08:15 08:15

13 Tips to Simplify Your Meals

By | 2018-05-21T12:38:35+00:00 May 20th, 2018|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on 13 Tips to Simplify Your Meals

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

“What’s for dinner?”

It’s a common question that can turn into an amusing (or annoying) game.  When you have a busy schedule it can be a daunting task to figure out how to eat well–let alone eat.  I’ll tell you a little secret–it’s all about habits.

Our culture has put emphasis on economy and convenience, at the cost of  our connection to self nourishment, and I’m not talking about restorative yoga.   Think about it.  We spend less time planning and preparing meals than any other culture in the world, and we have increasing disease and health costs that are directly related to dietary habits.  Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, GERD (okay, there is a virus involved sometimes here, but I assure you, if you slow down how you eat, it improves considerably), kidney stones, ulcers, gout, heart disease–you get the picture.  We all know nutrition is important, what and how we eat is the basis for our energy, ability to health and overall health.

Wonderful.  So how do we start improving how we nourish ourselves?

Simple-create new habits that make better nourishment and eating habits a priority.

You will be hungry today, so why let that surprise you?  Why not plan for it instead? Your health and soul will thank you.   Let’s play with a few ideas.

1. Create time–If your current habits don’t allow you the time to menu plan, shop, prep and cook–budget some time.  Put it in your day planner or on your ‘to do’ list.  If you skip meals, put the time for them in your planner as well.  It usually takes me about 15 minutes to make a menu for the week and […]

13:06 13:06

Cherries! Nature’s Blood Cleanser

By | 2018-05-21T13:11:13+00:00 April 22nd, 2018|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Cherries! Nature’s Blood Cleanser

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

It’s time for cherries!  If you’ve ever picked cherries, likely you have an appreciation for how much labor goes into caring for and harvesting the delicate, tart orbs that are available fresh for only a few weeks. Depending on the variety, a single cherry tree can produce about 30 lbs of fruit each year.   A single acre of land can be planted with several hundred trees. That’s a lot of little fruit, and although there are mechanical harvesters, most cherries are still picked by hand making them one of the most labor intensive fruits with the one of the shortest harvest season. But they are well worth it.

A little cherry history

Cherries are a drupe, meaning they have a pit in their center. Like other drupes, including apricots, nectarines, and peaches, they are a member of the rose family and are native to the western hemisphere of Europe and Asia. Written records of cherry farming date back to 72 BC Anatolia (modern day Turkey) and they found their way to America with the pilgrims.   Today, only about 15 of some 500 plus varieties are grown for the American consumer.  However, heirloom varieties are on the rise thanks to the natural food movements throughout the world and our nation.

Western nutritional highlights of cherries

Cherries range from a deep black/red to a golden yellow, and they are categorized as sweet or sour, even in western nutritional terms.  Raw cherries provide dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A and minerals. Don’t look to cherries if you are seeking proteins, fats and or complex carbohydrates. That’s not their job–cherries clear and cleanse.

The healing energetics […]

09:00 09:00

Spring’s Energetics–The Season Of The Wood Element

By | 2018-04-09T10:15:25+00:00 March 6th, 2018|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions, Holistic Living, Spring, The Seasons|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Spring’s Energetics–The Season Of The Wood Element

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

Welcome to Spring!

When does Spring really begin? For most Western cultures, we correlate the start of Spring with the Spring equinox, around March 20-21st.  But all of us know that Spring has been well underway by the time the equinox pops up. If you look at the seasonal correspondences in Chinese medicine’s Yin/Yang theory, the Winter solstice marks the depth of Winter, yet as soon as we reach maximum Yin (the shortest day of the year), Yang and light start to return–literally, Spring is on its way.  A quick look at the lunar calendar can also help us understand why Spring seems to come early or late from one year to the next.  The Chinese New Year heralds the start of the Spring festivals and planting seasons.  This holiday falls on the second new moon after the Winter solstice, sometime between the end of January and the middle of February.

Our bodies feel seasonal changes, and when we are in harmony with these shifts we can delight in the blessings of the season.  However, the transition from Winter to Spring is perhaps, the most tumultuous transition. It’s a duel between the quiet and restive inward energy of Winter into the strong, upward ascending of Yang energy–and its energy can be big.  The season of the Wood element, Spring is a time of tremendous energy, and excitement in the world and in our bodies.   It’s a time of change and growth.  Our bodies want to move more, we have more energy within us and we want to get up and go!  In disharmony, we resist the changes and encounter difficulties.  During the Spring this can […]

16:42 16:42

The Year of The Earth Dog

By | 2018-01-29T16:45:33+00:00 January 29th, 2018|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Specials|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on The Year of The Earth Dog

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA Certified Instructor & Practitioner

 

We love our dogos and puppers and it’s their year.  Friday, February 16th is the second new moon following the winter solstice.  For Asian cultures this is the New Year and the start of the spring festivals and planting season.  This year the Fire Rooster will surrender to the loyal and loving Earth Dog–our most favorite of pets.

Each year of the Asian (Chinese) calendar corresponds to one of the 12 animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and the pig).  Besides the animal, we also cycle through each of the 5 elements (fire, earth, metal,water and wood) to create a full 60 year cycle.  By the time you cycle back to the animal year and element that you were born in you will be 60–so, don’t hold your breath.  Each animal carries its own unique personality and disposition, couple that with the elemental energies and can get an idea of the nature of the how the year may play out.

The nature of the Dog:

Our most beloved friends, dogs are loyal and happy to please their friends and family. They do not care what your wealth or health is like–they believe everyone deserves love. They are considered one of the most auspicious animals in the zodiac and are welcomed into homes to bring prosperity, safety and support.   Those born in the dog years are loyal, responsible and caring and bring energy and vitality to other’s lives. However, they may be overly sensitive, stubborn and emotional–those puppy eyes.

Each element influences the dog’s overall nature. This year, the Earth element adds extra dimensions of tenacity or persistence, precise attention and good wealth.

The Year of The Earth Dog

13:10 13:10

12 Tips For Handling Heartburn And Indigestion

By | 2017-09-22T08:56:06+00:00 September 20th, 2017|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on 12 Tips For Handling Heartburn And Indigestion

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

Digestive disturbances affect nearly everyone at some point in their life and it’s estimated that 40% of Americans will suffer from heartburn at least once each month–ouch.  In fact, the proton pump inhibitor drugs (think Nexium and Prevacid) are the third largest class of drugs sold in America each year.    The following recommendations are beneficial for any level of digestive vibrancy, whether you have excellent digestion and want to make the most of a healthy system or you are treating chronic or debilitating digestive issues.  Honestly, I know of no condition that will not improve or benefit from the simple habits listed below.

Chew your food —Let’s start at the beginning.  Besides the teeth mechanically breaking down the food, salivary amylase is added in the mouth to break down starches.  This enzyme is not found in the stomach–it has to be added into the food in the mouth.  Although the stomach churns to help break food down, it doesn’t have teeth and large chunks of food overly burden the stomach causing gas, bloating, and acid re-flux.   The physical act of chew also triggers mass peristalsis in the colon–meaning you will move your bowels more regularly.  Ideally, you should chew your food about 30 times, so put your fork down between each bite and savor your food.

Have a seat–“Li proceeds Qi.” Literally, where your intention goes your Qi (energy & manifestation)  will follow.  If your intention is to eat a meal, assist your body by sitting down, relaxing and enjoying your food.  If your attention is rushed or focused elsewhere Qi won’t readily flow into your digestive organs to help properly transform the food. Voila–you now have […]

10:21 10:21

Surviving Summer Heat

By | 2017-06-30T12:24:09+00:00 June 30th, 2017|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Holistic Living, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on Surviving Summer Heat

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

We love our Summers and the sunshine here in Boise.  It’s time to be in the garden, rivers and mountains.  The temperature can swing nearly 40 degrees from sun up to sundown, and then there is that spell in July and August where it hangs out above 100 and never seems to cool off—ack, melt.  Occasionally, we spend too much time in the sun, or the season changes so rapidly that we have problems adapting. You may experience a little ‘Summer Heat’ invasion.

Each of the 5 Seasons in Chinese medicine has a climatic nature.  Spring relates to Wind, Autumn to Dryness, Winter to Cold, Late Summer  (the transition of seasons) relates to Dampness, and Summer corresponds to Heat. These climates are simply part of the  nature of the season and Chinese medicine practitioners observe these climatic influences and their behaviors in the body as they can become a source of disease or disharmony.  For example, Wind can be involved in many forms of headaches, allergies and palsies.  Any of these climatic conditions can pop up in any season due to rapid weather changes, change in location, etc.  Heat is most likely to affect us during the Summer and the Summer organs are most vulnerable to Heat, and the 6th Pernicious Influence–Summer Heat.

 Summer Heat is an exterior pathogen

Exterior pathogens or the 6 Pernicious Influences or 6 Evils are hot, cold, wind, damp, dry and summer heat.  They are acute in nature and come on quickly. They invade our bodies either because the pathogen is excessively strong compared to normal Wei Qi (immunity), like in the cases of plagues,  or our Wei Qi is too […]

08:10 08:10

Grilled Ratatouille

By | 2017-05-08T08:31:25+00:00 May 8th, 2017|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Gluten Free, Recipes, Summer, Summer Recipes, The Seasons, Vegetables, Vegetarian|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Grilled Ratatouille

Summer cooking at its best is easy, colorful and uncomplicated.  Ratatouille makes the most of the season’s vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.  This grilled version can be prepared in two ways.  The vegetables are first grilled and you then dress them right at the table and serve them immediately or you finish marrying their flavors over the stove top.  Both are delish–it’s just a matter of choice.  I tend to prefer the first method, as it’s simpler and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.

Double this recipes or toss leftovers with cooked quinoa and a little extra dressing (if necessary) for a light, high protein dish. […]

11:58 11:58

Oh, Honey! Bees’ Wonderful Gifts

By | 2017-05-01T09:35:26+00:00 March 24th, 2017|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Holistic Living|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Oh, Honey! Bees’ Wonderful Gifts

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI, CHN

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance.  

Henry David Thoreau

I grew up on my grandparent’s farm outside of Caldwell, on Chicken Dinner Road, among vegetable gardens, berry patches, orchards, flower gardens….and bees. Grandpa Herman held many passions but at the top of the list were roses, walnuts and bees.

Grandpa’s bee hives would come to life every spring as soon as the first violets appeared. The apricot and crab apple trees buzzed with life and the melodious hum meant fresh honey. In a few weeks we would be blessed with plates of oozing honeycomb. The honey, gently flavored with whatever was blooming, ranged in color from golds to nearly black was fragrant and delicious. Mmmmm.

A Little History

The collection of honey dates back to 7000 b.c.e., and it shows up in nearly every form of medicine. However, honey fell out of popular use due to the availability and ease of processed white refined sugar. Let’s face it, refined sugar is cheaper and easier to obtain. You don’t have to risk stings or wait for the right season, you don’t have to manage a hive and its queen. Honey also adds a distinct flavor to whatever it goes into, another put-off to spoiled taste buds, but I digress.

Like all real food, bee products hold medicinal properties and energetics–the post metabolic phenomenon of what it does in the body (heat, cool, etc.)– once it is ingested. Here’s a brief picture of our bees’ bounty.

local be [...]
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11:42 11:42

Mini Clafoutis

By | 2017-03-17T14:36:42+00:00 March 17th, 2017|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Dairy Free, Desserts & Sweets, Diabetes Friendly, Eggs, Fruit, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegetable|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Mini Clafoutis

Clafoutis, a dish popularized in America by Julia Child, are easy to make and endless in variety (see notes).  Just think of them as mini quiches without the crust.  These clafoutis make lovely items for spring brunches as they can be eaten hot or at room temperature.  They are also great little after-school nibble or to pack for a picnic.

Enjoy!  April

[…]

16:27 16:27

Understanding Gua Sha–The Art of Scraping

By | 2017-03-06T09:39:36+00:00 March 2nd, 2017|Categories: April's Blogs, Blogs, Chinese Medicine|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Understanding Gua Sha–The Art of Scraping

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

What is Gua Sha?
Based on the theories of ‘counteraction,’ Gua sha or frictioning uses a smooth edged tool to scrape the skin intentionally bringing up a rash to release pathogens and pain.  There are beautiful tools of bone, jade or other precious materials  made especially for gua sha,  however  my pragmatic side favors the $2 porcelain Chinese soup spoon that I can get from World Market and that fits perfectly in my hand.

Hippocrates identified 4 types of frictioning and their specific healing benefits stating, “It has the power of loosening, binding, augment and diminishing.” Huh, what does that mean?

Soft frictioning–Uses light quick strokes to loosen the flesh. This technique may not bring up strong rash and clears quickly. It is used for those who are very weak or in areas that can’t handle great depth or where you don’t want a rash to show up such as the face. Yeah, really, a little gua sha can release TMJ and tight jaw muscles.  Yes, we can apply gua sha to the jaw.

Moderate frictioning–Uses medium pressure and frequency of strokes to increase the flesh. Used for overall pain and to fight off colds and flu.

Hard frictioning–Uses deeper quicker strokes to strengthen the flesh. Used for overall and chronic deep pain and to fight off colds and flu.

Prolonged–Uses longer, slowly to break up thick congestion or thin the flesh such as thick scar tissues.

What does gua sha treat?
All frictioning generates heat and releases exterior invasions or the 6 Evils. Many Asian cultures use Gua Sha extensively at the onset of a cold or are ‘coming down’ with something. Gua sha also release deep stagnation and pain.

Pain–anywhere–Doesn’t really matter […]