Winter Christmas Baking

As I mentioned last week, I LOVE Christmas, and for us in the Northern Hemisphere, the festive period occurs in the depths of Winter – the time of most Yin, and it is associated with the Water Element, and it’s organs of the Kidneys and Bladder. As I say in the video below, it is the darkest and coldest time of the year, where we need to eat warming, nourishing foods that will increase our Yang, increase the blood and Qi circulation in our bodies, sustaining us through the season.  The easiest way to get more Yang in to our diets is through energetically warming or hot spices as outlined in Chinese Food Energetics.

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Recipe for Winter Christmas Cookies:

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/2 cup of good / local / raw honey

1/4 cup of pure molasses (all the nutrients & minerals are in there!)

2 & 1/2 cups of rice flour

Pinch of baking soda (optional)

2 tsp ground mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon (I LOVE cinnamon!)

Pinch of sea salt (again, optional)

Splash of water if the mixture is too dry to get into a ball to roll out

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Christmas Cookies

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Method:

1. Measure out the coconut oil, molasses & honey, place them in a bowl & mix together.

2. Measure all the dry ingredients into a separate bowl.

3. Then sift all the dry ingredients into the bowl containing the wet mixture.

4. Mix together until a ball can be formed – add a splash of water if necessary.

5. Create a ball of cookie dough with your hands & place on to cling film on the counter.

6. Roll out to around the thickness of a £1 coin, cut out shapes & place on baking sheet.

7. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees C (350 degrees F), for around 10 mins, but check!

8. Leave to cool on a rack & ENJOY!

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Energetics:

Coconut Oil – warm, sweet, tonifies Qi & Blood

Molasses – warm, sweet, nourishes the Kidneys & Lungs, boosts Qi & Blood

Honey – sweet, supports the Lungs, tonifies Qi & promotes Blood circulation

Rice Flour – warm, sweet, nourishes Qi & Blood

Nutmeg – warm, pungent, boosts Yang, Qi & Blood circulation & counteracts Cold

Cinnamon – Hot, pungent, sweet, supports Kidneys & Lungs, boosts Qi & Yang, & counteracts the Cold & Damp, and promotes Qi & Blood circulation

Coriander Seed – pungent, sour, counteracts the Cold, & helps circulation of Qi

Dill Seed – warm, goes to the Kidneys, tonifies Yang, counteracts the Cold, promotes Qi

Ginger – hot, boosts Yang, circulates Qi & Blood, counteracts Cold, resolves Phlegm.

Cloves – warming, boosts Kidneys & Yang, counteracts the Cold & promotes Qi circulation

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And if you don’t fancy baking or eating something sweet to nourish you over the festive period, then why not check out a blog post from this time last year to see how you can get all of the sweetness but none of the sugar – although I reckon this recipe here comes close to that, why not have your cake & eat it too?!!

Acupuncture can help you through the Winter with the challenges of the season – coughs, colds, chest weakness, asthma, circulation issues, constantly feeling cold, low mood, Seasonal Affective Disorder, digestive issues, and so on – contact me here for more information. Sending you so much goodness and cheer for a VERY MERRY Christmas – keep well, keep warm, and ENJOY! xx

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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Hemp Flax Cinnamon Raisin Breakfast Muffins

I have been totally uninspired by breakfast in the last few weeks. I know how tough it can be to motivate yourself into eating something healthy that will give you enough fuel for a busy morning. I’ve been reaching for less than desirable choices – quick and easy things, more processed than I would normally go for, basically not nourishing or good for my body.

It has been a crazy few weeks in clinic (I know, no excuse right?!), and with next week set to be the same, I wanted to make sure I had something high in protein, low in refined sugar, wheat free, but still satisfying for my spleen (and the eye!!)… so I put my thinking cap on and came up with some yummy hemp, flax, cinnamon and raisin breakfast muffins. It has the comforting taste of cinnamon-raisin, but with an added earthy-nutty flavour!

For those of you on Facebook that have been requesting the recipe, here it is:

Ingredients:

1 cup of almond milk / soya milk / rice milk / water (whatever your preference)

1 tablespoon of finely milled flaxseed

1/4 cup of oil (again, your preference, but go for plain tasting – coconut, sunflower, etc)

1/4 cup of maple syrup

1/4 cup of ground almonds

1 & 1/4 cups of rice flour

2 & 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon (I LOVE cinnamon – reduce if you only want a hint of it!)

1 teaspoon of baking powder (entirely optional, but as this recipe does not contain eggs, without the raising agent, the muffins can be quite dense – but still delicious!)

1 cup of shelled hemp

1/3 cup of raisins

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Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, and line a muffin tin with cases (or grease the tin to save pennies!)

2. Whisk the “milk” with the flaxseed, oil and maple syrup – it should get frothy and bigger in size.

3. Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl – rice flour, ground almonds, cinnamon and baking powder if using – sift if necessary.

4. Add wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix together.

5. Fold in the raisins and shelled hemp until everything is combined.

6. Spoon carefully into the cases (ensuring each muffin has enough raisins!) and bake for around 20 mins. Check they are done in the middle with a toothpick or knife – but remember the rice flour will make them more crumbly than regular wheat flour, so a crumb or two on the toothpick is usually ok!

Now usually, I do a lot of thinking around Chinese Food Energetics for my healthy baking recipes, but for this one it wasn’t so much to do with the energetics of the individual ingredients (though raisins, flax and hemp all nourish Yin – making this recipe particularly good for anyone who suffers exhaustion, hot flushes, migraines etc), it was more to do with nourishing the Stomach and Spleen effectively at the best time for them. I spoke about the importance of supporting the digestive system at the appropriate time in the Chinese Clock in the video of my Apple and Pumpkin breakfast loaf back in the Autumn, but to recap, the Stomach time of day is between 7am and 9am, and the Spleen time of day is between 9am and 11 am. Eating nutritious, high protein and “energetically sweet” food (not refined sugar junk!) during this time is the best way to ensure your body gets the most superior energy.

This is because these organs work best during their allocated time of day on the Chinese Clock – put the best stuff in during this time, and you will get the best stuff out! Plus, the digestive system is associated with the Earth element in Chinese Medicine, and the taste this element and its organs REALLY love is “sweet”… so having “energetically sweet” foods will really give them a boost to work even more efficiently and effectively – lucky for us, raisins, flax, hemp, rice and cinnamon are ALL energetically sweet, giving us sweetness, but without the sugar!

If you enjoyed this recipe, then tell me in the comments section below, or why not share a photo on my Facebook page, or tweet me @RG_Acupuncture on my Twitter feed – I would LOVE to know how you got on, and if you love them as much as I do! And if you do like them, then please share this post and the recipe by hitting the various social media SHARE buttons below. If you want to know more about Chinese Food Energetics and how dietary advice could help you, please click here or visit the website. And don’t forget to feed your Qi!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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Err, What’s Up Doc?!

For those staunch followers of the blog, you may remember last Autumn when I did some baking with seasonal produce, making a breakfast loaf that had all the right energetics for nourishing the digestive system, the Lungs, and resolving phlegm – all things that are needed to maintain health during the Autumn and into Winter.

Back in April, I did another short film about Spring and food, but with one thing and another it has taken me some time to edit it and get it online. In it, I have once again taken the principles of Chinese Food Energetics (see previous post if you don’t know what I mean by this), and come up with a recipe with spring carrots (that’s where the Bugs Bunny title catchphrase comes in – sorry, I couldn’t resist it!) and green tea, that is just perfect for the season, the season’s organs, and essentially moving that Qi! And, don’t forget, I wrote about this season a while back, in the Woody Springtime blog post, so get the lowdown about what Spring means in Chinese medicine, right there…

As for here, I am going to keep the writing brief, as the explanations are in the video below, but I thought I would share the energetics of the ingredients, so you can keep track with my rambling! But ensuring the smooth flow of Qi in the body can help with stress, depression, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (also listen to my recent interview on BBC Radio Oxford about how acupuncture can help IBS), period pain and bloating.

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Carrots = neutral in temperature, sweet in flavour, route into the body via Stomach, Lungs & Liver, tonifying & circulating Qi in the body.

Green Tea = cool in temperature, bitter & sweet in flavour, affects the Liver, helping smooth the circulation of Qi.

Raisins = boost Qi, has the Liver as one of its energetic organ routes into the body.

Almonds = help circulation of Qi, boost levels of Qi, resolve Phlegm.

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Breakfast = energy packed, ground almonds add protein, builds Qi for your day.

Elevenses = mid-morning snack, moving & smoothing Qi, reducing stress levels.

Afternoon Tea = picks you up during the 4pm energy lull, boosting Qi & getting Qi moving.

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If you would like to make the recipe, visit the downloads page of the website and click the thumbnail! Acupuncture works on the principles of Chinese Medicine, and as acupuncturists we can use this theory to guide our lifestyle and dietary choices. In short, we can complement our treatments with recipes and foods that will further enhance what we wish to do with the Qi (or energy) in our bodies – move it, boost it, nourish it, and so on. The good news is, that YOU can do that too, in your own home! To discuss more about how Chinese Food Energetics could help you towards better health, contact me, or leave a comment below! Happy Spring Baking!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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Question Time

No, I’m not the Prime Minister (though there is a fair few things I would like to bring in health and wellbeing wise if I was the Prime Minister – see below!) and I’m not appearing next to David Dimbleby… but I was asked a handful of questions by the local newspaper last month, in an article they called “It’s my Dream Job Being an Acupuncturist” (click link to read it)…

The additional few questions that they asked me, but weren’t printed can be seen below… tons of healthy tips, thoughts and tricks that I have in my day to day life – enjoy!

 

If you could pass one new law tomorrow, what would it be and why?

That it would be compulsory for everyone to fulfill a quota of holistic health requirements each year, a wellbeing CPD of sorts! Accessible and obligatory counseling, acupuncture, massage, dietary advice, or exercise classes, would add up to a much higher level of wellness in the wider population.

 

If you were stuck on Death Row, what would you pick for your final meal?

Sushi from Funki Sushi in Bournemouth, where I went to university the first time round! The balance of fish (raw and cooked), with vegetables, seaweed and rice really suits my system.

 

Websites you use or value the most?

I’m on my own website (www.rhiannongriffiths.com) and blog daily, but I’m often also on MindBodyGreen.com, which is a great site about meditation, yoga and holistic health. YourBellaLife.com is another super positive online magazine that has words of wisdom on everything from healthy living, to fashion, beauty and business – I get a daily dose of motivation here!

 

Favourite places to eat within 20 miles of Thame?

The Thatch in Thame is a favourite haunt – the superfood salad (spinach, beetroot, tuna & pumpkin seeds) on their Winter menu was delicious! Amazingly blood nourishing according to Chinese Food Energetics (or dietary therapy), plus a boost of zinc from the pumpkin seeds! Truly super indeed!

I also like a healthy cuppa in Time Out, Thame with their excellent range of Teapigs – from regular black tea, through to green and rooibush (even a Crème Caramel Rooibush which I think tastes like apple crumble – all the taste and none of the naughtiness!), and the vegan, raw wholefood, no refined sugar, no wheat, non-dairy, gluten free Nakd bars make it easier to “go out for tea” and still be healthy!

For a homemade sweet treat whilst relaxing with friends or family, I head to Little Italy in Haddenham. Incredibly friendly and a beautiful energy, a home away from home – they even know my order of earl grey before I get to the counter!

 

Have you got a favourite shop within 20 miles of  Thame town centre? Why is it so good?

I love Planet Health in Greyhound Walk. I would live in there if I could – a fresh juice bar, all the vitamins, supplements and tonics to support your body and emotions, plus a vast array of fabulous foodstuffs. From Pukka Tea, rice milk and almond nut butter, to the seeds, chickpea flour and flaxseed I bake my healthy breakfast muffins or pancakes with. We are really blessed to have such an Aladdin’s cave of health in Thame.

 

What’s your best kept entertainment or social life secret, or guilty pleasure? Tell us about it…

I love watching Quincy in all its faded 70s glory! I’m not very good at doing nothing or stopping working, so figuring out who did what and how, provides enough mental stimulus for my brain to tick over and not get restless, whilst resting my body. It’s all about conserving the quiet, calm, and nourishing Yin energy!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

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Hey Pumpkin, You’re the Apple of my Eye

 

 

Autumn is finally here after a hot start to October. The conkers and acorns are scattered on the ground, between amber leaves that crunch loudly underfoot. The last few weeks have had harvest festivals aplenty, with huge tables groaning under the weight of fresh fruit and vegetables in a vibrant multitude of colour and shape, the apples, pumpkins, squash and marrows all taking centre-stage.

This season is associated with the Metal element in Chinese Medicine, and the organs connected with the element and season are the Lungs and Large Intestine – hence all the colds, coughs and upset stomachs we can suffer in Autumn, as we head towards Winter. It is the season of harvest, when all the growth and energy of Spring & Summer comes to fruition. The goodness of the past seasons gets stored in the fruits before the trees discard the leaves, husks and stalks; they let go of everything they don’t need, and this is something we should also do at this time of the year, physically and emotionally. It is no surprise we can feel a little sad (a Metal emotion) as we go into Autumn, we grieve the loss of the Summer light, love, warmth and joy – acupuncture can help us move more fluidly through this process, creating a healthy platform for Winter ahead.

Be mindful of your breathing in Autumn – meditation or yoga can allow you to “connect” and this is important to nourish the Metal Element; get outdoors on bright days and breathe deeply, on your outbreath “let go” of emotions and issues you no longer need to hold on to… don’t be surprised if your bowels follow suit afterwards! It is a perfect time for this kind of psyche-soma detox!

We can benefit greatly from the Qi stored in fruits and seeds in Autumn, nourishing our bodies through Chinese nutrition. Watch the video blog below showing what I made with the beautiful fresh bounty I picked up at the Waddesdon Manor Apple and Autumn Fruits Fair on a sunny autumn Saturday morning this month – a Pumpkin & Apple Breakfast Loaf – and learn the energetic properties of pumpkin and apple (walnuts too!), and how this Chinese Food Energetics theory can help us take care of ourselves this season.

 

 

The Belle De Boskoop apples from the Eythrope Orchard at Waddesdon Manor were chosen as they are both cooking and eating apples – less sweet than most eating apples, and they would also keep their form when used in baking. Similarly, the pumpkin from Claydon House Kitchen Garden was grown to be naturally sweet and perfect for baking. All food nourishes our digestive system (Stomach and Spleen – Earth Element organs), but both apples and pumpkin take their route into the body via these Earth organs, AND the Lungs and Large Intestine (Metal Element) – doubly nourishing Qi in Metal’s seasonal time of Autumn.

If you would like the recipe so that you can make it yourself and nourish your own qi on these chilly autumn mornings, please email me at info@rhiannongriffiths.com with the title “pumpkin recipe”. And if you would like more information about how acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can support you and your immune system in this Autumnal transition and for the Winter months ahead, please visit the website.

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011