Wondering how to make the Chinese Medicine diet work in the real world? Most of my patients are too busy to cook so they rely on quick meals like breakfast bars, sandwiches, and fast foods from the drive thru. This new way of eating might be easy for you or can seem overwhelming. For some people, it is a huge overhaul of their dietary habits. Breaking old habits and creating a new way of choosing food takes time but it can be done. This article will show you how easy it is to begin eating food that is both balancing and nutritious.
Before instituting major changes in your diet, it is good to have a plan. Start with one item you want to eliminate from your diet then add others as you become successful at finding healthier alternatives. Pick one meal such as breakfast or lunch to begin making changes. Once that meal becomes easy, pick the next meal. Before you know it, you will be eating a diet that energizes you while providing long term benefits to your overall health.
You will need to find a good health food store. Local to my patients is Kimberton Whole Foods. They have the best selection of organic grains, beans, produce, and free range, grass fed meats and eggs.
Cereal and milk are popular breakfast items that are usually too high in simple carbohydrates and include cow’s milk. They are also served cold. For all these reasons, they foster dampness in your body and hinder digestion. Protein and vegetables can be featured if you think outside the box.
Eat these instead:
- Hot Rice Cereal, Oatmeal
- Rice milk and/or a small amount of raw sugar or molasses to sweeten
- If you add an item, like nuts, limit it to one additional ingredient so it digests more easily
- Gluten Free Toast and Almond Butter
- Veggie Omelette
Fruit is a popular breakfast item. Chinese medicine does not recommend eating too much fruit as it is a concentrated sweet. Low sugar fruits include blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries. Summer months can include melon as it is a seasonal, local fruit in the Pennsylvania area. In the cooler months, try baked apples and cinnamon as a snack or even for breakfast added to oatmeal. Dried fruit should be soaked as it is a very concentrated source of sugar.
Free Range Organic Eggs
Scrambled, poached, hard boiled, any way you cook them, eggs are nutritious and delicious! Egg yolks are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids.
Scramble the eggs, toast some gluten free bread and have a home-made egg sandwich for those days when you don’t have time to sit down to eat. Just pack it and take it with you.
Rice Cake & Raw or Roasted Nut Butter
Almond butter, cashew butter and sunflower are a few of the available nut butters available. Peanut butter is not recommended as it is high on the list of inflammatory foods. If you choose to use peanut butter, please use the kind made with just peanuts, no added oils or sugar. Avoid nut butters that use sugar or highly processed, vegetable oils as these are inflammatory oils. Apple butter or other fruit butter can be added for sweetness. Find the kind with just fruit, no added sugar.
Protein Shake Recipe
- 1 Scoop Protein Powder – find a good quality single source protein such as Pumpkin Seed Powder
- 1 cup Non Dairy Milk
- 1 teaspoon Greens Powder
- 1 teaspoon Fruits Powder
- A Few Leafs of Spinach
- Blend in a high powered blender for the most nutrition
- 10-20 Raw or Roasted Nuts (except peanuts)
- Gluten Free Crackers (look for types with seeds or good quality grains)
- Rice Cakes with Hummus or Nut Butter
- Organic Protein Bar
Leftover dinners make great lunches. Cook extra dinner, set some aside for tomorrow’s lunch. Heat it in the morning and carry it in a good thermos. It will stay hot until lunch and you will have a healthy balanced meal.
Gluten Free Burrito Wraps
Start with a small amount of ground beef or black beans. Add veggies. The gluten free wrap is your starch. You can cook the beef or beans, veggies, and rice in an organic Mexican seasoning mix for flavor. Add some sautéed green pepper and onion for a delicious meal. Cook three days worth and you will have an easy Mexican wrap for lunch that you only had to prepare once. Eggs, chicken, fish, and beans are other ideas to fill wraps. Don’t forget the veggies!
There are several organic soups in cans and boxes. Good brands are Imagine Foods Cream of Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Potato Leek, and French Onion or any Amy’s Organics variety. Make them healthier by adding your own steamed veggies, rice, meats, whatever you like. You can use dinner leftovers to enhance any soup. It’s a great way to sneak in more veggies.
Busy People Soup
- Start with a boxed or canned soup.
- Add any compatible cooked veggies, meats, beans, or rice from last night’s dinner.
- Split Pea – Add rice and carrots
- Black Bean – Add celery, onion, and leafy greens
- Vegetable – Add rice, beef, carrots, peas, leafy greens celery, onion
- Sautéing the celery and onion in some olive oil or ghee before adding the soup and cooked items will make this taste even better.
Easy Leafy Greens For Soup
Boxed spring greens or spinach from the salad section of the grocery store actually work well in soups. You don’t need to wash or chop them. Use about 2 handfuls per serving of soup. They cook down to almost nothing so this isn’t as much as it seems. Add the greens last as they cook in about 2 minutes.
HINT: If you plan ahead, you can cook extra veggies, meat, and grains at dinner then add these to the soups.
Imagine Brand Creamed Soups + Extra Veggies: Can be made ahead for three days worth or freeze some for next week!
Soup + Cooked Vegetables. Blend in a high powered blender (blendtec.com)
- 1 Box of Cream of Broccoli + 2 cups steamed broccoli or cauliflower
- 1 Box of Butternut Squash + 1 cup squash or yam and 3 cups of chopped leafy greens (use the mild ones like bok choy or spinach).
IMPORTANT: To avoid soup explosions when making soup puree, cook the veggies and allow them to cool. Then blend with the unheated soup. Reheat after blending.
Sweet Drink For Sugar Cravings
This recipe provides sweetness to reduce your cravings for sugar while you are transitioning to a sugar free diet. It may seem like an odd beverage but actually tastes good.
- ¼ head of red or green cabbage
- ¼ red onion
- 2 carrots
Boil in 1 cup of water and strain. Drink the broth late in the day, sipping it over 2-3 hours. You can eat the veggies for dinner.
Cooked veggies should fill half your plate. Choose colorful veggies that are not too starchy. Half a plate of cooked greens and carrots is a better choice than half a plate of peas, for instance. The other half of your plate should be divided between a protein and a starch. Easily digested grains are best, like rice, millet, and quinoa. Sweet potatoes are good in moderation. White potatoes should be minimized as they are a nightshade vegetable and may be inflammatory to some people, especially those with arthritis.
Start with a grain. White rice, millet, and quinoa cook in about 20 minutes. Brown rice about 45 minutes. You can make three days worth and keep it in the refrigerator so it’s ready when you are.
Organic meat or fish, organic beans fresh or canned. Meats can be cooked ahead and frozen in portions to use later. If fresh, you will need to prepare them ahead by soaking overnight and begin cooking them first as they take the longest. Cooking time varies. Add a strip of seaweed for easier digestion.
Wash and chop some fresh veggies. Put them in a saucepan and add about two inches of water depending on quantity. Steaming takes 3-5 minutes depending on the vegetable. Save the cooking water to add to soups. Most vegetables are suited for this except cruciferous types including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage. If sautéing use a quality cold pressed heat tolerant oil like avocado oil.
Greens are the very best foods for your liver. They quell inflammation and drain dampness. Greens go well with animal protein, can be mixed into soups, and complement beans. They are a concentrated powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, including calcium in a combination that is hard to find in any other foods. Find a way to include them in as many meals as you can.
Tasty Leafy Greens Recipe
- Sample greens are:
- Bok Choy or Spinach (mild taste)
- Swiss Chard (moderate taste)
- Kale (strong taste)
If new to greens, start with bok choy or spinach. Chop and put them in about two inches of water. Sauté grated garlic in a small amount of olive oil and toss with the strained greens. Season with any seasonings you like or you can try Herbamare Seasoning available in the natural food section of the supermarket.