Lent and and loosing weight in Chinese Medicine


Pancakes , Pancakes, Pancakes everywhere yesterday. I even saw a new 12 pancake challenge on facebook – wow – all that butter, milk and eggs, just for one person; not to worry though as obviously you wont be having any of those ingredients for the next 40 days and 40 nights ……. 🙂 in my experience it is unlikely that an egg or piece of buttered toast wont cross my path before easter. But it is time for me to shed a few winter pounds and cutting out “Fat Tuesday” foods isnt such a bad thing where the liver is concerned.  However dieting alone just brings extra stress and cortisol to the body, the mind becomes over focused and doesn’t see the bigger picture, so understanding the body and an holistic approach is needed to loosing weight.


Maybe you have given something up, standards being chocolate and alcohol. The Liver loves all this and will really thank you for a period of abstinance. Far too often in our Western society we overdo things, binge drinking, 12 pancakes and even easter with its tsunami of chocolate. All of these the liver has to manage and process. It’s the organ that detoxes and metabolises what we ingest, be that food, drink, tobacco, pollution or medication. In Chinese Medicine this organ relates to the time of spring and regeneration. After a quiet winter we wake up and start to move. The evenings are brighter and the mornings earlier. Sometimes it’s difficult to jump out of bed if the Liver is overloaded so a spring clean at Lent is an opportune time to clear out the Liver and get that Gall Bladder pumping bile. Clearing out and metabolising fats that have been stored during the winter is important at this time of year. Try cutting out milk, cheese, cream and buttery spreads, replacing with coconut oil for frying or coconut milk in stews and curries. As the variety of fresh fruit and vegetables increases try more salads and raw foods at the table. Thinly slice corguettes, grate carrots and toss in lemon juice, olive oil and salt as an alternative to the hot, cooked dishes that got us through the winter.


Rather than Lent as being about abstinence and denial, see it as bringing something into your life. New food, new meals and perhaps a new flexible way of thinking. Loosing weight isnt just about cutting calories, its about improving your metabolism, your body and mind functions. Get that liver working at a stimulating pace. See Lent as a time of adding a few inches to the spring in your step or adding a few years to your length of your life.

If you want to know more I will be teaching a one Day Detox Cooking Class for the Liver

Saturday 25th March – 12-4.30 (click the link for full menu)

We will address poor liver function, gall stones, slow metabolism, frustration and anger, joint pain, high cholesterol, digestive stagnation and bloating with food.  Leave the class feeling lighter and brighter with a knowledge of how to improve flexibility and energetic flow.

or have a look at my new video:3 ways to wake up your liver




Turning towards the Golden Age


The solstice turned yesterday taking us out of the darkest time towards the coming light of spring.  It is at this time Chinese Medicine ties the body to the Kidney and Bladder – telling us to go deep, to take time to rest and restore. I was recently asked to write an article for the Active Retirement Ireland Annual  www.activeirl.ie on how to generate and conserve energy as we age.  In Chinese Medicine this too covers the realm of the Kidney and Bladder.  So the information in the article covers food that can fortify us all within the quiet steady winter months.

In the west we are all familiar with veins and arteries that carry blood around the body. In Chinese Medicine there is a similar system that carries energy (chi) around the body. These energetic pathways are called Meridians. Shiatsu works on these meridians and acupressure points to diagnose and treat different ailments to maintain the body’s balance. Shiatsu & Conscious Cooking specializes in using food to attune the body and bring optimum health.

As we enter the third age of our life a hormonal shift usually happens for both men and women. Many physical symptoms can manifest at this stage, hot flushes, drying skin, changes in sleep patterns and loss of sexual desire. Most of the time we accept these changes as a normal aging process, however it is possible, even desirable to age and retain a full, juicy, va va voom zest for all areas of life.


In Chinese Medicine the Kidney and Bladder energy stores our essence and as we age this can weaken, which not only affects these organs but our hormones, bones and nervous system that this meridan system encompasses. So its important to keep this energy as strong as possible. Barley is a great ingredient for strenthening and keeping the bladder strong and healthy. Make Barley water by simmering 50g of barley in 1 litre of water for at least an hour. Strain the barley from the water and keep the liquid in the fridge taking 75ml daily. Mix with hot water, lemon or honey to suit your taste. Adding the cooked barley to soups or stews even salads will further strengthen the bladder and stop too many trips to the toilet.


Another ingredient used for strengthening Kidney energy are Black Sesame Seeds. For best results these seeds need to be taken daily. 1 or 2 tsp of black sesame seeds per day is best. Traditionally in China they are dry roasted to reduce the oxalic acid and release the vitamin e, calcium and other minerals. Then they are sprinkled on porridge or noodles. Alternatively grind them into a paste and take with warm water in the morning. Both black and white sesame seeds are rich in vitamin e and calcium but white seeds bring moisture to the large intestine whereas the black seeds support the kidney, the endocrine system and boost core energy. They can tonify brain activity and alleviate painful, weak or stiff joints. They build body fluids and have the ability to stop greying hair, repair hair loss and improve declining hormonal function.

The kidney and bladder are represented by Winter in Chinese Medicine. It is a time for going deep inside, being still and centred. The flavour is salty and the food is full of minerals and trace elements. Through mass production of food, sometimes our dinner can lack these essentials but there is still one food that is full of vitamins and minerals and that is seaweed. Seaweed is an ancient superfood and has been eaten by our forefathers for thousands of years. The protein content and vitamin C is extremely high and easily absorbable making ideal for the repair and regeneration of cells

I would recommend eating seaweed everyday in some form. It can be sprinkled unrecognisably into stews and tossed, after a little soaking, into a stir fry. All seaweeds are a diuretic, they cool the body and help break down lumps and bumps such as cysts, lipomas and goiters. The high iodine content helps thyroid function and its ability to detoxify means blood is healthy and flowing. This food is high in calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamins C and A, protein, Vitamins B, fibre and alpha linoleic acid. It can even help remove residues of radiation in the body. Buying Irish seaweed is easy online or even find Dillisk in your local Supervalue.


Using Dillisk Seaweed

Cucumber and Dillisk Seaweed Salad

Dillisk/Dulse is said to have over 200 times more iron than green leafy land vegetables.  It is exceptionally high in iodine and manganese which is great for keeping our digestive enzymes and metabolism in smooth running order.

  • 20g=large handful Dillisk/Dulse Seaweed
  • Freshly squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1 Cucumber


Soak the dillisk in the orange juice for ten minutes, meanwhile slice the cucumber paper thin.  Return to the seaweed which should now be soft, take it out of the orange juice and finely chop as if it were an herb.  Toss this through the cucumber and serve as a fresh accompaniment to the warming vegetable curry or yummy in a chicken sandwich.

The above recipe was taken from Joanne’s book “Shiatsu & the Art of Conscious Cooking” which can be bought here on this website or  Etsy Shop or in sterling on Amazon

More information on which food suits you today please use the fun, free app at www.shiatsu-consciouscooking.com/app

Active Retirement Ireland are www.activeirl.ie

Why Food & Sex?


So many of you who know me, come to my classes or read what I write know that I specialize in connecting how we feel with the food we eat; That for every emotion and organ there is a flavour and often specific foods that can help support us through a healing process, whether that be physical or emotional. But then why start talking about sex? Is it a gimmick, it is attention grabbing, it is a marketing ploy to sell more books? No, Im following my own flow which is drawing me to allow sex to bring us into conscious connection with our bodies.


In Chinese Medicine the Chi of Heaven, which is the air we breath and the food we eat, mixes with the Chi of Earth, the constitution we are born with, to form our own individual unique Chi. The dance and interplay of these Yin and Yang elements is how we live our life. The quality and health of our Chi comes from both our inherited genetics and the world around us; it is a blend of the two. The Chi of Heaven is often seen as the spiritual side of the body, the thinking mind, our consciousness whereas the Chi of Earth is our will to survive, thrive and procreate. Sexual energy falls under the domain of the Chi of Earth, it is the Yin, the emptyness from which all life emerges. It cannot be ignored, shushed or pushed away. It is an absolute integral part of our make up and has huge power for creation and healing. As the Jewish proverb says “Body without a spirit is a corpse and Spirit without a body is a ghost”. So lets get sexual energy out in the open and on the kitchen table.


The foods that enhance sexual energy usually relate to the kidney as it is the organ that controls hormones and reproduction. However all food can help us connect, control, understand and enhance sexual energy as it brings us into our bodies with every sense activated. We see, smell, feel, taste and even hear the food as we eat it. It is a completely sensory experience and in that way we are completely in the moment. We are not thinking about the phonecall yesterday or the christmas list that must be filled next week. We are here now eating, tasting, smelling and touching the food. That is how we connect with the body, understand how its feeling and give it what it needs. That is sex. It doesn’t have to be with a partner, it doesn’t have to be about penetration or gratification. It has to do with feeling alive, potent and in the moment. Food for me is the easiest way to connect with how I am feeling and what I need. It’s my way to connect with the extraordinarily powerful, juicy, dynamic, forthright, creative energy. That’s why im talking about sex and what I’d like to share; the experience of consciously using food to connect with the sexual energy of the body.


Come and explore together at the first event of it’s kind –  Eat, Play, Love


New Break up, New Blog



Bye bye chocolate

The clue is in the title – yep, another boyfriend bites the dust, and even though I had been the one to end it I still found myself thinking about him all the time.  Obsessing how we could have made it work and how we could have done things differently. He was my waking thought that would carry on throughout the day like an addiction.  My mind habitually replayed the relationship, over and over; searching for any comfort from the painful feeling of loss and separation ……and then came the chocolate.  Chocolate isn’t usually my thing, I can take it or leave it but wow when I was feeling very tired and alone the day after being maid of honor at a wedding with out my plus one I worked my way through a whole box of celebrations followed by a tub of chocolate ice cream the next night and so it would have gone on had I not copped on and took control of my mind.  I needed to stop this cycle, break the addiction of my thoughts and my cravings.

In Chinese Medicine, overthinking really weakens the spleen and never really helps or changes the situation.  The flavor for spleen is sweet, so when we get into uncomfortable situations or when our mind chews and chews on a topic we often crave the comfort that comes from sweet flavours.  An easy, instant, sugar hit is chocolate.  It gives the mind temporary relief but in the long run creates sugar lows and further obsessive thinking.  Energetically the spleen is responsible for satisfaction and its flip side, addiction: easy to see how sweet flavours create addictive patterns both physically and mentally in Chinese Medicine

What can help is reaching for a better feeling or thought.  So park the problem, tell your mind you are not going to think about it until 6 o’clock and then you are going to only think about it – in fact you are going to write about it – write all about it and then throw the paper in the bin at 7 o’clock, but until then do something to make yourself feel better, bake some bread, sing along to your favourite songs at the top of your voice, call a friend, read a good book, go for a run, look at the clouds and just give your overthinking mind a breather, help your body and mind relax, this in itself improves any situation.

So what did I do?  All of the above plus made a few batches of the Raw Cacao Balls.  Because the raw cacao bean has been fermented rather than roasted, this form of chocolate is actually good for the body.  In its raw state, the antioxidants in cacao can be 20 times more powerful than blueberries. When dairy and sugar are added to cacao unfortunately the antioxidant properties of this food are blocked.  Also raw cacao is super at releasing the happy hormone, serotonin within the brain, bringing on that satisfied feeling without the aid of a sugar high.  These tasty treats are simple to make and keep well in the fridge. They are perfect if you feel like comfort eating.  If the lover that you love is not behaving how you would like, if you constantly replay conversations to see if things could have gone better, its time to stop chewing things over, its time to stop ruminating, deliberating and contemplating; Its time to start creating with Cacao.


Cacao Treats

•    2 tablespoons ground pumpkin seeds

•    1 teaspoon chia seeds

•    5 tablespoons ground almonds

•    2 tablespoons raw cacao powder – raw

•    1 tablespoon maple syrup (or alternative)

•    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract



Tahini/peanut butter/honey


Raisins soaked in apple or orange juice

Coconut oil

In a food processor blend all the ingredients in the order above.  When the seeds are ground and everything looks powdery use a teaspoon to scoop out the mixture, squeeze and roll into small balls using your fingers and the palm of your hand.  This can be messy so wear latex gloves if you like as they stop the mixture sticking too much.  Put them in a Tupperware in the fridge for an hour or so to harden and chill.  I have no idea how long they last as myself, visitors, neighbours, children eat them all pretty quickly.  They make great gifts too – who doesn’t love healthy chocolate.




Demo Day & Help for Hayfever

gojiCooking for Sweet Cravings Demonstration

18th July 2015 – 10.30-12.30         Fairgreen Holistic Centre, 33 South Main Street, Naas

If you can’t make the full day for Sweet Cravings on the 26th July why not come along to a taster day where we will cover the basics of understanding of sugar and its consequences on the body through Chinese Medicine

  • Turkish carrot salad – a new way to cook this everyday sweet vegetable
  • Herby Millet – perfect for alkalizing the body and reducing acid indigestion
  • Rosehip, Mint & Goji Berry Tea – to balance blood sugars and reduce high blood pressure

Cost = €15 includes food tasting 

 To book a place or for more information or directions
simply call 086 607 0432 or email me at joannefaulkner@live.ie

gojiiHayfever is a very yang condition.  All the energy rises upwards and even outwards if you are sneezing a lot.  Eyes, nose and mouth become itchy and the skin can become red and hot.  The best counterbalance for this Yang is Yin.  Cold dark rooms work best but who wants to shut themselves away from the joy of summer. Sunglasses desensitise but I have found that there’s no instant cure for an attack except anti-histamine. I find these cure the attack in the short term, but they leave me exhausted and less resilient to allergens in the long term.  So I no longer pop the pills rather I look for yin and cooling foods that will soothe an overheated sensitive body.   

mint_leavesMint is fantastic for the body in the summer.  It cools and relaxes muscle spasms. In tests has been shown to inhibit the release of histimines within the body.  Fluids can be burnt off not only by the heat of a sunny day but by the internal heat the hayfever brings so drink plenty of water and finally fruits, full of vitamin C will also reduce any internal inflammation of the arteries and mucus membranes so reducing blood pressure or shortness of breath.  

tea[1]So heres the perfect tonic
Crush a handful of goji berries or rosehips or use a rosehip tea bag, add a large sprig of mint and pour over hot water, allow it to brew for 5 minutes for flavour and pour.  Add summer petals for heart opening beauty.  

Recipe taken from Shiatsu & the Art of Conscious Cooking and we will be tasting it at Naas and in the SunDay Class – Cooking for Sweet Cravings

Interesting ……..

bloodI was recently posted this question here which I thought was interesting as to when to and when not to …….

Hi really enjoy your site.I think I may have symptoms of a DVT.  What can I take to prevent it?

Hi there
Deep Vein Thrombosis can be very serious. Symptoms can include:
1 pain, swelling and tenderness in one of your legs (usually your calf)
2 a heavy ache in the affected area.
3 warm skin in the area of the clot.
4 redness of your skin, particularly at the back of your leg below the knee

If you have any of these symptoms I advise seeing a medical practitioner as soon as possible.
There are many reasons as to why DVT occurs and without seeing you I cannot say exactly how you would prevent it but I would suggest in increasing the health of your cardiovascular system so eat foods which contain high levels of vitamin c for cardio repair, plenty of omega 3 and 6 found in fish and seeds to help the liver detox the blood so that it isn’t so sticky. Fresh green vegetables also help liver function, they also contain plenty of calcium and magnesium which helps maintain flexibility of the cardiovascular system.

I recently watched an interview of a doctor who works extensively with Shiatsu practitioners in a hospital in Germany – he said if you need a hip replacement see a surgeon, if you want to prevent a hip replacement see a shiatsu practitioner. So if you already feel you have a DVT I strongly advise that you seek immediate medical assistance after which look at the dietary changes that can help maintain a heathly body.
I hope this helps – happy holidaysxmas yinyang

Are your knees at you?

wheatgrassI received an email the other day from a woman suffering from knee pain which came on after childbirth and she asked for some dietry recommendations. At the same time I’m head swimmingly deep into the kidney/ bladder chapter in the new book “Sex & the Art of Conscious Cooking” so I thought I’d take a break and write a quick note on something not unrelated to the chapter and answer the email at the same time.

Any pain in the knees or the lower back is usually associated with Kidney energy which in turn relates to our essence.  This essence is the energy we are born with, in the west we might see it as our genetic inheritance, the constitution our mother, father and ancestors gave us.   As we move through life we use this energy naturally.  It’s not possible to build on or add to this essence energy although it is possible to squander the treasure by struggling on when we are exhausted, enduring energy draining situations or by using sheer will power, drugs, or caffine  to succeed in completing projects.  Sexual activity can also deplete this essence, for a man when he ejaculates and for a woman she bears children.  So if any of the above relate to you or if like the character Janice from “love/hate” your knees are at you, try not to overdo it.  Use this winter, bladder/kidney time to hibernate and restore your essence.  Keep warm and keep calm.  Foods that will help you nourish essence  are

  • Chestnuts/walnuts/Almondswalnuts
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Spiriulina/Chlorella
  • Wheatgrass
  • Seaweeds
  • Barley & Millet
  • Placenta is the only meat protein to come from life rather than death and in that way is considered a very powerful essence tonic. I’m afraid I don’t have a recipe for placenta but it can be bought in dried powdered form from Chinese Pharmacies.

Because the Kidney and Bladder energy are governed by the water energy, make sure you get plenty.  Eat a diet that is wide in variety so that you get all the vital minerals to keep your bones and marrow, your very essence, strong and vital.water yin