Monday, March 21, 2011

All About Macrobiotics

by Leslie Ashburn

Macrobiotics is a flexible and practical approach to living based on using the world’s healthiest foods and traditional lifestyle practices to achieve wholeness, balance, and harmony in all dimensions of our lives. Food is energy and helps us create and become who we are. Macrobiotics is not a set of rules. It’s about personal power and choices, recognizing that each individual has the ultimate ability to decide how to apply these dietary principles and becomes responsible for everything that is put into one’s mouth and body. Everyone is different and no one set of standards or rules will apply to an individual condition. It’s important to make connections between what we eat and how we feel. With reflection, we can begin to empower ourselves to live better and healthier lives.

Emphasis is placed on:

  • eating a wide variety of foods grown locally, organically, and in season
  • utilizing a wide variety of simple cooking techniques
  • centering one’s diet on plant-based, unprocessed, unrefined foods
  • avoiding chemicals, pesticides, and other non-traditional methods of preparation

There are many benefits to a whole foods diet.

We develop strong mental, physical, and emotional health.
  • Studies show that a diet centered on plant-based foods improves blood sugar control, weight loss, and cardiovascular health, reduces cancer risk, and minimizes food addictions, to name just a few diet and lifestyle related items.
  • Eating consciously is good for the environment, farmers, and local economy.
  • Reducing intake of animal food reduces our carbon footprint.
  • Eating locally is more sustainable; besides being fresher, it supports local farmers and the local economy.
  • Eating organically is good for maintaining healthy ecosystems and protects the Earth, farmers, their children, and the local community from dangerous chemicals.
  • Eating seasonally keeps us harmonized with nature like traditional societies have practiced for thousands of years.

We know ourselves better
  • Practicing macrobiotics is not about following a rigid set of rules. It’s about making conscious connections between diet and lifestyle, and then how we feel as a result, and deciding what type of life we’d like to lead. It’s about flexibly adapting day to day to help us live our best possible life.

Basics for the kitchen
  • A person enjoying macrobiotic principles fills his or her kitchen with a wide variety of whole grains, beans and bean products, land and sea vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and natural condiments such as good quality oils, sea salt, shoyu, miso, brown rice vinegar, umeboshi vinegar, and natural sweeteners like brown rice syrup, amasake, and barley malt.
  • Cooking utensils typically include a variety of items such as stainless steel and earthen ware pots, a grater, pressure cooker, knife, steamer basket, mesh strainer, and bamboo mats.
  • Cooking techniques may include raw, steaming, blanching, boiling, sautéing, deep frying, pan frying, pressing, pickling, pressure cooking and baking
To learn hands-on techniques in preparing delicious macrobiotic foods, consider signing up for Chef Leslie's popular cooking series. Starts April 10th!

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    The Art of Menu Planning

    by Ashley Lukens

    I love to cook. I try to cook 4-5 nights a week, as schedule permits. Over the past 2 years, since my daughter was born, I have realized that in order to balance my busy schedule and ensure that my family gets the full range of fruits and vegetables into their diet, I MUST plan my menus out.

    Menu planning, for me, is a deal maker.

    If I don’t plan my meals out, I find myself feeling stressed and overwhelmed at the thought of making dinner. I am scrambling for ingredients, going to the grocery multiple times a week – wasting both my time and my money. I also find that I’m wasting money on ingredients that I can’t effectively use – and that I rely more on processed and preserved foods rather than fresh produce.

    Menu planning requires that we re-orient ourselves toward eating and cooking. With menu planning we have to de-couple convenience and spontaneity. While menu planning can increase the convenience of eating – it takes away that spontaneous, “I want tacos tonight” moment. Convenience and spontaneity are the touchstones of industrial eating.

    In order to get me and my family back to eating healthy, real food,  I had to take a well thought-out, proactive approach towards our weekly meals.

    So what does a meal planning session look like for my family?

    Our goal is to eat at home as a family 5 nights a week. Four nights I plan, the 5th we enjoy with our friends and extended family. By prioritizing a community meal, we check in with our support system – we share a meal, build memories, and help relieve the stress of cooking and childrearing.

    On Sunday morning over breakfast and everyone picks a meal for the week. We keep our respective schedules in mind – as well as any events that we might have that week.

    This is a sample shopping list that my 2 year old turned into her canvas.

    I write the meals on a top of a piece of paper and then organize my shopping list according to the sections of my grocery store: Produce, Dairy, Bulk, Frozen, Prepared foods, and finally processed. Having your meals and their ingredients organized in this way allows you to take a step back and look at what you’re feeding your family. If your shopping list is weighted in processed and not produce – think about how you can change that. If a recipe calls for canned tomatoes – try fresh. Canned Mushrooms? Try dehydrated. Canned beans? Go for the bulk aisle.

    If anything requires a special trip to a specialty store, create a box for it.

    Feeling uninspired? My favorite thing is to google a delicious ingredient and see the recipes that appear. My favorite website for recipes is the Food Network, but I also read cooking blogs, watch cooking shows, and read cook books for inspiration.

    We strive to eat leafy greens multiple times a week.
    We have 2 easy 30-minute meals and 2 or 3 that are more complex.
    We cook enough so that we have leftovers for lunch.

    We also make sure that the recipes make sense when taken together and that ingredients don’t go to waste. For example, if Monday’s meal calls for ½ a container of spinach, I make sure we can use the rest of the container before it spoils.

    Meal planning is a skill we’ve lost over the generations as industrial food has crept in and alienated us from our kitchens. Give meal planning a try for a month – if it doesn’t make your life more livable – call me a liar and let me know.

    Hope to see you all at our radical homemakers reading group Thursday, March 24th. We’ll be reading the second half of Radical Homemakers and the skill share will be a 30-minute meal prepared 3 ways.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    More Sessions, Longer Classes Starting April!

    Japanese Language Children's Songs & Rhythmic Class

    Join us for TWO new sessions of Sing-A-Long class in Japanese starting April. Plus, classes are now 45 minutes long so you and your little ones can enjoy MORE fun with the Japanese crafts and language! 

    Through simple songs and nursery rhymes, children will develop a sense of pitch, rhythm, and hand-body coordination. Recent studies suggest that sing-a-long classes can encourage positive brain development.  

    Parent participation is welcome!  For Age group: 0 ~ 5 years     

    NEW!   Each class is 45 minutes 

    1) Time: 4:30 pm - 5:15 pm ~ Every 2nd & 4th Monday 
        (April 11 & 25, May 9 & 23, June 13)


    2)Time: 10:15 am - 11:00 am ~ Every 1st & 3rd Monday
        (April 4 & 18, May 2 & 16, June 6)

    *1 Course of 5 classes   $40 (please pay at the first class day)
    *When you attend both courses of 10 classes, the cost will be $70
    *Walk-in price: $10 for one child 

    Contact: phone #808-988-0010 or

    *Second child is free if under 6 months old 

    Group maximum: up to 10 children 

    日本語で歌を歌うこのリトミッククラスでは、簡単な手遊び歌や童謡、歌遊びを通じて、日 本語に親しみながら、お子様の脳に刺激を与えます。指先や体を動かすことにより、体全体でリズムを感じ音感を養います。日本語と日本の童謡は、脳にとても 良いということが、最近の研究で明確になってきました。クラスでは、絵本の読み聞かせや、折り紙、お手玉などを使って楽しく日本語に親しみます。お母様も ぜひご一緒にご参加ください。

    教える人: 佐藤しのぐ
    連絡 先;phone 808-988-0010  or

    *9月か ら12月までのセッションを募集しま す。(9/13&27, 10/11&25, 11/8&22, 12/6)
     * 第2と第4の月曜日, 4時30分から5時(新しい時間帯です)
    ** 参加費 は、前払いで、3か月分1コースとして$35いただきます。
    **ファミリープライス もあります。お子様お2人/ $50    お子様3人以上/$70
    **Walk-in は、お子様お一人につき、$8です。(割引はありません

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    New Cooking Classes for the Whole Family!

    Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Cooking: Autism and ADHD Diets Made Easy With Warrior Mama Katie Berry
    March 10 at 10:00 a.m. and repeated on March 20th at 11:00 a.m.
    Class Cost: $15 per person, or $12 pre-registration (3/10 class only)

    This unique and first (but not last!) GFCF Cooking Class will inspire and guide parents onto the off-the-beaten path of cooking well and eating well. The class will cover:
    What is GFCF?
    What the benefits are?
    How this ties into children with Autism and ADHD
    Personal story (can share mine)
    Showcase list of "no" foods and their alternative
    Where can you buy GFCF products?
    Personal recommendations of GFCF products
    Showcase GFCF recipe and demonstrate how to make it (may bring two small things)

    Super Toddler Foods: How to Turn Your Purees into Healthy Finger Foods
    Taught by Ashley Lukens
    Sunday March 27th at 11:00 a.m.
    Class Cost: $10 per person

    This follow-up to our ever popular Super Baby Foods Class will cover how to integrate fruits, veggies, and most especially leafy greens into your toddler's diet. We'll discuss ways to make simple changes to your meals and meal planning to make sure your child is getting 3 square healthy meals a day!