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!