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.

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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.)


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Chew Your Way to Love

Ready to spice up your love life? We all know that chewing is an important part of healthy digestion. But did you know that how you chew can affect the quality of your relationships as well?

Chewing not only improves your digestion and reduces risks of illness and disease, it can also boost your sexual health and deepen the intensity of your relationship. This is because how you absorb foods impacts your sexual vitality. Here are 5 eating-related lifestyle adjustments you can make to improve your digestion and revive your sex life:

1. Eat at regular times

A regular mealtime schedule brings rhythm and balance to your daily routine. When your digestion functions on a predictable cycle, you are in harmony with the natural order, and your relationships with people, animals, food, and yourself are more nurturing.

2. Sit down to eat

The stress of eating on the go–running, standing, driving, doing business, concentrating, and reading–can lead to ulcers and poor digestion. Sit down to eat and avoid multi-tasking. Mindfully eating allows you to fully enjoy your meal and your partner’s company without distraction. This simple step not only improves digestion, but also cultivates gratitude for your food and relationship.

3. Chew more

Digestion begins in the mouth. Amylase enzyme in saliva breaks down carbohydrates so the body can more easily absorb them. The more you chew, the more complex carbohydrates (like brown rice) are converted into simple sugars and become naturally sweeter. Chewing foods 50-100 times not only improves digestion, it also allows you to more easily embrace the sweetness in life, including being with your partner.

4. Eat a moderate volume of food

Skipping meals, dieting, overeating, or under eating can all weaken your digestion, which becomes overworked and exhausted. Eating a moderate amount of food restores digestive function and boosts sexual vitality as you absorb more nutrients and energy.

5. Stick to whole foods

Over time, eating rich, heavy, or greasy foods, such as meat and hydrogenated oils, burdens digestion and blocks sexual function. Cooked whole foods, like leafy greens and grains, nourish digestion, help cleanse the body, and revitalize your reproductive organs.

Healthy digestion not only strengthens your body from the inside out, your relationships will become sweeter as well. Happy chewing!


Eat Well While Dining Out

All four elements were happening in equal measure – the cuisine, the wine, the service, and the overall ambiance. It taught me that dining could happen at a spiritual level.
~Charlie Trotter

Too many people just eat to consume calories. Try dining for a change.
~John Walters

Want to stick to your holistic meal plan and eat well while dining out? If you already eat vibrant, exciting foods that give you more energy, you may wonder what to eat when you’re out at parties. Even dining with family who may not understand your food choices can be frustrating.

So, what kinds of choices can you make from what’s being served on the table? Here are some things you can do to nurture your body and soul at parties:

1. Come out of the holistic closet

Here’s an opportunity to speak from your heart. Before you go to a party, tell your host that you are choosing healthier foods to eat at parties. Tell him or her about your new lifestyle and offer suggestions for substitutes, such as using whole grain bread for stuffing instead of white bread. It’s a chance for your host to incorporate healthier versions into the meal and learn more about healthier ways of eating. Often at gatherings, people will prefer the healthier version over the regular holiday fare.

2. Take a plate of food to share

Besides making sure you have something to eat, sharing a dish says, “I made this and it’s a part of my new lifestyle, and I’d love to have you try it.” People are open to new ways of eating, and they’re excited to try new foods. It’s a chance for you to share something of yourself in the spirit of the holidays.

3. Eat before you go

Sometimes bringing food is not an option, such as when you are eating at a restaurant. Having a bite to eat before you leave the house helps you eat less at the party and gives you more time to socialize, instead of worrying about what food to eat. This is a stress-free, healthier alternative to eating what will be served at the party.

Instead of being limited by food choices when dining out, you have many opportunities to eat well during the holidays. You can even become a catalyst for helping other people make healthier choices. You are a positive force for change; it all depends on the attitude you bring.


Are you ready to boost sexual vitality?

Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses.
~Lao-Tzu

Sex without love is as hollow and ridiculous as love without sex.
~Hunter S. Thompson

Are you ready to ignite the passion in the bedroom? Want to activate some sexual healing? Nurturing an intimate, loving relationship with your partner begins with your health. When you are whole in body, mind, emotions, and spirit, your love life also becomes more fulfilling. The best way to spark your love life is by eating healthy whole foods.

Whole foods, like vegetables, contain vital life force energy or “chi” which supports and nourishes you on all levels. This chi is what revitalizes your overall health.Whole vegetables include all portions of a vegetable: the greens, center, and roots.

1. Leafy greens

Collards, kale, and dandelion greens have upward growing, expansive energy that supports the upper half of the body, like the heart. Leafy greens help you open up to love and joy and improve social communication.

2. Round vegetables

Round vegetables represent the balance point between the root and greens. This is the center of the plant, which has stabilizing energy that nourishes the middle organs in the body. Foods with centering energy are round vegetables like squash, cabbage, and onion. These foods are naturally sweet and allow you to embrace the sweetness in life, like enjoying being with your partner.

3. Root vegetables

Root vegetables grow downward and have grounding energy. This strengthening energy nourishes the lower half of the body, including the reproductive organs for increased sexual vitality. Examples of root vegetables are carrot, burdock, parsnip, and kuzu root. The hardy nature of root vegetables brings an enduring quality to your relationship.

Whether you want to improve communication or boost sexual vitality, eating whole foods can activate bliss on many dimensions. When you are whole on all levels, your love life improves as well.

Healthy Relationship Tip

Expressing your feelings to your partner helps him or her understand your perspective while opening up lines of communication. When expressing your feelings, use the “I feel” technique.

The “I Feel” Technique

  • Begin by stating how you feel. Remember to focus on expressing emotion (“I feel . . . “) rather than belief (“I feel that . . .”).
  • Be specific in describing your emotions. Instead of using words like “upset,” use descriptive emotions like “angry,” “sad,” “frustrated,” or “irritated.”
  • Identify the situation that is a trigger. Instead of blaming, state what it is about the situation that is creating the emotion. (“I feel frustrated when you . . .”)

The first step is to express your emotions and validate your feelings. This is the beginning of discovering what your story or belief is about the way things “should be” that triggered your reaction.


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The Aphrodisiac Twig

While sensuous aphrodisiacs like rose or chocolate take center stage on date night, twig-like burdock root has largely been ignored. Growing deep in the earth, burdock’s downward gathering energy nourishes the lower half of the body, including the reproductive organs. But unlike stimulants that activate the adrenals temporarily, burdock provides healing benefits that are long lasting. When your reproductive organs are healthy, so is your sex life.

Adding meat-like flavor to this beautiful kinpira dish, burdock root is cut into brown matchsticks.

Deeply strengthening to the intestines, kidneys, and reproductive organs, burdock root is also used in the macrobiotic diet to purify the blood and cleanse the liver. Its meaty flavor enhances sautes, stews, soups, and gravies. A traditional Japanese healing dish called kimpira uses braised burdock and carrot. Because it contains volatile oils, saute burdock a few minutes to allow oils to evaporate before adding burdock to a dish.

Burdock, Carrot, and Caramelized Red Onion Kimpira
Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup burdock root, matchsticks
3/4 cup carrot, matchsticks
1 pinch sea salt

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add red onion and saute until caramelized. Remove onion from pan and set aside.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and burdock and saute over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add carrots on top of burdock. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer 20 minutes, covered, or until vegetables are tender. Add water if necessary to prevent pan from drying out. Season with salt. Continue cooking, covered, 2 minutes. Remove cover and cook until water is evaporated. Top carrots and burdock with caramelized red onion.

Whether you are feeling lethargic or just want to improve your sex life, burdock is a natural way to increase youthful vitality in all the right places–without pills or surgery!


Nourishing the Spirit

This pleasure, appears as poison in the beginning but is like nectar in the end, comes by the grace of Self-knowledge.
~ Bhagavad Gita

Love is the energizing elixir of the universe, the cause and effect of all harmonies.
~Djalal ad-Din Rumi

How would you like to transform ordinary food into healing elixir Ambrosia? Like Greek gods and goddesses, you have the power to transform everyday food into nourishing nectar through the healing power of intention. More than its biological effects on the body, food contains divine essence, your source. A loving, meditative awareness of food, when consciously cultivated, becomes a bridge to Mother Nature, the Divine, the mystery that is life itself.

Spiritually imbued food is food that has been transmuted with loving, healing energy. Your thoughts and state of mind directly influence other living beings, such as soil, plants, and animals. Likewise, you can transfer energy within your own system into your food, changing it from one form to another.

Spiritual ceremonies (chanting, rituals, prayers, cooking) initiate this transformation of energy from one form to another. By viewing food preparation as a sacred ritual, you can use loving intention to improve the quality of food for healing. In his book Messages from Water, Japanese scientist Masuru Emoto had amazing results in his experiments on water. He discovered that water exposed to limiting thoughts deformed crystals, while water exposed to loving thoughts created beautiful crystals. Does this inspire you to set your loving intention before cooking?

Like a divine offering to the gods, food transformed by love provides nourishment for the spirit. So, when you sit down to eat, say a prayer to acknowledge the contribution of all living beings to the food: sun, wind, rain, soil, plants, farmers, animals, friends and family. After all, much love went into transforming your food into Ambrosia!