Posts Tagged ‘Diabetes’

Let’s Make Ghee!

IMG_2767Ghee has been rightly identified as a food of the gods with a history dating back as far as 1500BCE.  It has so many uses including ceremonial, medicinal, and nutritional.  Among the law verses in India’s Dharmasutra, a code detailing religious and political requirements, ghee is referenced as a key element of religious rituals. It also appears in the Bhagavad Gita’s, chapter 9, and in at least one of the hymns titled Rg Veda.  Medicinally, Ayurvedic Medicine often uses Ghee in the preparation of herbal formulations. Medicinally and nutritionally, Ghee actually eases digestion through butyrate, a short term fatty acid.  Also, just one tablespoon supplies 15% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin A.  Since Ghee contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), it’s also a cancer fighter.  Not just a cancer fighter, CLA may also aid with insulin resistance making it very beneficial for those with diabetes and prediabetes too.  This wonderful source of natural fat also contains significant levels of Vitamin E and Vitamin D.  Though many may think of fat as unhealthy in our diets, our bodies require fat to function properly.  Ghee is also a source for Omega-3s (monounsaturated fats),  another healthy fat.  So, Ghee isn’t just another choice to coat your pan for cooking, it’s a great food choice for your healthier diet and lifestyle.

Begin with 1 pound of unsalted butter.  Unsalted tends to cook down better without the residual salt.  I’ve actually had some negative results using salted butter.  It won’t be the end of the world if you end up with salted, but keep an eye on it while you heat.  It seems to heat up quicker.  I also try to stick to good quality butter with no growth hormones etc in the milk used to produce the butter.  Raw butter is perfect. I’ve just found a good source for Amish butter and it’s wonderful!

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Place the butter in a medium stainless steel saucepan over medium heat.  Don’t use any coated pans.  Stainless steel or glass to avoid chemical transference.  Heres’s where the fun begins!  It will start to spit and sputter gently as the water and milk fats separate from the butter.  I don’t stir mine.  I may occasionally skim some of the froth off the top with a fine stainless steel mesh strainer, but stirring spreads the solids around making more work for you.

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Once the spitting and sputtering slow, the process can complete quickly so watch it closely.  Skim aside some of the froth on top to see if you have any sediment forming on the bottom.  Those are the separated milk fats.  When they are golden brown and an aroma of freshly popped popcorn presents, it’s done.  Remove it from the heat source.  If the sediment goes dark brown (and this can happen quickly once it’s turned golden brown), you’ll note a nutty aroma.  You’ve scorched the gee.  It’s not ruined, but it will have a stronger taste.  By the way, gently adding hot tap water to your pan after it’s cooled a bit to warm, to avoid burns, will make cleanup much easier.

If you have a stainless steel tea strainer, place it on the mouth of a pint mason jar and slowly pour the melted ghee into the jar.  If you don’t, be careful on the pouring to avoid any sediment getting into the jar.* Once the sediment begins to pour from the bottom of the pan, I quit. IMG_2764

 

 

Remove the tea strainer from the jar.  Screw usual mason lid on top.  Careful, it’s hot!  Leave on the counter to cool.  And there’s your ghee. 

 

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It should solidify to a nice golden color.  If it’s brown, it’s scorched/overcooked.  Don’t throw it out!  Just recall the process for next time and don’t overcook it.  Your ghee doesn’t need to refrigeration because it’s pure saturated fat.  It will keep indefinitely.  If mold should appear in the jar, it’s because you didn’t heat it long enough and all the water during the heating process didn’t evaporate and it’s begun to go rancid. 

FYI other names for Ghee are clarified butter or drawn butter!  Enjoy!  Have questions or comments contact me!

* Stainless tea strainers are great and can be found at most health food stores or tea rooms.  Once I use that tea strainer for Ghee, I don’t use it for anything else to avoid contamination.

 

Quick Reference Directions:

Ingredients:

One (1) Pound Unsalted Natural Butter with no Aditives or Hormones.

Place butter in a medium stainless steel or glass saucepan.  Heat at medium heat until sediment forms at the bottom of the pan with a distinct aroma of freshly popped popcorn.  Pour off remaining liquid (Ghee) into a one-pint canning jar.  Gently screw on the lid (careful, it’s hot!) and allow to cool on the counter.  Once cooled, it may remain on the counter or in a pantry unrefrigerated

 

 

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Qigong For The Back

This is the second installment on the series of blogs dedicated to Therapeutic Qigong.  Practicing Qigong and Taiji promotes balance and wellness.  Each part of this series addresses a specific region of the body.  36 movements make up the complete series of Therapeutic Qigong.

Balance of our being is the result of proper nutrition, physical activity, and nurturing of the spirit.  Aside from implementing dietary practices for our physical well being, Qigong provides many levels of sustenance for the body and spirit.  Physically, range of motion and agility can be improved through the daily implementation of movement.  Spiritually, Qigong provides forms of moving meditation feeding the internal just as food provides the needed nutrition for our bodies to function.

B&W Qigong As we execute Qigong movements Four Elements of Qigong require our focus: Body – Breath – Sound – Mind.  Three of the four apply to the 36 movements of Therapeutic Qigong; body, breath, and mind.  Sound, although very important because they address organs as well through Medical Qigong, won’t be included in these movements.  I will address those in another future blog post.  Body training speaks for itself and moves below the surface into to organs, tissues, and circulation.  Improving balance, proper methods of standing, sitting, and even meditation involve the body.  The Breath, also vital, helps retrain our habits of breathing.  It’s been said if you want to know how to breathe, watch a baby breathe while they nap.  They engage their entire lungs and diaphragm, something our fast-paced world caused us to forget.  When we were much younger and unencumbered, we focused on the elements vital to our being. The slow movements of Qigong guide us back to caring for those vital elements.  It encourages slower and deeper breathing, engaging more of our lungs and diaphragm thus reducing stress along with its many negative affects.  Slow movements allow our Minds to integrate more with our bodies.  More oxygen moves through the body and thus more oxygen in the blood stream and on to other parts of the body.  Through our attention to proper breathing, scattered thoughts of the mind reduce and the bodily movements become more fluid, less encumbered. With this proper attention to the Body, Breath, and the Mind, Qi flows naturally with less restriction and balance is encouraged within our being.Qigong washing

Remember, any physical activity should be approached to work within your own abilities and limitations. If you cannot get the full range of motion at first, make it a goal and go as far as you can. If you have any health issues, concerns, or limited mobility consult with your doctor first before exerting yourself more than you should.  The practice of Qigong has been known to improve overall health for those with High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Arthritis, among many other ailments.  It’s also effective for all ages and can compliment other sports activities such as Martial Arts, Weight Training, Running, and Aerobic Exercises to name a few.

The second series of six detailed in this blog address the back to help relieve various back problems including chronic issues related to back injuries, contusions, arthritis of the spine, soft tissue degeneration, disc problems, and muscle spasms relating to the back.

If you have questions, you may direct them to me through either this blog or through my websitehttp://www.eastwesthealingarts.org.  If you live in the Portland, Maine area, you’re invited to join in for not only Qigong classes, but also Taiji at the Maine Center for Taijiquan & Qigong.  The link is added here http://www.mainetaiji.com/, so you may visit the website for the class schedule and details on our studio.

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Therapeutic Qi Gong

Position 7 – Holding Sky and Side Swing

  1. Begin with feet shoulder width apart.  Breathe evenly through the body.  Unlock all joints.  Knees and shoulders relaxed.Interlock fingers in front of your body, inhale, raise hands up above your head as high as you can.  Arms straight.  Palms up.
  2. Exhale while you slowly bend your upper body to the left then return upright.
  3. Repeat step 2 with an inhale before bending to the left.
  4. Exhale while separating hands to side and down, eyes follow left.
  5. Repeat step 1.
  6. Exhale while you slowly been your upper body to the right then return upright.
  7. Repeat step 6 with an inhale before bending to the right.
  8. Exhale while separating hands to side and down, eyes follow right.

Important – Arms straight when fingers are interlocked above your head.  Keep hips still.  Do not swing upper body too fast.  Breathe evenly.  Keep weight in your center.

Position 8 – Tea Pot Push

Begin with feet shoulder width apart.  Breathe evenly through the body.  Unlock all joints.  Knees and shoulders relaxed.  Put fists on waist with palms up.  Take deep breath.

  1. Exhale and slowly turn your body to the left pushing right palm forward, left hand remains on waist like a “tea pot” shape.  Focus energy in the center of the right palm (Laogong Cavity {P-8}).
  2. Inhale and turn body back to center, bring right hand back to waist (in fist position palm up).
  3. Exhale and slowly turn your body to the right pushing left palm forward, right hand remains on waist.  Focus energy in the center of the left palm (Laogong Cavity {P-8}).
  4. Inhale and turn body back to center, bring left hand back to waist (in fist position palm up).
  5. Repeat above movements 1-4 once.

Important: Keep back straight when turning your waist, push hand with internal energy, exhale as you push, all your negative energy is going out through the exhale and your palm.  Inhale when you bring hand back, bringing back good energy.

Position 9 – Hip Rotation

Begin with feet shoulder width apart.  Breathe evenly through the body.  Unlock all joints.  Knees and shoulders relaxed.  Place hands on hips.

  1. Slowly circle hips clockwise; left, forward, right, and back 4 times.
  2. Slowly circle hips counter-clockwise; right, forward, left, and back, 4 times 

Important: Legs and back are kept straight.  Breathe evenly

Position 10 – Arm Raise Fly Down

Step to left, with feet shoulder width and 1/2 apart.  Breathe evenly through the body.  Unlock all joints.  Knees and shoulders relaxed.    

  1. Inhale and overlap, slowly raising hands up above the head with arms straight.
  2. Exhale and separate hands, until arms are straight on both sides at the shoulder level, palms up, eyes follow left.
  3. Slowly bend forward until body is at 90 degree angle to the legs, (arms are still outstretched to the sides). 
  4. Slowly bend more and move hands down, overlap hands.
  5. Keeping arms next to your ears, inhale and raise the body, arms and hands above the head.
  6. Exhale and separate hands, with arms straight at shoulder level and palms up, eyes follow right.
  7. Slowly bend forward until body is at 90 degree angle to the legs.  Move arms down and relax hands.
  8. Slowly roll up the upper body one vertebrae at a time.  Arms and hands are held loosely at your sides.

Important – Keep back straight at step 5.  Arms straight at steps 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7

Position 11

Lunge Position and Stretching to Side 

  1. Exhale, stepping to the left, turn to left bending left knee, and move right hand fingers straight, to left left on waist.  Right leg straight.
  2. Inhale, turn your body back to center, shift weight to center, legs straight, fists on waist.
  3. Exhale, turn your body to the right.  Bend your right leg and stretch left hand straight out to right. 
  4. Inhale, turn your body back to center position with legs straight, fists on waist, and weight on center
  5. Repeat 1, 2, and 3 above 
  6. Bring left foot back to center.

Important – When in the lunge position, remember to stretch hip to the maximum, keeping arms and back straight.  Breathe evenly.  Breathe out as you stretch out.  Breathe in as you shift your weight to center.

Position 12 – Reach Feet

Begin with Feet together

  1. Inhale, interlock fingers in front of the body and raise hands up above your head, palms facing upward, and arms straight
  2. Exhale slowly bending forward , them downward, as close to your feet as you can, arms straight all the way down.
  3. Release hands, and roll up to starting position with your body relaxed.
  4. Repeat 1-3 above

Important – Keep upper back straight when you are bending forward at step 2.  Upper body and arms move together.

Qigong For The Upper Body

This will begin a series of blogs dedicated to Therapeutic Qigong and its practice to promote balance and wellness in the daily life.  Each blog in the series will address a specific region of the body.  There are 36 movements in the form I’ll be sharing.

4331281288_f8405600cdThrough the centuries Qigong has been taught in many various forms.  Some say there are hundreds if not thousands of different movements and styles, but their common thread holds to the Nurturing of Qi, the energy that flows and embraces the life force of every living creature and substance.  The disruption of that Qi through stagnation or excess results in imbalance and ultimately ill-health.  Qigong helps to restore balance through moving Qi throughout the body by a series of movements that specifically target various parts of the body.  Learning basic movements associated with each region of the body will help address either those specific regions or the whole body to maintain wellness and balance.

As with any physical activity, work within your own abilities and limitations. If you cannot get the full range of motion at first, make it a goal and go as far as you can. If you have any health issues, concerns, or limited mobility consult with your doctor first before exerting yourself more than you should.  The practice of Qigong has been known to improve overall health for those with High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Arthritis, among many other ailments.  It’s also effective for all ages and can compliment other sports activities such as Martial Arts, Weight Training, Running, and Aerobic Exercises to name a few. QiGong 2

The first six detailed in this blog address the upper body including the neck, arms, chest, upper back, and shoulders. They support these regions to relieve various concerns like neck and shoulder stiffness and pain – ligament and other soft tissue degeneration – bursitis – tendonitis – rotator cuff discomfort – headache relief – stiff or painful upper back – frozen shoulder – pre and post surgical therapy for these zones – limited range of motion for any of these areas.

If you have questions, you may direct them to me through either this blog or through my website http://www.eastwesthealingarts.org.  If you live in the Portland, Maine area, you’re invited to join in for not only Qigong classes, but also Taiji at the Maine Center for Taijiquan & Qigong.  The link is added here, so you may visit the website for the class schedule and details on our studio.

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Therapeutic Qi Gong

Position 1 – Slow Neck Motion

Begin with feet together.  Breathe evenly through the body.  Step slowly to the left equal weight on both legs.  The distance between the feet should be shoulder width.  Place both hands on waist, shoulders relaxed.  Unlock all joints.  Knees and shoulders relaxed.

  1. Slowly turn head to left and inhale slowly while turning head.
  2. Exhale while turning head back to center
  3. Slowly turn head to right and inhale slowly while turning head.
  4. Exhale while turning head back to center
  5. Tilt head backward and inhale slowly while tilting head
  6. Exhale while moving head back to center
  7. Tilt head downward toward chest and inhale slowly while tilting head
  8. Exhale while moving head back to center

Important – If you have neck problems, you should repeat every day for eight cycles.  Stretch as far as you can, but do not over extend.  Work within your limits.  Keep your head straight while performing this movement.

Position 2 – Horizontal Arm Stretch

Begin with feet together.  Breathe evenly through the body.  Step slowly to the left equal weight on both legs.  The distance between the feet should be shoulder width.  Unlock all joints.  Knees and shoulders relaxed.  Lift arms up in front of you in a slightly elbow bent position at chest level.  Bring index finger and thumb of each hand close enough together to form almost a circle.  Hands should be placed in front as though you are pushing something away from you.

  1. Stretch arms to the side as far as you can, elbows pointing 45 degrees downward (hands moving into a relaxed fist as you stretch), eyes and head turn and follow to left when moving arms.  Inhale as you stretch
  2. Slowly open hands as you bring hands back to front while exhaling, eyes following back to center. 
  3. Repeat above except with eyes following to the right when stretching arms to the side.

Perform this movement four (4) times for one (1) set. 

Important – Remember to stretch arms as wide as possible, and breathe deeply.  Inhale as you stretch, exhale as you move hands back.

Position 3 – Vertical Arm Stretch

Begin with feet shoulder width apart.  Breathe evenly through the body.  Unlock all joints.  Knees and shoulders relaxed.  Bend both arms with fists up, elbows pointed down, and shoulders relaxed.

  1. Take a deep breath and slowly raise hands up, palms facing forward, eyes following the left hand up.
  2. Breathe out and slowly move hands down with fists up, and facing forward.  Eyes follow the right hand down.
  3. Take a deep breath and slowly raise hands again, palms facing forward, eyes following the right hand up.
  4. Breathe out and slowly move hands down with fists up, and facing forward.  Eyes follow the left hand down.
  5. Repeat above movements two more times. 

Important – Raise hands up as high as you can, with arms straight, breathing deeply and slowly, breathe in as you raise your hands, breathe out as you lower your hands.

Position 4 – Rotational Arm Stretching

Begin with feet shoulder width apart.  Breathe evenly through the body.  Unlock all joints.  Knees and shoulders relaxed.  Overlap hands in front of you.   

  1. With arms straight, slowly raise hands until overhead.  As you raise your hands, deep breath inhale and eyes follow hands upward.
  2. Separate your hands.  Slowly move hands down along the side of your body with straight arms, eyes following left hand as arms go down.
  3. Again, overlap hands in front of you and slowly raise hands until overhead.  As you raise your hands, deep breath inhale and eyes follow hands upward.
  4. Separate your hands.  Slowly move hands down along the side of your body with straight arms, eyes following right hand as arms go down.
  5. Repeat items 1-5. 

Important – Straighten and stretch arms as far as you can and breathe deeply

Position 5 – Angel Wings Shoulder Rotation

Begin with feet together.  Breathe evenly through the body.  Step slowly to the left equal weight on both legs.  The distance between the feet should be shoulder width.   Unlock all joints.  Knees and shoulders relaxed. Place both hands behind buttock area, with palms facing inward, but not touching the body.

  1. Inhale while slowly raising shoulders and hands along the spine, lifting shoulders as high as you can, eyes following left side.
  2. Exhale and slowly move hands to front of the body, relax shoulders and press palms downward.
  3. Inhale while slowly raising shoulders and hands along the spine, lifting shoulders as high as you can, eyes following right side.
  4. Exhale and slowly move hands to front of the body, relax shoulders and press palms downward.
  5. Repeat above steps twice for a total of four (4) rotations

Important – Maximum breath in and out, maximum shoulder movement.

Position 6 – Arm Back Stretch

Begin with feet shoulder width apart.  Breathe evenly through the body.  Unlock all joints.  Put right hand on lower back with palm facing out.

  1. Inhale.  Slowly raise left hand up from left side until above the head with arm straight and palm facing up.  Follow the left hand with your eyes.
  2. Exhale.  Slowly move left arm down behind lower back placing left hand above the right hand, palm side out.
  3. Inhale.  Slowly raise right hand up from right side until above the head with arm straight and palm facing up.  Follow the right hand with your eyes.
  4. Exhale.  Slowly move right arm down behind lower back placing right hand above the left hand, palm side out.
  5. Repeat above movements 1-4

Important – Breathe deeply and keep your back straight

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