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Winter Kaiseki: A Celebration of Yin

autumn trees

Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese seasonal meal, served in the first part of a tea gathering. It’s poetically seasoned, and served to celebrate special occasions. These seasonal foods are uniquely arranged and presented on dishes that summon the Spirit of the Season.

Husking rice,  
a child squints up  
to view the moon.  ~ Basho

The Winter Kaiseki at BIOM was a celebration of the completion of the Reclaiming The Yin cycle, which seven of us began last December, in 2013.

We met every month on the second Thursday for two-and-one-half hours. Our intention and objective was to become aware of, and progressively more aware of, what was happening around us ‘energetically’ as each season of the year came, expressed itself and went away.

Each season was looked at and experienced through three focal points: Yin-Yang thinking, diet and nutrition and Chi Kung exercise:

1. Yin-Yang Theme

Winter is YIN ...
Winter solitude ~
in a world of one color
the sound of wind ~ basho

yin yang-300

The first session of each season began with a theme-based presentation illustrating and explaining the energetic dynamics of the Season, and what to be aware of regarding personal health. Everyone took this information and insight home with them, and was asked to spend the time leading up to the next session exploring, understanding and reflecting on what had been experienced and understood.

One month later, at the next meeting, everyone had the opportunity to talk about and highlight how their experiences corresponded to the previous session’s theme. This sharing was engaging and eye-opening; a wonderful exchange of multiple-intelligence observations reported back back to the group with pictures, stories, plants and flowers, and the satisfaction that comes from connecting with universal truth in a simple, day-by-day sort of way.

2. Healthy Eating ~ The Five Element Way


The second session of each season focused on Healthy Eating: The Five Element Way when we talked about what kinds of food supported the organs that were the energetic focus of the body during that season.

3. Chi Kung For Health


The third session of each season featured a set of Chi Kung exercises that also supported the organs that were the energetic focus of the body during that season.

Kaiseki Menu

We did this for 12 sessions, covering the span of one year; then we celebrated our accomplishment with a Kaiseki meal.


Celery Root Miso Soup

celery root soup

Oolong Tea

oolong tea

Tofu Dumplings with Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce


Duck seasoned with Sake


Spinach and Fuyu Persimmon with Sesame

fuyu persimmon

Aduki Beans with Kabocha Squash


Mountain and Sea Tray — Crab Cakes and Figs with Miso Sauce

crab cakes

Rice with Gomasio




Pu-Erh Tea


Fuyu Persimmon with Meyer lemon juice and zest


So ...


... and remember ... each next breath is cause of Great Celebration ... especially noticeable in this Yin Time~Yuletide Season ...

Kitty & Michael

Staying Healthy In Winter


Seasons change, and your body and mental outlook change with them in predictable ways. Oriental medicine combines knowledge of seasonal characteristics with your unique health situation, to balance your energy (chi) and help you adapt and thrive during the cold months of Winter.

In this episode of Seasonal Health Tips,’ Kitty talks about how the Water element of Winter affects your health, and how to stay healthy and thrive during the cold months of Winter.

(To get the most out of what Kitty has to say, open the 5 Element Theory chart in a new window while listening.)
Length 07:32, Size 8.7 MB

The Water Element
Every season is associated with one of the Five Elements, and for Winter, the element is Water—the energetic force that governs the health and functionality of your Kidneys and Urinary Bladder.

According to Taoist 5 Element Theory, the Kidneys play a key role in the health of the entire lower part of your body. This includes balancing and processing fluids, as well as, strong joints, healthy sexual function, and more.

Pictures of Health

Protect Yourself Against Cold
To avoid getting sick, keep your wrists, ankles, and especially the back of your neck from being exposed to the cold. When you’re outside, be sensitive to how you feel and make sure your extremities don’t get too cold—especially your fingers and toes.

When your Kidneys are working well, the proper amount of heat is generated in your body, and normal precautions like “bundling up” in the winter will prevent cold from entering and getting trapped in your body. When your Kidneys are out of balance, you’ll notice a persistent feeling of cold in your lower back and extremities. If this is the case, you need to strengthen them. Otherwise you’ll be more vulnerable to pathogens and illness.

Did You Know ...
Women living in cold mountainous climates wrap woolen sashes around their waists—with older women wearing more layers, and younger women fewer. Padding around the waist maintains the warmth your Kidneys and internal organs need to function healthily and supports your back when lifting heavy objects.

Taking Care of Your Kidneys
There are several ways to build and maintain the health of your kidneys.

Chi Kung. Take 30 seconds to a minute—a few times during the day—and briskly rub your hands together to generate warmth in your palms. Then place your warm palms on your lower back, and feel the warmth from your palms penetrate into your kidneys. Then, gently massage your back. This simple exercise is an enjoyable way to invigorate your kidneys.

Chinese Herbs. Traditional Chinese herbal combinations provide an excellent way to strengthen your kidneys.

Acupuncture & Acupressure. These time-tested methods for improving the flow of chi (health-maintaining energy) in your body works to nurture your kidneys.

Diet and Nutrition. This basic approach to health is a simple way to nourish your kidneys.

Did You Know ...
Vegetables are smart! While the air is cold or freezing, Winter vegetables send their chi (life force) down into their roots where it’s protected underground. Our ancestors were smart too, because they understood the life-sustaining value of these roots ... and we should too.

Winter Food Tips
Ancient wisdom tells us that “for everything there is a season ...”. With this in mind, here are some diet and nutrition tips for the Winter season:

  • Eat root vegetables like carrots, onions, potatoes, beets, and (unsweetened) Winter squash. Miso soup is a nourishing Winter soup that provides a healthy way to get the moderate amount of salt you need.
  • Eat foods that are high in calcium to strengthen your kidneys. aduki beans would be a particularly good addition to your Winter diet. Black beans, black “woodear” mushrooms, and black “cloudear” mushrooms will also add robustness to your Kidney energy.

Winter Health Tips
Here are some things to be aware of as you become more conscious about how to stay healthy in Winter:

  • Moderate the amount of salty food you eat.
  • Stay away from diuretic foods, like celery.
  • Remember that caffeine is particularly hard on the kidneys. (Consider drinking tea or decaffeinated coffee.)

An In-Sight ...
Notice if you find yourself craving salty foods during the Winter. If you do, your kidneys are probably weak and need some strengthening.

Winter Remedies
During those time when your immunity is low, and you feel cold- or flu-like symptoms, it’s time to take preventive action by enjoying one of these nourishing, natural home brews.

Scallion Broth
This simple broth will help you sweat lightly, and is an excellent remedy for preventing and getting rid of colds:

  • Take one scallion, and chop it up.
  • Boil in water for 5 to 10 minutes. (Keep the lid on the pot to prevent vapor from escaping.)
  • Flavor with tamari.
  • Sip it slowly, bundle up, then lie down, or go to sleep.

Ginger Tea
If scallion broth doesn’t suit your culinary fancy, try ginger tea:

  • Put a couple of slices of fresh ginger in one and one-half cups of water.
  • Boil for 5 to 10 minutes. (Time it based on how strong you like your ginger tea.)
  • Keep the lid on the pot to prevent vapor from escaping.
  • Add a little honey and lemon.
  • Sip it slowly, bundle up, then lie down, or go to sleep.

Scallion broth is the more effective of the two remedies, but if for some reason it doesn’t appeal to you, ginger tea is a good alternative

Get Help If You Need It
If you experience any kidney-related symptoms—lower back pain, earaches, knee problems—or other symptoms that don’t clear up quickly, call BIOM for an appointment. It’s best to alleviate your symptoms while addressing the root problem—before it becomes more advanced.

Related Links
Seasonal Retreats at BIOM
Winter Photo Gallery

Getting Well With Oriental Medicine

“I’m not getting sick, but my wife and daughter are. I haven’t gotten sick once this season and I attribute this to seeing Kitty regularly for acupuncture and taking herbs.” ~ Testimonial


When you start to feel ‘something coming on’ … usually it’s past the point where the scallion broth or ginger tea remedies will be most effective in helping you fight off a cold. These remedies work best when you take them as soon as you have an inkling of a ‘chill’ or ‘not feeling quite right.’ The more sensitive you are to how you feel, the better able you’ll be in stopping a cold or flu before it has time to take root.

Whenever you start to feel sick is a good time to recall where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, and anything else that will help inform you about what might have enabled the illness to get in. This awareness can help you avoid getting sick the next time some pathogen is looking to set up shop inside of you.

Getting Well
Oriental Medicine has four basic components: acupuncture, Chinese medicinal herbs, diet, and Chi Kung exercise. When you’re sick Chinese medicinal herbs, minimal acupuncture and dietary suggestions are the primary way back to health; Chi Kung is added back into the treatment process once the pathogen has been dealt with by your immune system and your body is ready to rebuild its energy/Chi. 

IMPORTANT: Chinese medicinal herbs can help alleviate symptoms once the bug has taken hold, and help your body rebuild its strength to fight off the pathogen and regain its health. Keep in mind that while it’s tempting to try to buy Chinese herbal formulas over the internet, it’s not wise to do so because without a prescritpion from a qualified practitioner you could wind up with the wrong formula and make the illness worse.

Whether you use Chinese medicinal herbs or not, the best course of action once you’ve gotten a cold or flu is to rest-rest-rest. Just go to bed and stay there for a day or two. When our pets get sick, they know they need to conserve energy, so they rest in a warm spot and let their immune system fight the pathogen. That’s what we need to do too when we get sick.

“At BIOM, you help me become aware of my body, and what I need to do to maintain it and keep it healthy, and that’s not my experience elsewhere.” ~ Testimonial

Also, drink plenty of fluids. If you have an appetite, only eat things that are easily digestible— soups, oats, noodles, rice, grains, vegetables, chicken broth are easy on the digestive system;  pizza, burgers, ice cream and the like are NOT.

Take it easy: Don’t let your thoughts and emotions get the best of you. Ignore the voice in your head when you hear it say things like: “I don’t want people to think I’m lazy.” “I just have to get this done.” “Being sick is for weak people.”

Working with an Oriental Medicine Practitioner

If you want to work with an Oriental Medicine practitioner, what they will usually do is have you come in and perform a diagnosis to get a sense of your body’s overall health, taking into account your current illness, and then prescribe an appropriate herb formula.

The next step in the healing process is to keep in close contact to see how you’re progressing because colds and flu have the ability to change quickly. So the herb formula you start out with most likely will not be the one you end up with at the end of the illness.

Remember: “Health is the first wealth.” ~ Emerson

Related Links
Unique Chinese Medical Herbs
Cold and Flu Remedies
What People Say About Kitty Bradshaw at BIOM

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IMPORTANT: All information on this Web site is provided for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of a local Oriental Medicine practitioner, biomedical doctor, experienced coach, or martial arts instructor.