Macrobiotic Kitchen Makeover
23 September 2015
M A C R O B I O T I C S
Definition: lifestyle consisting of or relating to a diet of organic wholefoods which is based on Buddhist principles of the balance of yin and yang. Literally translated it means nothing else than 'Big' (macro) 'Life' (bio).
About: Foods are to be consumed as whole as possible - meaning least possible processing & refining. Example: Instead of Pasta & Bread - whole grains are soaked & boiled to be eaten as porridges or main dishes. Grains make up 40-60% of the diet, complemented by vegetables - making the macrobiotic diet a carb based one. Fruits, Seeds, Diary, Fish and Meat are not forbidden - but should only be consumed occasionally (from couple of times a week to few times a month - see charts).
The Key preparation method of macrobiotic eating is Soaking(!) grains, seeds and nuts in water (for couple of hours or best overnight) before using them in your recipes. Soaking serves a variety of purposes - in reduces cooking times, increases the flavours, and activated the full nutritional profile of the seed/nut/grain. Macrobiotic eaters often speak of 'making the ingredient become alive' or of 'activating the ingredient.' Of course your cashew nut is not going to become alive and swim around the bowl - but it will be softer, more flavourful and easier to work with.
A second Key element is to not use most oils if you decide to fry your food - yep... no Olive Oil to pan fry that Pepper!
WHY? Olive Oil may be high in healthy complex fats - which get destroyed however by heat. If you wish to benefit from the health factor of Olive Oil (and other Oils) you should consume them cold. A few drops of cold pressed olive oil over your salad will do just the trick. The only oil recommended for heating in macrobiotic cooking is coconut oil - which is heat resistent, or (for occasional use only) butter & animal fats because they too are heat resistent and will not transform into unhealthy harmful compounds. Coconut Oil can also be purchased to be free of flavour - so you can use it for panfrying even when you do not want that distinguished taste of coconut in your food.
Preparing your Kitchen:
Getting your Kitchen ready for a macrobiotic lifestyle is not as complicated as you might think! For me, all it took was a Trip to Ikea, Al Natura, an order from NU3 - as well as of course fresh organic market ingredients & my kitchen was set.
The only 'major' Kitchen Appliance you'd need to invest in is a good blender - fortunately I already had a great one. I use FRXSH which is powerful enough to blend even Ice Cubes or raw Ginger & Carrots and soaked nuts. I use it to puree my Soups, and to make my Smoothies, Acai Bowls or Icecream. I blend my Almonds with it to make almond milk. Or I can blend Avocado or soaked Cashew Nuts to create that lovely Vegan 'creamcheese.' It also acts as a food processor helping me create the crusts for my raw vegan cakes. You can find this Blender here: http://www.frxsh.com/
Some macrobiotic recipe's involve using a dehydrator aswell, which I did not aquire - I just used my regular oven instead which worked fine to bake Kale Chips or Cookies & Mueslibars.
Pots for growing fresh herbs
plenty of sealable glass jars in different sizes & tupperware (for storage & soaking)
Variety of sieves in different sizes (for filtering)
Freezer & Oven proof Pans in different sizes for freezing & baking
A variety of graters to grate Apples, Lemonzests, fresh Ginger or to thinly slice vegetables
Shopping List Food:
The Base is built by a variety of Grains - such as Buckwheat, Millet, Bulgur
Get the Grains that you personally like or feel like trying. Get some Seeds & Nuts aswell. I got Goji Berries, Cashew, Almonds, Raisins, Sunflower & Pumpkin Seeds, Lentils, Quinoa, Chia, natural Brown Rice & the Grains that you see below.
My favourite Grains so far are Buckwheat & Millet
Fresh Ingredients are very important aswell. Try to buy Vegetables seasonal, organic and locally grown using the tables of which vegetables are suitable. Macrobiotic eating means using less of exotic fruits and imported food - meaning depending on where (& in which climate) you live your diet will be a bit different. This is part of the ethical aspect which is included in the philosophy of the lifestyle & of course you are completely free on how much you want to utilize it.
Kitchen Tipp: growing your own Fresh Herbs - Macrobiotics also focuses on using fresh ingredients rather than dried & processed ones. Meaning instead of buying dried basil for seasoning, its better to grow it fresh in your kitchen. I'm growing my favourite herbs such as rosemary, peppermint, sage, parsley & basil in little pots in my kitchen. They are easy to take care of & I keep rebuying them every couple of weeks anyways because I eat them faster than they grow. You can buy them at most supermarkets nowadays - so its really simple to keep those in your kitchen & they will improve the quality of your cooking remarkably once you start using them.
Kitchen Tipp: Storage - If you like to start experimenting with this way of eating this does not mean you need to throw out everything else which would be 'unsuitable' for this lifestyle. I did not - I still have all my Pasta & regular flours stacked in my cupboards!
Instead I just brought all the Ingredients that I DID want to use to the front, showing them in the open cupboard and the front of my shelves to encourage myself to use them. This is a very effective way of teaching yourself to eat healthier - just make sure that the healthy foods are MORE VISIBLE - & your cheat bars of chocolates are hidden away in the back or high out of reach ;)
So this is how I prepared my Kitchen - super simple!
Below I am going to share my favourite Recipe's I have discovered during the last 2 weeks of trying this way of eating myself. These Recipe's are all fully vegan, but of course you can add meat, fish or diary if you prefer.
< S I M P L E R E C I P E S >
Carrot Cake Porridge:
Such a great, simple breakfast recipe! It tastes like a carrot cake in a bowl & I am a bit addicted to it at the moment - I feel like eating it daily!
Super easy to prepare too - here is how:
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup oats
- (optional) 2 tablespoons of millet
- 1 cup grated carrots (about 2 large carrots)
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ground almonds
- soaked goji berries & mulberries
- ¼ teaspoon ground fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- shreds of Coconut
- 1½ tablespoon grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 or more tablespoons maple syrup (or agave nectar)
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the oats, (optional millet), carrots, goji, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Bring the mixture back to boil, then decrease the heat to low and partially cover the pot.
- Cook the porridge, without stirring, until it begins to thicken and the oats are soft yet chewy. Check the oat's texture by stirring them after 20 minutes of cooking (it might need a few more minutes of cooking).
- Remove from heat and stir in the coconut flakes, orange zest and vanilla. Add maple syrup (or agave), to taste. Coverandlet the oatmeal rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Topp with more Goji, Walnuts & Coconut - whatever is available & serve!
Tipp: you can store the leftover porridge easily in the fridge & eat the next day. Mine tasted even more delicious the day after!
Buckwheat with Pesto:
This recipe really surprised me - it sounds healthy, looks healthy - but its also super tasty and very simple to make. Cooking the Buckwheat is just as simple as cooking any other pasta - the only thing you need to do ideally is to prepare it by soaking it beforehand. You can cook the buckwheat without soaking but it will just require more cooking time.
Buckwheat: The portion you see in these pictures contains exactly 60g of dried buckwheat and it was a single portion for me for lunch. I soaked it in water & rinsed the water off before boiling it for 25 minutes just like a pasta together with a pinch of salt & 1 teaspoon full of fresh ground lemon zest.
Vegan Sunflower Seed Pesto: Making fresh Basil Pesto is an amazing process - because crushing the fresh basil leaves in the Mortar sets free the precious essential oils it contains - filling the whole room with its amazing scent. It seems almost a shame to buy it dead & dried up in a glass and sprinkle it over your tomato sauce! Basil is a true superfoodfood, containing many healing qualities - used traditionally in Aryuvedic medicine. Basil is a natural antidepressant, stimulant, has potent antiviral and antimicrobial properties and can ease cramps and tensions. Of course these properties are only found in the living plant - not in a processed shadow of it.
Ingredients: The traditional Basil Pesto is made using Parmigiano and Pinia Seeds as well as Olive Oil. To make it Vegan I swapped some ingredients to achieve a different taste to complement the buckwheat. Instead of Pinia I used sunflower seeds (which I soaked aswell separately from the buckwheat in advance) and the parmigiano I replaced with tahini & almond cream. Instead of Olive Oil I used Moringa Oil. Mix these ingredients together with a lot of fresh basil, lemon zest and fresh garlic in the mortar until creamy. Top the buckwheat with it and serve directly. Do not unnecessarily heat the pesto - because the flavours of the basil get destroyed by the heat & loose their power & intensity.
Kitchen Tipp: When grating lemons place the grater inside just a right sized tupperware (you can find those at IKEA too) for more stability and to catch all of the grated peels. Otherwise grating can be quite messy. Be sure to clean the grater well before reusing it!
This recipe is the easiest one & great for beginners. Its an amazing healthy alternative to fatty fried Potato Chips & makes an excellent Movie Snack!
Just buy some fresh large Kale leaves - wash them & rip them into bite sized pieces per hand. Then marinate them in a bown (best by just using your hands) with salt, pepper, a fruit vinegar or balsamico, oil (I used pistachio oil), lemon juice & one teaspoon full of agave sirup - mix well and spread them on a baking foil.
Throw into the oven at 180degree Celsius for 10-15 minutes. This is the only crucial part - its best to set your alarm for 10 minutes and then to just sit 5 minutes by the oven & keep checking on them - because they burn REALLY quick & baking time can be a bit unpredictable!
Et voila! If you catch them at the right time they are super super crunchy - outperforming any store bought potato chips by FAR.
You can enjoy these healthy chips as a snack or use them to decorate and top other dishes such as soups, or crush them and sprinkle them on top of salads.
Raw Vegan Avocado Berry Tart:
Honestly I expected this recipe to fail - creating that creamy fudgy consistency using only avocado & lime & berry juice without any Agar Agar & without baking seemed impossible to me. I had watched the Chef at Top Hill Retreats doing such a recipe - but I was certain it must take lots of practice to master! I was extremely suprised when I succeeded at the first go, in both consistency & in taste aswell. I took a little twist on the recipe creating a 'Coconut Avocado Berry Lime' Tart instead of the Coconut Avocado Lime Version I saw at Top Hill. The recipe was exactly the same except that I added some Red Currants & Beetroot Juice to my mixture!
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
½ cup chopped Cashews
½ cup dates (about 12 dates) & around 4 dried prunes
1-2 teaspoons lime zest
1-2 teaspoons of almond cream
pinch of sea salt
2 avocados (about 1½ cups of avocado puree)
¼ cup of fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup coconut or agave nectar (or honey)
1 cup of red currants
1 Tablespoon of Beetroot Juice
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon lime zest
Process the crust ingredients (coconut, pecans, dates, lime zest and sea salt) in a food processor or mini chopper (I used my FRXSH Blender) until the dates have turned into sticky paste holding the crust ingredients together. Take mixture out of the blender and press evenly into pans. Place pans in freezer while you make the tart filling.
While the crust is setting in the freezer, blend ingredients for the filling (avocados, lime juice, agave, coconut oil and lime zest) in a high-speed blender or food processor until creamy.
Pour half the avocado filling over the crust in one pan and then pour the remaining filling over the crust in the second pan. Use a spoon to make sure the filling is even and smooth.
Place pans in the freezer to set up, at least 2 hours, but can be overnight. Take out of freezer, remove the springform pan, let sit out for 10-15 minutes, cut into slices and serve. The longer it sits out, the filling will soften and become more like pudding. Store any leftovers back in the freezer.
Kitchen Tipp: I found freeze proof glas pans at IKEA that come with a corresponding tupperware lid aswell - so once you remove your tart from the freezer you can just slip on its lid - making it easy to handle & you can even have it 'to go' without having any mess.
My Views on Macrobiotism -
Probably the best eating concept I have tested for my Blog so far. Atkins & Vegan diets are too radical for me. I cannot implement them as permanent lifestyles and I believe they are too restrictive. I absolutely encourage the use of less animal products in a diet - but I do not believe in "cutting out" anything which is not unhealthy.
I like the flexibility - working on reducing rather than abolishing any foods. As opposed to practically all other diets the macrobiotic approach to eating allows a large degree of individuality - the goal is to make your diet 'more macrobiotic' and therefore more healthy, rather than requiring a 'all or nothing' change to your lifestyle. I like fact that this lifestyle is a path, rather than a radical turnaround. I also liked the fact that this lifestyle goes beyond just 'which food you eat and how much' taking into consideration also the mindset and attitude given towards food and towards life. Following a Macrobiotic Lifestyle includes more than just following a certain Food Pyramid, or using certain techniques to prepare your food.
Here are some of the guidelines and Values that Macrobiotic Eaters should try to follow:
Enjoy eating and be thankful for your meals
Eat seasonal and local foods
Be mindful of quantity and quality
Avoid dietary extremes
Chew your food thoroughly
Reduce the volume of what you eat
Be responsible and admit faults
Discover life via personal experience
Develop your intuition
Respect all living beings
Be mindful of ecology
Practice economy of life
Have sense of humor
Perfect the art of living
Most of these Principles have been part of my life for quite some time now. I practive them regularly and I have always practiced my approach to food and life as holistically as possible.
CHANGES: What I did drastically change in my diet since discovering this lifestyle is the reduction of meat & fish and moving from a rather lowcarb diet to quite a high carb diet with 50% of my diet consisting now of complex carbohydrates coming from grains. I also cut down the amount of fruit I eat - replacing it with the grain. Vegetables I have always loved and eaten - so no changes there. I am going to continue with this lifestyle for an indefinite amount of time and just see what it feels like. I eat very intuitively - so no plans or guidelines. I enjoy the diet - so I am just going to see where that takes me.
This Post only gives very basic & limited insight & information into a very complex approach to eating. If you are curious to learn more I can recommend the book 'A Macrobiotic Way' by Michio Kushi for gaining a more in depth understanding of macrobiotism.