Happy Holidays~ tis the season for gathering. In fact, “gathering” or “Yang” energy is most prevalent this time of the season, according to Eastern philosophy, as you can see in the nature and even in the human world.
It’s also a time when we have lots of fun, eat lots of delicious foods, and drink wines, beers and perhaps even some eggnog. These indulgences can result in some unwanted consequences, such as digestive problems, hangover/headaches, sore throat, and weight gain. In addition, as the temperature drops, it is also a season of colds and flu. We all want to take good care of ourselves during the holidays and not go overboard with these parties and eggnogs. But sometimes it’s not that easy to act like a monk at holiday parties! So here, let me share my “Kitchen Must Haves-” some of Nature’s most powerful natural “medicines” to help you stay healthy and balanced during the season.
These natural cures and aides have helped me tremendously, and I’ve been healthy and colds/flu free for the last several years. While my medicine cabinet is a pill-free zone (only lotions, perfumes & essential oils allowed), my kitchen cabinet is filled with super foods. They help relieve some common health problems, not just for holiday seasons, but throughout the year with no side effects. And these natural cures are much more effective than any of those pills in the medicine cabinet anyway!
Obviously we need salt for cooking, but it’s also a mainstay for natural healing. It works as a strong anti-bacterial when used for gargling. Dissolve half table spoon of salt in a glass of warm water, stir well, and gargle when you come home from crowded places. Gargling with salt water is a great way to prevent germs and infections and helps to relieve sore throat. You can also gargle with warm kukicha (twig) tea instead of plain water to make the gargle even more effective.
You can also use salt in your bath. A salt bath helps maintain your body’s alkalinity. If you can’t submerge your whole body, a simple foot bath is also beneficial. Salt baths helps alkalize your body from inside with its osmotic effect to help us balance out our very acidic lifestyle which leads to most health problems.
2. Umeboshi Plum
This is a cure all food that I strongly recommend all households have on hand (in my house it’s more important than aspirin. Made from salted and aged plums, umeboshi paste is a miracle food that works as an strong anti-bacterial, anti-infections, natural antacid (for acid reflux, heart burn). It also relieves any digestive problems, from stomach ache, diarrhea or constipation and pain relief for headaches and others. Umeboshi also offsets the effect of alcohol (hangover) and sugar. Its strong alkalinity prevents colds/flu, or helps quick recovery from it. Take one plum, or drink ume-sho bancha tea after a party, or when you are coming down with cold/flu.
3. Kuzu (kudzu)
This is THE miracle medicine for any digestive problems. Kuzu drink also works miracles for heartburn, acid reflux, diarrhea. This drink is also taken as a natural cold remedy in Japan. Kuzu is a starch that is also useful for cooking, as a thickener for sauces or desserts.
4 Kukicha (twig) tea
While most of the caffeinated drinks are acidic, this tea is more alkalizing, which keeps our health in check. Made from the twigs of the tea plant, it contains heaps of tea’s natural antioxidants, but almost no caffeine. I recommend making a big pot each morning, and drinking throughout the day. Kukicha is the base for the ume sho bancha tea, mentioned above. It can also be used for gargling with salt for sore throat.
5. Miso (miso paste)
“One cup of miso a day keeps a doctor away.” We Japanese eat miso soup after a lot of drinking to prevent hangovers, but it’s also a great soup for prevention and quick recovery of colds/flue as well as relieving digestive problems with the help of active friendly bacteria. There’s really no reason not to have this miracle healing soup!
5. Soy sauce
To make ume sho bancha tea and kuzu drink, have a good quality soy sauce (also called shoyu), and discard Kikkoman fake soy sauce once and for all! It’s made with corn syrup and preservatives, and has no place in a healthy kitchen. It’s important to have a good quality soy sauce for healing purpose, one where the ingredients are only soy bean, wheat, sea salt (not “salt”), koji, and water, aged at least 6 months and more. If you are gluten-free you can choose tamari, which is a byproduct of the miso making process
All the natural foods mentioned above can be found at health food stores (do NOT get them at Asian/ Japanese grocery stores), and stored in the cabinet or fridge for a very very long time. Next week I will share my tips for healthy fresh products that also work miracles!