Chinese Medicine considers preventative care as important as treating the disease itself. If we cultivate our health we can prevent illness and injury from occurring and minimize their consequences when 'disease evils' do attack us. Join Kath Bartlett, MS, LAc as she shares thoughts, news articles, recipes & tips derived from a wide variety of source material, as it relates to Chinese medicine and cultivating optimal health for the body, mind and spirit.

Monday, January 17, 2011

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 takes a few days, or 1 -2 weeks to begin seeing results with Chinese herbal therapy. Unlike drugs though, Chinese medicine is often able to cure the disease so that in time the drugs and herbs can be withdrawn and the disease & associated symptoms do not reappear.

Another benefit of Chinese medicine is that it does not cause the undesirable side effects seen from prescription drugs.

For more about Chinese herbal medicine see the Chinese Herbs page of my website: KB

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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 Pea Salad

Low Country style black eyed pea salad

2C dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight

2 cloves garlic

1/4 red onion, diced

1/4 red onion

1/4 bunch fresh cilantro- washed and chopped, stems ok

1 handful cilantro with stems

1 1/2t sea salt

1/4 tsp pepper - ground

1/4t whole peppercorns

3-4T cider vinegar

5T olive oil

1/2 tsp cumin - ground

1/4t cumin seeds

Cover beans with 1'water in pressure cooker. Add the handful of cilantro with stems, 1/4 red onion, garlic, peppercorns, cumin seed, & 3/4t of the salt. Use a teaball for the pepper and cumin seeds. Bring to full pressure, reduce heat to low and cook 10-12 min. natural release, drain beans, remove the spices, cilantro, onion & garlic.

Transfer the beans to a mixing bowl, add cilantro, remaining salt, ground pepper, and ground cumin... put some of the vinegar and oil into the bowl and mix around... the idea is to put enough vinegar and oil in it to coat the beans& veg, but to not totally cover them in the dressing so that they are swimming in the liquid....(if needed add more oil and vinegar).... mix all ingredients together well... cover and refrigerate... this is best if made at least 3-4 hrs before eating it.... after chilling, stir, taste and adjust seasonings to taste if needed.... this recipe tastes great as it sits and continues to marinate...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

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, 300mg iodine, 150mg phosphorous, a whopping 5800 mg of potassium & 430 ius of vitamin A. Keep in mind that 1 strip of kombu weighs about a half a gram. After cooking the beans, pull out the Kombu and either compost it or finely chop it and mix it into your pet’s food to add the trace minerals to their diet.

This recipe comes from Peter Berley’s “The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen”, on of my 2 favorite cookbooks. Cooking and clean-up time: 1 hour.

Baby Lima Bean and Spinach Gratin

1 garlic clove, peeled and halved

5T extra-virgin olive oil

1 ¼ C dried baby lima beans, rinsed and sorted and soaked for 24h

2” strip of kombu

2 lbs. Fresh spinach, remove thick stems

1 onion, diced

2t fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Sea salt (course)

Freshly milled black pepper

1 slice sourdough bread

Parmesan cheese (optional, may use freshly grated or rice Parmesan)

2t red wine vinegar

In a large pressure cooker, cook beans covered in 1” of spring water at full pressure (15 lbs.) for 25 minutes. Drain the beans (and reserve the cooking liquid for soup). Set beans aside in a medium, mixing bowl.

Wash spinach and place in a large pot with any water that clings to it. Cover and steam on high heat for 1-2 minutes, until it wilts. Drain and chill in spring water. Squeeze out spinach until almost dry (reserve excess liquid for soup). Chop spinach and add to the beans, set aside.

Heat 4T olive oil in a medium frying pan on medium heat. Add onion, thyme and salt & pepper, to taste. Sauté 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover and continue cooking for 10 minutes, until onion is lightly caramelized. Add to bean and spinach mixture and season with vinegar and additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Toast the bread until lightly browned. Remove crust and pound into crumbs in a mortar or grind in a spice grinder or food processor. Combine breadcrumbs with 1T olive oil and Parmesan cheese, to taste.

Rub the bottom and sides of a 6C gratin dish with garlic and brush lightly with olive oil. Spread the bean and spinach mixture in the dish and top with an even layer of breadcrumbs. Bake 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Alternatively, you could use smaller, individual gratin dishes for entertaining or freezing for future ‘heat and serve’ meals. Dish may be prepared in advance and refrigerated. When ready to serve, take out and let sit until room temperature before baking. Yield: 4-6 servings. KB