Peace through a Sattvic Diet

By thelivingcentre.com

A Life Enhancing Diet to Balance the Mind

“Food is a dynamic force which interacts with the human on the physical body level, the mind emotional level, and also the energetic and spiritual level. The study of nutrition is the study of the interaction with and assimilation of the dynamic forces of food by the dynamic forces of our total being.” ~ Gabriel Cousens, M.D., Spiritual Nutrition and The Rainbow Diet?

WHAT IS A SATTVIC DIET?

In Ayurveda the emphasize is on a Sattvic diet for healthy living, particularly for keeping our minds clear, happy and at peace. The original Sattvic diet was devised for the development of higher consciousness.

Sattvic foods are foods that are abundant in Prana- the universal life-force that gives life to all sentient beings in both plant and animal kingdoms. a Sattvic diet means not only vegetarian food, but food rich in Prana ‘life-force like organic fresh fruits and vegetables. it requires avoiding canned and processed food, and foods prepared with chemical fertilizers or sprays. It also means properly prepared fresh foods. Foods prepared with lots of love will add to their Sattvic quality.

The ancient Ayurvedic criteria for foods to be considered Sattvic were quite simple: foods were grown organically on good rich fertile soil; foods were to be of attractive appearance, and be harvested at the correct time of year. Foods should be whole foods full of life-force and enzymes and be as close as possible as they are in their natural fresh state.

Today, we need to add to these criteria for Sattva several other modern concerns. Sattvi foods should be grown without pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, irradiation or anything unnatural. Modern use of refinement processes and chemical additives, besides actually adding substances to our foods, depletes foods of their Prana ‘life-force’ and hence renders them heavy, impotent and lifeless.

Sattic foods are nutritive vegetarian foods like organic nuts, seeds, whole grains and oily fruits and vegetables that help build the brain tissue and develop Ojas.

The Three Gunas

In the unmanifested Universe, energy has three qualities, known as Gunas, that exist together in equilibrium: Sattva (purity); Rajas (activity, passion, the process of change); and Tamas (darkness, inertia). Once energy takes form, one quality of the three predominates. Thus on an apple tree, some of the fruit is ripe (Sattvic), some ripening (rajasic) and some overripe (tamasic). But no matter which quality prevails, an Element of each of the other two will always be present as well. Most of an individual apple will be ripe, but part will be rotten, even if the naked eye cannot see it, and part will be in the process of changing from one state to the other. The three Gunas encompass all existence, all actions. If a man commits a robbery, the action is basically rajasic but the decision to rob and the motive may be predominantly tamasic, rajasic or Sattvic, according to the situation. In all people one of the three Gunas has superior strength and is reflected in all they do and think. Only in enlightenment are the Gunas completely transcended.

Ancient Rishis have said you take on the karma of the animal you eat
When you eat meat you are ingesting all the stress hormones released when that animal was killed. The hormones released at death are present in the flesh when you eat it. At a cellular level, your body is getting the message that you are dying.

One goal and effect of Ayurveda and following a spiritual path is to raise our vibrational levels
Meat has a very low vibration. On a continuum of lower vibrations, fish, chicken, lamb, beef, and finally pork have increasingly lower vibrations and their energy is very dark, dense and congested. Through the centuries it has been observed that vegetarians have a more refined etheric body and brighter aura. A vegetarian whose etheric body is brighter and healthier will generally heal at much faster rate than those who are not vegetarian.

Ayurvedic Principles

Everything on Earth has a primary quality (Guna). Anything we hear, smell, see, taste or touch may be classified into the categories of Sattvic, Rajasic or Tamasic.

BALANCING THE EMOTIONAL BODY WITH FOOD

In Ayurveda a dietary system was developed by the ancient Masters and Sages thousands of years in working with the mind to help support an individual on a spiritual path that perfected the ancient forms of Yoga and Meditation. It is also the foundation of many healing arts. It has a rich tradition that has been taught, practiced and passed onto many cultures over the world.

Ayurveda or Sattvic foods all have one thing in common: they are high in Prana (the universal life force). More specifically, Sattvic foods are natural, organically grown, and as unrefined as possible. Modern food processing takes the Prana out of many foods and makes them heavy, impotent, and lifeless- or simply “dead food.”

Mind balance in Ayurveda means modifying the mind from Tamasic or Rajasic to Sattvic state. Choosing those foods and activities that are Sattvic in nature in preference to those that are Rajasic or Tamasic does that. With consistent and dedicated attention to diet, environment and sensory experiences, total mind balance can be achieved.

It often takes discipline and effort to become Sattvic, but the peace of mind, health, strength and immunity that is obtained from this state of mind makes it worthwhile. However, some rajas and tamas qualities are still required for action and motivation to achieve our goals and inaction, sleep or relaxation (tamas).

There are three types of foods categorized by their primal essence or nature:

Tamasic Foods

Dark, and dull. A tamasic diet benefits neither the mind nor the body. Prana, or energy, is withdrawn, powers of reasoning become clouded and a sense of inertia sets in. The body’s resistance to disease is destroyed and the mind filled with dark emotions, such as anger, jealousy and greed.

Tamasic foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, alcohol and other intoxicants including drugs. Foods that are over-processed, no longer fresh, and/or difficult to digest are Tamasic. Foods that are prepared unconsciously or while the preparer is angry or in a negative mood are also considered Tamasic. If you are interested in vital health and spiritual growth it is best to avoid these foods. Tamasic items include meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, garlic, fermented foods, such as vinegar, and stale left over food, contaminated or overripe substances. Overeating is also regarded as tamasic. Tamasic is the unhealthiest food of all.

Rajasic Foods

Rajas signifies the “can do” kind of energy. It is the energy, which we need to accomplish, create, and achieve. It represents worldly power and the sex drive. A Rajasic diet is good for “householders” who aspire to maintain a meditative mind but need to live and work in the world as well. It has been recommended by the ancient Rishis teachers that a combination of Sattvic and Rajasic foods for those who practice demanding disciplines such as endurance athletics, martial arts and Kundalini Yoga. They destroy the mind-body equilibrium, feeding the body at the expense of the mind.

Foods that are very hot, bitter, sour, dry, or salty are rajasic. Too much rajasic food will over stimulate the body and excite strong emotional qualities and passions, making the mind restless and uncontrollable. Rajasic foods include hot substances, such as sharp spices or strong herbs, stimulants, like coffee and tea, meat of animals and fish, eggs, salt and chocolate. Many of the ground foods are Rajasic. Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasic.

Sattvic Foods

Sattvic means pure essence. This is the purest diet for a consciously spiritual and healthy life. It nourishes the body and maintains it in a peaceful state. According to Ayurveda, this is the best diet for physical strength, a good mind, good health, and longevity. And it calms and purifies the mind, enabling it to function at its maximum potential. A Sattvic diet thus leads to true health: a peaceful mind in control of a fit body, with a balanced flow of energy between them. They are known to have a very cleansing effect on the body. A Sattvic diet is excellent for those individuals who desire to live a quiet, peaceful and meditative life. Sattvic foods comprise the diet of many sages, yogis and spiritual teachers. These foods are supposed to produce calmness and nobility among men. Eating fruits and vegetables increases one’s magnetism. From what we understand today about diets we are sure that ancient Essenes and Rishis masters saints had a very good idea about food in general and their effect on the body and thinking pattern of man. Expression of the soul is dependent on the body, and the body is dependant on food.

The Sattvic diet consists of light, soothing, easily digested food. Sattvic signifies the etheric qualities and includes foods such as fruits and vegetables, especially sun foods and ground foods. Many Sattvic foods are sun foods are those that grow one meter or more above the ground. They have a quickening and lightening effect on the body’s nervous and digestive systems. Ground foods are those foods that grow within one meter of the ground. They draw energy from the earth and are high in nutrients. Sattvic foods include sprouted whole grains, fresh fruit, land and sea vegetables, pure fruit juices, nut and seed milk and cheese, legumes, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, honey, and herb teas. Sattvic foods are those foods which do not agitate your stomach at all. According to the diet, the best foods are those that are fresh, which have a balance of all the six tastes and are consumed in moderate portions.

Becoming Sattvic

One should focus on work, self-improvement and intellectual or spiritual pursuits. Maintaining a positive nature, demonstrating generosity, kindness, openness, fairness (equality) and forgiveness also increases Sattva Guna. In addition spiritual inclination, faith and belief in the Great Spirit or God, engaging in selfless service or charitable activities help to become Sattvic.

Nature’s Sattvic Foods

Fruits

Apples, Kiwi, Prunes, Apricots, Loquat, Tangerines, Bananas, Lychee, Pomegranate, Cantaloupe, Mango, Papaya, Cherries, Melons, Nectarines, Cranberry, Honeydew, Oranges, Grapefruits, Watermelon, Pineapples, Grapes, Peaches, Plums, Guava, Pears, Persimmon

Vegetables

Artichokes, Eggplant, Lettuce, Beets, Mustard, Greens, Asparagus, Daikon, Onions, Endive, Fennel, Maitake, Parsnips, Bok Choy, Peas, Broccoli, Green Beans, Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Radishes, Cabbage, Leeks, Lima Beans, Shallots, Carrots, Celery, Spinach, Cauliflower, Chard, Chanterelles, Sprouts, Corn, Squash, Shitake, Mushrooms, Watercress, Turnips, Yams

Sprouted Whole Grains

Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Bulgur, Millet, Quinoa, Rice:Basmati, Brown and Wild Rice.

Oils

Olive, Safflower, Sesame, Sunflower, Garbanzo, Lentils, Mung.

Spices

Asafoetida (hing), Coriander, Basil, Cumin, Nutmeg, Black Pepper, Fennel seed, Parsley, Cardamom, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger

Nut/Seed

Brazil nuts, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts

Milks & Cheese

Seed milk, Hemp milk, Almond or other nut milk

Sweetners

Cane juice, Raw honey, Stevia, Fruit Juices, Maple Syrup

It takes time for the effects of dietary changes to manifest on the mind. Changing our diet may not impact our psychology overnight, but in a period of months can affect it significantly.

 

A TCM Perspective on Cooked vs Raw Foods

Most of my patients are surprised to hear the recommendation to skip salads and cold foods during winter months. Ever wondered why Chinese prefer to eat cooked food, drink warm water, and never include salad on either restaurant or home menu?

The answer lies with better understanding how digestion works from a Chinese medicine perspective. Chinese Medicine sees life as a series of warm transformations—the underlying philosophy of Taoism where change and transformation are natural processes which, given the proper environment, will happen on their own. The process of digestion is viewed in the same light. Give the body proper food and liquid, a proper environment, and there will be abundance of energy and balanced metabolism. The stomach is viewed as a pot that needs to ‘cook’ the food in order to extract the nutrients (separate the clear from the turbid). The ability to transform food into usable nutrients for the cells is dependent on the ‘digestive fire’ to ‘cook’ the foods and ensure this transformation is completed. Using cold/raw food will lower or in some cases simply put out that ‘digestive fire’ resulting in symptoms like bloating, gas or upset stomach.

Importance of Cooking Foods

  • Cooking increases the warming properties of food
  • Helps break down food structure
  • Nutrients are more available and better assimilated
  • Relatively few nutrients are lost in simple cooking
  • The energy of the body is less focused on digestion and can be used in other ways.
  • Moderately cooked food is recommended to help support mental clarity and energy metabolism.

Remedies to beat the Cold:

  • Use ginger, cinnamon, clove, basil, rosemary in teas and foods regularly.
  • Warming seeds and grains: Oats, spelt, quinoa, sunflower seed, sesame seed, walnut, pinenut, chestnut, fennel, dill, anise, caraway, carob pod, cumin, sweet brown rice
  • OK to use Neutral grains rice, corn, buckwheat and rye. Other grains are too cooling.
  • Veg/Fruit: parsnip, parsley, mustard greens, winter squash, sweet potato, kale, onion, leek, chive, garlic, scallion; cherry, citrus peel and date.
  • Small amounts hot peppers/spices
  • If needed, butter is only warming dairy product. Milk/cheese are neutral.
  • Meats: anchovy, mussel, trout, chicken, beef and lamb.

Post-Holiday ‘Cleanse’

Winter is associated with Water Element and represented by Kidneys. The temperature of the Element is Cold and the taste is bitter. Kidney network is closely related to bones and Spleen network controls muscles. Spleen is weakened by damp and sweet foods. It controls digestion, fluid metabolism and energy production just to name a few. The warmth or Yang energy, that is essential for proper digestive and musculoskeletal function, is affected by most ‘holiday’ foods, which in turn leads to poor food metabolism, cold sensation in the body and often physical pain.

To “recharge” your spleen & kidney after the holidays try to implement these changes into your diet:

  • Eat smaller meals, more frequently
  • Eat cooked meals, like vegetable soups and stews, instead of raw salads. Lightly cooked vegetable are easily absorbed
  • Take time to enjoy meals by sitting down without being distracted by phone or work
  • Chew thoroughly to savor flavors
  • Enjoy small amounts of naturally sweet flavors like molasses, dates and rice syrup as well as more pungent tastes such as  onion, garlic, turnip, ginger, fennel, cinnamon and nutmeg, which are also beneficial in restoring Spleen function.

Limit the intake of:

  • Overly rich, oily or heavy foods
  • Cold foods such as raw vegetables/salads (fruits are ok), tofu, and ice cream
  • Sugary treats, yeast and flour products (breads, beer)

Tips to protect your Spleen

In Chinese Medicine digestion is a main function of the Earth Element and is represented by The Spleen. Most of you are familiar with the function of this energy circuit (not a physical organ) but for those who forgot, here is a list of the main characteristics:

  • The Spleen Is Responsible For Transformation & Transportation

The Spleen is responsible for the intake, processing and distribution of nutrients extracted from food and drink. If transformation and transportation is functioning properly, the energy is strong, digestion is smooth and the body is kept moist. When malfunctioning, the person feels weak (lassitude and lethargy), the appetite is poor and digestion is sluggish.

Overeating or combining foods that are difficult to digest leads to weakening of the Spleen’s function to transform and follows by indigestion or a condition known in Chinese medicine as food stagnation. Symptoms include a lack of appetite and an aversion to food, a full, bloated feeling in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, bad breath, and acid belching.

  • The Spleen Controls The Muscles And The Four Limbs

The Spleen is responsible for circulating nutrients to the muscles and tissues. If the Spleen is weak, then the muscles and limbs are not nourished and become heavy and weak.

  • Houses Thought

Every organ in TCM is seen to have its own unique Spirit, and the Spirit of the Spleen is called the Yi (Intellect). The Spleen is directly related to our capacity for thinking. How well we manage our thoughts, concentrate, exercise discernment and form intentions is dependent on the strength of the Spleen.

  • Spleen controls sleep

Its not like having function of energy metabolism and digestive function is enough but The Spleen had to have yet another major responsibility. Sleep. When the digestive tasks are complete (i.e. latest meal at 7pm) the Spleen controls sleep. Good luck trying to sleep on a full stomach. The digestive functions are primary so until that is complete no restful sleep will take place.

Foods Beneficial For The Spleen

Congee (on a picture) see the link with recipes of many variations of this traditional Oriental goodness

Organic lightly cooked vegetables, corn, celery, watercress, turnip, pumpkin, alfalfa sprouts, button mushrooms, radish, caper

Brown rice, barley, amaranth, rye, oats

Legumes, kidney beans, adzuki beans, lentils; Small amount of lean organic meat, poultry and fish, tuna

Small amount of whole fruits, lemon; Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds

Seaweed, kelp; Black pepper, cinnamon bark, clove, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, sage, turmeric, thyme, horseradish, cayenne, nutmeg

Green tea, jasmine tea, raspberry leaf tea, chai tea

Foods That Hurt The Spleen

Dairy, Wheat, Cold drinks, Fruit juice, Cold raw foods

Processed foods, Refined flour, pastry, pasta, breads

Refined sugar and sugar substitutes

Coffee, alcohol, Deep fried foods

Peanuts and peanut butter

Bananas, avocado

Healing the Common Cold with Food and Nutrition

Remedies to beat the Cold:

  • Use ginger, cinnamon, clove, basil, rosemary in teas and foods regularly.
  • Warming seeds and grains:
    – Oats, spelt, quinoa, sunflower seed, sesame seed, walnut, pinenut, chestnut, fennel, dill, anise, caraway, carob pod, cumin, sweet brown rice
  • OK to use Neutral grains rice, corn, buckwheat and rye. Other grains are too cooling.
  • Veg/Fruit: parsnip, parsley, mustard greens, winter squash, sweet potato, kale, onion, leek, chive, garlic, scallion; cherry, citrus peel and date.
  • Small amounts hot peppers/spices
  • If needed, butter is only warming dairy product. Milk/cheese are neutral.
  • Meats: anchovy, mussel, trout, chicken, beef and lamb.

Importance of Cooking Foods

  • Cooking increases the warming properties of food
  • Helps break down food structure
  • Nutrients are more available and better assimilated
  • Relatively few nutrients are lost in simple cooking
  • The energy of the body is less focused on digestion and can be used in other ways.
  • Moderately cooked food is recommended to help support mental clarity and energy metabolism.

A TCM Perspective on Cooked vs Raw Foods

Most of my patients are surprised to hear the recommendation to skip salads and cold foods during winter months. Ever wondered why Chinese prefer to eat cooked food, drink warm water, and never include salad on either restaurant or home menu?

The answer lies with better understanding how digestion works from a Chinese medicine perspective. Chinese Medicine sees life as a series of warm transformations—the underlying philosophy of Taoism where change and transformation are natural processes which, given the proper environment, will happen on their own. The process of digestion is viewed in the same light. Give the body proper food and liquid, a proper environment, and there will be abundance of energy and balanced metabolism. The stomach is viewed as a pot that needs to ‘cook’ the food in order to extract the nutrients (separate the clear from the turbid). The ability to transform food into usable nutrients for the cells is dependent on the ‘digestive fire’ to ‘cook’ the foods and ensure this transformation is completed. Using cold/raw food will lower or in some cases simply put out that ‘digestive fire’ resulting in symptoms like bloating, gas or upset stomach.

Tips for Well-Being in the Year of the Goat

Chinese New Year 
February 19, 2015

Based on the lunar calendar, The Chinese New Year falls about six weeks following the Winter Solstice and marks the beginning of spring (even if it doesn’t feel like it yet). In Chinese astrology each year is defined by of one of 12 animals, one of five elements ( wood, fire, earth, metal, water) which in turn, is associated with a color (green, red, yellow, white, black). Each year has a distinctive Yin or Yang energy. The Year of the Goat, 2015 is symbolized by two elements of Yin Wood sitting on top of Earth.

This year 2015, is the Year of the Green Goat.
  • Energy:  The energy of this year is Yin, which is lunar, feminine, intuitive, right-brained, compassionate and submissive.
  • Green (wood): Is the color representing new growth, flexibility, and resilience. The wood element in TCM correlates with the organs of the liver and the tissues of tendons and ligaments. Earth element correlates with stomach and corresponds to digestion and muscles
  • Animal symbol: Goat/Ram/Sheep (the Chinese calendar uses these animals interchangeably).  The goat is an easy-going creature who symbolizes resiliency, calmness, stability, and creativity.

Yin is stored in Water element so lacking water in 2015 will weaken the energy aspect of Kidneys. The Yin Wood and Water correspond with bone and ligamentous tissues and may effect major joints such as neck, back and knees and with Earth (Stomach) involvement the entire musculoskeletal system.

Tips for the Goat year:

  • Consume 4-6 glasses of warm or room temp water with lemon daily
  • Exercise/stretch regularly
  • Eat a healthy, organic diet, including foods with beta carotene (carrots, broccoli, garlic and tomatoes)
  • Limit intake of sugar, flour and cold foods
  • Talk to your Oriental medicine practitioner about herbs that can support immune system

Here is a list of foods to eat to ensure a good year….

  • Bamboo Shoots for Wealth and Happiness
  • Clams – Money
  • Daikon Radish for Good Omens
  • Dried Bean Curd for Happiness
  • Eggs for Fertility and Creativity
  • 
Fish – Whole – for Abundant Wealth and the head and tail indicate a good beginning and end of the year
  • Greens for Abundance
  • Lily Buds (dried) – Prosperity
  • Lotus Root for Continuing Wealth
  • 
Lotus Seed for Children
  • 
Lychees for Close Family Ties
  • 
Noodles for Long Life
  • Oranges/Tangerines for Luck and Wealth (esp. good with leaves attached)
  • 
Pomelo – Continuous Prosperity and Status
  • Potstickers and Egg Rolls for Wealth
  • Rice for Abundance
  • 
Rice Cakes – both sweet and savory – A Higher Year
  • Sea Moss for Prosperity
  • 
Shiitake Mushrooms to Fulfill Wishes

Happy New Year!

Five Element Chili – A Recipe for Harmony

This hearty vegetarian fare, which is great served over brown rice, is one example of how the ideas in traditional Chinese medicine can be applied to a Western-style dish. The five colors — black, red, white, green, and yellow — represent all five elements working together to help balance and harmonize the body.

Here is the recipe as originally posted on Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen.

Five-Element Vegetarian Chili
Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients
1/4 cup dried black beans
¼ cup dried kidney beans
¼ cup dried azuki (red) beans
¼ cup dried navy beans or other white beans
¼ cup dried whole green peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped into ½-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, chopped into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons good-quality chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried basil (or 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried sage (or 2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped)
1 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice
½ pound (1 ½ to 2 cups) mushrooms, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup (about 1/2 pound) butternut squash or kabocha pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 fresh medium-size tomatoes, chopped into ½-inch pieces
3/4 cup red wine
Condiments: sliced green onions and/or plain yoghurt (optional)

Directions

  1. Soak the beans and peas in water at room temperature overnight (or at least 8 hours). Be sure to use at least twice as much water as the beans, as the beans will absorb a lot of water.
  2. Drain water from beans and peas, rinse them, and transfer to a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer on low for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add the garlic, onions, and celery. Stir-fry until the vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano, sage, sage, black pepper (if using), and salt, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and their juices, mushrooms, squash, fresh tomatoes, red wine, and bean and pea mixture to the pot and stir to blend.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for an additional 35 minutes or until the pieces of squash are cooked to your liking.
  7. Serve with green onions and/or plain yogurt, if desired.

Post-Holiday Food Tips: Spleen & Kidney Recharge

Winter is associated with Water Element and represented by Kidneys. The temperature of the Element is Cold and the taste is bitter. Kidney network is closely related to bones and Spleen network controls muscles. Spleen is weakened by damp and sweet foods. It controls digestion, fluid metabolism and energy production just to name a few. The warmth or Yang energy, that is essential for proper digestive and musculoskeletal function, is affected by most ‘holiday’ foods, which in turn leads to poor food metabolism, cold sensation in the body and often physical pain.

To “recharge” your spleen & kidney after the holidays try to implement these changes into your diet:

  • Eat smaller meals, more frequently
  • Eat cooked meals, like vegetable soups and stews, instead of raw salads. Lightly cooked vegetable are easily absorbed
  • Take time to enjoy meals by sitting down without being distracted by phone or work
  • Chew thoroughly to savor flavors
  • Enjoy small amounts of naturally sweet flavors like molasses, dates and rice syrup as well as more pungent tastes such as  onion, garlic, turnip, ginger, fennel, cinnamon and nutmeg, which are also beneficial in restoring Spleen function.

Limit the intake of:

  • Overly rich, oily or heavy foods
  • Cold foods such as raw vegetables/salads (fruits are ok), tofu, and ice cream
  • Sugary treats, yeast and flour products (breads, beer)

Wellness Tips – Healing the Comon Cold with Food and Nutrition

Remedies to beat the Cold:

•Use ginger, cinnamon, clove, basil, rosemary in teas and foods regularly.
•Warming seeds and grains:
– Oats, spelt, quinoa, sunflower seed, sesame seed, walnut, pinenut, chestnut, fennel, dill, anise, caraway, carob pod, cumin, sweet brown rice
•OK to use Neutral grains rice, corn, buckwheat and rye. Other grains are too cooling.
•Veg/Fruit: parsnip, parsley, mustard greens, winter squash, sweet potato, kale, onion, leek, chive, garlic, scallion; cherry, citrus peel and date.
•Small amounts hot peppers/spices
•If needed, butter is only warming dairy product. Milk/cheese are neutral.
•Meats: anchovy, mussel, trout, chicken, beef and lamb.

Importance of Cooking Foods
•Cooking increases the warming properties of food
•Helps break down food structure
•Nutrients are more available and better assimilated
•Relatively few nutrients are lost in simple cooking
•The energy of the body is less focused on digestion and can be used in other ways.
•Moderately cooked food is recommended to help support mental clarity and energy metabolism.

A TCM Perspective on Cooked vs Raw Foods
Most of my patients are surprised to hear the recommendation to skip salads and cold foods during winter months. Ever wondered why Chinese prefer to eat cooked food, drink warm water, and never include salad on either restaurant or home menu?

The answer lies with better understanding how digestion works from a Chinese medicine perspective. Chinese Medicine sees life as a series of warm transformations—the underlying philosophy of Taoism where change and transformation are natural processes which, given the proper environment, will happen on their own. The process of digestion is viewed in the same light. Give the body proper food and liquid, a proper environment, and there will be abundance of energy and balanced metabolism. The stomach is viewed as a pot that needs to ‘cook’ the food in order to extract the nutrients (separate the clear from the turbid). The ability to transform food into usable nutrients for the cells is dependent on the ‘digestive fire’ to ‘cook’ the foods and ensure this transformation is completed. Using cold/raw food will lower or in some cases simply put out that ‘digestive fire’ resulting in symptoms like bloating, gas or upset stomach.

Recipes – Simple Red Lentil Soup

Simple Red Lentil Soup:
good source of Magnesium

2 cups of split red lentils
6 cups of water
¼ of fresh onion, finely chopped
2 medium size tomatoes (like roma tomatoes)
Tea spoon of fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 table spoon of turmeric
Whole black peppercorns – 5-6
1 table spoon of butter
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Hot chili sauce for serving – optional

Combine all the ingredients, except cilantro and hot souse, in rice cooker. Select “cook rice” setting and cook for about 20 minutes or until lentils are soft and mushy. Garnish with cilantro and hot chili souse. Serve with your favorite crackers or bread.
Variation: use 5 cups of water, instead of six, for thicker consistency and serve as a stew over rice.
Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main dish