Butternut Soup Recipe


Butternut Soup Recipe

Empress Acupuncture’s Butternut Soup Recipe


3 cups roasted butternut

2-3 cups bone broth

3 tablespoons ghee

Tiny pinch of ground nutmeg

Salt, pepper to taste

Roasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.  Get an organic medium sized butternut squash and using a small sharp knife to poke a few holes in the butternut squash.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 60-90 minutes until fork tender.  Once the butternut squash is done cut it in half and remove the seeds and fiber from the inside.  Scoop the flesh out into a food processor and add 2 cups of the bone broth, ghee, pinch of nutmeg and blend.  If the soup is too thick add more of the bone broth to attain smooth consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Top with roasted pumpkin seed and serve hot.  


Butternut- strengthens the digestion, improves stomach function, alleviates slow digestion, warms the body

Bone broth-see bone broth recipe here- provides essential minerals and is easy to digest, improves large intestine function and increases absorption of beneficial nutrients

Ghee- heals digestive tract, decreases inflammation, improves the skin

Nutmeg- warms the body, treats pain, calming, improves digestion, helps insomnia

Pumpkin seeds-improves energy, increases vitality, strengthens the kidneys benefits the prostate



Caramelized Bittermelon


Caramelized Bittermelon


Bittermelon has many health benefits it is a liver tonic, immune booster and weightloss aid.  It helps treat respiratory disorders, diabetes, constipation, itchy scalp, hairloss, acne and complexion problems.  Bittermelon is also addresses heart disease, lowers cholesterol, helps in cancer prevention, improves kidney and bladder health and is a natural energy booster.  It helps in anti-aging, purifying blood and makes the hair shiny.  

Typically in Chinese medicine the bitter flavor is used to drain heat from the body.  This is particularly beneficial in the hotter months where the body may not be able to effectively rid itself of heat resulting in symptoms such as hot flashes, heatstroke, feverishness, heat exhaustion, rashes, skin irritation, red eyes, acid reflux, and irritability to name a few.

Bittermelon lives up to its name and in it's raw form is too bitter to eat.  Yet when salted and cooked it is a tasty, slightly salty vegetable with just a touch of sweet complexity to calm the bitterness.  Try out the following recipe and see what you think.

1-2 bittermelon- can be found at Wegmans's or Asian Grocery stores

2 teaspoons Salt

2 teaspoons Butter

Cut bitter melon lengthwise, remove seeds and white pith by scraping it out with a spoon.  Generously salt both halves and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  After 30 mins slice diagonally into half moons about a fourth of an inch thick.  Heat up pan on medium heat and put the bittermelon and butter into the pan.  Saute the bittermelon until it is tender and browned indicating the caramelization of the bittermelon.  Makes 4 servings.

Serve as a side dish, add ground pork, chunks of chicken or sausage to create a entree.  If you are feeling adventurous sautéed it with onions and add some beaten eggs to the pan to make a unique scramble that you serve with fresh diced tomatoes and parsley.

 Bittermelon and butter sautéing on medium heat.

Bittermelon and butter sautéing on medium heat.


Switchy Health Drink

This is our in-house recipe for a apple cider vinegar based drink.  This is a non-alcoholic beverage but I call it Switchy Shots (since this recipe makes a concentrate that can be diluted one to two ounces per eight ounce serving). Other versions are known as switchel, hay-makers punch, shrub or apple cider vinegar drink.  It combines many healing ingredients into an invigorating, bold and easy to drink beverage. The breakdown of the benefits of each of the ingredients is at the end of the bottom of the blog.  Mix and match ingredients as your palate and the season dictates.  I have made delicious versions with cinnamon and apple, dundicot pepper and pineapple, white peach and vanilla and strawberry and rosemary.   


Switchy Basic Recipe


In a 2 liter glass container combine


1.5 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (I like to use a microplane for this recipe)

1.5 Tbsp grated fresh turmeric

1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses

1Tbsp maple syrup

(If you prefer not to use sweeteners this can be replaced with 1Tbsp stevia)

1.5 cup apple cider vinegar

3 cups water

3/4 cup juice like apple, peach, pineapple

fresh herbs or mint optional


Mix all the ingredients together until the blackstrap molasses dissolves.  Let sit overnight covered in the refrigerator.  I tend to leave the ginger and turmeric in the containers and only strain all of it if I notice the ginger getting too firey. Strain 2-3 ounces into a cup and dilute to your preferred concentration with water, seltzer, or tea.  If desired dress with a twist of lemon or crush fresh mint or basil into the glass.


Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Helps with upset stomach

Lower blood sugar levels increase insulin sensitivity 

Improved symptoms of diabetes

Boosts energy

Weight loss

Digestive aid


Cures Hiccups

Clear a sinus/stuffy nose

Soothe a sore throat

Alleviates night time leg cramping

Treats bad breath

Fades bruises


Benefits of Turmeric


Alleviates depression

Treats Arthritis 

Anti-cancer effects

Diabetes management

Gastrointestinal benefits

Regulates Cholesterol 



Benefits of Ginger

Treats nausea

Reduces muscle pain


Helps osteoarthritis

Lowers blood sugar

Treats indigestion

Anti-cancer properties

Reduces menstrual pain

Improves brain function

Fights infection


Benefits of Blackstrap Molasses

Diabetes-friendly sweetener

Beneficial to bone health

Contains Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium,     Selenium, B6, Iron

Beneficial to the blood

Weight loss

Colon Health

Cancer prevention

Antioxidant rich

Tea Eggs Recipe


Tea Eggs Recipe

Tea Eggs Recipe

If you have neighbors with chickens you may be benefitting from the abundance of spring eggs.  A tasty and unique egg preparation is tea eggs.  They are delicious as a snack or a side dish, are very portable and would make a lovely addition to a picnic.

Gluten free recipe:

  • 6 eggs 
  • 2-3 star anise
  • 3 tea bags or 3tbsp of black tea / early grey tea
  • 1cup water
  • 3/4 cup of tamari
  • Orange zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 tbsp Peppercorns



1. Steep tea in boiling water for 20 minutes to make a strong brew of tea

2. Cook eggs 3 mins at strong boil

3. Let eggs cool slightly

4. Crackle eggshells but do not remove shells by tapping shell with the back of a metal spoon.

5. Combine the tea, star anise, tamari, orange zest and five spice together in a small pot and keeping pot covered bring to a rolling boil.

6. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add crackled eggs to the pot to simmer for half an hour covered(if liquid does not cover eggs add more water)

7. After 30 minutes turn off heat and allow eggs to steep in liquid for 3 hours to overnight.  The lobger the steep the stronger the flavor.

Peel before serving- you will  notice a lovely marbled effect on the unpeeled boiled eggs- serve whole or cut in half.

Tea eggs can be stored in refrigerator for up to a week. 

(For Instapot folkow all instructions until crackling of egg then put all ingredients into instapot to cook 20 mins low pressure natural release-in a steam basket )


Brothy Beef and Vegetable Soup


Brothy Beef and Vegetable Soup


2 lbs beef chuck roast cut into 2 inch chunks

8 cups water

2 onions halved then quartered

3 large carrots cut into 1 inch chunks

4 medium potatoes quartered

1 head of cabbage cored and cut into 3 inch chunks

Fish sauce


Salt & Pepper to taste


In a large pot, bring beef and 8 cups of water to a rolling boil, as impurities come to the surface lower heat to barely a simmer and skim the foam from the top of the water until foam is no longer produced.   Boil on stovetop for 2 hours until beef is tender with dash of salt, onions and peppercorns

*Although, to expedite cooking time you can opt to cook the beef chuck roast in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker for 45minutes, high pressure with 4 cups of beef broth (reserve 4 cups) from large pot, dash of salt, onions and peppercorns. 


While beef is cooking place carrots and potatoes and dash of salt and pepper in reserved beef broth in pot on stove at medium high heat.  Once potatoes are almost fork tender add cabbage.  Once beef is cooked, pour all the contents of the beef mixture into the pot of vegetables on the stovetop.  Add fish sauce until desired level of saltiness, and pepper to taste.  Serve hot.



Mango Coconut Ice "Candy"


Mango Coconut Ice "Candy"


For the long days of southern summer heat and humidity of Richmond, VA  a healthy, icy, creamy replacement to dairy based ice-cream and sugary popsicles is Mango Coconut "Ice Candy".  I grew up making and eating variations of this hot weather treat.  It is dairy free, can be sweetened more or less according to your palate, utilizes the available summer fruits and is cooling for the hottest, longest days of summer.  

In Chinese medicine frozen or cold foods are discouraged but I included this recipe as a healthier replacement to the seductive cold, dairy-heavy and often overly sweet desserts of summer.  

The creaminess in the ice candy comes from coconut milk and pureed fruit, the fattiness in the coconut milk creates a softer type of frozen ice that is easy on the teeth, fun to eat, and has the crunch reminiscent of shave ice.  


3 ripe mangoes peeled, cut into chunks and pitted

1 can coconut milk

1/4th to 1/2 cup water, coconut water or juice

optional to your desired sweetness: a couple teaspoons of stevia, raw honey, or sugar in the raw

25 ice candy BPA free bags, you can also use popsicle molds

Combine mango, coconut milk, water and sweetener in a bowl.  Use a blender, or with a stick blender or nutribullet to mix the contents of the bowl to a smooth, thickened but fluid consistency.  Check flavor and adjust sweetness or dilution of flavor to your preference.

Place mixture in a container with a pour spout and with a funnel placed in the ice candy bag fill the bag to 4 inches of the opening.  Remove funnel and tie a knot in open end of bag, place in cookie tray.  Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Place cookie tray in freezer and allow "Ice Candy" to set up over night. Once frozen, cut off tied off end and enjoy!

Variations of fruit/flavor to use:  

Strawberry, pineapple, berries, avocado, chai tea, coffee, vanilla bean, peach and matcha.







Cauliflower Steaks


Cauliflower Steaks

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that is packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. Digestion and detoxification is aided by the fiber and sulforaphane present in cauliflower which keeps the H.pylori populations in check.  This recipe accentuates the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties by combining tumeric and cauliflower.  As well as containing vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, manganese, cauliflower also benefits the brain with B vitamins.  



1 head of cauliflower sliced into 1 inch thick "steaks"

1 Tbsp tumeric

1/2 tsp cumin 

1/4 tsp cardamom

3 cloves garlic minced

1/2 tsp ground pepper

4 Tbsp olive oil

Mix tumeric, cumin, cardamom, minced garlic and ground pepper with the olive oil together. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high.   Using your hands slather this marinade onto the cauliflower steaks.  Place cauli steaks in skillet and cook until desired tenderness or until browned on both sided.  Makes 3-4 servings


Spiced Asian Pears


Spiced Asian Pears

 top left: cinnamon asian pear, top right: blackstrap molasses asian pear, bottom left: five spice asian pear, bottom right: honey asian pear

top left: cinnamon asian pear, top right: blackstrap molasses asian pear, bottom left: five spice asian pear, bottom right: honey asian pear

Spiced Asian Pears are a classic food tonic to any lung issues.  Asian pears are very juicy, that moistening effect is desirable to building yin/fluids and strengthening the lungs which are the organ most susceptible to dryness and are in charge of your Wei Qi or immune system. This recipe is also a nice light sweet finish to heavy winter meals.  


3 Asian Pears

1tbsp Heavy molasses or honey

Chinese five spice or ground cinnamon


1) Core and cut Asian Pears in half

2) Arrange cut side up in a covered oven dish

3) Drizzle with honey or molasses

4) Dust with Cinnamon or Five spice powder

5) Place in oven at 325 until fork tender

You can also use the slow cooker for this recipe just add a little water to the bottom of pot and cook until fork tender

Asian Pear: Cooling, sweet and sl. Sour, affects the lungs, eliminates heat, mucous, stops coughing, moistens the lungs and throat, quenches thirst, treats constipation, diabetes, loss of voice, gallbladder inflammation

Honey: warm, sweet, moistening, builds yin & fluids

Cinnamon or 5 spice: warming, pungent, calms the heart



Rose "merry" Chestnuts


Rose "merry" Chestnuts

 Chestnuts with rosemary butter- yummy & healthy

Chestnuts with rosemary butter- yummy & healthy

A savory preparation of chestnuts this meaty seasonally inspired nut lends well to heavy salting and pungent rosemary.  Although these are not roasted on an open fire you will be equally delighted in the aroma and festive feeling this simple but delicious recipe imparts.

1 lb of Chestnuts in the shell

2 cups boiling water

2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary or 1 tablespoon of dry

3 tablespoons of organic butter

1 tablespoon of sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Score the chestnuts with a sharp paring knife by cutting an "X" into the rounded side.  Soak the scored chestnuts in boiling hot water for one minute to loosen and open the shells for easier peeling.  Mix rosemary, butter, and sea salt together.  Drain chestnuts and slather the warm chestnuts with the butter mixture.  Place in an oven safe covered dish or wrap in foil and place in oven.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and toss to coat with melted butter that has accumulated at the bottom of the dish/foil.  Eat while hot for easiest peeling.

Chestnuts are warming and improve digestive energy, as well as spleen, kidney and stomach function.  They are also used in Chinese medicine to improve circulation, and are eaten daily by the elderly in China to prevent and treat high blood pressure, heart disease, hardening of the arteries, teeth and bone health. Additionally, the chestnut is considered a tonic for autumn and winter as it helps to improve immune health and suppress colds and flu.

Salt is the flavor of winter in Chinese food therapy allowing the body to strengthen the kidney energy which is in charge of your "essence", your aging, your brain, reproduction, bones, teeth and longevity.

Butter strengthens "qi" or energy, also improves one's "essence" and helps the kidneys, stomach and spleen.

Rosemary is a brain tonic, it helps to stimulate the brain and increase alertness.  It also aids in digestion, and boosts the immune system.


Golden Chicken Congee


Golden Chicken Congee

 Golden Congee Recipe

Golden Congee Recipe

This rice porridge or congee was a winter staple at our house.  It is easy to make, comforting and full of warming flavors for the colder nights.  It helps keep your immune system strong, and settles and warms the stomach.  The Golden Chicken Congee is a great way to use bone broth, any cut of chicken can be used, and the sweet rice and fish sauce can be found at the local asian store or the asian section of your market.

Golden Chicken Congee


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

8 cloves garlic, minced

1 (2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 (2 inch) piece fresh turmeric grated

2 1/4 pounds chicken wings or chicken thighs

1 tablespoon fish sauce

6 cups bone broth

1 cup glutinous sweet rice

salt and pepper to taste

1 green onion, chopped

1 lemon, sliced (optional)

1 teaspoon fish sauce for seasoning (optional)


1) Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat; cook and stir the onion, garlic, and ginger in the hot oil until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2) Add the chicken; cook and stir together for 1 minute.

3) Stir the fish sauce into the pot, cover, and cook another 2 minutes.

4) Pour the chicken broth and tumeric into the pot.

5) Add the sweet rice and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil; cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to assure the rice is not sticking to the bottom of the pot.

6) Season with salt and pepper.

7) Garnish with the green onion, and serve with lemon slices and additional fish sauce, if desired.


 Ingredient Benefits/Energetics

Tumeric: warming & bitter, ant-inflammatory, antioxidant, protects the liver from toxins, lowers cholesterol, improves rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, improves protein digestion, reduces uterine tumors, decreases menstrual pain

Olive Oil: warming, supports yin, creates a slowing or heaviness and grounding

Ginger: warm, pungent, Improves circulation, digestion, morning sickness, menstrual cramps, moves blood

Garlic: hot & pungent; promotes circulation, sweating, removes stagnant food and abdominal obstructions, inhibits the cold virus, treats pneumonia, asthma, diarrhea, warts, eliminates toxins from the body

Onion: warm, pungent, lowers blood pressure & cholesterol, decreases phlegm and inflammation of nose and throat, inhibits allergic reactions, induces sweating, treats bronchial inflammation, and chest congestion, calms the brain, general sedative

Salt: cooling, directs energy inward, stimulates kidneys, grounding, promotes fluid metabolism, detoxifies poisons, softens areas of the body, promotes bowel action

Pepper: warming, pungent, benefits the lungs, treats indigestion, induces sweating, counters food poisoning

Lemon: cool, sour, arrests cough, improves immune system, controls bleeding



Bone Broth


Bone Broth

Bone Broth- How to...

Bone broth is a nutritious broth made from slow-cooking bones for an extended amount of time. The continued stewing of the bones releases the minerals and vitamins typically trapped in the bones and often overlooked or thrown out. 

Benefits of bone broth include boosting the immune system, strengthening bones and joints with the gelatin, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium rendered, improving and nourishing the skin with collagen and lets not forget that it also stretches your grocery dollar.

Growing up in an asian household when the weather became cooler meals were often accompanied by a mug full of hot broth to warm the tummy, start the digestive juices flowing and ward off illness.  

Ingredients are simple:

ORGANIC bones of beef, chicken or any bones of your choice (pick off meat to use for another recipe) optional: 1-2 Chicken feet for extra collagen/gelatin
6 cups of water
splash of apple cider vinegar or white wine

Place all the above in a large crock pot and set on high.  Make sure there is enough water to cover the bones.  Once it starts to simmer set the temperature to low.  Slow cook for 2-3 days or until bones are porous, soft or crumbling.  Strain broth, cool and store in refrigerator or freeze.

I suggest to my patients to drink a cup of bone broth with each meal.  The broth can be warmed and consumed as a beverage.  It can replace stock, broth or water in any recipe to fortify it such as in cooking rice or beans, soup or stew bases, and steaming or boiling veggies. 

In Chinese medicine bone broth is a healthcare staple, used especially for those with digestive difficulties, those recuperating from long illness, surgery or post-partum.  It tonifys the Yin and fluids needed to nourish and balance the body.