Archive for the ‘Home remedies’ Category

Chinatown’s pharmacies always fascinated me, yet very rarely I would actually step into one and explore. Today I had to pick up my bi-weekly supply of Chinese herb and so I got to hang out in the store and soak up some of its magic.
One step into Kamwo pharmacy and you are in a totally different world, on the counter are 7 pieces of paper and on each  various herb, flowers, tree shavings and other dried up wonders. All are stored in the hundreds of drawers behind the pharmacist and are being carefully measured by hand, using weights and a scale.

In 2 gallon jars around the room are more dried up berries and mushrooms, different roots and probably some animal parts, alongside the large variety of teas.

The idea that there is a whole completely different approach to medicine and healing, an entire system that analyze our body’s energies and connect every illness and ache to imbalances in our organs, diet, environment and our emotions is captivating, and the more I know the stronger I feel about accepting this idea and learning more about it.

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As the weather in NY drops below the freezing point, soups seems to be the only natural thing to eat.
I was told by my acupuncturist yesterday that I need to push out something that is still external , but may become internal if left untreated, and so I should eat a lot of Miso. According to Chinese tradition exterior diseases first affect the body surfaces that are exposed directly to the environment – the skin, the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and lungs. The most prevalent exterior conditions are the common cold and flu, the sooner ones notices these conditions and take action, the more likely their interior progress can be reversed. Food that promotes sweating is recommended for treating such conditions – miso soup, ginger and peppermint tea are my favorite remedies.

Miso is a fermented soybean paste thought to have originated in China some 2,500 years ago. It is made by combining cooked soybeans, mold, salt and various grains and then fermenting them together for six months to two years. There are three basic types of miso: soybean, barley and rice, and 40-50 other varieties. Each type has its own distinctive color and flavor.
Healing properties of miso: 13%-20% protein; it is a live food containing lactobacillus (the same in yogurt) that aids in digestion; it creates an alkaline condition in the body promoting resistance against disease. According to tradition, miso promotes long life and good health.
In my miso soup I like using a lot of ginger and scallions, along with kombu, wakame, tofu and shiitake.
Kombu (kelp) –  moistens dryness; increases yin fluids; softens hardened areas and masses in the body; helps transform heat induced phlegm; benefits kidneys; diuretic; anti-coagulant effect on the blood; is a natural fungicide; relieves coughing and asthma; soothes the lungs and throat; eradicates fungal and candida yeast overgrowths.
– diuretic; transforms and resolves phlegm; high in calcium; rich in niacin and thiamine; promotes healthy hair and skin; soften hardened tissue and masses; tonifies the yin fluids; used in Japanese tradition to purify the mother’s blood after childbirth.
Tofu – benefits the lungs and large intestine; relieves inflammation in the stomach; neutralizes toxins.

What a healthy, cold fighting soup this is going to be!
*most of this information is based on the book “healing with whole foods” by Paul Pritchard
Miso soup recipe

  • 10-12 cups of chicken stock or water – I prefer using chicken stock, got to give grandma’s remedies some credit too.
  • about 2-3 tablespoons of dark miso
  • 1/4 cup dry Wakame, soaked in 2 cups of water
  • 1 big piece of Kombu, cut into small chunks (use scissors)
  • 1/2 pack of tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon of bonito (or any other) dry fish flakes, optional
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • ginger, at least 3-5 inch long, peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 10 shiitake mushrooms, leg removed, cut in 4


  1. in a soup pot, sautee garlic onion and ginger for about 4-5 minutes
  2. add wakame and the liquid it was soaked in and stir
  3. add mushrooms, 3/4 of scallions, kombu, tofu, bonito fish flakes and chicken stock
  4. bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, cook for about 30 minutes
  5. add miso, stir and cook for 10 more minutes
  6. serve hot with fresh scallions on top
  7. optional addition: hard-boiled or fried egg is a delicious addition to this soup.

*Miso, Kombu, Wakame and Bonito flakes can be found in Chinese or Japanese supermarkets.

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I got home today after an extra long day, and I was Starving (not because I didn’t eat, I just needed more).
What am I going to eat? I sure don’t feel like cooking, and I am kind of tired of fried eggs on a toast. Ah! I remembered, I had so much squash left after making pies on Sunday and I made some soup from it. yes!
“Everything that is orange” soup is one of the many reasons why Fall might be the best season of the year.
You know how they say that carrots are good for your eyes? Well, they are right.
The carrot, and all other orange fruit,vegetables and roots, gets its characteristic and bright orange color from β-carotene, which is metabolized in our body into vitamin A, an antioxidant that neutralizes the damaging free radicals in the body, and is helpful not only for good eyesight but also for the skin, lungs, digestive tract and heart health. The juice from carrots and squash reduces inflammation and heals burns (though my favorite treatment for those two is turmeric-another orange-colored goodness).
All orange-colored vegetables are also beneficial for blood sugar regulation, and are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant which boosts the immune system, protects against cardiovascular disease and helps rebuild collagen in the skin.
According to Chinese traditions carrots, squash seeds and pumpkin seeds are also extremely helpful if you are trying to destroy intestinal worms and improves qi energy circulation. * (based mostly on information from the book “Healing with whole foods” Paul Pitchford, “she-knows” health and wellness and other online sources).

I knew there is a reason why I am favoring the orange colors in my life.

Well, back to dinner, kombu and butternut squash soup, an easy, delicious meal that will help you stay vibrant and healthy.



  • 2 small or one medium size squash: butternut, buttercup, kombu, acorn, kabucha, sweet dumpling, or any other squash you like. I prefer any combination of the first three listed.
  • 2 large carrots, cut into big chunks
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4
  • few cloves of garlic
  • fresh ginger root  (about 3-4 inch long), grated
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock
  • 12 oz cream or half and half- totally optional
  • oil or butter for roasting vegetables
  • salt and pepper
  • some bread to serve on the side


  1. pre-heat the oven to about 300 degrees
  2. cut open squash and clean all the seeds and the stringy parts (keep seeds for sprouting or roasting)
  3. rub the squash with olive oil or butter, salt and pepper, place a clove of garlic inside the squash and cover with foil
  4. place carrots and onion in a roasting pan, with oil, salt and pepper
  5. roast all vegetables until tender, carrots and onions may be ready before the squash
  6. when the squash is ready separate from the skin and place in a blender along with the carrots, onion, ginger, half the stock, about a tablespoon of oil or butter and cream, if desired – you might have to do this step in two batches
  7. blend together and add chicken stock until you reach the right consistency
  8. add salt and pepper to taste
  9. toast the bread and rub it with a sliced clove of garlic, some butter and salt. serve on the side

as the soup cools down it will thicken, when you reheat it add some more stock or water if necessary.
you can also use pumpkin and sweet potato in this soup, or a little bit of everything.

yin yang in my soup, just the way I like it

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I had to slice a lot of mushrooms at work today, Portobello, Oyster, and My favorite, Shiitake.
Shiitake mushrooms with their rich, smoky flavor are  used in many recipes and different cuisine, they are relatively new to our western taste buds (Americans been eating them since 1972) but have become very popular over the years.
I was first introduce to Shiitake about 11 years ago, when my step grandfather was diagnosed with cancer of the liver and decided to fight it with a meticulous diet that involved a lot of Shiitake (along with many other things).
Why Shiitake? There are a few answers to this question, I’ll try to keep it short:
Early investigators were skeptical of mushrooms because they appeared to have properties similar to those of cancer – parasitical, fungus-like, and fast growing. It now seems that these qualities might be an indications that mushroom are useful for treating cancer. Shiitake mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, they are said to be a natural source of interferon, a protein which appears to induce an immune response against cancer and viral diseases. They are also thought to tonify immunity and appears to have strong effect against tumors and cancers.  Mushrooms are also a good source of germanium, an element that improves cellular oxygenation and enhance immunity. * (based mostly on information from the book “Healing with whole foods” Paul Pitchford and from various online sources).

Oh wow, it sounds like we all should be eating more Shiitake…
Living in a city filled with pollution and being exposed to all these cancerous threats is pretty harsh on our bodies, and if adding Shiitake to my diet can boost up my odds, even just a bit, I’m in!
You can buy them fresh, dried or even powdered, you can soak them in hot water and drink as a tea or fill your on capsules and take as a supplement, personally I like to eat them, raw, or cooked.

Convinced yet? Let’s get down to business:
First make sure that when selecting fresh mushrooms they are firm and clean, if they look soft, sticky or have dark spots, you should not eat them. Fresh ones are best stored loosely in a paper bag inside your fridge and the dried ones in an air tight container in your pantry.
As for cooking them, you can be creative and add them into soups, sautéed veggies, rice dishes, pastas, sushi, salads and so on ( please share any recipes and/or ideas)
I really like adding them to my porcini and shallots when making a risotto (see recipe below) but if you feel like cooking something that simply screams “healthy” here is a recipe for Barley with vegetables:


  • 1 cup barley, soaked
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, diced
  • 2 shiitake mushrooms, sliced (soaked for 15 minutes if dried)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 cups water (can be substituted with stock for extra flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  1. saute vegetables in sesame oil
  2. dry roast barley lightly
  3. place barley and vegetable in a pot with water and salt
  4. cover and bring to a boil
  5. reduce heat to low, simmer for 40 minutes

Mushroom risotto:


  • 6 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 pound Porcini, Shiitake and baby Portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.
  2. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, just about 22 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives, and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bon Appetite !

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