Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Monday, April 1, 2013

Get Your Macro On with Spork Foods

I love Spork sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg.  They are the authors of Spork Fed (click here for my previous blog post on this fantastic cookbook) and the duo behind my favorite cooking classes.  It has been a few years since my last class, but I finally made it back (and am going again next month - yay for me!) for a lesson on macrobiotic cooking.  What is macrobiotic cooking you ask?  I am so glad you did!  I didn't know what it was either.  I have just heard about it a lot for a while and have been extra curious lately.  This class was the perfect opportunity to learn more about it.

Before I get to the macro stuff, a few notes about the classes at Spork Foods.  They are wonderful.  Set in an intimate space that is staged like a home kitchen (with a quaint dining space for family style eating after the lesson), Jenny and Heather are truly delightful.  Their style is fun and approachable.  I love that they not only talk you through the recipe steps, but also throw in tidbits of factoids about the ingredients they use.  For example, I learned that refined coconut oil isn't just a great high heat oil to cook with, but also is a great natural sunscreen and helps with weight loss.  I also learned a new way to cut a lemon so you can juice it without getting the unwanted seeds in your dish, and a brilliant way to peel ginger.

 The lesson is observational, instead of participatory, although there are opportunities to get in on the action in the kitchen (they invited us to roll out cookies and croquettes).  After years of participation cooking classes where I needed the practice and loved the challenge of refining my cooking chops, I really enjoy these lessons where all I have to do is watch and take notes.  I highly recommend these classes.  Click here for more info about them (you can take them online too if you don't live in LA) and a schedule of their upcoming classes.  

So back to macrobiotics.  Jenny and Heather broke it down for us like is a Japanese style of eating meant to heal your body.  It uses seasonal, organic food (shopping at your local farmer's market is a good choice) to keep your body, mind and spirit balanced.  By bringing balance, it is also supposed to bring world peace.  Wow - sign me up!

There are some basic ideas to being a macro that Jenny and Heather shared that they pick and choose from to incorporate into their lifestyle.  Pick what works for you:
  • Pre-digest your food (chew your food 20 times before swallowing)
  • Don't take too hot of a shower or bath (you lose important minerals that way)
  • Eat yin and yang (for example, combine veggies that grow up and out of the grown, as well as those that grow out and in)
  • Whole grains are the basis of the meal
  • Pickled veggies are an important part of the meal
  • No dairy or eggs; sometimes meat and fish (lends very easy to a vegan diet, as well as gluten free)
  • Don't overseason your food (for maximum healing)
Below is a macro food pyramid based on Michio Kushi's teachings (the Godfather of macrobiotic eating).

The recipes the Sporkies made were delicious.  I truly cannot wait to make them again.  Here was the menu:

Brown Rice Croquettes with Scallions and a Roasted Carrot Puree - I wanted to slurp the puree off of the plate and the croquettes were so cute.  This is a crowd pleasure for sure.

Crispy Tofu with Ginger Scented Shiitake Mushrooms - I have never prepared tofu this way ("breaded" in arrowroot powder, which gave it a stretchy texture).  The mushrooms were insane!

Maple Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies - I was expecting a dense, mediocre cooking (as I do of all things gluten free), but was surprised and delighted with how moist and yummy these cookies were.  I am going to make them for the kids.

Sauteed Seasonal Greens (we used kale) with a Miso Citrus Sauce - Best kale I have ever had.  The sauce is amazing.  You'll want to put it on everything.

Such a fun and informational class.  I can't wait to get going on more macrobiotic cooking and am loving these new recipes for my arsenal.  Have you tried macrobiotic eating?  Please share in the comments below.