Monday, January 31, 2011

Macrobiotic Detox

While doing some Christmas shopping at our favorite Japanese grocery store we thumbed through a booked titled "Mayumi's Kitchen Macrobiotic Cooking for Body and Soul". A quick peak through the book showed simple, easy and extremely healthy recipes and eating concepts. After borrowing the book from our local library we were lucky enough to receive a copy for Christmas and decided in the New Year we would try the 10-day macrobiotic detox as suggested as an introduction to macrobiotic eating.

Ok, we won't lie we were drawn to the simple Japanese inspired recipes first, but the idea of neutralizing our palates after the holiday glut of rich heavy foods also appealed to us. As we analyzed the items needed for the next 10 days we quickly realized the list of pantry items were already staples in our kitchen. Do you have hijiki or kombu or even a Japanese pickle press? We do! So delving right into the macrobiotic detox was easy, especially after receiving the bi-weekly Organics-To-You delivery.

A large part of a macrobiotic diet consists of eating whole grains, such as brown rice, lentils, Japanese pearl barley, amaranth, quinoa, and millet. We were very familiar with these grains from a previous year's stringent candidia diet. We utilized as much of our organic produce delivery as well as use up whatever we had in our pantry, so no maple syrup instead we used agave, we used filtered water instead of the suggested spring water and unsweetened dried currents and cherries rather than raisins.

So how was the 10 days of detoxing? One word - filling. Whole grains which consisted of nearly 50% of all the foods we ate is extremely filling. It was amazing how little was used as well. 1/4 of a cup would fill us to the brim. Each and every meal from the book was well thought out where portions would be used for the next meal so we didn't feel as if we were constantly cooking, which we were, hey healthy eating takes time.

There was a detoxing element in every meal, such as grains for healthy skin and millet for healthy stomach, spleen and pancreas function. Macrobiotic eating is also mostly vegan, which allowed our systems to rest and recoup from over digestion the last few weeks of the holiday season. But more than anything we were looking to expand our knowledge base and provide a retreat for our bodies. Japanese food traditionally tries to satiate all the taste buds, so the combination of foods never left us wanting anymore. No sweet to balance out the savory, no tart to balance out the bitter. It was soothing, delicious and gave us a great groundwork for healthier eating.

Now let's bring on the food porn!

Some mornings we would start off with a bowl of miso soup, to assist in getting your body ready to receive food and prepare to start providing energy; soft cooked grains for prolonged energy throughout the day and ward off need to snack; and steamed or fresh greens for vitamins, nutrients and minerals.

Since macrobiotic foods are whole foods your brain recognizes it immediately as food, from the minute your chewing creates saliva your brain is triggered - food and energy are coming, so your body recognizes it is being fed. We found ourselves full way before you were finished eating. Overeating did not ever occur. Processed foods or foods that are cooked way beyond their original states take longer for your body to recognize as food, therefor it is easy to overeat.

Breakfasts were simple and really delicious and for those who find it difficult to eat breakfast the small portions, variety of flavors and soothing warmth of the miso soup was an easy breakfast to have.

Mayumi's recommended detox switched up the meals constantly so we never had the same "type" of breakfast twice, switching between green, grain, soup to fresh veggies, nuts, and the rare piece of fruit. Fruit and spices were rarely eaten in the detox, which we found interesting. One morning we had steamed greens (bitter) an apple (sweet) and toasted pumpkin seeds (nutty, spicy and savory when dry toasted). This was so simple and so satisfying, a snack we we will always have around at our house.

One of our favorite breakfast, probably because it was familiar, comforting and warming during the cold winter months was the soft-cooked whole oats with rice milk and unsweetened currents, eaten with a side of toasted almonds to ward off cravings for something savory.

One item we did eat nearly every day was kombu. Kombu is seriously one of the world's superfoods and one of the best glutamate in the world. We are currently obsessed with learning about natural glutamate, the history of kombu and glutamate is fascinating. The sea salted seaweed is one of the best hydrators for the body and packs a huge amount of punch to each dish.

While whole grains were eaten during the day, dinner and evening time meals consisted mainly of vegetables and protein. Not once did we miss dessert or a sweet piece of fruit to balance out the meal, it was really interesting. We were very surprised by the lack of craving and absolutely no use of garlic in any of the meals. Dinners were hearty and light and mainly consisted of vegetables and soy proteins like seitan.

Another aspect of macrobiotic eating we were excited by was the many recipes and meals with salted and pressed vegetables. Our Japanese pickle press got a lot of use in those 10 days.

These are just a very small sampling of what we ate, we realized each meal consisted of 3 different items per meal, 3 meals a day (no snacking) for 10 days, that's roughly 90 different dishes we made. We can not stress enough how simple and delicious each of the dishes were. We also discovered many new items we absolutely fell in love with such as water sauteing, ume plum vinegar, mochi sheets, adzuki beans and pumpkin seeds.

The detox also consisted of many detoxing beverages. We'll be honest the first few days without our daily dose of espresso was difficult, but nothing a few ibuprophens couldn't help with. Espresso is very acidic and adds to the toxicitiy of your system, so when we drank more alkaline hot beverages in the mornings, which we made our moods and souls calm down quite a bit - we know pretty hippy dippy huh?

Having all the Japanese ingredients and being familiar with lotus stalks and tofu pockets also helped. What else helped? Having someone who knows how to make sushi helped squeezing out sunomono salads and pressed veggies as well as rolling the most perfect rice balls for lunch.

The 10-day macrobiotic detox was a great introduction to the concept of whole food eating and just added to our arsenal of what makes food good.

1 comment:

robshak said...

Inspiring Anne and Mike. I really need to try this.