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Keeping the Engine Working

Dark leafy green vegetables are still in season and continue to be top of the list to keep you vital and healthy for the next few weeks.

If you've been eating kale all winter and fancy a change try this Cavolo nero variety, rich, sweet, almost meaty flavour will have you hooked from the first bite and it is delicious in this traditional Italian kale and chestnut soup.

Chestnut and Kale Soup Recipie

•    1/2 tin white beans such as cannellini,
•    1 large onion, chopped
•    3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
•    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
•    1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
•     1 ½ pints stock
•    2 cups water
•    1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
•    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
•    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
•    8oz Chestnuts halved (vac packed)
•    1/2 pound cavolo nero or regular green kale, chopped
•    2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
•    Accompaniment: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Fry onion, and garlic in oil in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add, beans, stock, water, cheese rind, salt, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Discard cheese rind and stir in chestnuts.

Transfer 2 cups soup to a blender and purée until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), then return to pot. Stir in kale and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until leaves are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in thyme.


Rest and Digest

Spring is just around the corner and it can be tempting at this time of year to start eating more cold raw foods to improve energy by detoxing. But think twice. Chinese medicine says these foods are cooling and more difficult to digest than cooked. While it is still cold and wintery outside it is important to continue to nurture and nourish our energy by eating warming foods like hearty soups and stews help to warm the body’s core and to keep us nourished.

Sufficient rest is always important and we need more of it at this time of year than we do in the summer months. “Lack of energy” is one of the top five complaints that doctors hear, particularly at this time of year.

As a busy person and small business owner I know only too well how hard it can be to find the time to take care of myself and rest.

No one resists drinking a glass of water when they are thirsty but for many of us we have strong judgements and conditioning around taking the rest we need when we need it. When you feel the call to rest do you drink a cup of coffee, reach for a sugary snack or look for yet another job to do? These are common evasions to rest. It is remarkable how even a 10 minute rest with legs up and eyes closed can renew our energies and allow us to be even more effective throughout the day.

In Chinese medicine this ability to rest and digest is managed through intake of easily digestible foods, appropriate exercise and adequate relaxation and rest. If any of these aspects are out of balance then a build up of undigested, un processed metabolic waste can cause gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, heat burn, acid indigestion, fatigue, strong cravings and poor sleep.

Daily routine is vital in managing energy flow and good digestion and I’d like to share one aspect of my daily routine that I have found incredibly supportive to management of energy flow and optimise digestion.

  1. I regularly aim to rest with my legs up for a minimum of 15 minutes to active a relaxation response in my system, usually after lunch but any time in the afternoon or evening is always beneficial!

Using acupucture and shiatsu I am passionate about supporting people to balance their energy and develop nourishing, sustainable and appropriate practices for their individual circumstances. Find out more contact me


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Mastering Auricular (Ear) Acupuncture

I recently enjoyed a weekend workshop on auricular (ear) acupuncture alongside friends and colleagues in Southend. Pictures show the highly accomplished Jim Chalmers showing us how it was done and there was plenty of time for us to practice on each other. I have since  been using it since in my clinic to relieve pain so far in backs, elbows and shoulder with some great results.



My Continuing Professional Development



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Treatment for colds and Flu

According to Chinese medicine colds are due to invasion of the superficial layers of the body by pathogenic wind accompanied by cold, heat or damp. The key to success of treatment is timing, the earlier the treatment the faster the cold will resolve. Ignoring the bodies signals and ‘soldiering on’ through a cold may cause the pathogen to progress further into the body and lodge there becoming 'the cold that never really went away'. Access to the body by pathogens occurs when the bodies defensive energy is weak or temporary dispersed or because the invading pathogen is very strong. A very strong pathogen can enter even in strong individuals and is seen in flu epidemics where people of all constitutions fall ill.

Cupping: vacuumed glass container is placed on the skin creating a senstionof suction. The suction draws cold pathogens out of the body.

People often ask, when they already have a treatment booked and they feel a cold coming on, if they should cancel their appointment. They don't relasie Chinese meidicne can be an effective treatment cold, particulalry the early sages, a prompt  treatment might nip it in the bud. This is often done with cupping.

In Western Scientific terms Acupuncture may help relieve symptoms of colds and flu by:
•    Enhancing natural killer cell activities
•    Reducing pain through the stimulation of nerves located in muscles and other tissues
•    Reducing inflammation

This information comes from research fact sheets provided by the British Acupuncture Council.

5 Tips to Support Your Immune System

Wind and cold pathogens often enter through body through the back of the neck. Protect yourself by wearing a scarf or make use of your hood.

Sudden changes of weather, gong from a centrally heated building to the cold outside or going out outside straight after a after a hot bath are all times when the bodies protective energy is dispersed and therefore vulnerable to invasion by pathogens. Dress warmly when you go out and avoid going out safer a hot bath or shower.

Your mother always told you not to go out with wet hair because of the risk of catching a cold. Chinese medicine would agree because the cold and damp in your hair can invade the body, particularly in cold weather.

The bodies protective energy, which keeps cold pathogens out, lies at the very surface of the skin and can be stimulated and strengthened by brushing it with a loofer or exfoliating glove, either on dry skin or when you are in the shower.

Inhale steam on its own or with tee tree oil helps as it is anti bacterial, anti viral.
If you’d like to know more about how acupuncture and Chinese Medicine could help you contact me.

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Delicious, Healthy Sour Dough Rye Bread: Have fun making your own!

There is nothing like turning out a loaf of freshly baked bread in your own kitchen and this one ticks all the boxes: heavingly healthy, super tasty and easy - no kneading required. Do the mixing and fermentation over three evenings in just a few minutes, then bake your loaf first thing on the fourth morning and enjoy it for breakfast.

Day 3 - Sour dough after 24 hours fermentation

A lot of people have difficulty digesting wheat products and yeasted bread  - which is linked to stomach bloating and Candida -  but get on fine with sour dough. It supports digestion and has numerous health benefits.

The wisdom of Chinese medicine states the properties of the sour flavour draw us into harmony with the autumn, a time of gathering and the beginning of the period of contraction, with the onset of cooler weather. It is said to be particularly good for those with a precariously changing personality as the sour flavours collects and hold together the dispersed.

Health Benefits: The Facts:

  • Long fermentation breaks down cellulose allowing nutrients to release into the dough and improve nutritional value.
  • Friendly gut bacteria, lactobacillus generates positive intestinal flora aiding digestion, absorption and elimination.
  • Phytic acid (which is present in wheat and grains and contributes to anaemia) is neutralised in sour dough fermentation process.
  • Rye bread reduces plaque and calcification in the blood vessels (which can cause high blood pressure and heart disease) and restores suppleness to vessels.

Ref: Healing with whole foods: Asian traditions and modern nutrition - Paul Pitchford

Lastly thanks to my lovely friend Amerasiddhi who years ago gave me this recipe, some sour dough starter and his enthusiasm for bread making.

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Sour Dough Recipe

The Starter
The ‘starter’ is the raising agent in the bread, it is a mixture of flour and water that contains natural yeasts that are present in the air. It is possible to make it from scratch but it takes 14 days and in my experience doesn't always work. If you'd like some let me know, I'd be happy to give you a spoonful:

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Day 1: Evening
Active Your Starter
Time required: 5 minutes plus 24 hours fermenting.
Take one desert spoon of starter and put in to a clean jam jar that has a clean lid. Add 4 heaped tsp of rye flour and mix to a paste with approximately 100ml tepid water. Put the lid on the jar and leave at room temperature. In the next 12-24 hours (depending how warm it is) the mixture will get more and more bubbles in it and increase in volume by about 1/3. After this it will deflate again. At this point your starter is ready to use.

Day 2: Evening
First Mix
Time required: 5 minutes plus 24 hours fermenting.
In a large bowl mix together:
12oz/340g wholemeal rye flour
1 pt/550ml warm water
4oz/100g sour dough starter (as made above)
Cover and leave for 24 hours to ferment.
After 24 hours your mixture look something like the picture opposite.

Day 3: Evening
Second Mix
Time required: 10 minutes plus rising time over night.
To the First Mix add the following :
1lb 8oz/860g rye flour (or half rye and half spelt - spelt will put a bit more spring in your loaf)
10 floz/300ml tepid water
2 tsp salt
Mix well with a spoon. The mixture will be too wet to kneed and it is not necessary. Oil 2 x 2lb loaf tins. Divide the mixture between them using your hand. Wet you hand with cold water first to stop the dough sticking to it. Smooth the tops of the loaves then cover them with a clean tea towel. Leave to rise over night.

Day 4: Early Morning
Time required: 5 minutes plus 1 hour baking.
In the morning the loaves will be almost level with the top of the tins. If they ar enot leave them for a few hours longer until they are. Put them in a pre heated oven 450/230/gas 8 for 1 hour then turn them out immediately. When you tap the base of the loaf if cooked it should sound hollow. I usually  have a couple of slices right away for breakfast with a boiled egg.

The other way of doing it is leave the loaves to cool completely then wrap in plastic and rest the loaves for a day before eating (the connoisseurs say flavour is better then). Loaves will keep for about a week – much longer than regular bread -, flavour improves with keeping. They also freeze well.

Remember if you want to make the bread again put couple of spoons of the fermented dough (in stage 2) aside in a jar and keep in the fridge. This will be the starter for your next batch. Keep it in the fridge and feed it once every 2-3 weeks. It should have a fresh vinegary or fruity smell.