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Carrot and goji berry cake with frosting: gluten & dairy free

01/09/2014

carrot and goji cakeSo I’ve recently had my wisdom teeth extracted. All I can say about that is OUCH and, thankfully, it’s all over now and I’ll never have to go through that again. As I was beginning to feel better I was tiring of mushy food so decided to make a cake. Even though I couldn’t open my mouth wide, small spoonfuls of cake were digestible without a whole lot of chewing. Plus, it meant I had something nice to serve visitors.

This cake is free from refined sugar, gluten and dairy. I’ve also added a food herb called Chinese wolfberry (gou qi zi) to the mix. You may know these little red fruits as goji berries. I got lazy with the icing so it is made with icing sugar and soy cream cheese but you could leave it off or substitute it with any of these dairy and refined-sugar free options if you want to skip the icing sugar: maple orange frosting, easy cream cheese frosting or cashew cream cheese frosting.

The cake was delicious and enjoyed by those who tried it. I can also vouch that is excellent served with Earl Grey tea.

Carrot cake & g0ji berry cake with dairy-free cream cheese frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown rice flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder added
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup of macadamia oil (or oil of your choice for baking)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup of soaked goji berries
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 container of Tofutti non-dairy cream cheese 
  • 1/2 cup of non-dairy spread (eg. nuttelex)
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Walnuts or pecans, chopped, to decorate

Method:

  1. Preheat over to 160°C and grease a 23cm round tin, lining the bottom with paper.
  2. In a large bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and soda together. Make a well in centre.
  3. Whisk oil, maple syrup and eggs together until changes colour and is combined.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients gradually until mixed through.
  5. Add carrots, nuts and goji berries.
  6. Bake for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours or until golden and a skewer comes out clean from the middle of the cake. Allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before turning onto a cake rack.
  7. When the cake is cool, make frosting: blend tofutti and non-dairy spread until completely mixed through. Sift icing sugar into the cream cheese mix. Mix thoroughly. Add lemon juice and combine well. Spread frosting over the cake. Decorate with chopped nuts.

For further information on TCM dietary therapy contact Sarah George.  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (CMBA registered), massage therapy and natural medicine at Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre and lectures at the Endeavour College of Natural Health in Chinese Medicine.

Can babies and children have acupuncture?

29/08/2014

acu child

I saw this little guy in China having acupuncture everyday to improve the strength of his arm. His father controls the strength of the electro-acupuncture stimulation. As you can see he’s not overly bothered by the whole experience.

I’ve treated a lot of pregnant women with acupuncture. Acupuncture is well known (and even supported with some good research now) for a range of infertility and pregnancy related conditions.

But something that most people don’t know is that babies and children can also be treated with acupuncture. Yes, with needles. Very fine ones.

During my studies in China I observed the treatment of many children with acupuncture. In the hands of a well-trained acupuncturist this form of therapy can be beneficial to a child and her parents alike. 

But doesn’t it hurt them?

For the most part babies and small children barely even notice the needle going in and rarely show signs of pain.

We use very fine needles on children and usually only up to about six insertions or points, although a ten year old who is comfortable with acupuncture may have more insertions if necessary.

Treatments on children are usually shorter than those on adults. We use a technique called ‘non-retention needling’. This means that we pop the needle in, give it a tiny twiddle and remove it immediately. The treatment time is therefore very short. Older children may have a lie down with the needles still inserted if this is comfortable for them and relevant to improving their treatment outcome.

Here’s what acupuncture looks like on babies:

The biggest factor for keeping children calm during an acupuncture treatment is having a relaxed parent come along to assist with familiarity, comfort and distraction methods. I’m happy to needle children while they are getting cuddles from their parents. We can easily get to the points that we need if we work together as a team.

If a child really does not want to have needles inserted then we can stimulate the acupuncture points with a laser or by applying pressure with massage techniques. There is always a plan B to ensure that the patient is comfortable with treatment.

Does acupuncture hurt for adults anyway? Here’s what I think.

Why would a baby or child get acupuncture?

Children may gain many of the same benefits from acupuncture as adults do. Often children are treated for digestive disorders (eg. colic, chronic diarrhoea or constipation, reflux), respiratory conditions (eg. coughs, recurrent colds, phlegmy chests) and symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness and poor concentration. 

To ensure the best outcome for your child sometimes I may vary a child’s (or breastfeeding mum’s) diet, lifestyle or prescribe herbs or supplements in addition to the acupuncture if necessary.

For further information on paediatric acupuncture contact Sarah George.  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (CMRB registered), massage therapy and natural medicine at Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre and lectures at the Endeavour College of Natural Health in Chinese Medicine.

The single biggest dietary factor for reducing your risk of most chronic diseases is…

27/08/2014

catalyst gut reactionGo on, guess?

We should eat more protein, paleo-style? We need to quit sugar? We need more ‘good’ fats or less ‘bad’ fats?

The answer to this question was explored on the last two week’s of ABC TV’s Catalyst program – Gut Reaction. (And although its a simplistic question, the research supporting the answer is worth paying attention to.)

The researchers explored how our diets are related to the state of our gastrointestinal health (in particular, microbes) and the impact this has on our overall health including our risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

The findings were actually completely unsexy and unsensational. Sad news for the diet and processed food industries.

The single biggest thing you can do with your diet to reduce your risk of these major chronic diseases is to eat more…. FIBRE!

Told you it wasn’t sexy.  It’s just common sense. But it’s nice to have some of the biochemistry to back up how the bacteria in our gut rely on a fibre rich diet to improve our immune systems which brings a myriad of other health promoting effects.

The good news is that eating more fibre is simple and easy, unlike trying to follow most fad diets.

As you know, I bang on a bit about eating a diet mainly comprised of plant foods in their whole, unprocessed (within reason) form – eg. not out of a box or a plastic packet. These new finding support this age old idea.

Do you know there are six different types of fibre? We should aim to include all of these in our diet regularly, if not daily:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Raw salad vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes and pulses
  • Nuts and seeds

I recommend flicking over to Catalyst and watching Part 1 and Part 2 of Gut Reaction.  They give some excellent examples of how hormones including insulin change drastically depending on the level of fibre in your diet.

Here’s some other sensible ideas on diet and getting more vegetables in your diet.

Have you got a favourite way of increasing fibre in your diet or some excellent fibre-rich recipes? Share them in the comments.

For further information on TCM dietary therapy contact Sarah George.  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (CMRB registered), massage therapy and natural medicine at Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre and lectures at the Endeavour College of Natural Health in Chinese Medicine.

 

Drew Hutton’s Australian Story: The Greens, Lock the Gate and an acupuncture cameo

04/08/2014

Australian storyThis week you MUST watch ABC TV’s Australian Story.

The courageous and dedicated Drew Hutton shares his story of environmental activism, in particular his involvement in the Lock the Gate movement to protect valuable farming land from the coal seam gas industry. He speaks about the incredible toll his commitment to this work has taken on his relationships and health.

Which leads us to the acupuncture cameo. Around about 20 minutes in you may see some footage of Drew being treated for peripheral neuropathy with acupuncture by yours truly. I’m not one to usually draw attention to these things but it’s not everyday that acupuncture makes it onto national television.

I’m glad to have had the opportunity (alongside the team at Acupuncture & Natural Therapy Centre) to help a great man who has given so much for the greater good.

View the entire Australian Story “Lock me Away” here. (Be quick – it won’t be on iView for long.)

For further information on acupuncture contact Sarah George.  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (CMBA registered), massage therapy and natural medicine at Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre and lectures at the Endeavour College of Natural Health in Chinese Medicine.

How to eat more local, seasonal vegies each week: Food Connect

26/06/2014
Today's vegie bounty from the Food Connect box.

Today’s vegie bounty from the Food Connect box: celery, potatoes (Dutch Cream), pumpkin (Jap), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chillies, Chinese greens, broccoli, lettuce, baby spinach, dill and radishes.

As an acupuncturist who aims to improve the overall health of each and every one of my patients, if there is one general piece of lifestyle advice that I could give nearly everyone it would be:

Eat more whole foods, particularly vegetables.

How many serves of vegetables should you aim for in a day?

Five serves per day. “What is a serve?” I hear you ask. Check out these guidelines. Generally, a cup of raw or a 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables is 1 serve. You’ll most likely need to spread them over at least 2-3 meals. (It’s okay to exceed your vegie intake but don’t exceed your fruit intake of two serves/day due to the sugar content.)

Don’t forget that some fresh produce is best eaten organic or chemical free. What are the dirty dozen?

How can you eat this many chemical-free vegies easily?

Let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time, many years ago, I was at a Mind Body Spirit Festival. A man walked around giving out organic carrots for people to taste. The carrot was deliciously sweet to taste. The man was Robert Pekin – the brains behind Food Connect. He gave me a brochure about his Community Supported Agriculture program he was about to start. I became a subscriber as soon as they opened and continued my subscription for years. Something happened and I got out of sync. I’m so glad that I am once again a subscriber and picked up my second box today.

Here’s why I love Food Connect:

  • You can purchase a vegie, fruit or fruit and veg box in different sizes from Food Connect.
  • If you don’t want a box, you can select your own foods from their extensive list. See here.
  • They also sell breads, flours (including brown rice flour), sauces, honey, eggs and lots more.
  • If you don’t want to order every week, you don’t have to. Or if you do, you can set up a standard order.
  • The produce is sourced locally within 400km of Brisbane and is either chemical free, bio-dynamic or organic.
  • The produce is in season, unlike many of the offerings in our big supermarkets.
  • You support local farmers and get to know a little about their farms. They are featured in the newsletter in each box and you can also do farm tours.
  • You choose which ‘City Cousin‘ you will pick your order up from. These wonderful people are found in every few suburbs.
  • It’s not that expensive. The box featured above and below cost $44. I’ve found this reduces my weekly food bill by not needing to visit the shops most days.
What a small vegie box might look like.

What a small vegie box might look like.

The produce in the box I picked up today had traveled only 184km. This would not be the case if I had bought the same items in a major supermarket.

Having a weekly order of vegies each week will increase your vegie intake easily. You will need to eat through them before the next order is due. It also saves you having to do day-to-day grocery shops. If your fridge and pantry are stocked with fresh vegetables already you will be more likely to eat them.

Tonight I turned my vegies into this delicious tofu and vegie curry:

Food connect curry

So make the commitment to increase your vegetable intake. If it’s not through a scheme like Food Connect, regularly visit farmers’ markets for your groceries or even grow your own fresh produce!

For further information on TCM dietary therapy contact Sarah George.  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (CMRB registered), massage therapy and natural medicine at Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre and lectures at the Endeavour College of Natural Health in Chinese Medicine.

 

 

How to balance the Five Flavours perfectly in a meal

22/06/2014
The more colours the better! Vegies for the omelette.

The five flavours in fruit and vegetable form.

In Chinese Medicine we class every food according to its temperature, affinity with different parts of the body and its flavour.

There are five key flavours and a food may fall into more than one category. Each flavour has a different effect on the body, as follows:

  • Bitter (Fire element): drying and downbearing. Bitter foods are good for promoting excretion of excess fluids (dampness) and stimulating digestion.
  • Sweet (Earth element): warming, strengthening and moistening. Sweet foods give us fuel for energy and are particularly useful in times of weakness. They also nourish our body fluids.
  • Pungent (Metal element): aid circulation and promote sweating. Pungent foods help to move stagnation and tension in the body, as well as improving blood flow. These foods also push ‘upwards and outwards’ promoting a sweat which is why they are also used during acute colds and flu.
  • Salty (Water element): cooling, softening and moistening. Salty foods can alter fluid balance in the body and in some cases may promote bowel movements. They soften hardness (think of epsom salts in the bath).
  • Sour (Wood element): astringe and preserve fluids. Sour foods close the pores and promote an inward movement to nourish our body fluids and subdue anger. (Think of the face you pull when you eat a lemon – these babies’ faces say it all!.

While all of the flavours need to be consumed in moderation and then increased or decreased according to each person’s current health condition, sweet and salty foods should be particularly used sparingly in modern diets, unless a person’s health condition suggests otherwise. A Chinese Medicine practitioner can guide you in this area.

In the modern diet, bitter foods are eaten rarely and there is usually cause for most western people to increase their intake of bitter foods.

For a person in a good state of health we usually recommend a consumption of all of the flavours in moderation. Cooking in Asian cultures often pays close attention to the seasoning of dishes to represent a balance of flavours. A classic example is ‘pho’ (Vietnamese noodle soup) which is served with fresh chilli and mint (pungent), lemon/lime (sour), carrot and mung bean sprouts (sweet), green leafy vegetables (bitter) and fish and/or soy sauce (salty).

Here’s a western recipe (that I have blogged about before) which brings together these five flavours perfectly:

Mediterranean eggplant salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants, cubed, salted, drained and dried
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon currants
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 6 roma tomatoes, quartered lengthways
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 red chillies, sliced finely
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, discard flesh and slice rind finely
  • a few handfuls of green leafy vegetables: baby spinach, cress and/or rocket leaves

Method:

  1. Warm olive oil in pan and fry eggplant until golden in small batches.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
  2. In same pan, saute cumin seeds, garlic, currants and almonds until golden.  Add tomato and oregano until browned.  Remove from heat.
  3. Add fried eggplant, chilli, lemon juice, parsley, preserved lemon and spinach to the tomato mixture.  Season with black pepper.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to serving.

Here is the breakdown of this recipe according to the flavours:

  • Bitter: oregano, parsley and green leafy vegetables.
  • Sweet: eggplant, currants, cumin, tomato and almonds.
  • Pungent: cumin, garlic, oregano and chilli.
  • Salty: preserved lemon, eggplant (once salted and rinsed).
  • Sour: tomato, lemon juice and preserved lemon.

Perfect balance. Enjoy this recipe. It’s delicious!

For further information on TCM dietary therapy contact Sarah George.  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (CMRB registered), massage therapy and natural medicine at Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre and lectures at the Endeavour College of Natural Health in Chinese Medicine.

Chocolate beetroot cake: gluten and dairy free

18/06/2014

choc-beet cake sliceJust prior to undergoing the knife for my hip operation I went crazy (rather, had a ball in the kitchen) preparing meals for the post-op recovery phase. I put a lot of thought into the ingredients that I would and would not use, and as promised earlier, I will blog about this sometime soon.

But for now please enjoy this delicious chocolate beetroot cake recipe from the post-op phase. I wanted it to be nutritious (for a cake) containing lots of nuts and beetroot (to promote tissue healing) without foods that disagree with my body – gluten and dairy. I also opted for maple syrup over refined sugar as the sweetener. It’s even iced with a chocolate and cashew icing made without refined sugar. This was to give me a sweet treat to brighten my days in recovery.

Here are some of the Chinese medicine properties for some of the key ingredients:

  • Cocoa: neutral temperature, sweet and bitter in flavour, cocoa is considered to be strengthening and stimulating.
  • Beetroot: neutral temperature and sweet flavoured, beetroots nourish the Stomach, Spleen and Heart and move Liver Qi and Blood, promoting blood circulation.
  • Almond: neutral temperature and sweet flavoured, almonds are moistening and benefit the Lung, Large Intestine and Spleen.
  • Walnut: warm in temperature and sweet flavoured, walnuts tonify the Kidneys and reduce inflammation.

This cake is rich and moist, and still delicious after I took it out of the freezer (where it was frozen individually piece by piece). The cake is still sweet overall so keep serving sizes small and be aware that a high daily intake of sweet foods is not recommended – moderation is the key!

Find the chocolate beetroot cake recipe here. (I shared it on my clinic’s website first.)

For further information on eating well with food intolerances contact Sarah George.  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (CMRB registered), massage therapy and natural medicine at Acupuncture & Natural Therapies Centre and lectures at the Endeavour College of Natural Health in Chinese Medicine.

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