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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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