A macrobiotic approach to wellness focuses on bringing balance to a person's physical and emotional condition by utilizing foods that are balanced energetically and nutritionally. I came to Macrobiotics in 1996 when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. I read a book by a woman who had healed her metastasized cancer with a macrobiotic diet and then one by Michio Kushi one of the leaders of the macrobiotic approach. Following my inner guidance, I spent a week at the Kushi Institute taking a seminar designed for people with serious illness. As a wellness consultant and health educator I was immediately struck by the many ways the macrobiotic diet matched the dietary goals I taught in nutrition and fitness classes--high fiber, low fat, lots of vegetables and grains, vegetable protein, and limited meat. This diet, however, went far beyond my previous knowledge as it included many healing foods I was not aware of--sea vegetables, miso, daikon, pickles, ginger root, and more. To my delight it was the most delicious food I had ever eaten. Yet, it was the complete approach to health that engaged me---a daily walk on the earth, using shiatsu for relaxation and energy, viewing food as elements of yin and yang energy, feeling gratitude, and using food to bring balance and well-being to one's life.
To heal my life threatening disease I went on a prescriptive macrobiotic healing diet designed to address the specific physical weaknesses in me that allowed the disease to manifest. This diet took the basic macrobiotic diet and tailored it to my condition. The diet eliminated my beginning stages of arthritis, I no longer burped or had flatulence, the dryness in my hair and skin went away, my chronic knee tendonitis was eliminated, and I felt healthy and strong. It was through my continuing work with David Briscoe of Macrobiotics America that I was able to uncover the key emotional issue underneath my cancer and move forward with the other healing modalities I needed to cure my "terminal" cancer completely. In a macrobiotic approach, extreme foods such as refined sugar, coffee, red meat, and dairy products are eliminated. More balanced foods such as whole grains, legumes/beans, and vegetables are emphasized. Sea vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds, natural oils, and fruits are utilized in smaller quantities for diversity, flavor, and seasonal balance. The diet varies with the seasons and emphasizes eating locally grown, in season, organic food. For example, in the tropics you eat tropical fruits and in the arctic more fish and high fat foods. In the temperate zones of the United States you avoid or minimize these foods and eat the grains, vegetables, and fruit that grow in this or a similar climate. Within each food type the more balanced ones are used regularly so that brown rice and millet are mainstay grains while root, round, and green leafy vegetables are used from the vegetable kingdom. A wide variety of each food type is emphasized.
Cooking styles vary with the seasons to accommodate the changing weather and need to keep yin and yang balanced through the diet. Variety is planned into the menus so that a broad range of nutrients are consumed, balance more easily attained, and enjoyment enhanced. The goal is food that is both beautiful and delicious. Because the interwoven concepts and cooking techniques are designed to be used together macrobiotic cooking is generally taught in hands on solo or group classes. People with life threatening diseases are advised to consult with a trained macrobiotic counselor to receive a healing diet prescription and then take cooking classes to learn how to prepare the foods or contract with a macrobiotic cook if unable to cook for themselves. The macrobiotic diet is part of a larger macrobiotic way of life designed to bring peace - we will have a peaceful world when we have peaceful people, peaceful people come from peaceful kitchens, and peaceful kitchens come from peaceful food. I continue to cook and eat macrobiotically because I love the food and the effect it has on me and my family. As long as I stay on the diet none of my previous conditions recur. I teach macrobiotic cooking classes for fun and the joy of seeing people discover that wholesome food can be delicious and beautiful.
From Cooking Class participants:
“Though I remain far from a pure macrobiotic, I have discovered that the diet and lifestyle philosophy behind this approach makes more sense than anything I've encountered. I love the variety you've introduced to my grains and beans repertoire and my cookbook collection. I am much more thoughtful now about my dietary choices because I know what is best for me and the earth. And how cool to sit down before every meal and really appreciate the food I am about to eat-that was a huge gift from you to my family and I will forever cherish it." C.K.
Here's a recipe adapted from Christina Pirello's Cooking the Whole Foods Way:
Nutty Rice and Broccoli
2 cups short grain brown rice
2 1/2 cups water
2 pinches of salt
Place rice, water and salt in pressure cooker or tightly covered pot and bring to pressure or to boil. Cook 45 minutes on low.
2 cups broccoli flowerets
1/4 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced red onion
Bring pot of water to boil and blanch/ parboil each vegetable separately (approximately 2 minutes). Cool and set aside
1/2 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon barley miso
grated peel of one lemon
Toast walnut pieces in dry frying pan over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. Puree walnuts with miso dissolved in small amount of water.
Mix vegetables and rice and stir in puree and lemon peel. Serve warm or cooled.
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