Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus were on sale at Greenlife/Whole Foods in Asheville this Saturday. In honor of the vernal equinox, i picked up a bunch and made my yummy spring risotto. This is a hearty dish. I combined a couple of recipes i found in 2007 & 2008 in the NY Times and did my own thing with them. One is the Pope's Risotto, a dish developed for the Pontiff's 2008 spring visit to NYC. Age 81 at the time, the Pope requested bland dishes that were light and seasonal, so this asparagus, peas and fava bean risotto was developed to suit the papal entrails.The other is from my favorite food columnist, Mark Bittman's The Minimalist. Typical of his recipes, this Asparagus Risotto is simple, easy and mmm, mmm good.so…

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Why Gou Ji Berries?

Gou Ji berries have become a health trend in the past few years. These small red berries were plucked out of Traditional Chinese Medicine's (TCM) Materia Medical (catalogue of herbs and other medicinal substances, like shells and animal products). I've seen it included in a range of products and snack foods, such as smoothies and trail mix. Their popularity has shot up the price and reduced its availability. Lately I have discovered that several of the natural food stores in Asheville, NC are not able to obtain it for their shelves. But contrary to popular belief, this tonic herb should not be used for general consumption.In Chinese herbal medicine, Gou Qi Zi, Lycii Fructus (lycii berries) tonifies Liver and Kidney yin and blood and brightens the eyes.…

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Chinese Herbal Medicine vs Prescription Drugs

Chinese Herbs work differently than prescription medicines. Drugs generally work to suppress a symptom, not cure a disease. An example is diabetes, cholesterol or hypertension medications that control blood sugar, lipids (fats: cholesterol) or pressure only while you take them. If you stop the drug, the symptom persists. In contrast to pharmaceuticals, Chinese medicine works to cure the disease. The herbs are slower acting: often they do not provide the immediate effect people have come to expect from drugs, such as pain killers or mind altering drugs: anti-depressants, anxiety and insomnia medications. This is because Chinese medicine is working at a deep level to change the bodily processes perpetuating the disease. Turning the ship is a longer term process than whitewashing over a symptom. Therefore it commonly…

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Black-eyed Pea Salad

In the southeast, we like black-eyed peas an collards for New Years. The black-eyed pea bring health (nutrition) and the greens (symbolizing greenbacks) bring $ for the coming year. The beans came to the Carolinas from Africa with the slaves. they were planted around fields to keep down weeds & provide nitrogen to the soil. Cattle munched on the tasty greens. Southerners claim the beans saved families from starvation after Sherman's March ending the Civil War.Jessica Harris gives tidbits about black-eyed peas interesting folklore in the 12/29/10 OP-Ed piece in the NY Times.Here's a salad i enjoyed at a 2009 holiday potluck. I'm told the recipe is from the Boathouse restaurant in Asheville. What ever its origins, it's tasty. I couldn't keep away from it! KB Black-eyed…

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Baby Lima Bean with Spinach Gratin

Here’s a favorite recipe of mine that i usually make in the early spring. spinach was on sale at greenlife yesterday, and i remembered this dish. The beans and baking add a heavy, warm, substantial nature to the dish, balanced by the lightness of the fresh spinach greens. The caramelized onions add a natural sweetness and the vinegar gives it that ‘je ne sais quoi’ (that perfect touch of ‘I don’t know what’). You may not be familiar with Kombu. It’s a sea vegetable, sold in the macrobiotic section of natural food stores, such as Earth Fare or Greenlife. When cooked with beans, it aids their digestibility and also adds valuable trace minerals we normally would not include in a daily diet. 100g provides 800mg of calcium,…

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Case Study: Chinese Herbs for Flu

Here’s a little story of a colleague who desperately emailed me earlier this month about an acute stomach flu, seeking suggestions: I got really really suddenly & violently ill last night - I'm doing much better today. My husband has a final exam in 4 days and it would be really nice if I managed to not pass this on to him.Three nights ago I stayed with my parents for the night. I was woken shortly after midnight to the sound of pretty wretched vomiting [from her mother]. Last night it was my turn, so it looks like this has a 2 day incubation period. Which would have my husband puking tonight or tomorrow night instead of studying. bad! Her main symptoms were simultaneous vomiting & diarrhea…

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Study Finds Meditation as Effective as Drugs in Preventing Depression

Looking to avoid depression or the holiday blues? A recent study published in The Archives of General Psychiatry shows that once the depression had been treated, meditation could be used in place of drug therapy. The medications can be discontinued rather than staying on Prozac or Paxil ad nauseaum. I know this is terrific news as I often have patients telling me they do not like taking drugs, esp. staying on them long term. I have many blog posts about meditation and depression you can look at for alternatives to drugs in order to stay happy.I recently read an interview with a well known Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh about integrating one's mindfulness practice into daily life to be happy. His ideas illustrate how the study participants…

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An Eloquent TDay Message Reaches From the Past

This eloquent Thanksgiving Day Proclamation was issued by Gov. Wilbur L Cross of CT in 1936. The Governor's words reach across time to speak to our modern hearts. it begins:Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year.

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Studies Demonstrate Acupuncture Significantly Reduces Insomnia

In 2007, Kalavapalli and  Singareddy published a review of studies of acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. The selected studies included many clinical case series and few open or randomized clinical trials. The authors noted that "all of them consistently indicate significant improvement in insomnia with acupuncture".  There are so many Americans who are on sleeping medications needlessly. I see wonderful results treating insomnia in my practice, as this article describes. I use a winning combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy.                   KB  Photo: RelaxingMusic, Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

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Stress & Anxiety is Caused by the Drive to Avoid Suffering

The first of the Four Noble Truths given by Sakyamuni Buddha is that life involves suffering. it is our wish, our strong desire, our struggle to avoid suffering that is the root cause of stress and anxiety. Buddhism fundamentally teaches to accept suffering as part of the condition of living. if we can accept the truth of suffering as part of living, then the struggle to prevent suffering diminishes.of course we have goals in life and we do what we can to achieve them. the struggle against obstructions in our path to achieve our goals causes stress and anxiety due to fear of the suffering involved in not achieving our goals. if we can accept that suffering is part of life, then the stress and anxiety involved…

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