Energy goes deep in Winter

A funny thing happened on May 31st…

I was in the clinic and had felt the fifth person’s pulse for the day.  The position of the pulse that relates to “Kidney” energy had been sunken and low on all of those people.  Young pregnant women, elderly people – same feeling on the Kidney pulse.

Then I realised it was one day until Winter, when the Kidney and Water element dominate.  At this time it’s said that energy turns inward, contracting and shrinking away from the outside world.

Acupuncturists two thousand years ago wrote about this – the connection between the movement of energy in nature and corresponding movement of energy in the body.  In Winter, everything slows, sinks down, condenses and goes into storage.  The exact same energetic tendency can be felt in the body, because we are a microcosm of the outer natural world.

I was amazed that those ancient observations still held true in modern people, with all our artificial heating and lighting, unseasonal food, sedentary indoor jobs and so on.  That the Kidney pulse can respond to Winter’s onset (albeit one day early!) – in human bodies that have so many weird artificial conditions imposed on them – suggests to me that the natural forces that surround, support and nurture us are more powerful and subtle than we give them credit.

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Apple and Goji Berry Crumble (Gluten-free)

This warming dessert will fill the room with vanilla and spice aromas.  It’s gluten-free, low in fat and has no cane sugar.

This is the version I made, adapted by using what I had at hand, based on Teresa Cutter “The Healthy Chef”.  I really wanted to use goji berries so I had a look at a very decadent Apple Goji Strudel recipe to see how to include them – that recipe uses plenty of brown sugar and butter, if you’re that way inclined!

It’s apple season – they’re fresh, juicy and plentiful and great value.  Goji berries nourish the Yin of the Kidney and Liver, making them a great winter food.  They’re good for Kidney-based conditions such as lower back pain or fertility issues, and they are especially known to benefit the eyes and vision.


4 large fuji apples, cored and cut into chunks
125 ml orange juice
Zest from 1 lemon
120g dried Goji berries, rehydrated *
1/2 cup almond meal **
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20g plain-flavoured oil (I used rice bran oil)
25g honey

Combine the apples, orange juice and lemon zest in a saucepan.
Cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes until the apples are soft and liquid has evaporated.
Fold the Gojis through the warm apple and place into a baking dish or individual ramekins ***.
Combine almond meal, coconut, oil, vanilla, cinnamon and honey until all are coated.
Sprinkle over the apple and goji.
Bake in a moderate 175 C oven for 20-30 minutes until golden.
Serve with honey cinnamon yoghurt and enjoy! ****

* Goji berries are now in many health food stores but also at Chinese supermarkets – there are several in Dee Why.  The Chinese name is Gou Qi Zi (pron “Go Chee Tze”).  They look like red sultanas.  To rehydrate, soak in boiling water for 5-10 minutes.  Strain and sip the soak water – it’s a powerhouse of antioxidant, Yin-nourishing goodness!

** A great place to get almond meal is Saini Emporium in Dee Why, an Indian grocery.  It’s a treasure trove of beautiful spices, curry pastes and curious goodies!  Everything is sold in bulk quantities so it’s excellent value.

*** I accidentally cooked my Gojis with the apple.  It still tasted great, but they will be prettier if folded in as per the recipe as they lose some redness when cooked.

**** My preferred supermarket yoghurt is Farmers Union Greek Style Natural Yoghurt as they use S. Thermophilus and L. Bulgaricus cultures, which are supposed to be best for the intestinal flora (1).  Add about half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a heaped teaspoon of honey to a cup of yoghurt (adjust to taste).  I also had some liquid left over from the cooked apples so I reduced this to a syrup and added to the yoghurt, which gave a subtle citrus zing!

(1) See the Specific Carbohydrate Diet website at

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