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 to give 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?
- 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 teapots, a sharp vegetable cutting knife, wooden or bamboo cutting boards, and quality cooking utensils.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 service to humanity.
- 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 this 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.
“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, Ph.D. 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 be healthy!
“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, Ph.D. 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.”
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
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 is reduced 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, Ph.D.
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 cut-up broccoli, a piece of nori, and then a teaspoon of miso. You are done in less than 5 minutes! Carrots are good for your healthy eyes, if you have a cataract you may try carrots but if the doctor has prescribed you laser surgery read this post, https://davidsnieckus.com/preventing-and-managing-vitreous-loss-after-cataract-surgery/
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.
Another important benefit of a wellness kitchen is a wholesome nourishing meal around which a family and/or community gather. 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
- Seitan Stew
- Vegetable Medley in Sesame Sauce
- Pickled Napa
- Apple Pie
- 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!