When I started to tell my nutritionist about my symptoms, the first thing she mentioned was that I should eat more fermented foods. I asked what the heck is a fermented food. It turned out that I have already consumed some but only by accident (and mostly when I visited my parents because I never bought any food like that). Earlier, an other nutritionist also recommended one kind of fermented food but she didn’t explain the benefits so I wasn’t very enthusiastic. Luckily, this new nutritionist explained the whys which always help me transition into a new diet, approach or lifestyle. I like learning new things. She said that it is not only good for my low level of stomach acid but it would help build up the gut flora and ease most of my symptoms. She also mentioned consuming miso which is a basic ingredient of the macrobiotic diet. And guess what, it’s fermented.
After I came home from the consultation I started to google the new foods she mentioned and right after I received my meal plan, I ordered the missing ingredients, spices, algas and teas. Miso, too. Well, it was almost a whole month ago but I haven’t tried miso yet. It’s time to start 😉 First, I was said because in my meal plan miso was used in the form of the soup and I’m not that big of a fan of soups. Today, I spent some time on the internet and collected some other ideas on how to use miso (link at the end of the post). But before the “how”, I want to collect the “whys”.
Health benefits of miso:
contains all essential amino acids so it’s a complete protein
stimulates the production of digestive fluids in the stomach
can restore the beneficial probiotics
helps in the digestion (and assimilation of other foods) in the intestines
high in antioxidants
boosts the immune system
a good plant-based source of B vitamins (especially B12)
great source of iron, calcium and potassium
can lower the risk of cancer
improves bone health
supports a healthy nervous system
has anti-aging properties and can help in maintaining a healthy skin
The good bacteria and some health benefits are killed by heat so it is advised to add it as late as possible. However, the taste remains the same anyway so if your aim is “only” to eat something taste, add it whenever you prefer.
Make a spread using white miso, peanut butter and apple juice to thin.
I know, it’s not the ideal approach but after I received my meal plan from my nutritionist, I checked the prices of the recommended ingredients. There are a lot of items on the shopping list that I don’t have at home and/or very expensive here. I know that the long term benefits are the most important but I wanted to split the expenses and not buy everything at the same time. I have already ordered the first part of the needed ingredients so I’m on the right track.
Anyway, when I found out the prices of an ingredient, I googled the health benefits so be able to judge if it’s really worth the price.Okay, it’s a lie because I was SURE that I will start with umeboshi and kuzu because they are the elements of my healing tea. But I’m a huge fan of facts, so I did my googling anyway.
“I hesitate to disclose this kind of information about myself, but every once in a while my stomach gets a wee bit touchy and results in what I would literally consider gut retching pain. Although I have been fairly successful in eliminating this pain through dietary modification, I have not been able to completely rid myself of these gastrointestinal hiccups. However, I have been fortunate enough to learn a fast and effective herbal remedy that does not require the use of over-the-counter medications. Kuzu, used in Eastern cultures as an herbal remedy to digestive and circulatory ailments, has been able to provide me fast and effective stomach relief and is now also being researched as an effective way reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, treat migraines and even to help eliminate alcohol abuse. I won’t hesitate in saying that this just might be nature’s true wonder root!”
What the heck is kuzu?
kuzu root, also called kudzu, is a member of the legume family
it has complex starches
used in the powder form (white powder) or as a dried root (that I couldn’t find here)
Health benefits of kuzu:
it can relieve the discomfort that is caused by overacidity
it can fight bacterial infection
can help with colds, which are often related to intestinal weakness
antioxidant (it has a high concentration of flavonoids)
helps the digestion system
inhibits the contraction of smooth muscle tissue thus increasing blood flow to relieve stomach cramping
can help with constipation
can stimulate appetite (that’s not a good thing for me because I have great appetite mostly because of my stupid stress eating disorder)
it can calm the nerves in stressful situations (although “officially” it is suitable for hyperactive children mostly)
it relieves tiredness and restores vitality
it’s an instant relief from abdominal pain and intestinal irritation
How to use it:
as a healing tea (ume-kuzu tea, drink with apple juice, etc)
as a thickening agent in foods (mostly making vegetable stews or sauces) – my nutritionist suggested to use it every time when I use corn starch now
works with puddings, fruit purees, too
it can be dusted on vegetables prior to frying to provide a light and crisp coating (I don’t think I would use this option as I don’t fry anything and my nutritionist suggested to keep this habit :D)
I’m planning to drink the ume-kuzu tea every day but based on the information I found on the internet and the papers I got from my nutritionist, I will really try to use it in cooking as well. Especially because I was hesitant if it is okay to use corn starch in my recipes, although I used only a very small portion every time (just a pinch for vegetable sauces and thick soups). But it’s good to have a healthier alternative.
According to my google search, umeboshi plums have been used for centuries in Asia, although I have never heard of it before my nutritionist mentioned. I live in Europe, brought up on a westernised diet (however, I consider myself lucky because my mom has always been on the healthier side of cooking), these Asian ingredients are quite far from me. But luckily, when I had my consultation with my nutritionist she offered to taste it, and I quite liked it. I tasted the umeboshi vinegar and although it’s extremely sour, I don’t think it would be a problem to insert into my diet.
Health benefits of umeboshi:
amazingly alkalizing food
they are created via lactic fermentation process so umeboshi has all the positive effect of any other fermented food
can fight fatigue
can fight nausea
it’s high in iron, which is important for stress reduction and immune function
helps with indigestion (hello, here I’m am, pick me, pick me!)
helps the body get rid of toxins
How can I use umeboshi if not eating the fruit “barefoot”?
creating a healing tea for digestive issues (as I was suggested to drink an ume-kuzu tea once a day for a month to help kick the ass of this constant bloating)
it’s salty and sour so it can be used with rice dishes
can be drunk with green tea
as a salt substitute
for adding flavour when preparing grains & vegetables
having one on an empty stomach stimulates digestion for the day
umeboshi vinegar is a perfect seasoning (salty, sour & fruity taste)
sprinkle steamed vegetables with the vinegar
added to dark leafy greens (kale mostly) to boost the mineraly goodness 🙂
Umeboshi plum is said to have been used by the samurai to keep up their stamina, fight fatigue, and help heal between battles. I’m not a samurai at all, but sometimes I feel I have to fight through the stressful days so I guess it would be a good ingredient for me 😉 I have found many mentions as a cure for hangover which I never have because I rarely drink alcohol but it’s good to know.
I’m curious if it can really help with nausea and exhaustion for me because my symptoms are because of my insulin resistance. When I don’t follow my diet properly, I always end up with constant nausea and tiredness. First of all, I’m planning to follow the diet this time but I’m really curious about the effects.
The alkalizing effect is also very positive for me because having an acid environment can kill the hormone system and I have struggles with hormones: insulin and thyroid are my weakest points. Furthermore, the more I read about the alternative remedies for fibroids, the more experts I find that suggest that the alkaline diet can fight fibroids (and I have already gained some results with a semi-alkaline vegan diet).
It’s available in the form of the fruit itself, puree and vinegar:
I have in the “I want to know evvvvvvvrything phase” now, so I started to search for the essential info I really need to know about the macrobiotic diet. I got a quite strict meal plan that I have to follow at least for a month, then I can ease into the “normal” macrobiotic diet.
I have to admit, it will be difficult for me. First of all, I have to buy several ingredients that I have never used before, but secondly, I will have to avoid frozen food. This is the biggest difficulty for me. I hate doing the shopping, I work in weird hours, on my free mornings I prefer not to get up early enough to catch the good quality food in the farmer’s market, so I often fill my freezer with vegetables and meat (okay, I know, I will eliminate meat from now on…) and I prefer freezing some portions of food I have already made to have something to eat on busy days. So, this frozen stuff will be the biggest deal for me.
Anyway, I’m enthusiastic (although a bit worried if I can do everything properly) so I spent hours on searching for info about the macrobiotic diet. I found a very good list and grouping of foods I can eat (and I have to avoid), I changed some things in the original list, this is my personalised list. I left out the stuff I shouldn’t eat (normal wheat is avoidable for me, I have an intolerance to that) and some ingredients that I cannot stand.
Unfortunately, my favorite vegetables, spinach and zucchini are not on the list 😦 Okay, spinach is on the original list but my nutritionist told me to avoid that, too.
Whole Cereal Grains and Flour Products
Use often: short- grain brown rice, medium- grain brown rice, barley, millet, spelt, corn-on-the-cob, whole oats, buckwheat, long-grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, pearl barley
Artificial sweeteners, brown sugar, molasses, carob, chocolate, fructose, fruit sweeteners, honey, white sugar. Beverages
Artificial beverages, carbonated water, cold drinks, iced drinks, coffee, distilled water, hard liquor, regular tea, stimulant beverages, tap water,
Styles of Cooking
Pressure cooking, boiling, blanching, steaming, nishimi-style (steaming with kombu) soup-making, stewing, quick water sautéing, quick oil sautéing, kimpiria-style (sautéing and simmering), pressing, pickling.
Baking, broiling, dry-roasting, pan-frying, deep-frying, tempura (batter-dipped), raw foods, juicing.
I think, I will deal with this how-to-cook topic in a whole post later, I will share my struggles with you. For example, during my consultation, I took notes about the diet and wrote “nishimi vegetables” and spent long minutes on searching for a list of vegetables that goes to this nishimi group. Well, I realised that it’s a type of cooking not a group of food. I will have to work a lot on my diet, I guess.
I found those very nice illustrations of a macrobiotic diet that I inserted above but they are not the same as my nutritionist suggested (I got a basic info guide on the consultation than a personalised meal plan later in e-mail), they are like this. Not as colourful, not as beautiful, but at least something 🙂
I will have to work and think a lot about my diet, I’m happy that I decided to have a “light” vegan month before the real macrobiotic diet. I tend to hate myself when I don’t do something properly and I KNOW that I wouldn’t be able to do the diet properly before getting some more info, doing my shopping (I don’t even know where to by bacha tea or miso :S) and preparing my kitchen for the change. I will have to buy two new pots, too.