Macrobiotics: A Holistic Diet Approach to Better Nutrition

When Diets Ruled The World

One of the challenges of being bigger than the nationally accepted BMI scale is that everyone is quick to offer you advice on ways to diet and  “loose” weight. Now the best advice always starts with you talking to your primary, skilled clinician or practitioner. That advice from “Great Aunt Sally” may sound good, may just not hold much “weight”. Get it <grin>.

Unfortunately, because of that, there are many diets that promise easy weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. Those on the menu have includes the Paleo craze, the “group loose” collection from Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem to the more vintage Grapefruit diet, fasting and more. 

Note: I don’t advocate or know enough about all of these to promote. Links are simply shared for your personal reading.

Diet Focus

One that I often heard about but always seemed like way too much work was the Macrobiotic diet. But since I have a pal recently starting it, it was a good reason to look into it more.

What separates the macrobiotic diet from all of these is that the macrobiotic diet promotes whole health improvement, including mental and spiritual improvement as well. This is a very general description of the diet. The macrobiotic diet is a very restrictive diet and takes effort and self-discipline to follow. It is more of a way of life rather than just a change in eating, often promoting a positive energy and a more informed state of mind. To follow a macrobiotic diet is to enlighten one’s life.

So Why Consider a Macrobiotic Diet?

There are several reasons why you might want to consider adopting a macrobiotic diet. Many people choose to start eating healthier after learning that they are at risk of developing a disease. While a macrobiotic diet won’t cure you of disease, it can improve your health and complement a treatment plan a medical professional has prescribed.

So if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, premenstrual syndrome, or are at risk for breast cancer, then you may want to try the macrobiotic diet. Beyond these benefits, a macrobiotic diet promotes whole-body health. Whether you want to lose weight, eat clean, or have more energy, adopting a macrobiotic diet may be able to help you achieve these goals.

How to Follow the Macrobiotic Diet

Macrobiotic foods include indigenous, local, seasonal foods that have been organically or naturally grown, processed, and stored. Some research indicates that the macrobiotic diet is good for the local economy because one of the biggest rules of the diet is to try to buy locally grown products. Besides buying locally grown products, there are a few other principles that dieters are encouraged to follow:

  • Avoid cooking with electric appliances.
  • Only use natural products such as wood or glass to hold and store foods.
  • Chew each mouthful of food at least 50 times until the food is close to liquified in your mouth.
  • Purify water before drinking it or cooking with it.
  • Only eat and drink when hungry and/or thirsty.

Some people follow the rules strictly, while others choose to be a little more relaxed. The rules are more about adopting a holistic and balanced lifestyle rather than losing weight.

What to Eat on a Macrobiotic Diet

The macrobiotic diet is a very restrictive diet. When describing the definition of macrobiotic foods, natural, wholesome, and nutritious are good words to use. The macrobiotic diet is composed of:

  • 40%-60% whole grains
  • 20%-30% fruits and vegetables
  • 10%-25% bean products

Just as some people are relaxed on the rules, some people are also relaxed on the included food groups. They may include seafood and/or lean meats as well. The foods should be primarily baked, boiled, or steamed when cooking.

The Overall Effect of the Macrobiotic Diet

Although the macrobiotic diet will help with weight loss, that isn’t the main focus of the diet. The diet is designed to help people adopt a more balanced, holistic, natural way of living. Adopting the macrobiotic diet means adopting a new lifestyle and in the process creating a new you.

Feeling inspired? Try these healthy recipes:

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Know Your Extracts: Sniffing out the Best Vanilla for Your Baking

Vanilla extract; the first thing I check on my baking supply list.

So we have another great guest post this week on the power of vanilla from my pal Anna who also wrote the “5 Ways to Taste the Mediterranean Without Actually Going” post. I love sharing BiteTheRoad with folks who want to write and talk about the various passions they have so was grateful she was willing to do this one. Ok, and truth be told it’s one of my favorite flavoring tools! Thanks again Anna!

 

Know Your Extracts: Sniffing out the Best Vanilla for Your Baking

It’s a question that seems as old as baking itself — chocolate or vanilla?

These two are the most popular cake flavors out there, and making a good chocolate or vanilla cake is critical to any baker’s repertoire. But we’re not here to argue. Whether as a flavor enhancer or the star of the show, vanilla tastes good, smells good, and has been used in all kinds of sweets for hundreds of years.

But did you know that not all vanilla is created equal? While it’s likely not shocking to learn that there are different forms of vanilla you can buy, it might be more surprising to know that some are better than others for certain contexts. This, as well as the overall quality of what you use, can have dramatic effects on what comes out of your oven.

High Quality Vanilla vs Low Quality

Know Your Extracts: Sniffing out the Best Vanilla for Your Baking

In general, “high quality” and “low quality” designations for vanilla are related to the origin and purity of the flavor, as well as alcohol content.

Imitation vanilla, on the other hand, is often made using lab-created vanillin (the flavoring compound found in vanilla). Generally, this vanillin is made as a byproduct of other forms of manufacturing, such as while processing wood pulp. While that might sound concerning, it is still perfectly safe to consume, though typically has a slightly less pronounced vanilla flavor and less alcohol content.

Pure vanilla extract is exactly what it says on the label; pure vanilla extracted from vanilla pods and processed into a liquid by boiling it with ethanol and water. Additionally, it is required by law to contain at least 35% alcohol content and 100 grams of vanilla beans per liter.

Natural vanilla is taken directly from vanilla beans and has the least amount of alcohol at roughly 3% per bottle. It generally has the most pronounced and “pure” vanilla flavor of the three liquids.

Vanilla paste is a compromise between liquid vanilla and straight vanilla beans. It is made from vanilla extract, adding sugar and thickening agents for texture. Most brands also add small quantities of ground vanilla beans to achieve the desired speckling.

Vanilla beans are considered the ultimate for vanilla in flavoring and baked goods. These are the real deal, no alcohol or additives in sight. Just a long dark pod filled with tiny caviar-like “beans” ready to add to any recipe.

When to Use Each Kind of Vanilla

Know Your Extracts: Sniffing out the Best Vanilla for Your Baking

While instinct may say to use vanilla beans for everything, this would not actually be the best use of resources. Imitation is, of course, the cheapest and most affordable, but the more pure and better quality the vanilla, the more it costs:

(Prices based on Cook’s Bulk and Wholesale Vanilla)

  • Non-alcoholic vanilla — $12
  • Pure vanilla extract — $13
  • Vanilla bean paste — $25
  • Vanilla bean pods (3) — $15

Aside from price restrictions and personal preference (for example, imitation vanilla may have a less robust flavor/aroma than vanilla bean pods), any form of vanilla can be used for any type of baking.

That being said, most bakers (and especially social media food personalities) prefer vanilla bean paste and pods for the telltale speckling that they leave in the finished product. This only works for light-colored, vanilla-centric baked goods, however. If you wish to use a high-quality vanilla in a darker product, save some money and use a good vanilla extract.

For bakers who object to using alcoholic vanilla in recipes that don’t involve heat (frostings, creams, sodas, etc.), non-alcoholic vanilla or vanilla bean pods are optimal.

Love vanilla? Try these vanil-licious recipes from Bite The Road:

 

Be sure to read the next BiteTheRoad.com post on other creative Vanilla ideas later this week

 

 

 

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Bite-Cap — get it, a Recap my BiteTheRoad week.

What a week!

From the launch of the #FoodMemories17 Guest series early in the week,  some follow up at my TechInclusion “TED” Style talk on Mentorship and LGBT at SF Armory building, getting a chance to listen to blogger and cookbook writer Cenk from www.CafeFernando.com talk about his newest cookbook “The Artful Baker”, dinner at some fun spots around town, a 5.4 mile local urban hike, an educational trip to the Academy of Sciences for a “Nightlife” event , a look back with a chocolate chip pie and wrapped it all up today with some killer themed food for the monthly book club (but that gets it own entry later this week). It’s no wonder I will be ready for bed early.  So here is a quick visual Bite-Cap…

Bite-Cap: 1 Food Memories; Telling Our Story

I had wanted to add a new feature to BiteTheRoad decided to use a more “crowdsourced” approach with a new guest feature called ‘Food Memories Stories Told. The overall idea was to offer a larger scope of unique stories through the common experience of food and eating and invite others to help grow it. (You can also read my initial post about Food Memories here.)

Yes, everyone is welcome to participate. From the novice to more experienced blogger, the home cook to the professional.  Each guest storyteller will share personal themes of food-related memories, recipes, moments of healing, love, transitions, and reflection and post them during the next few months. We will use the hashtag #FoodMemories2017 and all guest posts will be featured on the BiteTheRoad website and on its companion Facebook page Facebook.com/Bitetheroad. I will also share it out via my twitter account @FVStrona,  the BitetheRoad Tumblr and  Instagram pages and of course, I encourage you to share your post to your networks. Our first guest feature went live with Travis’s 81-layer Biscuits.

Bite-Cap: 2 Talking about Mentoring LGBTs in Tech at TechInclusion

I did a 10 min “TED” Style talk and used storytelling as a way to share about the importance of mentorships and mentors for the LGBT person in Tech. It was a great afternoon with so many very cool people present, that it would have been as nice to attend and not speak. I had forgotten how I enjoy the process of planning using the storytelling technique and coaching through humor. It was fun to be back in the San Francisco Armory in this other role, even it I always enjoyed it from my regular one. As a venue – they do a great job with hosting programs. One of the folks snapped a picture of me in motion and I dressed it up a bit and shared about my social media hubs as well. You can check out my post on Monday afternoon of the MentorSF.com/Engage blog to read more and see some of the slides.

Bite-Cap 3: Omnivore Books and The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker

Omnivore Books, (Omnivore Books has a Facebook page as well) here the Bay Area, often hosts book and author events. My pal Brad suggested we check it out last week, and I am so glad we did. This months offer was the newest cookbook from Cenk Sonmezoy, the mastermind and home-schooled blogger behind the food blog Cafe Fernando. With cookbook author and blogger for www.EatTheLove.com, Irvin Lin serving as local Interviewer  – Cenk did some great storytelling behind his masterful cookbook and the powerful images he took himself in addition to the recipes he wrote. If I hadn’t already purchased my copy, I would have put this on my Christmas list. Its a classic trilogy of storytelling, recipe sharing and visual enticements.  The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker is available at Omnivore or on Amazon.

Of course , hile I have finished reading the Artful Baker (Yes, I read them cover to cover like a novel), I did get inspired to pop out an old school Chocolate Chip Cookie “practice” pie. “Practice” as in it’s a recipe I hadn’t tried and it’s that time of the year when I start working on the menu for the Holiday Orphans party in December..

Bite-Cap 4: The weekend wasn’t all about food….

I did manage to get a 5.4 mile urban hike in on Saturday. This trail was a new one for me, but it has been part of Pauls exercise path previously, so it gave me a chance to explore parts of Glen Park that I hadn’t seen before. But I think poor Dino’s little legs might not have been as happy with the walk! I think other than the obvious – it’s what you don’t expect to see that always catches my eye.

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Get Your Food Storytelling & Memories Ready To Share!

Sharing Our Food Storytelling 

That’s right – starting this month I am adding a new feature to BiteTheRoad.com; a communal shared collection called Food Memories Stories Told 2017 that promotes other peoples stories of food, recipes, success and fails. Several folks who already read the blog, had commented about wanting to share ideas and food they themselves had but weren’t up to the managing of a full blog. So I thought it would be fun to allow   BiteTheRoad to offer the “food storytelling” equivilent of my work on Mentorsf.com for the months of October – December. Then revisit it for the New Year.

The Food Memories; Telling Our Story  and Food Memories Stories Told 2017 is part of the BiteTheRoad Guest Series and will be a open format that invites everyone to have a place to share that special recipe, moment, rememerance and even that food mishap still told when people gather. I plan to make super easy –

1) You contact me by filling out a short web-based form,

2) Answer a few strategic questions that will help me figure out what you want ot post, how will be the best way to collect and share it

3) I respond by email or phone with next steps.

Once your content is ready, I work with it to create a post like this and share it out on the BiteTheRoad website and on its companion Facebook page Facebook.com/Bitetheroad. I will also share it out via my twitter account @FVStrona,  the BitetheRoad Tumblr and  Instagram pages and of course I encourage you to share your post to your networks.

So.. Are you ready to share? Come on.. you know you want too….

Get started by visiting the new Food Memories; Telling Our Story How To Page for more instructions. As the posts come in they will be gathered and posted and can also be found Food Memories Stories Told 2017

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