October 25, 2009
As a way of introduction to Our Kitchens As Wellness Centers, may I repeat an old cliché and what I consider to be a simple truth, “We are what we eat!” What I found over thirty (30) years ago is that the “food” we choose and take into our bodies --- whether it be actual physical food that feeds our bodies, or the metaphysical food that influences our thoughts, and/or whatever exists in the visible and energetic environment surrounding us --- has a dramatic effect on our physical health and immunity as well as our emotional health as well. Whether we are in great or in poor physical and/or mental condition, we have influenced this condition through the many ways that we nourish ourselves, both biologically and psychologically, as well as what we expose ourselves to. Developing the ability to determine the different kinds of nourishment we need is fundamental to creating a healthy life.
The knowledge and practice of selecting, preparing and eating wholesome and nourishing foods that are uniquely structured for the way our bodies were designed gives us the biological foundation as well as the freedom and the confidence to live in this world without the fear of getting sick, and is of vital importance for our sustaining health and long-term survival.
Where does this begin? Right in our own kitchens! Our kitchens are actually our personal alchemical centers where we create our own wellness! The kitchen is the heart of our home, the hearth from which we nourish ourselves, our families, and our communities. The kitchen, along with our understanding of the power of food in our lives, is what empowers us to take our health into our own hands.
How do we transform our kitchens into wellness centers, thereby creating the health, happiness, and peace that we all seek?
1. We equip our kitchens with the best tools and supplies: A gas stove, quality cast iron pots, pans, ceramic cookery, pressure cookers and pans made with stainless steel, glass or ceramic tea pots, a sharp vegetable cutting knife, wooden or bamboo cutting boards, and quality cooking utensils.
2. In clean glass jars, we store healthy condiments such as high quality sea salt, natural soy sauce, powerful medicinal foods like: umeboshi plum, miso, and bulk foods such as whole-wheat pastry flour and an abundant variety of: grains, dry beans, dried sea vegetables, seeds, and nuts.
3. We store in our kitchen and/or refrigerator organic plant-based seasonal foods, vegetables, fruits, and plant-based protein, such as tofu and tempeh (vegetarian bean burgers) and seitan.
4. We come to the “service” of cooking in our kitchens with a dedicated, committed and loving attitude. Cooking is an art, a form of meditation in motion, and a service to humanity.
5. We develop an understanding of how to select and pre-pare nourishing wholesome foods that will optimize our health.
Because “we are what we eat”, and because food provides the biological basis for our health and well-being, the knowledge and understanding of the cook who selects and prepares our food is paramount to the quality of our health. In essence, the cook becomes a “food doctor.” Hippocrates said: “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food.”
The way I came to the understanding that our kitchens are wellness centers was through the study of Macrobiotics, an ancient philosophy of a natural and holistic way of life for humanity. Macrobiotics has been a profound philosophical guide for me to understand the power of these food on many levels.
I began my macrobiotic journey in 1977 studying macrobiotic principles of health and philosophy for a period of three years at the Kushi Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts. My experience with healing, both personally and through what I have witnessed with clients, has reinforced my understanding of macrobiotics and motivation to share its teachings. I have found inspiration in hundreds of books that all come to the same conclusion: eating a whole-foods plant-based diet is the most important fundamental practice one can do to recover health and ensure wellness. This is real health care! (Some of these inspirational books are listed at the end of this article.)
In essence, the ideal food for human consumption is organic plant-based whole foods grown in fertile organic soil, and mineral rich oceans, fed by the natural elements of quality water and air, filled with quality chlorophyll naturally made by sunlight.
Specifically, these foods are organic whole grains, beans, land and sea vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and some high quality sea salt, in harmony with the seasons. These are the foods that have kept me healthy and well.
The following are my compelling "Big E" reasons for us to be eating organic plant-based whole foods.
· Especially Healthy:
"So, what is my prescription for good health? In short, it is about the multiple health benefits of consuming plant-based foods, and the largely unappreciated health dangers of consuming animal-based foods, including all types of meat, dairy and eggs.” THE CHINA STUDY, The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II.
“Foods with a low carbon cost tend to be healthier.”
- Brian Walsh, EAT YOUR GREENS, TIME magazine, February 12, 2009.
“A cultural shift toward a plant-based whole foods diet would have enormous benefits. For the vast majority of people, it would not only mean less heart disease, fewer cancers and far less obesity: it would also mean far more vibrant, thriving, energetic, creative people.”
- John Robbins from The Food Revolution
Since 1977 I have found the prescription for my health through studying and research, but mostly through trial and error. From a sickly, stingy, meat eating, sugar bingeing, white flour and ice cream addict and prescription drug junkie individual for 30 years, I have changed in the last 30 years to a strong, healthy, vibrant and giving partner, father and friend by eating a grain-based, whole foods, plant-based diet with love! To me it’s the best way to being healthy!
· Evidentially Verifiable:
“People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. The findings are consistent. The science is clear. The results are unmistakable. Change your diet and dramatically reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.” - THE CHINA STUDY, The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II.
“Eating a plant-based diet all year long is the best way to help lower your risk of cancer.” - Dana-Farber, MetroBoston, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008.
The evidence I put forth is my physical body and energy. This is evidence enough for me as I look around and see people my age getting grey hair and looking like they are really old. Just today I asked the staff at the train station where I could get my senior card for a reduced rate and they said, “You don’t look like you are 62.”
· Ecologically sustainable:
The seeds from plant-based foods can perpetuate our survival for future generations (vs. the unsustainable practices of industrial animal farming and producing “infertile” processed and genetically modified food products.)
“There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.”
- Benjamin Franklin
· Environmentally Friendly:
Growing local organic whole foods can save the soil and forests by reducing land use and packaging needs, reduce air and water pollution by decreasing CO2 emissions caused by transportation and deforestation, and reduce other hazardous waste caused by industrialized agribusiness.
“If we wish to curb global warming over the coming half century, we must look at strategies to address non-CO2 emissions. The strategy with the most impact is vegetarianism.” - Noam Mohr, author of EarthSave’s report A New Global Warming Strategy: How Environmentalists are Overlooking Vegetarianism as The Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change In Our Lifetime.
“The lower your diet is on the food chain, the more earth-friendly it is.” John Robbins, Diet For A New America.
Costs for locally grown foods are relatively inexpensive (vs. the high environmental and distribution costs associated with producing industrialized animal products and processed food.)
The health benefit of eating plant-based whole foods reduces health care costs.
We reap what we sow! Eating plant-based foods instills peace and harmony, vs. eating animals and animal-based products, which negatively affects other creatures and perpetuates violence. For more, see: THE WORLD PEACE DIET, by Will Tuttle, PhD.
· Evolutionarily Correct:
We are biologically designed to eat mainly plants. Our teeth have more molars for grinding grain than canine teeth for eating animal food; our intestines are long for digesting plant food, rather than short for digesting the flesh of animals!
Plants, throughout our 3.2 billion year evolution have always been present for animals to eat. Throughout this evolution, the evolution of animals has paralleled the evolution of plants. Also, plants transform themselves into our bodies through the following process. When green plants, which have a magnesium (Mg) centered cell, called chlorophyll, are eaten by animals and become oxygenated through exercise, they change into red blood cells with an iron (Fe) centered cell, called hemoglobin. - From one of the lectures of Michio Kushi circa 1980.
Mostly, just boil water. To make a really simple miso soup, boil 1-2 cups of water, add one sliced carrot, one flower of a cut up broccoli, a piece of nori, and then a teaspoon of miso. You are done in less than 5 minutes!
Eating a plant-based diet is at least ten (10) times more efficient than eating meat! When we eat grain directly, rather than indirectly by feeding it to an animal and then eating the animal, we are making our flesh first hand from the plant rather than through another animal.
Delicious foods in all their abundant variety nourish the palate and soul. Most everyone loves to eat. Just as the love between humans can be expressed through sex, the love between humans and the vegetable world is expressed through eating.
· Encourages Entrainment:
Another important benefit of a wellness kitchen is a wholesome nourishing meal around which a family and/or community gathers. Not only does gathering together help to strengthen our family and social fabric, eating together harmonizes our energies! I strongly believe that those who eat together stay together!
Examples of wholesome nourishing meals from our upcoming book: WHOOO COOKS FOR YOU? follow:
Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
Quinoa and Almonds
Lotus Root and Carrots simmered in Shoyu
Vegetable Medley in Sesame Sauce
Onion Wakame Miso Soup
Millet and Cauliflower
Pinto Bean Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings
Braised Leeks with Mushrooms
Steamed Broccoli and Cabbage
Fresh Salad with a Tahini Dressing
Carrot Cake with Tofu Cream Sauce and Almond Sprinkle
And here’s some sample recipes:
Hint: Try this new recipe instruction format. Read through the recipes, visualize what you will be doing, and then create the meal. Remember these recipes are just guidelines! Allow your creativity to flow!
Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
Quinoa and Almonds
Lotus Root and Carrots simmered in Shoyu
Vegetable Medley in Sesame Sauce
CREAMY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP:
In a 5-quart pot, add a bit of corn oil and then sauté one moon-sliced onion, add a pinch of sea salt, allow the onions to become translucent, and then add the cut up winter Butternut Squash. (Note: SUPER SECRET TRICK. When preparing the butternut squash, first cut off a silver dollar size piece and dip it in sea salt and then rub the silver dollar piece against the rest of the body of the squash, this draws out the bitterness of the squash. Watch the foam form!)
Rinse and then cut up the rest of the squash, skin and all, into manageable chunks. Place these chunks in the soup pot and add a quart of fresh water.
Add about a 6-inch strip of seaweed: Wakame or Kombu. Allow to cook for over 30 minutes and then blend, or stir vigorously with a variety of tahini, left over oats or rice to make the soup creamy!
QUINOA AND ALMONDS:
In a large pot, add 2 cups of quinoa, 2 pinches of sea salt and 4 cups or water. Bring to a boil and allow to cook slowly for 30 minutes. Near the end of cooking the quinoa, in a separate pan, dry roast 2 cups of almond meal for a few minutes until just browning and then add 2 tablespoon of shoyu. Stir quickly and add to quinoa. Lots of vegetable quality protein here!
LOTUS ROOT AND CARROTS SIMMERED IN SHOYU:
In a large frying pan, layer sliced lotus root and carrots and top with a sprinkle of nori seaweed. Add a mixture of ½ shoyu and water and simmer for 20 minutes.
This is pretty much made like any other meat stew with the exception of an animal being slaughtered for it!
In a stew pot, braise: onions, seitan, celery, carrots, turnips and squash. A bit of seaweed like Wakame or Kombu makes it more nutritious. Add sea salt to the beginning of the process and then water and then shoyu. Use kuzu starch by dissolving kuzu in cold water and adding to the boiling water as a thickener for a healthier and hearty stew.
Hint: Make your own seitan. This provides the gluten for the seitan, the starch for the thickener and the bran for muffins. Economical? Yes!
Time consuming? Yes!
VEGETABLE MEDLEY IN SESAME SAUCE:
With a variety of seasonal vegetables you will always have a variety. For one recipe try: leeks, carrots, celery and yellow squash. I would sauté the carrots first, then the celery, then the leeks, then the yellow squash, and finally, add a splash of shoyu. In a separate pan, boil a cup of water and add tahini with a pinch of sea salt. Stir in a squeeze of lemon and VIOLA! A creamy sauce for your veggies!
Very simple: Cut up one head of Chinese Napa into bite size pieces. Place in a bowl or pickling press and add a handful of sea salt. (Don’t worry about the amount of sea salt. Just use enough to “sweat” the cabbage.) Then put it under pressure with the pickling press or put it in a container and cover it with a plate and a weight.
(From the Children’s Section of our soon to be completed, WHOOO COOKS FOR YOU?)
OWL: “Now for the ‘Piece de resistance’!”
ABIGAIL: “Dad and I make these all the time.”
RASPBERRY-ALMOND TORT COOKIES
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1-cup ground almonds
1 cup ground up oatmeal
1-teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt
1-cup corn oil
1-cup rice syrup
1-cup rice milk
12 teaspoons of 100% fruit juice sweetened raspberry jam
In a bowl, add 2 cups of whole-wheat pastry flour,
1 cup of ground almonds and
1 cup of ground up oatmeal.
Then add a teaspoon of baking powder and some sea salt.
Mix the dry.
To the dry
Add 1 cup of corn oil,
1 cup of rice syrup and
1 cup of rice syrup.
Mix to make dough.
Roll into balls and place onto a tray.
After all the dough is used up, press your thumb into each
And add 1 teaspoon of raspberry jam.
Cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown. Allow to cool. Serve.
In conclusion, true health care reform comes about when we take our health into our own hands, beginning in our own kitchens. To accomplish this, we need some basic education on how to select, prepare and eat wholesome nourishing foods and we will need each other for guidance and support.
As a macrobiotic counselor and chef for over thirty (30) years, I welcome the opportunity to offer supportive guidance for anyone’s journey of well-being. My passion and commitment is to show how one can optimize one’s health and well-being. Ultimately it is my hope that we evolve into a more peaceful, harmonious world and a self-sustaining, healthier planet.
In good health,
Edited mostly by Margaret Arndt
List of Some Suggested Books for Further Study:
1. IN DEFENSE OF FOOD, by Michael Pollan, who says “Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much.”
2. MACROBIOTICS FOR DUMMIES: by Verne Varona: “Macrobiotics For Dummies gives readers the basics of macrobiotic eating and living and explains how to use this powerful source of healing to become healthier and happier and prevent or relieve numerous ailments, conditions, or disorders both physical and psychological.” Wiley Publications
3. THE CHINA STUDY, The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II. This book provides comprehensive scientific studies from a nutritional point of view, and reinforces the knowledge that a plant-based diet is best for our health.
4. THE CURE IS IN THE KITCHEN, by Sherry Rodgers M.D., who says it best in her title.
5. THE SOIL AND HEALTH, by Sir Albert Howard, who shocked me! After thirty (30) years of practicing Macrobiotics, I came across the most interesting scientific study of health in which the author makes the claim: If one eats food from fertile and organic soil, one CAN’T get sick!
6. The WORLD PEACE DIET, by Will Tuttle, Ph.D. This is a great book that addresses ethical eating, and conveys that the way we treat animals mirrors the way we treat each other and ourselves!