March: Month of Macrobiotics

Hello and happy Tuesday! Thanks for the responses to my French press exposé. I still haven’t decided which machine to get but in the meantime I’m filtering my French pressed coffee. Not the most elegant solution (I’m using paper towels), but it works. No more gunk at the bottom of my mug; I’m hoping that means some of that cafestol is staying out of my mug too.

Onto the topic of today’s post – macrobiotics. Long-time readers may know that I am a huge macrobiotics fan. Give me a plate of simple, traditional Japanese food and I am a happy girl. One of my favorite meals is a simple macro plate (a perfectly balanced mix of macrobiotic foods).


(One of my favorite macro plates, from Ozu on the upper west side)

What is macrobiotics exactly? Macrobiotics is not just a diet – it’s a lifestyle. The etymology of the word, from etymonline, is:

macrobiotic (adj.)
also macro-biotic, “inclined to prolong life,” 1797, from Greek makrobiotikos “long-lived,” from makros “long” (see macro-) + bios “life” (see bio-). The specific reference to a Zen Buddhist dietary system dates from 1936.

I don’t want to get into too much detail *yet*, because it’s not March yet, and March is going to be a month of macrobiotic-inspired posts and macrobiotic-inspired living. But I wanted to alert you guys that I am going to focus on macrobiotics next month, and if you have any questions about the lifestyle or diet or whatever, please leave them in the comments!

I came across macrobiotics for the first time about three years ago through Meg Wolff, a (two time!) cancer survivor who has by now written several books on macrobiotics. I am certainly not strictly macrobiotic but I love the food and I love the idea of the lifestyle. I would love to be more macrobiotic. 🙂

Anyway, I am going to try to focus on ADDING macrobiotic principles to my life in March. I’m not trying to change or remove anything I currently do, but I’m going to add good things.

(OK I lied – I AM going to try to remove diet soda – I slip up and have it at least 1-2 times a week. It’s totally NOT macrobiotic. Blah!)

So –

What are your macrobiotics questions?

What do you know about macrobiotics? What are the stereotypes you’ve heard?

Have you ever tried a macrobiotic diet or lifestyle?

Care to join me in Macrobiotic March?

If you want to join me, I’ll make a Macrobiotic March tab and put a list of participants. Just let me know! Contribute anything you want.

Is French Press Coffee Bad For You?

I love my Bodum French press coffee maker. However, I’ve been alerted that it may not be the best way to brew my coffee, even though it tastes delicious. Here’s what I asked and what I found out.


Why is French press coffee bad for you?

It could potentially raise your cholesterol.

How does French press coffee raise cholesterol?

There is a compound in coffee called cafestol (a type of terpene), and cafestol stimulates the production of LDL (the bad cholesterol) in your body. Fortunately, cafestol exists only in the oily part of the coffee bean, and is thus filtered out… when you use a paper filter. The cafestol (and the oil) get left in the paper and you get left with a clean & steaming hot mug of joe (when you use a paper filter). Now – when you prepare coffee without a paper filter, such as

  1. Making coffee with a French press (there is a filter but it is a metal mesh and does not collect the cafestol / oily part),
  2. By boiling the ground beans (Scandinavian tradition or Turkish coffee), or
  3. By making espresso (less cafestol than French press, but more than regular filtered coffee)

…You unfortunately retain the cafestol. Wuh wuh 🙁 And by retaining and ingesting the cafestol, you might be telling your body to increase production of LDL. Oops.

Here is a cafestol molecule! (I have forgotten everything I ever learned in honors chem over 10 years ago. My hubby took chem and orgo in college though, so maybe I should ask him what this means.)


Wait though – this cafestol/cholesterol stuff might not be so bad. If you already have high cholesterol, you should definitely avoid the risk of increasing it further, so drink paper filtered coffee (not French press, boiled, or espresso). If your cholesterol is normal, you are probably OK to drink French press coffee in moderation or on special occasions. Maybe save the French press for the weekends and enjoy drip (filtered) coffee during the week. (Instant is also fine; I don’t drink it but if you do, you don’t have to worry about cafestol.)

While I was doing all this coffee research, I discovered that French press coffee is actually kind of dirty! The mesh filter lets a lot of sediment through and into your cup (which I always end up drinking). This makes me think paper filtered coffee has potential to taste better. I think the reason paper filtered coffee gets a bad rap is because most of the time it’s made with stale beans. I bet if I start making regular paper filtered coffee with freshly ground beans (ground in this inexpensive but effective burr coffee grinder) it will taste even better than French press. Here are the coffee machines I’m debating between (I don’t have a coffee maker at the moment except for the French press).

  1. Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker with Hot Water System, Black/Stainless –> This one is $99, and it’s basically like #2 except you can make hot water with it too. I’m leaning towards this one. Has good reviews (4/5 stars out of 651 reviews – very good actually).
  2. Cuisinart DCC-1200 Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, Black/Brushed Metal –> This one is $75. It’s simple and basic and also has good reviews (4/5 stars out of 3.431 reviews).
  3. Bonavita BV1800TH 8-Cup Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe –> At $150, it’s the priciest one I’m considering, but it has over 4.5/5 stars (out of 346 reviews), has precision programming to perfect the temperature of water and the contact time between water and grounds. It’s also pretty.

What are your thoughts? Do you drink French press coffee or normal, paper filtered drip coffee? What’s your favorite brand of coffee and how many cups a day do you drink?  How do you have your coffee?



  • I usually drink French press when I’m at home; I drink whatever when I’m out (I like Americano = espresso + water; or regular drip is OK when made with good beans)
  • My 2 favorite brands of coffee are Stumptown and Intelligentsia.
  • I drink 1-2 cups a day – never more than 2 regular, though sometimes I will have a decaf at night or in the afternoon. So if you include decaf – 1-3. (Health benefits/risks of decaf coffee to come in another post.)
  • I drink my coffee with milk (whole or half & half) + NuNaturals stevia.

*For more details about coffee + cholesterol, check out this article. I got a lot of my info there but I did not include everything.

**There are some affiliate links in this post (for Amazon). Just FYI! I try to be honest here, and if I am going to be honest I barely make anything off of the blog, even with affiliate links. 🙂

Juice Queen {FOOD – Evolution Fresh Juice at Starbucks}

It is somehow strangely fitting that the week I sell my Breville juicer to a friend (it was just sitting around in  my kitchen collecting dust), I become addicted to the new green juice at Starbucks.

I certainly don’t regret selling it. Juicing is way too much work and I just don’t have the time or desire to make my own… And not owning a juicer makes me enjoy the Starbucks juices even more (no guilt for buying when I could, conceivably, make my own).

The Starbucks juices are not their own brand; Sbux has partnered with Evolution Fresh to sell bottled, cold-pressed juices in Sbux stores around the city (not sure if all Starbucks are doing this or just NYC stores, to be honest).


My drink of choice has been the Sweet Greens and Lemon Juice. I have it for breakfast since I’m usually not that hungry in the morning (IBS = morning bloating) and actually since I started drinking these for breakfast (most of last week) the bloat has significantly improved. (Which makes me more hungry, which makes me want more than juice, ha.)

Ingredients: celery, apple, cucumber, spinach, parsley, romaine lettuce, lemon, lime, wheat grass, and clover sprouts. (The only non-fodmaps-friendly ingredient here is apple.)

At only 80 calories and 16 grams of (plant-based) sugars per bottle, I think this is a pretty healthy juice choice. The sugar content sounds a bit high, but come on – it’s juice, people – of course it’s mostly sugar. If having a juice for breakfast makes my stomach feel better I will certainly try it for a while.

The price tag is $5.95 for the bottle though I do have a reusable $1 off coupon I’ve been using (only good until the 27th). I’ll probably keep getting it for breakfast until then and reevaluate if the money is worth it.

The benefits so far of having this juice for breakfast – first, it really is helping the bloat which is huge for me. I don’t know if you have ever been plagued with constant bloat but it is miserable. I don’t want to start up into a negative, complaining rant here, so I will keep it brief, but living with a distended stomach 95% of the time is generally unpleasant, terrible for body image, frustrating when you have to wear anything but stretchy pants, and uncomfortable while working out (or doing anything really – including simply sitting at a desk). After over 8 years of living with IBS (it really hit sometime in my freshman year of college, though I’d had minor symptoms starting in middle or high school) I *still* haven’t learned the best way to manage it. FODMAPs honestly does work, but I am so bad about being strict enough – too many lists to memorize, and very difficult to eat anything without first checking online to see if it’s an “OK” food. (Yes I should dedicate a month to figuring this out. No I don’t know when.) Second benefit, it’s delicious!

The cons of having juice for breakfast – it’s pricey and it’s not that filling. Though “not that filling” is kind of a pro because I generally have my biggest meals of the day for lunch and dinner and I don’t enjoy having a large breakfast.

I have juiced in the past and the Evolution Fresh recipe is close to what my favorites always were – lots of greens, about 1/2 an apple, lots of lemon, plus ginger (Evolution is missing the ginger). Here are some of my faves (I love looking down memory lane – most of these posts are from the summer of 2009 when I was out in Cali).

There you have it.

Will you try Starbucks’ green juice (they have other Evolution Fresh juices, too, by the way – not only green juices)? Are the Starbucks near you selling these juices?

Sister Visits & Souen Suppers

My sister came to visit me this weekend.

I had to work yesterday, but after work we all convened downtown (me, Julia, and Bobby) near Bobby’s office to get something for dinner. Bobby suggested Souen, and who am I to disagree! Julia also enjoys Souen though she says it’s a little bland sometimes 😉

So let’s see, what did we get…

Julia ordered the cornbread with a side of miso-tahini spread. (But we all shared it.)


I got Squash Tofu – my absolute favorite dish at Souen. (My other favorite is the macro plate.) Squash Tofu is a sauteed mix of fresh vegetables – broccoli, napa cabbage, onions, soft/medium tofu, carrots, kabocha squash, and probably more that I am forgetting. The sauce is of the miso/tahini variety (a common theme at Souen).


Souen’s Squash Tofu (with a side of brown rice)

Julia opted for the Inspired Vegetable Curry – a delicious mix of broccoli, carrots, squash (kabocha), cauliflower, mushrooms, and more + a savory Indian spice-inspired sauce.


Souen’s Inspired Vegetable Curry (with a side of brown rice)

And last but certainly not least, Bobby got Souen’s Stir-Fried Noodles with soba noodles as his entree. Tons of veggies including lotus root and snap peas, topped with some seaweed flakes. It’s in a mushroomy-gingery sauce.


Souen’s Stir-Fried Noodles

After dinner I got a macrobiotic scone. Here a recipe for macrobiotic scones that I have been meaning to resurrect – it’s from 2009. And I found this Eden Foods recipe for Cranberry Walnut macro scones too.

Do you like macrobiotic food? Which dish would you pick at Souen? Do you like math?