Now, here in Ireland, we are really in Winter. It is wet with a bitterly cold wind. Just the time to make sure we are cosy in all the right places. This cold weather can affect us in many ways but most commonly it affects our bladder and kidneys as these are the organs/meridians are associated with winter and cold. Often you can feel the urge to go for a wee more in these cold winter months as your kidneys contract, so make sure your kidneys are in tip top strength – most definitely no crop tops – keep those kidneys covered. I would recommend a Marino wool kidney warmer which you wear under your clothes but they can be abit hard to find and pricey so here are a few things from your kitchen store cupboard which are cheaper and more easily available.

Barley is a mild diuretic and cooling for the system so to create balance use the warming walnuts. Both ingredients are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to strengthen the kidneys and calm the nervous system so if you find yourself being woken in the night to urinate this recipe will strengthen kidney essence, so help you to rest and restore in your horizontal time.

If you want to learn more about Chinese Medicine and the Bladder and Kidney check out the one day course running in Jan 2013 where we will be cooking and eating for our source energy. (see drop down menu “Courses” on the home page)


  • 1 head of Kale
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil for roasting Kale
  • 200g barley or (100g barley & 100g brown rice)
  • 70-100g walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 100g strong blue cheese (optional)

Whole/pot barley is best to use here as the more commonly used pearl barley has less fibre, calcium and iron. Most health food shops stock whole/pot barley. To cook add the barley to approximately 1 ½ litres of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes. When the barley is soft, strain off and keep the liquor. Pour the barley into a lovely large serving bowl and cover to keep warm. This dish can be eaten straight away as accompaniment to fish or chicken or you can precook the barley and serve the dish as a salad.

Next set your oven high 190-200 and pour the sunflower oil on a large baking tray and place back in the oven. Meanwhile strip the dark green kale from the pale stalks, wash and chop roughly. Toss the chopped kale on the tray in the hot oil from the oven. Put the tray of kale back in the oven and roast for about 5 minutes. Check on it though as it crisps up quickly. It may need a shuffle and toss and another 5 minutes roasting. Once it is crispy place in a bowl and shower over the sesame seeds.

Toast the walnuts in the oven at the same time as the kale in a dry flat roasting tin, giving them a shake after a couple of minutes to make sure they don’t stick or burn. When they are ready they will look shiny and smell divine. Toss them to the bowl of roasted kale and soft barley, adding the optional blue cheese and dressing at this stage.


  • Juice of 1 orange or juice of 1 lemon if you prefer tangy 
  • 60ml rice or cider vinegar
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon umeboshi vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard

This dressing is great over any green vegetables and you can add herbs such as tarragon or coriander to beef it up. Simply place all the ingredients into a jar, put the lid on, hold the jar, dance around the kitchen and shake vigorously.

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