Sunday, November 15, 2009

in case you are wondering...

I'm pregnant...making thinking, cooking, planning, writing, talking about food a touchy subject. All of the above makes me queasy. I will be writing off and on for a little while. Also I'm pretty busy making bracelets and birthcharts...www.astrologicalmandalabracelets.com

happy holidays
xoxo

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

trick or TREAT-pumpkin face mask!


No this isn't the spooky kind of mask, this is the make you glowing and smell like pumpkin bread kinda mask. I love the fall, like Halloween*, but I do not look forward to carving that darned pumpkin. It was fine when all was expected was just triangle eyes and a toothy smile with that handy aluminum serrated knife, but now there are booklets and multiple tools for this annual undertaking, that takes someone with the patience of an ice sculptor. So, I'll bake the squash, roast the seeds, make the pumpkin pie...wait no I won't make the pumpkin pie. Heck, i worked at a Marie Callender's for four years, sacrificing my Thanksgiving's to make an extra dime...I abhor pies.

SO... what was I to do with all that fibrous pumpkin mush? I'm sure there are less vain ideas, but today I wanted some serious halloween pampering. Even my mother-in law was in. Here's the recipe...

Ingredients

2 teaspoons raw pumpkin, pureed
one-half teaspoon honey (humectant, regenerative)
one-quarter teaspoon soymilk)

Optional Ingredients

For dry skin
One-half teaspoon brown sugar (exfoliates, moisturizes, alpha hydroxyl acid)

For oily skin
one-quarter teaspoon apple cider vinegar (tonic action promotes skin circulation; alpha hydroxyl acid; regulates pH).
-or-one-quarter teaspoon cranberry juice (high in antioxidants critically important to the utilization of essential fatty acids to maintain balanced, nourished skin.
Directions:
Combine the ingredients for your face mask. Mix gently and apply to your face avoiding the eye area. Rest and relax for 10-15 minutes while your pumpkin pie face mask gently exfoliates, nourishes and conditions your face. Rinse with warm water and apply the appropriate moisturizer for your skin type.

*(except for the part where everyone dresses up in trashy lingerie-seriously why has halloween turned into who can dress the sluttiest instead of who can dress the spookiest?)

Friday, October 23, 2009

apricot couscous cake



I made a delicately sweet dessert this week that is another classic macrobiotic dish. Warning though: Ladies, do not tell your husband to "get ready for cake", as it sets up particular expectations that will not be met, (I don't know why he would expect anything different though, it's not like I'm whipping out triple chocolate rum cakes every night!).

Anyway, this is delicious in it's own right. It gives you and the little ones, the satisfaction of dessert without the sugar blues. Oh, if you haven't read sugar blues, it's a fabulous book by William Duffy. I make this cake for the week, and have a nibble now and then with a cup of tea, or after a meal. You will enjoy the aroma of cooking dried apricots. They remind me of caramel.

I've made this "cake" at least 10 times, and of course the time I'm writing about it, it's not my best. I needed to keep the couscous a little more moist to make it stick better. This is not hard to do, just gets increasingly harder when you have a 1 yr old whose hands are brimming with rocks from the patio and is climbing the stairs.

Macro food fact:

Kuzu is a white starch made from the root of the wild kuzu plant. It has been valued for two thousand years as an important food and medicine. Use it as a substitute for any recipe calling cornstarch. It is used as a thickener in making soups, sauces, gravies, desserts, and for medicinal purposes. In Chinese medicine, kudzu roots and flowers are used to relieve acute pain, stiff neck and shoulders, fever, colds and hangovers.

Here's the recipe from Changing Seasons by Aveline Kushi and Wendy Esko:

you will need:

for the cakey part:
2 c couscous
2 1/2 c apple juice
1/2 c raisins
pinch of sea salt

for the topping:
2 c dried apricots (un sulphured)
pinch of sea salt
2 c water
5 tablespoons kuzu diluted in water
1 lemon slice

Cake:

Wash couscous and drain. Place apple juice, raisins and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce flame to medium low. Simmer about 10 minutes. Add couscous and cover and simmer 2-3 minutes. The heat in the pot causes couscous to cook thoroughly. Remove and place in a glass or ceramic dish, pressing couscous firmly down with a wooden spoon before adding topping.

Topping:

Cook dried apricots down with 2 c of water and a pinch of sea salt. I put mine in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes. Stir, then put back on a low flame and add diluted kuzu. Stir constantly to prevent lumping. Simmer until apricot mixture becomes thick. Remove and cool slightly.

Spread the apricot mixture to cover couscous cake. Garnish with a lemon slice. Allow cake to sit for about an hour before slicing and serving.




















Monday, October 19, 2009

Another autumnal dinner-sweet potato style!


sweet potato with a little olive oil and cinnamon
long grain rice and sweetcorn
pinto beans
carrot and onion nishime
tahini basil salad dressing/sauce
tahini basil dressing/sauce (from the self-healing cookbook by Kristina Turner):
3 T sesame tahini
1 T lemon juice
2 T white or chickpea miso
1/2 c water
1/4 tsp fresh basil
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp shiso condiment, (or ume vinegar)
This may have been even more delicious the next day as a warm salad over organic spring greens, with some ground flaxseed and black sesame on top.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

guilt free chewy ginger cookies..mmmm


I'm not a baker. I don't own cookie cutters or a rolling pin. I guess I haven't been a domestic goddess long enough.
But I made cookies...and good ones....versatile ones! They took no time to make. They are a great, middle of the day snack, after dinner treat, and I even ate them with a morning miso soup, where they took on an almost scone like quality-balancing the saltiness with a mild spicy sweetness. They were even teenager approved by my 15 yr old sister, Julia. Sylvie has been toddling around with one in her hand, her favorite thing to do is pick out the raisin first before munching away.
I have an excellent cookbook: American Macrobiotic Cuisine; A macrobiotic celebration of America's ethnic cooking by Meredith McCarty. I found this recipe, and increased some of the measurements slightly, as the dough was too dry when I followed it exactly.
Makes two dozen
You will need
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup brown rice syrup or maple syrup
1 1/4 cup apple juice
3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
2 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
raisins to garnish
Heat all ingredients together except flour and raisins, then stir and add flour to form dough. Don't let dough sit or it tens to harden. Roll out to quarter-inch thickness and cut with a 3" cookie cutter or other shape, (or improvise as I did). Press a single raisin into the center of round cookies. Grease pan ad bake until golden on the bottom, 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees. (Mine took 20-25 minutes as they were the thicker and heartier version:)

brown rice pilaf with mushrooms and apricots


This tasty vegan dish is perfect paired with a salad, and a vegetable side. I prepared it for my sister after a late night at a football game. I had left over rice, so it took no time to make. She had it with some brussel sprouts, and a mixed greens salad. Ginger cookies for dessert. She said, you're going to put this on your blog right?
It's hearty, sweet, a little nutty, something unique and fun...something i'm planning to make as part of Thanksgiving dinner. It is courtesy of a whole foods market monthly magazine. This recipe serves four:
You will need:
2tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4lb sliced button mushrooms
2 portobello mushrooms-chopped
1/2 small onion chopped, (I had a shallot and used it-it was great)
1 cup long grain rice, ( I used short grain because I forgot!)
2 cups of water or vegetable broth
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped non-sulfite dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/4 cup total of chopped fresh parsley and thyme. ( I used more parsley for color because I like it!)
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts, ( I used raw, and crushed them in my hand, because I prefer raw walnuts)
1.In a medium saucepan, saute' all mushrooms and onion in warmed oil over med-high heat for about 6-8 minutes
2. Stir in rice, water or broth, salt and pepper to taste, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low, simmering until liquid is completely absorbed, about 45 minutes. If the rice you use is already cooked as mine was, then cook for only about 10 minutes on medium low.
3.Remove pot from heat and let sit 10 minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl, add apricots, walnuts, herbs and vinegar and toss to combine.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

rad and amazing tofu dippers

Sylvie likes to dip anything in everything. Her grandma Jane taught her this handy trick while at a visit to Sylvie's favorite restaurant, Pomodoro. At Pomodoro ,Sylvie dips warm bread in a pesto sauce, no more than three times each bite, a favorite dinnertime ritual.
Well now the ritual has become more like an obsession. Anything she eats, (and doesn't eat) is now dip-worthy... she spent 15 minutes of a play date teaching her friend Sadie to dip raw carrot sticks in water. almond butter sandwiches are now slathered in applesauce, and of course my cell phone is tenderly dipped in my oatmeal.
So I decided to indulge her, with something appropriately dippable-tofu dippers!

If you like fish sticks and or french fries, you'll love these!

You'll need:

1 package of extra firm tofu
1 egg
breadcrumbs
whole wheat flour
a vegetable oil, (i used safflower)
pretzel sticks

sauce 1

vegenaise
pickle spear chopped

sauce 2
natural ketchup
lemon juice

directions (serves 4)

1. wrap tofu with paper towels and press to absorb all excess water from tofu. careful not to break tofu. cut into 1/2 inch width and 2 inch lengths.
2. whisk egg in a medium bowl.
3.place tofu on a plate and coat all sides lightly with flour. Dip into whisked egg, then transfer tofu sticks into a bowl of bread crumbs, coating all sides.
4. heat oil, about 1/2 inch in a large frying pan. Add tofu and cook until color is a golden brown.
5. Use pretzels as "sticks" to insert in each dipper.

Verne Varona's top ten sugar craving strategies

The following could be individual or collective reasons for sugar cravings. Read each suggestion and notice how it applies to your eating or lifestyle. Reducing your desire or addiction for sugar should not require Herculean will power. Becoming conscious of the physiological and lifestyle factors that stimulate sugar cravings should make taming your sweet tooth a piece of cake--so to speak...

1. REDUCE SALT & PRODUCTS WITH SALT The need for dietary salt from natural sources (sun-dried sea salt) is dependent on several factors; a lack of salt can cause fatigue, stimulate a desire to overeat and often result in a craving or animal protein. However, with the availability of good quality sea salt, miso paste, tamari soy sauce and natural pickles, it's quite easy to overdose. Thirst and a craving for sweet foods is one of the most reliable indicators of excess dietary salt.

2. REDUCE ANIMAL PROTEIN The standard four basic food group propaganda was force-fed to the American public along with the myth that animal protein should be a dietary staple. The meat and potatoes mentality has to re-think its philosophy since established research shows excess animal protein can lead to colon and prostate cancer. If this applies to you eat less in volume (2 to 4 ounce servings) and limit it to three to four times per week (maximum), as opposed to daily.

3. REDUCE FOOD VOLUME Overeating leads to fatigue and sluggishness. This makes a stimulant like sugar (or coffee) more appealing. Eating more frequently will allow you to reduce overeating with a minimum of effort.

4. EAT MORE FREQUENTLY THROUGHOUT THE DAY One of the most common reasons for sugar cravings--especially at night. By skipping meals or waiting long periods you stop supplying your blood with glucose. The blood sugar drops and by the time you finally get around to eating, you're going nuts for simple sugar. You're also likely to end up overeating or craving something fatty as a compensation for sugar. Initially, don't wait more than 31/2 to 4 hours between meals.

5. AVOID EATING PRIOR TO BED If your body's digesting when it requires much needed rest, you'll require more sleep, dream excessively and find it difficult awakening with alertness. Good deep sleep will result in wide-awake days. Eating to close to bedtime creates a groggy awakening craving the stimulation of sugar (or caffeine) the following morning. Eat a light evening dinner at least 21/2 to three hours before retiring.

6. AVOID SUGAR This might sound obvious, however, continuing to eat simple sugars results in a falling blood sugar. This stimulates a need for more sugar and the cycle continues. Even though fruit is a simple sugar, switching to fruit instead of sugar is a good first step. Eat the skin of the fruit as well since fiber slows blood sugar elevation.

7.EXERCISE MODERATELY, BUT CONSISTENTLY Daily aerobic exercise will increase circulation and strengthen will power. Brisk walking, biking, light jogging, etc. naturally increases sensitivity to the effects of sugar. Try to get 20 to 30 minutes of some type of pleasurable exercise at least 5 times per week. Enjoy this. It should not be a chore.

8. EMPHASIZE NATURAL WHOLE COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES- If your daily diet is includes whole grains (brown rice, oats, millet, barley, etc.), vegetables (roots, greens and round vegetables such as squashes, cabbages, etc.) as a primary fuel, you'll find you automatically crave less sugar. Emphasizing sweet vegetables such as carrots, cooked onions, corn, cabbage, parsnips, squashes, etc., adds a natural sweetness to meals. Introduce some sea vegetables (aka "seaweeds") for much needed minerals to enrich blood.

9. DON'T SUPPRESS FEELINGS This doesn't mean you have to broadcast every feeling--only those that matter and to those who really matter to you. Food indulgence, especially with sweets, is a convenient way to anesthetize feelings. Sugar can consume you with sensory pleasure, temporarily providing mental relief from whatever might be stressful. However, sweets can hinder energy levels and mental clarity so in the long run your emotional coping ability becomes compromised.

10. BEWARE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TRIGGERS The many psychological associations we connect with food have a powerful influence. Beware of family associations, movie rituals, familiar restaurants, childhood habits, etc.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"true health" according to philosopher George Ohsawa

George Ohsawa the Japanese philosopher, rejected the definition of health as solely the absence of disease, instead he maintained that health is a multidimensional condition including both physical and psychological aspects. True health according to Ohsawa consists of:

~consistent and high physical energy
~the ability to fall asleep easily and to awake after a few hours totally refreshed
~a hearty appetite for simple, nourishing food
~a positive and happy frame of mind, even in the midst of difficulties
~a good memory
~clarity and speed in thought and in action
~a profound gratitude for the gift of life

Sunday, October 11, 2009

easy october dinner...

This meal has all the colors of fall in it. I simmered some cinnamon and cloves on low on the stove while I cooked, and pretended I lived in New England again. This is Ryan's "meat and potatoes" sort of meal. He loves this dressing, and seems to always forget he's had it a million times before. Totally kid-friendly too...

short grain brown rice
dinosaur kale
azuki beans and squash
fall vegetable and dried tofu medley
tahini scallion dressing

Yum. This was good. It's not complex, as the ingredients are few.
you will need:

brown rice
kale, ( I used dinosaur kale)
azuki beans
sea salt
kabocha squash
carrots
rutabaga
dried tofu
leeks
spike seasoning
shoyu or braggs
olive oil
tahini
scallion
ume plum vinegar
lemon

Daytime Prep:

Soak the azuki beans for 4-6 hrs.
Soak the brown rice for 2 hrs.

(Soaking aids digestibility, and hastens the cooking process)
Cook in this order, beans, rice, vegetable medley, greens, (sauce can be made anytime)

azuki beans and squash- "a nice sweet dish for Autumn"~Aveline Kushi
thoroughly wash, and soak for 6-8 hrs
1 cup beans to 1 cup kabocha squash , (cut in 1" by 1" chunks)
Place beans in a pot, put squash on top of beans, add just enough water to cover.
Place on a low flame and cook for about 1 1/2-2 hrs. Add water occasionally, because beans expand as the water evaporates. Add sea salt to taste. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

macro foodfacts: Ideally beans make up about 10 percent of the macrobiotic diet, especially azuki, lentils , and chick peas. Azuki or Aduki beans, are the "king of beans" according to the Japanese. They are cooked with rice on holidays to make "red rice", and frequently eaten plain or sweetened in dessert. The small red beans have been cultivated for centuries in Asia , and now grown commercially in the U.S. Aduki beans tonify the kidneys. In Oriental medicine the strenght of the kidneys is the indicator of overall strength. Weak, depleted kidneys and overworked adrenal glands are the by-products of too much sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and stress. Aduki's are a rich source of protein, are low in fat and easy to digest.
The kabocha squash nurtures the stomach, spleen and pancreas, helping to keep blood sugar even and stabilize mood.
This is an all around fabulous dish for when you are feeling depleted, and need some strengthening food.

brown rice
Wash, and soak for two hours.
2:1 water to grain ratio
Boil for 50 minutes.
Add Sea salt to taste.

fall vegetable and dried tofu medley:
Soak dried tofu in water for ten minutes. Cut into little squares. Cut up rutabaga and carrots. If you have a Japanese Nabe pot, this is ideal. Slow cook the vegetables and tofu in a little water until almost tender, then add the leeks, and finish cooking, adding a little olive oil and shoyu or braggs to season. I added a little spike seasoning, rosemary may be nice too. This was flavorful and delicious. I love dried tofu, It's hard to find, but is worth it for it's chewy texture, and ability to take on the flavors in a dish. This dish tastes great with the tahini sauce.

dino kale
chop, steam greens in a steamer basket, add a little sea salt and a squeeze of lemon

tahini scallion dressing
buy good quality tahini, blend with a little water chopped scallion and some ume vinegar- to desired taste.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

locally grown foods taste like they should!

Today I was reminded of the gift of fresh food. On my way back from an audition in L.A. traffic today, I just had to eat something. I was in bumper to bumper traffic on La Cienega blvd, and the only place that dotted almost every other block was Starbucks. I stopped for some roasted cashews, and went on my way. They seriously tasted like bland salty cardboard. God knows how old they were, completely devoid of their vitality. I started thinking about the miles these cashews probably traveled, the amount of fuel that it took to get them to Starbucks' all over America, and it solidified my desire for all foods local. The larger supermarkets that most of us shop at, provide us with a meal in which our food has traveled 1,500 miles or more! At a weekly play date this morning at the park, other moms and I were talking about how nice it would be to have a vegetable garden, how economical, how fresh, and convenient. Our local farmers market only has a couple of organic stands (certified and non-certified), and although Southern California grown, still not that local. My rooftop garden in currently in progress...
We are lucky to be able to share in the abundance of delicious foods all over the world, but I think we sometimes our need for the exotic makes us take for granted the energy it takes to have, say, strawberries in winter, mango and pineapple, and of course many other foods that travel miles from all over the globe. Obviously it may be very difficult to eat entirely locally, depending on your lifestyle and where you live, but if you can't grow your own food, it is easy enough to look out for the labels at the supermarket-supporting our local farmers, and eating foods that keep us in harmony with the earth around us. Please feel free to comment on any other input, statistics, or thoughts you have about this topic!

Monday, October 5, 2009

a decadent dessert for a very special occasion...




Vegan Carrot Cake!


This past Sunday, Sylvie had a 1st birthday party at the park with her baby-toddler-kid-friends and their parents. I had planned on making an Apricot Couscous cake, which is a classic macrobiotic favorite, (and rightly so), it really is good. The apricot couscous cake, (which I will make later on this week), is something you could have rather often, and feel good about.
This birthday cake I made, was certainly more wholesome than a standard store bought cake, but definitely a treat too. You will not find it in any traditional macro cookbooks, as it does contain sugar. But remember, the essence of macrobiotics is about freedom. You can eat whatever you want, as you know your way back to balance. Sylvie's birthday is a day to be free!!
The original recipe is from a vegetarian website, but after reading the comments from people who had made it, I revised the recipe, and also chose to use whole wheat flour, instead of the suggested white flour. It was as moist as any carrot cake should be, full of flavor, and sweet but not too sweet. I usually like to cook very very simply, with only a few ingredients, so this was a bit of a stretch for me. I don't own a blender, just a mini baby food blender, so Ryan and I mixed it all by hand. We put an immense amount of love into the cake...which is probably why it turned out So Good! I doubled this recipe and had two medium cakes. Can you tell what the decorative greenery is made of? Carrot tops!

Vegan Carrot Cake- (I used organic ingredients wherever I could)
2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup light brown cane sugar
3/4 c spiced applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup safflower oil
2 cups finely grated carrots
1 can (about 14 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup shredded coconut
handful of raisins
Faux Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8 oz package of vegan cream cheese
1/3 cup vegan soy margarine (like Earth Balance), softened.
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups vegan powdered sugar
directions:
preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, spice, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, mix sugar and applesauce until creamy, add vanilla, then add oil. Mix wet and dry ingredients together and add carrots, pineapple, and coconut. Grease pan. Smooth batter into pan. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Be sure to let the cake adequately cool before frosting.
faux Cream Cheese Frosting recipe: Beat cream cheese and margarine. Add vanilla, then add powdered sugar. Mix.




Saturday, October 3, 2009

chilly fall morning-soft rice and squash breakfast


I always have a leftover grain to use for a lunch stir fry, rice balls, even breakfast. Sometimes it's barley, sometimes quinoa, sometimes oats. This morning it was brown rice. I also had some kabocha squash and onions left over from my squash soup...so I decided to make it for breakfast. I was up at 5am, and crept out of the room, careful not to disturb the baby, who seems to make her way into our bed halfway through the night, inching her way over until Ryan, the cat and I are almost falling off the bed. Finally, it's beginning to feel like a chilly fall morning, my feet are cold, and I want a hot cup of tea.
Making soft rice is so easy, just put the leftover rice in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and then cook on low for about 40 min, till the rice is soft. I like using this time to stretch or check facebook, (oops did I say facebook?), uh, I meant do yoga; It's hard to update your status and do sun salutations at the same time, so keep the computer turned off:) The house warms up,a gentle sweet rice smell wafting all the way upstairs and waking Ryan, just in time for daddy to keep the baby from toppling over the bed rail, guard his nipples from sylvie's pinching fingers, or do the dishes. The kabocha squash melts into the rice, giving it a peachy- orange color. Garnish with a little purply shiso leaf condiment, scallion, or nori strips, and you've got a delicious autumn breakfast. Not to mention, Sylvie ADORED it, as it's nice and sweet.
If only there were a pile of leaves outside to jump in, but alas not here. As non-seasonal L.A is, I find that eating locally and seasonally really connects me to what is really going on around me, and reminds me that there is still a cycle of transformation happening, as subtle as it is.

tangy tempeh sandwich

tempeh sandwiches are a savory treat, that are simple, high in protein, and energizing.
I like mine with a little raw, organic, cheddar from happy cows of course! Or you can try a little tomato or avocado.


Here are the basic ingredients:

toasted sesame oil
tempeh ( slice lengthwise down the middle)
braggs aminos or shoyu
whole wheat sourdough bread
sauerkraut, homemade or of good quality
romaine lettuce
stoneground mustard


Heat a little oil in a skillet. Fry the tempeh on med-high heat for 1-2 minutes each side. Lower heat to med-low and add enough water to cover tempeh halfway. Season with a little shoyu or braggs. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Simmering the tempeh really softens it and brings out it's flavor. Spread a thin layer of mustard on both slices of bread. Top with tempeh, sauerkraut to your liking, and lettuce. Serve warm. I enjoyed this with pureed squash soup, and a side of leafy greens.


Macro food facts:
-tempeh is a staple food in Indonesia
-Rich in B12 (if unpasteurized), protein, and omega 3's
-made from fermented soybeans and grains
-digests well
-very appealing for those in transition from eating meat
-restores energy and vitality

Friday, October 2, 2009

gingery-kabocha squash pureed soup


It's been a long week. Sylvie's 1st birthday, auditions, tutoring, bracelet making. I haven't posted a recipe in a few days...and I have enough followers now to suspect that I may have been missed...maybe?:)

I had enough of rice balls, lara bars, fruit, trail mix, salad and noodles...all the quick foods I eat when I don't have time to cook. After a long week though, I wanted something warming but not too elaborate...Tangy tempeh sandwich, steamed kale with a light dressing, and gingery squash soup...and of course a cold local amber ale to relax!


Here's what you'll need for the soup: Serves 2-3

a medium kabocha squash, organic and washed. There is a variety of squash called the hokkiado pumpkin, that may also be used. It is similar, and also delicious. Make sure the rind is free of soft spots or cracks.
grated fresh ginger
sea salt
pepper
1 medium onion-diced
sprig of parsley

Kabocha Squash is probably my favorite squash. It's rich, creamy, and naturally very sweet. Medicinally it is very calming and soothing to the body, especially to the spleen, pancreas, and stomach.
Cut the kabocha in half with a large sharp knife. (I needed help, this squash is tough). Put half away or cook for another meal, and remove the seeds from the other half. The seeds may be saved for roasting separately if you like. Cut up into medium chunks, leaving the skin on. The skin is edible and nutritious. and of course soft when cooked! Bring to a boil in a pot, reduce to med low, and simmer for about 10 minutes. After the first 5 minutes add diced onion. Puree squash and onion in a blender, add grated ginger, pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Puree till creamy. Garnish with a sprig of parsley.
Don't forget to experiment. Squash soup can be made with miso, with a grain such as millet or rice, garnished with scallion, any other ideas? Let me know!
Macro Food Facts:
-Fresh winter squash keeps for about a month at room temperature.
-It is an excellent source of both vitamin A and potassium, complex carbohydrates, and beta carotene-an antixodant.
-Winter squash is soothing for digestive problems.



Sunday, September 27, 2009

A basic macro meal


Steamed Kale
Short grain Brown Rice
Pinto Beans
Pickled Daikon
Creamy Tofu Sauce
So simple to make, and so good for you.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Real Food Daily

I had an audition today. On a Saturday. To celebrate how well it went, (no known outcome yet), we couldn't help stopping at one of most loved restaurants on the way down La Cienega blvd-Real Food Daily in West Hollywood realfood.com, as we headed home to the beach.

Sylvie was wincing in the back seat and I couldn't help dreaming of mint carob cookies so Ryan quickly veered down a side street, (not too quickly) to locate my secret un-metered parking spot that I remembered back in the days when I used to work at RFD.

Real Food Daily is more down to earth than I remember these days, sporting a Feng Shui kind of vibe. It was hard to get cozy with a 12 month old trying to pour sesame salt in my kukicha tea, and pilfer nachos from the adjacent table, but the new kids menu reminded me that she was indeed welcome.

Ryan had a tempeh reuben sandwich, myself the basic 3-choosing seitan with vegetarian gravy, arame sea vegetables, and the house salad, and Sylvie had a fairly large meal off of the kids menu-veggies, potato, lentils and cashew cheese sauce, with a kids cup of rice milk.

I never remember RFD feeling this laid back and kid-friendly before, it seemed as though when I used to work there, it was full of dieting waifish supermodel types, and neurotic foodies, "Um excuse me, how many calories are in the sea vegetables?", and my personal favorite, "I'm allergic to ice".

Maybe since macrobiotics and vegetarianism in general -even veganism, have all become somewhat mainstream, RFD is attracting a well rounded bunch of people, including families with children. So...I overall recommend it.

Ann Gentry's creations are really one of a kind. The desserts are stupendous, and all sweetened with either maple syrup, fruit juice or agave nectar, everything is organic, the service is prompt, and the salisbury seitan will leave you craving more. We ended up spending more than we wanted to spend, but sometimes celebration trumps frugality.

vegan miso pesto sauce


This is seriously scrumptious.

Makes 1 cup.

You will need:

1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh parsley- de-stemmed
3 tbsp sweet white miso
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup raw pine nuts
1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Lightly roast pine nuts. Combine all in a blender or food processor.

Serve over homemade pizza, or whole grain pasta.

Picture to follow!

Friday, September 25, 2009

macrobiotics-the yin and yang of food part 3

"You could say that cooking is what separates
man from beast, as it developed as an art along with culture. To master the art of cooking-to choose the right kinds of foods, and to combine them properly-is to master the art of life, for the greatness and destiny of all people reflect and are limited by the quality of their daily food." ~Michio Kushi

Yin attracts Yang and Yang attracts Ying:

Grain and vegetable based meals provide:

-Steady Energy
-Fewer Cravings
-Less dramatic moods

Sugar and caffeine can space you out leading to cravings for meat, cheese, and salt, leading you to more chocolate, sugar, alcohol... and on..and on..extreme yin foods attract extreme yang foods...

Symptoms of eating too Yin:
(sugar, alcohol, fruit...)

PHYSICAL:

dull aches and pains
moist conditions (runny nose, loose bowels)
feeling chilled
fatigue
bruising easily

EMOTIONAL:

spaced out, dreamy
confused, forgetful
worried, sad
overly sensitive
fearful
hyperactive
hysterical

Symptoms of eating too Yang:
(salt, meat, cheese...)

PHYSICAL:

sudden sharp pains
dry conditions (dry skin, constipation)
high fever
muscle tension
grinding teeth

EMOTIONAL:

impatient
stubborn
resentful
stuck
insensitive
compulsive
controlling
angry

Adapted from The Self-Healing Cookbook by Kristina Turner and
The Book of Macrobiotics by Michio Kushi

macrobiotics- the yin and yang of food-part 2

Okay...So this is the info you've all been waiting for.

What are the extreme yin and extreme yang foods specifically for a temperate climate? Which foods are suggested for daily balance in a temperate climate?

Yin to Yang Foods

Alcohol
Processed and Chemically enhanced foods
Sugar and Coffee
Honey and Spices
Butter and Oil
Tropical fruits
Potato and tomato
Local Fruit and Nuts
Leafy greens and Seeds
Roots and Winter Squash
Beans and Sea vegetables
Whole Grains
Fish
Poultry
Cheese
Red Meat
Miso and Tamari
Eggs
Salt

As you can see, the foods in the middle are neither extremely expansive, such as alcohol (relaxing, un-grounding) or extremely contractive, red meat (tensing, grounding).

That's why the basic macrobiotic diet consists of whole grains, vegetables, (leafy, round and root), sea vegetables, beans, seeds nuts and fruit. These foods provide us with the most balanced physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy.

Once we know this we can food becomes powerful, we can "play" with our food, and create the life we want...

These basic foods are the traditional foods that protected our ancestors from many of the degenerative disorders that we suffer from today. Throughout the world, vegetables, beans and grains have been the staples of the traditional diet. In general, animal proteins, including meat, eggs, and dairy products, were used much less frequently than present, while people in temperate climates rarely ate products imported from the tropics.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

rice balls...perfect for a lunch box, road trip, or picnic


When I traveled across country, L.A to Massachusetts and back, both times I packed rice balls. I made enough for almost the whole journey. It beats trying to find healthy snacks at gas stations in the mid west. Rice balls are easy to make, fun to eat, filling, and chock full of minerals. They are perfect for a camping trip, a quick breakfast, or a simple lunch. There is no need for plates or utensils to eat them, and they keep fresh for a few days without refrigeration.
The macrobiotic alternative to fast food!
You will need:
A package of nori
cooked brown rice
umeboshi plums, (make sure they are the pure kind that do not have red coloring, they should be a pale pink color)
Roll a ball of rice like a snowball. Pack it tight. You may need to dampen your hands slightly to make a ball.
Press a hole in the center with your thumb and place a small piece of umeboshi inside. Then close the hole and press the ball together until it is solid.
Set down the rice ball and wipe off or wash any remaining grains of rice from your hands. Fold a piece of nori in half, and then tear along that line. Slightly dampen your hands. Take the first half of nori and wrap around the rice ball, the shiny side facing out; do the snowball roll again to stick it on to the rice. Dampen hands again slightly and repeat with the other half of the sheet, completely covering the rice ball.
This may take a little practice at first, but you'll quickly catch on!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

macrobiotics in the fall

Macrobiotic cooking in the fall is probably my favorite. I love root vegetables, and stews, and there is no nicer way to adapt to the early darkening sky and cooler nights than returning home to be cozy and share a warm and seasonal meal.

Here are the guidelines:

-Local, Seasonal, Organic, as much as possible.
-The featured grain is millet.
-Round shaped vegetables, such as onions, squashes, and turnips. They have a wonderful naturally sweet taste when cooked.
-Contracted leafy greens, such as daikon, turnip, carrot tops, kale, and autumn fruits
-Richer, heartier dishes, and emphasis on bean stews, sauteed vegetables, grain stews, soups.
-Longer cooking time.
-A little more oil and salt
-Fewer raw foods.
-Vegetables cut in larger sizes

Monday, September 21, 2009

apple spice kanten


It's almost the fall equinox, but here in Southern California we are in the middle of a heat wave. It's not quite time to break out the rolling pin and start an apple crumble, none the less, today I was feeling a mildly festive and decided to welcome autumn in with some apple spice in the form of a light and cooling dessert.
Kanten or Agar agar is a gelatin substitute often used in making macrobiotic sweets. Gelatin is made from the collagen in boiled animal bones. Agar Agar on the other hand is derived from sea vegetables.
Which one would you prefer?

This is simple to make. Feel free to get creative with it. Berry Kanten would be superb too.

Macro Food Fact: Agar agar provides good bulk for regulating the intestines, and it contains zero calories.


Apple Spice Kanten
serves 4

3 cups apple cider
1/4 cup agar flakes (Whole Foods or Japanese Market)
1 cinnamon stick
3 crushed clove buds
2 tbsp coconut milk
2 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
2 small apples (if you like, choose different varieties for a festive look)
ground cinnamon for garnish
sprig of mint

1. Pour apple cider and agar flakes into a small saucepan, let sit 10 min.
2. Add cinnamon stick and clove buds. Over a low flame, slowly bring to a boil, whisking several times. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes more.
3. Remove cinnamon stick. Add coconut milk and agave nectar. Stir well. Turn off heat.
4. Evenly distribute apples into 4 small glass bowls. Ladle hot cider on top of apples, filling bowls about 1/2 full.
5. When steam is no longer rising from the bowls, place them in refrigerator to firm up, about 30-40 minutes.
6. garnish with some cinnamon and a sprig of mint.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

macrobiotics- the yin and yang of food- part 1

When we apply yin and yang philosophy to food, this is what we get:

Expansive Foods (YIN) are:

light, porous
grow upwards
perishable
grow in a warm climate
tender, juicy
cool, wet
raw
sweet, sour, or bitter
spicy or oily
chemically processed

They encourage mental, psychological, or spiritual activity, relaxation, looseness in our body.

Contractive Foods (YANG) are:

dense, heavy
grow downwards
keep well
grow in a cool climate
tough, fibrous
warm, dry
cooked
salty, bland, or meaty


They encourage physical activity, purposefulness, focused work, tension in our body.


Friday, September 18, 2009

What the heck is macrobiotics? yin and yang


The two forces that govern our universe according to macrobiotics are yin and yang. This philosophy that is the basis of macrobiotics is to be found in Zen Buddhism, ancient Oriental medicine and the I Ching. All life on earth is busy balancing these two complementary opposites of expansion and contraction; yin and yang. Contraction holds our bodies together, in a dense compact mass. Gravity is the strongest contractive force. It is yang. Expansive forces, such a s centrifugality, pull against gravity to create the atmosphere all around us, enabling us to breathe, move around, think and feel. Centrifugality is yin. Day/Night, Male/Female, Hot/Cold, Active/Calm. All life is made up of this complementary opposite energy that is forever changing into one another. Food can also be looked at as yin and yang. Knowing the yin-yang factor in food helps us to maintain balance within ourselves, and stay in good health.

ooh la la-FREE! organic mascara for the ladies


So i've been eying this mascara for a while now. It has a quality that's part tree nymph/part tinkerbell/part junior high. I've been waiting for my boring mascara to run out so that I can have an excuse to buy it. The day came. I visited my local rite aid, and noticed that some of the boxes have a fuschia, "try me free" sticker on them. Figuring there was probably some kind of catch, I bought the stickered one anyway. Well, there isn't a catch. If you go on onto http://www.physiciansformula.com you can get your entire $10 back! A sweet deal. The best part is, it is organic, cruelty free, recyclable, and it smells terrific. Oh and it works and doesn't clump too. In fact it has orange water, aloe, cucumber, rice protein, and olive oil in it.

FYI: Keep away from toddling youngsters -they have some sort of magnetic pull towards it. Mine ended up in the bathtub this morning.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Yummiest Late Summer Vegan Corn Chowder EVER.


Okay...I'm really pleased with this one. This is something that everyone will love...carnivore or herbivore. You know how when people are ill they are always told to eat chicken noodle soup? Well I've never eaten chicken noodle soup...but I think this soup would have exactly the same benefits.

About a year ago, upon the arrival of Sylvie, Moms' at the fabulous school I used to teach at, signed up to bring me 6 weeks worth of dinner every Wednesday. This was the BEST baby gift ever. Seriously, if someone in your neighborhood or community is having a baby, as far as I'm concerned skip the balloons and flowers, good, healthy food is the best gift you can give. When you are sleep deprived, and nursing, and have no time to do dishes...food is a god-send.

This dish was prepared for me by a friend, I fell in love with it and HAD to have the recipe. Well it's been a busy year, and I've finally made this soup. It won't be the last time.

Macro Food Fact: In Macrobiotic cooking, locally grown, seasonal vegetables are important because they help you adapt to your surroundings by subtly connecting you to the rhythm of the seasons. Corn is a highly recommended grain for summer. More expansive vegetables such as leaf lettuce, corn on the cob, green beans, cucumber, and summer squash, have a high water content that enables them to thrive in the heat. We stay cool by emphasizing these foods in our summer diet.



Late Summer Vegan Corn Chowder

Adapted from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

I close to doubled this recipe and made enough for about 6-8 servings. I recommend making lots and lots...

You will need:

1 medium potato with the skin on and diced into small chunks
2 1/2 cups of water. (I ended up adding more as it boiled down, so use your intuition)
1 tablespoon earth balance
1 1/2 cups minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 medium stalk celery, finely minced
1 small red bell pepper, finely minced
5 cups (approximately 4 to 5 cobs' worth) fresh sweet corn or a 1lb of frozen sweet corn. Buy corn Organic! ( I did the frozen option this time as Sylvie was on my back with a fever during this cooking process and I had limited time-it was still fabulous)
pepper to taste
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil (or more, to taste). I used green and purple ruffle basil. This made it extra pretty.
1 cup unsweetened soy milk

Okay now that you are dreamily humming Simon and Garfunkel while you cook...Oh wait you are probably not as nerdy as I am. "Are you going to Scarborough fair, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme!" I was just seriously excited about cooking with a new herb. I've never ever cooked with thyme before. it's absolutely lovely, reminiscent of an English garden, and it makes this dish what it is...

Place the potatoes and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a medium sized pot. Add the onion, thyme, and salt, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring. After about 5 minutes, add celery. Five minutes later add this mixture to the cooked potatoes with all their liquid, the red bell pepper, the corn, and a few shakes of white pepper. Stir well, cover, and reduce heat. Cook on low for about 5 minutes longer.
Using a blender or food processor, puree about half the soup in some of its own liquid. Return this to the pot, and let it rest until serving time.
Stir in the soy milk about 10 minutes before serving time. Don't actually cook the soup any further; simply heat it--gently!-- until it's hot enough to eat. Serve immediately. Garnish with basil, and more seasoning if necessary.


I think this would make a meal with some sourdough rolls and a simple green salad!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

carrot tops? you mean I can eat them?

When we think of Carrots, we think of the orange part, right? Well what about the top? The top of the carrot isn't just for pulling the good part out of the ground. In Macrobiotic theory it is more balanced to eat the whole carrot. The root is more yang and strengthening to the body, the tops more yin-uplifting and relaxing. Traditionally carrots support the lungs, and tonify the kidneys. They support elimination, lower blood sugar, purify the blood, and are a rich source of vitamin A. If you are lucky you can find complete carrots at your farmers market or natural food store. I've been guilty of throwing this irritating greenery away. After all, it doesn't really fit in my grocery bag without a little struggle, fills up the fridge, and typically needs a good wash. But, I've been cooking it again. Carrot greens have a strong taste like parsley. As bitter as it is -raw, Aveline Kushi has a simple recipe in her book that ameliorates the bitterness. I served this the other as a small side dish, along side a richer pasta dish. I got two thumbs up. Not to mention...

~The ancient Greek word for carrot, philon, comes from the word "love"-as this root was considered an aphrodisiac~

Here's Aveline's recipe:

Remove and discard the fibrous stem
Do not use salt- salt brings out the bitterness
You will need:

1 bunch carrot tops
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1-2 teaspoons of tamari soy sauce

Wash the carrot tops and chop them fine
Dry roast the seeds in a frying pan
Put the roasted seeds in a suribaci or mortar and pestle and grind until about half crushed, adding a little tamari. The taste should not be salty. Quickly saute' carrots tops in a little olive oil for about 3-4 minutes. Add to the crushed seeds and mix.

nijiya market


I've been to quite a few Japanese markets from Boston to New York to L.A. Today I found my favorite. Macrobiotics began as a definitive philosophy by George Ohsawa in Japan, and so miso, shoyu, umeboshi plums, burdock root, daikon and other Japanese foods, known for their health supporting properties are often found in macrobiotic cookbooks. I usually get the few identifiable things I know, fresh produce, cute hello kitty band aids, sea vegetables avoiding anything in packaging. As good as it looks, I try to avoid msg and any other ingredient I can't pronounce.

Then came my Japanese friend Mai. Today she gave me a tour of a store minutes from me that I knew nothing about-Nijiya Market purveyor of healthy and gourmet Japanese foods http://www.nijiya.com. Mai can read the labels. I left with products that I thought I could only order online. Nijiya sells organic produce, that comes from their own farm! There is a hot deli, where Sylvie and I shared a $1.50 mouthwatering vegetable croquette covered in crispy breadcrumbs that you dip in a fruity sauce.
We left more than content, bags filled with dried tofu, shitake mushrooms, quality miso, and adorable snacks for Sylvie featuring dancing broccoli and squash characters on the packaging. Thank you sweet Mai for sharing with me!

what the heck is macrobiotics?? -intro

Sometimes I tell people that I went to macrobiotic cooking school and they say, "OH, you're a microbiologist?" No, not quite. Macrobiotics was popular in the 60's and 70's, and was the catalyst for the natural, organic foods movement and alternative and complementary medicine in the United States. Recently it has had a resurgence. Restaurants and cafes are popping up, books are being written, and ex-devotees to the Atkins diet are realizing the value in whole grains once more. Macrobiotics is more of a philosophy than a diet. Instead of guiding us on what not to eat, it opens us up to the abundance of foods we can eat. It provides us with balanced guidelines, and warns us of extremes, without actually forbidding anything. "Macro" means large and "bio" means life. It is the art of creating a big life-a rich, full, exciting, healthy life. As Jessica Porter puts it in, "The Hip Chick's guide to Macrobiotics", it is about tuning into the universe and being in harmony with it. It begins by understanding the grand forces that govern us-the pulse of the universe. The universe expands and contracts. Whatever you call this force, we are all products of this active, pulsing creation. Our hearts beat, our lungs fill and empty, and our pupils dilate and contract. As we live in harmony with the pulse around us, we become more graceful, happy, and free...