Monday December 21st is the solstice marking the onset of winter. The winter solstice, hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere. It calls for balance and celebration. The dark and light are equal, which gives us hope for improvement.

My Winter Solstice breakfast is keyed to bring about health, balance and longevity. It features cooked and raw foods that support digestion and immunity.

Part One is normally fruit, nuts and tea. I like the fiber.

Part Two is a cooked grain or other warm food especially for cold weather.

The choice is individual based on current health needs. People with inflammatory conditions require more cold or raw foods and less animal protein. Others with weaker digestion need cooked grains and proteins to support health. Older persons, and all others who live under high stress, need to maintain a proper blood sugar and blood pressure balance.

Mushrooms are Adaptogens

Adaptogens –foods and herbs that reduce the impact of stress on our body—are excellent when added to daily meals in order to protect longevity. Mushrooms, baring an allergy, may be boiled, stir fried, and added to soups and baked. Dried mushrooms are easier to store and are often less expensive than fresh mushrooms.

Maitake aka Hen of the Woods

Maitake looks like feathers on a hen. It is very tasty and nutritious.

“Maitake” means dancing mushroom in Japanese because people danced with joy upon finding it in the wild. It has incredible healing properties. It is a type of adaptogen. Adaptogens assist the body in fighting against any type of mental or physical difficulty. They also work to regulate systems of the body that have become unbalanced. While this mushroom can be used in recipes for taste alone, it’s considered to be a medicinal mushroom.

The mushroom grows wild in parts of Japan, China, and North America. It grows at the bottom of Oak, Elm, and Maple trees. It can be cultivated and even grown at home with a mushroom kit, though it typically won’t grow as well or as large as it does in the wild.

Health benefits of maitake mushroom

Compared to other mushrooms, maitake has shown better results in preventing and treating cancer and other health conditions. Maitake also has a positive effect on overall immunity.

Maitake mushrooms are rich in:

  • antioxidants
  • beta-glucans
  • vitamins B and C
  • copper
  • potassium
  • fiber
  • minerals
  • amino acids

The mushrooms are also:

  • fat-free
  • low-sodium
  • low-calorie
  • cholesterol-free

Scientists are currently studying the unique way the mushroom supports overall health and fights illness.

Research

Maitake has been found to be helpful for treating:

Cancer

A 2013 study indicates that maitake D-Fraction could be useful in preventing and treating breast cancer. Researchers suggest that this mushroom can fight the growth and reproduction of cancerous cells.

This suggests that it could also be effective in managing cancer when taken orally.

Cholesterol

Maitake powdered extract lowers cholesterol levels and increases fatty acids that provide energy. Because of this, researchers theorize that eating maitake mushroom may help keep arteries healthy. You can make maitake powder by grinding dried maitake in a blender or coffee grinder. Then brew it in tea or add it to soups.

Type 2 Diabetes

Maitake mushroom can have a positive effect on glucose levels. This points to the mushroom’s potential to treat type 2 diabetes in humans.

Maitake mushroom may also be useful in treating:

  • cold and flu viruses
  • high or low blood pressure
  • immune function
  • side effects of chemotherapy

My Simple Solstice Breakfast

My Daoist and Ayurvedic friends are up before dawn stretching, breathing, dousing themselves with oil. I am too lazy for that. My cats get me up for breakfast—Their Breakfast!—with meows around 7:30 to 9:30AM depending upon how much food I have left them the night before.

Part One is a long running tradition for me. Fiber helps regulate digestion and keep my blood pressure in check. It is

  • Sliced raw apple with the peel
  • Celery
  • Nuts
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Optional Balsamic vinegar
  • Hot gunpowder green tea.

Around 10:00AM or when convenient I may have a cooked grain that has soaked overnight to help remove irritating acids or toast and a protein such as egg or fish. For my Solstice weekend I am enjoying this mushroom pancake.

Maitake Pancake

Ingredients:

1 piece dried maitake

Korean instant pancake mix

Japanese Ponzu sauce

This is quite simply an instant breakfast.

Soak the maitake for 10 minutes in very hot water. Very gently separate the sections without crushing them. Pour the soaking water into a jar and keep it in the refrigerator for later use in soup stock, tea or cooking.

Very gently squeeze excess liquid from the maitake piece. Choose a piece that fits into your palm. Sauté it in oil or butter.

Separately add water to the pancake mix. Done!

Pour the pancake mix over the sautéed mushroom, cook them until the pancake is golden. You might season the pancake mix, though alone it is tasty, with spices. I add a spicy salt substitute and caraway seeds. Serve the pancake hot and garnish with either a Ponzu sauce or a chutney.

The ingredients are available online and are easy to store. Dried mushrooms add a lot to cooking for health and longevity. They connect us with Mother Earth in a positive way. Though they grow on dead and dying trees, mushrooms transform poisons, even radiation pollution, into health. Learn how to keep yourself and your family healthy with “the Longevity diet” from Academy of Healing Nutrition, New York, London and online. Become a professional holistic nutrition consultant and reap the benefits.