Thursday, May 2, 2013

Suffering from Allergies?

Spring is in full bloom. Pussy willows, cherry blossoms, forsythia and magnolia trees offer a vibrant collage of color. Spring is just bursting with beauty and after the cold, damp rains that precede the flowers, I am finding that I want to spend as much time as possible outside.

However, if you suffer from allergies it can put a real damper on your outdoor activities. 
What can you do to ease your seasonal  suffering? 

There are several changes you can make to your diet to alleviate allergy symptoms.
Try eliminating foods that cause stagnation and mucus build-up in your body.
Animal and dairy foods are at the top of this list, as is refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.
If you consume these foods on a regular basis, try leaving them out of your diet for a few
days and see how you feel. I bet that you will notice a reduction in your allergy symptoms. 

For those of you who already eat a plant-based diet, there are many other dietary adjustments that 
you can make to reduce allergy symptoms. Foods that are dry, hard, baked, flaky or salty will exacerbate your allergies. Reducing your intake of fruit and fruit juices will help to curtail the itchy, watery eye symptoms. Tropical fruits are much more acidic and should be avoided completely due to their acidic nature. Sweeteners such as agave, honey, high fructose corn syrup or the more cleverly disguised “corn sugar” are highly acidifying and contribute to many allergies. Plant-based “dairy-like” substitutes should be avoided due to the thick, creamy consistency which contributes to mucus build up and is stagnating to the lymph system. Consuming cold foods and beverages can harden mucus causing more stagnation and making the excess more difficult to eliminate. In addition many of the above foods will make your condition acidic, which weakens your blood and immune system.

The key to feeling better is to eat more grains and vegetables. In addition, including foods such as miso soup and good quality pickles will improve your digestion, strengthen and alkalize your blood quality and make your body more resistant to allergic reactions.

For those of you who are not familiar with the above foods, the easiest pickle to incorporate into your diet is sauerkraut. Many health food stores sell natural, unpasteurized sauerkraut, often made with sea salt. Miso soup has long been used in Japan and has numerous health benefits..

Recipe for basic miso soup
Wakame or alaria sea vegetable - Use about 1 inch per cup of water.
One to two thin slices of root and/or round vegetables per cup of liquid used.
Leafy greens
Aged barley or Brown rice miso - Use 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of miso per cup of liquid
Finely chopped scallions for garnish

Soak the sea veggies in water until it is soft enough to cut into even pieces.
Discard the soaking water.
Measure the desired amount of water and pour it into a stainless steel pot.
Add the sea vegetables, turn on the flame and bring the water to a boil.
Add the root, and/or round vegetables and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, measure the miso and place it in a small bowl.
Take a little of the stock and dilute the miso, then use a wooden utensil to dissolve the miso.
Add the leafy greens to the soup.
Add the diluted miso to the boiling water. Note: the water needs to be boiling when you add the miso. The boiling water activates the miso. After you add the miso the water will stop boiling. Immediately lower the flame and simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Garnish with finely chopped scallion before serving,

Note: You want to use Naturally fermented miso from a reputable source, either a good quality Natural Food store or from a Natural food Mail order company. Good quality sea vegetables may also be purchased in the health food store.

Types of miso recommended:
Aged Barley miso or “Mugi” miso
Brown rice or Sweet tasting Brown rice miso
White Miso
Or Try a combination of aged barley together with younger white miso.

                            Make your health strong and enjoy the full beauty of the season!
Photo taken by Chef Ralph

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