Macrobiotics, commonly thought of as a diet, is a philosophy of life applied to food. It is a comprehensive approach to eating for longevity, which has enabled countless individuals to live a long and happy life. The basic premise of Macrobiotics is that there is a universal order that governs ALL life and ALL phenomena. This pattern is called the Order of the Universe, and its principles are based on the observations that:
1. The universe and everything in it are in a continual state of change.
2. There is an understandable order to this change.
3. We have only to understand and live in harmony with this order to ensure the health and the full development of each aspect of ourselves - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
4. Traditional religions, moral and ethical teachings, customs, myths, arts, and so on, represent regional interpretation of this order.
The Unifying Principle is the name given to the forces that govern this pattern of change. It is based on the complementary and opposite forces of the universe. ALL phenomena, from a pre-atomic particle to the motion and structure of distant galaxies, are governed, or kept in balance, by two opposite yet complementary tendencies or forces of yin (expanding) and yang (contracting).
Here in New England, the weather is constantly changing throughout the seasons. In a year's time, winter changes into spring, spring into summer, summer into fall, and fall into winter again. Likewise, the energy of climate changes seasonally from cold to mild to warm to hot to mild to cold again.
However, all is in balance, all is in harmony, with the changing of seasons all year long. The "yinizing" or expanding effect of the upward energy of spring - seen in the new flowers, the sprouting grasses, the buds of trees and other plants just starting to be green - then changes to the luscious water-filled green leaves of summer, then to the beautiful colors of autumn, to the dead "yangizing" brown barren leaves of winter. No thinking, just being.
These yinizing and yangizing tendencies are also found in the foods we eat. Our understanding of the energy of food, and eating in harmony with the changing seasons, is a way of Healthy Living. Our developing consciousness is our greatest asset as we determine which foods will keep us warm and which will keep us cool. There are various warming and cooling foods and various methods to make plant foods warming or cooling depending on the season and one's location.
During the springtime in New England, eating primarily cooked green vegetables, such as scallions, sprouts and watercress, pressure-cooked grains, such as brown rice and millet, short-time cooked stews, and light miso soups are an ideal way to stay warm and healthy. The upward expansive energy of foods that grow above the soil, that are sprouting in the spring and ready to eat, are the ideal refreshing spring foods for our health. When we select these foods, we can better adapt to the mildness of the spring weather.
Because of the wide variety of store-bought foods available to us, we need to be more conscious about choosing foods that are in harmony with the seasons and the environment. Locally grown foods are best.
Here are some recipes for an ideal spring meal:
Light Tamari Broth: This one is so easy, anyone can do it. Sauté one chopped green onion or scallion in sesame oil in an open saucepan. Add a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt and cook until the green onions or scallions are translucent. Add a 3-inch piece of wakame and a quart of water. Add 1/3 cup of quality tamari along with a garnish of chopped dill or other spring sprouts and you have a most delicious broth for a refreshing day in the spring.
Steamed Vegetables: What could be easier? Cut up some kale, collards, and/or broccoli, and place them in a pan with a splash of water. Bring the water to boil and let steam for 5 minutes. Add a teaspoon of umeboshi plum for a spring refreshing taste. Stir and serve.
Blueberry Kanten: This is so easy. Add a quart of apple juice to a pot on the stove and add a small pinch of Celtic Sea Salt. Add 1 oz. of kanten flakes and bring to a boil. As the juice is coming to a boil, rinse a pint of blueberries and place in a baking dish. After the juice and kanten have come to boil, simmer for 3 minutes. Then pour the hot liquid over the blueberries and set aside. Refrigerate after one hour and serve when cool.
May your spring be healthy and full of vitality!
David Snieckus is a graduate of the world-renowned Kushi Institute, and has been practicing Macrobiotics since 1977. His passion is to share his knowledge and experience and invoke self-awareness in others so that they may experience optimum health and happiness. For FREE information on Macrobiotic consultations, cooking classes, catering services (including for retreats), community dinners, and "David's Take-Out", contact David at (617) 964-2951 or firstname.lastname@example.org.