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Millet-Corn Chowder: A Class + a Recipe

Join doctor of Chinese medicine Henry Jun Wah Lee and holistic chef Vicky Valencia for an evening of food and learning in Pasadena on Thurs., Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m. There will be tasty (and healthful) dishes to sample, practical recipes you can use, and enlightening information on how to stay healthy in the coming months, drawing from principles of Chinese medicine.

Besides being a TCM doctor, Lee is a licensed acupuncturist, medical qigong instructor and Eastern nutritionist with private practices in Pasadena and Venice. Valencia is a holistic chef who received her training from the Kushi Institute, a renowned macrobiotic educational and healing center in Massachusetts. She privately cooks and teaches in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Mexico City.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs and colon are the most susceptible organs affected by the fall season, according to Lee. This is a time when imbalances related to these organs--including allergies, asthma, colds, constipation, dry skin and wrinkles, and sadness and grief-- appear or worsen. To combat these conditions, Lee and Valencia have come up with this "energizing and stabilizing" grain-based soup.

In the following recipe, millet and pumpkin seeds counter dry conditions by lubricating and strengthening the lungs and colon, Lee says. Squash contains beta-carotene, which boosts immune system function and protects the lungs and colon against colds and the flu.

The class will be held at 74 N. Fair Oaks Blvd. in Pasadena. The cost is $25 and includes cooking ingredients and recipes. Call (323) 540-4180 for more information or to sign up. Class is limited to 15 people.

Millet-Corn Chowder with Sweet Squash

From: Chinese medicine doctor Henry Lee and holistic chef Vicky Valencia

Note: Kombu is a seaweed available at Asian markets and at Whole Foods.

Serves: 4

½ cup millet, rinsed and drained

4-6 cups of water, depending on desired consistency

1 X 4" to 1 x 6" piece of kombu, soaked in water for 10 minutes until reconstituted

1 cup of fresh corn, removed from a single corn cob

1 small onion, diced

1 celery rib, diced

1 cup of half-inch cubed kobocha squash, or other sweet squash of choice (such as butternut)

½ tsp sea salt or 1-2 tbsp of white miso or brown rice miso, diluted in a small amount of water

1 tbsp sesame oil, or ¼ cup water for a water sauté

Soup garnish:

¼ cup roasted pumpkin seeds, rinsed and drained

a pinch of both shiso powder and nori flakes

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1. Heat oil or water in a 4-quart pot. Saute onions, celery, corn and salt for about three minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent. Add the millet, kombu and water. To create a quick stock, add the remaining corn cob to the pot, which will sweeten the dish. Bring to a boil, cover, place a flame deflector under the pot and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Roast the pumpkin seeds on a medium to medium high flame, stirring constantly, for about eight to 10 minutes, until they turn golden brown. Remove from heat immediately by placing in a bowl.

3. After 30 minutes, remove the kombu from the soup. Then add the squash, sea salt and additional water if needed, and continue to cook until the squash is soft, about eight to 10 minutes. If you add miso instead of salt, add the diluted miso after the squash is cooked, and let it gently simmer for three to four minutes (be careful not to let it boil, which will destroy beneficial enzymes). Immediately remove pot from stove, garnish with the pumpkin seeds, scallion, shiso and nori, and serve.

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