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Archive for the ‘Seasonal Living’ Category

By Nicole Perriella, Ayurvedic Practitioner

In Seattle, dreams of summer strolls and fresh berries at the farmers market dance in our heads all winter long.  As the days get longer and we leave our jackets at home, we embrace the ancient secrets of Ayurveda to balance our bodies.  An Ayurvedic seasonal routine helps us achieve the peaceful mind, abundant energy and gorgeous glow that we all desire.  Instinctually, we know that we don’t want to eat the same foods, dress the same way or have the same routines every day for the entire year.  We adapt to seasonal cycles because these external forces create internal changes as well.  Summer is known as the “Pitta season” because it is dominated by the fire element.

In Ayurveda, when one quality increases, we add the opposite quality to achieve a healthy balance.  For example, when tea is too hot, we add ice (or time) to bring down the heat.  Similarly, in the warm summer months, we benefit from adding cooling spices, foods, activities and routines to our busy lives.  Cooling spices include fennel, coriander, peppermint and rose.  Cucumber, cilantro, mint, coconut water, lettuce, peas, apples, strawberries and figs are refreshing food choices for summer.  These make delicious additions to a smoothie, soup, salad or stir fry.

CAUTION!  You may notice that your Pitta is aggravated if you’re feeling angry, competitive, jealous or flustered.  You may suffer from acne breakouts or red, irritated skin.  Sour belching, heartburn, loose stools and excess sweating or thirst are other signs of Pitta imbalance.  (more…)

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The transition into the harvest time and the Earth Element reminds us to take some time, step back, and Earth Element pumpkinsenjoy the season. Not that it’s too difficult for me. I’ve always loved this time of year. I call it the dog days of summer. For someone who is often busy and can easily over schedule, I have no problem soaking in the last warm days and relaxing. I like to sit around and watch the tomatoes ripen. (Well, they’re ripening for me but they’re in my greenhouse so don’t feel bad if yours aren’t.)

My family and I headed out to Remlinger farms today for some U pick pumpkins, corn maze ,and the whole meal deal. It spit rain, but we were  more soaked in sun and it was even too warm for coats! When I really should have done something else, it was the perfect thing to do to regain balance. The crisp air and typically funny extended family time left a lot to be thankful for.

Questions to ask yourself: Are you content this season? Are you able to harvest what has been sown? Are your relationships reciprocal? These are all important measures of the health of your earth element.

How’s your digestion? The Chinese Spleen and Stomach are in charge of the storage and movement of nourishment and relate to the Earth element.  Imbalances here can result in diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, low energy and more.

Keep your Earth Element in balance by eating your food lightly cooked. Raw food is difficult for your body to process because it must expend energy to first “heat” the food up. It’s also important to chew your food so that your body can break it down more easily. Enzymes in your saliva are an important first phase in your digestion.

Earth Associations: Color: Yellow/ brown  Smell: Fragrant  Sound: Singing  Emotion: Worry/ Over thinking

Do your Earth element a favor, call to schedule a seasonal acupuncture tune up, be grateful and sing!!!

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11/26/10

It’s amazing how a few events can shift the energy of the moment. One minute we had trees changing colors and unseasonably warm weather and the next a wind storm where all the leaves dropped. This was then quickly followed up with an early season snowstorm that had us holed up and drinking hot cocoa.

Our bodies feel the shift and ideally are in harmony with it. Winter is the season of water in Chinese medicine. It’s about introspection and stillness. It’s about deep contemplation as opposed to the activity of summer. The kidneys and bladder rule this element. It’s important to rest and build this energy because maintains  our deep reserves.

Constantly relying on these reserves can lead to adrenal fatigue. When we refuse to slow down and rest our body feels a state of constant flight of fight. The adrenal glands secrete adrenaline at inappropriate times. Often this manifests as insomnia with frequent waking in the night with an inability to fall back to sleep.

To be in harmony with the season:

-Take some time to hibernate amongst the chaos of the holidays. Mediate on finding stillness within.

-Catch up on your sleep. The trees do it so should you.

– Celebrate. The winter solstice is the time of yang within the yin. The spark of fire is a reminder of the summer to come as the days begin to get longer again.

– Eat rich stews to stoke the inner fire. Steamed walnuts are especially strengthening for the water element.

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Iron chef pear continues…

Matsutake’s the much loved and famed “pine mushroom” are highly prized in Asian cuisine. Here in the Northwest we are lucky to have them growing in our own backyard. Hunting grounds are well kept, jealously guarded secrets, and issues have been known to happen between amateur and commercial pickers.

This year I had the fortune of being gifted a large bag by a friend. Double happiness!! I love mushrooms and have cooked extensively with Shitake’s which are similar in texture and firmness, and also delicious.

This recipe would be considered a travesty by real aficionados, as these mushrooms’ delicate, cinnamony scent is what all the fuss is about. Traditional recipes are brothy or ricey to fully showcase the aroma of the main act. Google “Matsutake Gohan” and you’ll find loads of recipes with this guy in a fine fish and Kombu broth, served in a teapot to preserve the steam until the moment your nose is ready to receive it.

In addition to their tastiness, these meaty mushrooms are purported to have numerous health benefits including improved cardiac and anti- tumor functions.

This soup was even more than double happiness because I had this leftover turkey, pear and onion gravy that I used for the base. Nice!

**Feel free to substitute other mushrooms and even apples for the pears.

From scratch version

1 organic pear diced

Half an organic onion diced

Vegetable or chicken stock

Rice vinegar to taste (about 4 tablespoons)

2 large matsutake muchrooms diced (about 2 cups)

Salt and pepper to taste (I use plenty of both of these)

1 tsp Chili flakes or garlic chili sauce

OR

Pear gravy version

1 quart (roughly) left over pear gravy from “Pear onion turkey wings in the slow cooker” (Smooth or lumpy, no matter).

Chicken stock to desired thickness (about 3 cups)

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Many of you know that I have a pear tree. Every year it produces abundantly and I have an Iron Chef Pear competition with myself. Joel helps out as well and it’s pretty fun.One of my best “invented” recipes to date is this soup. Feel free to vary the spices according to your taste. ( Less garlic and no chilies for those less inclined toward spice.)

2 large organic onions diced

2-3 medium organic pears cut in to 1/2 in. pieces

2 tablespoons butter

32 fl. oz. organic chicken stock (or veggie stock)

3 cloves garlic minced

1 teaspoon dried chilies

salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions and butter over low to medium low heat until translucent ( Do not brown) I like to salt my onions a little too.

Add pears and garlic, and cook for 10 min.

Add chicken stock and dried chilies. Simmer for 1 hour uncovered, stir every 10 or so minutes. If you like a thicker soup use an immersion blender and pulse until desired consistency.

Variations: Add chicken for a rich stew, garnish with fresh fried sage or toasted walnuts.

Commentary:

This soup is perfect for fall not just because pears are in season. Autumn is the metal time of the year. Time to letting go, pulling inward,of pruning off that which is no longer fills us with life. It’s time to store up food and prepare for the coming winter.

In “Healing with Whole Foods”,Paul Pitchford says, “Everything in nature contracts and moves its essence inward and downward. Leaves and fruits fall, seeds dry, and the sap of trees goes into the roots.The earth’s grasses start to lose their deep green color turning lighter and drier.”

In Chinese Medicine the organs associated with the Metal element are the lungs and large intestine. It is a good time strengthen the immune system and regulate digestion for vitality. These organs can be easily damaged by “dryness” and pears are protective and nourishing. Cooling, sweet and slightly sour in nature they eliminate mucus, ease a dry cough and moisten the lungs and throat. They can be slightly cloying for the digestion which is why the onions are the perfect addition.

Onions are powerful immune system boosters. Again according to Pitchford, they are traditionally used to ease coughs and bronchial aliments, lower cholesterol, treat dysentery, induce sweating, inhibit allergic reactions, and as a cure for the common cold.

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