Standard Macrobiotic Diet
to tradition in Macrobiotics, we eat in season so that the body can
function optimally. In our culture, there are traditionally four seasons
and we eat appropriately in each season. For instance, we eat more warming
foods in the winter so we can tolerate the cold outside. In summer we
eat more cooling foods so we can tolerate the heat outside. Eating tropical
foods in the winter can cool the body, thus possibly compromising the
around the world, traditional diets include locally grown vegetables
and dried beans and whole grains. We want to eat foods that are traditionally
grown in our areas. It is important to consider how far foods have
to go to arrive at your doorstep.
our climate, Macrobiotics divides the year into five seasons.
Let's take a tour of the seasons:
is the time to withdraw, deep into the hidden recesses of the earth
and self. The foliage falls and the earth appears barren. It is the
time to store energy and strengthen reserves. Buckwheat and beans, especially
aduki, and sea salt, miso and tamari (soy sauce) nourish the kidneys
and strengthen the blood. More fire is needed in Winter cooking. Stronger
oil-sautéing, deep frying-and baking, pressure cooking and longer
cooking are effective in maintaining strength and bodily warmth.
is the renaissance of life. After a long Winter of storing energy, the
earth releases its concentrated life-force, stimulated by the expanding
warmth of the sun. Grasses unfold with the fresh taste of water. Spring
brings us foods such as sprouts, wild onions, celery and scallions,
mustard greens and mugwort, other young leafy greens, wakame, strawberries,
green apples and green tea. Grains are also expanded, forming the double
lobes of barley, wheat and rye. There are also fermented foods, such
as sourdough steamed bread, brown rice and barley vinegars, tempeh and
natto, sauerkraut and pickles. The cooking becomes lighter than the
long cooking of Winter. As weather gets warmer, we can gradually use
more greens than roots. Less oil-sautéing, more water-sautéing,
boiling, and occasional steaming on hot days are appropriate.
is the ripening of the year in all its fullness. The rising potential
energy of adolescent Spring buds explodes into the bloom of realized
maturity, blazoning their glory to the world. The wild, fresh, and sour
Spring flavors ripen into a light and juicy sweetness, characterized
by corn, sweet vegetables, and fruits. These are balanced by the strengthening
bitterness of dark, leafy greens such as lettuce, watercress, chicory,
bok choy, and dandelion-both the greens and the roots. The cooking becomes
still lighter than cooking in the Spring. Less fire is needed, little
to no oil, and less salt. Grains may be boiled or steamed and mixed
with vegetables. Vegetables, too, can be quick-boiled or steamed.
Summer signals a subtle but palpable shift, between the high, hot
energy of summer, and the cooler quiescence of Autumn. The days are
hot, but the nights begin getting cooler. The harvested foods slowly
shift from Summer's juicy offerings to the hardier fare of Autumn. It
is a time of balance and abundance. Many foods are available and appropriate
in Late Summer: all squashes, artichokes, beets, chard, collards, millet,
onions, parsnips, peas, rutabagas, shiitake mushrooms, string beans,
and sweet corn -just to name a few!
Autumn the colors on the trees and bushes start to change. Leaves
fall to the ground. It's time to rake all those leaves-I like to think
of it as good natural exercise. There is still a wide variety of food.
I personally love Autumn for all the choices I have in cooking. We still
have some Summer and Late Summer foods, and the beginning of Autumn
foods. There are corn, zucchini, and some summer fruits, winter squashes,
turnips, onions, daikon, and collards.
Autumn, I start to cook more warming foods-thicker soups, smaller grains,
longer cooking methods. We use a little more oil and a little more salt,
depending on one's health.