Giselle’s all raw, all natural, vegan no-bake Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy-Shen-Squares
This past week I was at Dr. Andrew Weil’s Health & Nutrition conference in Seattle, learning so much with like minds who also believe (and practice) “you are what you eat.” Dr. Weil is an awesome champion of “food as medicine” (a major tenant in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Eastern culture) and an integrative medicine guru. His approach to eating is very natural and sensual. He advocates the Mediterranean diet with more veg, slightly less fruits and defines the carbs/grains category more specifically. The goal is anti-inflammatory foods that taste amazing. His True Food Kitchen restaurants (in AZ, the West Coast and growing to other parts of the country) are a testament to his approach. Here is his food pyramid,
In Chinese medicine, “shen” means spirit. This recipe is great for the spirit, good for the body and will make you smile from pure joy. It’s a healthful dessert/on-the-go-snack/afternoon TCM treat that uses NO butter (though the consistency of the cold coconut oil will rival any pat and probably promote suspicion among eaters). No bake, all raw, totally awesome.
Like I like to say, food is medicine, yes, BUT IT SHOULDN’T TASTE LIKE MEDICINE. I repeat, IT SHOULDN’T TASTE LIKE MEDICINE. Otherwise you food is a big FAIL. These are a crowd pleaser, for sure. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing the Ren & Stimpy butt bump because they taste so yum—-find you a partner and go for it!
2 cups walnuts
2 cups pitted dates
1 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup plain & black sesame seeds
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil
1 cup Thompson organic raisins
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
1 cup pecans, soaked for an hour
1/3 cup gou qi zi (goji berries)
Break out the food processor + toss in the walnuts, dates, sesame seeds and coconut flakes for a quick whiz. Once the ingredients have been incorporated, remove and press mixture in the bottom and edges of a pie pan. Proceed to blendin’ the filling ingredients until they’re smooth. Pour the filling into the crust and garnish with some more pecans like Paula Deen would (why not). Then, make sure to put the pie in the freezer for at least 5 hours so the baby can set.
Chinese Medicine Benefits:
Giselle’s HHJJSS, are a sweet, fluid-generating shen tonifier also augments the blood and qi. The dates are used for overall qi weakness, coughing and indigestion. Sesame seeds tonify yang, but in particular look to the sweet + neutral hei zhi ma to nourish LV/KD yin deficiency, nourish blood, clear wind, as well as moisten and lubricate those intestines. The coconut meat is good for tapeworms (nice bonus), constipation and premature aging. The sweetness of the coconut meat engenders fluids and promotes urination. According to Chinese Natural Cures black dates are good for diarrhea, hepatitis, neurasthenia, insomnia, allergic purpura and anemia—specifically targeting the SP. Walnuts are an awesome KD tonic that can also affect the LU. Warm and sweet, walnuts can be especially beneficial for coughs, lumbago, impotence, seminal emission, frequent urination, KD/UB stones, and constipation (again, yay). Gou qi zi, sweet + neutral, nourishes and tonifies the LV & KD, treating yin + blood deficiency and benefiting essence. Goji berries brighten the eyes, enrich yin and moisten dry lungs. They can also be very beneficial for diabetes, HTN, reducing fever, containing sweat and myriad ophthalmic disorders.
‘Tis the Season…of the Water element—Dive in!
I mentioned in the last post that in the Five Element belief system of Chinese medicine, which is based on nature and Daoist principles, that—similar to being an astrological sign—people individually correspond to the elements of Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. The Daoist principle sees people as holding the quality of each season, their personalities and traits as an expression of each element; so, for example, I might meet a patient for a first treatment and diagnose them as a “water type,” or “fire type,” etc.
Each season has its own properties, which I will outline generally below (you can go Google wild for more in-depth characteristics); and, those properties lead to lifestyles and pathologies of the mind-body-spirit, and often those lifestyles lead you to your acupuncturist
To refresh our collective memory, these seasons, can be used to diagnose a person(ality) and where his/her energy or Qi might be “stuck” or out of balance. To determine a person’s elemental sign, we use the factors of Color (emanating around his/her eyes or forehead), Odor (behind the neck or underneath belly button), Sound of voice, and predominant Emotion (where they fall when out of balance).
You may now be wondering, What type am I? Take a glance at the perimeters below, but remember that self-diagnosis is usually faulty, aka most “types” don’t think they are the element they truly are.
Fire (summer), the Wizard or the “relationship person”—Color: red, Odor: burnt, Sound: laughing, Emotion: joy or lack of joy; affected organs: Heart, Pericardium, Triple Warmer, Small Intestine
Earth (late summer), the Peacemaker or “motherly type”—Color: yellow, Odor: sweet or fragrant, Sound: singing, Emotion: Worry; affected organs: Stomach, Spleen
Metal (autumn), the Alchemist or judge—Color: white, Odor: pungent, Sound: weeping, Emotion: Grief; affected organs: Large intestine and Lung
Water (winter), the Philosopher or thinker—Color: Black, Odor: putrid (think of murky water or “dank” smell), Sound: Groaning, Emotion: fear; affected organs: Kidney and Urinary bladder
Wood (spring), the Pioneer or leader—Color: Green, Odor: Rancid or “in bloom,” Sound: Shouting, Emotion: anger; affected organs: Gallbladder and Liver
This is just scratching the surface, there are whole books (and books and books) on Five Element theory (it is like 3000 years old, after all); I personally love Lonnie Garrett’s Nourishing Destiny as a beginner, so I could go on…and on…and on…But since we are living in harmony with the seasons and before it’s already New Year’s, let’s practice “be here now” and get to winter and the element of Water.
So here it is again: Winter. The solstice passed this weekend and days will now get longer, a promise of more daylight, more hope for spring. But right now, pre-holidays, we are so in it—hibernating in that cave, spiritually, maybe even somewhat literally (“Real Housewives…” reruns, anyone?). In winter, a time of scarcity and dying branches and living off reserves (hello, pot belly), we are parsing out our stores bit by bit to make it through some dark months. Months in which we don’t really know what is coming next.
In Chinese medicine, winter corresponds to the element of water. The water element, naturally like its season, is mysterious and deep. Think of looking out onto a vast body of water—say, the Atlantic, Lake Michigan, or the like—certainly what you see on the surface is not what lurks under that giant film of fluid, right?
Underneath the water’s surface, there’s a whole life and ecosystem happening. From the top however, it can appear still, or sometimes, like now, even frozen—often you have no idea all that’s going on under there (the mysterious quality). But there’s plenty going on! This is what water is about. And what Water people are about, too. They think before they speak. They’re “deep.”
It’s also about many different forms of water. Water as frozen and cold, water as leaking all over, water as stuck, water as hidden. Water type people are resourceful and wise. They are NOT rash, rather they are thinkers who often spend so much time thinking (over-thinking), that they can become afraid of taking any action.
A water type has a good memory and is often very chill. But, if their water isn’t “strong” and “healthy,” they can become very cowardly and have no stamina. If their water is “over the top” and pouring out, they can be conniving and plotting dark ways to be shady, or all over the place, storing money off shore, at this bank and that bank, all secret-like . Get in an argument with a “water type” and their jabs can come lapping over you in fierce succession, making you feel like you just drown.
That said, like every element, there is good and bad to its qualities; so even if you are not a “water type,” you can assume its positive attributes to go with the flow of the season. Like Narcissist gazed at himself by the waterside, you too can practice the art of reflection (a very “water” activity); especially with the upcoming wrap of another year.
It’s the perfect time to look back on 2012 and ask yourself what worked and what didn’t, what good memories came about and what you’re happy is now in the past, receding naturally, like a distant wave, buh-bye. Water is the season of “ultimate yin,” about going inwards and gathering all your stock, about stillness and quiet. It is important to sleep more now and slow it down for a minute. Take stock of the year and practice gratitude for how far you’ve come before looking ahead.
Look before you leap in to Water. Dive in, just not head first. Test the water temp with a toe before you take the full plunge.
And remember, most of all, like Frank Ocean sings, when jumping off, swim good.
Photo by: the amazing Ryan McGinley
Fall 2012: Welcome to the Metal Season…and to REMIX’s First Blog
For those of us not living in the sunny365 climates, September brings the close of summer and kicks up the dust of those hot-n-humid, bbq-ing, get-that-tan-on, consequence-free months faster than you can say “Labor Day.”
Oh wait, we realize, there are consequences, *%&*@((%*%&&!!! and it’s getting cold! Brrrr.
In Chinese Medicine and eastern philosophy (the medicine being predicated on nature and it’s cycles), the seasons correspond to elements/minerals found in nature. Simply put: winter is water, spring is wood, summer is fire, late summer is earth, and autumn is metal. Autumn exhibits and expresses metallic properties and predispositions and is especially vulnerable to diseases and issues of “dryness.” The goal at this time of the year is too keep metal in balanced and “healthy.”
Without getting too complicated, Chinese Medicine keeps metal in balance by helping clients to “let go.” The trees have to let go of their leaves, so too do we humans need to let go of what no longer serves us, mentally, physically or emotionally, so that we can move into winter, the time of storage, the Ultimate Yin upon which we will build our wood (and houses and dreams and hopes) in spring.
The seasons not only correspond to elements, they pair up with channels and organ systems. The fall is coupled with the Lung and Large Intestine organs. They work together to bring in the fresh air (through our nose, a body part matched with metal) and let go of the crap (out the other end, mmkay). Metal and the lungs also control our “wei qi” or “defensive qi,” you can think of us as our skin and immunity. Our first line of defense to warding off disease is skin. It’s working overtime as the wind begins to pick up (this is the Windy City, right?) and autumn dryness begins to swirl and irritate.
When metal is out of balance, allergies, decreased immunity, “metallic” taste in the mouth, coughing, rhinitis, psoriasis and skin issues, isolation, lingering sadness and grief can all flare up and get the best of us. Since Chinese Medicine is a mind-body-soul medicine, metal also has a spiritual component; meaning, all that physical letting go is also a mental letting go. Toxic relationships, negative thoughts, bad memories, stress that binds our intestines and won’t let us poop (aka constipation), and bad environments at work or home can really make a person “feel like crap.” Literally.
Healthy metal can work to purge this poop and negativity, let go of a bad relationship or situation, grieve its loss appropriately (what? my summer fling is now dying off??) and give way to self-reflection and the bigger picture of its place in our life’s story; metal is beautiful and poetic. Unhealthy metal is clinging and hanging on, even if it is not good for us, please don’t leave me! Unhealthy metal is also people so filled up with their own crap that they are so “full of sh!t” (I’m sure you know the type, right?) And, what about those people who are so “anal” they can’t ease up enough to make a number 2, or ever be spontaneous and go with the flow?
Unhealthy metal or metal out of balance can also be about giving up too easily or letting go of friendships and relationships carelessly and flippantly. The romance of fall draws us internally whether we like it or not and requires a stillness that winter will capitalize on as it stores up its resources (or acorns if we were squirrels) to make it through hibernation so we have strength again to build in spring (again, wood). When metal is “inappropriate” or disturbed, you can expect people to go cold, be judgmental, cut you off, want to freeze you out or mentally jail you or themselves. That makes us sad.
Healthy metal is sentimental (Ahh, wasn’t that a glorious summer fling, though? All that prancing around and pillow talk? Le sigh.) and moral and concerned with doing the right thing, as Spike Lee said. Healthy metal is interested in integrity and straightforwardness. Bad metal is stubborn, nice metal is soft while still being able to stand strong upon its <strike>soapbox</strike> beliefs. Bad metal is belittling, dismissive and better than you.
Metal is also money-oriented (the human equivalent of acorns in a way); do we have enough $$$ to get us through the winter freeze? It’s concerned with a bit of swag and showing off the finer things (um, have you seen the Rich Kids of Instagram? That’ll make your ass feel b.r.o.k.e.)
Metal likes material luxury and “all white everything,” to quote Young Jeezy (who clearly belongs in this blog). Interestingly, in Chinese Medicine, the color associated with metal is white; see, dude was on to something! But when metal is out of balance, it is grossly money-obsessed and materialistic and flashy (you don’t need examples of people like this, right? I mean I already mentioned Young Jeezy, but many celebrities would do.) From the precious metal rocks and minerals we wear on our fingers to symbolize our “status” (gold, diamonds, white gold, diamonds, etc.) to our metal rides (bikes, cars, motorcycles), they all say something about us. Metal corresponds to our “self-worth” on many levels: monetarily, how we think people view us or how we want them to see us, and our moral code.
Take a look all around you, metal is happening everywhere! From the leaves on the ground, to the unmistakable smell of autumn in the air (metal’s physical manifestation is the nose and sense of smell, after all), to diamond engagement ring photos on Facebook and all the changes in relationships taking place, endings and promises and runny noses and cozy sweater-weather. As Chinese Medicine teaches us, this is natural; so let it in, then let the crap go, then just go with it.