Macrobiotics is a way of life based on ideas about the interconnectedness of all things and encompasses ways of eating, thinking and seeing the world.
This “Ideal Diet for Humans” is based in whole grains, with plenty of beans and vegetables, and small amounts of fat and sugar (coming from grain malt syrups). Animal foods are not generally included, although small amounts of fish are eaten by many practitioners in Japan. Cooking methods are gentle and simple, designed to maximise the natural flavours of the food and retain nutrition.
The guiding principle, as with so much Eastern philosophy, is balance. Foods have a “yin” or a “yang”, cooling or warming, contracting or expanding energy. Practitioners take into consideration their own personal constitution and needs as well as geographical location to establish what they should eat so that the energies within them remain in balance. Achieving this will bring peace and health.
An important part of macrobiotic eating is soup, consumed at least once daily, as it prepares the digestive tract for the assimilation of nutrients. Pickles also aid digestion and are served alongside most meals. Unusual macrobiotic foods include umeboshi plums and their pickling liquid (also known as ume vinegar), daikon radish, shiitake and maitake mushrooms and miso. These are traditional in Japan and, whilst local seasonal vegetables are ideal, have nutritional and culinary uses that are quite specific.
If you’re interested in trying some of the basic principles of macrobiotic eating, some simple ones to include might be:
By Hannah Phoebe Bowen: Freelance Food Writer