I know many people don't use microwave in order to avoid the radiation. I cared about my health and minimized the use of microwave, but it was hard to avoid the convenience completely when it was right in front of me. When I downsized recently, I decided to go without mostly because I didn't have room for one in the small kitchen.
I'm proud to say that I haven't used microwave since my downsizing (because I don't have one). Here are a few ways I've been heating up my food.
1. Stove top: great for soup, something with liquid
2. Steam: I guess this could fall into stove top, but instead of just putting the food inside the pot, put the food in a dish or a bowl and into a steamer or a pot of water. Great for steamed rice or something that's easy to burn if heated it in the pot.
3. Toaster oven: It's smaller than convectional oven, so heats up the food quickly when you're just preparing for 1-2 people. This is how I usually heat up my congee in the morning. Of course, you can steam congee, but I like toaster oven because it has a timer and shuts off automatically when the time comes. I used to cover the bowl with tin foil so that congee won't get dried up, but recently I've been enjoying the crunchiness on the top.
4. Water bath: When I make bone broth, I freeze them in glass jars. Usually I plan ahead and put a glass jar in the fridge so that it's easy to pour when I need some. Sometimes though, I have a spontaneous idea or don't plan ahead and get stuck with a frozen jar of bone broth. I put the whole jar in hot water and let it defrost till I can easily pour the liquid out.
Every once in a while, someone asks this question. My answer is, "Yes, it 'helps,'" meaning it can't do everything for you. You still have to eat healthy, exercise, and have a healthy life style. Even with healthy food, if your calorie intake is more than your body consumes, then, it is hard to lose weight, just like you can't save money when you're spending more than you earn.
If you're doing all that but still have a difficult time, your digestion is probably compromised. Instead of digesting everything you eat and using it as energy, the food is being accumulated as phlegm in your body. I talked about invisible phlegm a while ago. People who are overweight tend to have more phlegm. So, I work on the phlegm and digestion - enhancing your digestive system and reducing the phlegm.
If you have unhealthy cravings, acupuncture can help. Usually the body is not in balance when your body is craving for something. So acupuncture brings the balance back to the body. Chinese herbs can also help. Some women have cravings leading up to their menstrual periods. My patients notice less cravings when they get acupuncture regularly and/or take herbs.
Before learning the Chinese medicine, I did not like to be in pain or discomfort. Well, I still don't, but it is fun to experiment on my body. For the fun and learning, I am now more willing to go through a few episodes of pain and discomfort. Here are the few...
I like to run in the morning. When I reached certain age though, it started bothering my knees, especially in winter. So I stopped running and started doing other types of exercises. I did that for a while, but one late spring day, I thought, "I really miss running. I think I'm gonna do that again. If my knees start hurting again, I'll just deal with it." So I did. I ran fine throughout that spring and summer. Then fall came. My knees were still fine till one rainy day. When I ran that morning, it was raining, cold, and windy. Right after that, my knees started to ache. Then, I thought, "This is so cool! It is the wind, cold, damp invasion!" Wind, cold, and damp are a few things that cause pain in Chinese medicine. I was thrilled to experience this theory with my body.
When we had snow a few weeks ago, I went out on my garden shoes in the snow. I thought that would be fine because I wasn't going very far. Well, that was really silly of me because I slipped and fell on my bottom. It was very painful. I put on some herbal liniment to help with the pain and bruising. After a few minutes, one of the fingers started bruising and swelling. Again, I put on the liniment. Immediately before my eyes, the swelling went down, and the bruise started disappearing. A few days later, I started feeling like my body was out of alignment. I was feeling the misalignment along one meridian so I put needles on one point of either feet along that meridian. I just sat on my chair and felt the effect of the two needles.
The Chinese medicine has been tried and tested for several thousands of years. I don't know what made someone come up with needles or moxibustion, but it works. By having a few episodes like these and experimenting on my body, I get to test the theory of Chinese medicine. Not that it needs to be proven, but it is always fun to have it proven on my body.
Last month, I talked about an importance of finding an acupuncturist that is a right fit for you. So, besides the personality of the acupuncturists, what else could be different? I briefly touched on that before, but thought it's worth elaborating some more.
Because of the long history of Chinese medicine, there are many schools within the medicine. Acupuncture is just one part of Chinese medicine, but let's talk about that. From China, the medicine was brought to Korea, Japan, and other parts of Asia. Then, it had its own development in each of these nations. Within these nations, developed different schools of thoughts, theories, and treatment strategies.
Just my training here in the U.S. alone, there were a variety of different styles. Some people emphasize on distal needles while others use more of local needles. Distal needles are the needles away from the local disease or pain area. At one of the lectures I had in China, the professor shared about two people who were trained by the same master. The acupuncture points they used to treat patients were completely different. One used more local points while the other only used distal points. So the professor asked them, "What was so good about this master? What did you learn from him?" They thought for a moment and said, "The needle technique." So, even with the same master, people learn differently.
Some acupuncturists want patients to feel every needles while others don't want to cause any sensation. Some only use a handful of needles or less. Some insert the needles with a guiding tube. Some use other modalities such as moxa and cupping in addition to acupuncture needles.
I'm sure you've heard eating seasonal food is good for you. The seasons should not only reflect in the food you eat, but also in the way you live. What do I mean? There is less sunshine in the winter, especially here in the northwest, so we should have less activities. We're supposed to go to bed early and get up late to replenish and store energy.
If you're like me, you love daily routines. I get up early in the morning and go out for run. Lately, however, I'm having a hard time getting up in the morning even if I go to bed early. Then I remember that it is winter, and I'm supposed to do less. So, I allow myself to stay in bed extra 30-60 min, and some days, I don't run at all, especially when there's a snow storm like we had in the past few weeks. A few years ago, I could not allow myself to skip exercising. For some reason, I felt like I was slacking. So, I kept pushing myself, and felt exhausted at the end. Nothing else in my daily routine changed, and I didn't think I should change my exercise routine.
Now, I'm a few years older and hopefully wiser. I allow myself to rest more in the winter. Instead of running, I walk. If I just can't get out of bed, then I allow myself the extra time to sleep in. I know in summer when the sun is back up, I will feel strong enough again to get out for more activities.
With the new year, I'm sure many of you made a resolution or two. Becming healthier maybe one of your resolutions - exercise, eating healthy, losing weight, etc.
If you had the same resolution in the past but gave up on that within a couple months, don't feel ashamed or embarranced. Celebrate the couple months you lived healthier because that is better than nothing. It is hard to change an old habit, but I once heard someone say that it only takes 3 weeks to form a new habit. So if you can stick to your new habit for 3 weeks, the habit is formed.
Then, how long does it take to break an old habit? I think it's like everything else. You focus on the good and not the bad. You embrace the new habit that's been formed and don't spend time and energy on the bad, old habit. If you slip up on your resolution in the coming months, weeks, or days, don't focus so much on your failure, but celebrate the time you did something for your health. Then, encourage yourself to get back to the new habit.
My dad lives in Japan so I don't see him often, but he emails me quite often for any kind of health problems. Because we live so far from each other, I can't give him acupuncture treatments as often as I would like. What I do for him is to write his herbal prescription, have him do moxibustion, and tell him to go see a doctor or acupuncturist when necessary. What is moxibustion? Moxibustion uses moxa (mogwart) to activate acupuncture points, warm the channel, and promote the smooth flow of Qi and blood. Just like acupuncture, different acupuncture points are used for different conditions.
When I was at Henan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the affiliated hospitals had a floor where they sold all sorts of moxa and tools. Along with that, they gave out this sheet of paper to help patients know where to apply the moxibustion according to the issues they were experiencing. I thought that was really cool to give patients the tool they could use to improve their health. So, I asked for one, wanting to do something similar for my patients. I must confess that I haven't done that yet, but I will get to it soon!
If you had a bad acupuncture experience before, I encourage you to find another acupuncturist. The more I practice and learn, the more I realize how amazing the Chinese medicine is. It makes me sad to see people write off acupuncture based on one bad experience. What do you do when you have a bad experience at your doctor's office? You probably won't say, "I will never see another medical doctor!" More than likely, you will find another doctor so that you can get the proper care.
No two acupuncturists are the same. Because you see your acupuncutrists more often than your doctor, it is even more important to find one who is a right fit for you. Some tend to use more needles while some only use a few. The way we insert needles are different. How we interact with patients is different. So if you had a few bad experiences with acupuncture, please don't give up. There is a right acupuncturist for you out there.
In Chinese medicine, there are two types of phlegm: visible and invisible. Visible phlegm is the one you see when you cough or sneeze. Invisible phlegm is the one you can't see. In Chinese medicine, phlegm is not just something you feel in your throat or contained in the lungs. It can go anywhere in the body and creates lymph nodes or nodules. Phlegm is "turbid fluid." It can cause full sensation, dizziness, vomiting, etc. It can even "mist the mind" and cause mental issues.
So what causes phlegm? Dairy products are known to cause phlegm. You will want to avoid them when you're sick and minimize them even when you're not sick. Sugar is another contributor to phlegm formation in the body. Sugar here includes natural fruit sugar, organic pure cane sugar, artificial sweetener, and sugar of any kind. So minimizing these is wise.
Thanksgiving is this week! I used to cook turkey every year when my boys were home. Now they are on their own, I've been enjoying Thanksgiving without a turkey.
This year, I'm thinking about making some chestnuts & rice, grilled salmon, roasted beats, and Brussels sprouts. I'm not a cook who follow the recipes or measure ingredients. I look at the ingredients, glance over the instruction, and start cooking. My cooking is a little different each time so I can never write a recipe.
For those of you who are interested in the recipes, I found some. Happy Thanksgiving!
For chestnuts & rice:
For roasted beets:
Licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and a mom of two wonderful boys who taught me a lot about unconditional love