Friday, April 18, 2008

Dandelion greens, again...and garlic mustard

Today I made a big plate of dandelion greens for myself, and it was so good and easy I thought I'd share what I did.

I went out to my yard (which is a north facing slope, so a bit behind in growth, and the dandelion flowers are not blooming yet.)

I saw bunches of dandelion leaves, and when I looked closer, I could see in the middle, way down on the ground, the crown of the dandelion bud getting ready to shoot up. This is supposed to be a delicacy that you can't find in stores. You can only get it by foraging, so I harvested the leaves and crowns of about 7 florets (knowing they'll grow right know dandelions!), washed them, chopped them into small pieces (I love chopping my salad.) I had also picked three leaves of garlic mustard that I found out there.

I splashed on some vinegar (we happened to have some brown rice vinegar, so I chose that), sprinkled some salt and drizzled some olive oil. It was delicious!

Yesterday, for Thankful Thursday, I meant to post about a gratitude journal. I began keeping one myself yesterday. I often reflect on what I am thankful for, but it felt really nice to write it down. I was inspired to do this by last week's class with Eckhart Tolle and Oprah, when they discussed this practice. Tolle said it's really a practice in being in the present moment--to notice what you feel grateful for.

If you feel like there is nothing to be grateful for, you're likely stuck in the past, clinging to the story of all the wrongs and bad things that have happened. Instead, be present and notice around you: the abundance of bird songs this time of year, the earth waking up and turning so green, your loved ones.

Of course, their discussion went the way of gratitude actually changing (raising) your vibration, abundance bringing more abundance, etc. But really, the practice of writing down what I feel thankful for just feels so good and life-affirming, and that is reason enough for me to do it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dandelion Greens!

Hooray for spring!

It's the time of year that we can start harvesting wild edibles again. I'm extremely excited about this, as last year I really began picking and using wild edibles in a big way.

Yesterday as I crept out to our garden to take some early chives for a recipe I was making, the dandelion greens called to me. People often say this, and I've really never known what it meant until now. On my way to the garden, I saw little clusters of dandelion leaves coming up. They caught my eye, but I stepped over them to get to the chives. Then back to the house I walked by the greens and there little clusters of them popped out at me, so I knew what I must do. I took a few leaves and chopped them with the chives into my recipe (a mock tuna salad from the book RAWvolution: Gourmet Living Cuisine.)

This is the best time of year for dandelion greens: before they flower. Once the bright yellow flower pops out, the leaves become too bitter to eat. Now they are just right. And an excellent spring tonic as well. Great for the liver, skin and eyes. Do an internet search and you will be amazed at the healing power of these little "weeds" that grow everywhere.

Enjoy the spring!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Wild Fermentation

On Sunday, at The East End Food Coop here in Pittsburgh, I got to hear Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods...a book I love! He also wrote The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements.

He demonstrated fermenting veggies, and though I've made them so many times before, I'd never massaged the veggies and salt together first, to release the juices, then stuff it into the jar and push it down with my hands! I was always so careful to touch as little as possible, but Sandor just digs right in! We sampled his previously fermented veggies (10 days and 3 months, then also a fermented squash which I liked) on some sourdough bread.

That night I put up my sourdough starter (whole wheat flour mixed with water, covered with a cloth napkin) and today I baked the bread (mmmm, best I ever made!) and put up my red cabbage, green cabbage, daikon and carrot (all mixed and grated) with salt to ferment.

Fermented vegetables are incredibly safe to make and eat (no chance for botulism...that only happens to canned foods, very different!) These foods are live and teaming with beneficial bacteria to help digestion, help the flora of the gut, and give a pungent bite to many a salad or meal.

Then last night at the Coop, Dave went to a talk on keeping bees....

(ps...Dave's talk Acupuncture De-Mystified will be given at the East End Food Coop on Wednesday, April 9, at 7 pm. Hope to see you there!)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Treatment Tuesday: Acupuncture and Headaches

Headache is a very common symptom we see at The Birch Center. Sometimes people come in with headaches as a main symptom, and other times it comes up during the intake that they suffer from headaches to varying degrees.

In Chinese medicine, we look at headaches from a different angle that Western view. Instead of taking medicine for a generic headache, we look at the source of the headache, and treat the source. For example, we often think in terms of "Eight Principles." We ask: is the headache caused by external or internal sources? (External referring to something like a cold, flu, or infection...something is seen as "invading" the body, and internal stems from weakness or stagnation of an organ system.) We also ask if the symptom is one of deficiency or excess? This greatly effects how we treat both with needles and herbal medicine. An external invasion often causes "excess", as does internal stagnant energy. We ask "hot or cold?" and "yin or yang" as the final eight principles.

At The Birch Center, we offer acupuncture and herbal medicine (both Chinese and Western herbs), as well as moxibustion and massage techniques when appropriate to the condition. We also can look at your diet in terms of an energetic point of view, to see if the foods you are eating could be contributing to the imbalance of energy you are experiencing. Finally, we can offer meditation, breathing and other techniques to help reduce stress.

Acupuncture and TCM provide an effective, natural treatment for many different types of pain, including headache pain. Hopefully we can help get your body's balance restored, and specifically recommend some simple changes which will keep you healthy, in balance, and pain-free.