Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sweet Soup on a Chilly Day


Today is one of those sorts of days where a walk in the woods is rather brisk as it has that damp, chilly British feel where a good pair of wellies are essential for the damp, squishy places. Paddington and Felix leap around in the undergrowth finding large sticks and chasing leaves, relieved that the rain has passed. These bracing mornings are marvelous for clearing out the cobwebs in the mind, body, and spirit, and I return home somewhat recharged and refreshed.

Paddington

I often come up with a menu or a dish that feels good while walking. A pureed sweet veggie soup came to mind so am sharing it as a lovely warming addition to your day. I am seasoning with sweet white miso as it adds a zip of energy and is an awesome living food packed with with nutrition and enzymes.


 

 

 

 

 


Soothing Sweet Veggie Soup

Pureed sweet vegetable soups are very relaxing and emotionally calming. They help to make you feel more satisfied and crave fewer sweets.

Soothing and Sweet

Ingredients:

1 onion
1 parsnip
1 carrot
2 cups hard winter squash cut into chunks
4-6 cups spring water
2 tablespoons sweet white miso diluted in a little water
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional) 
 Black pepper for garnish



Preparation:  
Cut all the vegetables into large pieces.
Place the onion, pumpkin, parsnip and carrot in a pan and cover with 2 cups of water.
Cover with a lid and bring to a boil on a medium flame.
Simmer for about 15 minutes or until soft.
Blend the vegetables in a blender. Don't fill it too full as the veggies are hot.
Place the puree back in the pot and add 2-4 cups of the water.
Add the water slowly so you get the desired texture.
Return to a boil on a medium flame and add the olive oil if desired.
Mix gently and turn off the flame.
Add the miso and the basil.
Let sit for about 3 minutes.
Serve garnished with black pepper.


*Other sweet vegetables can be used such as turnip, round cabbage or daikon.


Fit for Fall!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Warm Bean and Arugula Salad

 

This is a lovely and simple salad to add to your festive meals at this time of year. We are moving towards colder weather and hearty soups and stews are a cozy welcome. A wintery salad adds dimension to those strengthening meals and keeps you feeling youthful and refreshed. It is also a reminder of the warmer days left behind.

Warm bean and Arugula Salad

 Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 5 packed cups arugula or watercress
  • 1 can organic cannellini
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • Tangerine segments for garnish

  Dressing:


  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon rice syrup
  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

Preparation:

Place the arugula into a bowl.
Heat the olive oil and add the onion. Sauté for a minute.
Add the beans and mix through. You can add a little water too.
Add the lemon juice, and rice syrup.
Mix gently and season with salt and pepper.
Add to the arugula and toss through. Garnish with tangerines, capers and cilantro.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Buddha in the Woods

I found this while walking in the woods at the bottom of my field. It just showed up one day. I am always blessed by what comes into my life. This little buddha adds a special touch to my morning reflection.

Heavenly Fall Colors

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There is nothing I enjoy more that tramping around in the woods with my dogs especially when the paths are strewn with brightly colored leaves. I forget all about treading gently Indian-style and swish swash through with childlike glee as clouds of color swirl about.

Fall is one of my most favorite times of year and along with that slight nip in the air, I get a huge, mind-blowing hit of color; yellows, oranges and reds along with touches of bronze, purples and greens. Trees that shimmer with golden light or millions of teeny pink and green leaves that flicker fairy-like in the breeze.
The wonderful thing about spending time in the woods is that nature is gently healing without me having to do any fancy footwork. My thoughts, emotions and feelings are nourished by simply absorbing all I see. I am uplifted and energized, new ideas abound and I just feel more at peace. How brilliant is that?
Spending time in nature is my way to recharge, relax, meditate and enjoy the moment. 



I would like to share some thoughts on the healing power of these fall colors. I encourage you to get outside and experience the magnificence for yourself.  Add touches of fall to your home and use the colors if you want to make simple changes to your life. It is amazing that the fall colors generally help us to feel more grounded and earthed. They are also good for soothing emotions and nourishing the stomach, spleen and pancreas. Using these colors in our cooking adds a stronger influence to our healing.

Red
Adds warmth, energy and stimulation, and is good for increased energy, Energizes all organs and the senses, hearing, smell, taste, vision and touch. Increases passion, sexuality and greater strength. Helps with courage, independence, health, will power, sports and relaxing parts of the body that have become stiff or constricted.

Orange
Adds warmth, and cheerfulness. Orange has a freeing action upon the body and mind, and helps to relieve repressions. Can show new possibilities and other choices in life. Helps to stimulate creative thinking, enthusiasm, and new ideas. Orange increases attraction, charm, kindness, stimulation, optimism, success, abundance, prosperity, energy, and achieving business-goals.

Yellow
Adds a lust for life and strengthens the nerves and the mind. It awakens mental inspiration and is an excellent color for nervous or nerve-related conditions. It also energizes the muscles. Yellow can be used to nourish the stomach, liver, and intestines. Yellow can activate and cheer you up if feeling depressed or melancholic. Helps with vitality, change, progress, communication, confidence, joy, learning, knowledge, mental clarity, concentration, memorizing, tests, speaking and writing, traveling, and visualization.Yellow is one of the most balanced and harmonized colors.

Pink
Heals grief and sadness and creates a sense of youth. Helps to bring you into contact with your feelings. Pink increases, softness, tenderness, romance, caring, and nurturing. Helps youth, peace, friendship, femininity, emotional love, and emotional healing.

Green
Adds balance and harmony and a soothing influence upon both mind and body. It is neither relaxing nor astringent in its influence.  Green can be used for just about any condition in need of healing. Green is both energizing and soothing to the heart. It can help hormonal imbalances, add a cleansing, purifying and healing effect to the organs, strengthen the immune, and nourish muscles, bones and tissues.  Stimulates inner peace, fertility, hope, growth, new beginnings and prosperity. 

Falling Leaves





Saturday, October 27, 2012

Anyone for a Tart?

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These are my kids favorite dessert. They are delicious served with a cup of your favorite tea such as chamomile, mint, twig or green. Make sure to keep a few hidden away as they disappear at a rapid rate.

Makes: 24 tarts


Ingredients:

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
(you can replace this with gluten free flour if desired)
 3/4 cup coconut oil warmed
 1/4 cup sparkling water
 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
 Various flavors of jelly

Utensils:
 Muffin tins, pastry cutter, mixing bowl



Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees.
Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk lightly with a whisk.
Add the oil and mix gently into the flour.
Add enough water to bind the flour into
a dough.
Handle the pastry as little as possible to keep it light and flaky.
Place the dough in the freezer for about
5 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces.
Roll one piece at a time to prevent the dough from getting tough.
Roll the pastry into a large circle.
Cut the rolled out pastry into fluted edged circles with a circular pastry cutter.
Place the small circles in an oiled muffin tin and fill each one with a spoonful of jelly.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake in an oven for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
Remove tarts from the tins and serve.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lovin Your Cooking

 

I have cooked a lot of macrobiotic meals, at least one a day for the past 30 years. I have cooked all over the place, in different countries, for my family, at large seminars and on 2 burners in a hotel room at the 4 Seasons. The thing I love about cooking is there is always something so refreshingly new and different in creating a meal. I have taught many people who are completely new to macrobiotics and many who haven’t cooked at all.  I notice how easy it is to become overwhelmed when bombarded with the theory. In reality the key is to actually get in the kitchen and start cooking. If you can find a way to see it as fun, a source of relaxation, a creative art or simply the preparation of great healthy food, then your meals will be filled with vitality and joy. The techniques can develop along the way.

This article is about some of my thoughts on cooking. Notice I said some because I cannot give you all my thoughts. My thoughts are not absolute; they are simply based upon my experience and are subject to change in any given moment.

In order for you to understand a little about my life, I need to give you a glimpse into my kitchen. It really isn’t anything special except for the wide plank cherry wood floor. The walls are decorated with my paintings and we have a small round wooden table, which seats about 4 people. We tend to eat our dinner around this table, which is a bit of a squash but we like it that way. There is a bench where a cat is often sleeping. Paddington, our big white dog likes to lie in the middle of the floor so we have to step over him in order to get from the stove to the fridge. The kitchen is rarely spotless but it is organic, and it is happy. I am blessed with 7 wonderful children and although only 1 lives at home, this hasn’t stopped the flow of kids of all ages coming through, hanging out and trying our food. My kitchen is rarely quiet but I have learned to create peace in the small space around my cutting board.



On that note I do think it is easier to begin cooking with a tidy kitchen. This is the same idea as starting with a clean slate. I am not saying you can’t cook in a messy kitchen but it is like to trying to play a professional game of soccer on a pitch that already has a bunch of lads kicking a ball around. A tidy kitchen makes everything flow more smoothly, cuts down the time spent and creates a sense of stability and order.



You really have to know a bit about yourself when you step into the kitchen. And if you don’t then you can learn a lot about yourself when you step into the kitchen. I am sure you have all been to a house where everything in it is perfect to such a degree that you feel like you are the only thing out of place. If that is your home then once in a while mess it up. Leave a magazine on the table or a coat on the back of a chair to sort of soften the edges and give the kitchen heart. If you tend to be very messy, make a conscious effort to put the magazine and coat away, and also yesterday’s leftovers. This might be hard at first but the benefits go way beyond the moment because the small things you do in your kitchen will help you with the bigger things in your life. For example, if you have a hard time finishing projects, pay extra attention to how your meal is presented and the finishing touches. Make sure to have garnishes for your soups or place you food in lovely bowls and dishes that set off the meal. Clear everything up before you sit down to eat. It is all a question of balance and cooking reflects the way in which we balance our lives.

The single most important aspect of cooking is to show up. You cannot learn to ride a bike from a book and likewise with cooking. The art of cooking is an excellent example of grounding your thoughts in reality and then returning them to vibration. You think about your menu, write it down, leap into the kitchen, create an array of dishes and relish the results. Your meal then becomes the energy that nourishes the mind, body and soul. Cooking is a beautiful way to get grounded, get out of your head and to be in the here and now.

You also need ingredients. Cooking organic, living, whole grains, beans, sea vegetables, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts is the most direct way you can love, respect and connect with yourself and also with nature. Add to that the vast array of seasonings, herbs, oils, teas and other exciting morsels and you have a huge selection to play with. Macrobiotic cooking often appears weighed down with specific rules and regulations. While they are extremely helpful in refining our skills, these principles can make us fearful or prevent us from really enjoying ourselves. If that is the case then forget them. In fact once learned, best forgotten. The key is to dive in and start by including whole grains and vegetables into your daily diet. To make sure you are getting enough nutrition vary the ingredients, the colors, the shapes and the taste and make use of nature’s bounty.  If you know that your food tends to come out mushy and overcooked make an extra effort to create some light and crispy dishes. If you seem to use a lot of sour taste as a seasoning, think about making your meals naturally sweet. If you have to have everything perfect, make a meal without any recipes. Go wild for a day and make anything that comes into your head just to feel free. If you lack discipline, write a menu down and pay attention to the details, how you cut your vegetables, the use of the flame, the different cooking styles and how efficiently you tidy up the kitchen.


When it comes to utensils, the key is to choose those of good quality that will last. I know we would all love to have a flashy array of pots and pans but that isn’t always possible. You can still make glorious creations with even one or two pots. I have some 28 year-old pans in my kitchen that have lost their handles, and have been well loved and used. I have had students ask me if I intentionally purchased them that way. Back in the early 80’s I took a macrobiotic teacher training test in Boston. There were a few of us taking the cooking section at the same time. I was the only one with a small baby and so I arrived at the last minute, having had to organize her comforts. There were no pots left for me and no one wanted to share. So the teachers who were giving the test rummaged around and found a couple of really old pots. One had a wonky bottom and the other was far too big for the amount of food I had to prepare. I still remember the dishes I made, how delicious they tasted, and how much those who got to sample them, enjoyed them. I have also cooked 5 course meals on two small burners with two small pans and they were some of my favorites. There is such a deep sense of accomplishment and fun when you realize how much you achieve with so little.


In cooking the image you create in your mind plays a big part. Before you begin to cook, you can imagine the meal and how it will feel and taste. How does one dish feel with another dish? How does black soybean stew feel next to brown rice or how does it feel next to a pressed salad. This sense can guide you towards making a complete and satisfying meal. If you don’t know how it would feel that is okay too. You can use your imagination to conjure up any image that will help you create what you are looking for in the meal. If you want it light and uplifting then you could imagine the spring sun in the early morning while you are cooking or if you are preparing for a party you could visualize a garden full of brightly colored flowers? Or you can simply imagine your family laughing together or your lover happy. Added to that you can think about what you feel like eating. Not what you should be eating but what would satisfy you in a healthy way. Your positive attitude along with your appetite is an important step in the creation of a beautiful meal.

Fruit Kebabs















Quick and Easy Cooking

Clean kitchen
Know where everything is
Write menu down before cooking
Don’t worry about doing it all right
Focus on having 1/2 daily intake veggies
Use a variety of ingredients
Use can of beans
Have a stock of easy foods – humus, miso ramen, mochi etc
Make extra rice – can turn it into different dishes
Keep roasted seeds and nuts for snacks and garnishes
Jazz up a simple meal with a dressing
What would help you to eat more healthy foods – using already cooked rice, cans of beans, pre-cut vegetables