As a way of introduction to Our Kitchens As Wellness Centers, may I repeat an old cliché and what I consider to be a simple truth, “We are what we eat!” What I found over thirty (30) years ago is that the “food” we choose and take into our bodies — whether it be actual physical food that feeds our bodies, or the metaphysical food that influences our thoughts, and/or whatever exists in the visible and energetic environment surrounding us — has a dramatic effect on our physical health and immunity as well as our emotional health as well. Whether we are in great or in poor physical and/or mental condition, we have influenced this condition through the many ways that we nourish ourselves, both biologically and psychologically, as well as what we expose ourselves to. Developing the ability to determine the different kinds of nourishment we need is fundamental to creating a healthy life.
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The knowledge and practice of selecting, preparing and eating wholesome and nourishing foods that are uniquely structured for the way our bodies were designed gives us the biological foundation as well as the freedom and the confidence to live in this world without the fear of getting sick, and is of vital importance for our sustaining health and long-term survival.
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Where does this begin? Right in our own kitchens! Our kitchens are actually our personal alchemical centers where we create our own wellness! The kitchen is the heart of our home, the hearth from which we nourish ourselves, our families, and our communities. The kitchen, along with our understanding of the power of food in our lives, is what empowers us to take our health into our own hands.
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How do we transform our kitchens into wellness centers, thereby creating the health, happiness, and peace that we all seek? We equip our kitchens with the right tools and supplies: A gas stove, quality cast iron pots, pans, pressure cookers made with stainless steel, a sharp vegetable cutting knife, wooden cutting boards, and quality cooking utensils.
In clean glass jars, we store healthy condiments such as high quality sea salt, shoyu soy sauce, umeboshi plum, miso, and bulk foods such as grains, whole-wheat pastry flour, beans, seeds, and nuts in all their abundant variety.
We store in our kitchen and/or refrigerator organic plant-based seasonal foods, vegetables, fruits, and plant-based protein, such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, and dry beans in their abundant variety.
We come to the “service” of cooking in our kitchens with a dedicated, committed and loving attitude. Cooking is an art, a form of meditation in motion, and a service to humanity.
We develop an understanding of how to select and prepare in our kitchens nourishing wholesome foods that will optimize one’s health.
Because “we are what we eat”, and because food provides the biological foundation for our health and well-being, the knowledge and understanding of the cook who selects and prepares our food is paramount to the quality of our health. In essence, the cook must become a “food doctor.” As stated by Hippocrates, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food.”
The way I came to this understanding was through the study of Macrobiotics since 1977 and following the laws of nature, which, based on the Macrobiotic Philosophy, is known as “The Order of the Universe.” After three years of formal study of the philosophy and practical application of macrobiotics at the Kushi Institute in Brookline, MA, I came away with what I thought was a brilliant simple realization: If I Eat Well, Everything will be Okay! This was reinforced by my ongoing study, practice and reading of over 100 books by authors that all concluded that eating a whole foods, plant-based diet is the best food to eat!
The best foods to prepare in our kitchens and eat are organic whole grains, beans, land and sea vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds in their infinite variety.
Here’s why from a macrobiotic perspective. Very simply, it begins with understanding energy and how it works! In Macrobiotics, everything is explained by how yin (upward, expansive energy) changes into yang (downward and contractive energy), and how yang changes back into yin, everywhere…in everything, no exceptions! It’s the dance of the universe or infinity in motion! From the spiralic formation of galaxies to the formation of DNA, yin and yang energy patterns are everywhere! From the daisy or sunflower to the Milky Way Galaxy, day changing into night and night into day, summer changing into winter and back again, the rise and fall of civilizations, the evolutionary process of over 3.2 billion years in which one-celled ameba changed/evolved to seaweeds to ancient land plants to modern plants, nuts, seeds, beans, and finally to grain!
This phenomenon of yin and yang can be applied to food. More yang foods include: sea salt, sea weeds, miso and umeboshi plum along with cooked warming root vegetables like carrots, burdock and onions. More yin foods include beverages, cooling greens, salads, pickles and fruits. Extreme yang foods include poor quality salt, meats, eggs and hard cheeses. Extreme yin foods include alcohol, coffee, white sugar, even drugs, medications, vaccinations, immunizations, our food industry’s genetically modified foods, and processed foods—all of which create severe imbalances that lead to our sicknesses and degeneration! As we learn to balance our foods by understanding their energy, applying heat and/or sea salt to contract foods and water and oil to expand foods, and eating consciously in harmony with the seasons, (more warming food in the winter and more cooling food in the summer), we create more balance and greater health within. By paying close attention to this very fundamental concept we can find peace and harmony in our environment and create an intuitive, simple balance in our everyday life!
Eating the infinite variety of combinations of organic grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, and some high quality sea salt, in harmony with the seasons, is what has kept me healthy and well and what gave me the confidence of never again getting sick. Understanding “The Order of the Universe”, originally taught by George Oshawa and Michio Kushi, was my core philosophical guide to understanding food on a universal as well as practical level. The thumbnail understanding goes like this. The order, listed backwards, is: humans/animals eat plants, plants grow or come from the soil, the soil is made up of elements, these elements consist of sub-atomic particles, sub-atomic particles are made up of endless energy patterns of yin and yang, which comes from infinity! Basically we come from infinity, exist in infinity, and return to infinity! The food we need to eat as humans for our survival on this planet is the energy that comes from infinity and is available most effectively in plants! As animals, we eat directly or indirectly from the visible world of plants, a manifestation of various essentials including: air, soil, water, and fire, (fire in the form of sun rays through the process of photosynthesis). The quality of these elements affects the quality of our food, which, in turn, affects the quality of our health.