Secrets from My Macrobiotic Kitchen with Julie S. Ong

Eat better. Live better. Love better.


A Light at the End of the Migraine Tunnel

As much as you can eat healthy, it’s also important to remember to drink healthy, too. Tea is very healing.
~Kristin Chenoweth

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Do you ever experience headaches or migraines? Are you ready for a whole health approach to healing? If you’ve ever experienced migraines, you know how debilitating they can be. While the conventional approach to health focuses on eliminating pain, wholistic methods view the body as an interconnected whole that can be healed on many different levels. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the macrobiotic approach to healing migraines and provide wholistic alternatives to conventional pain relieving treatments.

In the Asian concept of the human body, there is an energy system, the life force or chi, which allows organs to communicate with each other to nourish or control the activity of other organs. This energy system connects organs through energy channels called meridians, which can become blocked or damaged through congestion or over activity. Blocked or disruptive energy can cause problems in organs, such as the brain, resulting in migraines or headaches.

Asian cultures have used healing brews for thousands of years to help relieve migraine pain on an energetic level. Let’s explore this wholistic perspective to relieving migraines with these three healing teas:

1. Ume Sho Kuzu Tea

Migraines may be caused by excess consumption of strong expansive foods, like sugar, alcohol, and fruit. These foods have upward rising energy which are attracted to the front (cognitive) and left (intellectual) side of the head, creating instability in areas that are usually more grounded. This healing beverage helps relieve pain in these areas by grounding and stabilizing the upward expansive energy.

1 teaspoon kuzu root starch
1 1/4 cup cold water
1/2 to 1 umeboshi plum (salted pickled plum), chopped
1/2 teaspoon shoyu soy sauce

  1. Dissolve kuzu in 1 1/4 cup cold water. Pour liquid into a saucepan and bring to boil, stirring constantly to prevent clumping.
  2. Turn down flame and simmer until liquid becomes translucent (about 2 minutes).
  3. Add umeboshi plum and shoyu.
  4. Simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

2. Apple Kuzu Tea

Strong contracting foods, like meat or salt, are attracted to the rear, center (primitive), and right (intuitive) side of the brain. Over consumption of foods with downward contracting energy can disrupt the normal flow of energy in these areas. The upward expanding energy in Apple Kuzu Tea helps relieve headaches in these areas by balancing the inward, contracting forces.

1 teaspoon kuzu root starch
1 1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup apple juice

  1. Dissolve kuzu in 1 1/4 cup cold water.
  2. Add apple juice.
  3. Pour liquid into a saucepan and bring to boil, stirring constantly to prevent clumping.
  4. Turn down flame and simmer until liquid becomes translucent (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and serve.

3. Dried Daikon Shiitake Tea

Excess consumption of greasy oily foods, such as potato chips, fries, or nuts, blocks the natural upward movement of liver energy. When liver energy becomes stagnated, migraines can occur on the sides of the brain. Dissolving oil in the body with Japanese daikon radish and shiitake mushroom can help relieve pain in these areas.

1/2 cup dried daikon
1 shiitake mushroom, soaked and then sliced (save soaking water)
2 1/2 cups water (including soaking water)

  1. Add dried daikon, shiitake, and water to a saucepan. Bring to boil.
  2. Lower flame and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Strain. Remove from heat and serve.

Remember that pain can be a healing messenger, indicating where there are blockages of energy flow in the body. Understanding how to clear areas of stagnation with wholistic remedies can help relieve pain and bring your body back to its natural state of harmony.


Three Steps to Becoming a Better Cook

Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.
~Chef Marcel Boulestin

mid section view of a woman cutting vegetables

Have you started making healthy food choices, but are confused about how to cook these new foods? Are you wondering how to pull it all together? If you’ve started along a life-enhancing path, you may have some questions about how to cook wholesome, delicious meals for your family. In this article, we’ll explore ways to overcome your concerns about cooking.

Now that you’ve embarked on a healthy regime, you may have some “challenges” around preparing meals. To help you become a better cook, follow these three simple steps:

1. Whenever possible, use fresh organic, locally grown ingredients

A dish will go only as far as the ingredients used. Your taste buds and sense of smell will help you discern whether you are using the best ingredients. Fresh vegetables that are organic and locally grown not only taste and smell good, they also look vibrant and alive. Taking shortcuts, like using processed and imitation ingredients, make your dish look and taste artificial and lifeless. The natural approach applies to whole healing as well. Unlike processed foods, fresh ingredients have more nutrients and life force energy that help support organ function.

2. Set aside 30 minutes each day to prepare food

By setting aside half an hour each day for food preparation, you create an intention to respect the food in a more loving way. The chef’s mental and emotional states affect the outcome of the cooking process. The stress of rushing through food preparation imparts agitating energy not only to your family but also to the dish you are cooking. Cooking is a sacred activity and must be treated with loving energy. Preparing food with love sets the tone for the meal, which brings peace to whoever eats it.

 3. Make it fun

No one said you had to suffer to eat well. Here are three things you can do to make cooking fun:

  • Cook foods that you like. We all enjoy eating foods that we like, and cooking these foods makes sticking to a healthy meal plan more enjoyable.
  • Trust yourself to experiment with seasonings and herbs. When you try out new flavors, your curiosity and sense of wonder are stimulated. Like children, we can “play” with our food and come up with new flavors that enhance the dish.
  • Share your food with others. Taking pride in what you accomplish is the fuel for future endeavors. When you share your joy of cooking, you’ll feel good and will want to continue to spread the love. Also, friends who taste your dishes will ask you about the ingredients, encouraging you to develop your knowledge about the food and the cooking process.

Cooking is more than just combining ingredients together on a plate. A healthy meal is symbolic of the loving energy the chef contributes to the food. By understanding this, you can transform your meals from ho-hum to Hallelujah!

(Dave Cunningham contributed to this article.)


Are you having a secret love affair?

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
~Harriet Van Horne


You already know about the advantages of eating healthy— a stronger immune system, reduced risk of many diseases, physical fitness, and so much more. But did you know you were born with an inner guidance system for preparing life-enriching foods? The world’s best chefs already know this. When you build a connection with food and trust your inner guidance system, the process of healthy cooking will naturally fall into place.

Here a some tips for bonding with your food and strengthening your intuition to create delicious, healthy meals:

1. Experiment.

Organic food is delicious all on its own. The simple process of steaming some organic carrots can really bring out their flavor. However, if you are entertaining or just in the mood for something different, flex your creative muscles and change a dish up. You can use additional ingredients- like sauces, herbs, spices, and condiments— to enhance the food’s natural flavors. Condiments can also help to balance a dish, enhancing flavors and boosting the energy.

2. Use all of your assets.

You may want to try time-honored family recipes to get in touch with your cultural roots. However, don’t get locked into just following those recipes over and over. As your creativity expands, you can create new dishes centered around your family’s culinary heritage.

By making some mistakes along the way, you’ll learn to balance ingredients in a meal and how to make substitutions. This is an empowering process, and it allows you to make more informed decisions instead of just following someone else’s advice or instructions. You might prefer the dish to be more spicy, less spicy, or seasoned differently. When you cook without a recipe, you can adjust the seasonings and ingredients to make it your own. You can infuse a meal with your unique flair by trusting your energy and intuition.

3. Start a love affair.

One of the easiest ways to incorporate healthy cooking into your life is to develop an intimate relationship with food. Really make it a love affair— get truly passionate about healthy food. For example, incorporate one new vegetable or whole grain into your meal plan each week.

It’s sort of like getting to know someone you’ve just met. At first, it’s a little scary, because you don’t know how to behave around each other. And then after you spend some more time with them and you get to know each other, you start to build a mutual trust and feel safe around them. Eventually, you can’t imagine life without them. The same concept can be applied to your relationship with food. In the beginning, it will be a little scary, but after a while, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without your vegetables and whole grains.

As you build a love affair with food, you’ll not only make better tasting dishes, you’ll also develop an all-encompassing confidence that you can take with you out into the real world— your job, your relationships, and anything else that requires truth and intuition.


Three Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

Change your thoughts and you change your world.
~Norman Vincent Peale

It happens every year. You create a few resolutions that will hopefully get you back on track for the New Year. You follow through for a couple days, maybe even a couple of weeks. However, as time goes on, the enthusiasm fades and you’re right back where you started. How can you keep the momentum going and accomplish what you set out to do?

To initiate change and stay on your path, you must change the way you perceive your goals. Let’s take a look at the word resolution (re-solution). Resolution comes from Latin, meaning “to loosen or dissolve again,” which was the original meaning. So, it is about loosening your current perspective, transforming your old habits and thought patterns into something more productive.

Here are three tips for keeping your New Year’s resolutions:

1. Support your True Essence.

Rather than focusing on how something is going to happen, you will create actions that support your True Essence. This is the key to sustaining and spreading positive energy to help you move ahead.

When you examine your True Essence, you’ll find you are, at your deepest level, healthy, healed, whole, and complete. Learn to identify “should” behaviors that are not aligned with your core truth. “Should” behaviors are actions that you “should” be doing because of pressure from external sources, such as society, family, or friends. For example, you may go to the gym because your family wants you to be thin, yet you can’t meet this expectation. This inner conflict may trigger feelings, such as guilt or sadness. (As is often said in AA meetings, “Don’t should all over yourself.”)

When your emotions are triggered, receive three deep breaths and come back to the Present Moment. This will help you reconnect with your True Essence.

2. Change your thoughts.

In order for a change to take place, you must change your thoughts. This means discovering what your thoughts are and changing them so that you support your True Essence.

In your journal, keep track of your thoughts throughout the day. You may notice that you have thoughts about devaluing yourself, which will ultimately sabotage your progress. Next, meet yourself where you are and go a little higher. Begin with your belief and ask that your belief be raised. These are called Progressive Affirmations. For example, you may write the following:

  1. I need help remembering I am loved.
  2. I am beginning to remember I am loved.
  3. I am remembering more and more I am loved.
  4. I am seeing evidence I am loved.
  5. I am seeing more and more evidence I am loved.

3. Look for Positive Evidence.

During the day, notice positive evidence that supports your Progressive Affirmations. Make a note of what occurred that validated your affirmation. For example, if someone spoke respectfully to you, highlight it in your journal. Also, notice any positive change that takes place in your thoughts, emotions, and body. Answer these three questions in your journal:

  1. What are my thoughts?
  2. What are my feelings?
  3. What is showing up in my body? What physical sensations am I having?

For change to occur, you must look within, at the foundational thought patterns that initiate behavior. When your thoughts change, you will see your authentic self, and your outer world will be a reflection of your inner beauty.


Ready to jump start a healthy New Year?

A systemic cleansing and detox is definitely the way to go after each holiday. It is the key to fighting high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and other health-related illnesses.
~Lee Haney

Want to rev up your health after all the holiday partying and overindulgence? You may want start the new year off right by adding a few changes to your daily routine. A big lifestyle change can seem overwhelming at first. However, really simple changes to your menu plan are not hard at all and help you feel so much better about yourself and what you are doing.

If you want to revive your energy and get started on the right foot, there are a few things you can do right now. Here are three simple things you can do to rest assured you are doing a good job:

1. Rebalance with whole grains

One important benefit of eating whole grains is the high fiber content which helps your intestines stay healthy. One whole grain you can incorporate into your daily routine if you are on a time crunch is 1/2 – 3/4 cup cooked oatmeal every morning. Starting your day with oatmeal, like steel-cut oats, is ideal for a 24 hour bowel cycle. This will help establish a regular rhythm and rebalance your intestinal function.

2. Cleanse with vegetables

Colorful vegetables not only provide important nutrients, they also help cleanse your body of toxins. Be sure to include these three vegetable categories:

  • Dark greens, like kale chips, are important in your diet for necessary minerals. They also have upward, rising energy which cleanses the liver, helping you feel vibrant and refreshed.
  • Sweet vegetables, like carrots, onion, and parsnip, provide natural sweetness to help curb sugar cravings. These vegetables stabilize blood sugar levels and support spleen and pancreas function.
  • Seasonal vegetables, like winter squash, have the perfect energy you need to harmonize with nature. Eating foods cooked according to the seasons helps you adjust to your environment for a stronger immune system to resist diseases like cancer.

Including one cup of vegetables from each category to your daily regime can help stimulate digestion and cleanse your system.

3. Ground yourself with beans

Low fat, high fiber beans are ideal for maintaining body weight while strengthening intestinal function. Switching from animal protein to vegetable protein in beans helps the body cleanse fatty deposits and prevent heart disease. Beans also have grounding, stabilizing energy which counterbalances destabilizing foods like alcohol. Because long term consumption of animal protein weakens the kidneys and depletes your energy, eating one cup of beans every other day in place of animal protein can help generate more vitality.

A fresh New Year begins with a fresh new you and that means overhauling your health from the inside out. So, no matter what you have planned for your menu, include whole grains, vegetables, and beans and know that you are doing a good thing for you and your family.


Can you incorporate healthy cooking into your jam-packed holiday?

May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter, and every window open to great possibility.
~Mary Anne Radmacher

Want to find time during this hectic holiday season to cook healthy meals? If you find meal planning overwhelming, you are not alone. It’s all too easy to give in to the temptation to toss a frozen dinner into the microwave. But the reality is, it’s easy to incorporate healthy cooking into your holiday routine.

Here are a few tips to take the stress and anxiety out of planning daily meals for your family and friends.

1. Healthy cooking begins with preparation.

The secret to preparing nutritious, delicious meals in a hurry lies in the preparation. Before you even get out the cutting board and the knife, think about what steps are required to prepare your meal. Cooking can’t begin until the prep work has been done. But once the foods have been soaked or cut, the cooking process itself takes only about a half hour to fifty minutes. Once you retrain your thinking to focus on the prep instead of the cooking, the process goes much faster. Then you can just go into the kitchen and whip up a quick meal, because all the ingredients and components are ready to go.

2. Leftovers are your friends.

The biggest mistake busy home cooks make when planning a meal is not knowing how to use leftovers—repurposing food that has already been cooked in a different, creative way. You can even take it a step further and set aside time on the weekend to precook food to use in your meals during the week. Then when you’re crunched for time, you can whip up a quick meal on the go (and save money at the same time).

3. Design your menu around the largest meal.

If you’re having trouble designing a meal plan, tackle your largest meal first. From there, you can create smaller meals for the rest of the day. For example, if your biggest meal of the day is dinner, begin by listing all of the foods and ingredients you’ll need for that meal. Then your meals for breakfast and lunch will seem much smaller and easier, and won’t take as much time. This helps make the whole process less overwhelming. So instead of getting intimidated by facing three meals a day, just focus on the largest meal and then build the rest around that. Then designing the other two meals, such as porridge for breakfast and maybe a hearty soup for lunch, will be a much easier and more manageable task.

When you follow these basic steps, you’ll not only incorporate healthy cooking into your holiday routine, you’ll also be able to focus on what’s really important– celebrating the holiday season with family and friends.


Want to strengthen your immune system this winter?

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.
~Edith Sitwell

Winter means snuggling up in front of a crackling fire, building snowmen on the lawn, and gathering family and friends together for a holiday meal. Imagine snowflakes falling softly, bright red berries on branches, aromatic herbs and seasonings, and warming soups and stews. Because the energy of winter slows down and turns inward, this is an ideal time to nourish your body deep inside and build up your immune system.

Seasonal cooking will help your body stay attuned to the order of the universe, becoming stronger and more resistant to illness. The key to achieving this balance is cooking according to the seasons. For example, in winter time, avoid eating cooling foods, like salads and frozen desserts. Instead, you want warming, strengthening dishes like the following recipe, which includes hardy winter greens.

Emerald Sauté with Cranberries and Pecans

This delicious side dish infuses rich flavor and color to any holiday meal. Bitter winter kale nourishes heart function and expands the heart’s capacity for love and joy. Rich in calcium and antioxidants, kale also protects against macular degeneration and osteoporosis.

Serves 4

1 bunch kale, chopped
2 teaspoons untoasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons spring water
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries, fruit juice sweetened
lemon juice, to taste
shoyu soy sauce, to taste

  1. In a skillet, sauté greens in oil 2 minutes.
  2. Add water. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered, 2 minutes.
  3. Season with lemon juice and shoyu. Garnish with chopped pecans and dried cranberries.

Food is not just about nutrition and calories—it’s also comprised of life force energy, related to the energy of the seasons, the time day, and your moods. When you balance your inner energy with external forces through seasonal cooking, you’ll not only have a stronger immune system, but also a more balanced life.