Kicking Off the NELA Fertility Support Group

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Supporting women who are struggling to conceive is not easy.

As an acupuncturist specializing in Reproductive Health, I see and hear it all.

Primary infertility, secondary infertility, recurrent miscarriage, failed IVF’s, premature ovarian failure, tubal defects, “unexplained” infertility…it takes a toll on a woman’s mental health.

Whether she’s married to a man, a woman, partnering with her gay friend, using a surrogate, a live egg donor, or is a Single Mom By Choice, she most likely feels alone, isolated, and struggles with the shame of not being able to set her mind to getting pregnant and make it happen when she’s ready.

It seems as though every single other woman she knows got pregnant on her honeymoon, or as soon as the first kid was out of diapers, or the first cycle back post-pregnancy.  The baby shower invites, Facebook ultrasound pictures and blossoming bumps conspire to make her feel like a total failure.  Her sex life has become utilitarian.  She’s tired of hearing the questions from her Mom at Thanksgiving (“when are you gonna make me a Grandma?!”), not to mention her 4-year-old (if she’s trying to conceive #2): “Mama, I want a SISTER!”

It sucks.

I hear stories of shame, sadness, anxiety, fear, and hopelessness every single day.  Stories that would break your heart.  I am not a therapist, but I do a lot of listening and giving empathy.

Daily meditation keeps me grounded, positive, and allows me to stay present for each story and each person I work with.

I want my patients to know they are not alone.  If only they knew how many other women are going through a similar journey!  But I can’t open to the door to each treatment room and say “hey, talk to the woman in room 2, she’s in the same boat!”

Thankfully for my patients, I am bound by federal privacy laws to keep my mouth shut, and not introduce Sally A. to Jane Z.

Quite often, I ache to normalize their experience, to let them know they’re not alone.

Today I had lunch with Robin Starkey Harpster, LMFT, my co-host and co-founder of the Northeast L.A. Fertility Support Group, which starts in a week at my acupuncture clinic, FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts.  (Sign up here!)

Robin is awesome.  A fellow mom of two and small business owner, she and I were introduced by our birth doula, Elena Vogel, about six years ago.  We’ve been referring patients to each other, running into each other at birth community events and sharing the occasional brainstorming lunch for several years, but last summer we started collaborating on this idea…

What if all these women we treat, who are struggling to feel sane in the process of trying to get and stay pregnant, had a place to go and share their stories?  What if we could create a safe space for them to vent, learn mindfulness techniques, and be moderated by a psychotherapist and an acupuncturist, both of whom are moms on the other side of the TTC journey?

Individual therapy is awesome, and often an integral part of the journey to parenthood.  Chinese Medicine is amazing for addressing the mental and physiologic aspects of infertility.  But sometimes a woman needs group support surrounded by other women who are going through the same struggle.  Sometimes she just needs to talk, be heard, and SEE that she is not alone.

For years, I’ve tried to refer my fertility patients to a support group on this side of town.  There isn’t one.

So Robin and I are starting one.  A Mind-Body-Spirit approach to support for infertility and miscarriage…bring it on!

The Northeast LA Fertility Support Group will be meeting once a month starting on Sunday, September 28th from 11am-12:30pm, at FLOAT.  More Info/Sign Up here.

If you or someone you know/love/support is struggling to get and stay pregnant, please let them know about our group.  It’s free (suggested donation $20), and we will have tea and yummy snacks.

We will explore grief and loss, shame and guilt, sadness, anger and fear.  You will learn creative, holistic techniques and resources for becoming more mindful and less overwhelmed by this journey, and share your story.  Topics will include: Expectations, Sex, Radical Acceptance, Trauma, Dealing With Family, and anything else the group wants to bring up.

I can’t wait!

(Copyright 2014 Abigail Morgan, L.Ac., Photo by Dave Clark, all rights reserved.) 

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Skype Consultations Now Available with Abigail Morgan, L.Ac.

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I am now offering Skype Consultations for patients who live outside of the Los Angeles area or cannot get to our office, or those who would like to have a longer conversation with me than I can offer on a quick phone call.

The cost is $150 for a 60 minute one-on-one session, which includes one brief follow-up email exchange.  (All credit cards accepted.)  Obviously, I can’t do acupuncture through the phone or computer (darn!), but what I do offer via Skype is this:

Initial Consultation: a conversation about your health history, current concern(s), current plan of care (if you have one)

Discussion about how acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help you with your health concerns

Brief nutritional consultation

To set up your Skype Consultation, email us at frontdesk at floatchinesemedicalarts dot com, or call our clinic: 818-392-8797.

I look forward to meeting you virtually if you’re not able to come to our office!

-Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, Owner of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts

3 Healthy Summertime Mocktails – Guest Post by Jacqueline from Sweet Beet & Green Bean

3 Healthy Sumertime Mocktails Recipes

Jacqueline Gabardy, L.Ac.Today’s guest post was written by our Associate Acupuncturist Jacqueline Gabardy, L.Ac. who blogs about health, nutrition and recipes at Sweet Beet & Green Bean.
 

 Whether you don’t drink at all or you are just trying to cut back, mocktails are an alcohol-free, refreshing way to enjoy a drink with friends on a warm summer day.  These incorporate ingredients like aloe juice, raw apple cider vinegar, and coconut water, which all have important health benefits.  They’re super easy to make, too!

Are you a tired pregnant or nursing mom?   Trying to conceive?  Suffering from digestive problems or chronic pain?  Alcoholic drinks may be off limits for you, but these mocktails can actually help you feel bright and shiny without any side effects.

 

The Aloe-jito

Recipe
3-4 sprigs of fresh mint
1/2 a lime
1-2 tbsp sugar, honey, maple syrup or agave (to your taste)
2 oz aloe juice
Sparkling water

 

A take on the classic mojito, the aloe-jito uses aloe juice in place of rum.  Aloe Vera juice is a healing and soothing tonic in small amounts.  It can detoxify, moisten and cool the body, clear skin, and soothe the digestive tract.

Drinking aloe can relieve constipation because it has a mild laxative effect, so don’t overdo it on the dosage.  1-2 ounces per day is a enough for most people; you may want to start with a smaller dose if you are prone to loose stools.

To make this mocktail, use a tall glass and add the lime (cut into smaller pieces) and mint leaves into the bottom and muddle them well.  If you don’t have a muddler,  you can use the handle of a wooden spoon.  Once muddled well, add the sugar and mix well.  I have used raw honey for this before, but it doesn’t mix in quite that well; I find maple or agave syrup work better.  How much sugar you use will depend on your taste, I found 1 tablespoon to be plenty.  Then add a few ice cubes and pour over the aloe juice, top with sparkling water and garnish with a lime wedge and another sprig of mint.

You can also make this recipe without the aloe and it is still quite refreshing.

 

Strawberry Shrub Soda Recipe

Recipe
2-3 tbsp homemade strawberry shrub (see below)
About 8 oz sparkling water
 
Basic Shrub
1 part fruit
1 part vinegar
1 part sugar

 

Shrub is a traditional vinegar-based syrup that is often used to make soda.  In Chinese Medicine, small amounts of sour foods like vinegar are beneficial to the Liver system.  Especially healthy are the naturally fermented vinegars like raw apple cider vinegar which contains probiotics that support digestive health.  When added into the diet in small amounts, apple cider vinegar can support digestive and immune health.

By making shrub with apple cider vinegar it becomes much more palatable because of the hint of fruit flavor and sweetness.  Also, by mixing up a big batch of shrub it makes it much easier to incorporate into your daily diet or to serve to a big group of people.

The fruit for the shrub should be finely chopped up first and added in after the vinegar and sugars are mixed well; I find a mason jar is best for this.  Once mixed together, the shrub needs to sit in the fridge for at least 1 day but up to 1 week, the fruit flavor will intensify the longer it sits.  After a week, strain the mixture to remove the fruit.  You can use the fruit in a smoothie if you don’t want to waste it, but it’s a little sour to eat on its own and you can’t leave it in the shrub indefinitely.

I used local raw honey as the sugar in this recipe, and the apple cider vinegar dissolves it well, but granulated cane sugar, maple syrup or agave syrup would all work.  You can also try different variations of fruits and vinegars to see what you like the best!

I like to serve the shrub soda over a large ice cube and I find about 2-3 tablespoons of shrub per cup of sparkling water is the right balance.  Obviously you can play around with it and find what ratio works best for you.

 

Pina Colada Cooler Recipe

Recipe
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 banana
1/2 cup coconut water
1/4 cup coconut cream
ice cubes (optional)

 

While we usually don’t recommend too many cold foods to our patients, an icy beverage is sometimes the only thing that feels refreshing when the weather gets really hot.

This recipe is more or less a traditional Piña Colada without the rum.  Most traditional colada recipes just use coconut cream, which is a great source of healthy saturated fats and has anti-fungal properties, plus it serves as a delicious creamy alternative for those who are dairy sensitive.  I’ve also included some coconut water in this recipe because it’s so high in electrolytes that it works well to keep us hydrated during those hot summer days.  In addition to the usually pineapple and coconut ingredients, I’ve added in half a banana for a little extra sweetness and creaminess.

Preparation of this drink is as simple as blending all the ingredients together, and topping with a tropical drink umbrella if you have one on hand!  You can add a few ice cubes to the mix if you want it to be thicker and colder, but I didn’t find it needed them.

Try these and let us know what you think in the comments section!

Photographic Tour of Our Clinic: FLOAT Chinese Medical Arts

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About a year and a half ago, we moved my acupuncture practice, FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts (which I started in early 2007), to a modern medical office building in downtown Glendale.  The 1960’s building we used to occupy was going to be demolished to make room for luxury condos, and I, along with all of the other physician tenants, was given 6 weeks to find a new clinic.  At the time, my kids were 1.5 and 3.5 years old.  Finding a new space felt like finding out I was suddenly 8 months pregnant with a third child.  Thankfully, my associate acupuncturist Jacqueline has a spidy sense for commercial real estate, and she found our new place within a week. I signed a three-year lease.

It ended up being a blessing in disguise: our current clinic is twice as big, super clean, and has plenty of room for my staff as well as the extra family members our patients often bring with them.

Our third floor office has a beautiful view of Griffith Park, super comfortable and quiet treatment rooms, lots of free parking, and an elevator.

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Some of our patients hang out in the waiting room after their treatment just to read the magazines, sip tea and listen to the Chinese fountain.

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We even have toys and crayons for the kids!  Babies don’t wanna leave.

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Have I mentioned how much I love my work?

We are in the midst of a major website overhaul to our clinic website, but before it launches, I wanted to share with you these beautiful photographs taken by my brother Samuel Morgan, who is a professional architectural photographer.  I feel so lucky to have had him shoot photos of my 1st baby (I incorporated before I became a mom): FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts!  Thanks, little bro.

Abigail's kids checking out the view of Griffith Park from the new office windows

Abigail’s kids checking out the view of Griffith Park from the new office windows

First 3 photos, copyright Samuel Morgan Photography, all rights reserved.  Fourth and fifth photos, copyright Abigail Morgan, all rights reserved.

A Love Letter to my Mother

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Dear Mom,

On this 39th Mother’s Day since you became a mother, I am writing you a love letter.

You know I love lists.  So here’s a Love List!

I love you for patiently waiting 43 weeks for me to make my arrival, and for giving birth to me naturally, bravely ignoring the 12 men staring at your vagina in that teaching hospital.

I love you for rocking and nursing me in the Stickley Chair (which I now have in our living room), calmly convinced that it was normal for a baby to cry for 6 months straight.  Colic.  How did you survive?

I love you for introducing me to chocolate peanut butter cups.

I love you because of the way you always look me right in the eyes when I have something to say, your head perched between index finger and thumb.

I love you for saying about my spirited child: “he just has a hard time getting through his day.  Just like you did as a baby.”

I love you for saying “yes, and…” when everyone else said “no.”

I love you for making Fiesta Ware our everyday dishes.

I love you for raising me and Sam in Manhattan, where the nuts come from.

I love you for sending me to the Bank Street School.

I love you for flying 3,000 miles to meet my firstborn, arriving when he was a mere 20 hours old, and arranging fresh flowers in my bedroom every day.

I love you for taking G to the museum while I labored with L…and getting to meet her just a few hours later.  Her middle name is your first.

I love you for showing me what marriage can be: you and Dad, after 43 years, make it look easy.

I love you for introducing me to Shakespeare.

I love you for your curried chicken salad, which is totally delicious and just a little bit weird.

I love you for showing me the value of two simple beauty products: Yardley’s lavender soap and Keri lotion.

I love you for letting me fall asleep with your nightgown on the nights you and Dad left us a with a sitter.

I love you for late nights piled into your bed watching Archie Bunker on the 10-inch TV.

I love you for my annual birthday gift of a trip to the Town Shop (for real or online) for new ladythings.

I love you for the cheesy way you always say “This is God’s country!” the moment we open the car windows on the drive into Keene Valley.

I love you for finding your writing voice as a Woman of the Seventh Moon.

I love you for suggesting I apply to Bard College.

I love you for loving lilacs.

I love you for inspiring me to become a woman business owner.

I love you for your many scarves; I always said I’d never wear them.  Now I have 14.

I love you for showing me that motherhood could be the most important job you (or I) would ever have.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  I love you!

YLD,

Abigail

(Written by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac., all rights reserved.  Photograph courtesy of Roger Morgan.  This post was inspired by a writing project I’m part of called 40 Love Letters in 40 Days.  Special shout-out to Stacy de La Rosa.)

 

 

The Lunch Break: Parenthood’s Most Underrated Hour

IMG_0764 When I became a mother, I had no idea how many things I had previously taken for granted. Like my lunch break. That simple hour in the middle of the day during which you sit, eat, talk, read a magazine, catch up on phone calls…maybe you even DO LUNCH with friends once in a while. That hour which, before becoming a parent, did not require you to wear noise-canceling headphones to preserve what hearing you still have left. Five and a half years into motherhood (a month or so ago), I realized I had not taken a proper lunch break in over half a decade. WTF? How could things get this bad? Don’t get me wrong-  it’s not that I don’t eat lunch.  It’s not that I don’t take breaks.  I eat.  I take breaks.  Just not in the middle of the day.  Not when I’m at work or at home with my kids.  That midday break is darn near impossible to make happen when you have young children.  It gets last place.  Well, last place right before Mom herself. The lunch break of the typical working parent I know goes like this: grab a sandwich.  Eat it while returning 6 text messages about carpools, permission slips, groceries, the strep outbreak at preschool, and maybe, if you’re nursing, while also balancing the flanges attached to bottles into which you are pumping fresh milk.  Errands to run?  Totally out of pull-ups back at home?  Don’t wanna hit Target at 5pm with two toddlers?  Most working moms and dads I know will choose to squeeze this errand into the “lunch break” whenever possible, if they are lucky enough to get one. The lunch break of the Stay-At-Home-Parent?  What lunch break? At work or at home, where is the “break” in this Lunch Break of the modern American parent? There isn’t one. Why have we all forgotten how important it is? I love my kids, and I love my work.  I feel fortunate to have healthy, loving, fascinating children (who sometimes give each other massages), and work that is fulfilling and exciting. GnLmassage Really, I shouldn’t be complaining.  But I know I’m not alone as a parent in feeling overwhelmed and wishing I had a Pause button. Right? Two books I’ve read and loved recently, “Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink” by Katrina Alcorn and “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood,” speak to this core issue. Our culture does not support parents well enough. Whether a parent is working for pay or not (we all know parenting is hard work!), most American moms and dads feel stretched thin. Time that is BOTH kid-free and work-free is hard to come by.  Sure, there is the blessed 90 minutes (2 hours on a good night!) after they’re asleep before my own bedtime, but I have found that kid-free time when I’m brain-dead from a long day is just not the same as when I’m sharp and the sun is still shining. In an effort to make positive change in my own life, I’ve decided to start taking a lunch break every single day. I’m trying to emphasize the “break” part. Whether I’m home with my kids or at my place of work, I am trying (*trying*) to protect one hour a day during which I’m not doing work and also not doing mundane household or child-related tasks. When I am home with my children for lunch, I look at the lunch break as a time to eat together and then have Quiet Time.  My daughter still naps, and my son loves having sister-free time with me and/or his Dad.  We eat.  We talk.  We play Footsie. When I’m at work, I try to spend an hour taking an actual break from work. It’s amazing how the simple act of putting my feet up on the couch or desk tells my brain We’re Resting Now. Also amazing is how hard it is to stop myself from puttering around the house picking up stray toys, dirty socks, bills, or from starting to prep dinner, fold laundry, note how dirty the bathroom floor is and choose to be irritated by it yet also ignore it…Daughter napping, son happy crafting?  House quiet?  Hurry, go balance the checkbook! This is what I’m trying to resist. It’s been shockingly hard to break out of my pattern of rushing to Get Shit Done during the one hour a day when I’m not treating patients, running my clinic on an administrative level, or home with my kids. But I know it’s important for my mental, emotional and physical health to take that lunch break.  It’s also important for my children to see me taking that break, and to share it with me, when we’re home together. If I’m at the office, my new “lunch break” might include any of the following: Walk around the block of my office building.  The jacarandas are blooming, and birds never fail to take their lunch hour loudly, which is lovely to hear during a solo walk. Visit the farmer’s market, which is a mere one mile from my office building, every Thursday. IMG_0919 Sit and meditate for 20 minutes, then write in my journal. Catch up on one of the books I’m reading.  (I feel like an overachiever if I get to read more than two pages a day before being interrupted or falling asleep.) Sit down and eat my lunch with both feet on the floor.  Resist the urge to do something else simultaneously. Once I took a hike.  Not rest, per se, but a different, invigorating kind of break. If I’m at home for my lunch break, that usually means there’s kids with me.  Sometimes we take our lunch break at one of the local gardens. IMG_0943 Sometimes we all sit around the table and light candles and for about 3 minutes, it’s nice and quiet. IMG_0461 According to the classical texts in Chinese Medicine, it is said that when eating, you should not do anything else. Just eat; chew your food well.  Don’t watch TV, read, check your phone, Facebook, catch up on patient charts (who, me?), or drive a car. That’s a tall order for most Westerners.  Just eat?  How boring! Let me explain. In Chinese Medicine, the Spleen and Stomach organ systems are the center of our digestive system, and the Liver organ system helps out with digestion in its role as Traffic Cop of Qi (maintaining the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body).  When we are thinking too much (reading, staring at a screen), the Stomach Qi goes up instead of down (leading to heartburn, acid regurgitation, after-meal headaches).  If we are stressed out while eating, the Liver can’t keep the Qi in check – in addition to being the Traffic Cop of Qi Flow, the Liver is also in charge of metabolizing Stress – and so digestion goes haywire. I have understood this intellectually for about 14 years, but the New Yorker in me, who is used to doing 143 things at once, has always found it hard to JUST EAT.  Until now, when I am forcing myself to take a one hour lunch break, every single day, for the sake of my sanity. I will admit to you: it doesn’t happen every day.  There are days when I’m home with my kids and we all just bicker and screech until we collapse into bed. Or someone throws an entire container of raw milk down the steps to the backyard.  Followed by a water balloon. IMG_0802 You know those days, right? There are days at work when I am so behind on paperwork that I plow right through my lunch break, catching up on patient emails, phone calls, charts, pausing only to heat up my leftovers in the toaster oven and grab a fork. But I’m getting better. More days than not, I’m taking that break, even if it involves cranky children demanding water/milk/spoons/a pickle/more napkins every time I sit down. On those days, I take a deep breath, send it down to my Stomach/Spleen, and plant both feet on the floor.  I remind myself that I am modeling the value of slowing down, honoring mealtime, making a ritual out of taking a break. Eventually, it will become habit, and I’ll forget I ever went half a decade without a proper lunch break. (Post by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, acupuncturist and owner of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts.  Photo Credits: all photographs by Abigail Morgan, all rights reserved.)

Foods for the Kidney

 

In Chinese Medicine, Winter is associated with the Kidney system, which is the broadest system of all: it includes our kidney organs as well as the endocrine system, the nervous system and the skeletal system.  That’s most of our body!  The Kidneys are in charge of our water metabolism, bones, brain, fertility, hearing, and adrenals (i.e. stress management).  The Kidney System is like the battery pack of our whole body/mind: it keeps all the other organ systems running smoothly.  Too much sex, drugs,alcohol, over-exercise and stress will deplete our batteries and that in turn affects the function of all the other organ systems.

According to Five Element Theory, the Kidney is associated with the Water element, which is Yin; the Winter is a Yin time of year, dominated by more darkness than light, more cold than heat.  During Yin times of the year, it is important to cultivate our yin by eating foods that nourish Yin and help us recover from things that damage it: see above.

Eating some of the foods listed here may help strengthen your Kidney system.  Be sure to eat good quality salt: table salt can be damaging, but adding sea salt or Himalayan pink salt to our food can actually nourish the Water element.  It’s also important to get extra sleep, meditate, do Qi Gong or Tai Qi and other Yin-cultivating and grounding practices to help your body recover from Yin depletion.

For more information on how you can thrive during stressful times, and what foods are best for your particular constitution, please click here to book an appointment for an initial consultation, exam and acupuncture treatment at FLOAT!

(Infographic by Jacqueline Gabardy, L.Ac., post written by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac., both of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts)

 

Cooking with Kids: Slow-Cooker Chicken Drumsticks with Vegetables

Cooking with Kids

As a mother of two young kids and a small business owner, I struggle with Work/Life balance.  Don’t we all?  Whether a parent is working outside the home or not, finding balance is a challenge for most of us.  How do we find time to thrive in the work of being an adult as well as the work of parenting?  (Let’s face it, as joyous as parenting can be, it’s also fucking hard!)

The balance of Work and Life is never perfect.

I’ve stopped expecting it to be.

I wear a lot of hats: Worker (owner of a busy acupuncture clinic), Mother (two kids, 3 and 5), Wife (partnered for over 13 years with an amazing man), Daughter, Sister, Friend, and – most importantly – a Self who needs self-care and time alone.  (I’ll be blogging more about THAT topic soon.)

Whew, that’s a lot of hats.  And a lot of time.

We all have them, right? – those various Identity Hats.  But when you become a parent, Time gets sucked into a vortex.  Where, oh where, does it go?  Since I haven’t yet figured out an acupuncture treatment that will create an 8th day in the week, I look for quality over quantity of time.  There are only so many hours in a day.  The more practice I get in being a parent, the more I continue to learn (and learn, and learn) to be gentle with myself, and not try to do so many darn things each day.  If I can satisfy a need for each of my roles each day, in some small way, I feel happy.

Today I’m thinking about one of the needs I have as a busy mom – in particular the need to find one-on-one time with each kid.

My boy and girl are close in age, play like twins, share a room, even shared my boobs for awhile (yay, tandem nursing!).  Time with both of them is wonderful (if LOUD), but we all get a little punchy if we don’t have at least a little bit of one-on-one time every week.  (Mama/Daughter Time, Mama/Son Time, Mama/Daddy Time, etc.)

Cooking with my kids is one of the ways I create Special Time while also creating the organic, homemade meals that keep us all healthy and happy.  Recently, I’ve started finding time to prepare dinner with just ONE kid.  It’s pretty awesome.

Today, my daughter and I made up a recipe together using the fresh veggies we had bought this morning, organic chicken drumsticks, and some herbs from our garden.  (If it weren’t January, we’d have more vegetables from our own backyard garden to choose from too, but how lucky we are to have year-round farmer’s markets every day of the week in SoCal!)

We chose rosemary and thyme because she can easily identify them, and gets great pleasure out of cutting them “all by myself!” with kitchen shears.  Rosemary and thyme are wonderful herbs to bring out the flavor in chicken, and I like combining them with lemon, apple cider vinegar and bone broth for extra immune-boosting properties.

One tip: if you have not yet found peace in cooking with a kid or two, keep in mind the Triple-Time Rule: however long you think it’ll take to prepare a meal, multiply that by THREE.  Otherwise known as Lower Your Expectations.

Slow-Cooker Lemon Chicken Drumsticks with Vegetables & Potatoes

Serves 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes (w/ a young child), 10 minutes (adult working solo)

Cooking Time: 3 hours on HIGH in a slow-cooker (we have the large oval 6.5 quart All-Clad, with ceramic insert, which is the workhorse of my kitchen)

1 pack of 6 organic chicken drumsticks (you could also use a whole chicken, cut-up)

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 red bell pepper, small dice

4-6 small potatoes, quartered

1 lemon, quartered

1.5 c. bone broth (I used my homemade bison bone broth, but you can use chicken broth, or substitute water for the broth; just don’t use bouillion cubes, yuck!)

1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil

1 T. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt (or substitute sea salt)

Black pepper, freshly ground to taste

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)

1. Wash the chicken and place on the bottom of the slow-cooker.  (You don’t need to grease it first.)

2. Place the potatoes (quartered) around the drumsticks.

3. Add the carrots, celery, and red bell pepper, sprinkling them over the chicken and potatoes.

4. Squeeze each lemon quarter all over the ingredients in the cooker.  (This is one of those “I DO IT MYSELF” steps for toddlers and preschoolers.)

5. Add the bone broth, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  You may want to drizzle additional olive oil over the entire dish after all ingredients have been added, depending on your taste.

6. Tuck the sprigs of rosemary and thyme between the drumsticks and vegetables.

7. Place the slow-cooker insert into the slow-cooker and set for 3.5 hours on HIGH.

8. Serve over rice or quinoa, or with some fresh sourdough bread on the side.  (Or just serve it in bowls on its own.  It will be slightly soupy, and we think it’s delicious over organic white basmati rice.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have young children in your family, please be mindful that small bones can come detached quite easily from chicken; be sure to check your child’s plate carefully for small bones, or remove all chicken from the bone before serving.

PREP-COOKING NOTES: I washed the chicken drumsticks by myself.  My daughter helped me wash the vegetables and potatoes, then sat in my lap and helped me cut them on a cutting board.  (Obviously, at 3.5, she’s not old enough to be left alone with my Sudoku knife.)  When I’m having Mama-Son cooking time, my 5-year-old will wash and peel vegetables by himself, and I allow him to cut them with a butter knife while I cut things like onions and garlic with a sharper knife.

One of the lovely things about the slow-cooker is you don’t have to be in the kitchen with an eye on the stove: once it’s on, you can safely leave the house!  Our slow-cooker automatically turns to “Warm” after the cooking time is finished, but I’ve found with this dish, it’s tastiest if it doesn’t sit on “warm” longer than 2 hours.

What slow-cooker recipes does YOUR family love?

Post by Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, owner of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts, all photographs by Abigail Morgan or Dave Clark, all rights reserved.)

“Rest and Digest” vs. “Fight or Flight” – How Stress Affects your Health

by Anna Gutermuth

You may have heard the terms “Rest and Digest” and “Fight or Flight,” but do you understand what that really means for your health?

“Rest and Digest,” sometimes alternatively referred to as “Feed and Breed,” is shorthand for the Parasympathetic Nervous System.  On the other hand, “Fight or Flight” (also known as “Fight Fright or Freeze”) is another way of referring to the Sympathetic Nervous system.  Together they make up the Autonomic Nervous System which is what controls all the involuntary actions in our body.

These two systems very much reflect the concept of Yin and Yang because they are opposing forces which regulate and balance each other.  The Parasympathetic nervous system is more Yin in nature and the Sympathetic is Yang.  Just as Yin and Yang seek to balance each other, so should the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous systems.

The purpose of these systems is to assess our environment and allocate bodily resources according to importance.  Cortisol, the main stress hormone in the body, dominates the “Fight or Flight” system where energy is sent to our eyes, lungs and muscles and allows us to make quick responses in the face of impending danger.

In most of human evolution, “Fight or “Flight” was only needed in life-or-death situations.  The problem with modern lifestyles is that they can trigger cortisol release all day long.  Low blood sugar levels from irregular diets, work or family-related stress, and over-stimulation from TV/internet/phones can all cause stress.

Unfortunately, this constant flood of cortisol causes many people to find themselves permanently stuck in “Fight or Flight” mode, even at night when cortisol levels are supposed to be the lowest.  In Chinese Medicine we would call this Yin Deficiency because the body is not getting enough “yin time,” meaning it is not the “rest and digest” state enough.  This can lead to chronic stress, insomnia, inflammation, headaches, digestion problems and eventually Adrenal Fatigue.

Hammock by StuartAlternatively, the “Rest and Digest” system focuses on relaxing, properly breaking down food, procreating and sleeping.  This is the system that focuses more on our long-term health, since it is activated in response to a calm, safe environment.  It’s important to understand that “Rest and Digest” is not something we only do on vacation; it needs to happen every day to keep the body functioning properly.

In our clinic, we often see overly stressed patients having problems with menstruation or getting pregnant.  This is because the body is constantly getting the signal that it is in danger, so it focuses on surviving day-to-day rather than diverting resources for long-term health.

The good news is the Acupuncture is amazingly effective to snap out of the “Flight or Fight” mode and relax into the “Rest and Digest” state.  This is why patients complaining of insomnia and anxiety often have no problem falling asleep during an Acupuncture treatment.

If you experience stress, insomnia, chronic inflammation, problems with your reproductive health or you feel your “Flight or Fight” system may be overstimulated, then consider adding Acupuncture to your routine of self-care.  Practices like meditation, yoga, Qi Gong, massage, and hypnotherapy are all helpful tools to manage stress as well.  Find what combination works for you.

(Post by Jacqueline Gabardy of FLOAT: Chinese Medical Arts; Photo credits: 5/365 by Anna Gutermuth, Hammocks by Stuart)