—Acupuncturist and Herbalist
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do/share one of your greatest achievements.
I am a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, and currently practice and reside in Fort Collins, Colorado. I work largely with women’s health, digestive ailments, and chronic pain. Nutrition is so integral to our health, and I also believe that you can get the best results with acupuncture and/or herbal medicine when patients are also willing to adapt certain aspects of their diet and lifestyle. Thus, I wanted to be able to provide a resource for my patients that guided them on the foods that would be best suited for their individual constitution and their Chinese medicine diagnosis. Within my first year of practice, I realized that I didn’t quite have the time to give them acupuncture, herbs, lifestyle, and also dietary plans - which I found to be quite problematic! My patients were also interested in using food as medicine, so I created Five Flavor Kitchen, in hopes of providing a resource for those interested in individualized, food-as-medicine eating through the lens of Chinese medicine.
What was your first encounter with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or the medicinal foods of your culture?
My first encounter with Traditional Chinese medicine was back in 2013! I was receiving acupuncture for numerous health issues, and I was so amazed by not only what the acupuncturist could tell by looking at my tongue and taking my pulse, but also completely astonished with how acupuncture made me feel, and the results I was getting. Of course, this made me want to study Chinese medicine and share this knowledge with others! Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a beautiful holistic medicine that is still just as relevant now as when it originated or was recorded at least 3,000 years ago in China. My belief is that it needs to be shared as it really can help so many people!
What are your kitchen must-haves? (Tools, ingredients, books, etc.)
Hmmm, I’m pretty simple in the kitchen. I would say a nicely sharpened knife and a large beautiful cutting board! As far as books, Healing with Whole Foods, the Tao of Nutrition, and Nourishing Life the Yang Sheng Way are some of my favorites for exploring eastern nutrition.
What is your opinion on "food as medicine?" What is a food-based item that you take/consume for wellness?
My opinion is that “food as medicine” is absolutely individualized! There is no one medicine that is a cure-all, and with food, it is absolutely the same. What might be a great food/ingredient source for one person, might exacerbate an illness in another person. I love love love congees - they are so nourishing for me, so I’m always trying to figure out different congee recipes. I will have to check out the Five Seasons TCM Congee e-book!
Could you share two health-conscious recipes with us, in which you used ingredients inspired by traditional medicine or nature?
I’d like to share two dishes great for fall and winter. The first is a blood-nourishing beet bowl, served with steamed beet greens, and paired with sweet potatoes, jade pearl rice, a fried egg, and sesame garlic tahini sauce. In Chinese medicine, beets are used as a blood “tonic,” thus, they help the body to build blood. This dish could also be enjoyed in early spring.
And the second recipe is my Warming Pumpkin Curry, which features sugar pie pumpkins, garbanzo beans, green beans, and cherry tomatoes, cooked down in a creamy coconut base. The curry is on the sweeter side, and not very spicy, but hearty, creamy, sweet, and deeply nourishing.
As a general rule in Chinese dietary therapy, when we’re feeling a little “off”- our digestion loves and will prefer starchy, mashed, and warm, cooked foods because they’re much easier for our bodies to break down.
Which body constitution do you have and how will your daily ritual change after finding out?
I have a yang deficient constitution! I love warm weather and struggle to keep warm in the winter. I always eat warming soups, and baked foods in the winter in order to supplement my Yang Qi!
Find out your body constitution here!