Eating to Live to 100
I was raised in Pennsylvania, in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Their approach to food is all about fresh ingredients, simplicity and using nothing processed or store bought. There is a lot of similarity between the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Chinese approach to nutrition. So this morning I put the impulse for pure goodness that I grew up with to good use for lunch. And I hope it inspires you to use simple, fresh ingredients in novel ways to eat so that you can live to be 100 years old.
As I write this I am currently in Boulder, CO, house-sitting while I work on my new book. In the backyard are some lovely raised beds. I take the ingredients directly from them. I aspire to live like people do in the Blue Zones. They have very little disease and often live to be 100.
Here is how you can live like they do in the Blue Zones: lots of aromatic herbs, as much as possible fresh from the garden, very little to no meat, and enjoy your food (with friends if possible), get lots of exercise. So this is my attempt at a Blue Zone meal, its called Garlic Scapes and Millet. The ingredients: fresh garlic scapes, fresh dill, onion, ginger, Sichuan peppercorn, olive oil and salt and pepper. It took all of 10 minutes (because I had the millet left-over from yesterday’s breakfast). It’s great for the heart and eyes. Here is how this breaks down from the Chinese medicine perspective:
Garlic Scapes and Millet Recipe
Garlic Scapes: pungent, warming, goes to Lung and Spleen, moves blood
Ginger: acrid, hot, goes to Heart, Lungs, Spleen and Stomach, warms interior and expels cold
Onion: clears sputum (phlegm), also contains Prostaglandins (one of the only foods that do), which relax cardiovascular system, lowers hypertension, improving blood flow
Sichuan Peppercorn: acrid, hot, goes to Kidney, Spleen and Stomach, warms interior and expels cold
Millet: neutral, goes to Spleen and Stomach, drains dampness
Dill: pungent, warm, goes to Kidneys and Spleen
Directions: Add oil to a warm pan, add onions, cook until translucent, add salt and pepper, Sichuan peppercorns, ginger, saute until fragrant, add garlic scapes and mix into the warm ingredients, let cook for a few minutes. While sauteing the greens, heat millet in the microwave for a minute and when done mix everything together, add salt and pepper…Enjoy. Yum! It makes a lovely dish, very aromatic, with lots of interesting warmth and numbing from the garlic and the peppercorns. You should be able to get peppercorns at your local Chinese food stores.
How does it help?
This is a very warming dish. As I write this my mouth still has a bit of the Sichuan peppercorn numbness and spiciness/heat from the garlic scapes. I wouldn’t eat this every single day, first of all the garlic scapes won’t be around forever and secondly it would be too warming. It strongly warms the digestive tract and that alleviates cold (relieves pain). As it happens, we have just had 4-5 days of intense hail storms, lots of moisture and bone-level chilliness. My constitution tends toward cold and damp, so this is the perfect thing to overcome the last week and rid myself of cold (pain) so I can get myself back in hiking form.
In terms of how this helps the eyes: the dispersing of phlegm and warming of the digestive system help the body break down cholesterol (which can clog the tiny capillaries that feed the eyes), increases movement of the blood stream and the relaxes the cardiovascular system which enable fresh blood to reach the eyes and brain. So, all in all, its a winner for the eyes/brain/heart.
I hope this helps you think about food as medicine and helps you live to be 100. Obviously there is a lot here and you’re not going to pick it all up in one sitting. This is why the last phase of treatment is the education phase, because there are many interlocking facets to your health and its impossible to learn them all in a week or two. Also please realize that I practice what I preach and I hope you Enjoy!
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