Awesome Aussies – Shakti Grace

Welcome to yet another fabulously magical interview with a wonderful health-focused woman I met on my travels to Australia. The third vlog in my “Awesome Aussies” blog series is Shakti Grace, the Holistic Chef Australia, and I adored chatting to this chick – we could have chatted all night (Aussie time of course!)

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awesome aussies

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Who is Shakti? She is a holistic chef and creator of “Shakti’s Superfood Blend”… having been a private professional chef for people and musicians all over the world, her focus is now on getting the healthy and holistic message out to the general public through her series of superfood workshops. Her latest lot have just gone tri-state, so book your place now! She is also on the highly esteemed cooking stage at this weekend’s Mind Body Soul exhibition in Sydney!

In Australia we met up: in Sydney – Shakti very kindly collected me from the airport, and we went straight to the quirky vintage “Nourishing Quarter” in Surrey Hills to share some amazing, healthy, clean food (including a delicious raw mango cheesecake!)… a perfect, beautiful, kindred evening in a brand new city!

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shakti & me

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We met online via (my new obsession) Instagram (I am @rg_acupuncture & Shakti is @theholisticchef), and instantly hit it off, through a love of healthy food that nourishes on all levels – physical, emotional and spiritual. Hear in this video below about what makes her Superblend so special (clue: high vibrations, & cracked cell walls!), and how we are both big fans of Chinese Food Energetics, acupuncture and Eastern philosophy!

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Don’t forget to visit Shakti’s website for more information about her Superfood Blend and how you can purchase it online in Australia – I know there’s a BIG new batch just arrived with her, so it couldn’t be a better time to give your body a boost!

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The Holistic Chef Shakti Grace

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2013

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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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Irritable Bowel Syndrome on BBC Radio Oxford

At the beginning of the week I was asked to go on BBC Radio Oxford’s afternoon show to talk about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and how acupuncture can help sufferers with their symptoms. ITV’s Dr Hilary Jones was also on the show to give the conventional medicine view, and to highlight a new study into the illness that suggests 45% of Britons suffer some form of digestive problem.

IBS is an umbrella term for many digestive issues such as pain or discomfort in the abdomen – anywhere between the chest and the hips – and also includes changes in frequency or consistency of stools.

Jo Thoenes (of “Jo in the Afternoon” fame) spoke to a lovely patient of mine, and fellow alternative therapist, Anna Shaw, about how treatment with me helped her with bloating and pain, that was affected by stress and her menstrual cycle. And I explained how we view IBS in Chinese Medicine – all to do with the smooth flow of Qi or energy within the body. Take a listen to what she, and I, said below:

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Emotions can also disrupt the smooth flow of Qi. Stress, frustration or anger can cause energy to move upwards, interrupting the digestive energy’s normal flow. Worry can knot the Qi, causing stagnation, that creates pain and bloating.

We can also offer advice underpinned by Chinese Food Energetics, identifying possible food intolerances, like wheat or dairy, guiding patients toward better food choices. Additionally with IBS, adding in foods that help promote the smooth flow of energy in the body can be beneficial – these foods include green tea, lemon, carrots and almonds – stick around for a recipe and Spring baking film coming your way next week with these very ingredients! As Spring is the season when energy is all about flow and movement and growth, its particularly important to ensure the smooth and correct flow of Qi at this time!

If you recognise some of the symptoms discussed during the show, contact me to discuss how acupuncture could help you have a better quality of life – stop thinking about the potential of needing to go to the toilet wherever you are, stop thinking about whether you can wear your favourite slinky outfit or whether your tummy is too bloated, stop thinking about if you can eat out at a fabulous restaurant without getting pain… start living and feel better! If you’re weary of needles, talk to me about how Chinese Food Energetics could make a difference to your diet.

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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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Allergy or Intolerance?

This week (23rd – 29th January 2012) has been Food Allergy & Intolerance Week. Full blown allergies have strong reactions, big angry red rashes, massive vomiting, swellings or even anaphylactic shock, requiring doses of adrenaline via an epi-pen, or even hospital admittance. You can read some stories on via Allergy UK, that show the physical, social and psychological impact these types of allergies can have on people, and the importance of highlighting this awareness week.

Thankfully, there aren’t many of us that have food causing such a violent impact on us, but we can recognise less intense intolerances to food on a daily basis. This may come in the very basic inkling of a certain food “not being good for us” – despite us liking or craving it! And even with intolerances, it can be tricky to find suitable foods when on-the-go

For me, as you will know by now, it is dairy that I know I must avoid – but with it being an intolerance, rather than a full-blown allergy, I may occasionally allow myself to have cheesecake for pudding if eating out… I just know I will suffer later feeling tired and heavy, with a blocked nose, slight nausea, and a muzzy or full head – unable to think clearly. I love dairy, but it really hates me!

And this is where acupuncture is not only all about the needles! During a treatment, we question around food, drink, diet and digestion (amongst all the other things like sleep, energy levels and mood) so that we can pick up on small cues that might be telling us our patients have intolerances to certain things, and how that fits in to their overall health picture, or lack thereof – it may be that an intolerance is playing into the issue that a patient is seeking help with.

We view these intolerances in terms of Chinese Food Energetics, i.e. whether the food is energetically hot or cold (not just the actual physical temperature of food), blood nourishing or Damp-forming etc. Many food intolerances that we acupuncturists see in the treatment room are to do with the Damp-forming group of foods, though not all are. For example, migraine sufferers may be intolerant to oranges as they are too yang and heating energetics wise, sending heat up to the head, triggering a migraine.

Damp-forming foods include dairy, wheat, sugar, bananas, orange or tomato juice, peanuts and yeast. These foods are the ones that cause a build up of mucus or phlegm in the body – think about when you eat peanut butter, it sticks to the roof of your mouth, glues your mouth together (particularly on bread – another Damp food!) and leaves a residue on your tongue afterwards.

That claggy, sticky, dense feeling of peanut butter, is exactly what these Damp-forming foods are doing inside your body – clogging things up, making things heavy and sticky. This can cause, or perpetuate conditions like sinusitis, headaches, snoring, chronic fatigue (or exhaustion), eczema, asthma, and even being overweight (or struggling to shift those pounds you want to shed). In children, it can particularly cause chronic cough and repeated ear infections.

In the treatment room, we don’t just give you a list of foods you “must not eat” – Chinese Food Energetics allows us to understand the energetic changes that go on in our bodies when we eat certain foods. This kind of understanding and information helps educate and empower our patients about what dietary changes might be beneficial to them, to what degree, and how strict they have to be.

More often than not, the proof is in the pudding (that should be a wheat, yeast, sugar and dairy free pudding!), patients come back knowing their bodies feel different! And more importantly, upon eating the food that they are “intolerant” to, they have a recurrence of symptoms that they can see for themselves. It’s like their very own scientific study! It really shows that simple dietary changes can have a significant impact on your health.

If you suspect your diet is giving you unwanted symptoms, or adding to an illness or condition you’re struggling with, email me at info@rhiannongriffiths.com or visit www.rhiannongriffiths.com to see how acupuncture or a nutritional analysis according to Chinese Medicine, could help you.

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

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Chinese Food Energetics

Chinese Food Energetics is another way of looking at food and nutrition, and formulating an eating plan or diet that is most suited to us. Just as acupuncture itself is tailored specifically for that one individual patient – and no two patients are exactly the same, no matter how similar they appear to be – Chinese Food Energetics creates guidelines or dietary advice to suit that one specific individial patient too.

For example, some patients can eat dairy literally until the cows come home (pun absolutely, utterly intended!), and another person (like me!) only has to look at a piece of cheese and the nose, sinuses and throat start to fill with mucus or phlegm. This is because dairy is a “damp-forming” food, and some patients are more susceptible to the formation of damp, due to the deficiencies or imbalances that are present in their system.

The “energetics” of food is different to the energetic calories present in food, it is not about the amount of energy available in a nutritional or chemical sense – it is about the affect the food has on the energy or Qi in our bodies. Food is described in Chinese Medicine as having certain qualities – temperatures (hot, warm, neutral, cool or cold), flavours that link in with the Five Elements (salty, sour, bitter, sweet or pungent), routes into the body (the organs it affects most), and actions (moves Qi, resolves phlegm, nourishes blood etc).

When we speak about the temperature of a food, it is not the temperature of it in the mouth i.e boiling hot soup vs freezing cold ice cream, it is the “energetic temperature”, the affect it will have on the body once it has been digested. For example, apples are energetically cool, and pears are energetically cold – so pears are energetically colder than apples, despite them feeling the same temperature to touch on the skin when you hold them in your hands. Furthermore, a red apple is energetically warmer than a green apple! Again they both feel exactly the same to touch on the outside skin, but energetically the temperature is slightly different… but as they are both apples, they are still both warmer than the cold pear – you still with me?! Let’s do a little more explaining…

Energetically hot foods warm us up internally, so a slice of ginger root even if eaten raw, cooked or not cooked, at room temperature or straight from the fridge, will always bring heat into the body when digested. Another example is courgette, which is cool in temperature (foods that contain a lot of water content are often cooler in energetic makeup), will always cool the body internally whether you eat it raw and shredded in a salad during Summer, or cooked in the Winter as part of a stew or ratatouille. We can go further in that the raw one would be more cooling than the one that is cooked, as there is some influence on the energetic temperature of food by the method of cooking, but the cooked one would still be cooling energetics wise. So as to not confuse things too much, more exploration of that can be saved for another post!

And on the actual physical temperature of food, please never eat things straight out of the fridge! Energetically cold food, eaten physically cold, is a double whammy of cold – the digestive system struggles with this. The Stomach is like a cauldron that is warm, bubbling away, digesting everything that goes in. Its job is to get the best goodness out of the food, and it is that job it should be expending its energy on.

However, when physically cold food (actual temperature wise) hits the warm juices in the Stomach, it brings down the temperature of the bubbling cauldron. So the Stomach therefore has to invest all of its energy into bringing the cauldron back up to optimum temperature for digestion, which means it overworks, doesn’t digest effectively, and in the longterm can become very depleted – leading to symptoms like tiredness in the morning, loose stools, undigested food in the stools, discomfort in the epigastrium (just below the rib cage, in the middle). Always bring food up to room temperature so the Stomach and Spleen don’t have to work as hard to digest it, plus you get more nutrients and more energy as a result!

Food as medicine can be incorporated into your treatment plan, to compliment the acupuncture prescribed. Each food has a particular flavour which pertains to one of the Five Elements. For example, the salty flavour belongs to the Water Element and enters its organ – the Kidney; so a little salt will benefit that organ, but too much will inhibit its action. And as mentioned earlier, eating dairy (and/or sugar, wheat, bananas, peanuts and fried foods) will make a phlegmy condition, such as sinusitis or cough, worse; consuming bitter (Fire Element) or pungent (Metal Element) flavours – onions, mustard, olives or green tea – will help clear the mucus. Chinese Food Energetics dietary advice can contribute towards a more effective overall treatment plan.

If you feel you could benefit from some dietary advice based in Chinese Medicine, email me on info@rhiannongriffiths.com or visit the “Acupuncture Plus” page on the website for more details.

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011