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It is one of the great mysteries of life.

You are a full grown adult who has eaten thousands of breakfasts in your lifetime and yet you cannot think of anything to eat for breakfast this week. We’ve all been there!

Studies show that nutritious breakfasts containing lean protein and/or complex grains can give you improved concentration, added strength and endurance and can help you maintain a healthy weight. These benefits are especially important for growing children. “According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom and on the playground, with better concentration, problem-solving skills, and eye-hand coordination.”

We want your families to enjoy these benefits so we’ve put together a list of 10 breakfast ideas that you can make ahead or put together quickly.

Nourish Your Family With a Healthy Breakfast1. Overnight Steel Cut Oats
Put 2 cups oats and 8 cups of water in crock pot overnight (8-10 hours) on it’s lowest setting and it’s hot and ready for you in the morning. For variety, try replacing one cup of the water with almond milk and add dried cherries or apples and cinnamon. Or, in the morning, mix in pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice to feel like you’re having pie for breakfast!

2. Mini Fritattas
Mix 6 eggs, shredded or chopped zucchini, sliced green onion, fresh or dried herbs and a cup of crumbled or grated goat cheese. Add diced cooked potato or other favorite vegetables. Spoon into lined muffin tins and bake in a 350 oven. When cool, place in a freezer bag and freeze to have on hand. These reheat nicely in a toaster oven.

3. Congee
This nourishing traditional food is perfect for cold winter mornings. It’s especially healing when you feel under the weather. Mark Bittman has some recipes with variations here.

4. Breakfast Burritos
Fill a whole grain or gluten free tortilla with any combination of beans, scrambled eggs, potatoes, diced squash or other veggies. Fold up and roll in wax paper, place in a freezer bag or container to freeze. On busy mornings you can grab one of these to take to work with you.

5. Vegan Apple Muffins
Healthy and delicious! Find the recipe here.

6. Gluten Free Vegan Latkes
These would are delicious hot off the griddle but you can also make a big batch ahead of time to freeze for easy weekday breakfasts. There are so many variations; try replacing the potato with 1/2 parsnip and 1/2 carrots. Or, replace half the potato with zucchini. Kids love latkes so this is a great way to give them some extra veggies. Recipe here.

7. Quinoa Cinnamon Porridge
Try this warming and fortifying porridge that follows Traditional Chinese Medicine principles.

8. Almond Butter Smashed Fruit Wraps
Spread almond butter on a whole grain or gluten free tortilla, then spread a couple of tablespoons of vanilla soy or coconut milk yogurt over that and add spoonfuls of mashed berries. Roll up. For an alternative, use fresh grapes sliced in half. It’s delicious! You can cut these in half to serve two.

9. Hard Boiled Eggs And…
Hard boil eggs on Sunday to have on hand for the week. In a hurry? Grab one and an apple to go. More time? Make some whole grain toast and add sliced hard boiled egg and some broken up smoked salmon. Add a cup of mint tea and honey in the winter and you have a quick, satisfying breakfast.

10. Sweet Almond Pancakes
These are so delicious they don’t need any topping but they would be great with stewed cinnamon apples or non-sweetened applesauce. Mix 1 cup almond meal, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup water, 2 Tbl oil, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1 Tbl raw honey.  Cook as you would regular pancakes. These will not puff up so flip them when the underside is brown.

Check in next week for our last post in our series of three Get Healthy in 2012 blog posts. Our first post was how acupuncture can reduce stress to help you meet your goals.

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Although we enjoyed a glorious Indian summer in Chicago last week, the autumn weather has returned, and with it, the potential for upper respiratory illness that comes with the changing seasons. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, autumn is associated with the element metal, which in turn is associated with the lungs. The lung represents the Wei Qi (“way chee”), which makes up a good portion of your body’s defense system. Lungs are negatively affected by dryness. Autumn air is naturally less humid, and turning the heat on further dries things out, thus weakening your lungs and making them susceptible to pathogens and mucus & phlegm production. Eating pears, especially the Asian variety, helps to moisten the lungs and keep them clear.

It’s also important to make sure you’re dressing properly for the cooler temperatures. Your grandmother was right when she cautioned you about going outside underdressed—bring your scarves out of storage, and keep your ears warm too. Any kind of drastic temperature change is shocking to the system, even when it takes place over a few days. Your body needs support while it adjusts.

When you feel like you are coming down with something, acupuncture is one of the first lines of defense to utilize. Early treatments with acupuncture and Chinese herbs can significantly shorten the duration of illness or knock it out before it has a chance to establish itself fully in your body. We always try to accommodate last minute appointments for anyone who feels like they are getting sick, or has already succumbed to illness.

Along with coming to The Nest for acupuncture treatments, there are some culinary weapons you can use to help keep your body in balance. Eating what’s in season, and buying local if possible, is a great first step. Squash (in all of its delicious and rainbow-hued variety), pumpkin, potatoes, kale, collard greens, mushrooms, and late season arugula are just a few of the healthful vegetables being harvested right now. Soups and stews, especially those with made with bone broths, are extremely beneficial during this time of year.

Here is a recipe for beef bone broth from Nourished Kitchen:
What You’ll Need:
Several Pounds of Grass-finished Beef Soup Bones
A freezer bag full of vegetable scraps (carrot peelings, onion tops, celery leaves etc.   Don’t use brassicas or beets as they contribute an off-taste to the beef stock.)
Fresh, filtered water
2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
2-3 Bay Leaves

Instructions for Preparing Homemade Beef Stock:
Rinse and clean the bones under clean water.   Pat them dry.
Roast the bones at 400° F for about an hour until the bones are well-browned and fragrant. Roasting the bones ensures a good flavor in the resulting beef stock. Failure to do so may lend a sour or off-taste to the end product. Once the bones are browned, drain off any fat.

Add the bones to a big pot along with any vegetable scraps you might have. Avoid using brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, turnips, brussels sprouts etc.) as these vegetables will lend a bitter flavor to your stock. Instead, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, onions, carrots and celery add great flavor.

Add filtered water to cover and bring to a boil. Once you’ve brought the water to a boil, add the vinegar and bay leaves.

Turn down the heat and continue to simmer for several hours.  (12- 24 hours is ideal.)
Throughout the cooking process, skim off any foam and add water as needed.
When the stock is finished simmering, filter through a fine mesh seive and bottle in mason jars.   The stock should set just like gelatin, and the fat should rise to the top.

Pick off the fat and reserve it for cooking, then scoop out the gelled stock and reheat to serve as soup. Note that it’s wise to serve this stock very hot as it may gel again once it cools.

In addition to using it as a base for soups, you can also serve this as a broth to start your meal. So stay warm, stay hydrated, and stay healthy!

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Starting on solid food is one of the most important moments in your child’s development. Below are five simple rules to guide you through:

1)  Signs of readiness: Listen to your children’s cues.  Babies should begin simple solids/tastes when they show interest by grabbing food off mom and dad’s plates, have lost their tongue thrust reflex, make clucking/mimicking sounds or gestures with mouth, and can sit up on their own.  Don’t give in to pressure by doctors, other moms, or your own mom to give solids before your child is ready.  Remember babies don’t NEED solid food. Your breastmilk is supplying them with complete nutrition for the first year of life.

2)  Appropriate food choices:  Introduce orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut and acorn squash) as well as nonglutinous grain cereals first (Millet, rice, and quinoa).  These foods tonify Spleen and help to set up healthy digestive function.

3) Introducing solids: Steam or slow cook all foods and always serve foods warmed to 100 degrees.  The 100 degree soup helps to aid in easy digestion of new solids. If your baby rejects food, maybe it’s too soon.  Stick with breast milk and try again in a week or few weeks.

4)  Foods to avoid: Avoid overly sweet foods first. Too much of the sweet flavor weakens the Spleen energy.  Therefore, fruit is not the best introduction to food.  It sets up expectations for overly sweet foods and may deter children from eating other things.  Bananas, although often discussed often as the perfect first food,  are actually very energetically cold, overly sweet, and potentially damaging to the young Spleen.  Avoid processed flours like crackers, puffs, teething cookies, cereal.  They provide little nutritional value and deter kids from eating other, more nutritious foods.  Whole food is always best.

5)  Food stagnation: How much is too much?  Initially, introduction of food should be just about “tastes.” Start by introducing only a tablespoon or less daily and repeat the same food for three days to determine any possible food allergies.  Introduce single foods, not food combinations, and never feed a full breast or bottle after a meal of solids.  This can cause accumulation in the stomach which leads to a type of pathologic heat.  Signs of overfeeding/food stagnation are red cheeks, gas pain, restlessness/agitation, insomnia, constipation/irregular bowel movements.  Food stagnation can weaken our Spleen energy which can lead to health issues such as eczema, asthma/allergies, chronic colds/flus, phlegm, ear infections, etc.

You don’t need to rely on processed jar food to start your baby on solids. Making your own baby food is easy and fun.  You don’t eat food out of a box or a jar, so why would you give that to your littlest one?


3 Tbl Millet or Rice or Quinoa
¾  to 1 cup water

Bring to boil.  Then simmer until grain has absorbed most of the water and is mushy.

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