Lao Tzu, China’s founding Taoist philosopher wrote:
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” (c.605 BC)
It’s been a long winter, colder than many of us expected and challenged by a nervous questioning of what we individually and collectively value and stand for. In Chinese Medicine, winter is the time we withdraw from the world and reside in a deeper sense of self. It is a time when we enter our personal darkness. The season is ruled by the Kidneys and the water element that welcomes us back into its amniotic fluid. Returning to this deepest part of self, we may come into confrontation with how comfortable we actually are in that space of confinement, solitude and quiet. We nestle in and attempt to create comfort. The attempt in and of itself is an act of self-preservation and regeneration.
Now, as the rain has sunken deep into the soil to nourish the seeds that laid dormant, as cold gradually gives way to warmth, the Tiger awakens. The Tiger represents the Wood element, the Gall Bladder and Liver; the spark of ferocious life that can no longer contain itself and has the courage and will to sprout. The Liver and Gall Bladder rule over our sinews and create the impulse to move, run, stretch and twist our bodies out of winter’s stagnating comforts. Wood seeks growth, expression and change. It is the element of self-transformation. Whatever that means in your life, now is the opportunity to use Spring’s impulsive surge to act on your goals and new year’s resolutions.
It takes new perspectives and flexibility (Gallbladder) to create change. For change to last however, vision and planning (Liver) are necessary. To support this process, Spring is the best time to detox physically and mentally, to exercise and stretch regularly, to spend time in the woods and begin to eat lighter foods (plenty of greens, sprouts and aromatic foods such as citruses, vinegars and bitters, less sugar, less fried food, less fats).
Remember, that although Spring is the time for self-transformation, trees do not grow in isolation. Find your forest, find the people that seek similar growth and support each other through your process. Let go of the old and make room for the new.
Wishing you all strength, courage and growth in this Spring Season!
Naike Swai, L.Ac & The North Portland Wellness Center Team
By: Colleen Bunker Lac
Spring Soup with Poached Eggs
As spring approaches many of us are thinking about giving our bodies a little tune-up. For most people, simply eliminating all processed foods, sugar, alcohol and caffeine for a week or so allows for a gentle detox. For a deeper cleanse, you can also eliminate grains and dairy. Just by cleaning up your diet in this way, you give your digestive system, especially your liver, a much needed break and an opportunity to gently release accumulated toxins. Focusing on simple, whole foods and drinking lots of good water with lemon for 1-2 weeks is a good is way to prep your body for a more intensive detox with fewer dramatic side effects. Ideally, if you leave processed foods, sugar and trans-fats out of your diet year round, the need for a more intensive cleanse isn’t needed. I found the following recipe on a wonderful blog called The Ancestral Chef. It has only 3 ingredients and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- 2 eggs
- 32 oz (1 quart) chicken broth
- 1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
- salt to taste
Bring the chicken broth to a boil.
Turn down the heat and poach the 2 eggs in the broth for 5 minutes (for a slightly-runny egg).
Remove the eggs and place each into a bowl.
Add the chopped romaine lettuce into the broth and cook for a few minutes until slightly wilted.
Ladle the broth with the lettuce into the bowls.
By: Colleen Bunker, LAc
Fermented vegetables are easy to make, very nutritious and supply the gut with tons of beneficial bacteria that support our intestinal flora, improve digestion and nutrient absorption and boost immunity. Here is the first kimchi recipe I tried, from Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions. There are many variations of kimchi and a wonderful world out there of other ferments. If you get inspired, you can check out Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Elix Katz.
- 1 head of nappa cabbage, cored and shredded
- 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
- 1 cup of carrots, grated
- ½ cup daikon radish, grated
- 1 tablespoon freshly ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes (I often use fresh peppers from the farmers market in varying degrees of hotness to suite my tastes)
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt (I use Celtic sea salt – it’s lower in sodium and high in other beneficial minerals)
- 4 tablespoons of whey or you can use an additional tablespoon of salt.
Put all ingredients in a bowl and pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer to release their juices. Place mixture in a wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly until juices come above the vegetables, leaving an inch below top of jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before putting in the fridge. Simple! Enjoy!*Whey
- Cheese cloth
- Fine strainer
- Large bowl or pot
- 1 quart of whole milk organic yogurt
Line strainer with 2 layers of cheese cloth and set over a deep bowl or pot. Put yogurt in strainer and leave to drain. I just put whole thing in the fridge and come back later. The liquid that drains off is whey, full of beneficial lactobacilli bacteria that will inoculate your ferments and give them a jump start the fermentation process. It will keep in the fridge for months and can be used to soak grains also. The remaining yogurt is now Greek style yogurt or yogurt cheese. YUM!
By: Colleen Bunker LAc
Spring is here all in the magnificent grandeur typical to Portland. Coming from the east coast, I’m am still in awe of the diversity and magnitude of the flowering trees and shrubs! Unfortunately for many of people, it’s the onslaught of seasonal allergies. Just as the weather begins to break and people want to get outside to enjoy the sun and beauty, symptoms such as sinus congestion, wheezing, running nose, itchy and burning eyes, headache and fatigue are suffered by as many as 45 million Americans.
Many people suffer year in and year out, relying on pharmaceutical medications or by simply trying to limit exposure to the offending pollens. None of these approaches are curative, not to mention the many negative side effects and risks involved with long-term use of antihistamines. Besides sleepiness, low libido, and increased appetite; infertility, anxiety, impaired thinking and depression have all been linked to standard allergy medications.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers another alternative. Acupuncture, combined with herbs, can relieve acute symptoms and at the same time begin to build a person’s Wei Qi (similar to the western immune system). In TCM, anytime the body exhibits symptoms, there is an underlying weakness or imbalance that needs to be addressed. When a person has recurrent allergies, the most common weaknesses are found in the Lung, Spleen and Kidney energies. A skilled TCM practitioner will initially choose acupuncture points and herbs to alleviate the acute symptoms, while gently supporting the whole body. The proper time to begin really focusing on the underlying system weaknesses is after the particular offending pollens have passed. At this time, support and advice will be given on diet and lifestyle habits, along with acupuncture and herbal medicine, to rebuild and support Wei Qi, overall balance and good health. With the commitment of the patient, particularly between allergies seasons, to receive regular treatment and to implement immune building lifestyle changes, seasonal allergies can be greatly alleviated and in many, many cases, healed completely.
Join the Wellness Center for a free Ear Seed Treatment every second Wednesday of the month from 12:45-1:30! This New monthly event kicks of Feb. 8th and continues the second Wednesday of every month. From 5-9 pm, Walk Williams and explore the Williams District. Discover one-of-a-kind Williams District deals from unique businesses. Follow the lighted balloons in the evening to old favorites and brand new hot spots. Join your neighbors for a social night out. Find all your needs in Williams District – food + drink, shopping, recreation, medical and services. Gather stamps at each participating business to be entered in to win gift certificates from area businesses. See the link below for a complete list of participating businesses.
As we reflect on this last couple of weeks, it’s hard not to react – to tighten, to contract with fear and disappointment. Given the uncertainty there are many questions about how the future will unfold.
Although our fear tends to make us reactive and inflames a desire to control our environments, we must make this an opportunity to go deep within and find our strength, our power, our voices.
Out of the darkness comes the light.
Through this, let’s remember to breathe deeply. Meditate. Stay grounded. Turn the music up loud and dance with our loved ones. We must strengthen and deepen our roots. Stand strong in our beliefs. Be kind to others. Be willing to look at our own internalized ‘isms’ and ‘phobias’. Let’s make an effort meet our neighbors. Do something kind for another person today. Let’s all deepen our involvement in our communities. Let’s gather together and make a stronger commitment to take care of ourselves, our families and our communities.
Annabelle Snow and Lili Scott, co-owners
and the entire staff at North Portland Wellness Center
GREEN BEANS, CRISPY PANCETTA MUSHROOMS AND SHALLOTS
- Kosher salt
- 1-1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed
- 2-1/2 oz. thinly sliced pancetta (five or six 1/16- to 1/8-inch-thick slices)
- 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 medium cremini mushrooms, trimmed, halved if large, and very thinly sliced
- 2 medium-large shallots, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup very thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
- 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Fill a large mixing bowl with ice cubes and water and set aside. Fill a 6- or 7-quart pot two-thirds full of well-salted water. Bring the water to a boil and boil the beans uncovered until tender to the bite, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain, transfer to the bowl of ice water, and let sit until cooled, about 2 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
Put the pancetta in a 12-inch nonstick skillet and cook over medium-low heat until crisp and browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and coarsely crumble. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool slightly.
Add 2 Tbs. of the olive oil to the pan and return it to medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, shallots, and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring frequently, until both are nicely browned and shrunken, about 5 minutes. Add the sage and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Take the pan off the heat and add the vinegar, mustard, and the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Stir to combine.
Return the pan to medium heat, add the green beans and toss to combine and heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a warm serving platter and garnish with the pancetta.
Make Ahead Tips
The beans can be boiled and refrigerated up to 6 hours ahead. The remaining ingredients can also be prepped up to 6 hours ahead and held in the refrigerator. An hour before finishing, remove the beans from the refrigerator to come to room temperature.
Apple, Sausage, and Parsnip Stuffing with Fresh Sage
- 1 1 1/2-pound loaf sliced sourdough bread with crust, cubed
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 1/2 pounds hot Italian sausages, casings removed
- 6 cups chopped onions
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, divided
- 3 pounds Pippin or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cubed
- 2 pounds parsnips, peeled, cubed
- 3/4 cup packed fresh sage leaves
- 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake bread cubes on 2 large rimmed baking sheets until lightly toasted, about 20 minutes.
- Sauté sausages in very large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking into pieces with spoon, about 15 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to large bowl; add bread.
- Add onions and celery to same skillet and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes; transfer to bowl with bread. Melt 1/4 cup butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes; mix apples into stuffing. Melt 1/4 cup butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add parsnips and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes; mix into stuffing. Melt 1/4 cup butter in same skillet. Add sage and sauté until dark green, about 2 minutes. Mix sage and butter into stuffing. Season with salt and pepper.
- Butter 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish. Stuff turkey. Transfer remaining stuffing to prepared dish; drizzle with 1/2 cup chicken broth. Cover with foil. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake stuffing covered until heated through, about 1 hour. Uncover and bake until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
WILD RICE AND CHANTERELLE SALAD WITH DRIED FRUIT, GOAT CHEESE AND WALNUTS
8 cups water
2 cups wild rice
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 bay leaf
12 sprigs thyme
4 teaspoons grapeseed or canola oil
2 pounds chanterelle or portobello mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and cracked
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and cracked
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mixed dried fruits, such as cherries, cranberries, raisins, chopped figs, or chopped apricots
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 pound stemmed arugula or watercress
8 ounces fresh white goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
To prepare the rice: Wash the rice under cold water for 2 minutes. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add the salt, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the washed rice to the boiling water and simmer for 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain the rice and remove the bay leaf and thyme; let cool. (This can be done 1 day ahead of time and refrigerated.) You should have 7 cups cooked rice.
In a large skillet, heat the grapeseed or canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from heat, drain well, and set aside.
To make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, shallots, fennel, cumin, thyme, and pepper and season with salt. Add the dried fruits.
In a salad bowl, combine the cooled wild rice, cooked mushrooms, and walnuts. Toss with the vinaigrette and fruits.