Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dinner in a pinch

My mom and I were on our way to yoga class, and then discovered that we had the wrong day and time. We decided to go shopping instead, and by the time we were done, most of the day had slipped away. We had to come up with a meal for dinner, QUICK! My Dad was coming home, and my sister and brother in law were on their way over too. So I took the leftover black beans and turned them into a delicious and hearty soup with garlic, onion, carrot, sweet potato, cilantro, and celery and it only took about 15 to 20 minutes to cook the veggies. My family likes a little extra flavor, so I took about 2 tablespoons of salsa and stirred this in with cumin and sea salt. There was some leftover brown & wild rice so that was a great side dish, and I took the kale my cousin sent us home with and threw together a raw kale salad filled with grated carrots, sliced snap peas, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and roasted soybeans for a little bit of crunch. It was dressed with some tamari, lemon juice, brown rice vinegar, and olive oil. They had the meal with some chicken, while I skipped that part. My niece and nephew especially liked the brown rice. (The dessert is described in the next post.) All of this took from 30 to 45 minutes to whip up. It's really possible to have tasty healthy food that doesn't take forever to prepare leaving us time to play outside in the late summer sun.

Apple Peach Crisp

When I was with my cousin the other day, I picked several peaches off her tree, and when my sister called asking for her favorite apple crisp, we decided to make it apple peach crisp. After stopping at the health food store to buy some fresh Washington apples, I headed home to make the crisp for her. The crust is made with oats and nuts and this smells so scrumptious baking in the oven. My family enjoyed it with some vanilla ice cream, and it's delicious by itself with tea. I meant to take a photo of the final product, but it got eaten too quickly.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Farm-to-Table living

I have been in Washington enjoying the end of summer, and loving the farm-to-table living that is part of the lifestyle here. One highlight has been spending time with my family, and also up at my cousin Sarah's home in Skagit Valley where she lives off the grid with her family. We had two incredible meals straight from her garden including zuchinni, cucumber, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, kale, radish, celery, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, nasturtiums, and borage.

the grape arbor

my niece's new friendone of the amazing greenhouses

pears not quite ripe yet

I will add new photos in the next post!

More farm-to-table living

my cousin harvesting zuchinni and cucumbers
sweet peas
blackberries - we stuffed ourselves
garden art

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Brown Rice Sushi

Today in the Healthy Back to School Lunch Box cooking class another one of the items on the menu was brown rice sushi. I brought home the leftover ingredients made up some extra pieces for my lunch on Monday - brown rice, natural ginger pickles, ume, carrots, tofu, and cucumber. I used to think that making sushi was difficult, but it's much easier than I ever realized, once I rolled a few. You don't need to be an expert to do this. Excited to enjoy them!

(I will be teaching how to make brown rice sushi on Sept 3rd! We'll have a great variety of delicious sushi. More info here....)

Surprising Combinations

Frequently, people will taste a dish that I have made and say something like, "I really didn't know what this would be like when I saw that it included x and y ingredients, but it's actually REALLY GOOD!"

This happened today at the Healthy Lunchbox cooking class. For one of our dishes, we had a pasta salad that included tofu, cucumbers, ume, onions, and basil. You'd never realize how well ume and basil go together!

Can you challenge yourself to try some new things? How about peanut butter and sauerkraut on a rice cake. You'd be surprised :-) (Seriously, I was!)

Late Afternoon Party

Having fun in the garden waiting for friends to come over for an afternoon party....

Braised gobo and sauteed tatsoi were on the menu, along with a summery arame salad and a soba salad with oven roasted vegetables and an Asian-dressing. The other items not pictured were hummus, roasted nuts, Kalamata olives, fresh corn on the cob, sauteed broccoli, chocolate cake and fruit salad.

The late afternoon was filled with really wonderful friends, gorgeous late summer weather, and lots of laughter!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Brown Rice Onigiri

In this photo, you see some items ready for my lunch on Friday. I pressure cooked some brown rice with azuki beans and a little bit of barley, and when it was done, mixed it with some shiso kombu furikake and sesame seeds. Here are the onigiri waiting to be wrapped up into some nori.

When you make your rice balls by hand, your right and left hands are joined in prayer formation over your heart, so your rice is blessed! I wonder if this is why many Japanese people feel so loved by having their mothers' brown rice balls packed into their school lunches?

Sweet Treats

This coming Sunday is the back-to-school Healthy Lunch Box Cooking Class and today I have been working on the various recipes for it. One quick and tasty treat is the Brown Rice Crispy Treats that I'll be demonstrating how to make. Mmmm..... crunchy, nutty, sweet.... What more could you ask for?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Pressed Salad

I was in need of a quick meal tonight because I wanted to go running and then head out to see Kanu Hawaii's screening of The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil , so I chopped up all my veggies, including hakurei* (baby turnips), wonbok* (Chinese cabbage), carrots, and cucumber*, sprinkled it with sea salt, and then pressed it with a plate and something heavy (jug of mirin pictured for this purpose) to make a nice summery and refreshing "pressed salad."

You can eat this dish by itself as a side dish, or use it to fill wraps and sandwiches. It has a nice crunch and light flavor. For this particular meal, I had it as a side dish with my sandwich that consisted of a little bit of vegenaise, tempeh bacon, and alfalfa sprouts. I'll try to turn it into something else for dinner again the following night.

*locally grown ingredient

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Playing with new ingredients

The other day when I was shopping at Whole Foods, I stumbled on two new variations of ingredients that I haven't seen before, barley and lentils.

I have been searching for this special and very elusive black barley for about 8 years! My friend Reni told me she found it at Rainbow Market in the Bay area, but my own search always came up short.

I found out that this beautiful grain is originally from Ethiopia, but is rare in the US because it has a low yield. The site that I looked at says, "A farmer in Montana decided to take a risk. This is actually the only grain that can go from field to table without being processed because the gloom or bran layer stays attached to the kernel and is edible." They recommend combining it with another grain because it's chewy, and I agree. The next time around maybe I'll do 25% black barley with 75% regular barley. It gets much plumper after it's cooked.

I used it as the main ingredient of my grain salad for dinner. In this dish, several things are grown locally, such as the cucumbers, green onions, and my own home grown parsley and dill.

The other ingredient that I haven't used yet, but plan to sometime soon, is Black Beluga Lentils. It looks like caviar! This should be fun to experiment with. Look for that blog to appear at some point in the near future.

Monday, August 02, 2010

7 Levels of Judgment

Have you ever noticed how macrobiotic theory likes to classify things? Here are the 7 levels of judgment according to one's approach to eating.

At what level(s) do you tend to be? (They say that most of us never reach the 7th level!)

1. Physical = "I eat to stay alive"
2. Sensorial = "Mmmmm. It tastes good"
3. Sentimental = "This food reminds me of something good/bad from my childhood"
4. Intellectual = "This food is nutritious"
5. Social/Moral = "I don't believe in killing animals", or "This food is grown organically"
6. Ideological = "My religion says to eat/avoid this food"
7. Supreme = "I eat or drink whatever I want because I am free and know how to balance my health according to universal principles (and this includes all the previous levels)"

Where would you classify Homer Simpson, for example? (Comments welcome!)

Spicy? Harmonious? Balanced?

We always have a choice what we eat and when we know how it affects us, then we can decide if that is appropriate for our condition. Nothing is categorically "good" or "bad". It just has an energetic effect. For example, we had several spices like curry powder, cardamom, cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds, in the Indian food class.

The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health says, "In a hot, humid climate, spices serve to cool the body, stimulate the mind and nervous system..." So this cooling and stimulating effect could be beneficial for some people since we live in Hawaii, and it's currently summer so that would be even more appropriate. We also talked about how it could create a lively party atmosphere when people eat spicy appetizers.

However, spices may also contribute to excitability, hyperactivity, cooling and weakening effects. A person might get emotionally upset or experience allergies. It all depends on our own particular health condition at the time. If you are feeling nervous already, and spices theoretically contribute to that, becoming mindful and asking yourself, "Self, even though I like this taste, is it going to benefit my current health condition if I eat this right now?" Of course, this is always a personal choice and it's never up to anyone else to say what is right for you or to judge you. Your body will tell you its answer.

The vegan brown rice sushi class is Sept 3rd!

See my website for all the details:

Yin and Yang Mental Disorders

The other night in the Indian food cooking class, we were talking about extreme foods and how according to macrobiotic philosophy, they can tip us out of balance. Here are the foods and the resulting characteristics.... True? You decide!

Yin Mental Disorders

Over-consumption of sugar and other sweeteners, fruits, fruit juice, chemicals, most medications, drugs, alcohol, hot spices, ice cream, some vegetables of tropical and semitropical origin, excessive liquid, and other strong yin substances produce

1. General mental fatigue, which manifests as complaining and as gradual loss of clear thinking and behavior
2. Feeling of melancholy gradual loss of ambition, and self-confidence; the beginning of forgetfulness and vague memory
3. Emotional irritability and fear, prevailing depression; a defensive attitude.
4. Suspicion and skepticism, misconceptions and misinterpretations, general attitude of retreating from life.
5. Discrimination and prejudice based upon an inferiority complex
6. Loss of self-discipline; chaos in thinking and attitude; schizophrenic symptoms
7. Yin arrogance characterized by total inability to adapt to the environment and the creation of a world of fantasy and illusion

Yang Mental Disorders

Over-consumption of meet, eggs, poultry, cheese, and other hard dairy food, other animal quality food, salt, baked and burned food, and other extreme yang substances, as well as insufficient liquid intake, produce

1. General mental fatigue, which manifests as frequent changing of the mind and gradual loss of steadiness in mind and attitude
2. Beginning of rigidity, gradually developing into stubbornness and insistent attention to trivial matters.
3. Excitability, short temper, prevailing discontent, and an offensive attitude
4. Conceptualization, leading to adherence to various “isms” and delusional beliefs
5. Discrimination and prejudice against others based upon a superiority complex
6. Exclusive indoctrination, egocentric thinking and attitude, and paranoid symptoms
7. Yang arrogance characterized by total inability to accept others and self-righteous attempts to control or coerce others