Thursday, June 19, 2008

Goji Berries: Chinese Herb and Superfood

The important Chinese Herb Gou Qi Zi, also known as lycium, goji berry and wolfberry, is now considered a superfood in nutritional circles, due to its high nutritional qualities (very high in vitamin C and beta carotene/Vitamin A) and its property of strengthening the blood.

In Chinese Medicine, we think of this herb as a Kidney (Yin) and Liver (Blood) tonic. It is gentle enough to be eaten daily as a food (raw or cooked into soups or porridges), yet powerful enough to treat conditions such as anemia, dizziness, poor eyesight and other conditions of the eye, back pain, knee and leg weakness, even impotence and other weakness of the reproductive organs in men and women. Used this way, it is often prescribed in formulas and cooked into powerful herbal decoctions (strong teas.)

Rather than ordering from an herbal pharmacy where the products are often sprayed with sulphurs and other chemicals, we order organic raw goji berries from Love Street Living Foods, a Pittsburgh based company which ships all over. We can also find them at the East End Food Coop and Whole Foods.

Other ways you can work them into your daily diet:

  • They are perfect as a snack food as is. They are sweet, but not quite as sweet as raisins.

  • I put them into a "camping mix" of nuts and dried fruits along with raisins, sunflower seeds, dates, cashews, Brazil nuts, etc.

  • Blend in a food processor with dates and nuts like pecans or cashews, then mold into balls for cookies! You can get quite creative with these little treats, adding raw cacao, shredded coconut, almond butter, the sky is the limit! Just get the texture right for rolling into balls, you'll need to experiment (I'll make a batch later today - or sometime soon - and post exact measurements.

  • put on top of cereal with any other fruit or topping you normally add

  • add to oatmeal - either cook them in, or add them raw on top after, or both

  • use in scones, cookies, etc. In fact, any recipe that calls for raisins you can use 1/2 raisins and 1/2 goji berries (since goji berries aren't as sweet, it's best to keep the raisins in there, too, until you get to know them. Then you can adjust as you like.)

  • put them in smoothies (as is, or soaked first to soften)

  • soak, and then juice them with carrots, apples, and ginger (or any other juice combination your like!)

  • Below is a picture of one of the raw crepes I made this morning, using goji berries (and dates) in the sauce on top. The recipe is posted in my blog: Melissa's Juice Journal. Check it out!

Enjoy the taste and magnificent health benefits from Gou Qi Zi / Goji Berry!

For a wonderful source of raw goji berries, visit Love Street Living Foods, a Pittsburgh based company which ships all over. Thanks!

Love and Light,

Melissa Sokulski

The Birch Center for Health

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