Holy Macro, by Hilary
I had a revelation the other day as I was about to purchase yet another gorgeous vegetarian cookbook. This particular one was written by a beautiful thin healthy looking French woman about my age. The sun was shining on the day they shot the cover and she was radiant. Walking through her country garden in her vintage apron holding her stylized tray of healthy vegetarian dishes and desserts, smiling casually as if it all was nothing.
As I took a closer look at the food on her tray I realized that it was full of dishes made with double cream, butter, eggs and loads of veg and fresh fruit. Healthy right? All organic, all free range and clearly came from the farm she lives on. She has raised the cows and chickens and coddled from birth. And for her, it clearly is healthy and totally works for her. She looks fucking great. She’s the woman I want to be and yet… this is the way I have been cooking for the last three years, and let me tell ya, it has not been doing me any favors!
And then it hit me.
I was somehow finally knocked out of my fantasy world where I was her, in her garden carrying her tray of food, in her vintage apron with her thin waist and then BAM!! I wake up from my day-dream and RIGHT… I’m not her! I’m ME! And me come’s from a long line of large Norwegian / German woman. We’re just big ladies. I don’t have a petite bone in my body no matter how much I want them to shrink! I’m just not that beautiful naturally thin healthy woman prancing around in my French garden who can cook with cheese, double cream, fry everything and put eggs and butter in every other dish I make. For me personally… it makes me FAT! And when I’m fat, I’m unhappy, and when I’m unhappy I eat more unhealthy, I drink more wine and I have a lot less sex with my husband.
But here is the thing…
It’s not totally out of my control. I was then hit with an image of the old me. The one who only 3 short years ago was 30 pounds (that’s about 2 stone for you Brits and about 14 kilo for you Europeans) thinner. She was happy, had a flat stomach, a thin face, radiant skin and thin arms. And it was pretty effortless. What was the difference? I was eating a macrobiotic diet and doing yoga every day.
Over the last 3 years I have watched my body grow in absolute denial of it actually being my body. After I lost my weight (the first time I went macro I lost 30 pounds within 6 months) about 6 years ago I never thought it would come back. I got so used to being thin and healthy I totally forgot that if I stopped taking care of my body, it would go right back to it’s birthright. So here I am again. And I have known for a while that I need to do something about it and have been talking about it for a good 2 years and not changed my eating or lifestyle behavior one tiny bit. Possibly in rebellion. I mean, why can I not be like some of my friends who can eat pasta and pizza and cheese and bread and drink loads of wine and stay thin? Or, and this is the best one, I’ve been trying to convince myself that I love myself no matter what. My favorite spiritual override. Totally abusing all my self-help knowledge and taken it to my absolute advantage. I have been telling myself that I love myself even when I’m not feeling great and can feel the rolls of fat on my stomach and back every-time I sit down. Yes… I can love myself here but If I’m going to be totally honest with myself I’m not happy here no matter how much I try to tell myself I am. And not because I need to be thin to be happy but I need to be healthy to be happy. And I was never “THIN” anyway, just healthy with no aches and pains and felt good about myself and in my clothes. As a matter of fact, and for those of you who are new friends over the last 3 years will not believe this… I actually used to wear color. Something I have totally abandoned, along with wearing jeans. My wardrobe that once consisted of oranges, greens, creams and patterns now consists of black and grey with leggings and more black dresses. Basically anything stretchy and what I view as making me look thinner.
So… now that I am finally out of denial and really understand that I am not that thin European woman, I am back to the real world. I realize my name is Hilary and I’m a naturally large American woman of German and Norwegian decent and I have control over my life and my body as long as I make a commitment to taking care of myself again. AND… have fun doing it.
I know… this is a long one but I’m almost finished I promise.
About two weeks ago I had a one on one appointment with an amazing man named Simon Brown who has been living a macrobiotic lifestyle for almost 30 years. He has studied with the best and has been teaching and healing people for years. I felt I needed a boost of macro if I was going to commit to this way of eating again and get some advice from someone who’s books I had read and someone I respected. Lucky for me he lives in London and also has a cooking school there. I left feeling optimistic and ready to take on my new world of clean healthy living. I also left signing up for the cooking school that starts in September.
For the last two weeks my husband and I have been eating a macrobiotic diet. Thank GOD I have a man in my life who is game for this diet and totally supportive. I have already lost about 3-4 pounds, my head feels clear, I am loosing my cravings for sugar and the thought of having a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette is not appealing. We have decided to do 6 days on and 1 day off so treated ourselves to a curry on Sunday along with some wine. Whoop whoop. It was a party. Kidding. It does not sound like fun but it really is. It’s fun to embark on a new adventure, cook differently and honestly, after about 3 days I started to see and feel changes and they far outweigh the need for cheese, bread and wine (on a daily basis, I’m not giving anything up entirely, just doing a lot less of it).
So what have I been eating?
The basic diet is essentially:
50% whole grains though because I am trying to lose weight I limit my grains to once or twice a day and eat about 20% whole grains and include more vegetables.
25% seasonal vegetables, cooked or raw.
10% protein foods – such as fish or legumes. I don’t eat fish so stick to legumes, tofu, seitan, tempeh or natto.
5% sea vegetables
5% fruit, nuts, or seeds.
Ideally you have all that on your plate for most meals. Though I usually do a lighter version of that for lunch and do the whole shabang for dinner.
I will continue to write more about macrobiotics as I continue this style of eating. In the mean time, check out this link if you want more info on Macroboitics. Jessica Porter wrote Hip Chicks Guide to Macrobiotics and it’s a great easy read to attempt to wrap your head around it if you’re at all interested.
The main thing I have been eating a lot of is miso soup. At least twice a day. Here is a great spin off regular miso soup and a great thing to master.
Miso Soup with Squash
8 cups (2 quarts) water
4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms
tiny pinch of salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
1/2 medium squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice. I love kabocha squash when I can get hold of it but butternut or any squash is good in this recipe. You an also go without if you do not have any and the soup is still good and so good for you.
1/2 tablespoon dried, shredded wakame (buy it in a package already shredded)
2 tablespoons white miso, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons red or brown barley or rice miso, or to taste
1 or 2 green onions trimmed and cut thinly on the diagonal
1. Pour the water into a large soup pot, add the shiitakes, salt and soy sauce. Bring just to a boil.
2. While the water is coming to a boil, prep the onion and squash. When the water boils, scoop out the shiitakes, and add the onion, squash and wakame.
3. Trim the stems off the shiitakes and discard. Thinly slice the shiitakes and add them back into the pot.
4. Reduce heat until the soup is simmering gently. Simmer 30-35 minutes or until the squash is very tender. If you like, mash some of the squash with a potato masher or blend with a hand held blender (this thickens the body of the soup).
5. Remove the pot from the fire. Put the miso into a fine mesh strainer, dip this into the soup and dissolve the miso into the soup by pushing it through. Stir. Taste and adjust seasonings by adding more soy sauce or miso as needed.
6. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the green onions. As a variation, cut 1/4 pound tofu into 1/4-inch dice and use as a secondary garnish.