As you may have noticed from the title of this post, there have been a lot of changes in my little world since the last time we spoke. The first one being … I’m eating meat now. I could write a complete post on that alone, and maybe soon I will, but for now I will be brief. I didn’t eat meat for 8 years or so. When I began the experiment I noticed that I felt better after eating, less heavy and better able to digest my meal. So I stuck with it. After a number of years, however, I started to get tired and run down easily, and noticed that I just didn’t have the strength and stamina I used to. After many experiments with food, herbs, acupuncture, etc., I painstakingly made the decision to add small amounts of high quality meat back in to my diet. I think it’s helping.
Believe it or not, that’s not the only change around here. I’m much farther into my acupuncture studies, as well as studying herbs on the side, and I want the content I share with you to reflect that. Along with the changes in my diet, I have also been experimenting with herbs, meditating and reading (a lot!) on a wide range of topics related to health. I’m not completely sure yet how it will all play out in this space, but stay tuned to find out along with me!
With all this talk of changing, and the Chinese New Year approaching (this Friday), I think a brief discussion of yin and yang is in order. Yin is the dark, still, substantial matter that makes up our world. It is cold and wet, and some call it the feminine because of it’s connection with the moon and the earth. Note that feminine is being used in a larger context, not necessarily corresponding to a female. Yang is the opposite, bright, active energy. It is hot and dry and more masculine in quality, associated with the sun and heaven.
Yin and yang never exist independently of each other, and nothing can be only yin or yang. Every thing in this universe is made of both, it’s just the amounts of each that differ.When we say something is yin, it just means that it has more yin than yang. Let’s take the seasons for example. Right now it is Winter, the most yin season, as it is dark and still and cold. However, there is yang being stored – in the seeds that are sitting in the ground, pure energy waiting to sprout. Right now it seems very still and yin, but there is still movement. And in a few months the yang will take over, and plants will be blooming and the sun will shine warmly.
Now, we might have a tendency to think, “The cold is bad and the warmth is good”,”I like the yang better than the yin” “Why does the yin even need to exist?” And this time of year, I don’t blame us. But we can’t have yang without yin, because it will burn itself up. In fact, because yang is energy and yin is matter, without the yin we wouldn’t even exist!
But what does this have to do with our daily lives? While we all crave light and warmth and movement – pushing ourselves to do more, staying busy, always on the go – we also need the stillness and the dark. We need balance to flourish. This means taking time for sleep, for meditation and to just be and not do. I can’t think of a better Chinese New Year’s resolution.
Now on to the recipe. Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, are the roots of a type of sunflower. It is a root vegetable, but doesn’t have all the starch of potatoes. If you can’t find them, a rutabaga or turnips would be a good substitute. However, you may just want to bookmark this recipe for when you do inevitably stumble upon them, so instead of saying “These look cool, but what do I do with them?”, you think “I’ve got a great recipe for these!” For those of you still eschewing bacon, you can make it without, just use olive oil to saute the onions and chokes in, and use a veggie stock or water. The smoked paprika will be important in that case to bring the smoky flavor.
Smoky Sunchoke Soup
6 slices of bacon
1 large onion, chopped
2 lbs. sunchokes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 qt. stock (I used a bone broth)
2 c. water
sea salt to taste
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Slice the bacon thinly and cook in a large, heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat until crisp, 5-7 minutes. Remove from the pot and dispose of any extra bacon fat, but leave enough to cook the rest of the soup (I left it all – it was delicious!).
Add the onions to the pot and saute a few minutes before adding the sunchokes and spices. Once the onions are starting to turn translucent, tip in the stock and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sunchokes are tender, anywhere from 20-30 minutes.
Remove from heat and puree the soup, either in batches in a blender, or with an immersion blender (my preferred method). I like it pureed for a few minutes to make it super creamy and smooth. Return the soup to the heat and add the vinegar and salt and let the flavors meld for a few minutes.
Serve topped with the bacon slices and parsley if you’d like.