Sunday, March 22, 2015

Putting a little Spring in your Step

Spring is the time of year when energy begins to come out to the surface. If we observe nature we see trees start to form buds and tiny little leaves. Flowers begin to push their way to the surface. This gentle rising energy begins to create more active circulation. 

In oriental medicine elements naturally occurring in nature are used to classify internal organs according to their energetic characteristic. In macrobiotics we refer to this philosophy as the 
Five Transformations or five unique aspects of energy. We also use this same classification to categorize foods, the seasons, direction and movement. Springtime is described as rising energy. 
In five transformations the element is “tree or wood” energy. Interesting enough, the “trees” begin 
to come to life in the springtime.

In food classification one of the grains affiliated with “tree” energy is barley. Barley is both strengthening and relaxing, allowing our bodies to be deeply nourished while gently opening our condition for the freshness to enter. As the air warms a healthy person naturally wants to spend more time outdoors. The more time we spend in nature the more we can align with this open, fresh energy and activate our own circulation.

Here is a recipe for “Barley Bean Stew” which will provide you with gentle warmth,inner strength while staying light so you can enjoy all the activity that this Spring has to offer.

         Barley Bean Stew
         Preparation time: 1½ hours
         Serves 4 to 6 

          1 cup pearled barley, washed
          1 cup pre-cooked white beans with ⅓ cup of their cooking liquid.
          *Non-Gmo, BPA free Canned beans work well too, as does Organic fried tempeh.
          1½ cups diced onions
          1 cup diced root vegetables. Choose a combination of carrot, daikon, or parsnip.
          1 cup diced leeks or celery
          ½ to ¾ teaspoon sea salt
          2¼ cups water
          1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil or light sesame oil

          Place the onion in a pot with ¼ cup of water.
          Turn on the flame and begin to cook the onions. When the onions begin to glisten, 
          add a small pinch of sea salt (about 1/16 teaspoon).
          Allow the onions to cook on their own for 3 to 5 minutes.
          Layer the leeks or celery on top of the onions followed by the root vegetables and barley.
          Add additional water and bring to a boil.
          Add another ⅛ teaspoon sea salt, cover, and place a flame deflector under the pot.
          Lower the flame and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
          Add the white beans and the remaining amount of salt. 
          Gently fold the beans into the stew to blend the ingredients and the seasoning.
          Cook for another 20 minutes.

         *For a richer flavor, sauté ½ cup diced onions and/or leeks together with the white beans, 
           then mix to combine with the barley and vegetables.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hi and welcome home to my Blog

I would like to thank everyone for your support and patience with me over the past year.
I took some time off form my blog last spring to focus on perfecting the recipe section and menu plans for our newly released book, The Complete Macrobiotic Diet. Even though I had a lot of material compiled, that was intended for my cookbook (Taste With Integrity), this was still quite the project. All the hard work was well worth the effort as now I am an officially published author.
I must admit it is pretty cool seeing your book on the shelves of the Barnes and Noble store at Rittenhouse Square and knowing that it is also on bookshelves in all the major cites throughout the US. whew, deep breath Susan!

The next significant event of my 2014 year was moving out of the space that was the home base of The Strengthening Health Institute for the past 8 1/2 years. I have heard that three of the most stressful things one faces in life are getting married, the death of a loved one and moving. I get it on many levels. Packing and moving an entire commercial kitchen was no joke, not just the things we accumulated over the 8 1/2 years we occupied the SHI space, but in reality 17 to 18 years of stuff. Many relationships don’t even last that long.

For me it was a very emotional experience. The kitchen was my space as I custom designed it to meet our needs for cooking and teaching. I filled it with state of the art cookware, kept it impeccably clean and took personal pride in assuring that the finest quality of macrobiotic food was served. It really was quite a beautiful space. To leave all this behind I felt a deep sense of loss. At the end I sat in the empty kitchen, sipping my hot beverage and just reminiscing of all the all the memories. Both joyous and sad, my emotions were flooding and I began to cry.

Now just to make it perfectly clear, SHI is still operating and holding live classes. In addition
we are offering all of our classes via the internet. We have been nudged in this direction for quite some time and finally jumped into the 21st century and the new era of education. Offering courses online allows people from all over the world to take our classes and study with us. Just to reiterate, we are still holding face to face classes. It is just the physical venue site that is changing. For our new and improved venue we really do not need to maintain our own commercial space, which requires quite a lot of work. This change allows us to reach more people and concentrate on developing new courses.

This brings me to the last part of my news in that our educational development team of Michelle Nemer, Denny Waxman and of course me is working on our newest course offering which is the first step in an ongoing process to educate and personally mentor a new generation of macrobiotic leaders. This course offering which focuses on self development skills is a precursor for more advanced course offerings. The Great Life Design and Mentoring Program will teach our unique approach to macrobiotics, living a macrobiotic lifestyle and how to create a positive impact in an ever changing world. It is exciting, exhausting and exhilarating. I am fortunate to be working together with these people and everyone who decides to take this course will be even more fortunate because it is uniquely one of a kind!

And as for me personally, I am working on creating new recipes, taking beautiful pictures of my food, spending more time taking care of my self (food, yoga massages and fine wines, ahhh) and taking time for the most important people in my life like my family and close friends.

To my teammates, my family, my friends, I thank you for all the love and support you have given me to continue our important work of spreading macrobiotics and making it a common household name. Hey we work hard and we play even harder! Oh and don’t worry a second post with a fresh recipe is to follow!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Under Construction

Hey guys,
I haven't really been negligent. Denny and I are working on our new book "The Complete Macrobiotic Diet". The deadline is fast approaching. I hope to share some tasty tid-bits to wet your appetite soon.
Until then, enjoy your summer.
 Ichi offers his support.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Anticipating the Spring; adapting your food to the Environment

Hello Little Darlings, I have risen from my hibernation period! Just like many other warm blooded creatures who tuck themselves away in a cozy den for the Winter, I have been making a conscious effort to hide from the elements. Don’t get me wrong, I was outside in my snow pants and boots freeing my car from its icy shell at the first sign of sunshine. I also tried taking a few walks to adjust to the frigid environment, which was an adventure of its own; between the icy sidewalks and wind it was not much fun. Driving has also been interesting with snow covered side streets and potholes galore. It almost feels like being on a mogul ski course. I am thinking that Phildelphia could host the next 
Winter X Games featuring a brand new event!

As the weather begins to warm the last bit of snow gives way to cold rain, perhaps my least favorite element. Phildelphia is notorious for cold, damp rain in early spring. It is my theory that this is why the British were so invested in Phildelphia because it reminded them of their home country, with a little more sunshine. (I would also place Boston and NYC in this category! ) All kidding aside, this Winter has just not been great for my sense of creativity. Instead it was just a time for quiet, rest, gentle and restorative yoga, and self reflection.

Now that Spring is here we are experiencing a little more sunshine but it is still quite cold outside. 
All this inconsistency in the weather patterns makes it much more difficult for our bodies to adjust. 
We generally recommend preparing for the Spring before its arrival by emphasizing more light refreshing dishes and cutting back on the hearty, longer cooked dishes. But when it is cold outside, our bodies still crave warming rich food. While these foods are a great balance for cold, they can also create a bit of physical and emotional heaviness. By this I mean that heavier food makes our condition more inclined to be less active. Spring is a time of transition and it is natural to want to become more active. In order to become more active, we need to adjust our diet and start including lighter, more refreshing foods to align with the spring weather on its way. However, because this has been a particularly long winter, and it is still quite cold and damp outside, the changes we make to our diet for this year may need to be more subtle. Here are a few little adjustments that will help you feel lighter and more refreshed while still keeping you warm through this long seasonal transition.

*Barley is very helpful. You can cook barley together with brown rice or make a nice barley, bean, 
  vegetable stew.
*Longer steamed vegetables, such as sweet potato, green cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli offer a nice substantial choice. These vegetables are very satisfying because of their mild sweet taste. The longer cooking gives them a little more sustenance and is lighter than a longer cooked stew. An added bonus is that they are quick and easy to prepare. If you desire a little richness, it is fine to drizzle a little olive oil on the vegetables while they are cooking.
*Have quick steamed greens often or daily and add a little squeeze of fresh lemon immediately before consuming.
*Finally, don't get too carried away with sweets. The cold, damp weather can often contribute to hypoglycemic symptoms causing us to crave more sweets than usual. It is important to include good quality sweets daily but not just in the form of desserts. 
*For a list of "good quality sweets" and recipes please check out my previous posts from
 Spring 2012. Thank you!

Sunshine and snow on Rittenhouse Square

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Denny and I would like to thank our families, friends and all of life's challenges.

We would also like to thank those of your for your continued support of us and SHI. It is through you that we are able to continue the growth of sharing and advancing health.

We wish you health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year!

In the photo, Denny and I are getting into the holiday spirit. Ichi is probably dreaming of white anchovies (or sardines and sweet potatoes, his favorite food). 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday I would like to take the time to mention just a few simple things that I am thankful for and to acknowledge all the things that have touched my life and helped me to be the person I am.
  1. I am thankful for good parents who have always loved and supported me, who have taught me good manners and have encouraged me to always try to do my best. 
  2. I am thankful for my husband whose love and passion inspires me. Your dream is big and I am happy to share it with you. 
  3. I am thankful to all of my friends and family members who also have shown me great love, patience and kindness. I appreciate your loyalty and the many ways you have helped me through many endeavors. 
  4. I am thankful to all of my teachers who have shared their knowledge and the openness for creative thinking. 
  5. I am thankful for my kitty, Ichi who brings me great joy. 
  6. I am thankful for good health and the ability to teach and help others. 
  7. I am thankful for each and everyone who supports a higher dream of living in a peaceful, sustainable world and the work they do to help make this possible.

In appreciation to all of my readers here is a recipe for a holiday dessert. I hope you all have a great holiday and enjoy some good food with your family and friends.

Pumpkin Custard
3.75 cups of cooked pumpkin (2 15 oz. cans)
1-½ cups of water
1 1/2 to 2 cups of brown rice syrup (depending on the sweetness of the pumpkin)
1/4 cup of maple syrup
9 – 10 teaspoons of agar-agar (kanten flakes) Hint, if you are using more liquid in this dessert, than you will need to use more of the agar.

Optional ingredients: cinnamon, nutmeg
and of course my Grandmother’s secret ingredient, a splash of good whiskey!

Mix the cooked pumpkin and water together and place in a pot.
Begin to gently heat the mixture.
Add the kanten flakes and gently cook until the flakes are completely dissolved.
Add the rice and maple syrup and stir to blend thoroughly with the pumpkin.
Season with your favorite combination of spice and of course, remember to add the whiskey!

Serving ideas:
Place the cooked pumpkin in a nice dish and garnish with chopped toasted pecans or walnuts. And/or almond cream.
Use as a topping for a couscous or teff cake.
Use as a pie filling with a prepared crust.

Delicious and gluten free!

Please come join me for a Holiday Cooking Class and learn how to prepare delicious, colorful vegan specialties. For more information please contact The Strengthening Health Institute.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Trick or Treat 2, Kitty Litter

Stop the Monsanto Boogie Men and vote YES to label foods as non-GMO. GMO’s are a serious threat that touches many aspects of our lives. While there is an increased awareness of GMO’s, we are still far too unclear about whether or not many foods contain GMO’s. For example:

Denny and I recently welcomed the cutest little kitty, Ichi, into our home. So, what do I feed him? I researched natural ways of feeding cats, and came up with some useful information. Cats are carnivorous, and it is better to feed them a diet that is lower in carbohydrates. I decided against buying cat food that has refined grains in it because I want him to remain sleek and stealth. However, what about protein? Many cat foods have squid, chickens livers, and other creatures in it. When was the last-time you saw a cat jump into the ocean and fish out a squid? More importantly, what are the chickens who eventually end up as cat food eating? Are they being fed GMO-free grains? My answer to this dilemma is to feed Ichi wild fish, along with sharing some of my organic grain, bean and vegetable dishes with him.

I have had the same issue with finding good-quality cat litter. There is a natural kitty litter that is made up of only corn kernels, and does not include dust. However, when I called up the company to see if the corn kernels used are GMO-free, they were not able to give me a straight answer. This is why it is so important for there to be specific labels to inform consumers of whether or not a food contains GMO’s. It is important to know the quality of the products we buy for our selves and our families, as well as for our pets. My friends out there, please shop consciously and do your research before going to the store.
He's Purrrrrfect!