Spring Detox? Here are the top 5 herbs

by Yuri Murakami, naturopathic doctor

Doing a gentle detoxification (detox) is a helpful way to recover the body’s vitality, especially the people with chronic disease like sinus congestion, mild allergy, fatigue, over weight, and so on. It can also help to prevent further worsening of the condition.

There are many ways and school of thoughts to do detox, but the very basics are the same. First step is to avoid the toxins that go into the body by eating healthy food for example, and second is to support the body to eliminate toxins efficiently.

Many herbs can be used to help the body effectively removing toxins and here are Top 5 common herbs for the detox.

fern-1429164-m1. Dandelion
Both root and leaves of dandelion can be used for the purpose of detox. Root is an excellent supporter for the liver to heal, protects from the damage and also stimulates the bile flow to improve digestion and weight loss by removing toxins. Leaves can be eaten as salad or lightly steamed. It is high in potassium, and is a good diuretic to support the kidneys.

2. Schizandra
Schizandra berries are one of the multi tasking herbs that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for ages. this herb supports all the pathways (Phase 1 & 2) for the liver detox. It has been used to treat in severe liver issue by normalize liver enzymes and regenerating the liver. It can be also used to adapt to stress easily by increasing endurance. Schizandra is also high in vitamin C and E to fight the free raicals.

3. Milk thistle 
This herb is well known for benefiting the liver, but it also helps the spleen, kidneys and digestion. There are a number of studies have done on the milk thistle and its therapeutic use. The most amazing fact about this herb is its ability to protect the liver such from chemotherapy, free radicals, heavy metals to name a few. It also help to regenerate the liver, and able to increase glutathione level in the body by 35%! 

4. Turmeric
Turmeric is another powerful liver detox herb and also known as a anti-inflammatory herb used commonly in treating jaundice, rheumatoid arthritis, and IBD. It has been also getting attention on its anti-cancer effect. It is a bitter in taste which stimulate both digestion and the gallbladder function. There are number of both traditional and new recipes that you can enjoy turmeric more in your food!

5. Marigold Flower
This beautiful orange flower is like a sunshine in the early spring melting down the snow. The main action is de-congesting lymphatic system and liver by removing toxins and inflammation. It is also a healer for the heart, skin, uterus, and veins.

We have a special herbal tea blend, “Rainbow Detox” that includes some of the herbs above and supports a variety of organs  for safe toxin removal available at our naturopathic clinic in Danforth, Toronto for $10. Contact us for the purchasing detail: yuri@yurisvillage.com or 416-466-5773

Refreshing Summer Smoothies & Juices

Summer is a great time to increase some raw food in your diet. You don’t have to go completely raw, but at least try to have one meal raw to start. Refreshing summer smoothies is a great start!

 Glass With JuiceJuice and Smoothies can be a refreshing raw breakfast or snacks to clench your thirst while nourishing your body with vitamins & minerals. Most of the commercially prepared one are, unfortunately, not recommended. The good news is, making juice and smoothies are simple and fun! You can prepare the fruits and vegetables for children and they can have fun with making own combination. Children can benefit homemade juice without added sugar to regain the taste buds, too.

Here are some recipes with focus on summer vegetables and fruits to inspire you this summer!

Recipes (2 servings)

All listed here are just ingredients. Use juicer to make juice and powerful blender to make smoothies.

1) Cooling Smoothie & Juice

  • Hydration Juice: 6 cups of watermelon (cubed, remove seeds), 1 English cucumber (cut in few pieces), and 1 fresh lime without peel
  • Hawaiian Sunshine: 1 cup pineapple (cubed), 1 cup mango (pealed, without pit), 1/2 cup coconut water, and 1 orange without peel

2) Weight Loss  Juice

  • Green Diuretic & Detox: 2 green apples (cored), 1 stalk celery, 1/2 cucumber, 1 cup ice, 1/2 lemon without peel, handful of parsley spinach, kale,  and lettuce
  • Pink Lemonade: 2 pink grapefruits, 1 cucumber, 1 cup coconut water, 1 lemon without skin

3) Protein Rich Smoothies

  • Banana Strawberry Almond Cream: 1 ripe banana, 1 cup strawberry, 1 cups unsweetened almond milk, 2 tbsp almond flour(powdered almond), 1 cup plain yogurt, and 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Avocado, Mango & Green: 1 avocado (peeled and without pit), 2 mangoes (peeled and without pit), 1 cup spinach, 1/2 pain Greek yogurt, 1 lime without skin

 

Hypoallergenic: Rhubarb “Tomato” Sauce

Most of us know all of the vegetables are good for you, but not all of us know that some vegetables can have  a negative effect especially if you suffer from aches and pains. There is a specific vegetable group call nightshades (Solanaceae in Latin) that contains toxic substance, solanine.  You may have or have not heard […]

Soffritto – An Instant Aromatic Soup Stock

I learned Soffritto from a Japanese chef, who are trained in Italian Food (her blog, Chisa’s Pastry, in Japanese). Ever since she told me how to make soffritto, this has been my favourite thing to use for soups. Soffritto is a sauteed aromatic vegetables originated in Italian cuisine (and similar things exist in many European cuisine with different name). It can be used as a base of a variety of meal such like soup, stew, source, and casserol.

home-cooking-765656-mWhile she taught me the traditional style, I tend to add a few more aromatic vegetables to give extra taste and nutrients. So in this recipe, I will write the traditional recipe and also my extra vegetable version.

As I mentioned, I like using soffritto for the base of the soup instead of vegetable stock especially when I am making vegetarian or vegan soup. It gives gentle sweetness and delicate yet rich taste that you cannot achieve with regular vegetable stock. A great tip for soffritto is always make it in a large quantity, and freeze in smaller portion for using it later. When you have this in freezer, it makes your dish to be flavourful instantly!

If you have a food processor, then soffritto is so easy to make!

Ingredients for the Basic Soffritto (for 4 servings of Soup)

  • 2 medium Onion
  • 2 stalks Celery
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Sea salt and pepper

Direction: chop all the vegetables finely or use food processor to make them into fine pieces (finer pieces are much easier to use for sauce). In a pan, place the olive oil and add all the vegetables, salt and pepper and gently saute in low medium heat. Cover the top to help the vegetables not to dry out, mix occasionally  and continue saute until all are soft, melting, golden colour. (note: Try not to brown the vegetables)

Extra Vegetable Soffritto (for 4 servings of Soup)

  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1 stalk of Celery
  • 1 medium Carrot
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 leaves of Cabbage
  • a handful Parsley
  • 1/2 medium Parsnip
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Sea salt and pepper

Direction is same as above.

When you use soffritto, you can simply use this as a replacement of any “onion” in the ingredients (such like for soup, pasta sauce, risotto, chili, etc). Check my Rhubarb “Tomato” Sauce for one idea of using soffritto.

Vegan Vichysoisse: Cold Potato & Leek Soup

Cold soup on a summer day can be a refreshing appetizer for a BBQ or a garden party! Using a new potato will add a mild sweetness to the taste. 

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium leeks, slice thinly
  • 4 medium potato or 6 new potato, cut in small cubes
  • 2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can of coconut milk (or 1 cup of other milk substitute)
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • sea salt, black pepper, and nutmeg for taste
  • chive, chopped for garnish
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the coconut oil in low-medium heat. Add the leeks and a little pinch of sea salt, saute until leeks sweat for about 5 to 10 minutes, careful not to change the colour of leaks to brownish. Add the potato cubes, cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cook at a low simmer on low heat for about 1/2 an hour, until the leeks and potato are very soft. Allow to cool for a few minutes before the next step.

Using a blender or food processor, very carefully puree the soup in small batches. Return to the cooking pot, whisk in coconut milk, nutmeg and taragon. Add the sea salt and pepper. Return to a boil, turn down and simmer for 5 minutes. If it’s too thick, add a little more stock to thin it out. Then let cool and refrigerate. Serve topped with chives.

Vitalize with Change of Season Soup

Last couple of days, the air has been cooling down, and I have noticed many people started to develop some cold symptoms. As we are always in a close relationship to the natural environment, with a change of season our body also goes into a transition. As a result, during this time, we tends to develop cold like symptoms (like fatigue, nasal obstruction, sore throat, headache, etc), or any part of the “weak spot” of the body tend to surface.

“Change of Season Soup” is one of my favourite ways to .support the smooth transition of the immune system. This soup is made of 4 commonly used Chinese herbs, design to enhance the immune system, to prevent a cold and flu, and to resist the body from everyday stress. It can be drink as a tea or soup for about 2 weeks during the change of season (especially from summer to fall). If you already developed a cold, treat the illness first, and drink this when you recovered from it.

Ingredients

Astragalus membranaceus: Helps elevate energy, helps build immune system and blood.

Codonopsis pilosula: Used as a tonic for weakness, fatigue and enhance immune system.

Dioscorea sinensis (Chinese yam): Helps the function of lung by hydrating and improves protective mechanims of the Lung.

Lyciium barbarum (Goji berries): Rich in antioxidants, improve circulations and boost immunity.

For basic stock: In a large pot, add 1-2L of water and about 2 to 3oz each of the herbs avobe. Cover the top and bring to boil, simmer for 4-6 hours. Top the water as necessary.

This basic stock has a mild sweatness and bitterness. For your taste, you can use this as a soup base to make your own chicken soup! Also check here to see herbs for chicken soup that also helps for the infection.

Good quality of self-care is highly recommended this time of the season. Eat well, rest well, and be well!

If you want to prepae for cold season, we offer herbal tincture making workshop on Wednesday Sept. 21, 2011! See detail from the website

Cooling Summer Herbal Teas

In Japan, unsweetened iced tea can be said the most popular drink that any soft drink company sell!

Cold Filtered Water is yet the best choice of any drinks available to hydrate and cool you down, but some herbs are naturally cooling. We can certainly use this unique property and wonderful flavour of herbs to make ice-tea. About 2 tsp to 1 tbsp of each herb will be enough to make for 8 oz glass of ice-tea. Put herbs and a cup of water in a source pan, bring it to boil and simmer for 10 min. Let the tae to cool, add ice and water to dilute to taste.

So here are some healthy, easy, cooling herbal teas you can enjoy this summer!

  • Jasmine: it is a cooling and balancing herb for the body especially after too much sun exposure or fevers. Jasmine have a delicate perfume and aroma, and it makes a wonderful tea!
  • Mint: peppermint, spearmint etc are really refreshing just by itself. Adding fresh mint in the end to serve tea would make it pretty and also adds extra freshness!
  • Lemon Balm & Camomile: These herbs both have a cooling effect plus calming, soothing effect on nerves and digestive system.
  • Cornsilk: cornsilk is used as a medicine for treating edema, irritation of urinary system such as UTI, and it is cooling and reduce damps from the body. So it is great for humid summer. Making tea is quite simple, you need a raw corn silk from fresh corn, put them in a jug with water and leave it overnight to extract.

Sweeteners: start to make no sugary cold drink as a habit! You will soon enjoy the taste of actual herbs and your taste buds will start to recognize the flavors more without any sweeteners. But if you really need, some options are raw honey, maple syrup, stevia or molasses are things I tend to use. These are still all sugar (except stevia), but has much more nutritional value compare to any refined sugar. You can also use pure fruits juice as a sweetener/taste for your tea.

Fermentation Basics

Fermentation is an ancient technique of preserving food; examples are like  sauerkraut, cheese, yogurt, wine, miso, tempe, natto, kimchi…to name a few. The fermentation occurs through the breakdown of carbohydrates and protein by microorganisms and because of these, the food becomes even more beneficial to the body. Some benefits are:

  1. Probiotics: The microorganisms that facilitate the fermentation are beneficial to the body, so called “good bacteria”. They aid digestion, support immune function, and improve metabolisms
  2. Increase Nutritious Values: Microorganisms make more nutrients available for us. Fermentation food typically has more vitamin Bs (including B12), vitamin C, Vitamin K and more. Also Fermentation process reduce anti-nutrition such as phytates in soy and goitrogens raw cabbage family.
  3. Prevention: cold and flu, cancer (there are many studies in breast and colon), obesity (by improving metabolisms), heart disease (especially natto).
  4. Taste: most of the fermented foods are considered as gourmet in many cultures. This is because the taste that is created by the microorganisms stimulates a specific taste buds and as you eat more, it becomes more irresistible…

The important thing to know is commercially prepared foods are sometimes not the real fermented food (especially the pickle, olive, processed cheese, some yogurt), thus do not contain these benefit we talked above. This is because processed foods need to be consistent in taste, also fast and cheap to make; thus the process of creating these food does not go through fermentation.

The great news is that the preparation of the fermented vegetable is actually REALLY SIMPLE and EASY! I usually make fermented vegetables in small quantity while I am cooking some other meal, so it doesn’t really take a much effort and time to make it. Take a look of this YouTube video by Sandor Kats, the author of Wild Fermentaion. He is one of the active pioneers who is reviving fermenting cultures.

Video: How to make fermented vegetables

After you got the basics, try to create the combination you like! I make some fermented vegetables with additional benefits in!

  1. Cold & Flu Prevention: I make Kimchi like fermented cabbage by adding minced garlic, ginger, chili pepper and green onion.
  2. Cancer Prevention: add turmeric, powdered seaweed, garlic, ginger, few different cabbage families (kale, boc choi, etc).

Bon Appétit!

Golden Macaroon: carrot & coconut vegan cookie

This recipe was arranged from the recipe book, Hollyhock Cooks by Linda Colomon and Moreka Jolar. Macaroon is a coconut cookie which usually contains egg whites to bind all the ingredients; instead, this recipe uses molasses (or honey). So this is perfect for people who are sensitive to eggs! (You can also make it to be gluten-free easily, see the ingredients part below.) It is really easy to make and it is wonderful little snack for kids as well as for adults.

You can adjust the ratio of carrot and coconuts in a way you prefer and find your golden balance!

Makes about 1 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1cup (240ml) graded carrots
  • 1cup (240ml) shredded coconut
  • 1/2cup (120ml) molasses (or honey)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole wheat flour (or buckwheat flour for gluten-free option)
  • 1 tsp (5ml) baking powder
  • 1tsp (5ml) cinnamon

Direction

Preheat the oven to 350 F

  1. In a large bowl, combine the morasses and olive oil with carrots and coconut.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and cinnamon, and add this to the wet mixture and combine completely with a spoon.
  3. Shape the dough into about 2 inch diameter circles and place them onto a lightly oiled baking sheet or parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes, until firm to the touch. Allow them to cool on a cooling rack.

Sukuma Wiki: a great kale dish you would love!

Kale is one of leafy green vegetables many people know about its benefit, but many people actually do not know a good way to cook it. I was also one of them…until I was introduce to this food in Kenya.

One of Kenyan mama had told me that Sukuma means “to push” and wiki means “week”. So whole meaning of this dish is “pushing a week to survive until next payday” because this dish is so cheap! The nutritional benefit of this dish is still quite high: kale is a cabbage family (Brassicas) which helps the liver for its cleansing activity. kale is also high in beta carotene, vitamin C, iron, calcium, manganese and also a great source of fiber!

Because kale is finely chopped in this dish and sautéed with garlic & onion with flavorful spices, a hardy taste of kale is less noticed. Also you can add a quite lot of kale in one servings! I added chickpeas to add some more protein in this dish. You can add any other desired beans and vegetables!

Enjoy this dish with steamed brown rice or Ugari which is polenta like staple food this dish is originally served with.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Kale 1 to half bunch, chopped in thin string pieces like coleslaw
  • Tomato 1 medium, diced
  • Cooked chickpeas or any other beans 1 cup
  • Onion 1 medium, diced
  • Garlic 2 cloves, chopped finely
  • Fresh ginger 1 tsp, chopped finely
  • Turmeric or curry powder 1/2 tsp
  • Olive oil 1tbsp
  • Cumin powder, salt and pepper a pinch

Direction

  1. In a frying pan, put olive oil, garlic, and ginger, saute until it starts to have a great aroma in medium heat .
  2. Add onion, continue sauteing until onion turns into golden colour. Add tomatoes and cooked it down to make a sauce.
  3. Add salt, pepper, cumin powder, and turmeric or curry powder, mixed the sauce well and add kale and chickpeas.
  4. Cook kale until it soften (about 10 min) and serve it on steamed brown rice.