Monthly Archives: November 2011

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Beat the Holiday Stress!

Thanksgiving can be very stressful for most people. So here are some of the things you can do to lessen your stress:

1. Take a deep breath. (remember: it’s not the end of the world.)
2. Delegate most of the cooking to others. Pot luck dinner is the way to go.
3. If you are preparing the meal yourself, avoid perfection. A bad meal with good laugh around the table is better than being stressed and exhausted.
4. Just disappear! Take a walk outside and stay away from the chaos when you start feeling stressed.
5. Use disposable plates and cups. Or have your kids or somebody else do dishes.
6. Get drunk if you can not take it any more. (Just kidding!)
7. Avoid eating too much.
8. Stay away from After Thanksgiving Sales. Stay home and rest!

Recipe: Goji Berry Congee

– 1/4 cup of Goji Berry
– A slice of Fresh Ginger root
– 1/2 cup of Haiga Rice
– 1/2 cup of Long grain White Rice (or Short grain White Rice for slightly thicker starchier texture.)
– 4 cups of water (to begin with.)
– 3 or 4 cups of water (to add later as the Congee thickens.)
– Pinch of salt to taste
Optional Toppings:
Soy sauce, Diced tofu, Miso, Chopped scallion
Tip: If you only have Haiga or Long Grain White Rice, you may use those. This rice combination was created for the best texture.


1) Rinse the rice several times until water is somewhat clear, then drain the water.
2) Add 4 cups of filtered water, rice and ginger together in a pot and cook on the stove at high heat until water boils. Stir it occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking at the bottom (even when there is plenty of water in the pot.)
3) Turn the heat down to medium, and cook for about 40 minute (or until rice is very soft and breaking apart.) Keep adding water to keep the rice soupy to avoid burning at the bottom.
4) When the rice is broken apart ( may like tiny flower blossoms), add Goji berries. Cook another 10 minutes. You may add more water for soupy or less for thicker Congee.
5) Add a pinch of salt to taste.

All About Goji Berry

Dried Goji Berries by Kaz Isogai

Goji Berries have been used in Traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Scientists and health conscious consumers have recently discovered the many benefits the little red berries have. They come from the Lycium barbarum plant and are often called Wolfberry.

The Chinese have long seen the berries as a longevity tonic. Having the medicinal properties to nourish the blood, be a kidney and liver tonic, improve vision, enhance libido and calm the nervous system, it’s no wonder it has become popular.

Goji Berry Nutrients include:
1) 18 types of amino acids
2) 21 trace minerals (including iron, copper, zinc, calcium & selenium)
3) Beta-carotene
4) Antioxidants
5) Vitamin C
6) Vitamin B1, B6 & E

Side Effects:

Goji berries are safe for virtually anyone to eat, but should be avoided if you have diarrhea – they’ll make it worse. To use them as a constipation remedy, try eating a handful of berries first thing in the morning and again at night before bed.

How to Consume:

You may eat them as a snack, or use them to make a tea. We’ll be sharing a Goji Berry Congee recipe next week!

Thanksgiving Without a Turkey?

When my three-year old asked me, “What is Thanksgiving?” My mind was flooded with memories. How do I explain to her what this Holiday is? I gave her a simple answer, “It is a celebration of a time when new people came to America and they were hungry. The people who lived here already, the Natives, shared food with them.” What do you think of when you hear the word, Thanksgiving?

You might think of Turkey, Mashed Potatoes and Pumpkin Pie. My favorite memory of this holiday isn’t the feast we all think we need to celebrate properly. It’s a time when my family had very little. We could not afford a whole Turkey. We were living in a new city, and did not have gas money to visit family who surely would have welcomed us to join them in their traditional feast.

My mother made us a Thanksgiving meal with what we could afford: 4 Turkey Drumsticks, a large bowl of rice and sauteed vegetables. She made a Pumpkin Pie, but did not buy Ice Cream or Whipped Cream for it. As a single Mom, she created a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration for us three kids. We ate until we were full, played board games, talked and really enjoyed the most laid-back Thanksgiving we had ever experienced. We did not need to drive to anyone’s house by a certain time or worry about the road conditions. We ate simply and were present for the whole day.

This memory reminds me of what Thanksgiving symbolizes: gratitude and generosity. While some have family and friends who can share their feast and time with you, others have very little but can find a reason to feel gratitude. Our meager Thanksgiving that year, found us feeling gratitude for having food and time together. No matter where life finds you now, celebrate Thanksgiving in any way you choose, no Turkey required. It might be with neighbors over a large pot of Congee and vegetables, sandwiches or baked apples. All the traditional dishes aside, I like to remember that the true meaning of Thanksgiving is in the word itself  “The act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors…” as paraphrased from the dictionary.


Holli Margell, Hen Sen Herbs