than one flavor associated to it and are generally only used when both flavors are needed.

 

Bitter

organic-alfalfa-sproutsProperties: A yin flavor; cooling effect; causes contraction and encourages the energy of the body to descend.  Reduces the excessive person (robust, extroverted, with thick tongue coating, loud voice, reddish complexion, etc.). Bitterness is an antipyretic, lowering fever; it will also dry fluids and drain dampness. Certain bitter foods and herbs have a purgative effect and induce bowel movements. Enter the Heart and Small Intestines.  Corresponds to the Fire Element.

Uses: Helpful for inflammations, infections, and overly moist, damp conditions. Also used for constipation.

Organ Function: Bitter foods clear heat and clean arteries of damp mucoid deposits of cholesterol and fats, in general tending to lower blood pressure. Bitter foods clear stagnancy and cools heat in the liver (usually caused by overconsumption of rich foods).  Bitter foods and herbs drain damp-associated conditions in the form of candida yeast overgrowth, parasites, mucus, swellings, skin eruptions, abscesses, growths, tumors, cysts, obesity, and all moist accumulations including edema. Bitter foods also increase intestinal muscle contractions. The kidneys and lungs are tonified and vitalized by bitter foods. It is superb n removing mucus/heat conditions in the lungs, signified by yellow phlegm discharges.

Seasonal Attunement: One should progressively increase their bitter intake during the fall and winter months, in order to contract and channel energy lower into the body. Heat symptoms arising in any season can be neutralized by bitter foods.

Individual Benefited: Slow, overweight, lethargic, watery (damp) individuals. Aggressive, overheated people are cooled by bitter foods.

Cautions: People who are deficient, cold, weak, thin, nervous, and dry should limit their bitter food intake.

 

Sweet

Goji BerriesProperties: A yang flavor; regularly subdivided into full sweet (more tonifying and strengthening) and empty sweet (more cleansing and cooling). The sweet flavor, especially found in warming food, helps energy expand upward and outward in the body.  It is a harmonizing flavor with a slow, relaxing effect.  They also build yin in the body—tissues and fluids—and thus tonify the thin and dry person.

Uses: In the form of complex carbohydrates, sweet food is the center of most traditional diets; it energizes and yet relaxes the body, nerves, and brain. Sweet foods are used to reduce the harsh taste of bitter foods and to retard acute disease symptoms. Sweet foods in the form of complex carbohydrates also are suitable for treating the cold or deficient person. Enters the Spleen-Pancreas and Stomach.  Corresponds to the Earth Element.

Organ Function: Sweet foods soothe aggressive liver emotions such as anger and impatience. It is traditionally used to calm acute liver attacks.  Sweet foods also moisten dry conditions of the lungs, and slows an overactive heart and mind.

Seasonal Attunement: Sweet foods are appropriate for all seasons, and especially desirable during the equinoxes and solstices as they promote harmony. Warming and/or ascending sweet foods attune to the upsurges of spring, as do pungent foods.

Individual Benefited: The dry, cold, nervous, thin, weak, or scattered person needs whole sweet foods in greater quantity; the aggressive person needs sweet foods too for its retarding effect.

Cautions: The sluggish, overweight individual, or those with other damp signs, including mucus conditions, should take very sweet foods sparingly. Chewing carbohydrates well makes them much less mucus-forming and thus has a lighter, less damp impact on digestion. Too much sweet foods damages the kidneys and spleen-pancreas, weakens the bones, and causes hair loss.

 

Flavors and Direction

Affected organ

Effects

Food

Bitter (yin) Cooling, direct energy inward and to lower body (downward) HeartSmall Intestine Inflammations, infections, moist and damp conditions, high cholesterol, candida overgrowth, parasites, abscesses and overeating.  Dry, cold, nervous, weak persons should not overeat bitter foods Alfalfa, romaine lettuce, rye.Bitter+pungent: citrus peel, radish leaf, scallion, turnip, white pepper.Bitter+sweet: amaranth, asparagus, celery, lettuce, papaya, quinoa.Bitter+sour: vinegar
Pungent (yang) Warming, direct energy outward and to upper body, expansive, dispersive LungLarge Intestine Stimulates circulation, cardioprotective, clear obstructions and improve liver function, moistens the kidneys affecting fluids in the entire body, improve digestion, and reduce mucous conditions, expels parasites Warming: spearmint, rosemary, scallion, garlic, onion, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, black pepper, all peppers, cayenne, mustard greens, fennel, anise, dill, nutmeg, basil and horseradishCooling:  peppermint, marjoram, white pepper and radishNeutral: taro, turnip and kohlrabi
Salty (yin)Cooling, direct energy inward and to lower body (downward) KidneysBladder Soften lumps (such as hardened lymph nodes), cataracts, knotted muscles and glands.  Constipation, abdominal swelling and pain, sore throat, pyorrhea.  Increases appetite Salt, seaweed (kelp, kombu, bladderwrack, dusle), barley, millet, soy sauce, miso, pickles, umeboshi and gomasio
Sour (yin)Cooling, causes contraction and has an absorbent, astringent effect LiverGallbladder Incontinence, excessive perspiration, hemorrhage, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, prevent or reverse abnormal leakage of fluids, dries and firms up tissue Hawthorne berry, lemon, lime, pickles, rose hip, sauerkraut, crab apple, sour plum.Sour+bitter: vinegar.Sour+pungent: leek.Sour+sweet: aduki bean, apple, blackberry, cheese, grape, mango, olive, raspberry, sourdough bread, tangerine, tomato, yogurt
Sweet (yang)Warming, direct energy outward and to upper body (upward) Spleen-pancreasStomach Slows acute reactions and neutralizes toxic effects of other foods, also lubricates and nourishes the body. Those to benefit most are dry, cold, nervous, thin, weak , scattered or aggressive persons. Less needed for those persons with damp or mucous signs. Fruits: apple, apricot, cherry, date, fig, grape, grapefruit, olive, papaya, peach, pear, strawberry, tomatoVegetables: beet, mushroom, cabbage, carrot, celery, chard, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, potato, spearmint, squash, sweet potato, yamNuts/seeds: almond, chestnut, coconut, sesame seed, sunflower seed, walnutSweeteners: amasake, barley malt, honey, molasses, rice syrup, whole sugar (unrefined)

 

For Part 1 Click Here!

 

While waiting for the next installment, please take a look at the foods in our other blogs to see how to choose the most nutritious groceries, how to store them to retain freshness, the nutritional benefits, and of course—the energetics.   

Power of Energetics: The 5 Flavors (Part 1)

imagesIn the last blog we went over the 5 properties (focusing on heat and cold) and this week we are going to go over the 5 flavors in Chinese Medicine with respect to their thermal properties (warming vs cooling), remedial actions (drying, moistening, etc.), where their energy is directed and how they are used therapeutically.

This is Part 1 of 2 on the 5 flavors and in this part we will be going over Pungent, Salty, and Sour flavors.

 

First off, I would like to preface that occasionally food is assigned a certain flavor property that might not correspond to the actual taste. Flavors are assigned to designate and reflect the properties of food, not just taste.  There are also many foods that have more than one flavor associated to it and are generally only used when both flavors are needed.

1442372256336Once again yin and yang are at the forefront of designating properties in energetics.  Two of the flavors—pungent and sweet—are yang, as they tend to be warming and direct energy outward and higher in the body.  The other three flavors—sour, bitter, and salty—are yin, as they are cooling and conduct energy lower and inward. Also, each flavor “enters” (are closely associated with) specific internal organs.

The diet of a healthy person contains flavors that are balanced, with sweet flavor predominating. Sweetness and it’s associated earth element are considered the most central aspect of the body and its nourishment. Meaning that each day the sweet flavor—grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts seeds and fruit—should be accompanied by small amounts of bitter, salty, pungent, and sour foods.  The balance of which flavors are needed for the healthy diet do change, each season has its own influences on what one should eat.  Once the individual is balanced, then work towards seasonal attunement.

Quantity is also important in maintaining balance.  If a flavor is helpful to an organ, too much of the flavor has the opposite and wearing effect. This is most often seen with the sweet flavor, as too much can weaken stomach absorption, mucus accumulation, and blood sugar imbalances.

Pungent (including acrid, spicy, hot,and aromatic flavors)

B9316448002Z.1_20150304155635_000_GMQA3VGAC.1-0Properties:  A yang flavor; expansive, dispersive; the pungent flavor has a warming energy as it stimulates circulation of energy and blood, tending to move energy upwards and outwards to the periphery body. Enters the Lungs and Large Intestines. Corresponds to the Metal Element.

Uses: Stimulates digestion, disperses mucus caused by highly mucus-forming foods such as dairy and meats, and offers protection against mucus conditions such as common cold. The diaphoretic pungents (mint, cayenne, elder flower, scallion, garlic, and chamomile) are used to induce sweating during common colds and other exterior conditions. They are also used to lighten the effects of grains legumes, nits, and seeds, all of which have moderate mucus-forming properties; they also disperse stagnant blood and increase Qi energy. Extremely pungent foods (garlic, mugwort, and cayenne) can be used to destroy and expel parasites.

Unfortunately, in many places of the world pungency is consumed most often in the form of alcoholic beverages, which have some short-term benefits but ultimately cause necrosis, especially in brain cells.

Organ Functions:  The pungent flavor enters and clears the lungs of mucus conditions (do not use warming pungents for this if there are any heat conditions in the body). It improves digestive activity, which is ruled by the spleen-pancreas, and expose gas from the intestines. It moistens the kidneys which affects the fluids of the body. Stimulates blood circulation and is cardiotonic. It also helps clear obstructions and improve sluggish liver function.

Seasonal Attunement: Pungent flavor (along with full sweet flavor) attunes to spring. Pungent flavors that are also hot provide the interior environment of, and attune the body to, summer—cayenne, black pepper, hot green and green peppers, and fresh ginger.

Individuals Benefited: This who are sluggish, dull, lethargic, or excessively heavy benefit from pungent foods (as well as bitter).  Those inclined to dampness or mucus conditions of the lungs or colon (Metal Element) can use pungent foods for prevention and treatment.  A person with cold signs improve with the use of warming pungents.  Some pungent foods can be beneficial for dry, thin individuals or those who tend towards wind conditions of nervous, restless activity. However, not all pungent foods are appropriate for the dry person.

Cooking: The pungency of food diminishes with cooking.  For full benefits eat pungent food raw or pickled. If cooking is needed mild steaming will preserve some of the pungency.

Cautions: Some pungent foods worsen the condition of dry, windy, nervous or thin person (sage, raw onion, and all hot peppers, including cayenne). If suffering from Qi diseases—deficient Qi, including weakness, or stagnant Qi involved in obstructions and constrictions— avoid pungent foods.  Also, avoid warming pungent food when heat signs are present. Those overweight from overeating should choose cooling pungent foods.

Salty

seaweed-salad-in-bowl-seaweed-food-trend-food-Good-Housekeeping-UK__largeProperties: A yin flavor; cooling effect; tends to move energy downward and inward; has centering, earthy qualities; moistens dryness;softens hardened lumps and stiffness; improves digestion; detoxifies the body; and can purge the bowels and promote emesis.  Enters the Kidneys and Bladder. Corresponds to the Water Element.

Uses: May be increased in the diet to soften lumps (ex. hardened lymph nodes, cataracts, and other knotting of the muscles and glands). Used internally for constipation, abdominal sweeping and pain, and externally for impure blood conditions with heat signs, such as skin discharges, sore throat (hot water gargle), and pyorrhea (brush teeth with fine salt). Salt counteracts toxins in the body, increases appetite, and is unfortunately overused, especially in the form of table salt.

Organ Function: Salty foods enter the kidneys and is considered a proper flavor for the spleen-pancreas, where it strengthens digestive functions.  It also fortifies a weak heart-mind (one and the same in Chinese thought) and improves mental concentration.

Seasonal Attunement: The descending, cooling nature of salty foods attunes to the colder seasons and climates, and such be used progressively more throughout fall and winter.

Individual Benefited: Salty foods moisten and calm the thin, dry, nervous person.

Cautions: Salty foods should be restricted by those with damp, overweight, lethargic, or edemic conditions, and those with high blood pressure. Seaweed, while salty, is an exception to this rule as its iodine and trace minerals speed up metabolism. Salt is a yin food, but excessive salt has the opposite effect and should be used sparingly by very yang people.

Sour

Lemons and LimesProperties: A yin flavor; cooling quality; causes contraction and has a gathering, absorbent, astringent effect, to prevent or reverse abnormal leakage of fluids and energy, and to dry and firm up tissues. Enters the Liver and Gallbladder.  Corresponds to the Wood Element.

Uses: Used in the treatment of urinary dripping, excessive perspiration, hemorrhage, diarrhea, and weak, sagging tissues including flaccid skin, hemorrhoids, and uterine prolapse.  Sour foods derives from a variety of acids, some of the most common being citric acid, tannic acid, and ascorbic acid.  The sour flavoring found in black and green teas and blackberry leaves can be classified as astringent.

Organ Function: Sour flavor is most active in the liver, where it counteracts the effects of rich, greasy food, functioning as a solvent to breakdown fats and protein.  Sourness helps digestion to dissolve minerals for improved absorption and can help strengthen weakened lungs.  Sour foods are the proper food for the heart-mind and plays a vital role in organizing scattered mental patterns.

Seasonal Attunement: Sour foods draw one into harmony with the fall, the time of gathering and the beginning of the period of contraction (the onset of cooler weather).

Individual Benefited: Sour foods collect and hold together the dispersed, unpredictably changing personality.

Cautions: Those with dampness, heaviness in mind or body, constipation, and constrictions should use the sour flavor sparingly.

 

 

Flavors and Direction

Affected organ

Effects

Food

Bitter (yin) Cooling, direct energy inward and to lower body (downward) Heart/Small Intestine Inflammations, infections, moist and damp conditions, high cholesterol, candida overgrowth, parasites, abscesses and overeating.  Dry, cold, nervous, weak persons should not overeat bitter foods Alfalfa, romaine lettuce, rye.Bitter+pungent: citrus peel, radish leaf, scallion, turnip, white pepper.Bitter+sweet: amaranth, asparagus, celery, lettuce, papaya, quinoa.Bitter+sour: vinegar
Pungent (yang) Warming, direct energy outward and to upper body, expansive, dispersive Lung/Large Intestine Stimulates circulation, cardioprotective, clear obstructions and improve liver function, moistens the kidneys affecting fluids in the entire body, improve digestion, and reduce mucous conditions, expels parasites Warming: spearmint, rosemary, scallion, garlic, onion, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, black pepper, all peppers, cayenne, mustard greens, fennel, anise, dill, nutmeg, basil and horseradishCooling:  peppermint, marjoram, white pepper and radishNeutral: taro, turnip and kohlrabi
Salty (yin) Cooling, direct energy inward and to lower body (downward) KidneysBladder Soften lumps (such as hardened lymph nodes), cataracts, knotted muscles and glands.  Constipation, abdominal swelling and pain, sore throat, pyorrhea.  Increases appetite Salt, seaweed (kelp, kombu, bladderwrack, dusle), barley, millet, soy sauce, miso, pickles, umeboshi and gomasio
Sour (yin)Cooling, causes contraction and has an absorbent, astringent effect LiverGallbladder Incontinence, excessive perspiration, hemorrhage, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, prevent or reverse abnormal leakage of fluids, dries and firms up tissue Hawthorne berry, lemon, lime, pickles, rose hip, sauerkraut, crab apple, sour plum.Sour+bitter: vinegar.Sour+pungent: leek.Sour+sweet: aduki bean, apple, blackberry, cheese, grape, mango, olive, raspberry, sourdough bread, tangerine, tomato, yogurt
Sweet (yang)Warming, direct energy outward and to upper body (upward) Spleen-pancreas Stomach Slows acute reactions and neutralizes toxic effects of other foods, also lubricates and nourishes the body. Those to benefit most are dry, cold, nervous, thin, weak , scattered or aggressive persons. Less needed for those persons with damp or mucous signs. Fruits: apple, apricot, cherry, date, fig, grape, grapefruit, olive, papaya, peach, pear, strawberry, tomatoVegetables: beet, mushroom, cabbage, carrot, celery, chard, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, potato, spearmint, squash, sweet potato, yamNuts/seeds: almond, chestnut, coconut, sesame seed, sunflower seed, walnutSweeteners: amasake, barley malt, honey, molasses, rice syrup, whole sugar (unrefined)

 

For Part 2 Click Here!

While waiting for the next installment, please take a look at the foods in our other blogs to see how to choose the most nutritious groceries, how to store them to retain freshness, the nutritional benefits, and of course—the energetics.   

 

Power of Energetics: Yin and Yang

yinyang-2

 

Everyone has seen or heard of this symbol at some time in their life.  In the last few years, the Yin-Yang symbol has been used in the main stream as more of an ornament or a trend. People are using it with only the basic knowledge of what it represents.  Today we are going to go beyond the trend, we are going to look at what yin and yang means and how it correlates to the Energetics of Food.

 

 

 

 

“Yin and yang are the law of Heaven and Earth, the outline of everything, the parents of change, the origin of birth and destruction, and the house of shen ming (God or higher consciousness, the spirit, Tao), when curing sicknesses we should base our point of view on the roots (Yin and Yang)”.  

-Neijing

 

yinyangChinese Medicine and energetics are based off balance, within the body, mind and spirit, it is the unity of all things and the way of the universe.  From this unity yin and yang emerge, a representation of the continual change seen throughout the universe.  Yin and Yang are both seen in opposition as well as interdependent.  The world is continually changing, a cyclical motion that never ends,there is no beginning or end, cause and effect are not separate but one perpetually turns into the other.  The classic dilemma of what came first, the chicken or the egg, is not a dilemma within Chinese thought—the egg and the chicken are dependent of each other in the process of creation, both must exist for either to exist. The chicken makes the egg (yang generating yin) and the chicken grows out of the egg (yin producing yang).  Other examples of this philosophy are that day does not cause night, birth does not cause death, and summer does not create winter.

 

Yin and yang also describes the human process—youth is yang and older years are yin. When we breath in—expanding our chests—we are in the yang phase of respiration, when we breath out—emptying the lungs— we are in the yin phase.  Our whole body continuously fills and empties: lungs, stomach, intestines, hearts, and minds.  The materials that make up the body are yin and they are used for the transformation of yang.  Food is yin, which is then transformed by metabolic activity, yang.  Sperm (yang) joins and transforms the egg (yin), creating new life through merging and interacting.

 

The body’s organs are also split into yin and yang. The dense Yin Organs are the Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung, and Kidney; they perform the function of assimilation and storage.  The Yang Organs are the Gallbladder, Small Intestines, Stomach, Large Intestines, and Bladder; they perform the functions of digestion and elimination.  In Chinese Medicine, these are the only organs used to diagnose illness, as they are linked to your Meridian Channels and Qi. In terms of psyche, yang is willfulness, desire, and assertiveness; yin is acceptance, responsiveness, repose, and responsibility.

 

However, yin and yang are always fluctuating and there are no absolutes—the Heart is a yin organ and the propulsion of blood and fluids through it’s contractions is yang.  This is the definition of yang within the yin.  Any aspect of yin and yang can further be divided into yin and yang.  In the symbol for yin and yang, this concept can be seen in the small circle of white within the black half, and the small circle of black within the white half.

 

The roots of disease and illness can be seen as imbalances within the body of yin and yang. Yin responds to yang’s stimulus and yang is supported by the solidarity of yin.  When one of these is off balanced—by either having an excess or deficiency—Qi, body, blood, or organs are also effected. Illnesses that are characterized by weakness, slowness, coldness, and under activity are yin. Illnesses characterized by strength, forceful movements, heat, and overactivity are yang.  A deficiency in one creates an excess in the other.  Yin cannot exist if there is an extreme abundance of yang. This extreme difference can take a profound transformation into shock, or worse, a complete division of yin and yang—death.

 

imagesBy becoming aware of the changes in our lives between yin and yang, we become attentive to our personal patterns and the order of the changes within our bodies, minds and spirits. Our bodies are in an unfaltering cycle of yin and yang, a constant state of merging and transforming, and it is important to become aware of these fluctuations. Awareness will help you find balance to allow you to move fluidly between yin and yang without being struck with an excess of either.

 

While waiting for the next installment, please take a look at the foods in our other blogs to see how to choose the most nutritious groceries, how to store them to retain freshness, the nutritional benefits, and of course—the energetics.   

Power of Energetics: Food As Medicine

EnergecticsWelcome to my “Power of Energetics” blog series.  In this series I will break down what the Energetics of Food means, the theories behind the energetics, and how they are differentiated.

 

Many people love our food blog here on Wellitude.com, but I always get asked what Energetics of Food actually means.  The most basic answer is that the Energetics of Food is the Chinese thought that you can and should use food as medicine.  Within Chinese Medicine there is not a one-treatment fits all, every person is different and thus every treatment is different.  The same goes for the Energetics of Food or food as medicine­­—there is not one diet that works universally.

 

Chinese Medicine and energetics are about creating and maintaining the balance of Qi—the vital essence found in all things—within your body to achieve optimal wellness. Sickness and disease is thought to be created by imbalances of Qi within body and treatment for these illnesses is to rebalance your Qi. This is done by acupuncture, herbal remedies, tui-na, cupping, and most importantly diet.  You can also use these treatments to maintain your balance of Qi, but using food is by far the easiest method in which to do this.

 

d749535dfd6f3a52676647f2957e3179While Chinese Medicine looks at nutritional values of foods, such as calories or carbohydrate content, it focuses mainly on the other dimensions or energetics (warming vs cooling, yin & yang, etc.).  Each person has their own constitution and thus each person must eat according to what their body needs. For example, I myself tend to be yin, damp, and cold. Therefore, I usually try to avoid eating too many cold or damp foods; I can handle them in moderation, but if I overindulge them, I get an imbalance or excess of cold in my body.  Chinese Medicine and Energetics does not follow a set protocol for what to eat—there is no magic food flow chart—they work by differentiating between multiple factors to find the ideal diet.

 

In this blog series I am going to be covering the 5 main differentiating principles which include the principles of Yin & Yang, 5 Properties, 5 flavors, 5 elements, and the 4 directions. As a bonus I am also going to be doing a blog on The Enjoyment of Food and The Art of Chewing.  I hope this series gives you a sound idea of what the Energetics of Food means and how to incorporate it into your daily life.

 

While waiting for the next installment, please take a look at the foods in our other blogs to see how to choose the most nutritious groceries, how to store them to retain freshness, the nutritional benefits, and of course—the energetics.    

Energetics of Ginger: Old School Cool

I love ginger, not just for its spicy and zesty flavor, but for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving benefits! Ginger has its origins in China and Southeast Asia and has even been mentioned in many ancient texts from other countries like India and the Middle East.  It is now grown in several tropical areas around the world, with Jamaica producing the most expensive and sought after variety.

 

 

Varieties

Ginger comes in 3 forms; fresh, dried, and crystallized.

Fresh ginger is the most nutritious and best tasting version. When shopping for fresh ginger always look for ones that are firm, shiny and smooth.  Avoid any that are wrinkled, soft or cracked, as they have lost most of their flavor and pungency.  There are 2 varieties of fresh ginger, mature or young.  Mature ginger is the most widely available type and has a tough skin that requires peeling. Young ginger is usually only found in select Asian markets and does not need to be peeled. To persevere the nutrients the best way to store ginger is to put it in the fridge, where it will keep for up to 3 weeks if unpeeled. To extend the freshness you can freeze ginger for up to 6 months.

Dried ginger is usually sold in the spice aisle, usually as in powder form. It can also be found dried whole.  Unlike fresh ginger, the flavor profiles of dried ginger are much less pungent.  Dried ginger should be stored in an air tight glass container in a cool, dark, dry place. To extend the shelf life for up to a full year, store the container in the fridge.

Crystallized ginger is candied ginger.  One of my favorite sweet treats! It is available in any grocery store.

 

 

 

How to Choose and Store

The best way to cook with fresh ginger is to add it to your dish at the end of the cooking time. It can slap be sprinkled on after it has been cooked.

The best way to cook with dried ginger is to add it at the beginning of cooking time, so that it can have a chance to cook down and release its flavor.

 

Nutrition

This may come as a total surprise, but ginger is amazing at promoting digestive health. Ginger is known to alleviate the symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, relax the intestinal tract, and reduce intestinal gas. It is also beneficial at alleviating nausea and vomiting, especially in pregnant women and seasick people.  Ginger is also a great anti-inflammatory agent, as it contains gingerols. Gingerol is an anti-inflammatory compound that has shown to help reduce both pain and swelling associated with muscular discomfort.  Ginger is also a concentrated source of heart-healthy magnesium, vitamin B6 and potassium, and free-radical scavenging manganese and copper.

Energetics

Fresh ginger is used to break down high-protein foods, such as meat and beans.  It also lessen the effect of uric acid in the body from these sources.

Fresh and dried ginger is used to treat nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, menstrual cramps, suppressed mensuration, bronchitis, aches, and spasms/twitches.

Dried ginger helps promote and distribute the energetic properties of other foods to the lower extremities- the colon, kidneys, ovaries, sexual organs and legs.  Dried ginger also treats motion sickness.

Caution: Do not eat ginger when there are signs of heat present.

Carrot Ginger Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots (6-7 large carrots), peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 cups chopped white or yellow onion
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 large strips of zest from an orange
  • Chopped chives, parsley, dill or fennel for garnish

1 Sauté onions and carrots: Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat and cook the onions and carrots, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 5 to 8 minutes. Do not let the onions or carrots brown. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over the carrots and onions as they cook.

 

2 Add stock and water, ginger, and strips of orange zest. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the carrots soften, about 20 minutes.

 

3 Remove the strips of orange zest! It’s easy to forget this step, and if you forget and purée the soup with the strips of zest still in it, the soup may be too bitter for your taste.

4 Purée soup: Purée the soup with a stick blender, or working in small batches, pour the soup into a blender and purée until completely smooth. Only fill the blender bowl a third full with the hot liquid and keep one hand pressing down on the cap of the blender to keep it from popping off.

 

5 Add more salt to taste.  (You will need more salt if you are using homemade unsalted stock or unsalted butter.)

6 Finish: Garnish with chopped chives, parsley, or fennel fronds.

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