Category Archives: Recipe Book

Posts about food, cooking and recipes for easy meals and ways to get the right energetic properties out of your foods from a TCM nutritional perspective.

Melon Smoothie

My intention is not necessarily to blog about food all the time, but I have a feeling it will be a pretty common topic here.  I’m ok with that for a few reasons: a) food is a universally relevant topic.  We all have to eat.  b) food is often times a great medicine – both preventative and curative.  And c) I love it!  I like eating. I like cooking.  I like how food looks.  I like experimenting with recipes and I love thinking about food in terms of Chinese Medicine.  Foods have temperatures, properties and correlations to organ systems that they can impact.

Today I made a Canary melon smoothie with mint and vanilla almond milk.  It was incredibly fresh tasting and cooling on a hot day like today.  Personally, I tend to have a constitution that is on the warm side.  In five element theory (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) I am a fire.  I usually feel hot, my skin can get red and flush easily and I am perpetually thirsty.

Tired of drinking iced tea and water all summer long, I decided to try a different thirst quenching route.   I’m not usually a big fan of melons but they were on sale at the store this week and they were really beautiful – plump, vivacious and fragrant.  They seemed to radiate healthy, strong Qi.  I’ve had honeydew and watermelon and cantaloupe but this produce bin included melons I’d never tried like crenshaw, juan canary and casaba.  It seemed now was the time to experiment.  I bought a football sized canary yellow melon.

I broken out the blender and made a regular smoothie for breakfast with yogurt, raspberries and a banana.  While I was washing it, it occurred to me that a smoothie might be the best way to use the melon so that I might actually eat it before it went bad – which can easily happen with foods you don’t have a plan for or don’t know quite how to prepare.

I kept it simple which is always hard for me.  I usually add too many different elements and have had to train myself to pick a focus and then highlight that one point of view – I usually fail in this effort when it comes to dressing myself.

I picked some mint from my deck herbs, juiced a lemon, chopped half the melon up into cubes and poured in the almond milk.  Melons are cooling and sweet and act on the heart, stomach and bladder channels.  Lemons are acrid and sour and are good for moving the qi of the body.  Mint is actually used as a Chinese herb on it’s own and is a potent mover of stuck qi and vents heat and inflammation from the skin.  Almond milk is sweet and neutral in temperature and distinctly moistening, especially for the lungs and intestines.  It is a great food for dry, irritated cough and constipation.  After first blend, it was not quite sweet enough and the consistency was off.  I added honey (very good for the yin, or nourishing properties of the body) and some crushed ice cubes and viola!

I have since drunk the entire thing and could not feel more refreshed albeit very full.  Recipe as follows:

1 half melon; cubed

juice of 1 lemon

6-10 mint leaves

1 tsp honey

1 cup vanilla or original flavored almond milk  (Soy or rice milk would work well too – yogurt or cow milk can be used but will make the smoothie much thicker and can produce excess phlegm in the body.  Also feel free to adjust amounts here to reach desired consistency.)

6 ice cubes crushed (or 1/2 cup crushed ice)

Put all ingredients in blender and pulse until smooth!

Advertisements

How to cook and eat kale

This post is the result of a recent event at my work.  I brought in a HUGE bag of kale from my mom’s garden to give to my co-workers.  This kind of produce trade happens a lot at my work during the summer gardening months.  Cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and herbs all get snapped up pretty quickly.  My kale sat there all day on the lunch room table.  When people came by they said “I saw your kale in the lunch room.  I’d take some but I really don’t know who to cook it”.  This was repeated to me throughout the day by the majority of my co-workers.  This is really too bad because kale is almost always included on those lists of super foods that get talked about from time to time.  Usually along with things like blueberries, tomatoes and Quinoa.  Also, it’s really tasty.  I figured people would probably be more inclined to take free kale and eat it if they new how to cook with it.  So this post is about my favorite superfood and it’s many EASY preparations.

In TCM, kale is a warming vegetable which accounts for why it is so often found in hearty winter soups.  It can also be served raw, however it can be much more difficult to digest and if you suffer from digestion symptoms like, bloating or loose stools, try and find ways to eat cooked kale as oppose to the raw salads and slaws.  Kale also has strong phyto-chemicals which can help balance yeast growth and have a pro-biotic effect on the GI system.  It has a hefty anti-oxident load and strong cancer fighting properties.  Kale has high levels of protein, vitamins A, C and E, and is great non-oil or animal source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Kale also contains more calcium than milk products or eggs.  Kale is a natural anti-inflammtory.  An increase is foods like kale can benefit conditions  like arthritis, tendonitis, and even promote healing after surgery.

There are three main varieties of kale one can usually find in the supermarket.  Co-ops usually have better selection and leafy greens tend to be on the “dirty dozen” lists –  foods that you should spring for the organic options due to the high pesticide use in commercial production.

The most talked about is probably lacinato aka tuscan aka dinosaur kale.   It is called dino kale due to its reptilian texture.

dino kale in my garden

There are also green leaf and red leaf kale.

Depending on your personal taste preferences I think they can all be used interchangeably.

A note on prepping kale.  The center rib or stem of the leaf is not meant to be eaten.  Slice along both sides of the rib all the way up the length of the leaf and remove it.  If you have nice big leaf halves, roll them up or stack them to shred or chop more easily.  If you have pieces you can you just chop like you would a pile of spinach leaves.

Some of the best, easiest ways to get kale into your diet is to simply add it to things you already eat.  Scrabbled eggs are great with kale, tomatoes and onions.  Substitute kale sauteed with garlic and chopped bacon for a green side dish (even better when you use the bacon fat drippings to sauté in).  Or you can cook kale leaves in boiling water for about 3-5 minutes, rinse in cold water, chop and add to mashed potatoes.  Add chopped kale to almost any soup – a simple chicken stock, celery, onions, carrots, a can of roasted diced tomatoes and kale is an easy, quick, filling meal with crusty bread.

If you want specific recipes a great website is epicurious.com and they happen to have a whole article on cooking kale here.

Once you get comfortable cooking this vegetable you’ll wonder how you lived so long without it.