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An Introduction to Macrobiotic Cooking

Sauteed baby bok choy with onion, garlic, ginger, olive or grapeseed oil, soy sauce, salt, and toasted sesame oil.

By Michelle Strubeck Many people may not have heard of macrobiotic cooking or if they have, they might be unsure of what it is. Macrobiotic cooking is based on ancient Chinese medicine. It follows a diet of whole, pure prepared foods to balance the yin and yang. Christina Chiffo of Touch of Healing Wellness Center stated that macrobiotic cooking is foreign to most people, yet there are many that are interested in it. A macrobiotic diet helps to balance everything within because we can’t function in a diseased environment. The basic premise of macrobiotic cooking uses whole grains such as brown rice, millet, barley, quinoa and vegetables that are grown locally. Food has an energy that reacts with our bodies, affecting the level of alkalinity in each of us.

     When following a macrobiotic diet protein comes from tofu, tempeh, and seitan, a substitute used in place of meat. Beans and legumes of all sorts are also part of the diet. It is recommended to buy locally grown vegetables when they are in season, buy organic when possible and make the best choices available. Sea vegetables and seaweed can be used in a macrobiotic diet as well. They can be used when making soups or as a gelatin with fruit. Sea vegetables and seaweed can be found online or at any health food store. Foods that are not part of the macrobiotic diet are animal meat, dairy products, processed foods and sugar. Items that can be used in place of sugar are brown rice syrup, barley malt, honey, dates because they have a natural sweetness to them or Stevia.

     The are numerous health benefits associated to a macrobiotic diet such as reducing your blood sugar if you are diabetic, it can help eliminate seasonal cold and flu symptoms, it can reduce inflammation, decrease pain issues and it will improve your immune system overall. A macrobiotic diet can also be beneficial to cancer patients.

     For anyone considering making a lifestyle change, they shouldn’t look at something like macrobiotic cooking to be restrictive. Think of it as a transition over time and slowly integrate the foods into your diet. Once your body is fed full of proper nutrition, it won’t crave the other foods you were once consuming. Your body knows when something is toxic and you aren’t receiving the proper nutrition. It takes thirty days to form a habit. Once you have incorporated healthy habits into your lifestyle, you are on the road to success. Macrobiotic cooking methods include pressure cooking, steaming, boiling, sauteing and a small bit of frying when using a good oil is not a problem. Fermented foods can be used as well.

     Christina got involved in macrobiotic cooking when she attended the Pennsylvania School of Shiatsu where one of her instructors introduced her to it and from there she was learning about it in conjunction with her Shiatsu massage studies. In 2003 she went on to attend the Strengthening Health Institute for Macrobiotics where she concentrated on the food and cooking methods involved in a macrobiotic diet. She had some health issues going on at the time and she found the macrobiotic diet to be beneficial to her. The diet taught her how food operates in the body, where it goes and how it operates energetically.

     Christina originally had the idea to have a mobile unit, but prior to COVID, she listened to her instinct and held off. This past April she opened her doors and established The Touch of Healing Wellness Center, where macrobiotic cooking is one of several services she offers. In regards to macrobiotic cooking she said there are some people that don’t want to make the necessary changes and take responsibility for their health. She can give them a push in the right direction in a positive manner.

     In regards to eating out when following a macrobiotic diet, or any diet for that matter, Christina said most restaurants are accommodating to individuals with dietary restrictions. You can request to have sauces left off of your meal or substitute for a healthier choice. An example of a macrobiotic menu looks like this: fresh corn soup, tempeh and celery hearts with mustard Tahini sauce, cauliflower millet mash, brussel sprouts with Shiake mushrooms and Tahini vanilla cookies for dessert.

There is also the emotional factor that has to be taken into consideration. We all have emotional baggage and when that baggage is poorly managed it can create stress, upsetting the bodies hormone balance and depleting the brain’s chemicals, which in turn damages our immune system.

     Christina went on to say that we live in a toxic world, COVID is complicating our lifestyle, however, it is important to pay attention to your body and keep your immune system healthy. As the saying goes, You Are What You Eat. Let they food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.