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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

Empowerment through Cooking

Apr 11, 2011 10:26PM ● By Harriet Graylin

In recent times many of us have had to deal with colossal disappointments in the form of personal, political, economic, and even ecological disasters. This has caused many of us to feel a loss of control and a feeling of absolute powerlessness in our personal lives. Who could possibly imagine that cooking – slaving over a hot stove – could be a source of empowerment? How absurd! Yet, given some thought, it really is a true expression of freedom of choice, which in itself is power. Imagine having the freedom to choose health over illness; to choose nutritious whole foods over the addictive processed foods. The freedom to feel a sense of accomplishment when making a healthy meal, and the inevitable power of being able to choose what you put in your body as well as that of your family. Imagine the freedom of choosing to look years younger instead of prematurely older.

Choice gives us back the control in our lives that we so desperately need. We may not be able to change political and ecological disasters, but we can change a feeling of powerlessness into empowerment by the way we personally take care of ourselves. If we choose nutritious food and make the time to prepare them, although it will take more time than a drive thru, the results empower us to live a healthier and more satisfying life. Cooking can enhance life and bring a sense of personal power.

Harriet Graylin is an exceptional education teacher for over 25 years in Brevard County who has written a number of health awareness articles for teachers and various health publications including Macrobiotics Today.

Easy Empowering Meal
Learn from oriental societies how to prepare quick wholesome meals that are based on rice and vegetables with meat being the condiment and not the main course. Use whole foods like miso to flavor your soups and dressings. The choices are endless – what empowerment!

The Vegetable Mix
First cut up fresh vegetables (organic if possible). Broccoli is a good choice; it benefits the lungs, stomach, and spleen. It also has many cancer preventative properties. A nice mix is broccoli and/or cauliflower, carrots, celery, green beans, yellow squash and/or zucchini, shitake mushrooms (if dried soak for 20 minutes), and several slices of onion.

The amount you'll use will be determined by how many servings you'll need. This will also apply to the size of the pot you'll use.

Wash each group of vegetables thoroughly and place them in a stainless steel pot with an expandable steamer. Add a few drops of toasted unrefined sesame oil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Tamari Soy Sauce, or Ume Plum Vinegar are also good, and enhance the flavor of vegetables. Then steam for 5 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook your vegetables or they'll lose their flavor and colorful appearance. When finished, lightly sprinkle some Gomashio for appeal and taste. Gomashio is sesame seed salt made from dry-roasting and grinding sea salt and sesame seeds. It can be purchased at most health food stores.

Aromatic Rice Mix
Suggested Cooking Amount : 2 cups
There are many varieties of brown rice: basmati, jasmine, short, medium, and long grains, even sweet. Wild rice combinations can be purchased at most health food stores or buy brown rice and mix in your own choice such as barley. Check the bins. They have quite a variety of different types of rice and grains. Choose organic if available.

2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice. Put it in a stainless steel pressure cooker and add a dash of sea salt. Pressure cooking rice and grains enhances flavor and helps with digestion. Many ancient cultures believe that it helps retain the food's innate energy as well. Place the cooker on the large burner and set it on high. Once it begins to whistle and you see the steam, lower the heat to warm and let it sit for 25 minutes. Remove the cover and let it cool for 5 minutes more. You'll have beautiful ready to eat aromatic rice.

Adding Meat to Your Meal
If meat is desired, broil or sauté some fish fillets according to taste. Chicken strips or turkey are options as well. Season lightly with garlic and parsley. Natural alternatives to non-stick spray cooking oil such as grapeseed oil are sold at most health food stores. (olive and canola oils are good alternatives)

Plan Ahead and Make Soup Too
If you cook with quantity in mind, you can make a nourishing quick soup for your next evening meal. Simply put the leftovers in a stainless steel pot add a few cups of water and some chopped scallions. Bring to rolling boil and immediately turn your heat to low. When the water is completely calm yet still hot, add a teaspoon or two of barley (mugi) or brown rice miso. Miso is a fermented paste made from soybeans, sea salt, and usually rice or barley. It is used in soups, stews, spreads, baking , and as a seasoning. Miso has a nice sweet taste and gives a salty flavor. Miso is excellent for keeping the body alkaline.

Simple Dessert
For dessert – simplicity is the key. Try a tablespoon of organic roasted tahini (no salt) or almond butter (no salt) with a few organic raisins or apple slices mixed in. It's also great for a pick me up snack.

Top it off with Tea
Last but not least, finishing a good meal with a delicious cup of Japanese twig tea called Kukicha can hit the spot. It comes in boxes of teabags just like regular tea or it can be purchased loose. It doesn't require the adding of honey, sugar, milk, and lemon, it has a wonderful flavor all of its own with very little caffeine.

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