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Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.
Winter means snuggling up in front of a crackling fire, building snowmen on the lawn, and gathering family and friends together for a holiday meal. Imagine snowflakes falling softly, bright red berries on branches, aromatic herbs and seasonings, and warming soups and stews. Because the energy of winter slows down and turns inward, this is an ideal time to nourish your body deep inside and build up your immune system.
Seasonal cooking will help your body stay attuned to the order of the universe, becoming stronger and more resistant to illness. The key to achieving this balance is cooking according to the seasons. For example, in winter time, avoid eating cooling foods, like salads and frozen desserts. Instead, you want warming, strengthening dishes like the following recipe, which includes hardy winter greens.
Emerald Sauté with Cranberries and Pecans
This delicious side dish infuses rich flavor and color to any holiday meal. Bitter winter kale nourishes heart function and expands the heart’s capacity for love and joy. Rich in calcium and antioxidants, kale also protects against macular degeneration and osteoporosis.
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 teaspoons untoasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons spring water
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries, fruit juice sweetened
lemon juice, to taste
shoyu soy sauce, to taste
- In a skillet, sauté greens in oil 2 minutes.
- Add water. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered, 2 minutes.
- Season with lemon juice and shoyu. Garnish with chopped pecans and dried cranberries.
Food is not just about nutrition and calories—it’s also comprised of life force energy, related to the energy of the seasons, the time day, and your moods. When you balance your inner energy with external forces through seasonal cooking, you’ll not only have a stronger immune system, but also a more balanced life.
Want to increase intimacy in your relationship? Look no further than the food on your plate. The secret to boosting sexual vitality can be found in the healing powers of sea vegetables.
Mineral-rich sea vegetables are used in macrobiotics to strengthen the main conduit in the body, the spine. This allows universal energy to flow through the main energy centers, or “chakras,” that run up the center of the body – a simple, nutritional way to harmonize the reproductive organs and strengthen sexual vitality.
Sea vegetables have unique compounds that bind to toxins and remove them from the body, boosting overall health as well as sexual vitality. Wakame, for example, is good for the uterus and helps cleanse dairy congestion from the reproductive organs. Sea vegetables also keep blood vessels flexible and strengthen the cardiovascular system. This allows more love to flow in your relationship.
So, increase intimacy and sexual vitality by adding nutrition-packed sea veggies to soups, stews, and sautés. Use them in gravies, pickles, and beans. And use roasted sea veggies, like dulse for bacon flavor, and roasted nori for sushi. Here’s a simple recipe, using a mild tasting sea vegetable called arame:
Arame with Carrots and Red Onion
Arame nourishes the spleen, stomach, and pancreas and is especially good for female reproductive organs. Because it contains mannitol (a non-caloric sugar), this sea vegetable helps keep blood pressure and blood sugar levels balanced. For variety, include other vegetables, like green beans, corn, and beets.
1 medium red onion, half moons
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup arame, rinsed
1/2 cup carrots, matchsticks
1/4 cup spring water
1 tablespoon shoyu, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon mirin (rice wine), or to taste
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- In a frying pan, sauté onion in oil until translucent. Add arame on top of onions and carrots on top of arame. Add water and cover. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer 20 minutes. (If needed, add more water to prevent the pan from drying out.)
- Season with shoyu, stir, and continue to cook 2 minutes, uncovered.
- Season to taste with mirin. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
As the seasons unfold through the year, your energy shifts to mirror the natural rhythms around you. Spring freshness inspires the birth of creativity and the germination of seeds of ideas. Summer radiance turns these ideas and inspirations into action. In Fall, you are in a safe, productive state of mind, enjoying the harvest of your labors. Winter is a time for hibernation, a chance to let go of things that are wearing you down.
Including seasonal foods in your meal plan can help you live in harmony with this natural order. To celebrate the solstice, cornmeal pancakes is a perfect dish for an outdoor summer breakfast with loved ones. Upward, expansive energy of corn and other summer foods can help you develop more nurturing, loving relationships. Corn contains fire energy, which fuels the flame of passion in the heart, expanding its capacity to experience joy and love. Corn’s energy also balances the heart’s ability to regulate mental activities and relieve stress. This allows you to open your heart to give and receive love.
Summer Solstice Pancakes
Makes about 5 pancakes.
3/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup rice milk
1 tablespoon kuzu root starch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil plus 5 tablespoons olive oil
- Combine spelt flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cornmeal in a large bowl.
- Combine rice milk, kuzu, vanilla, brown rice syrup, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl.
- Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients until just mixed.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium heat.
- Pour three tablespoons batter onto hot skillet and cook until brown on bottom. Flip pancake over and brown other side. Remove pancake to plate.
- Repeat with remaining batter. Oil pan between pancakes to prevent sticking.
If a man be sensible and one fine morning, while he is lying in bed, count at the tips of his fingers how many things in this life truly will give him enjoyment, invariably he will find food is the first one.
Eat with the fingers, drink with the nose.
~Joseph Delteil, ‘La Cuisine paleolithique’ (1964)
In some countries, like India, the art of eating with your hands is viewed as a sensual experience. By involving as many of the senses as possible–sight, touch, smell, and taste–you not only deepen your relationship with food, you can also reconnect with your partner on a sensual level.
Next time you sit down to a meal with your partner make it “fingers only.” Reconnect with each other on a more intimate level by feeding each other healthy finger food. Here are three finger foods to romance your lover:
1. Sexy “finger food” includes desserts and elaborate fruits
- Vegan chocolate covered strawberries
- Peeled grapes
- Vegan coconut macaroons
- Chopped dates rolled into balls and covered in coconut
2. Healthy bite sized “finger food” includes appetizers and snacks
- Mushrooms stuffed with grain and nut pilaf
- Pita pizza baked with squash sauce and veggies
- Whole wheat crackers spread with walnut and roasted mushroom pate
- Greens rolls or sushi filled with grains and veggies
- Spring rolls and dumplings
- Bite sized tempeh sandwiches
3. Foods that are dipped into a savory sauce or dressing
- Veggies dipped in pumpkin seed sauce
- Spring salad greens dipped in vinaigrette
- Green or black olives dipped in hummus
This Valentine’s Day, design a romantic “lovers only” meal using finger foods. You will not only enrich your connection with your food, you will also nurture a more intimate relationship with your partner.
While sensuous aphrodisiacs like rose or chocolate take center stage on date night, twig-like burdock root has largely been ignored. Growing deep in the earth, burdock’s downward gathering energy nourishes the lower half of the body, including the reproductive organs. But unlike stimulants that activate the adrenals temporarily, burdock provides healing benefits that are long lasting. When your reproductive organs are healthy, so is your sex life.
Deeply strengthening to the intestines, kidneys, and reproductive organs, burdock root is also used in the macrobiotic diet to purify the blood and cleanse the liver. Its meaty flavor enhances sautes, stews, soups, and gravies. A traditional Japanese healing dish called kimpira uses braised burdock and carrot. Because it contains volatile oils, saute burdock a few minutes to allow oils to evaporate before adding burdock to a dish.
Burdock, Carrot, and Caramelized Red Onion Kimpira
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup burdock root, matchsticks
3/4 cup carrot, matchsticks
1 pinch sea salt
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add red onion and saute until caramelized. Remove onion from pan and set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and burdock and saute over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add carrots on top of burdock. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer 20 minutes, covered, or until vegetables are tender. Add water if necessary to prevent pan from drying out. Season with salt. Continue cooking, covered, 2 minutes. Remove cover and cook until water is evaporated. Top carrots and burdock with caramelized red onion.
Whether you are feeling lethargic or just want to improve your sex life, burdock is a natural way to increase youthful vitality in all the right places–without pills or surgery!
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
Imagine seeds sprouting in the earth, buds opening on branches, and bright yellow daffodils smiling in the sun. The air is light and refreshing, as life stirs and awakens to the dawn of spring. You can harmonize with this essence of spring by including foods with upward rising energy in your macrobiotic diet: wild plants, sprouts, fresh baby greens, lightly fermented foods, lentils, fresh peas, and grains like barley, wheat, oats, and rye. Cooking styles for spring also include light cooking such as blanching, quick saute, and light pickling.
Because the liver is the organ for spring, this time of year is ideal for cleansing the liver. Along with upward growing plants, sour flavor supports liver function in digesting fats that have accumulated during winter. You can nourish your liver by including sour condiments, such as sauerkraut and umeboshi plum. Or enhance your dishes with a splash of lemon juice or grated lemon peel (zest).
A colorful and delicious recipe that supports liver energy is Essence of Spring Salad. This refreshing salad highlights spring plants like sprouts, herbs, and edible flowers. Edible flowers were used for centuries by Roman, Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern cultures in cooking. Bring your garden indoors by adding edible flowers for color, flavor, and texture to your dishes. (Consult a reliable source to make sure they are edible before consuming.) Use fresh herbs to alleviate symptoms and improve physical and emotional well-being.
Essence of Spring Salad
You can include freshly-picked, delicate herbs like basil and tarragon. However, harder herbs such as rosemary, lavender, and savory have stronger flavor and are tougher to chew. Grated orange, lemon, or lime peel (zest) also adds color and flavor to your salad.
1/2 bunch organic flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup organic sprouts (kohlrabi, red cabbage, tatsoi, mizuna, & arugula)
1/2 cup sprouted beans (garbanzo, pea, aduki, & lentil)
2 medium scallions, sliced thin or 1/2 bunch chives, sliced thin
1/2 cup organic edible flowers (nasturtium, pansy, borage, or lavender)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt, to taste
In a bowl, add herbs, sprouts, and flowers. Whisk together dressing ingredients. Drizzle dressing over salad and serve.
Enjoy this salad at the end of a hearty meal to balance heavy energy, cleanse your palate, and aid digestion.
Imagine sitting in a citrus grove, the warm California sun beating down, and the smell of orange blossoms wafting in the breeze. This warming beverage will take you there.
Orange Peel Tea has been used for centuries by the Chinese for clearing out congestion in the lungs and large intestine. This brew is very helpful for soothing bloating, gas, nausea, or indigestion. It also improves blood and lymph circulation, promotes digestion, and eliminates excess fluid in the body. (If you were wondering about remedies for too much New Year’s Eve partying!)
Orange Peel Tea
1 tablespoon organic dried orange peel
2 cups spring water
- In a saucepan, add orange peel and water.
- Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer until one cup liquid remains.
- Drink one cup everyday until congestion clears.
Are you ready to snuggle up by the fire with a warm winter treat? Then you will want to try this holiday favorite.
Roasted Chestnuts are a fun and easy snack that satisfies your sweet tooth. They are a low-fat healthy alternative to candies and sweets usually served this time of year.
This recipe serves 1. If you have a group of 12 people, you’ll need 24. If it’s just you and your sweetheart, you’ll only need 4. The amount is up to you.
- Cut an X on the bottom of each chestnut.
- Place chestnuts in a shallow baking pan with the X pointing upward.
- Roast chestnuts in 425 degree F oven for 20 minutes.
- Peel and enjoy.
If you prefer the traditional approach, you can also roast chestnuts over an open fire. You will need a chestnut roasting pan and something to support the pan above the fire.
Even if Jack Frost isn’t nipping at your nose, this is still a great holiday treat.
Does your mouth water when you think of biting into a luscious pumpkin custard pie? Every Thanksgiving, I make this delectable dessert that entices guests back for more. Because I am so grateful for my friends, the secret ingredient in this divine pie is my loving intention to send them abundant blessings from the universe.
Divine Pumpkin Custard Pie
This recipe makes two delicious pies: one for your guests and one for yourself. Because it requires one day to set, make this recipe the day before serving. This is a creamy spicy filling.
2 cans pumpkin or 3 cups fresh cooked thick pumpkin puree (drain fresh cooked pumpkin several hours in cheesecloth until thick like canned pumpkin)
2 1/2 cups Eden Blend rice/soy milk
2 tablespoons molasses or barley malt syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup maple sugar
8 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 pie crusts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk wet ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Mix dry ingredients together in another large bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry and blend.
- Pour mixture into two pie crusts. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Refrigerate overnight until set.
Food provides more than necessary nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals) for healthy organ and immune functions. In macrobiotics, food is also important in maintaining overall energetic balance of the body, mind, emotions, and spirit.
Macrobiotics basically is about living in harmony with the natural order. For example, as each season unfolds, plants adjust to the energy of their environment. I also harmonize with each season by adjusting cooking styles and eating seasonal, locally grown, energetically balanced foods.
Autumn is a time of gathering the harvest and preparing for winter. Downward gathering, condensing energy of autumn manifests as rain, falling leaves, and cool crisp weather. Warming root stews, pressure cooked brown rice, and long cooked sautes are cooking styles I like to include in autumn.
One of my favorite autumn recipes is Curry Pumpkin Seed Sauce:
Curry Pumpkin Seed Sauce
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons chickpea miso or sweet white miso
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup spring water
- Blend all ingredients in a blender.
- Adjust thickness by adding more water.