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!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sweet Potatoes: The Other Orange Vegetable

The sweet potato has been a part of my diet since childhood. Who doesn’t remember at least one Thanksgiving dinner with candied sweet potatoes (marshmallow topping optional!). Sweet potatoes are often given to babies as their first taste of solid food. These earthy beauties are universally appealing with their stunning color, luscious texture, and sweet taste.

When I first began studying macrobiotic cooking, I was shocked to discover that potatoes, America’s “perfect” food, where considered among the worst foods for health. Potatoes are stem tubers, so technically speaking we cannot even call them the “root of all evil".  All joking aside, they are one of most acidifying plant foods and for optimum health it is better not to include them as a regular or even semi-regular part of your diet. Being the young enthusiastic macrobiotic student I was, I took this information to heart and pretty much avoided all kinds of potatoes, white, orange, and even purple, for many years.

Missing the wonderful, comforting texture of potatoes, and a favorite veggie bar snack (the french fry), I decided to occasionally include sweet potatoes in my diet. Sweet potatoes are very relaxing, and sweet potato fries make a delicious (but rare!) treat. Fortunately, for all of us who like to indulge, they are classified as tuberous root vegetables and besides being delicious have a number of health benefits. 
I encourage you to enjoy “the other orange vegetable”, a less-dense alternative to the winter squash. 

Today I am going to share my recipe for candied sweet potatoes. While they don’t have marshmallow fluff on top, you are sure to appreciate them even more than the original, sugar-filled recipe. You will also feel great after eating them! 
Sweet, orange and delicious!

Candied Sweet Potatoes


Sweet potatoes- Peeled and cut lengthwise into 2 inch thick slices
2 Tablespoons of Brown rice syrup
1 Tablespoon of Barley Malt
1 teaspoon of Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 inch of water to cover the bottom of the pot
A small pinch of Sea salt - 1/16 to 1/8 teaspoon

*Note: this works best using a wide, saucepan; ideally a cast iron pan with a lid.
Place Sweet potatoes in the pan with enough water to cover the bottom of the pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
Lower the flame and steam on low heat for 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and drizzle a little olive oil over the sweet potatoes.
Add a pinch of salt, cover and continue to steam for 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl mix all of the sweet ingredients together.
Pour the sweet mixture overtop of the sweet potatoes and continue to
cook until they become tender.
As the potatoes cook the sauce will reduce forming a sweet glaze.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dry It, You'll Like It!

The benefits of dried mushrooms - Shitake, Maitake, Porcini, Oyster and Chanterelles,
just to name a few.

I love a number of cultivated and wild mushrooms. I like them sautéed with vegetables, in soups, in pastas, on sandwiches, and, of course, risotto. In addition to being delicious, mushrooms offer us a wealth of health benefits and are an excellent non-fortified, plant source of Vitamin D.

While mushrooms are yummy when fresh, drying mushrooms lowers their acidity, increases their levels of Vitamin D, and intensifies their taste. Unfortunately, dried mushrooms can be quite costly. Purchasing them from a cheap source is not a good idea
because you do not know the method used in the drying process and often they are treated with chemicals which is not good for anyone. In order to reap the nutritional benefits of this food, the mushrooms need to be sun-dried. My solution for quality control and cost effectiveness is to do it yourself!

Here’s a simple way to create your own sun-dried mushrooms at home. Be sure to use the best
quality mushrooms you can find. Once dried, mushrooms will keep indefinite when stored in a jar in a cool, dry place.

      To Dry Your Own Mushrooms: 
Fresh Oyster mushrooms, check out the gills!
  • Find a nice spot that gets a lot of direct sun. I did this on my back porch. 
  • Use a dish with sides (so the mushrooms do not blow away!) 
  • Line the dish with a bamboo sushi mat. The mat is more natural and it allows more air to help in the drying process and prevent spoilage. 
  • Next, place the mushrooms on the mat with the gills facing up toward the sun. 
  • Cover the mushrooms with a second sushi mat. The mat allows the sun to seep through the cracks and keeps the bugs, birds and debris out. Covering the mushrooms also also helps to prevent them from blowing away.
  •  Leave the mushrooms in the sun for at least 6 hours. 
If the mushrooms are not completely dried at the end of the day, bring them inside and leave on the counter overnight, then return to direct sun the next day. Depending on the thickness of your mushrooms, the drying process will take anywhere from one day to several days.