Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Conscious (and Well-Stocked) Vegan Kitchen

You will notice that the majority of my recipes do not rely on long lists of complicated ingredients. However, there are a few seasonings that I use on a regular basis that you might not be familiar with. To participate with me on this journey, I’ve put together a list of the ingredients that I use most in my daily cooking, and have provided definitions of any unfamiliar ingredients. 
Don’t be overwhelmed by the length of this list! In fact, you may already have a lot of these supplies in your kitchen. To start, just make sure that you have a variety of grains and vegetables on hand, as well as good-quality sea salt. You can slowly build up your kitchen arsenal from there.
A lot of grocery stores are beginning to carry some of these items. Of course, I think it is 
always good to support your local health food store, organic food co-op and Farmers market. Whole Foods market is located in many cities and carries a lot of good products. If you can’t find certain items, I have a link to mail-order resources at the end of the list. Please try to choose organic ingredients when possible.
Dry Goods List:
An assortment of whole and cracked grains
Artisan pastas and noodles
Unyeasted Sourdough Bread
Dried beans 
Organic Canned Beans: I am partial to the Eden brand because the lining of the cans does not contain BPA. The beans are cooked with kombu, a sea vegetable which makes them more digestible.
Good-quality Sea Salt: I am partial to Si brand salt, but if you can’t find this, just go for the best quality salt you can find.
Bean products, such as tofu and tempeh
Shoyu: a naturally-fermented soy sauce. The two brands that are most readily available are Nama and San-J.
Ume Plum Vinegar: a savory vinegar. You can find this in a health food store.
An assortment of useful (and fun!) ingredients
Brown Rice Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Apple cider vinegar
Mirin (a Japanese cooking wine), white wine, or sake for cooking
Toasted tahini: a paste made from toasted and ground sesame seeds
Miso: a fermented soybean paste. There are many different kinds of miso to choose from, however I like barley or brown rice miso for everyday use. 
Dried pepper (red and black)
Fresh ginger, wasabi and horseradish
Fresh herbs and spices
Dried sea vegetables to use in soups or as a seasoning
Optional Ingredients:
Umeboshi Plums: are salted and mildly sour Japanese pickled fruit. Umeboshi plums aid digestion and also have a alkalizing effect. My favorite umeboshi plums are the Mitoku Ryujin brand, which you will most likely need to mail order.  The Ohsawa brand and Eden umeboshi plums can be found in many Whole Foods markets or a health food store. Beware of buying umeboshi plums in an Asian grocery, as they often contain chemical additives and preservatives.
Umeboshi Paste: like Umeboshi plums, only in paste form and used more as a seasoning.
An assortment of vibrant fresh vegetables
Toasted sesame oil
Light sesame oil
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Walnut oil, for baked goods
High heat Safflower oil, for deep frying

Produce staples:
Winter and summer squash, in season
Sweet potatoes
An assortment of leafy green vegetables
Any other root and round vegetables you like!
Fresh seasonal fruits
Natural sweets, such as:
Brown rice syrup
Maple syrup
Barley malt
Internet and Mail Order Resources
Essene Market and Cafe
Eden Natural Foods http://www,
Goldmine Natural Foods
The Kushi Institute Store
Natural Import Company
South River Miso

Monday, December 19, 2011

Connecting the Dots, and a recipe for Roots and Greens

Life is filled with choices and each day we will make choices that directly effect our lives.

If we take this a step further and think about how our choices also effect our family and loved ones, what about our community, what about society and what about the world?

There are so many things to think about it can be a bit overwhelming. The state of the world is in crisis- I don’t even need to go into all the problems. I would rather spend my time talking about the simple things we do have control of and begin to teach people how to implement some of these ideas. Start by making small changes on a personal level, and really, what is more personal than the food we eat? Making subtle changes to your diet and lifestyle creates positive momentum in both your own life as well as in the lives of others. This is like connecting dots on a sheet of paper. At first, only one or two dots might be connected, but after a while you start to see that all of the dots become connected as part of a whole.

When we choose to adopt a plant-based diet we are making an impact on the health of the planet and reaping the benefits of obtaining personal health. I am in support of a plant-based diet centered around grains and vegetables. Eat plant foods that are grown in a sustainable, organic way, free from GMOs, and do your part to help preserve the Earth.

Roots and Greens 
Baby turnips with Greens

This is a unique vegetable dish which involves cooking the roots of a vegetable together with the leafy greens. When you eat a dish like this you get the health benefit of uplifting energetic quality of the greens in addition to the gathering and centering quality of the roots. It may have the ability to help us see a more complete or bigger picture, and after all, isn’t that really what macrobiotics is about? Maybe if we eat more roots cooked with their tops we will complete more projects! Give it a try- at the minimum, they taste delicious!

Choose from the following vegetables:                                                
Carrots and carrot tops
Daikon and Daikon greens
Turnip and Turnip greens
Radish and Radish greens

Roots may be cut into matchsticks, diced, or a half-moon wedge shapes (keep in a bowl)
Stems may be cut more finely and separated from the roots and leaves (in the case of carrots the stems need to be cut super fine).
Leaves may be cut thin or left whole, as in the case with baby turnips and red radishes.
Sea salt (a tiny pinch, about 1/16 of a teaspoon)
Shoyu (Just a few drops will do it)

Roots and greens may be prepared in by using a steam method or a sauté and simmer technique. They are also delicious cooked together in savory soups.
Sauté and simmer method:
Gently heat a cast iron pot. Add the roots with a small amount of water and begin sautéing.
Add a tiny pinch of salt and continue to sauté.
Add a small amount of water, cover and simmer a few minutes to reach the desired texture.
Create a space in your pot by gently pushing the roots to one side. Add the stems, then gently fold the roots on top of the stems. Cover and continue to simmer a few more minutes.
Add the leafy greens. Lightly season the dish with a couple drops of shoyu, then fold the bottom into the top to thoroughly blend the seasoning.
Cover and steam for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Place in a serving dish and cover with a bamboo mat.

Steam Method:
Place roots in a pot with a small amount of water.
Place the greens on top of the roots.
Cover and cook with high steam for 5 minutes or longer.
Season with a little shoyu toward the end of cooking and continue to simmer for 1 minute.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Welcome to my blog! My name is Susan Waxman and I am a macrobiotic chef and teacher living in Philadelphia.

I want this blog to be a guide for better eating and, ultimately, better living. I believe that when we have our health we have no limitations. We are capable of creating the life we want through the daily choices we make in our diet and lifestyle. Every week I will share a blog entry with you that explores the health benefits of a plant-based diet and living a macrobiotic life. That is, living life from the perspective of “the larger view”. The content may be in the form of a philosophical idea, a recipe, or a lifestyle practice. Most importantly I want to have fun with it and want to share my fun, so let’s play together!

We need food in order to live. Many things in our lives are beyond our immediate reach of control. The single thing that is within our reach, of which we can obtain the most control, is our daily food. This is unique because our food choices have the most ability to determine our destiny. At any given time we are either moving toward health or away from health by the food choices we make.

My mission is to promote a grain and vegetable plant-based diet that explores the principal of balance and utilizes Macrobiotic philosophy. Because I love to cook, I will be focusing on food and cooking- that is, high-quality, (mostly) vegan cuisine made delicious and simple!

Oyster mushrooms with summer squash and baby arugula