July 28th: Celebrate National Parents' Day!

By: Cailey Halloran, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M.

July 28th is National Parents’ Day and this July happens to be an exciting month in my life. My dad turns seventy-six and my parents are celebrating their fifty year anniversary with a family trip! I am so excited to take a vacation with my family and celebrate their love, commitment to each other, and to our family. My parents hold a huge piece of my heart; after all, they are the reason it beats today. They have been my biggest supporters in any endeavor I have chosen to explore, especially on my path to becoming an acupuncturist.

According to Chinese medical theory, the summertime correlates to the “Heart” organ/meridian. There is a close relationship between the “Stomach” and the “Heart”; the “Stomach” is said to be the child of the heart (see picture below). One way these two organs share a relationship is through my favorite thing: food! The Stomach takes what we eat, processes it, and sends nutrients into our bloodstream, which circulates through the Heart. Think of the adage, “the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach.” From a young age, my parents instilled in me a great love of food. My mom is an amazing cook and my dad has an uncanny ability to remember the best restaurant in any small town anywhere in the country. Being around the dinner table has always been a time in my family to come together and connect. Nourishment, both food and love, has always flown freely around my family’s table. Gratefully, Chinese Medicine provides solid theory to reinforce this belief. One of my fondest memories with my parents was traveling to visit my older brother while he was studying abroad in Spain. I was ten years old and this was my first exposure to interesting and “exotic” cuisine. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, foods such as squid in their own ink or gazpacho were NOT on the menu. I modeled my love of food off of my parents and adventurously dug into this new fare. I especially enjoyed the gazpacho as I never had cold soup before.

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To honor both National Parents’ Day, my parents, Jack and Sue, and the “Heart” time of year, I’d like to share a recipe with you. This recipe has a few special meanings. In Chinese Medicine, food follows the doctrine of signatures that “like treats like.” This means red foods nourish the “Heart” and blood quality. This recipe is a play on the classic Spanish cold soup Gazpacho that first tantalized my taste buds a few decades ago, but adds in a twist with using watermelon. According to Chinese nutrition principles, watermelon is cooling and nourishes fluids. I think it is the perfect hot summer day “Heart” food.

It is serendipity I will be meeting up with my parents on National Parents’ Day.  I hope all of you can take a moment to give your family members a call, share a memory, or better yet, a meal. If this is not possible for you, honor an elder who has had a significant impact on your life. Reach out, and let them know, they have helped you, taught you, and supported you. Family has a huge impact, and generations and traditions help to bring us all closer together.

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RECIPE - Watermelon Gazpacho:

Ingredients:

            4 large ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled and roughly chopped

            4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

            6 celery stalks, white parts and leaves, finely chopped

            1 small onion, finely chopped

            2 C. seedless watermelon, roughly chopped

            1/2 C. crustless white bread, torn into small chunks

            1/2 C. tomato juice

            Handful of basil leaves

            2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

            3/4 C. olive oil plus extra for drizzling

            Salt & black pepper to season and coarse sea salt to serve

Croutons:

            1/2 C. crustless white bread, torn into small chunks

            3 Tbsp olive oil

            1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar

Instructions:

1.     Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line a baking tray with baking paper

2.     Place the bread for the croutons in a bowl with the oil, vinegar and 1/2 tsp salt. Put a griddle or frying pan on the heat and then put the croutons in the pan and cook for 2 minutes, turning until all sides are charred and starting to crisp. Transfer from the pan to the baking tray and place in the oven for about 12 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Set aside to cool.

3.     Place the tomatoes, garlic, celery, onion, watermelon, bread, tomato juice, and a handful of basil into a blender with 3/4 tsp salt and a good grind of black pepper. Blend until smooth. Add in vinegar and olive oil, blend. Refrigerate until needed.

4.     To serve pour the soup into individual bowls and top with croutons. Sprinkle a few extra basil leaves over each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of sea salt. Serve and enjoy!

- This recipe is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and can be made without gluten/bread. -