It may be an ordinary dance studio during the week, but on Sunday mornings this little room in Toronto’s west end is transformed by the smells of steamed vegetables, seaweed and miso into Anna Rosenberg’s Macro Mornings cooking class. Here Rosenberg provides her students with a basic introduction to macrobiotic cooking.
Many of Rosenberg’s students come to her cooking classes to learn how to prepare a wide variety of meals that will help them start the healing process and recover from such diseases as cancer.
“The first factor of health is what you eat. It determines how you react, how you think,” says Rosenberg, a macrobiotic chef, teacher, councillor and founder of the Macrobiotic Living Whole Foods Cooking School.
In macrobiotics health and longevity is believed to be achieved through theunderstanding of the relationships between ourselves, the food we eat and the lifestyles we choose to live. Sickness is viewed as the body’s natural attempt to harmonize itself with its environment.
All foods consumed in macrobiotics help the body achieve this harmony by aiding in the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
“Macrobiotics is basically a whole grain and vegetable diet, it’s really simple,” Rosenberg says. “It’s about looking at an individual and seeing what they need.”
In macrobiotics food preparation is just as important to human health as are proper food choices.
“I’m trying to teach day to day cooking,” Rosenberg says. “Most people think it (cooking)is just a matter of ingredients but it’s also the energy of the food, the pots the food is prepared in and the type of dish. Is it a fast or slow dish?”
By going to fast food restaurants she says we give up our control over what we eat to others who might not be concerned with whether the food they are preparing is healthy.
“By putting order into cooking, you put order into your life,” Rosenberg says.
Rosenberg first learned about macrobiotics from her ex-husband who told her that when they got married they were going to eat macrobiotic. After seeing her health improve from this diet, she knew she couldn’t go back.
“I though I was in good health but I discovered a whole new sense of health,” Rosenberg says.
Little things that she though were just part of life like, menstrual cramps and athlete’s foot, completely disappeared.
She says she is amazed when people tell her they are healthy and then tell her they have a health condition like diabetes. She says many people don’t truly understand what health is.
Making The Transition
One of the most common mistakes beginners make when starting a macrobiotic diet Rosenberg says, is not eating enough of a variety of foods.
“In a day you should have about 10 different vegetables. Cooked in different ways,” she says.
Lidia Kuleshnyk, a licensed holistic practitioner, macrobiotic cook, health consultant and founder of Macrobiotics Plus, recommends beginners start by adding healthy foods to their diets instead of taking away bad ones. This will help stop food cravings and make the transition physiological and biologically easier.
Kuleshnyk says miso soup is a great addition to any diet.
“One bowl of high quality miso soup will cleanse 50 cigarettes from your body,” she says.
Miso, a fermented soybean paste, has been a staple of the Japanese diet for centuries
Macrobiotics In Demand
One day Kuleshnyk would love to see rice balls offered along side Tim Horton’s donuts and amaske as an alternative to ice cream at Baskin Robbins.
Amaske, a whole-grain sweet brown rice beverage, is just one of the hard-to-find foods that Kuleshnyk’s macrobiotic food service currently sells.
“There’s never a shortage of demand. There is just a problem with the logistics of meeting it,” she says. “ I’m busier beyond my capacity.”
Six or seven years ago, Kuleshnyk believes society shifted toward a more spiritual and environmental form of thinking.
“Today there is a health food store practically on every corner. It wasn’t’ like that 10 or 15 years ago,” she says.