Greetings and salutations readers! In this installment of the Macrobiotic Magician, I’m going to address the age-old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” In this era of questionable healthcare practices and policies, we know that our best defense against chronic illness is prevention, but here in America, we have fallen into a culture of fast, unhealthy eating that contributes to chronic illnesses, like Crohn’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, and this lifestyle is so very addictive, that many of us are at a loss as to how to get to eating healthier.
I AM NOT A MEDICAL DOCTOR! Actually, I’m a writer and an ordained minister who has always had a passion for food. For much of my life, that passion was killing me, because I was passionate about eating all the wrong things. Then, my health deteriorated to a point where I was contemplating suicide to end my misery, suffering from Crohn’s disease and arteriosclerosis, and having fought a battle with cancer off and on for several years.
Then, I was watching television and saw this macrobiotic chef hosting a cooking show, and I got inspired. It was the Christmas holiday season, so I decided I was going to live it up, then make a New Year’s resolution to embrace the macrobiotic lifestyle as one last great effort to improve my quality of life, and that’s when the magic started.
Three weeks after New Year’s, I was noticing a fair amount of weight-loss, and I no longer suffered the symptoms of cramps and irregular bowel movements that I had become accustomed as a Crohn’s sufferer. Then, as I went to get my annual injection for arteriosclerosis, my doctor did the standard blood panels for my chart, and called me with the most shocking news I ever heard. My PSA was nominal! I was effectively in the clear of cancer, altogether. Additionally, my blood panel levels were all fantastic. I didn’t have any cholesterol issues, nor blood sugar issues. It was as if someone worked a spell on me to make me better, and it worked.
It’s been 10 months, now. I’ve continued to grow my working knowledge of macrobiotic living and am so excited by my progress, not to mention my astounding weight-loss of 85 pounds, that I felt it my duty to share the magic with everyone I can. Please keep in mind, that since I’m not a medical doctor, that my advice should not be considered medical advice, but since I am a minister, you can consider it spiritual advice, and should you commit to a healthier lifestyle, you might just feel like the hand of God or whomever you worship has touched you, too.
So let’s discuss how to get started. I quit unhealthy eating the hard way, and I suffered symptoms of withdrawal like a drug addict coming down off a high, but my desperation to end my chronic health problems helped me overcome. That’s not what I expect of anyone else. Unless you’re in the state of mind I was, where it was make drastic change or end it all, you’re not likely to have that much willpower. Instead, I suggest a weaning off of the unhealthy lifestyle. Just make a thoughtful effort to change one dietary habit per week. Not only will this make it easier to cope with these changes, but it will give you the opportunity to not feel like you’re wasting all the unhealthy food in your pantry as you use them up and replace them with healthier alternatives.
Macrobiotics is a lifestyle, not a diet. You don’t just eat this way to reach some goal, like in dieting, and then quit. That’s not healthy, and it doesn’t work. Macrobiotics is about getting the maximum nutrition from the food you eat. This does two things: It reduces your cravings for empty calories by fulfilling your body’s nutritional needs, and it reduces the risk of health problems that arise from over-eating.
So let’s get back to that apple, shall we? Raw apple recipes may sound rather drab, but they can be a sparkly twist to those who eat too many cooked meals. The magic is to mix them with other foods to bring out the best of their flavors, and one of the easiest ways to do this is through juicing. My $250 juicing machine died a tragic death, so I use a $30 blender. If you’re frugal like me, use your blender and explore the wonders of the puree setting. If you’ve already got one of those higher-priced blenders or juicers, by all means make use of that investment. The trick to making a raw puree fulfilling is to make it thick. Of course you could just use ice and make a smoothie, which is fine, but that alone may get tiresome, if that is all you do, each day. Personally, I used to be a fan of milk shakes, and I’ve become an even bigger fan of vegan shakes. In a vegan shake, you use almond, rice, and/or soy milk instead of bovine lactation sold as milk in grocery stores. Also, I like to add a banana or avocado to my vegan shakes to help thicken them and make them more creamy. The next element is protein. Granted, all vegan milks have a surprisingly high level of protein, but when you’re weening yourself off unhealthy foods, you may need a little extra protein to keep yourself feeling full.
That’s where you’ve got to get nuts, and I don’t mean crazy. Peanuts are great if you’re not allergic to them, and any tree nut is great, if you’re not allergic to those. If you’re allergic to either or both, go for seeds. Chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are all great sources for added protein. When you’re adding seeds and or nuts to a shake, though, you may need to give them a whirl in a food processor before adding them to the blender. You want to effectively turn these into a paste, and if you’re going to be putting them into your shake, you can reserve some of your vegan milk to process with these little protein powerhouses to help keep them from binding and to get them to a smoother consistency. I am fortunate enough to have chosen a blender that can grind these ingredients just fine, so long as I puree them before adding the rest of the ingredients to the blender. Now that I’ve tickled your imagination, I offer you a recipe for one of my favorite vegan shakes.
The Apple A Day Shake
1 organic apple
1 cup almond milk
½ cup dry roasted, unsalted peanuts
1 teaspoon natural sea salt
1 teaspoon natural cinnamon
4 ice cubes
Begin with the peanuts and ½ cup of the almond milk and puree until creamy. While that’s blending, core and dice your apple, then add it to the blended mixture and continue to puree. When the apple has broken down to where the peel is small enough to pass through a straw, add the rest of the almond milk and other ingredients and puree until the consistency is even. You may need to stop the blender occasionally and use a rubber spatula to scrape the bits on the sides back toward the middle. If you’re planning to buy a new blender, remember that the closer the blades are to the sides of the carafe, the better your ingredients will blend to an even consistency.
This recipe serves one generous serving of creamy goodness.
Now, what about apple pie? Who has the time or the age-old skill of turning out a lovely pie crust? How about making an apple pie inside the apple, itself? Intrigued? In my inverted apple pie recipe, you fill an apple with a crumbly crust, giving you the flavors of apple pie without all the hard work and extra calories.
Inverted Apple Pie
4 organic apples
½ cup organic raw sugar
½ cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon, powdered or grated (grated will instill more flavor and health benefits of cinnamon)
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or organic coconut oil plus extra for greasing your baking dish
1 handful of finely chopped nuts, peanuts and/or seeds.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, mix your chopped nuts, oil, oats, cinnamon, and brown sugar until the ingredients are evenly mixed. Core your apples and divide the mixture in your mixing bowl, stuffing it into the cavity of each apple and mounding the remaining mixture over the top of each apple. Bake for approximately half an hour, or until a fork inserted into the apple will slide in and out easily. The mixture will brown and caramelize on and within the apple giving you that apple-pie feeling without all the hard work.
In both of these recipes, you probably noticed the word “organic” used frequently. Part of effectively eating in a macrobiotic way is to utilize organic ingredients as much as possible. Plain and simple, foods raised without artificial chemicals tend to have higher nutritional value, because the plants have not suffered damage to the microbial life in the soil in which they are raised. Nutritional science is just beginning to realize the dramatic effect that this microbial life has upon the healthfulness of plants, similar to medical science beginning to recognize the benefits of healthy intestinal microbes in people. As a minister, all I am qualified to tell you is that when our world was created, it was created in a perfect state, then people screwed it up trying to conquer every corner of it in the pursuit of selfish greed. If you want the blessings of good health, you need to practice the respect of nature’s balances. After all, before the advent of our modern technology, millions of people lived healthfully by being good stewards of the land and not eating the man-made chemical soups we often seen passed off as food in our modern times. Until next time, may your life be blessed with the magic of good health.