Monthly Archives: December 2011

Adzuki/kombu/pumpkin dish

The adzuki/pumpkin/kombu dish is another healing and strengthening dish, the adzuki beans are especially helpful (as all beans) for kidneys, thus for overall strength and vitality, the hokkaido pumpkin for the middle organs (stomach, spleen, pancreas) and our sugar metabolism, the kombu adds much needed minerals and helps alkalize the blood. You simply cook the beans with a stamp-sized piece of kombu in a pressure cooker, I used the smaller variety from Hokkaido, so they didn´t need to soak, but otherwise soak your adzuki for a few hours or even overnight, together with the kombu. The Hokkaido adzuki need 30 minutes under pressure, the normal ones need 45 minutes, bean to water ratio is about 1:2.  After the beans are done, open the cooker, add pumpkin (twice the amount of beans) cut into bigger chunks and cook for additional 20 minutes (without pressure) until the pumpkin is soft. Season with tamari/shoyu sauce (towards the end). I garnished my beans with fresh parsley.

As a side I had brown rice with gomasio, blanched greens (green beans, broccoli, celery stalks and chinese cabbage) and a miso soup (made with wakame, celery root, onion, pumpkin, corn kernels, leftover cooked and chopped up kombu, dried daikon and spring onion for garnish).

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Filed under Bean dishes, Recipes

Nishime variations

I absolutely love nishime, especially when I feel a bit low or not so healthy, then this dish is really soothing and healing…and so simple. But you can play with it quite a bit, depending on which veggies you use or also how you choose to season it.

The first nishime is really funny, because it´s completely purple thanks to the red onion and red cabbage 😀 I think it´s pretty! I used daikon, carrot, hokkaido pumpkin, red onion and red cabbage, all cut into large chunks (in nishime you use large chunks so that the veggies retain their sweetness). On the bottom of the pot you place a stamp-sized piece of kombu seaweed, place the veggies on top (making “islands” of separate vegetable groups, not mixing them together) and then add a tiny bit of water, about 0,5-1 cm high. Bring to boil, cover with a lid and simmer on very low flame, possibly using a heat deflector as well, for 10-20 minutes (I like them cooked longer for maximum sweetness and softness). At the end you can either sprinkle a pinch of salt to season (and let simmer still) or some shoyu/tamari (also let simmer), the latter will turn your nishime brown though (unless it´s already purple haha :-D). You could also season with ume plum vinegar or miso or other stuff. Check the nishime from time to time  as it can burn, but don´t disturb it too often or for too long… It´s better off left on its own 😀 If you still have water at the end, take off the lid and cook it away, or strain the liquid, it´s a delicious drink. Don´t eat the kombu though, unless you cooked the nishime long, because it´s too tough, it can be reused again…

For the nishime in the picture I had a sidedish of brown rice with corn kernels (from a jar) and brown borlotti beans (from a can) plus gomasio to sprinkle on top, blanched pointed cabbage, and one umeboshi plum as a pickle and to enhance the healing effect of the dish (I shall write about the magical umeboshis some day…).

The second nishime was similar – daikon, carrot, hokkaido pumpkin, but also celery stalks and parsnip. As a side I had sweet millet , leftover adzuki/kombu/pumpkin dish (I will post about that one) with fresh parsley, and I even had some tiny daikon tops (normally they cut them off in shops, sadly, but I had a daikon which had a little bit left, treasure!).

 

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Filed under Recipes, Vegetable dishes

Millet pilaf

I reeeally love millet made into a pilaf, I rarely use millet as a simple sidedish grain as it tends to be a bit too boring on its own. Unless it´s sweet millet, the sticky variety with larger grains, that one I truly love, especially with chunks of pumpkin 😀

For the pilaf I first dry roast the millet for a few minutes until it releases a nutty flavour and gets a deeper golden color (first wash it thoroughly in a strainer though to get rid of the millet´s natural bitterness!), then I add the prepared veggies – in this case chunks of carrot and burdock root, plus chopped up garlic and a generous amount of sesame seeds. On a separate pan I sautee (on a teeny bit of olive oil) coarsely sliced (into squares or rectangles) pointed cabbage, red cabbage and leek, seasoned with cumin and grounded coriander. When the millet with the veggies are both a bit roasted, I add water (1:3 grain:water), cover with a lid and simmer at least 20 minutes. It´s good to let the millet rest under the lid after it´s off the flame, for a few minutes, so it can soak up the remaining water and unstick from the bottom of the pot. Then you can mix in the oil-sauteed vegetables, and if you want, you can add dry roasted almonds, or rucola (arugula) or chopped fresh parsley or all (like I did) 😀

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Filed under Complete meals, Grain dishes, Recipes

This time not a recipe aka Blessed be those who discharge

I decided to include some general talk which I usually don´t post in this blog, which is more of a recipe blog tracking my culinary experiments. But I feel this is really, really important and maybe it could help some who are struggling with similar issues…

When I went fully macro a few months ago (after many months of doing a strange semi-macro up and down diet, because my previous lifestyle was very complicated to combine with a real macrobiotic way of life), I started experiencing more discharge than usually. I started to also finally understand my discharge, which was even more important. I started seeing it for what it was – a persistent strong attempt of my body to heal itself and to get rid of large amounts of toxins that would otherwise accumulate, possibly eventually into tumours…

For years and years I thought I am soooo unlucky that I am suffering from all kinds of diseases. Since early puberty I was plagued with allergies (it started out as a pollen allergy, but in the last years it multiplied into several food allergies and some more general unexplicable allergies nobody really understood), a low immune system (I cannot count how many times I suffered from returning respiratory problems, sinusitis, colds etc.), chronic fatigue, headaches, loss of skin pigmentation, thyroid problems and severe acne which would never go away, no matter what medication and procedures I went through. Later on I was diagnosed with celiac disease and went completely glutenfree. The last few years a new thing appeared in my “collection” – dramatic hives, which would cover my body in a map of red, swollen, incredibly itchy “bumps”. I started experiencing swelling of eyelids, lips and various body parts, mostly hands and feet. Luckily I never had asthma, but during those nearly anaphylactic shock spells my throat closed up so it was hard to breathe, those were one of my worst moments, when I was afraid to choke. Long story short – before becoming macro my health was sometimes unbearable, that is, it would be unbearable without a pill, a powerful antihistamine, taken daily…I was addicted to this medication, that´s for sure.  And this same medication blocked all the discharge my body was attempting! Just like a corkscrew on a bottle, keeping all the “bad stuff” in. Neutralizing its effects (my symptoms), but never healing the cause, which it didn´t even pretend to do.

When I started my macrobiotic studies here in Holland, I immediately (after a couple of days of a strict macro diet 3 times a day) “caught” a cold, the same as most of my co-students. It was a overwhelming cold, with lots of mucus coming up, but it lasted only a few days and it was over. My body managed to discharge this more superficial layer of yin (mucus) accumulation pretty quickly, with the help of many healing dishes. I went through some digestive trouble for a week or so, but then I got regular again. Suddenly I felt a burst of energy flowing through my body. I went off my allergy pills!! That was a huge feeling of liberation. My mornings were not anymore the worst part of the day when I would experience massive amounts of mucus discharge and blocked sinuses, suddenly my mornings were bright and easy.

Of course, this phase didn´t last forever…in the later classes we learnt how to cook more rich indulgent menus, which was not the best for my prescribed strict healing diet…there was a fairly large ingestion of oils and macro desserts…I started feeling a bit heavy and blocked again. But still I was eating macrobiotic and the discharge continued. The yin was leaving my body quite quickly, but what I think happened next was the start of a discharge of deep yang accumulation (probably not meat anymore, since I was vegetarian for 7 years, but there was a LOT of cheese and eggs still in my cells…). I felt awful in the last two weeks – unbelievably irritable, with overwhelming waves of anger which wouldn´t actually leave totally at all, hot spells, dry throat, big thirst, feelings of exhaustion….I had a cycle with no ovulation, and my period came extremely late….and there came cravings, of course yin cravings, because I needed to relax and soothe my nerves and body. I went overboard with oils (even deep-frying a few times) and desserts and hot spices…my hives and swelling returned in the end and I had to compromise and take my good ole pill…what a failure. At least that was the emotion that accompanied this decision, although it was a necessary decision, because my breathing problems came back as well.

And since I already felt as a failure, I could confirm it even more, right? How to do that? By eating that Saint Nicholas traditional Dutch pie that was sitting on a little table in my room for weeks (yes, the Dutch eat this supersweet almondpaste filled pastry every year on St Nicholas eve). It was glutenfree, but other than that full of the worst macro nightmares – sugar, butter, eggs, milk, additives. It was a BIG pie, with a LOT of sugar. So much sugar (which I didn´t ingest for weeks) that it didn´t even taste sweet to me, it tasted ACID. Burning unpleasant strong acid. Sugar actually is very acid-forming for the blood, so no wonder. The funny thing is that you don´t probably have an idea that the actual taste of sugar is acid, unless you go for weeks without touching sugar. You also don´t feel the acid creeping through your whole body, through the digestive system and into your head as I did, unless you go for weeks without touching sugar. It was an extremely interesting though not pleasant experience of what sugar truly is, or, what it means for our bodies. I now don´t have the need to repeat this experience. I now know how badly this would affect me afterwards. The next few days I was (and am) busy discharging all this massive sugar – through hives, swelling, headaches, unclear thinking, mood swings etc.

I returned to point Zero.

Now I´m trying to get back on the more strict healing macro wagon…It´s tough because the body is confused, still discharging loads, still having a lot of cravings, the emotions are still swinging back and forth. But I am grateful for this lesson, no matter how painful it was and still is . Isn´t that macrobiotics? Learning by experience the effects of foods on your body and mind?

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Adzuki bean kanten dessert

This is such a macrobiotic classic, that I have to include it! Some call it “macrobiotic chocolate”, and while diehard chocolate lovers will probably just laugh at this, I think it´s actually not so far off….at least for us macros who have a bit adjusted taste buds 😀

It´s really really simple as long as you have a pressure cooker…

Into the cooker you place adzuki beans (I used half a cup of hokkaido adzuki beans which are smaller, more mineral rich and cook less long even without presoaking), agar agar (I used one and a half bars, but you can use less or more, depending on required thickness of the dessert), dried organic apricots (I used about 3/4 cup, slightly more than the amount of the beans, but again this depends on required sweetness) and some (optional) orange peel (I only had dried mandarine peel which works fine I think). Add about a double or even triple amount of water. Bring under pressure and cook for about 30 minutes, the beans have to be soft. Transfer to a blender, add a pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Let it cool down and thicken in a bowl or eat warm 😀

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Filed under Bean dishes, Desserts, Recipes

Semi-macrobiotic pizza :-D

So I had this glutenfree non-macrobiotic premade pizza base sitting in my cupboard for a few months, and since I hate to throw things away, I decided to use it even if it´s not totally macro (especially since it has yeast in it).

But, all the rest I put on the pizza was pretty much macro, I´d say. As a pizza sauce I used the “fake tomato sauce”, you can read the recipe in my previous post. I made only some slight changes – I didn´t have celery stalk, so I used only carrot, beet and onion for the vegetables. I also made a smaller amount, because last time it was waaaay too much, especially the carrots you can really use less of them… And this time I even had fresh parsley 😀 But I forgot bay leaf, which didn´t matter much I think.

On this pizza sauce I sprinkled some organic corn kernels from a jar – my favourite pizza topping!

The most challenging part was the “cheese” – I decided to blanche tofu (maybe 200 g) cut into thick slices (you just need to blanche it for maybe 3 minutes), transferred it with some water to a blender, added a heaping tablespoon of tahini, two heaping teaspoons of mustard and about half a teaspoon of salt. It blended into a nice thick creamy sauce. To enhance the texture I mixed in one coarsely grated small block of mochi, and this tofu topping I spread on top of the corn+pizza sauce.

The result was definitely not your typical pizza (next time I will add some dried tomatoes to the sauce, because I kind of missed the tomato flavour), but I really liked it. The tofu cream cheese can still use some improvement, but I think the idea is not bad and it´s one of the closest things to cheese that I have so far tasted in macrobiotic cuisine…so, keep experimenting, I sure will!

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Filed under Complete meals, Grain dishes, Recipes, Tofu and tempeh dishes

7.12. Oats with pumpkin and lentil stew

Today I reused the oats from yesterday and cooked them for about 20 minutes with chunks of hokkaido pumpkin, which is my favourite way of eating grains 😀 It´s a good thing about oats that the longer you cook them, the nicer and creamier they get, so don´t worry about leftover oats and how to use them – they are a great recycling grain!

With the oats I made a stew of lentils (“berglinsen”, a reddish-brown variety) cooked together with dried thyme, bayleaf and a few chunks of carrot and celery root. It´s really nice to use root veggies with beans I think! At the end you can season the lentils with tamari or miso.

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Filed under Bean dishes, Complete meals, Recipes, Vegetable dishes