In a recent cooking class, I was given the feedback that the word Macrobiotics had remained a mystery in their minds for some time wondering if it had something to do with a science laboratory and what did that have to do with cooking anyway? One student had stayed away from pursuing her interest in this style of preparing wholesome food thinking it was somehow related to large bugs. I kid you not. Well, I felt it was time to set the record straight. The word Macrobiotics translates from the Greek word macro meaning big or great and biotic meaning life. So what you get is great life or the big picture of life. Now what does this have to do with cooking? Quite a lot when one considers the preparation and eating of food to be an integral part of what makes up ones day to day moods, energy levels and general health.
I have always loved this principle that everything is connected and all things are part of the whole. The Chinese have refered to this ancient concept as Tao. Through this principle of unity, one can use food as a way of bringing wholeness and balance back into the body. I know you've heard it before and I'll say it again: you are what you eat. In other words, what went into the body yesterday helped build the bones and blood of today. Therefore if one has been eating a diet of refined and processed food for a long time, the chances of an imbalance in the body is highly likely. Return to a diet of whole and natural foods and the body/mind begins to resonate with this vibration of wholeness and return to balance.
The study of how to prepare unprocessed, wholefoods in a balanced way is part of the study of Macrobiotic cooking. However, this is where the principle of the the great life or the big picture comes in. Everyone's individual dietary habits, genetic constitution, career choice, family stresses, exposure to toxins and viruses all combine to create a unique set of symptems called "your health". The consideration of all these factors in your life can be applied to food selection and preparation to give you an understanding of how to change with the seasons, how to warm up or cool down with your evening meal as well as toughen up with strengthening foods when life is more stressful or or demanding.
Well, perhaps it seems that one would need a science laboratory to understand this philosophy behind the term macrobiotic cooking. "All I wanted to know was how to make a good tofu burger that my kids will like and what do you do with this tasteless food tofu anyhow?" Well don't be put off — the principle of yin and yang and change is not complicated and is truly as obvious as day and night and man and woman. Just as all things change in nature, one's eating habits and food choices should also change and flow with the seasons. This is quite intuitive for most people, for example, not many of you would be craving an icy tropical fruit juice on a cold winter's night. If you are, consider that there could be a real imbalance in the body. Ditto for craving a thick hearty vegetable and bean stew on a hot day in summer. Applying the simple yet so intelligent principles of yin and yang in cooking and eating can be a revolution in one's diet for stabilizing moods, returning to a more balanced health and higher energy levels.
But does it have to be boring? you ask. Definitely not! To learn to enjoy the natural taste of fresh organic vegetables, whole grains and yummy sauces made with savoury misos and roasted ground seeds or nuts and sharp flavours such as umeboshi plums, mustard or brown rice vinegar is a delight to the palate. In fact its time for a wholesome dinner of bio-dynamic brown rice, lentils cooked with carrots and caramelized onions, steamed cauliflower and broccoli and hot applesauce with crumble topping made from rolled oats, walnuts and brown rice syrup for dessert. "Well, why didn't you say that in the beginning. Now you have my attention!"