Secrets from My Macrobiotic Kitchen with Julie S. Ong

Eat better. Live better. Love better.


The Kitchen as Sacred Space

The aim of life is to live, and live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.
~Henry Miller

Cooking is a spiritual process. In fact, the traditional method of food preparation involved only intuition, not written instruction. Those who derive true delight and fulfillment from the act of cooking have made a conscious and passionate commitment to exploring their creativity – to embracing their uniquely brilliant ideas instead of blindly following the advice of authority figures. By entering into this process of self-discovery, you’ll connect with your creativity not only in the kitchen, but in all realms of day-to-day life.

Today, we’ll explore how to transcend the expectations of society, and to turn obstacles into opportunities so you can tap into unlimited creativity.

Preparing food with a deep connection to the Earth helps to open the body and soul to a higher level of happiness and awareness. When you bring this truth and balance into the kitchen, which is the heart of the home, it ripples throughout all you do, feel, and think. You learn to free yourself from the inside out by fueling your body, mind, and soul with the love you infuse into every dish.

Here are 3 amazing secrets to accessing your creative side in the kitchen. Once you learn and implement them, you’ll embrace a simpler, less-stress life.

1. Treat the kitchen as a sacred space.

The kitchen is a sacred place to tap into your intuition through the process of “allowing.” You were born with an inner guidance system for preparing life-enriching foods. The world’s best chefs already know this. Instead of poring over lists of ingredients and instructions, just go with the flow and allow the process to unfold naturally. At first, it can be rather scary, but eventually, you’ll find that your timing and intuition get better with every dish. Instead of using measurements, your inner guidance system will tell you the right amount of spices and herbs and seasonings to add. Soon, everything will fall into place.

2. Expand beyond recipes.

Relying solely on recipes can eventualy become sort of a crutch, keeping you from trusting your intuition. When you use recipes, you’re not using all of your assets. As you become more comfortable in the kitchen and trust that everything will turn out okay, you will 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.

3. Create your masterpiece.

As you make mistakes along the way, you 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 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 and create a masterpiece.

Cooking is about so much more than just following recipes. It’s a process of growth that takes practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll get, and eventually it will become second nature. By not limiting yourself, you’re taking an opportunity to grow, to expand your potential, and to live life to the fullest.

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What’s your sign?

There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

Want to know the secret to natural healing? You may not realize that you already have the power to heal within you. When it comes to your body, you may overlook or brush aside external signs or indicators that your body is out of alignment with the natural order. Becoming more aware of your outer, as well as inner, guidance is the first step to dissolving energetic blockages to healing.

Physical indicators can be important clues you can use for guidance or direction on your path. An indicator or sign is something that shows what your current conditions are, where you are going, and how far you are from the goal. Highway signs, for example, tell you the distance yet to be traveled to reach a certain city. In your body, indicators appear as energetic balances (such as relaxation) or imbalances (such as tension) of physical health.

One way to reach your goal of a healthy body is to use physical indicators as guidance. When you are receiving guidance from your body, you will notice:

  • Your body will have a feeling of relaxation.
  • Your body will feel more energetic.
  • Your skin will be soft and elastic.
  • Your eyes will be bright and clear.
  • You will have a smile on your face.
  • You will look and feel younger.

Disease is a messenger that can help guide you to better health. Guidance, or physical indicators, that can show you where energy is blocked in your body may include:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Tension in the body
  • Physical illness
  • Deficient energy or stamina
  • Bloating or swelling
  • Discolorations on the skin
  • Pain

Intuition, often called “the still small voice within,” is an ever present and trustworthy source of power, security, and comfort. What signs are you receiving? The following exercises can help you become more aware of your body’s wisdom and allow energy to flow:

  1. Close your eyes. Slowly scan your body for areas of tightness (tension, tiredness, pain, etc.).
  2. These areas of tension are guidance. What is this tension telling you?
  3. Ask yourself: “What do I truly want, in my heart, and how do I perceive it will bring me happiness and peace?”
  4. Breathe deeply and open your heart to receiving this message.
  5. Bless this message. Tell the tension that it is heard and that you are there with it.
  6. Describe any changes in your body after receiving guidance.

Use these exercises regularly to help you embrace your body’s wisdom. The best times to do them are when you are less active, such as during rest, upon waking, and just before sleeping. Preventing illness before it manifests by listening to your body’s guidance is the key to a life of freedom, happiness, and peace.


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Want to successfully juggle healthy eating with a busy lifestyle?

I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.
~Nadia Comaneci

Are you changing to a healthier diet, but struggling to include the right foods in your new meal plan? Are you wondering how to get it all done? Beginning a new meal plan requires adjustments to your daily routine. In this article, I’ll share with you the secrets of how to balance healthy eating with a busy lifestyle.

Now that you have made the decision to become healthier, you may face some “challenges” around changing dietary habits. Here are some questions you may have about how to juggle healthy eating with a busy lifestyle:

1. Does it take longer to heal?

The natural approach to healing is not a “quick” fix; healing takes time. Unlike drugs or surgery where improvements or changes occur fairly quickly, using food takes longer. By trusting in the process, you can allow the natural pace of healing to occur. You’ll experience deeper, longer lasting effects, when the body heals at its own pace rather than forcing the body to change. Mindfulness meditation while enjoying a meal is particularly helpful in calming and focusing the mind. Breathing and chewing slowly enhances digestion, relaxes the body, and promotes healing. (Refer to my blog for mindfulness meditation techniques while eating.)

2. Does cooking take longer in the kitchen?

Cooking is like any other routine that you fit into your life–you have to make room for it by setting aside the time. It will be helpful to schedule cooking in your daily plan on your calendar. When you plan your day, make some appointments in your calendar for cooking. Prepare long-cooked meals, like grains, beans, and soups, on the weekend so they are ready to heat up when you are in a rush. When you set the intention to make healthy eating a priority, your new lifestyle becomes the norm.

 3. Is eating healthy more expensive?

Over the long term, eating healthy foods is easy on your budget. Eating locally grown, seasonal whole foods saves you money not only in packaging costs but also in freshness. You will get a higher quality product and that shows up in flavor as well as in the state of your health. By paying for fresh organic food now, you are preventing disease later and that not only saves you in hospital costs, but also ensures a better quality of life in your later years.

Make sure you are getting the right foods into your meal plan. One of the easiest things you can do right now to fit healthy eating into your life is to throw away all your processed foods, including white bread, white rice, boxed cereals, and white flour products like pasta.

Now is the time to start fresh. You are on the right track and the best is yet to come!


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Eating Meditation

Give up everything [in the way of food and drink] that is not absolutely necessary to your life for at least a week or two. You will catch a glimpse of freedom, happiness, and justice. You may soon understand why Macrobiotic persons are completely immunized from disease. The decision is yours.
~ George Ohsawa, Zen Macrobiotics

Would you like to boost your immune system without pills or tonics? A long life, free of disease, and filled with peace and happiness, is available to you right now. You can discover the natural ability of the body to heal itself through simple meditation and the art of eating.

What is meditation?

There are two kinds of meditation: concentration meditation and mindfulness meditation.

  1. Concentration meditation

    Concentration meditation is like a laser beam, which illuminates any object of focus. This kind of meditation produces a calm, unruffled mind, that is detached from emotional and interpersonal attachment. Any object of awareness can be the focus of concentration, whether internal or external, including words (mantra), an image (flame), a spot on the body (abdomen), or a kinesthetic feeling (breath). When the mind wanders, the mind returns to the object of concentration.

  2. Mindfulness meditation

    Mindfulness meditation is like a searchlight that shines over a wide range of objects as they arise in awareness, one at a time. You notice whatever predominates in awareness from moment to moment. Relaxed, choiceless awareness develops in the mind, which directs conscious attention instantly and naturally toward the changing elements of experience. Meditation begins with focus on the breath. Then you direct your awareness to include other experiences, including the senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. When the mind wanders, the mind returns to the breath.

Unlike concentration meditation, which focuses on internal and external objects, mindfulness focuses on experiences and broad awareness. However, both meditations return to the focus object or experience when the mind wanders. This combination of detached emotions and an absence of interpersonal involvement in the development of awareness is central to both meditations.

Eating Meditation

Eating meditation is an example of mindfulness. Follow these steps when you are sitting down to a meal to become aware of the present moment, and help boost your natural immunity:

  1. Take a bite of food and put your chopsticks or fork down.
  2. Chew between 50–100 times for each bite. Proper chewing is important to stimulate digestive enzymes and alkalinize your food.
  3. Swallow your saliva. (Saliva and the water in your body are reflections of the oceans on earth.)
  4. As you chew, breathe in and out five times. (The breath inside and outside your body contains life force energy, called prana in India.)
  5. Repeat this process until all the food is gone.

What did you experience? If you experienced peace and a heightened awareness of being in the present moment, this is what mindfulness meditation is: the process of slowing down, with directed, moment-to-moment, nonjudgmental attention. When you practice eating meditation, you open your heart to the present moment, the universal source of natural healing. Your appreciation and gratitude for the food and all who contributed to providing it for your nourishment are the keys to long-lasting health, peace, and happiness.


Want an everlasting love?

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
~Virginia Woolf

Ready to embrace a “whole health” approach to your relationships? When you eat high quality foods and develop inner wisdom for optimal health and wholeness, your authentic self naturally shines through. As a result, your relationships become deeper and more intimate.

Incorporating whole foods into your diet can help to naturally boost energy, increase pleasure, and strengthen loving relationships. Here are three ways whole foods can impact your long-term relationships:

1. Whole foods nourish whole people.

Whole foods contain the all vital energy of the plant, which nourishes all levels of mind, body, and spirit. Eating organic, seasonal, locally grown vegetables and whole grains brings our bodies back into harmony with nature and its rhythms. For the best spectrum of vitamins and minerals, include a variety of vegetables in your meal plan and remember to eat the whole vegetable, including the ends and tips. This allows the energy of the entire plant to nourish your whole being – body, mind, and spirit.

2. You’re increasing energy flow to your organs.

When you eat seasonal, locally grown whole foods, you nourish and open up energy pathways in the body, which brings all organs, including your heart, back into harmony with the rhythms of nature. When your heart becomes open in a more loving way, your relationships become deeper and more intimate as well.

3. You’re building up strengthening energy in your reproductive organs.

Consider this – the more you increase energy flow to your kidneys and reproductive organs, the more strengthening energy accumulates in these organs. Now, when your reproductive organs are stronger, your overall energy and sexual vitality increases. When you’re feeling more energy and vitality, you are able to contribute to and experience the intimacy you really want.

Whole foods contain the vitality of life that contributes to health on all levels– body, mind, spirit, emotions, and relationships. A whole health regime can help reignite the spark of joy in your relationships through the natural energies of whole foods, creating deeper, more intimate relationships.


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Chewing Meditation

I found out was, by the rhythm of my chewing, how I chewed fast, slow or what have you, I could tell the audience what my character was thinking and feeling.
~Rod Steiger

You already know that eating seasonal, locally grown organic foods is good for your health, but did you know that how you eat is as important for your overall well-being as choosing the right foods? One way to promote healing is to raise your awareness around your chewing process to strengthen your relationship with your food.

Setting an intention to cook with a loving mindset enhances the healing energy in your food. When the meal is ready to eat, set another intention to chew mindfully and nourish your relationship with your food for better health. Chewing has numerous benefits along with a macrobiotic diet, including:

  • Alkalinizing the blood
  • Promoting digestion
  • Relaxing the lower stomach muscle
  • Enhancing an overall state of rhythm and relaxation
  • Nourishing your connection with your food

Include the following chewing meditation exercises when you are sitting down to a meal. Before you begin chewing, answer the following questions:

  1. Do you have any food cravings?
  2. Do you have any areas of tension in your body?

During the chewing process, focus on the following contrasting activities:

  1. Take a bite of food and chew at normal speed.
  2. Next, chew faster than normal speed.
  3. Then chew slower than normal speed.
  4. Resume chewing at normal speed.
  5. In your journal, record your body’s experiences.

After doing the exercises, answer the following questions:

  1. What changes in your body did you notice while doing the meditation?
  2. How did changing the speed of chewing affect the way you felt about the food?
  3. How did your body’s wisdom guide you during chewing?

Compare your results and notice any guidance that arises that can take you to a deeper, richer relationship with food.


Can sea veggies boost sexual vitality?

Want to increase intimacy in your relationship? Look no further than the food on your plate. The secret to boosting sexual vitality can be found in the healing powers of sea vegetables.

Mineral-rich sea vegetables are used in macrobiotics to strengthen the main conduit in the body, the spine. This allows universal energy to flow through the main energy centers, or “chakras,” that run up the center of the body – a simple, nutritional way to harmonize the reproductive organs and strengthen sexual vitality.

Sea vegetables have unique compounds that bind to toxins and remove them from the body, boosting overall health as well as sexual vitality. Wakame, for example, is good for the uterus and helps cleanse dairy congestion from the reproductive organs. Sea vegetables also keep blood vessels flexible and strengthen the cardiovascular system. This allows more love to flow in your relationship.

So, increase intimacy and sexual vitality by adding nutrition-packed sea veggies to soups, stews, and sautés. Use them in gravies, pickles, and beans. And use roasted sea veggies, like dulse for bacon flavor, and roasted nori for sushi. Here’s a simple recipe, using a mild tasting sea vegetable called arame:

Arame with Carrots and Red Onion

Arame nourishes the spleen, stomach, and pancreas and is especially good for female reproductive organs. Because it contains mannitol (a non-caloric sugar), this sea vegetable helps keep blood pressure and blood sugar levels balanced. For variety, include other vegetables, like green beans, corn, and beets.

Ingredients
Serves 4

1 medium red onion, half moons
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup arame, rinsed
1/2 cup carrots, matchsticks
1/4 cup spring water
1 tablespoon shoyu, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon mirin (rice wine), or to taste
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

  1. In a frying pan, sauté onion in oil until translucent. Add arame on top of onions and carrots on top of arame. Add water and cover. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer 20 minutes. (If needed, add more water to prevent the pan from drying out.)
  2. Season with shoyu, stir, and continue to cook 2 minutes, uncovered.
  3. Season to taste with mirin. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.