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Our Kitchens As Wellness Centers
by David Snieckus

Your kitchen is a wellness center, using macrobiotics
Photo © Sophie McAulay/Shutterstock

As a way of introduction, may I repeat an old cliché and what I consider to be a simple truth? “We are what we eat!” What I discovered over thirty years ago is that the food we take into our bodies, whether it be actual physical food that feeds our bodies, mental thoughts or whatever exists in the visible and invisible environment surrounding us, creates us and all that we are. It always has and always will. Whether we are in great physical and/or mental condition, or poor, we have created this state through the biological and psychological food that we ingest. So developing the knowledge of what to allow into our bodies is one of life’s important practices.

The knowledge and practice of eating food that optimally feeds our bodies gives us the biological foundation and the confidence to live in this world without the fear of getting sick! One’s selection, preparation and eating of wholesome and nourishing foods is of vital  importance for one’s optimal health and long-term survival on this planet.

Where does this begin? Right in one’s own kitchen! The kitchen is our wellness center. It is the heart of the home, the hearth from which we nourish our families, our communities, ourselves. This is wonderful news as it empowers us to take our own health into our own hands.

How do we transform our kitchens into wellness centers, thereby creating the health, happiness and peace we all seek? We equip our kitchens with the right tools and supplies: A gas stove, quality cast iron pots, pans, pressure cookers made with stainless steel, a sharp vegetable cutting knife, wooden cutting boards and quality cooking utensils.

In clean, glass jars, we store healthy condiments such as high quality sea salt, shoyu soy sauce, umeboshi plum, miso, and bulk foods such as grains, whole-wheat pastry flour, dried beans, seeds and nuts, in all their abundant variety.

We store in our kitchen and/or refrigerator organic plant-based seasonal foods, vegetables, fruits and plant-based protein, such as tofu, tempeh, seitan and beans in their own abundant variations.

We come to the “service” of cooking in our kitchens with a dedicated, committed and loving attitude. Cooking is an art, a form of meditation in motion and a service to humanity.

We develop an understanding of how to select and prepare in our kitchens nourishing wholesome foods that will optimize our health.

Because “we are what we eat” and because food provides the biological foundation for our health and well-being, the knowledge and understanding of the cook who selects and prepares our food is paramount to the quality of our health. In essence, the cook must become a “food doctor.” As stated by Hippocrates, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food.”

The way I came to this understanding was through the study of Macrobiotics, which I began in 1977, and by following the laws of Nature, which, based on the Macrobiotic Philosophy, are known as “The Order of the Universe.” After three years of formal study of the philosophy and practical application of Macrobiotics at the Kushi Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts, I came away with what I thought was a brilliantly simple realization: If I eat well, everything will be okay! This was reinforced by my ongoing study, practice and reading of hundreds of books by authors who all conclude that a whole foods, plant-based diet is the best way to eat.
The kitchen is our wellness center. It is the heart of the home, the hearth from which we nourish our families, our communities, ourselves. This is wonderful news as it empowers us to take our own health into our own hands.

The best foods to prepare in our kitchens and then to eat are organic whole grains, beans, land and sea vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Here’s why, from a Macrobiotic perspective. Very simply, it begins with understanding energy and how it works. In Macrobiotics, everything is explained by how yin (upward, expansive energy) changes into yang (downward and contractive energy), and how yang changes back into yin, everywhere…in everything, no exceptions. It’s the dance of the universe or infinity in motion. From the spiralic formation of galaxies to the formation of DNA, yin and yang energy patterns are everywhere. From the daisy or sunflower to the Milky Way Galaxy, day changing into night and night into day, summer changing into winter and back again, the rise and fall of civilizations, the evolutionary process of over three billion years in which one-celled amoeba changed/evolved to seaweeds to ancient land plants to modern plants, nuts, seeds, beans and finally to grain.

This phenomenon of yin and yang can be applied to food. Foods that are more yang include sea salt, sea weeds, miso and umeboshi plum, along with cooked warming root vegetables like carrots, burdock and onions. More yin foods include beverages, cooling greens, salads, pickles and fruits. Extreme yang foods include poor quality salt, meats, eggs and hard cheeses. Extreme yin foods include alcohol, coffee, white sugar, even drugs, medications, vaccinations, immunizations, our food industry’s genetically modified foods and processed foods – all of which create severe imbalances that lead to our sicknesses and degeneration.

Foods that are more yang include sea salt, sea weeds, miso and umeboshi plum, along with cooked warming root vegetables like carrots, burdock and onions. More yin foods include beverages, cooling greens, salads, pickles and fruits. Extreme yang foods include poor quality salt, meats, eggs and hard cheeses. Extreme yin foods include alcohol, coffee, white sugar, even drugs, medications, vaccinations, immunizations, our food industry’s genetically modified foods and processed foods.

As we learn to balance our foods by understanding their energy, applying heat and/or sea salt to contract foods and water and oil to expand foods, and eating consciously in harmony with the seasons, (more warming food in the winter and more cooling food in the summer), we create more balance and greater health within. By paying close attention to this very fundamental concept, we can find peace and harmony in our environment and create an intuitive, simple balance in our everyday life.

Eating the huge variety of combinations of organic grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and some high quality sea salt, in harmony with the seasons, is what has kept me healthy and well and what gave me the confidence of never again getting sick. Understanding “The Order of the Universe,” originally taught by George Oshawa and Michio Kushi, was my core philosophical guide to understanding food on a universal, as well as practical, level. The thumbnail understanding goes like this. The order, listed backwards, is: Humans/animals eat plants, plants grow in or come from the soil, the soil is made up of elements, these elements consist of sub-atomic particles, sub-atomic particles are made up of endless energy patterns of yin and yang, which comes from infinity. Basically, we come from infinity, exist in infinity and return to infinity! The food we need to eat as humans for our survival on this planet is the energy that comes from infinity and is available most effectively in plants. As animals, we eat directly or indirectly from the visible world of plants, a manifestation of various essentials including air, soil, water and fire (fire in the form of sun rays through the process of photosynthesis). The quality of these elements affects the quality of our food, which, in turn, affects the quality of our health.

The ideal food for human consumption is organic plant-based whole foods grown in fertile organic soil, fed by quality water and air, and filled with quality chlorophyll made by sunlight and adjusted or changed by our judgment of “yin-izing” or “yang-izing” our food. The following summarizes other compelling reasons for such a diet. I call them my BIG “E” reasons!

Especially Healthy:
Since 1977, I have found the prescription for my health through studying and research, but mostly through trial and error. From a sickly, stingy, meat eating, sugar binging, white flour and ice cream addict and prescription drug junkie individual for thirty years, I have changed in the last thirty years to a strong, healthy, vibrant and giving partner, father and friend by eating a grain-based, whole foods, plant-based diet with love. To me that’s the best way to be healthy.

Evidentially Verifiable:
The evidence I put forth is my physical body and energy. This is evidence enough for me as I look around and see people my age getting grey hair and looking like they are really old. Just today, I asked the staff at the train station where I could get my senior card for a reduced rate and they said, “You don’t look like you are sixty-two!”

Further evidence is provided in countless scientific studies that substantiate that a whole foods plant-based diet is the healthiest. T. Colin Campbell PhD. and his son Thomas M. Campbell II most notably demonstrate this in The China Study, The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted.

Ecologically Sustainable:
The seeds from plant-based foods can perpetuate our survival for future generations (versus the unsustainable practices of industrial animal farming and producing “infertile” processed and genetically modified food products.)

Environmentally Friendly:
Growing local organic whole foods can save the soil and prevent deforestation by reducing land use and packaging needs, reduce air and water pollution by decreasing CO2 emissions caused by transportation and deforestation, and reduce other hazardous waste caused by industrialized agribusiness.

Economical:
Costs for locally grown foods are relatively inexpensive (versus the high environmental and distribution costs associated with producing industrialized animal products and processed food.) Compare a huge bag of vegetables for ten dollars to forty dollars for a bag of processed food!
The health benefits of eating plant-based whole foods reduce health care costs. In my own case, I have not taken any medications for over thirty- two years. When I went for an eye exam the other day, the optometrist asked me what drugs I was taking and when I said “none” he was surprised.

Ethical:
We reap what we sow! Eating plant-based foods instills peace and harmony, versus eating animals and animal-based products, which negatively affects other creatures and perpetuates violence. After becoming strictly vegetarian, I could see more clearly the pain and suffering we are causing every day in the slaughter of animals. It feels good to live on this planet without another animal being killed for my pleasure.

Evolutionarily Correct:
We are biologically designed to eat mainly plants. Our teeth have more molars for grinding grain than canine teeth for eating animal food; our intestines are long for digesting plant food, rather than short for digesting the flesh of animals. Plants, throughout our three billion year evolution have always been present for animals to eat. Throughout this evolution, the evolution of animals has paralleled the evolution of plants. Plants transform themselves into our bodies through the following process. When green plants, which have a magnesium (Mg) centered cell, called chlorophyll, are eaten by animals and become oxygenated through exercise, they change into red blood cells with an iron (Fe) centered cell, called hemoglobin.

Easy:
Mostly, just boil water. To make a really simple miso soup, boil one or two cups of water, add one sliced carrot, one flower of a cut up broccoli, a piece of nori and then a teaspoon of miso. You are done in less than five minutes!

Efficient:
Eating a plant-based diet is at least ten times more efficient than eating meat. When we eat grain directly, rather than indirectly by feeding it to an animal and then eating the animal, we are making our flesh first hand from the plant rather than through another animal.

Eating a plant-based diet is at least ten times more efficient than eating meat. When we eat grain directly, rather than indirectly by feeding it to an animal and then eating the animal, we are making our flesh first hand from the plant rather than through another animal.

Enjoyable:
Delicious foods nourish the palate and soul. Everyone loves to eat. Just as the love between humans can be expressed through sex, the love between humans and the vegetable world is expressed through eating.

Encourages Entrainment:
Another important benefit of a wellness kitchen is a wholesome, nourishing meal around which a family and/or community gathers. Not only does gathering together help to strengthen our family and social fabric, eating together harmonizes our energies. I strongly believe that those who eat together stay together!

In conclusion, education and experience are essential for optimizing our health and well-being and the continuation of our species. That is to say: When we understand that the food we eat becomes us, and that we can affect our health right in our own kitchens, we have gained a valuable insight into life.

When we establish strong, healthy, creative and vibrant cooks in the kitchen, we will create strong, healthy, creative, and vibrant families and communities. When we transform our kitchens into wellness centers based on a wholesome plant-based diet and practice our own inexpensive “health food treatment,” we will become more loving people who care for our health and are on the path of peace and happiness.

All this will lead to a reformed health care system. True health care reform will come about when we take our health into our own hands, beginning in our own kitchens. As we take responsibility for and ownership of our health, we will reduce the need for doctors, hospitals, and medications.

To make this new consciousness shift, we will need education on how to select, prepare and eat wholesome, nourishing foods. And we will need each other for guidance and support. As a macrobiotic counselor and chef for over thirty years, I want readers to feel free to seek such support from me and other experts. My passion and commitment is that we optimize our health and well-being and evolve into more peaceful, harmonious world citizens on a planet that will sustain us all.


Cooking and Eating for Wellness

Examples of creating simple, wholesome, nourishing meals with recipes follow. Hint - Try this new recipe instruction format: Read through the recipes, visualize what you will be doing and then create the meal. Remember, these recipes are just guidelines. Allow your creativity to flow.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
In a 5-quart pot, add a bit of corn oil and then sauté one moon-sliced onion, add a pinch of sea salt, allow the onions to become translucent and then add the cut up winter butternut squash. (Note - Super Secret Trick: When preparing the butternut squash, first cut off a silver dollar size piece and dip it in sea salt and then rub the piece against the rest of the body of the squash; this draws out the bitterness of the squash. Watch the foam form!) Rinse and then cut up the rest of the squash, skin and all, into manageable chunks. Place these chunks in the soup pot and add a quart of fresh water. Add about a 6-inch strip of wakame or kombu seaweed. Allow to cook for over 30 minutes and then blend or stir vigorously with a variety of tahini, leftover oats or rice to make the soup creamy.

Quinoa and Almonds
In a large pot, add 2 cups of quinoa, 2 pinches of sea salt and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and allow to cook slowly for 30 minutes. Near the end of cooking the quinoa, in a separate pan, dry roast 2 cups of almond meal for a few minutes until just browning and then add 2 tablespoon of shoyu. Stir quickly and add to quinoa. Lots of vegetable quality protein here!

Lotus Root and Carrots Simmered in Shoyu
In a large frying pan, layer sliced lotus root and carrots and top with a sprinkle of nori seaweed. Add a mixture of half shoyu (soy sauce) and half water and simmer for 20 minutes.

Seitan Stew
This is pretty much made like any other meat stew with the exception of an animal being slaughtered for it.
In a stew pot, braise: onions, seitan, celery, carrots, turnips and squash. A bit of seaweed like wakame or kombu makes it more nutritious. Add sea salt to the beginning of the process and then water and then shoyu. Use kuzu starch by dissolving kuzu in cold water and adding to the boiling water as a thickener for a healthier and heartier stew. Hint: Make your own seitan (wheat gluten). This provides the gluten for the seitan, the starch for the thickener and the bran for muffins. Economical? Yes! Time consuming? Yes!

Vegetable Medley in Sesame Sauce
With a variety of seasonal vegetables you will always have a different meal. For one recipe, try leeks, carrots, celery and yellow squash. I would sauté the carrots first, then the celery, then the leeks, then the yellow squash and, finally, add a splash of shoyu. In a separate pan, boil a cup of water and add tahini with a pinch of sea salt. Stir in a squeeze of lemon and voilà: a creamy sauce for your veggies.

Pickled Napa
Very simple: Cut up one head of Chinese napa cabbage into bite size pieces. Place in a bowl or pickling press and add a handful of sea salt. (Don’t worry about the amount of sea salt; just use enough to “sweat” the cabbage.) Then put it under pressure with the pickling press or put it in a container and cover it with a plate and a weight.

David Snieckus is a graduate of the world-renowned Kushi Institute and has been practicing macrobiotics since 1977. Currently, he is a Macrobiotic Counselor, Coach and Chef who resides in Newton, MA. Since 1977, David has been helping individuals change their diets and improve their lives. He is an experienced, entertaining and engaging speaker. His passion is to share his knowledge and experience and invoke self-awareness in others so that they may experience optimum health and well being. Visit his website at www.davidsnieckus.com.

 

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