It’s a perfectly balanced plate of macrobiotic foods. My favorite macro plate consists of…
Beans or tofu
Seaweed (hijiki is probably the most common)
Steamed greens (kale, collards, chard)
Steamed carrot or sweet potato
KABOCHA or other squash
Dipping sauce (I like tahini-based ones)
What does perfectly balanced mean exactly? This goes back to the concept of yin and yang that I touched on earlier this month. Foods (and everything, really) can have yin qualities (expansive, cooling, moist) or yang qualities (contractive, warming, dry). We should try to avoid things that are way off on either side of the spectrum. Let’s go through the list of foods in a macro plate…
Brown rice –> this whole grain has almost equal parts yin and yang.
Beans, tofu, and tempeh –> these foods are also in the middle of the yin to yang spectrum.
Sea vegetables –> in the middle of the spectrum.
Leafy green vegetables (greens) and round vegetables (I guess broccoli?) –> in the middle.
Root vegetables –> in the middle of the spectrum.
Kabocha / squash –> Do these count as ’round’ veggies? They are also in the midde.
Tahini dipping sauce –> nuts are in the middle, but miso (salty – which I like in dipping sauce as well) starts to veer to the yang side of the spectrum.
Overall, a very balanced plate. If you were wondering, fish is a moderate food, though other meats (poultry, red meat, and eggs) are yang. Dairy is on the yin side.
I made a semi-macro plate just last night. I say semi because it had a fried egg on it and as I noted above, eggs are yang. Eggs are even more yang than poultry because they compress all the energy of a chicken into one small egg. That makes sense, right?
Brown rice (hiding)
Fried egg + ground sesame on top (it had a runny yolk – it’s not popped in the picture though)
Tonight I had a macro-ish meal from the nearby Chinese takeout place. It was just scallops and veggies in a very light white sauce over white rice.
Even when I’m not trying, my dinners end up kind of macrobiotic-ish these days.
SO – Macrobiotic March is wrapping up. I have covered a lot of topics but are there any other questions at all that you guys have about macrobiotics that I haven’t answered yet? Even if I don’t know the answer I’d be happy to research it and give my thoughts.
But don’t worry – just because Macro March is almost over doesn’t mean I won’t be doing macrobiotic posts. I loved posting this month and I will definitely continue to talk about my macro finds.
I belong to a CSA – the 92nd Street Y CSA – and each week we get a shipment of fresh, organic, local vegetables from a farm just an hour or two north of the city.
This means that I tend to eat similar foods week to week, because the CSA sends me foods that are in season. It’s great when we get my favorites, like squash – but it can sometimes be overwhelming in the summer when I’m getting pounds and pounds of greens.
This CSA is organized by volunteers, so each member has to volunteer to man the pick-up table at least one. Last week was my week (Thursday). I got sent home with about 4 full bags of veggies and I could barely carry it the 2 long blocks to my apartment. In the bags I got:
many pounds of beets (and then more again this week!)
broccoli and cabbage (and more again this week)
butternut squash (the allotment was 1, but since I was volunteering I was able to take home many of the extras at the end)
tomatoes, eggplant, & shallots
basil & hot peppers
3 dozen eggs (I gifted 1 dozen to a friend; I will probably gift another dozen because I get 1 dozen each week and I can barely finish them)
peaches, plums, and nectarines
2 loaves of raisin bread (brought 1 to work and it was demolished), 1/2 loaf of whole wheat bread, 1 piece of focaccia
I have been trying to use all of that up this week. Here are some of the beautiful squash:
I think I could eat squash until I turn orange.
What I Ate Wednesday
breakfast was coffee and a medium-sized chunk of raisin nut bread toast with butter
lunch was 2 scrambled eggs and roasted veggies (beets, broccoli) for lunch
a large-ish nutty biscotti (grabbing coffee with a friend)
went to a yoga class at 6pm (had to sneak out of work early! I made up for it later in the evening)
dinner was a tuna salad sandwich on focaccia from a nearby restaurant (Cavatappo Grill) that came with a side salad
dessert was a cup of greek yogurt (0%) with cinnamon, stevia, and PB2
and I ate a few roasted veggie pieces as I was putting them in tupperwares (I tend to make roasted veggies at night, before I go to bed – then I eat them the next few days for lunch)
I don’t actually have any pictures, but I do have a picture of my coffee.
How To Make Coffee with a French Press
2 heaping spoons of freshly ground coffee goes into the press (the spoon is a coffee spoon – I want to say it’s 2 tablespoons – so 4 heaping T’s in total)
pour the hot water over the grounds, let sit
after one minute, give it a stir and put the top on (don’t press down yet)
wait 4-5 minutes, then press down
put your milk and sugar in your cup first, then pour the coffee over
Zuzana is back. I used to do her workouts when she was on Bodyrock but they got a new girl (who is not as classy as Zuzka).
She has been back for a few weeks but I only just got around to doing one of her workouts tonight. This workout was:
Split squat jumps (in lunge position, jump up and down X times on one leg; then switch to other side)
Single leg lunges with back foot on a chair (X times on one leg; then switch to the other side)
Superman pushups (do a pushup, but come down to the floor and do a superman, then another pushup, floor, superman, etc…)
It was a pyramid scheme where you go through the rounds and do 5 reps, then 10, then 15, then 10, and finally 5 again. I just did it along with Zuzana and if I finished ahead of her I did jumping jacks. This workout took me about 18.5 minutes.
Here is me afterwards, sweaty face and all:
I definitely would like to build up some more tone, but I have stayed in shape from all the yoga. I can do pushups better than ever before.
And here is how I fueled up afterwards:
Roasted (no oil) kabocha and butternut squash. I stuck them in the oven at 475F right before I started the workout and they were ready 25 minutes later. I snapped the pic using this awesome app I just found called The Eatery. You take a picture of your food and other people judge whether it’s healthy or not.
So far for the week my other workouts have been…
Monday – off (as planned)
Tuesday – 3.75 miles running/incline walking (on treadmill)
Wednesday – 1.5 miles walking (on my lunch hour) + some additional walking after work (1 mile or so) = 2.5 miles total
Thursday (today) – 1ish mile walk at lunch, and the ZWOW I just finished.
What are your workouts of the week? Have you done a ZWOW yet?
I got this question at work the other day (we’re a fairly healthy-minded bunch):
What are complex carbs vs simple carbs?
This question seems complex, but the answer is quite simple. Simple carbs and complex carbs end up in the same place of the nutrition facts label, but they are most certainly different.
Are all carbs bad?
Clearly not all carbohydrates are bad. We need carbs to live – glucose (what carbs break down to in your body) is what your body uses for energy. That’s why when you eat a candy bar you get hyper for a little while – your body just got a big dose of easy-to-use energy because the carbs were partially processed before they got to your stomach. Simple carbs and complex carbs both turn into sugar in the body; the process just happens faster for simple carbs.
I’m pretty sensitive to sugar (too many sweet treats = too many pimples). In addition to my skin sensitivity to sugar, I also seem to have either a mental or physical reaction to eating it – once I start it’s hard to stop! If I have a McD’s cone as a snack I also want one for dessert that night, for a snack the next day, and forever more. So I try to avoid sugar to avoid sugar cravings and bad acne. When it comes down to complex versus simple carbohydrates, complex is what I choose, especially complex carbs from veggies.
Which carbs are bad for us?
Most scientists agree that the faster carbs (simple, or white carbs; meaning they convert to sugar quickly) are the worst type of carbohydrate. This is mainly because they spike blood sugar, which has a number of negative long-term effects including a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. These carbs include (and thus I try* to avoid…):
Processed carbs like white bread, white flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup (also regular corn syrup)*
Processed carbs like candy, cookies, most baked goods*
Fake sweeteners (not technically carbs because they have no calories – but they give me a stomachache, a headache, and it’s probably not good to eat frankenfood chemicals)
I love muffins!
*I still eat these things, but in moderation when I want them. Artisan bread with smooth creamy butter? On occasion, yes please!
Which carbs are good in moderation?
There is definitely a middle ground when it comes to complex versus simple carbs, and that middle ground is whole grain-y things (for me). They’re not the easiest foods to digest (see IBS), but they certainly are delicious. These guys include:
Unprocessed grains like rice (white or brown).* (I grew up hating rice but now I LOVE it. I usually have it several times a week. It’s especially good with ghee, aka clarified butter.)
Oatmeal (steel cut, regular – preferably not instant).
Winter squash (these are my favorite foods, but it’s easy to get a stomachache if you eat too much of them; squash also has lots of beta-carotene – but beware the orange glow).
I love having rice with veggies, like in bi-bim-bap (pictured above – veggies, egg, beef over rice). In fact, I just like mixing foods together in general. Mix-it-up bowls are possibly the greatest invention ever.
Which carbs are good for us?
Most vegetable carbohydrates are good for our bodies. Some of my favorite carbs are…
Non-root veggies like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, peppers, yadda yadda yadda… Veggies are a diet staple.
Fruits (but not too much). Fruit makes me break out as well in large (more than 1 a day) quantities. Some lower-sugar fruits that I really like are: papaya, blueberries, berries in general, cranberry juice (without sugar) and spritzer, lime/lemon juice and spritzer, melons (cantaloupe, honeydew).
Do you eat a lot of carbs? Do you avoid any? Which are your favorites?
When it comes down to complex carbs vs simple carbs, it’s probably better to choose the complex ones. But remember to include healthy fats (including saturated fat – it’s good for the brain) and protein. Out of the simple carbs, sugar is probably the worst. At least that is what works for me!
I made this salad ages ago (early January) and almost forgot to post, but it was so good that I just had to. It’s a Whole Foods-inspired recipe and it’s quite good. Back in January I was in a kale phase so I made this several times and each time it did not disappoint.
Butternut Kale Salad (Whole Foods Inspired Recipe)
1 bunch of kale
1/4 cup water + 1/2 veggie boullion cube (or vegetable broth)
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
10 ounces chopped butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt + pepper
chopped romaine lettuce (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F. Toss the chopped squash with the olive oil and a little salt. Roast for 30 minutes, or until it’s done to your liking.
Rip up the kale into pieces, removing the stems.
Heat the water in a sauce pan over medium-high heat; add the veggie cube, honey, and vinegar. Mix until dissolved.
Add the kale pieces to the broth and cook briefly, while stirring (30 seconds to a minute) until the kale begins to wilt. Remove from heat immediately.
Mix together the roasted squash and the kale; add salt and pepper as desired.
Optionally, serve over chopped romaine lettuce – a salad on a salad!
I served this with my Indian brown rice, which you can see in the picture. Recently, my squash consumption has mostly been kabocha squash, but I see some kale/butternut creations in my future.
What’s your favorite way to eat kale? To eat squash?
My favorite way to eat kale is in a massaged kale salad. My favorite squash/way to eat it is – chop a very ripe kabocha and steam it for about 5 minutes. Freeze it for 5 minutes so it cools to room temp. Enjoy plain 🙂
P.S. I’m definitely going to write a followup to Sunday’s post – got some great comments and did some more research.
Last night I got dinner with Laura, one of my oldest friends (from middle school). She was in town with her boyfriend just for the day and we managed to get together to have dinner. So glad we got a chance to reconnect. We were going to go to Souen, but I decided last minute to take them to Good Health Cafe, which is closer and a little bit less scary for non-macrobiotic people. We talked and talked, and before we knew it it was time for them to grab a taxi to catch the train back to New Jersey.
One thing that Laura mentioned during dinner was the fact that my blog is not so much a recipe blog anymore! I hadn’t realized it, but yes, it’s true – I don’t really cook as elaborately now, but I do make things. So it is time for me to share a macrobiotic re-creation that I’ve been having for lunches recently. It’s called a macro plate, and it is vegan and macrobiotic. I get it all the time when we eat out at macrobiotic restaurants.
My Macro Plate Tips (skip down for recipe):
This is very easy to throw together – you do not have to make everything at once; you can prep each ingredient in advance and just toss them together when you need a quick meal.
Roasting the squash – you don’t necessarily have to roast it, but I do. You could also steam it. For roasting I like a certain seasoning (oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame seeds – see below), but the way you roast (or steam, etc…) the squash is completely up to you.
Beans – sub in any kind of beans you like. I use canned beans because it’s quick, but you could make them from scratch as well.
Greens – again, you can use any kind of greens. I use pre-chopped ones from Trader Joe’s because it’s very easy that way.
Extras – other typical macro plate ingredients are: hijiki seaweed, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and steamed carrots or daikon. Add as desired!
Maggie’s Macro Plate
Ingredients (serves 1)
1/3 cup dry brown rice
3-4 cups raw chopped greens (collards, kale, spinach, etc…)
1/2 cup black beans
2 cups uncooked winter squash (acorn, butternut, kabocha, etc… – this is acorn)
for roasting squash: sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame seeds (all optional except the oil)
Roast the squash: I first mix it with a few glugs of sesame oil, then sprinkle some soy sauce and rice vinegar over it and mix again. Top with some sesame seeds and cook at 375 for 1 hour (or at 450 for about 40 minutes). You can roast or steam the squash with whatever oil/flavorings you desire.
Cook the rice: I cook 1 cup of rice at a time in my rice cooker. It comes out perfectly fluffy. Then I just scoop out about a third of it for my meal.
Steam the greens: if you are lazy like me you can sprinkle them with water and microwave for a minute or so.
Prep the beans: rinse and reheat as desired (I actually like mine cold/room temp so I don’t reheat).
Prep the plate: brown rice, beans, greens, squash, and any other extras (see above for idea under “tips”). Serve with dressing. I like to mix it all up and eat it together.
So that is the “macro plate” that I’m alwaystalkingabout. I haven’t experimented with different dressings, but I keep meaning to. This plate is supposedly a “perfectly balanced” meal – protein, carbs, and fat, all in the right proportions.
Now here are some other macro plates that I have enjoyed…
Souen’s macro plate (also called the “balanced plate” or the “planet platter”) – kabocha, broccoli, kale, carrots, seaweed, beans, brown rice, and sometimes daikon:
Good Health’s macro plate – steamed squash, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and kale; brown rice; black beans; hijiki seaweed; and tofu:
Ozu’s macro plate (review to come; kudos to reader Maria for guessing this!) – chickpeas, brown rice, carrots, yams, kabocha, and hijiki seaweed:
I love macro plates and macrobiotic meals 🙂
What is your favorite meal? Have you ever had a macro plate? Will you make this one?
I bring my breakfast and lunch to work on most days. It is easy for me to do, and it definitely saves me money. But sometimes I don’t like eating my oatmeal at my desk, so I allow some extra time in the morning to enjoy my breakfast at home. Which is what I did today.
Roasted butternut protein powder oat bran.
Oat bran will always be my favorite breakfast grain; oatmeal is certainly delicious but you just can’t top the goodness that oat bran is. The ingredients / method for this bowl:
Cook 3/4 cup oat bran in 2.25 cups water (3 to 1 ratio) over very low heat with a dash of salt; let this simmer for a long time (20 minutes or so) to get it creamy, thick, and voluminous. (3/4 cup is the “heart healthy” serving.)
Add in 1 scoop of protein powder towards the end of cooking the oat bran.
Freeze oat bran for 10-20 minutes to make it even thicker.
Back when I first arrived in New Jersey (for new readers – I moved to New York city from California in November of 2009, but on the way I stayed in NJ with my parents for a few days) I hit up Whole Foods for some awesome prepared foods, like this butternut squash with baby spinach recipe:
Then the other day Sue sent me a link to the recipe on Wegmans’ site and I knew I had to try it. I didn’t really have many of the ingredients – I only had butternut squash, actually – but what I made was great. The original recipe had butternut squash, baby spinach, red onions, and dried cranberries (craisins). My recipe was…
Roasted Butternut Squash with Broccoli and Raisins
Ingredients (serves 3-4 as a side)
1 butternut squash, chopped in 1-inch cubes (probably 2-3 pounds) (optionally peeled – I never peel squash though)
1.5 cups of broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
a few shakes of garlic powder (to replace the onions I didn’t have)
handful of raisins ~ 1/4 cup (optionally chopped up – I chopped mine in small pieces)
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Chop the squash and broccoli. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Spread them out on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 50 minutes.
While the veggies are roasting, chop up the raisins and soak them in water. Drain them.
Take the veggies out of the oven and mix in the raisins.
Serve hot or room temperature. I put PARMESAN on mine.
Along with this I had a nice salad with organic rotisserie chicken on top. Delicious!
What’s your favorite squash recipe? I love ROASTING squash as well as steaming kabocha.
I love the addition of broccoli to this salad. It has so many health benefits (click through to see 42 science-backed ones!) not to mention it is delicious.
Last week on Tuesday night I met up with one of my favorite bloggers… Dori! She took us to a great vegan place on the upper west side called Peace Food Cafe. It’s completely vegan and they also have a lot of raw options.
Unfortunately neither of us had working cameras so I don’t have a picture of us together… but I did manage to take (crappy) pictures of the food with Bobby’s Droid. Bobby and I split 2 dishes – the kabocha sandwich ($9) and the mushroom duxelle pizza ($9.95). Dori got the kabocha sandwich too.
Did you really think I wouldn’t get the kabocha sandwich? It’s actually listed as roasted japanese pumpkin sandwich on the menu. It came with some kind of pickled veggie and sprouts. It was really good, but the bread was a little bit dense for my tastes. I loved the caramelized onions and mashed squash in the sandwich. The vegan cheese and walnuts didn’t sit too well in my stomach either.
The pizza was amazing. The mushrooms were so good – they almost tasted meaty. I wasn’t really a fan of the roasted veggies on top but Bobby happily ate them up for me.
We couldn’t skip dessert – we got a HUGE piece of chocolate peanut butter swirl cake and devoured it.
This was so rich but so delicious.
And now I have to be honest… while the meal was delicious, it was not very filling. Bobby stopped at Grey’s Papaya for a hot dog on the way home and I stopped at Whole Foods for some cornbread. And this is probably why all of my pants are too tight (well, not just this one time, but in general I have been eating a lot more than I usually do). Might be time to reign it in.
More blogger love – Bekah sent me a holiday care package! These almonds and granola are wonderful. She’s a talented girl.
Today’s question gets us into the holiday spirit… What is your favorite holiday gift (either to give or receive)? When I was little I loved big gifts, but now I actually like things that are homemade and thoughtful. I’m pretty easy to please. A fresh batch of Christmas cookies or a knitted scarf both sound perfect to me.
On Thursday night Bobby and I met up with one of my friends from a long long time ago. Gosh, I missed her. We met her very smart and cool boyfriend as well. Thursday (December 3rd) was actually Bobby’s and my 4 year anniversary as well as my brother’s birthday and Bobby’s sister’s birthday. Pretty awesome day.
Anyway, Kate and Simon suggested that we check out Josie’s West on 75th and Amsterdam. It’s a restaurant that serves food and uses “healthy & wholesome ingredients”. Their menu had a glossary (maybe people kept asking questions?) that described some of the more atypical ingredients like “Air baked organic Belgian fries” and “coulis”.
Disclaimer: I didn’t take pictures; I found what I could online.
The meal started with complimentary bread. I chose the cornbread. It was just okay; Whole Foods’s cornbread is better. There was also a dish of some kind of creamed squash spread, which was completely fabulous. I put it on everything.
Bobby and I got two things and kind of shared. We got “organic mesclun greens” with grilled chicken and a red wine-wasabi vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was nothing short of incredible, but the greens and the chicken were fairly boring. I wouldn’t get this again (so bland) but I do want to try to recreate the vinaigrette.
We also got the “char-grilled natural turkey cheeseburger” (picture from the website) which came with cheddar and a honey mustard sauce. Bobby got steamed greens instead of fries (who is this boy?). The burger was very flavorful and juicy. I’d get it again for sure.
To be honest, the company was way more interesting than the food. We might go back, because I feel like I missed out on some cool dishes by getting the salad… but we weren’t really focused on the food at all and I had to pick something to order at the last minute so I went with my fallback (yep, I’m a salad girl). I was way more interested in catching up with Kate!
Overall rating: 6/10 stars. If it had been cheaper I would have rated it higher. The salad was about $15 and the burger was about $14. ::Shrug:: It was a great night, though.
Before dinner I hit up Lululemon and made a kickass buy; more on that later. I also have to blog about…
And… about a bajillion restaurant reviews (still haven’t cooked… it’s been about 2 weeks)
What are you doing this weekend? Tonight Bobby and I went to a neat joint in Astoria and tomorrow we’re going to Chinatown for lunch with 2 of my coworkers. We’re also going back to Lulu and I hope to do some grocery shopping so that I can actually cook something yummy.