Thursday, January 26, 2012

Garden Weed Or TCM Herb for Urological Problems

I came across this post on Persicaria capitata and it seems this weed is really a herb.

In many ways, I have often pondered on the fact- when is a weed a weed and when is it a herb?

Even certain grasses function as herbs for cats. My cat loves to chew on grass when she's feeling a bit under the weather. In the past, we used to bring home grass for her (we used to live in an apartment where grass was scarce!) and she was too scaredy to go down to the park to chew some grass, well at least the kind cats can use for stomach problems. 

Now Margaret has all the grass she can chew. We're still living in an apartment but it's on the ground floor and we have a tiny backyard where we grow quite a bit of herbs and stuff. The grass, all types, are plentiful. It's a veritable buffet.

With grass, comes weeds. 

What really are weeds anyway? 

Weeds are just a name we give to plants which we feel we have no proper use for. To Margaret, grass is a herb. If we humans find a use for a plant, it becomes less of a weed and more of a herb! That's my definition of weed versus herb. Correct me if I am wrong. 

Many years ago, my sis had some problem with her urinary tract where she would pee urine stained with blood. Mom got worried and took her to the Chinese sinseh. He recommended that she find this particular herb and boil with brown sugar and drink it as a tea.

Now living as we did in a small town of Banting, mom and dad went searching everywhere for this herb.

They had to peek at drain cracks and little patches of grassy plots to find the all elusive herb. Here's how it looks like.

Anyone knows what this is called?

Actually it is found in most grassy areas. It is a weed. I even have some in my garden (see above photo).

When mom visited me, she pointed out to me that the "weed" growing between crevices and cracks in the cement (near the drain) was the very herb she used to cure my sister's problem! The things I learn! 

Anyway, back to the Pink Knotweed or Persicaria capitata. It is also known as Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Smartweed and Pink Bubble Persicaria. I found some growing near my compost pots. I often wondered what kind of plant they were. Thanks to Gardening with Wilson, now I know. 

Pink knotweed 

Wilson states that this is a herb used in TCM for "for the treatment of a range of urological disorders, such as kidney stones and urinary tract infections." Pink Knotweed also contains antioxidants. 

Misai kucing herb

What do you know! 

Now besides my misai kucing or Java tea plant, I can use this to treat urinary tract infections. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pumpkin Barley Dessert

Happy New Year folks!

I have been so busy with business in between planning out stuff for this year that I've been quite guilty of not updating fast enough. Anyway, since this is the week before Chinese New Year, I'm going to be good and share some interesting dessert soup recipes.

OK, onwards to this dessert made with two nourishing ingredients, pumpkin and barley.

I had this as a drink recently when I was lunching with a good friend at a macrobiotic cafe. I enjoyed the taste very much and decided to replicate it at home.

Pumpkin barley dessert - so nutritious and easy to make

Pumpkin is one of my favourite vegetables but Nic doesn't like it much (especially cooked as a dish for dinner). But I do know that pumpkin is good for health and I try to incorporate it as much as I can into our food.

Buying pumpkin whole is always better than buying halves but how else can you have pumpkin besides stir-fried with garlic? Hence this recipe! (Also I make pumpkin man-tou too with leftover pumpkin. I also roast pumpkin when I am roasting chicken - my pumpkin man-tau is a true keeper I tell you! Soft, fluffy goodness! Will share that here soon so come back.)

If you make this pumpkin barley dessert, even those die-hard haters of pumpkin will eat it. Once it is simmered, the pumpkin pieces taste like sweet potato (just make sure you do not over simmer or the pumpkin will be mushy).

Pumpkin and barley 

Pumpkin Barley Dessert
(Makes 6 servings)

You need only 4 ingredients:

1/2 pumpkin, remove skin and seeds, cubed
50 gm barley (soaked and rinsed)
some rock sugar
2 fresh pandan leaves, cut into pieces

Put these ingredients into a pot of 1 liter water.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Once it is boiling, lower heat and simmer covered for another 45 minutes.
Taste to adjust sweetness. Serve warm as a dessert.

If you are unable to finish this in one sitting, you can refrigerate it (do not freeze). When you wish to drink it, just warm it up lightly on your stove (do not bring to a boil).

Closer look at this soothing dessert 

Why Eat Pumpkin?
I am a big fan of pumpkin. I will eat pumpkin even if it is not nutritious! But then again, pumpkin is terribly good for your body.

Pumpkin is good for your eyes as it's loaded with vitamin A and antioxidant carotenoids, particularly alpha and beta-carotenes. It contains vitamins C, K, and E, and lots of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and iron. According to Chinese medicine, pumpkin seeds - dried and ground up - are good for expelling worms from your intestines! On the Western front, pumpkin seeds are famous for helping with prostate health.

According to TCM sites, pumpkin has a cooling nature and helps to resolve dampness, stabilizes a hyperactive foetus, kills worms, reduces fever and diabetes. It is also (surprise) an antidote for opium addiction!

What's most interesting is that pumpkin seeds helps to build Kidney Yin which is essential for reproduction and fertility.