Yogapuncture Summer Foods

Like we discussed in the last post, summer yogapuncture the flavor of summer is bitter. Check back there for some examples of bitter foods to add to your diet in the summer.

Spinach salad with grapes, almonds avocado and chicken salad

Summer is the season of variety! Go to the farmers market throughout the season and each week you will see more and more delicious foods to eat. Bright colored, beautiful foods are the best to eat right now. This nourishes us deeply and fills up our energetic savings account especially for the winter months. Cook light on high heat (or not at all) and steam veggies lightly. Add spicy regularly to help regulate body temperatures. As you eat spicy foods it warms the body which signals to turn on the internal A/C. (it also helps rev up your metabolism) The summer is also a time of eating less and lighter especially on hot days. Eating in season and local is best especially in the summer because the foods you are eating have adapted to the same environment that you have giving you the best nutrition possible.

Sourdough sandwich with fried egg, lentil sprouts, cucumber, carrots, sunflower sprouts and lettuce

The color of summer is red and foods that “bleed” red are especially nourishing to the blood of our bodies energetically. The summer is also the time of adding more fresh, in season fruit to the diet. Think cherries, strawberries, watermelon, raspberries and beets. Watermelon is especially nourishing in the summer as it is hydrating and cooling and is actually considered an herb in Chinese Medicine. It is often recommended to eat watermelon when losing weight or if there is danger of heat stroke. Here is the recipe for Watermelon Juice. You can add cucumber slices for added cooling effects. Drink strained or straight both ways are good.

I’ll end with a few summer recipes to try.

Summer Zucchini Lasagna.

Blueberry Lemon Banana Bread

Creamed Kale with Scapes (the farmers market has scapes now and if you’ve never had them you really should try them they are so good. If you are wondering what in the heck it is, its a young tender garlic)

Zucchini Squash Caserole

Kale Walnut Pesto with Zucchini Meatballs

Cucumber Lemon Water

Share your favorite summer recipes and beautiful meals on our facebook group.

 

Summer Yogapuncture

Summer is the time of expansion, growth, lightness, brightness, outward activity and creativity. Its when the energy around us is most superficial, abundant and available. Just look outside and see everything in full bloom.

In Chinese Medicine the summer is the time of the element of Fire and the meridians most active pertain to the Heart and Small intestine channel. Perhaps because the energy is so available this season has another organ pair active as well: the pericardium and triple warmer.

When you think of summer here is an easy cheat sheet. I’ll get into the specifics below

Color: Red               Taste: Bitter

Emotion: Joy           Meridians: Heat/Small intestine and Pericardium/Triple Warmer

Element: Fire          External Factor: Heat

Opens to tongue    Controls Sweating

The main function of the heart/small intestine system is circulation just like what you would think about in western medicine. In Chinese Medicine the heart also houses the mind, spirit and controls sleep and memory. Pericardium is said to be the master of the heart as well as its protector and because of this carries the same functions as the heart.

The small intestine has the job of separating the turbid from the clear for both the food we eat for usable energy and also for our thoughts.

The Triple Warmer protects the organs of the body on the outside as well as controls the “waterways” of the body which helps with distributing energy throughout the body. My teacher would say that the triple warmer is a concept looking for an organ. There are three warmers: upper, middle and lower that divide the torso in a certain respect.

The tongue is an useful diagnostic tool in Chinese Medicine. It is the only organ that is both internal and external. We look at the tongue as a way to see how the body is functioning internally. The shape, size, color and coat all tell a story. The tongue is also where the heart energy opens to. If you have trouble sleeping, are feeling restless/anxious take a peak at your tongue chances are the tip of your tongue will be redder than the rest of the tongue body. If you find a center crack on the tongue that can indicate stress in the body or can be constitutional deficiency of the heart energy. When stress recedes in our lives typically the center crack will as well even if it doesn’t go away completely. Balanced heart energy means you have an easy time communicating your thoughts. Trouble finding words or getting “tongue tied” can indicate an imbalance with the heart. Forgetfullness is also a sign of heart energy imbalance.

The emotion of the summer is Joy. Like any emotion it should be balanced. We often associate joy as being a positive emotion that you can’t have “too much of.” An example of too much joy would be shock. A woman was once thrown a surprise party. When she walked into the room and saw all of these people she started to scream uncontrollably. This is an example of the excess joy taxing the heart. Another example of excess joy would be overstimulation. You might think of burning that candle at both ends as overstimulation. All fun and no rest is damaging to the heart energy of the body. Manic energy is also depleting.

Especially in the Midwest it can feel like we wait all year for summer. It can feel like such a short season and we might feel compelled to get the “most” out of it. As a way to keep Joy balanced this is a perfect season to practice mindfulness.

The heart energy also controls sweating in the body. The heart energy can be damaged by too much heat. If you find yourself sweating excessively or feeling hot or stuffy especially in the palms, feet and chest this can indicate a heart yin deficiency, essentially your body needs more coolant. Acupuncture, herbs and diet changes can help rectify this.

The taste of the summer is bitter. This is often referred to as the most under utilized flavor in western cuisine and perhaps for good reason. In nature typically bitter plants warn us of the plant’s poisonous nature. However the bitter flavor of foods helps to increase saliva which in turn helps to improve digestion which allows the body to absorb more nutrients from the foods we eat giving way to our ability to have more usable energy. The bitter flavor also clears away heat and drains dampness which can make our bodies feel heavy and lethargic, not how you want to feel in the summer!

Examples of bitter foods include: celery, dandelion, burdock, yarrow, chamomile, hops, Echinacea, alfalfa, romaine lettuce, rye, asparagus, papaya, quinoa and citrus peel. Coffee and dark chocolate are also bitter.

Digestive bitters are also another great way to incorporate the bitter flavor into your diet. Take a teaspoon or so of bitters before a meal to help prime the body for digestion. If you indulge in a heavy meal that leaves you feeling full, bloated or gassy taking bitters after a meal can help assuage your symptoms. The digestive bitters that are included in the summer self care package are custom made for the summer and include cherries or strawberries (the color of summer), citrus peel (bitter element) and peppermint (aromatic and cooling). You can also use bitters mixed with some fruit and sparkling water for a low alcoholic beverage that supports your body rather than deplete it.

contains: brandy, citrus, cherries or strawberries and peppermint

I find that the bitter flavor also leaves me craving more water which is a great way to keep the body hydrated in the summer months.

I’ll leave you with this here and get into the diet of summer in the next post so its not so overwhelming and then will have 2 yoga sequences for you to use through out summer as well. Stay tuned! There are still a few self care packages available for purchase as well, let me know if you would like one.      🙂

Summer Self Care Packages

Doesn’t it feel like sometimes we wait all year for the summer sunshine and before we know it, its over? These care packages were designed to support you for a healthy summer season.
Each package includes a Pink Salt Foot Soak, Relaxed and Energized Tea, Digestive Bitters and An after sun serum. Below I’ll go into a little detail about the benefits of each. When you purchase your self care package you will also get access to a special blog post just for you with the recipes for each item so you can make more on your own!

 

Pink Salt Foot Soak

contains: pink Himalayan salt, Epsom salt, baking soda and lavender flowers

Summer is the time when we are more active and often times NOT wearing the most supportive shoes. This foot soak replenishes the body with magnesium from the Epsom salts and over 84 minerals and elements from the pink salts. The combo of pink salt, Epsom salt and baking soda make it very similar to taking a dip in the ocean which is very replenishing for the whole body. Lavender can also be cooling and its considered to be an adaptogen herb. While its known to be calming it can also be energizing if that’s what your body needs as well. The foot soak is a great thing to do before bed for a good nights sleep as well. (You can recycle the foot soak water and use it to feed your plants or garden when you are done too)

Relaxed and Energized Tea

contains: chamomile, hibiscus and rosehips

The color of the summer season is Red and this delightful tea blend is perfect iced or hot for summer. The chamomile keeps the tea calming and the circulatory properties of the hibiscus and rose hips are great for a non-ca ffeinated pick me up during the afternoon slump.

Digestive Bitters

contains: brandy, citrus, cherries or strawberries and peppermint

The flavor of the summer season is bitter which is the most deficient flavor of US cuisine. These bitters boast the flavors and colors of summer and help support digestion. Take 20-30 minutes before a meal to prime digestion or after a meal if you’ve over indulged to aid fullness and gas. Mixed with sparkling water and fruit wedges its a perfect low alcoholic summer cocktail that benefits the body.

After Sun Serum

Contains: jojoba oil, avocado oil, elderflower, calendula, gree tea, rosemary extract and lavender

This after sun serum is infused by the sun much like a sun tea. The herbs are strained out before bottled. A little goes a long way to nourish the skin before an after prolonged sun exposure. Massage gently into skin.

 

If you would like to order a self care package they will be available at the Crystal Lake Yogapuncture this Friday at Bonnie’s house or next Saturday at OhmMother Yoga. I can also ship to you for an additional fee. The cost is $35.

New Moon and Kidney Energy (Yogapuncture for Fertility)

Seed

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Have you ever held a seed in your hand before placing it in the dirt and marveled at its size? How can something so tiny possibly hold everything it needs to create a whole other plant that will bear roots, leaves, flowers and fruit? It almost seems inconceivable. This is the energetics of the water element, of the kidney/urinary bladder system. For ease I will simply refer to all of this as Kidney energy but all of the associations are included. (to be clear we are talking about the energetics of the kidneys as is related to Chinese Medicine not your physical organs) Just like a seed the kidneys are often referred to as “the root of life”. This is where our essence or Jing is stored. Think of essence like a seed- everything is there to create life. The essence we hold in our bodies comes from 2 places: our parents’ energy at conception (genetics) and energy of our lifestyle (food and movement). The energy of our lifestyle is considered most important because it is constantly being replenished whereas the energy from our parents is set and finite.

What this basically means is that the Kidney system is the foundation of the rest of the organ systems. The function of the kidneys is to store the essence as well as govern birth, growth, reproduction and development, produce marrow, fill up the brain, and control the bones. The energy of the kidney’s open into the ears, manifest in the hair and house the will power (perhaps that’s why we feel compelled to start New Year’s resolutions in the winter months).

In the fall the plants have given the last energy to the last harvest and as the coldness sets in the leaves and fruit dry out, shrivel up and shrink. Any seeds remaining from this fruit might be lucky to settle into the earth and sleep during winter. Because summer is the winter’s opposition we might think of the summer time as the place to fill up our energetic savings account to hold us through the winter. Being that the kidneys are our body’s foundation for every other activity our body needs to function and thrive it is especially important to be kind to our kidneys. And just like seeds, our bodies need periods of rest in order to thrive. The tulip is a great example, as bulbs must be planted at the right time in fall and then need so much time to settle in coldness in order to emerge again in the spring.

When we think of the kidney energy and how it relates to fertility it can be seen as the foundation. By nourishing the kidneys we are building our reserves for high egg quality, a smooth pregnancy and post partum.

Associations for Kidney System

Element: Water                                                          Organs: Kidney/Urinary Bladder

Emotion: Fear                                                             Color: Black/Blue

Sound: Groaning                                                        Taste: Salt

Function: Storing                                                         Direction: North

Manifests in Hair                                                        Controls the Low back Bones and Marrow

Balance/Opposition: Summer/Heart/Joy/Fire           Time: Urinary Bladder 3-5pm Kidney 5-7pm

Drawing with Skeleton, Acupuncture Point KI17 Shangqu, 3D Illust

The kidney channel starts on the sole of the foot and works its way up the inner thigh, torso and ends just under the collar bones. The kidney channel is the yin organ and the urinary bladder channel the yang organ.

The urinary bladder channel starts at the inside corner of the eye and goes up the skull down the back to the back of the knee then up the back to the calf and ends at the outside edge of the pinky toe on each side. This channel has the most points of any channel 67 in all and is the most grounding in nature. The energy is so grounding in fact that burning an herb called Moxa over the last point on this channel is quite effective in bringing a breech or malposition baby into a more favorable position. The urinary bladder channel also has what are called “Shu points” along the back about 1.5 inches lateral of the spine. Each Shu point correlates to an organ and when these points are stimulated it nourishes the corresponding organ.

Because the bulk of our essence comes from food let’s start here. The kidneys are nourished by slow cooked foods, think crock pots, roasted meats and veggies etc. Red meat and meat with the bone in are especially strengthening to the kidneys. Don’t throw the bones away but rather make a nourishing stock for soups or even when cooking rice to give it more flavor. Foods that are kidney shaped also nourish the kidneys; kidney beans are an easy example. Foods that are rich deep colors are also especially nourishing to the kidneys, bonus points if they are black or blue as this is the color of the kidneys. Black beans, kidney beans, eggplant, dark leafy green veggies like spinach, kale, chard and dates. Foods with a natural salty flavor are also helpful such as seaweed and seafood. Walnuts are also said to lubricate the joints and strengthen the lower back (where the kidneys reside). A common herbal prescription to strengthen the lower back is to eat one walnut a day. Incorporating bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, kiwi, citrus foods helps with the absorbtion of iron from beans, whole grains and meat.

The Kidney energy can also be associated with the beginning of your cycle or menstruation. Day 1 is the first day of your period.

The kidneys are damaged by coldness so it is especially important to stay away from cold foods. Energetically speaking raw food is cold in nature so save salads for the summer months or later in your cycle when it is more appropriate. Avoid eating foods directly from the refrigerator or freezer. Stay away from ice in your drinks and ice cream. Dairy should be omitted completely with PCOS and avoid soy (read labels as most packaged foods contain soy) due to the phytoestrogens soy can deregulate a cycle. Keep the belly and low back warm especially in the winter months and start of your cycle. You might place your hand on your abdomen and notice the quality of the temperature of your skin, does it feel cool to the touch or warm? If you notice your belly is cool you might enjoy warm baths or hot water bottle over the abdomen especially in the first half of your cycle. Cold foods inhibit circulation and can contribute to cramping and clots in your menses.

New Moon

The new moon is when the moon is completely hidden from view. It is a time of turning inward and is why the Kidney energy of Chinese Medicine is relevant. The new moon is also the time of renewal and setting intentions. If we didn’t have schedules to live by we would also sleep slightly longer during the new moon as the sky is darker and invites us to rest more. This is a restorative time.

Homework Pose for the Week: Constructive Rest Pose

Constructive Rest Pose is said to be the equivalent to 2 hours of sleep when held for 10 minutes. If you notice midafternoon fatigue use 5-10 minutes of your lunch break to practice constructive rest pose, this is also a nice way to end the day before bed and you could even practice in bed and drift right off to sleep.

How to do it:

Lay on a flat surface with your knees bent. Bring your feet out about shoulder width apart. Turn your toes in (slightly pigeon toed) If there is any discomfort in your lower back walk your feet either further away from your body or closer to your body depending on what feels better to you. Slide your shoulders down away from your ears and rest with your arms at your sides just far enough away from your body so that your palms can comfortably rest racing up. Slide your chin slightly towards your chest to lengthen the back of the neck. Close your eyes and practice deep breathing for 5-10 minutes.

To come out of the pose:

Take a stretch if you feel its needed. Protect your back and roll onto your side. Rest for a moment on your side if you aren’t fully alert and when ready press yourself back to a seated posture.

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Acupressure for the Week: KD6

KD6

This point is located on what is known as the conception vessel in Chinese Medicine. What better point to stimulate when preparing the body for pregnancy? This point has many benefits, opening the body to conception is one and can also be used to combat nausea during pregnancy as well as for insomnia, prolapse of the uterus, constipation, frequency of urination and sore throat. It is a safe acu-point to use through out your cycle and during pregnancy.

Located in the hollow just under the inner ankle bone. Sitting with the soles of feet together and legs in a diamond is an ideal position to access this point. Hold this point for 1-3 minutes as well.

Located in the hollow just under the inner ankle bone. Sitting with the soles of feet together and legs in a diamond is an ideal position to access this point. Hold this point for 1-3 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s for Dinner when Spring is springing

Its been quite a productive day that almost calls for celebration after a pretty challenging week last week (thanks Pink Moon). I was expecting to see instant green after all the rain we have been getting and was a little surprised when it didn’t happen right away. It got me thinking about the gentle balance of spring. The cloudy, rainy days still call for a little rest. There is so much happening under the surface and like a small child that needs frequent naps so does all the new growth around us. So do we! (no matter how stir crazy we feel) A little sunshine after the rain is when the magic happens but without either we wouldn’t get to enjoy all the vibrant, fresh, young green shoots around us and all the flowers that, in their own time bloom so beautifully for us. So be kind to yourself if you’re feeling inspired to move and do and if you’re still needing a little hibernation. 🙂

This week’s menus comes with a few requests, some solid repeats and something new. What are you cooking?

Chicken Curry with broccoli slaw, broccoli, orange peppers and rice

Asian fried rice and beans

Hamburgers with mushrooms and onions, side of sweet potato fries

Jumbo Scallops with creamed kale and noodles

Trader Joe’s Palak paneer

What’s For Dinner in Spring When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking

How did your no white sugar challenge go? I did fairly well. I was able to easily avoid and not feel sad about several sweets put before me. I did take my daughter out for ice cream on Sunday and while it was good I don’t know if it was quite worth feeling like a brick was sitting in my guts the rest of the evening. 🙂

This week my husband won’t be home for half the week for dinner time. I don’t know about you but for some reason when he’s not around I have zero desire to cook dinner even though there are still 3 of us that need to eat!

Here is the plan for the week. What are your favorite quick and easy dinners?

Bachelorette Macaroni (I ate this quite a bit in my early 20s. Mac and cheese with tuna, broccoli and spinach. One pot and you’re done.)

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans (one of my favorite dinners)

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Fish Tacos with Kiwi Salsa

Potstickers with Rice, avocado and bok choy (we bake the pot stickers and mix the bok choy and avocado with the rice with a little soy sauce and gyoza sauce)

Kids choice (I’m sure this will end of being pancakes of some kind)

 

 

What’s for dinner in the spring

We ended up having a whole meatless week around here until Saturday when my daughter requested burgers on the grill and promptly ate 2! How is that for balance? Everything from last week was quite delicious I could almost do a redo. I can’t even choose a favorite it was all so good. 


We didn’t get to the baked chicken yet so that will be in queue this week for sure plus:

Cauliflower pizza 

Lemon chicken asparagus stir fry

Green lentil curry 

Palak paneer cheater dinner from Trader Joe’s 

I have another challenge for you this week if you would like to join me. In January I gave up white sugar as a way to reset after the holidays. I felt fantastic after the initial detox. Sugar is tough to kick! I’ve slowly fallen back into old habits and am looking forward to getting back to the lightness I felt when sugar didn’t have such a grip on me. The first few days are tough I won’t lie but it does get easier. I didn’t give up honey in my tea in the morning and things like that. Let me know if you’d like to join me! 🙂
Have a great week!

What’s for Dinner in Spring

I love how paying attention to what’s happening in our environment adds many levels of richness to my life. I was driving this morning to have breakfast with my brother and sister and along the side of the road almost hidden were tiny baby buds. It was so cool to see spring coming to life. It almost makes the gloomy rainy days worth it! 🙂 We started a row of onions, carrots and lettuce last week outside and I can’t wait to find some sprouts. Our indoor starts are looking happy so far too. 😉

This week we are going to have some meatless options and some sour dishes for spring. I hope you are feeling a little lighter this week now that we are officially in the spring season.

What’s for dinner:

Asian Style Fried Rice and Beans

One Pot Cheesey Mexican lentils, black beans and rice

Spinach and Lemon Soup with Orzo with a side salad

Italian Baked Chicken with Green Lentil Mash

Artichoke Spinach Ricotta Calzones

 

Sneaky Greens for Picky Eaters

My daughter I’m discovering is a unicorn eater. She has her favorite go to carbs like most kids but she will pretty effortlessly eat just about anything in front of her. My son started out this way and as he nears 2 has discovered the words No! and Yucky! I have no idea where 🙂

In an effort to get him to eat more than yogurt, cheese, crackers and seaweed I’ve been inspired by this weeks “eat your greens” challenge.

Magic Spring Muffins

 

When I get back from a yoga class my son and I usually share a protein shake of some sort. I switched them over to green shakes this weekend and he no longer was so excited about them when they weren’t chocolate. Yesterday I threw in some cocoa powder and dates and we were back in business. I realize that even lots of “grown ups” aren’t huge fans of veggies and as a once very picky eater myself (sorry mom) I am sharing these 2 recipes to help you get more greens into your lives.

Sneaky Smoothie

Sneaky Smoothie

Chocolate “green” smoothie

What you need:

  • cup of packed spinach or greens of your choice
  • 1 banana
  • 3 dates
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 scoop of collagen
  • 2 cups water

blend everything until smooth ( you could add a nut milk or honey for extra sweetness if you need to)

you could also switch out strawberries or raspberries for the banana to mix it up

Enjoy!

Magic Spring Muffins

Magic Spring Muffins

Magic Spring Muffins

We used maple syrup as this is technically in season right now but you could also use honey too.

What you need:

  • 1 cup packed peas or spinach ( I used spinach)
  • 1 cup milk of your choice, I used ripple plant based milk
  • 1/4 melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup (or more to taste) maple syrup
  • 2 ripe smashed bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin.
  2. Put spinach, milk in blender and blend until smooth. Add coconut oil, bananas, syrup, and vanilla to blender and blend until smooth again.
  3. Add dry ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until green and creamy.
  5. Pour in muffin tin 3/4 of the way full.
  6. Bake 15-18 minutes.

Enjoy!