Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fruit of the Ancestors

Pears -

In China, there are many words for describing this Yin nourishing fruit – Kuai “happy fruit”, guo zong “fruit ancestor”, mi fu “honey father” and my favourite, yu ru “jade milk”. Their medicinal properties are perfectly suited for the ailments that come with the season they coincide with (isn’t nature divine?). They help to soothe and nourish a dry irritated throat, relieve constipation and help calm a restless mind. Energetically they are sweet and cooling, clear heat, moisten dryness, generate body fluids and transform phlegm.

One of my favourite dishes is stewed pears with honey, the process giving birth to a delicious jade syrup. Pour it warm from the pot, to soothe and nourish after the heat and dryness of summer, and to fortify the fluids of the body in autumn.

Baked Pears with ginger and honey

4 ripe pears
4 Tbs of honey
3 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup of water

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Cut the top ¼ off each pear and put aside. Remove the core of the pears from the top, but leave the bottom of the pear intact. Place the pears in a glass or ceramic dish.

Mix the honey, ginger and water in a bowl. You may need to add warm water to dissolve the honey. Then place this mixture inside the pears where the core has been removed. Place the tops back onto each pear, and brush the outside of the pears with the mixture also. Leave a small amount of mixture aside for glaze.

Bake the pears for 10 -15 mins, until they feel soft. Take them out of the oven, pour over the remaining sauce and return to the oven for another 5 mins at 190 degrees Celsius. The glaze should then caramelize.

Let cool slightly and devour..

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Autumn - Harvest the Spirit

One of our biggest challenges of modern day living is to live harmoniously with the seasons. Urban living often brings with it a disconnect from the energetic changes around us. With watermelon still available at woolies, when it should only be consumed in the height of a hot summer; a testament to how far removed we are from our changing environment. One of the most beautiful things about not only Chinese Medicine, but also other healing arts such as Ayurvedic medicine, is the observation of seasonal cycles and harmonising our own energy with our environment in order to avoid disease and cultivate health.

Autumn is a time to harvest the bounty we grew in summer, and to store and prepare for the winter ahead. Autumn is associated with the metal element, signifying contraction, as opposed to the upwards and outwards movement of summer. It is a time to reflect inwards to the center of our being, to receive what is of essential worth, and to let go of what is not useful to us. It is a time to avoid wind, not only the movement of air, but also any quick sudden changes in your life.

Autumn corresponds with the Lung (fei) system, which dominates the skin, fluid metabolism, respiration, immunity and the emotions of grief and sadness. The dry, crisp weather of autumn makes the lungs more susceptible to disharmony at this time, with symptoms such as a dry throat, dry nose, hair loss, dry and rough skin and dry stools. It is essential to keep warm, protect yourself from the wind, and to eat foods that nourish dryness and the yin aspects of the body.

It is important to transition into eating warmer, nourishing root vegetables, soups and stews. You can start including more pungent foods such as onions and ginger, as well as astringent natured foods such as grapefruit and lemon to prevent the loss of body fluids. I always recommend eating organic produce, not only to avoid harmful pesticides and support environmentally sound agriculture, but simply because you will only ever be able to eat what is in season. Visit your local organic market and see what appeals to your body.

Some foods that are available in autumn - Beetroot, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, kale, leeks, mushroom, potatoes, pumpkin, capsicum, pears, apples, persimmons.

Remember to care and nourish your body and spirit, and embrace the coming season!