I'm on the road, in search of food — food for my body, food for my mind, food for my soul. I dedicate this blog to peanut butter, my best friend. Food is what we're all about. Cheers!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Good Foods That Protect You

Wakame seaweed, kombu, umeboshi salt plums — these are only a few of the unusual foods in my diet that I've come to love. Slowly over the years as I continue my explorations in macrobiotic theory and practice, I'm learning more about the nutritious, preventative, and protective properties of special foods that for most of my life had been foreign or unusual to me. 

I've come to find out that not only are these foods nutritious and alkalyzing for your body, but they also help to eliminate harmful elements from your body. For example, whenever I know that I'm going to get an xray done (2 to 8 mrems of radiation) or a mammogram (100 to 200 mrems of radiation), I'll make sure to eat plenty of barley miso soup with wakame seaweed, onion, carrot or daikon root, and kale on the days surrounding the procedure. 

If I were to ever have a CT Scan done or a surgery to remove kidney stones, I would be prepared to be exposed to at least 1,000 mrems of radiation and most likely more than that because of the additional xrays the doctor may need to take before and during the procedure.

More than three years ago on March 11, 2011, Japan had a major earthquake and then a nuclear disaster. Following the event there was concern about the effects of radiation fallout, which can cause radiation sickness and cancer. Julia Ferre wrote a very useful and informative article called "Surviving Harmful Radiation" in the May/June 2011 issue of "Macrobiotics Today." Her article brought things into perspective, calming my initial fears and appealing to my common sense. 

All along I've been eating these foods in small quantities and moderation as part of my daily diet to strengthen and fortify my body. And from reading Julia Ferre's article, I realized that they are also very good for me to eat for every day that I'm out and about in the world exposed to radiation from the sunshine, the power lines, the television, and my computer!

Here's a list of some very special foods:

Leafy Greens
• Kale — Green Curly, Dinosaur (Lacinato), Rainbow
• Collard Greens (Collards)
• Mustard Greens
• Turnip Tops

Fats and Oils
• Avocado
• Coconut Oil

• Barley Miso 
• Brown Rice Miso

Sea Vegetables
• Kombu
• Mekabu
• Wakame

Salt Pickles
• Cucumbers, naturally fermented (no vinegar)
• Cabbage sauerkraut, naturally fermented (no vinegar)
• Umeboshi Plums

Fatty Fish
• Sardines
• Wild Salmon

Related Blog Articles:
Whole Grain Barley Miso (March 2, 2011)
Adapting Our Diets To The Situation (March 18, 2011)

Monday, September 1, 2014

My Very First Time At Macrobiotic Summer Camp

Finally my wish came true! I went to French Meadows Macrobiotic Summer Camp this year, and what a wonderful, wonderful experience I had! I don't even know where to begin telling you about it. So, I guess I'll start with the food!

I had already downloaded the camp menu before I arrived at camp, and I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. About a week earlier, I received a fortune cookie that said "Expect the Best!" and decided that the message was talking about the upcoming camp. Well it turns out that camp and the food were the best, and then it turned out to be way-way more better than the best!

I could not have imagined how wonderful this food would taste, after it had been cooked out in the open air, over a wood-burning stove, at an altitude over eight thousand feet high, by skilled macrobiotic master chefs and their sous-chefs. It was exquisite.

Walking into the diningroom for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to see our lunch had already been plated and was sitting on the gigantic picnic tables under a canvas canopy at twelve o'clock sharp. 

At first glance the portions seemed smaller than I was used to, but then I saw how many different items were included on the plate and realized how balanced and complete the entire plate of food really was. There was a table in the center of the area designated for serving yourself to a bowl of soup, condiments, and eating utensils. And there was a buffet table at the front entrance where you could go back for more food any time during the lunch hour.

For newcomers like me, it was very helpful to be served nine days of excellent macrobiotic food without having to prepare it myself. I was then able to directly benefit from the balanced nutrition and still have time to absorb the concentrated learning and healing from all the lectures, workshops, cooking classes, fun-time in the mountains, and private healing sessions that camp had to offer.

Now I understand much better what George Ohsawa meant when he said to start with the food and yin-yang theory — "It is a method that guarantees more than just a medical cure (simple elimination of symptoms) and the control of physiological health; it promises peace of soul, liberty, and justice within one's lifetime."

Related Blog Articles:
Twelve Theorems
My Own Fat Camp
What Is A Macrobiotic Diet, Really?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 14, 2014 — The End Of My Weight Loss Diet And Beginning Of A New Diet For Life!

I am amazed at how quickly these last eighteen months have gone by! I have really enjoyed the focus on creating three well-balanced and attractive-looking meals each day. And I am learning a bit about photographing food too!

I reached my goal of losing 22 pounds several months ago (yay!), and then I continued to lose 8 and 1/2 pounds more — arriving at the final total of 30 1/2 pounds lost on this special diet. Wow. I never could've imagined it.
  And "special" diet it was too! Very special, in that the food was delicious, nutritious, plentiful, balanced between yin and yang, balanced between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and balanced between strengthening and relaxing, serious and fun.

I learned how to broaden my choices and outlook on everything. (And I am still always learning more.)

I made sure to eat vegetables from each of three categories: Root, Round, and Leafy Green. 

Root vegetable examples: daikon root, carrot, burdock, and parsnip
Round vegetable examples: onion, squash, dried beans, lentils, and cauliflower
Leafy green examples: kale, collard greens, broccoli, lettuce, and dandelion leaf

I varied my methods of cooking. Pressure-cooked, boiled, steamed, sauteed or pan-fried, baked vegetables, casseroles, breads, and pizzas. High heat, low heat, fast, slow, with oil and without oil.

I learned how to measure out enough food onto my plate that would satisfy me and give me enough strength to last me until the next meal. I practiced my chewing and paying attention on my food and the here and now. I spent time appreciating the delicious ingredients that took so much time and effort to finally arrive at my table.

I discovered good nourishing snacks that refreshed me in the afternoon, like a cup of kukicha tea with soy sauce that replenished my salt reserves lost from perspiration during hot summer days and exercising, or a cup of "Morning Tea" that also included ginger root, kuzu powder, and a bit of umeboshi to revive me after eating a lot of restaurant food. A handful of almonds roasted in tamari (storebought) satisfied my cravings for a little fat and salt.

I increased the amount of raw vegetables, especially while we were traveling and eating out in restaurants. I reintroduced raw green salads to my diet after realizing that I had become too rigid in my thinking!

Whenever I could, I included seaweed in my diet: kombu cooked with the beans and soups, wakame, nori, dulse, arame, and even mekabu (wakame sporophyll).

What do I want to do next? 

Well, there is one thing that I want to do for sure, and that is learn how to cook all those wonderful dishes they served at French Meadows Macrobiotic Summer Camp! And I want to see if I can find some of the tools they used, like the light-weight square-edged vegetable cleaver, the very practical and useful strainer-ladle, and the Asian grater with the two-directional holes.

I am also looking forward to visiting the many web sites of all the teachers at camp, and some day I hope that I'll get the chance to visit some of the restaurants around the country that were recommended to me, like Seed Kitchen in Venice, California!

And so today marks the first milestone of a great idea that I have, which is to design and create my own weight-loss plan, my own diet, and my own life, and I can highly recommend it to anyone! Cheers and Bon Appetit to all of us!

Related Blog Articles:
Dinner Impossible?
Happy New Year Of The Snake — Finally Letting Go Of 22 Pounds Of Excess Weight
No More Sugar 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Approaching the End of My Weight-Loss Diet

This coming Thursday marks the end of my special 18-month macrobiotic diet that I created in order to focus on losing the last 22 pounds of excess fat from my body. By coincidence, Thursday mornings have been the time that I've been weighing myself each week, and so it is fitting that I will do my final weigh-in on that day.

I'm curious to see how much I weigh since last Thursday, when I discovered that I had lost five pounds while I was at camp, and whether being back home has made me gain some of that weight back. Ahhh, camp! I finally went to French Meadows Macrobiotic Summer Camp for the first time. It was so wonderful. I have much to say about it, and will be writing about it in my Camp Review 2014.

Food! Food is good! 

For 18 months I have eaten very well. I've been well-satisfied. I have not starved, nor have I felt deprived. I've developed my intuition about food, what to eat, how much to eat, how to enjoy and appreciate everything that I eat and how to enjoy and appreciate every decision that I make about eating it.

I can hardly believe that I have finally gotten over the hump! The hump of not being able to lose the weight despite everything that I tried to do. For years! And now, looking back, it seems so easy! So simple! And it is. The key thing that I have learned is that I am constantly changing, constantly adjusting to my environment, to my condition, to my circumstances, and I have the tools to recognize what I need and what I need to do.

I've learned from my consultation with Cynthia Briscoe at Macrobiotics America, from reading Julia Ferre's books on Food and Intuition, and from my time at Macrobiotic Summer Camp, how important it is to broaden my food choices, and not get stuck in a rut of always eating the same simple foods day in and day out. I've learned how important it is to serve myself a satisfying meal, so that it lasts me to the next meal without feeling hungry or wanting in between. In order to be satisfying, the food has to include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, it has to taste good, and it has to be enough to make me feel happy but not full.

Exercise and movement is very important and I still have much to learn about it! How not to overdo it, for example, and how to recognize that many of my activities (like housecleaning and gardening) are actually really good forms of exercise! Breathing, deep breathing, of fresh, clean air. Smiling. Laughing. Resting. Reading a good novel. Playing! Working hard. Washing dishes! Cooking. Discovering brave new worlds...

Macrobiotics is all about food and the good life. Cheers!

Related Blog Articles:
Designing My Own Weight-Loss Diet
Draft #1 — My Weight-Loss Diet Plan
Happy New Year Of The Snake — Finally Letting Go Of 22 Pounds Of Excess Weight
My Special Weight-Loss Diet Plan For 18 Months — Started on Valentine's Day, 2-14-2013
My Daily Diet Report — Getting Ready For My New Weight-Loss Diet

Monday, February 24, 2014

Reaching Another Milestone — Valentine's Day — One Year Since I Started My Special Diet

My husband and I have just returned from a 17-day road trip to sunny southern California. During that time, on Valentine's Day, I reached my first-year milestone of being on my special weight-loss diet. Now I have six more months to go and part of that time will be during more road trips. I've reached my goal to lose 22 pounds and have even surpassed it by a little more. More importantly, I'm reaching a higher level of understanding about Macrobiotics.  

I love the advice, directions, and recipes that I've received from Cynthia Briscoe for my self-healing journey! I've discovered the incredible taste difference between real twig kukicha tea (twigs only) and kukicha tea bags (twigs and leaves mixed). The secret is in the preparation and the cooking container that's used. I get much better results by gently simmering the tea directly in water without the separation caused by a tea bag, and using a non-reactive enamel-coated teapot. Cynthia gave me a great recipe for brewing it and pointed out that this method releases calcium for my benefit. I buy kukicha twig tea online from the Goldmine Natural Foods company.

I've learned how to make my own Macrobiotic bread, which is unleavened, naturally fermented whole grains and flour. I was amazed at how easy and natural it was for me to make it. I've had many years of baking experience and this recipe (Cynthia told it to me over the phone) was a complete surprise. It was so simple! And really delicious. If you like San Francisco sourdough bread, you would love this bread. And you would be really happy knowing how good it is for you too. :o)

I'm in love with two miso condiment recipes from Cynthia, "Shiguri Miso" and "Dandelion Oily Miso." I took some of both with me on the trip and ate them with my brown rice. A couple of times I used them to make into an "instant miso soup" with hot water in the hotel room. A lot of chopping vegetables was involved in preparing these condiments for the trip, and the time spent was well worth it!

Thanks to Cynthia, I think I made better food choices in the restaurants we visited. I paid more attention to the vegetables that were available, for example, and I ate more fresh (raw) green salads. Thanks to the warm, friendly people in those restaurants I was able to get more of the foods I wanted. Besides their willingness to accommodate my requests, everyone I asked was more than happy to bring me a cup of hot water with lemon for my beverage, and the water was always delicious.

Looking back on the trip, I'd say that I ate a pretty good mix of brown rice that I cooked in our hotel room (Zojirushi travel-size electric rice cooker) versus restaurant food that other people cooked. And I was delighted each time I discovered healthy items on a menu, including some whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and wild rice, whole wheat flour products like tortillas and burger buns, and sometimes even organic vegetables.

It was so wonderful to come back home and start my own cooking again. With my new self-healing regimen and all of Cynthia's recommendations, my kitchen is in a constant state of motion. It reminds me of the exhibit I saw at Disneyland's California Adventure Park, by Pixar, called a Toy Story 3-dimensional zoetrope

Related Blog Articles:
My Own Fat Camp
Searching For Brown Rice In Restaurants
Whole Grains In Restaurants
Cheat Sheets
Happy New Year Of The Snake — Finally Letting Go Of 22 Pounds Of Excess Weight

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 281 — Past The Halfway Point Of My Special Weight-Loss Diet And Loving It!

More than nine months have gone by since I started my special weight-loss diet on Valentine's Day. My goal was to be on this diet for 18 months and to lose 22 pounds by following my own custom diet based on Macrobiotics.

So far, it's working great! I've been very busy these last nine months, traveling on a couple of business-vacation trips, exploring new restaurants, and even going to the county fair. I am learning so much about how specific foods affect me, and how my body uses certain foods to increase my energy and stamina more and more. 

Whole grains are definitely the way to go if I want to lose weight — they are a sure thing. I've lost 18.6 pounds over this period of time and watched the scales fluctuate up and down in 1 to 2-pound increments each week depending on how much I ate at restaurants versus how much I ate at home. 

Also key to my weight loss has been a steady and increasing amount of movement, which included gardening, hiking, and walking in the fresh air.

During this time, my Gonstead chiropractor introduced me to the book, The End of Medicine, by Kaare Bursell, and I consequently started my own special Health Spa with ginger compresses and daikon baths four times a week. Finding daikon leaves in large quantities was quite a challenge and I probably would've had to wait another year to grow my own if it weren't for a produce manager at the New Leaf.

I took that book with me on my trips along with two other very helpful books, Food and Intuition, Volume 1 and Volume 2, by Julia Ferre. Stay tuned for book reports on all three.

My husband and I visited several new restaurants both on our trips and locally. Several stand out in my mind, such as Takara's Japanese Restaurant in Capitola that much to my surprise is now finally serving brown rice, and Kumi Japanese Restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada that not only serves brown rice, it is also excellent, tender, and fresh brown rice! Geisha's Japanese Restaurant and Tea House in Capitola-by-the-Sea was a delightful surprise, serving artistically beautiful food including jasmine-brown-rice vegetarian rolls (sustainable sushi).

Similar to My Dream Diner — Burger Number Seven, I have a new dream I want to write about, called "The World Macrobiotic Kitchen And Store" in the Glass Pyramid Building, New York City. 

Next on my To-Do List: My first consultation appointment with Cynthia Briscoe at Macrobiotics America to begin another layer of my self-healing journey. I can hardly wait!

Related Blog Articles:
My Own Fat Camp
Getting Ready For My New Weight-Loss Diet
Two Years of No More Sugar

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More Than Six Weeks Have Gone By Since The Start Of My Weight-Loss Diet

"It takes about six weeks of daily effort to effect a desired change, to reverse bad habits and/or create new ones," — so says Julia Ferre on page 32 of her book, Food And Intuition 101, Volume 1: Awakening Intuition.

And this is why I decided, when I was designing my special weight-loss plan, that I would be very strict for the first six weeks of my diet and wait until April 1st before I re-introduced any foods that are not completely whole grains and vegetables. After April 1st, this would include certain foods such as those made with processed whole grains (ground flour, rolled flakes, polenta, etc.) and pleasure foods like pizza.

It turns out that I have been completely and utterly satisfied with eating only whole grains and vegetables so far and I think that I want to continue with this!

I can't tell you how great this is making me feel. My body has been healing itself and discharging the toxins and excesses that it doesn't need. At about Week #3 or so, I had all the symptoms of a head cold except my energy levels were still high and my appetite was great! I still jumped out of bed every morning, blew my nose, drank some special tea, maybe chewed some gomasio for a headache to go quickly away, and then continued on with my day!

These days, I love planning what I'm going to eat, cooking it, photographing it, and most of all, eating it!  And yet, after I've eaten a meal, I don't feel the need to keep thinking about it — nothing was missing, and I was completely satisfied, and now I have lots of energy to do something else! Each meal has been lasting me until the next meal, four or five hours later. I haven't felt hungry or had any cravings or urges to binge on foods that are off my diet. (I think that chewing more than 100 times is contributing to this feeling of satiation and satisfaction.)

I love the challenge of becoming more efficient in my meal planning and kitchen cleanup, and of making sure that I have plenty of variety. I've even had some successful meals out and about on picnics and in restaurants. Every day, I look forward to trying something new — new grains and vegetables, new recipes, and new artistic ways to plate my food. This is so much fun!

Here's a list of what I've eaten so far and loved it all:

Whole grains:
amaranth (Breakfast on Day #41)
barley, purple prairie
brown rice, medium grain (Lundberg Golden Rose)
brown rice, long grain
brown rice, short grain
brown rice, Brown Thai Jasmine (Day #16)
brown rice, wild rice, Lundberg "Jubilee" rice blend
oat groats
quinoa, traditional yellow
quinoa, Inca Red
wheat berries, red hard winter
wild rice

Processed whole grains: 
cornmeal (Dinner on Day #63, Day #64, Day #65)
old fashioned oatmeal (Breakfast on Day #61)
polenta, corn (Dinner on Day #61)
rye, Farmer's Market rye bread with cranberries (Lunch on Day #52)
veggie burger on whole wheat bread (no lettuce, tomato, onion, or cheese) (Lunch on Day #36)
veggie patty, house-made on whole wheat bun (Dinner on Day #55)
veggie patty, made with leftovers and crushed cornflakes (Dinner on Day #62)
whole grain crust (wheat, rye, oat), homemade pizza (Dinner on Day #66)
whole-wheat, Ak Mak Organic Whole Wheat Sesame Crackers (Breakfast on Day #54, Day #64
whole-wheat 4-seed bagel with butter (Dessert on Day #55
whole-wheat sesame millet bread, Vital Vittles (Lunch on Day #59)

Processed partial grains:
Plain fettucini pasta (Dinner on Day #56)

avocado, guacamole (Dinner on Day #64)
baby bok choy
broccolini (baby broccoli)
brussels sprouts
burdock root
carrot top greens
collard greens (first time, Dinner on Day #63, Day #64, Day #65)
daikon radish
dandelion greens from our garden
green onions
green pimento-stuffed olives (Day #10)
kale, lacinato (dinosaur)
kale, red
lettuce, butter
lettuce, iceberg
Lettuce tofu veggie wraps (Lunch on Day #43)
mushrooms, homemade pizza (Dinner on Day #66)
olives, homemade pizza (Dinner on Day #66)
onion, Beer battered Crispy Onion Rings (Lunch on Day #36)
peas, yellow split
pumpkin, Kabocha
Squashes with Garlic and Olive Oil (Day #16
sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) from the garden
sweet potato fries (Dinner on Day #55)
sweet potato, Japanese
sweet potato, jewel yam
turnip, from the garden
Vegetarian spring rolls, "skinned" (cabbage, shiitake mushroom, carrot with breading removed) (Lunch on Day #43)

Sea Vegetables, Beans, Nuts, and Seeds:
hazelnuts (filberts)
kombu seaweed 
lentil vegetable soup (Dinner on Day #37
lentils, black beluga
miso, brown rice
miso, country barley
miso, mellow white
pumpkin seeds 
refried beans (Lunch on Day #37)
sesame seeds
sunflower seeds
wakame seaweed 

Processed partial beans:
tofu, Wildwood's Savory Sprou-Tofu (Lunch on Day #58)
Tofu Broccoli (Dinner on Day #30)

Special sauces, seasonings, cooking oils, and condiments:
basil, fresh
cheese, homemade pizza (Dinner on Day #66)
coconut oil
lemon garlic tahini dressing
lemon miso olive oil sauce, Julia's (Day #68)
lemon tahini sauce
olive oil 
peanut butter, hot water, soy sauce (Dinners on Day #48, Day #57)
seaweed gomasio (daily) 
sesame seed oil
soy sauce, Ohsawa (daily)
tomato sauce, from the garden, frozen  (Day #10)
tomato sauce, homemade pizza (Dinner on Day #66)
umeboshi plums
ume plum vinegar
Yamazaki California Dried Umeboshi Salt Plum, 2004 (Day #16)

bancha tea
Bigelow's Mint Medley tea (spearmint, peppermint, rose hips, lemon peel, hibiscus) (Dinner on Day #56)
Bi Lo Chun Green Tea — "Green curls of Spring" light green tea (Day #16)
chamomile tea
coffee latte with whole milk (Dessert on Day #55
Ginger Tea (ginger, lemongrass, licorice, fennel) (Breakfast on Day #61)
green tea
kukicha tea (daily)
Kuzu Drink, Zen Macrobiotics, by George Ohsawa (Day #23)
lemon juice and hot water
Oolong tea (Dinner on Day #30)
Organic Echinacea Plus tea (Day #20)
peppermint and white-sage tea (Lunch on Day #14)
Ume-Sho-Kuzu Drink No. 325, on page 95, Zen Macrobiotics, by George Ohsawa (Days #19, #20, #21, #24, #25)

Oh, and by the way, I've lost ten pounds. This diet is the BEST!

Related Blog Articles:
Day #1 Of My Weight-Loss Diet
Happy New Year Of The Snake — Finally Letting Go Of 22 Pounds Of Excess Weight
My Own Fat Camp
My Special Weight-Loss Diet Plan For 18 Months Started On Valentine's Day, 4-14-2013
My Daily Diet Report