Have you heard of the Chinese five elements theory?
In traditional Chinese medicine, five elements of nature (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) represent different attributes of human health. Ideally we should have a balance of all five, but most of us are predisposed toward one element in excess of the others, causing an imbalance in the body with negative physical manifestations.
Check out this quiz to determine what element is most prevalent for you, and then read about your element’s characteristics and how to help yourself get back into balance.
A few months ago, my latest step in my journey to heal myself naturally of the curious skin rashes that seem to come and go, brought me to a new health practitioner: an acupuncturist and doctor of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) who assessed me based on the Chinese five elements theory. She asked me a few questions, looked at my tongue, eyes, and overall frame, then said my elemental type was Metal. She said that my big problem is that the pH balance in my body is off, and leaning too far in the direction of acidity.
Don’t know much about pH balance and the acid-alkaline balance in the body? Check out this nice little article to learn more, and then come on back to me and read on.
Surprisingly, one of the ways this over-acidity was manifesting, she said, was that my stomach contained too little digestive acid to properly digest my food. As such, I wasn’t getting enough nutrition from the foods I eat because my stomach wasn’t able to break everything down as it should.
She gave me nutritional counseling based on my Metal type and the over-acidity in my body, and designed a healing, pH balancing food protocol to increase my alkalinity. The new diet included the following dietary changes:
- no beef
- no eggs
- no dairy
- no bananas
- no “vegetation” (that is, anything leafy or green, which was a pretty darned big part of my diet before)
- more alkaline fruits and vegetables, especially with seeds (think cucumbers, eggplant, avocados, zucchini, butternut squash, tomatoes, yellow squash, etc.)
- 90% of my diet as soups or stews (a bit labor intensive so I find I’m not doing quite as well on this one)
- all grains pre-soaked before cooking
She also said to make broth to extract the nutrients of various foods into a form that can be consumed without digestion from the stomach. According to her assessment, I lack the requisite amounts of stomach acid to properly digest certain foods. I sat up straighter when she said this, because I already make a ton of broth and drink it every day, sometimes in the morning in a mug instead of coffee or tea.
You’re probably thinking to yourself Yes, yes Ecomama, this is all fine and good, five elements, mm hmm, interesting, but what about the coconut cream you mentioned in your title?
Well, the new diet means I’m now I’m officially dairy-free, and even though I didn’t eat a lot of dairy before, butter remains one of my true gustatory pleasures. Eliminating butter is, for me, the most excruciating part of giving up dairy. I don’t drink milk, I hardly eat cheese, I’ve gotten over the loss of yogurt, but oh … butter. How I miss you so.
Needless to say, since this diagnosis, I’ve been exploring lots of non-dairy alternatives to dairy foods. I tried some almond cheese that didn’t exactly taste like cheddar as the wrapper implied, but it melted well enough in a quesadilla to suit me.
I already make my own rice milk and almond milk, but there are certain recipes calling for cow’s milk, like my favorite healthy pancake/waffle batter or creamy oatmeal cooked on the stove, that need a little more fat to give them the fluffiness or richness they need.
One morning, as I was getting my ingredients out to make steel cut oatmeal on the stove, I found myself completely out of both rice and almond milk. I rifled through the pantry and spotted a can of coconut milk that had been waiting to be transformed into an amazing Thai curry dish that never quite materialized.
I dumped it all in a small storage container. The liquid poured out easily, and then I scraped out the thick solids that had risen to the top of the can and stuck to the lid. I topped the storage container with its own lid and with one hand, shook the container intensely to break up the solids and mix them into the liquid. With the other hand, I licked the silicone spoon I had used to scrape the can clean.
As soon as I licked, I had the flash realization that the texture of that coconut “cream” was very similar to butter, my long lost love! Be still my beating heart!
I immediately stopped shaking, but alas, the solids were already all mixed in. I vowed I wouldn’t shake the next can I opened, so that I could keep the buttery coconut cream intact.
Fast forward a couple of days, and another can of coconut milk was purchased and opened. This time, I didn’t mix the solids in with the liquid, but rather left it all separate. I toasted some whole wheat bread, and spread the coconut cream on it like butter.
I swear it spread the same way, glistened the same way, even melted slowly into the bread the same way. I sprinkled it with a generous pinch of sea salt, and while it didn’t taste exactly like butter, the fatty creaminess did hit the spot juuuuuust right.
Thank you, coconut cream. You have saved me from plummeting to the dangerous depths of severe butter withdrawal.