Seaweed For Your Health and Enjoyment

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Vegetables are largely forgotten in our modern diet. I always find it interesting that when I come to the check-out counter with my basket of organic vegetables, I usually have to tell the cashier what the vegetables are. I assume that people working in health food stores are more enlightened than the average person when it comes to fruits and vegetables. I often wonder how many vegetables the average person on the street could identify let alone how many they have eaten in the previous year. Eating a variety of vegetables on a daily basis is strange or foreign to many people.

I do not find it surprising that seaweed or sea vegetables seem even stranger and more foreign than vegetables produced on the land. Seaweed in usually associated with macrobiotics and Japanese or Asian diets. It is one of the foods that makes macrobiotics seem Japan-centric. Seaweed has a long history as both a food and agricultural fertilizer. It has been used for many thousands of years in all island countries and coastal regions of the world. Like salt, various groups of people have also pilgrimaged for seaweed. Both nutrients originally come from the sea and are important for maintaining a healthy, mildly alkaline condition in our blood.

Seaweed is one of the foods that everyone grows to love. When I tell that to people they often look at me in disbelief. I have seen so many of my clients and students that could not stand the taste or smell of seaweed in the beginning, later tell me how much they craved and looked forward to eating it. My experience is that taste is biological even more than it is cultural. As our health improves our taste changes. Healthy people enjoy and are satisfied by healthy foods.

Seaweed has numerous health and nutritional benefits. It is an importance source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, iodine, calcium, magnesium and iron. Seaweed is a filter in the sea and also helps to filter and detoxify our blood. It regulates fat metabolism and can help to lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Sea vegetables have also shown to block or reduce tumor formation. Seaweed is also important for hormonal and reproductive health. They also have the ability to encapsulate heavy metals, render them inert and eliminate them from our body. Seaweed has also shown to replace radioactive elements in our body including radioactive iodine in our thyroid and strontium 90 in our bones. Like salt, too much seaweed is not beneficial. It is best to use sea vegetables in small quantities, on a regular basis.

The following is a list of seaweeds you may like to include in your diet.

Toasted Nori is ideal for nori rolls and crumpled in soups, fried rice and noodles. It is refreshing, good for our blood and helps children grow. Your dogs and cats will love it too! Try adding 2 to 3 sheets a week into your diet.

Wakame is great in miso soups and salads or can be sautéed with vegetables. Use a 1 to 2 inch piece a few or several times a week. Soak until it expands before using it in your dishes. Miso soup with Wakame seaweed and leafy greens is a wonderful source of calcium. It is also important for reproductive, digestive and circulatory systems.

Arame makes a tasty side dish and is usually cooked with onions, carrots to bring out its sweet and rich taste. It can be used 2 to 3 times a week. Arame is thought to block tumor formation and aid in digestive health.

Kombu can be cooked with beans to make them more tender and digestible. It adds a wonderful flavor to soups and vegetable dishes. it is important to use Kombu in small pieces, around the size of a postage stamp or two.

Dulse is good in salads and sandwiches. It adds a salty, zesty taste and is a good source of iron.

Experiment and enjoy. You can find recipes in macrobiotic cook books, online or in seminars at the Strengthening Health Institute.

1 Comment | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Counseling, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics, Recipes

Going Macrobiotic

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I read, The Challenge of Going Vegan with great interest and agree with many of the points of the blog. Change is always difficult, especially with something so basic as food. I am not completely vegan since I do eat fish from time to time. In 1969, I started to eat brown rice and move towards a macrobiotic diet. My diet has been based on grains, beans, vegetables and a large variety of plant-based foods since that time. I have never looked back at my old way of eating.

Before my macrobiotic practice, I was a confirmed junk food eater: hamburgers, hot dogs, cheesesteaks, pizza, toasted bagels, coke, pastries and Breyer’s vanilla fudge ice cream. I went from a picky eater as a child to a junk-food eater as a teen ager. I shunned most things that were considered real and healthy foods. When I started to eat brown rice on a regular basis I started to crave other foods that I had never eaten before in my life. Other healthy foods started to become appealing. It was a revelation for me. I experienced an intense excitement about discovering and adding new foods to my diet. With each new dish I added, cravings for past foods began to fade away. This process became self-perpetuating. Over the years, I developed my approach to health based on emphasizing adding over taking foods away.

When most people think about diets, losing weight or improving their health, they think about restricting themselves. They think about what they shouldn’t be doing and which enjoyable things they will be giving up. My long time observation and experience is that restriction leads to excess and that this approach is doomed to failure. Food is our strongest desire in life and our cravings inevitably win over time. When a client tells me that they are following my recommendations, but they do not enjoy the food, I know they are headed for trouble. I then spend some time finding out what they do enjoy and how to build on that.

Try to think about adding foods in three categories: grains, vegetables and soups. These are the basics of a healthy way of eating. Add foods that you are familiar with first. For grains try adding brown rice, couscous, oatmeal or polenta into your diet. Complement these grain dishes with steamed greens, sauteed vegetables or a raw salad. Next think about adding vegetable or bean soups made without meat or chicken stock. Try to observe how these new additions affect your appetites and cravings. Focus on finding new, healthy foods that you find exciting and satisfying. Go to restaurants that offer a variety of vegan dishes to get some new ideas.

Natural food and natural activity also complement each other. Go for a walk outside and see how this affects your appetite and taste for healthy foods. Try a yoga class or other more natural activities and watch your craving for foods that are spoiling your health fade away.

Over the years, I began to think that taste is more biological than learned, and is based on our health. When we eat healthier foods, we begin to improve our health and consequently other healthy foods become appealing and satisfying. This only works if we have an open mind and think about adding and eliminating. The process also works in reverse, the more junk-foods we eat, the better they taste. I tell my clients and students that taste for food is a barometer of health. The better your health, the more satisfying healthy foods become. If we lose our taste for healthy foods, something is off in our diet or activity that is causing an imbalance. Correcting this imbalance restores our taste for healthy foods. Think of these changes as a new adventure. Good luck on your new journey.

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Treats, Not Tricks

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Although the surprise snowstorm kept me from going out and celebrating Halloween this past weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to share some autumnal treats with you today. Below you will find two of my favorite treats for cold autumn days. Many thanks to my wife, Susan Waxman, for letting me share her Crispy Brown Rice Treats recipe.

Hot Apple Cider
Ingredients:
Apple cider
Lemon
Kuzu (optional)

Preparation:
Dilute the apple cider slightly if you find it too sweet.
Hear the apple cider until it is hot but not boiling.
Squeeze in lemon to taste.

Variation for a thicker, warming drink:
Dissolve 1 heaping teaspoon of kuzu in cold water.
Put in a saucepan.
Add 1 cup of cold apple cider (diluted if desired).
Stir on a medium flame until it thickens.
Squeeze in the lemon to taste.

Crispy Brown Rice Teats
This recipe makes enough for a crowd, which is perfect for bringing to a Halloween party or for introducing your trick-or-treaters to whole foods. This quick snack will keep in a tin or glass container for 1 week.

Ingredients:
½ cup Barley Malt
¾ cup Maple Syrup
1 cup organic currants or raisins
1 cup organic peanut butter
5 cups Crispy Brown Rice

Preparation:
Mix Barley Malt, Maple Syrup and Peanut Butter in a stainless steel pot.
Turn on flame and begin heating on a low flame.  Add the fruits and continue to mix.
When you begin to see bubbles around the edge of the pot, turn off the flame and add the rice crispies.  
Mix well to blend all of the ingredients.
Place on an oiled tray to cool a bit.
Roll into balls and serve.

Variations: Substitute Almond butter or tahini for the peanut butter. When using tahini add a little add a little more rice crispies in order to maintain a good consistency.
Add grain-sweetened chocolate chips in place of raisins for a richer taste.

For the ultimate chocolate lovers treat:
Melt unsweetened organic dark/vegan chocolate. 
Add 2 tablespoons of brown rice syrup
1 tablespoons of barley malt
1 – 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
If this is not sweet enough for you, just add a little extra, remember the kids need to like it too!
Mix well and allow the now, grain sweetened chocolate to cool a bit.
Drizzle or roll the crispy balls in the chocolate.
Place the chocolate coated treats in the fridge until the chocolate cools.

Makes about 60 bite size treats.

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Pureed Sweet Vegetable Soup

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Ingredients:

1 medium onion diced
1/2 cup diced leek
1/3 – 1/2 head of cauliflower
Water
Sea salt
Shoyu
Parsley; finely diced for garnish

Preparation:

1. Place diced onions in a pot with water enough to cover onions by an inch.
2. Add a tiny pinch of salt and bring to a boil over medium flame, Continue to
cook onions for several minutes or until they become translucent.
3. Add leeks, cauliflower and additional water to cover vegetables by
approximately 1 to 2  inches.
4. Add an additional generous pinch of sea salt, cover and bring to a boil on a
medium to medium-high flame.
5. When water begins to boil, reduce the flame and simmer on medium-low for
approximately 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
6. Using a hand food mill, puree all the ingredients.
7. Return the pureed vegetables to the pot.
8. Season with a few drops of shoyu and simmer 5 7 minutes on a medium-low
flame.
9. Garnish with finely chopped parsley or scallion.

Note:

The consistency of this soup may be adjusted by the amount of vegetables and
water. If soup becomes too thick, add additional water until desired
consistency is reached.

1 Comment | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Recipes, Uncategorized

Pressure Cooked Basmati Brown Rice with Pinto Beans

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups organic basmati brown rice, rinsed
1/2 cup organic pinto beans, sorted and rinsed
A postage stamp-sized piece of kombu sea vegetable

Preparation:

  1. Soak rice and beans separately.
  2. For each cup of the combined dry ingredients (beans and rice) use 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups of water.
  3. Place rice in a bowl with the pre-measured amount of water for the combined dry ingredients.
  4. Soak rice 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
  5. Place beans in a separate bowl with water to cover by 2 inches and soak 6 to 8 hours or over night.
  6. Discard the bean soaking water and rinse the beans well.
  7. Soak the kombu in a small amount of water for a few minutes until soft.
  8. Place kombu, beans and rice in the pressure cooker, along with the soaking water from the grain and kombu. The water level should cover the grain by 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch.
  9. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and bring to full pressure on a medium high flame.
  10. Reduce the flame to medium low and place a flame deflector under the pressure cooker. Cook for 50 minutes.
  11. Remove cooker from the flame and allow the pressure to come down naturally.
  12. As soon as the pressure comes down, transfer the rice to a serving bowl, using a moistened rice paddle.
  13. Cover with a sushi mat.

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Grains of Truth

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Traditionally, cultures were known by the grains they ate; rice in Asia, corn in the Americas, oats in the UK, couscous in the Middle East and buckwheat in Russia, to name just a few. Grains have two key components that make them unique among the world’s foods. They are complete in themselves and they are endlessly adaptable.

In grains, the fruit and the seed have merged to become one. (In fruits, we eat the flesh and throw away the seed.) This oneness is the basis of the complete and balanced nutrition that grains give us. Looked at another way, we can say that grains represent and incorporate both the beginning (the seed) and the end (the fruit) of the plant kingdom.

Grains are adaptable in terms of both geography and climate. They can and do adapt easily and effectively to the varied geographical and climatic conditions of our planet. Therefore, they can be cultivated wherever food can be grown. Barley has the widest growing area of any grain. It can grow north beyond the Arctic Circle and as far south as Ethiopia. Grain can also be stored for hundreds of years, which makes it the ideal food to supply the basic nutrition of our planet.

I will elaborate further on the distinctive qualities of whole grains in future articles but in this first article on grains, I want to concentrate on the uniqueness of brown rice.

There are three aspects of brown rice that I find endlessly fascinating. The first is that brown rice can be cooked with any other food to the mutual enhancement of each.

Brown rice can be cooked with all types of animal food, including, beef, lamb, veal, pork, poultry, eggs, fish and seafood. (Just bring to mind the variety of rice dishes available in the world’s restaurants.) Rice can also be cooked with other grains, as well as with beans, seeds or nuts. We can cook barley with rice and chickpeas with rice. We can garnish rice with walnuts or sesame seeds. Rice can also be combined with different types of dairy food to create both savory and sweet dishes or used to mutual advantage with fruit or other sweeteners to create satisfying desserts.

The second fascinating thing about brown rice is that whatever you cook with it takes no longer to cook than does the rice. For example, if you pressure-cook rice with chickpeas or wheat berries, the beans will be tender in 50 minutes. If you cook chickpeas or wheat berries separately, they can take hours to reach that state.

The third, and perhaps the most endearing, thing about brown rice is that you can eat it every day of your life and yet it remains delicious to the taste. I will go so far as to say that brown rice seems to become more and more delicious over time.

There are mental and spiritual, as well as physical, benefits that come from eating a food that has this wealth of unique qualities. Brown rice can be said to open our minds. It gives us the ability to connect or synthesize different ideas, meaning that it can combine as easily with different ideas as it does with different foods. It promotes as sense of oneness with our surroundings.

With brown rice as the lynch pin of our diet, we can significantly improve and maintain the health of our bodies, minds and spirits.

1 Comment | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Recipes