One common misconception about Macrobiotics is that it is a diet. I think in its truest application, Macrobiotics is a philosophy of living that incorporates so much more than just the food we eat. This is why you will often hear it referred to as Macrobiotic Philosophy or people will say “I am practicing Macrobiotics.”

Unlike an actual diet, the practice of Macrobiotics will look different from person to person. We are either moving into or out of balance. Macrobiotics could be called the art of creating balance.

courtesy of arztsamui at freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of arztsamui at freedigitalphotos.net.

One of the things I love about Macrobiotic Philosophy is that it is full of principles and sayings to guide our thinking and our lives.

One principle I am fascinated by is Quantity Changes Quality. Let’s look at it from a few different angles and then you can play with it in your own life.

Some teachers take this principle to mean too much of a good thing is still too much. One piece of chocolate cake might leave you feeling satisfied, three pieces might give you a stomach ache.

I think too much or too little can affect quality. A crumb of chocolate cake won’t be very satisfying, either.

Salt is a good example. We need good quality sea salt in our diets. Too little will not give the kidneys enough of a charge, too much can harm the kidneys. The appropriate amount of salt is also important for our cardiovascular and nervous systems. Quantity affects quality, whether the quantity is too little or too much. Not enough cinnamon in a cinnamon roll and you won’t even taste it. Too much and it becomes unpalatable.

I like interpersonal examples, too. Remember when you were little and you went over to your best friend’s house to play? It took a little while to get into the groove and settle into being together. Once you warmed up, you then had a finite amount of really connected, magical play. Then, at some point the play-date lasted too long and you were suddenly sick of each other.

Look at that plant in your window sill. Too much water? Not enough? What happens?

courtesy of koko-tewan at freedigitalphotos.net

courtesy of koko-tewan at freedigitalphotos.net

When would opening up instead of closing down increase the quality of a relationship?

Quantity affects Quality. Play with this principle. Notice in your life when you are taking a good thing past the point of quality. Or when you aren’t even allowing yourself enough of something to benefit.

I’m not Miss Balance Girl. I love having fun with extremes. Yet, it sure is nice to have some insight to draw from when I am ready to find center again.

Love,
Teresa

 

 

 

When I have guests in my home, I provide them with an assortment of easy breakfast items, including bread. I don’t often eat bread, so if it becomes more than a few days old, it’s nice to be able to just toss it into an easy dessert.20150122_122811[1]

I like a hearty, dense wholewheat naturally leavened sourdough bread, but go ahead and use your favorite or whatever you have on hand. Often, I will cube leftover bread and freeze it until I am ready to make either deep fried bread cubes for soup, or this bread pudding.

Traditional bread pudding recipes call for eggs and milk. Mine is super easy and completely vegan. I am not sure it’s even technically a bread pudding, but it’s delicious all the same.

If your bread is fairly soft, you may need to use up to 1/2 cup less liquid than the recipe calls for. Use your best judgement. If the bread pudding hasn’t thickened by 30 minutes of baking, leave it in the oven for a little longer until the liquids becomes thicker.

I like making this in my small 2 quart Le Creuset pot. Leave the lid on for part of the baking and off for the latter half.

Simple Vegan Bread Pudding

4 cups hearty bread, cubed
2 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I use either Pacific Hemp Milk or Oat Milk these days, unless I have homemade milk available)
2 Tbsp grade B maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon (or whatever cinnamon you have)
1/2 baking apple, chopped small (I like Braeburn, Gala or Cameo)
2 Tbsp raisins, separated so they mix in well (opt)

1.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Let sit for up to a few hours or until the bread is very saturated. This will take less time for light, soft breads and more time for dense, hearty breads.

2.  Heat oven to 350°.

3.  Pour bread mixture into medium size baking dish with lid. Press the mixture down so it’s even and the bread is mostly covered. Bake for about 30 minutes. Leave the lid on for the first 15 minutes. Then remove lid and bake until the bread pudding is thick and starting to brown a bit on top.20150122_122922[1]

One of my main time-saving strategies in the kitchen is to make enough grain for three meals. We eat it freshly cooked for dinner on day 1, in something new for lunch or dinner on day 2 and then as a morning porridge the third morning. I try not to eat grain that’s more than three days old because it loses vitality over time. The same goes for legumes.

This same concept of cooking enough grain for three meals works for other grains as well, particularly millet and polenta.

Brown rice cooked with a little sea salt is considered to be one of the most balanced (and balancing) dishes, so it often shows up in a meal once a day or at least five times a week. Energetically it is a bit gathering and helps guide us and set direction in our lives.

carrot pudding

All of these ideas will work for pressure cooked brown rice. Many will work for boiled brown rice, but some, like nori rolls and rice balls, need the dense sticky quality you get from pressure cooking. Many of the recipes will work for pressure cooked rice/bean combinations as well.

Ideas for Leftover Pressure Cooked Brown Rice

1.  Nori Rolls and Hand Rolls

2.  Rice Balls:  covered with nori, with pumpkin seedsrice balls

3.  Fried Rice:  First, saute some vegetables in a skillet. When the vegetables are almost done cooking, add rice on top and sprinkle on a little shoyu/tamari mixed with a few tablespoons of water. Put a lid on it, heat through and stir. Remove from heat and mix in some toasted seeds or nuts and a little brown rice vinegar. This one over at PPK looks great.

4.  Rice Pudding:  Simple Rice Pudding with CinnamonCarrot and Currant Rice Pudding

5.  Rice and Bean Patties: Try the Brown Rice and Pinto Bean Patties.

6.  Add to Soup:  You can substitute the rice for millet in Millet with Sweet Vegetable Soup. Or add to almost any soup. You can also use it to thicken a creamy pureed soup.

7.  Morning Porridge, Sweet or Savory:  Check out Breakfast Porridge – 4 Ways.

8.  Rice Kayu Bread from Wholly Macro.IMG_20130318_124815

9.  Collard Green Burrito: Add some of that rice in there along with a bean spread and avocado or salad mix. Add a little drizzle of dressing or salsa. Yum.

10. Stuffed Acorn Squash:  Cut the squash in half, remove seeds and lay cut side down in a dish with 1/2″ water. Bake at 350° until almost soft. Remove from oven and fill with a spontaneous rice filling. Try rice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon, sea salt, shredded brussel sprouts, fruit sweetened cranberries and pumpkin seeds. After filling, drizzle with a little more olive oil. Cover and put back in oven until heated through, about 20 minutes.

What are your favorite ways to use leftover brown rice?

The second week of December I started another round of eliminating sugar from my diet. Ideally, I would get off sugar and stay off for the rest of my life. However, the best I can seem to do right now is continue to set my compass in that direction. Less days with sugar. More days without.

Sugar can mean different things for different people at different times. To clarify, I am talking about refined sweeteners. I did not take fruit out of my diet. I still drank some hot apple cider and warmed up carrot juice. But I didn’t even consume brown rice syrup and maple syrup.

What I want to talk about today is my experience. From the moment I made the decision to quit sugar, it felt very different from other times in the past. So different, actually, that it scared me.

Photo courtesy of  Serge Bertasius Photography at freedigitalphotos.net.

Photo courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at freedigitalphotos.net.

One of the things I have been doing in the past few years is healing my drug history. From antibiotics and anesthesia as a child, to alcohol, marijuana and antidepressants as an adult, with sugar and chocolate woven throughout.

As part of this healing, I realized that one of the biggest problems with marijuana is that it makes our brain think that nothing is a big deal. Sound familiar? It’s part of the way that particular drug affects our brain.

This December, the moment I stopped eating sugar, I actually had a really hard time even remembering why I was doing it. I had none of my earlier convictions at all. This is what scared me. Always in the past when I stopped eating sugar I knew that it was important and that was what drove me to keep going. Not this time. I am so glad I had two friends to help hold me accountable with hourly texts (yes, it’s this hard for me sometimes) and the memory that at some point in the past it had been really important to me. Even if I couldn’t remember why.

This got me thinking. If marijuana causes our brains to think that nothing is a big deal, then what is sugar doing to our brains? And I finally made the connection. It makes us forget.

There has been a lot of significant research about sugar and memory. I just hadn’t linked this forgetting with why sugar is such a powerful way for people to numb emotions. We forget the past. We forget the pain. We forget our frustrations. We forget our hopelessness. It doesn’t just numb us. The numbing is a result of the effect on our memory.

Viewed in this way, my act of eliminating sugar becomes an act of reclaiming my past and reclaiming my ability to remember what I want for my future.

I still haven’t grasped the full importance of this. But it’s life-changing for me. I am sure I will have more to write about in later posts.

Any thoughts or comments?

Love,
Teresa

Often, we know what our bodies need. We know when we are giving it those things that nourish it and when we are doing those things that deplete it.

Yet, how often do we do something we know our body doesn’t want? Why is this? Where is the disconnection between our ability to hear what our body is telling us and our ability to act on that information?

This has puzzled and frustrated me. Why do I put something in my mouth that I know will leave me feeling like crap a few hours, or even minutes, later? Why do I stay up late when I know that I won’t feel good the next day?

For me, a lot of it boils down to feeling uncomfortable in my body. Often, when I feel something strong, whether it’s emotions, pain, discomfort or fatigue, then my ability to act in my body’s best interest gets harder.

For any of us who are sensitive, feeling uncomfortable in our bodies can at the least be really distracting and at its worst, excruciating.

Photo courtesy of tiverylucky at freedigitalphotos.net.

Photo courtesy of tiverylucky at freedigitalphotos.net.

The truth is, we are in human bodies. We are highly attuned, we feel things and often it’s going to feel uncomfortable.

I had a friend once who told me to just “get over it.” And I finally really heard him the last time he said it. He was right. I am a super sensitive being. I’m uncomfortable whether I am out there in the world living my life or if I lay in bed all day. The  problem was that I was letting the discomfort distract me from really living my full purpose and being out in the world in a big way.

So let’s look at this discomfort. Some of it has to do with beliefs around what we label as good and bad feelings. Right? Some people love the feeling of fear, others don’t. Some people love that feeling of being in love, while other people get sick to their stomach.

I am writing this today because I am making a commitment to shift this pattern of letting my discomfort have so much power in my life. I am no longer willing to let anything get in the way of my relationship with my body, and being uncomfortable has been getting in the way.

I am going to start by looking at the beliefs I have about discomfort. It’s my beliefs that keep me from really sinking fully into the experience of being in my body. It’s my beliefs that make me afraid to feel fully and this creates a distance between me and my body. It also creates distance between me and everything else as well because it keeps me from being fully present.

I’ll give you an example of shifting a belief. I had this belief that if I allow myself to feel things fully, my system will short circuit. This probably isn’t true. It’s possible that my physical system can handle a large amount of input and it would be fine. So my new belief is that my body is highly intelligent and equipped to feel big feelings with grace and ease.

I want to encourage you to do some exploring of your own. Look at some beliefs you have about discomfort and your body, shine some light on a few and shift them. Craft a new belief. And if you leave your new belief in the comments, I will send some energy your way to help support your shift.

Love,
Teresa

 

Flying Apron is a vegan and gluten-free bakery with one store in the Fremont area of Seattle and another one just east of Seattle, in Redmond.

I have not been a huge fan of their baked goods, although they seem to be getting better. Most of them have unrefined cane sugar, which I try to stay away from. Plus, a lot of them tend toward that gritty texture/taste that some gluten-free products have.

However, I still eat there regularly. I am in love with several of their savory options. They always have two soups and a variety of salads. All delicious. But, what I keep coming back for are the lasagne and pizza. Yum. It’s not often that I can find a vegan, gluten-free lasagne that satisfies that specific craving. At least not out.20150113_101919[1]

Last night I had some of the Veggie Aioli pizza. It wasn’t a traditional kind of pizza. I am not sure if the crust had cornmeal in it, but it had that kind of crispy texture. It was piled with vegetables, without a trace of vegan cheese. I enjoy some vegan cheese every once in a while, but I really only like the homemade unprocessed kind. To get a pizza without processed vegan cheese is lovely. It was delicious and completely satisfying.

I think the prices for soup, salad, pizza and lasagne are reasonable, too. So I keep going back.

As for the baked goods, here is my experience:  I like the maple sweetened muffin with berries, the morning peanut butter bar and the peanut butter chocolate ball. The macaroons are okay. The cupcakes, shortbread and chocolate chip and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are good, but have cane sugar. I haven’t tried the pies. The pecan cinnamon roll has gotten better over the past year or two.

Flying Apron also has a gluten-free bread of the day. Some breads are better than others, and often pretty salty. But, when I am having a craving for bread, it definitely hits the spot. Especially when accompanied with a bowl of their soup.

Cheers!
Teresa

One of the fascinating things about brown rice is that when it is pressure cooked with any bean, the bean cooks in the same amount of time as the rice. In macrobiotics, brown rice cooked with a little sea salt is considered to be one of the most balanced foods for the body. It may be this ability to create balance that helps other foods align with it energetically.

Brown rice by itself can get boring quickly, especially if it is not cooked well. So, I frequently add other grains, beans and sometimes nuts to add variety. I don’t always pressure cook my rice, either, but if you cook it with any other legume besides lentils, it needs to be pressure cooked. This ensures that the beans get cooked in the right amount of time.20150107_125816[1]

Feel free to substitute any bean for the chickpeas. The chickpeas are nice because they are a more yin bean and add a lightness to the rice that some other beans don’t. Brown Rice with Aduki Beans is an example of a more yang application of this same rice and bean technique.

For this recipe I used a really nice chickpea that is being grown in Eastern Washington. I have found more locally grown legumes and grains in the past few years, mostly from Washington and Oregon. Ask local farmers or look in your local natural foods stores. You might find some locally grown varieties near you.

Pressure Cooked Chickpea Rice

1 1/4 cups brown rice
1/4 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans), sort through to pick out any rocks
2″ piece kombu

1.  Measure the brown rice into a medium size bowl. Rinse with water several times until the water runs clean. Add 2 1/4 cups water and let soak overnight or for at least eight hours. Place the chickpeas in a small bowl, rinse and cover with water a few inches above the beans. Let soak overnight.

2.  When the rice is done soaking, strain the water, measure it, and then discard it. Replace this amount of strained water with fresh.

3.  Put the rice, beans and water into your pressure cooker. Add the kombu. Bring the rice to a light boil on medium heat. Cover and bring to pressure. As soon as your pressure cooker is at the right pressure, reduce the heat to the lowest you can while maintaining the pressure. Use a flame tamer if necessary to keep the heat under the pot even and prevent the rice from getting brown on the bottom. Cook for 50 minutes.

5.  When the rice has cooked for 50 minutes, remove from burner. Let the pressure come down naturally. Remove the lid and gently scoop the rice into a dish, gently fluffing it as you transfer it.

Note

You can pressure cook many varieties of  beans with the rice. Some of my favorites are black soybeans, garbanzo beans and black beans. Split peas and lentils also work.

Chickpea rice is delicious served with nori condiment. Recipe coming soon.

 

 

I have many habits I would like to shift. The road to becoming more authentic includes looking at the patterned ways we live and shining a light on them so they can release and we can live more freely in each moment.

For a while last spring, I would walk to the local natural foods store every day right after work and get two cookies to eat on the way home. This wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing, but I felt powerless to stop it. I would leave work and my feet would automatically start walking toward cookies.heart cookie

So, in an effort to shift this cookies after work habit, I found out about the habit loop. I know a lot of you are focused on creating new ways of doing things as we move into the new year. I hope you find this information to be helpful.

Here are the basics:

1.  Cue:  This is the trigger that tells the brain to start using a habit and which one to use.

2.  Routine:  This is the activity you perform as a result of the cue. It can be physical, mental or emotional.

3.  Reward:  This is what we get from doing the routine. If the reward is strong enough, our brain remembers. Then, whenever we get a similar cue, we loop back into the same cycle.

Finding this information was super helpful for me. In the past, I thought if I changed the trigger or cue, then I would go down a different path and not fulfill my habit. Instead, what I learned is to focus on the routine part of the cycle first. This has been invaluable.

Here’s how it works:

1.  Decide which routine/habit you want to change. For me, I wanted to go straight home after work instead of diverting and getting cookies.

2.  Figure out what the reward is. Experiment with finding other things that will provide the same reward. This is where your creativity comes in. The reward may not be what you think it is and sometimes it can take a bit of experimenting to figure out. For me, I was going after the cookies not for the taste, but as a way to unwind. So, I decided that if I had enjoyable, relaxing music to listen to or a good book I could look forward to on the bus ride home, I could head straight to the bus instead of to the cookies.

3.  Look at what the cues are for this routine. For me it was simple, the cue was leaving work.

4.  Develop and integrate a plan. For me this cookie habit was pretty straightforward to change. I just made sure I had good music or a good book. I would remember that plan and I would just head straight to the bus. It worked. Riding the bus with music or a good book helped me unwind a bit after work. So, this routine provided an even greater reward than getting cookies because it included the added benefit of not spending money or eating unwanted cookies.

If you would like more information about the habit loop, there is a book written by Charles Duhigg called The Power of Habit. On the linked page is a more in-depth synopsis with more ideas about how to use knowledge of the loop to change habits.

The next habit I am going to shift is to stop checking my email before I am even out of bed in the morning.

Do you have a habit you are trying to release in this new year? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Thinking of you.
Love,
Teresa

When I was in cooking school in Austin, TX my friend Tom would to bring in homemade millet amasake for us. He would puree it in his Vitamix until it was as creamy as pudding. It was so delicious.

I have yet to make 100% millet amasake, but I am getting closer. This one has 1/3 millet and 2/3 sweet brown rice. I think it’s a great variation on the traditional rice amasake. IMG_20130217_141146

Homemade Millet-Rice Amasake

2 cups sweet brown rice, rinse and soak overnight in 4 cups water
1 cup millet, rinse and drain
2 pinches sea salt
7 Tbsp rice or barley koji

1.  Place the rice with soaking water, millet and 2 1/2 cups more water in a non-aluminum pressure cooker. Add the sea salt. Bring to a boil and up to pressure. Reduce heat to as low as you can to maintain pressure. You can use a flame tamer if you have one. Cook for 50 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally or carefully run a little water down the side to help the pressure come down more quickly.

2.  Move the millet/rice to a glass bowl and let sit until it’s just hot to touch. The temperature needs to be less than 140ºF, but still hot enough to activate the koji.

3.  Stir in the koji. Mix well. Spoon the millet/rice and koji into clean mason jars. This amount will fit nicely into three quart jars, but you can use whatever size you have. Make sure they are very clean. You can heat the jars first, but I haven’t found this to be necessary. Put a lid on top.

4.  Bring some water to a boil and pour into two more quart size jars. Place all five jars into a medium size cooler. Wrap some towels in there, too, if they fit. Cover. Let sit for a few hours.

5.  After the first few hours, open the cooler to check to make sure the temperature is staying warm. Either shake the jars with millet/rice to mix them a little more or open the jars and give them a stir. The millet/rice should be starting to get a little wetter. Tuck the jars back in. Put more hot water in the other two jars if necessary to maintain the temperature. Cover and let sit.

6.  After about six hours, open one jar of amasake and taste a little to check for sweetness. If you want it sweeter, let it incubate for longer. Add more hot water to the other jars if necessary to keep the temperature warm. Check every hour until at desired sweetness. Be careful to not let it ferment too far or the flavor will get a little too strong.

7.  When your amasake is sweet enough, remove from cooler and pour into a stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes to kill the koji spores. Let cool.

8.  You can eat your amasake as is, but I like to puree it in a blender or vitamix. You can add some water to get a thinner consistency if it seems too thick.

Note:
I like to use amasake in desserts like amasake pudding and lemon pudding. If you use homemade amasake in the lemon pudding, just make sure you puree it until it’s really smooth.
I frequently add amasake to pancake batter, muffins and other desserts to replace some of the liquid and sweetener. Amasake is also just nice warmed up plain or with a little ginger juice.

This year when I started feeling my word for the year bubbling up, I was more than a little apprehensive. My words have not been rose-colored the past few years. First it was Surrender and last year was Fight, so this year when I started getting inklings, I shoved them back down. “I’m not ready yet,” I told my word. “Give me a few more weeks of peace.”

Some of us hear a word or phrase bubbling up early in December. Your word may surface during the stillness of Winter Solstice or it may not take shape until you already have your feet in January.

If you are still unsure of your word or phrase or haven’t the slightest idea what yours might be, I have some suggestions for how to allow yours to surface. If you pay attention and ask for it to be shown to you, one day soon it will become more clear. Let me know if you still want some extra guidance after trying some of the suggestions below.

Ways to create the space for your word or phrase:

1.  Take some time to quiet your mind. Focus on allowing your internal guidance to speak to you. Make space for it. Notice what words or thoughts start to bubble up immediately. Write down just these very first thoughts. Your word or phrase will likely be among them. Or you may be shown a theme. For example, if you can’t stop thinking about all the things that need to get done then maybe your word for the year would focus on shifting your life so you have space for more relaxation and peace.

2.  Ask for your word in a dream.

3.  Start noticing themes in your life. Then ask yourself, “What’s one word I that if I live and breathe for a whole year would really shift my life in a significant way?”

4.  Try one of the exercises over at Cauldrons and Cupcakes.

How do you know it’s really yours?

1.  The best indicator I know of is by how the word feels. You may feel deep in your gut that it’s a perfect word for your upcoming year. It may be the perfect next step in your journey. Or, you may have the feeling of “On no, not that!” That’s been the case for me. I have known my words by the feeling of fear that comes when I embark on a new adventure; one that really challenges me to expand and grow.

2.  Try your word on for a few days. See how it fits.

3.  Ask for clarification. Maybe you have a word that’s close, but not quite the right one. Or your perception of what that word means for your life is a little off. A lot of people got uncomfortable when I told them my word last year, Fight. It was because their concept of fight wasn’t really what it meant in the context of my life and fighting for myself.

4.  Write about what your life will look like when you embrace and flow into your word. See how it looks when integrated into your year and how your life will be different.

5.  Sometimes we don’t really know for sure, but if you have gotten quiet and a certain word keeps popping up into your awareness, it’s definitely worth exploring and becoming more aware of what it means for your life. It’s showing up for a reason.

My word for this year is Love. When I first started hearing it, I thought there was no way that was my word. I thought it was cheesy and so obvious. But, it makes sense, actually. The past three years, surrender, fight, love flowing into each other. Last year was about learning how to fight with love and for love. I spent the year standing strong in my beliefs, learning how to speak up, putting myself and my body first and strengthening my ability to use love to fight. I am in alignment with my fierceness now.

heart shaped rock

heart shaped rock

Now I get to use that fierceness to expand even further into Love. Love for my body. Love for my work. Love in my relationships and in my love life. Love is amazing in its ability to shift and transform anything. I am excited to yield to its power and feel my heart expanding even as I write this.

And here is some love for you.
Teresa

Last year:
Choosing a Word for the Year