Macro Monday: Macrobiotic Eating for Autumn

Eating seasonally and locally are major parts of the big picture view that Macrobiotics takes. If you do this, you'll feel great during all the different seasons, but also during the often uncomfortable transition times between.

Google Image Search Result:

Google Image Search Result:

People seem to intuitively move towards lighter eating in warmer weather, and heavier eating during the cold of winter. This is simply our bodies tapping into the universe & mother nature, and sending us signals about what would serve & nourish us best during each season. 

Nourishing Meals for Autumn

When the weather cools off (becomes more yin), it feels best to begin eating slightly heavier & warmer foods with more concentrated energy (more yang) to feel balanced.  Some great recommendations for Autumn are root vegetables including pumpkins & squash, more grains including denser ones such as millet & sweet rice. Stewed fruit and desserts like apple crisp replace the crisp fresh raw fruit enjoyed in summer. And also, in your cooking, you could use a bit more salt and condiments.

Just like I posted a recipe for lighter summer eating, on this lovely Macro Monday, I have a delicious Autumn dish for you, to match the changing colours of foliage, and keep you warm during scarves & boots weather. 

Gingery Adzuki & Kabocha Stew

This is a classic Macrobiotic dish--and is one of my absolute favourites. T loves it too. I would guess that every Macrobiotic cookbook has a variation, and here's mine: 

I promise this stew is much better than the old photo I dug up ;)

I promise this stew is much better than the old photo I dug up ;)


  • 1 cup dried adzuki beans {rinse & soak overnight, then rinse before using}
  • 1 medium kabocha (~600g), seeded & cut into about 1" chunks (peeling optional) 
  • 1/2" chunk of ginger, finely diced
  • 3 cups filtered water


  1. Layer into the pressure cooker, in order: the adzuki beans, the chunks of kabocha squash, and then sprinkle the diced ginger on top. 
  2. Pour the water in, gently, down the side of the pressure cooker, so you don't disturb the layers. 
  3. Bring the pressure cooker up to full pressure, and then lower heat to the lowest setting to maintain high pressure. Cook for 30 minutes. Then let pressure release naturally.
  4. Lift the lid, and if you like, add in a tiny bit of sea salt or tamari to taste, and let it simmer for a few minutes on low heat. The kabocha will be soft and break apart. 
  5. Serve with a sprig of parsley on top (I forgot for the photo, my bad).

This stew is great on its own, or with some good hearty bread, or on top of brown rice. For variation, you could make this with butternut squash instead - but I bet that once you go kabocha, you'll never go back :)

Stove-top Variation: 

You could make this without the pressure cooker, no problem: Follow the same layering technique, and bring the mixture up to boil, then reduce heat to low and let it simmer away with  lid on. Just make sure to check the water every so often, and add more as necessary. I pretty much always make this in the pressure cooker, but my guess is that it would take about 45 minutes to 1 hour or so doing the regular stove-top variation.  It will be done when the aduzki beans are nice and soft.

***And, there will be an Ohsawa pot variation coming soon --- I have written down my recipe for making this in the ohsawa pot, but will need a few days of searching to find it in my moving boxes.

Happy Autumn everyone! Enjoy your roasted veggies, apple crisps, pretty scarves & pumpkin pie.  Make sure to take some time for reflecting on the year, while sipping some warm tea and watching red, yellow & orange leaves swirl & dance to the ground.

What are your favourite Autumn foods, and clothes? 

Mine are definitely pumpkin anything, especially pie, and scarves <3

Big hugs,


French Lentil Stew Recipe

This stew is a frequent repeat in my kitchen.
I have tried it with green/brown lentils, as well as black lentils. Sometimes even red.
But my absolute favourite is french lentils.
It handles substitutions and lazy measuring very well.
And it only takes 12 minutes in the pressure cooker! (regular cooking info below, too).

The Dainty Pig's French Lentil Stew
* Very loosely adapted from Lorna Sass' recipe for "Lentil Stew with Spicy Greens" 
   in "Great Vegetarian Cooking under pressure."
Serves 4.

*1.5 cups french lentils, rinsed
*roughly 1/2 cup sliced celery
*roughly 1 cup diced carrots
*roughly 1/2 - 1 cup diced parsnip (use more if you like the taste).
*1/2 " finely diced ginger
* ~1Tbsp ground coriander
*~1 tsp dried thyme
*4 cups boiling water
*~ 1.5 cups loosely packed parsley  (other greens ok too)
*1 T sesame oil or other mild oil of your choice
* salt or tamari to taste
*optional lemon juice

1. Heat pressure cooker pot (no lid yet) on medium high. Add oil (make sure oil doesn't smoke).
    *If you are avoiding oil, you could use a tiny bit of water instead of oil, to water-sauté.
2. Quickly sauté veggies, first adding ginger, then celery, then carrots, then parsnips.
    Total sauté time about 3 minutes.
3. Add in spices, sauté another 1 minute, stirring back and forth.
4. Add in boiling water (be careful for sputtering).
5. Stir in lentils, lock pressure cooker lid in place, and bring to high pressure over high heat.
6. Once pressure is up, lower flame or heat to lowest possible to maintain high pressure.
    Cook for 12 minutes on high pressure.
7. Use a quick release method to bring pressure down (I run it under lukewarm water).
8. Take lid off, stir in salt to taste, and parsley.
9. The pot will be hot, so let the salt (or tamari) and parsley cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I prefer mine with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top.
Also nice is some toasted walnuts crumbled on top.

*the amount of veggies and greens are very flexible, and I rarely measure :)
*I'd recommend making a double batch if you have room in your pot.
*Cooking in a REGULAR POT: this stew could absolutely be made in a regular pot instead of
  pressure cooker. I would guess that the cooking time would take around 30 minutes. Follow all the same
  steps, except instead of bringing to pressure, simply bring to boil then simmer with a lid on until lentils are
  soft, or desired consistency is reached (longer cooking + more creamy). Stir and check frequently.
* Always, always, ALWAYS follow your pressure cooker safety instructions/directions.

Made with black lentils and parsley.

Made with a mix of green lentils and black lentils.

Made with black lentils with spinach.

But the clear winner, and heart-stealer is with french lentils:

French lentils win!!

They just get SO creamy!

Click Here for more detailed info about french lentils and more pics of the steps!

The leftovers can be easily re-heated and enjoyed again.
But, a nice change is to chill the leftovers, then blend with some lemon juice and optional olive oil, to make a delicious dip or spread.

♥ How do you love your lentils?

Dinner Party Delights

 Hey Guys,

The focus of this week's Thursday Things are FRIENDS!
And enjoying simple meals with them :)

Here's a few quick shots from the dinner party last night.

You can see my plate because of the rice cake, hahaha.
 (once my belly is doing great, I will definitely indulge in some good quality bread)
Lemon slices for the soup, cute bird lemon squeezer from Japan, and tahini sauce for the veggies.

3 kinds of Sourdough Bread  (wholegrain, baguette, & potato bread)

French Lentil Stew(has parsnip, celery, carrots, ginger & parsley in it).

Roasted Veggies

Kabocha, Fennel, Japanese Sweet Potato, & Yellow Beets

Tahini Custard (like a kanten, made with apples, raisins & tahini)

After! I garnished these with a few raisins before serving.

* To make this mouth watering custard, please read Aveline Kushi's book "Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking." It is simple, tastes decadent, and received great reviews from my guests!

*French Lentil Stew Recipe coming soon!

* And, a guest post tomorrow!

Have a lovely thursday, dainty piglets 

Lovin' the Lentils.

Aren't lentils glorious?
I mean, they're the fastest cooking legumes.
And look at all the nutrients!!!!

Nutrients in
1.00 cup (198.00 grams)
Nutrient%Daily Value



dietary fiber62.5%







vitamin B1 (thiamin)22%
potassium                   20.8%                     

(Source: WHFoods )

But most importantly, they taste darn good.
The proof is in the pudding lentil stew.

Here is a new version of my recent obsession, but this time using French Lentils.

Gather the troops: 

And by troops, I mean...lentils, carrots, celery and spices (thyme and coriander).

Rinse the lentils.
Double Check that everyone is accounted for:
All there?

Proceed to throw it all into your pressure cooker, and be ready to eat in less than 20 minutes. While you're waiting you can prepare the table setting(s):

Serve the rice.

Then serve up the stew.

Top with anything you like. 
Tamari-roasted almonds and a squirt of lemon highly recommended.

Enjoy pretty rainbows cast on your delicious lunch (hang some crystals in your window).

Swoon over yet another type of lentil.

Have you tried french lentils?
They rocked mine and T's socks off!
yummy. times a million.

They are like a cross between red and green lentils. Think a little less peppery than red lentils, but they still keep that buttery smooth like consistency, similar to when you make red lentil dal.

This pressure-cooked lentil stew had coriander and thyme for spices. 
You can stir in a bit of salt or tamari after. Or a bit of lemon.

What's your favourite kind of lentil?

Something to Stew over.

I have mainly stuck to stews and whole grains in my new friend, the pressure cooker.
But I hope to try some new dishes soon---perhaps some pilafs, desserts, or risottos.

But this lentil stew is just SO good that I don't even want to try any other recipes.
I used the base "lentils with spicy greens" recipe from Lorna Sass' book:

"Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure."

I changed the veggies, and added my own spices, and it turned out too delicious!

Carrots, Celery, Burdock (love), Ginger
Unfocused brown lentils (or are these green?)

Cooked with some coriander and thyme.
Greens and garnishes added in after pressure cooking.

This one with toasted walnuts and kale added in after.


This version had parsley and a bit of lemon juice added after cooking.

Do you like lentils?
What's your favourite way to eat them?

Money WELL spent.

Hello dear readers,
It has been while, hasn't it?
Until recently, I think I was really in the middle of a deep re-adjustment period. Life here in Canada, teaching yoga, is much much different than teaching English in Japan. Of course there is nothing like -35C weather to shake you out of your reverse culture shock slumber.
Different definitely isn't bad, though. While I do miss many things about Japan (i.e., tea, seaweed, beautiful countryside), I am really so happy these days. I just love teaching yoga and am so lucky to have been welcomed back with open arms and a bunch of classes right when I returned. T and I are loving our new house. I especially love the blue kitchen that comes complete with a working oven--- perfect for roasting winter squash.
The first few months I was home, I was so excited to find many of the products I missed: almond milk, much cheaper raw nuts, gluten free products, dark dark dark vegan chocolate etc. So, I baked my little heart away. Especially around Christmas. I managed to make vegan and gluten free versions of all my favourite family Swiss Christmas cookies, and reduced the sugar by at least half in all recipes. Challenge for next year is completely removing all sugar a la macrobiotics. So the past few months, my highlights and joys in the kitchen have been cookies, crumbles, muffins etc. Of course, I was still eating my regular meals, but didn't really find anything special that I wanted to post about.
But where was I?  Oh yes, the title of this post " Money WELL spent."
After about 3 years of reading and wanting, we finally purchased a pressure cooker.
And not just any pressure cooker, but apparently it's the "Mercedes of pressure cookers." Meet my new best friend:
Kuhn Rikon 8L family style pressure cooker.

I have used it almost every day since I opened the box.With my macrobiotic books in hand (well...arms, my hands are too small to hold all my macro books), and the pressure cooker book I ordered with the beast, I have been floating in Macrobiotic heaven.

Since first becoming interested in macrobiotics in the summer of 2008, I have regularly eaten whole grains, and lots of veggies and sea veggies, and tried to limit refined sugars. I have always liked simple seasonings, like flax oil, olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, ginger, shoyu and tamari. I use natural sweeteners if I need a bit of something sweet, like brown rice syrup or maple syrup.  There are also some random stars that rotate through my fridge and dinner plate, depending on my mood etc. 

These include: tofu, nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters, fresh or dried fruit, canned beans, lentils, almond/rice/soy milk, puffed grain cereals, flaked grains, fish, sugar free jams,dark chocolate, and occasionally some goat cheese and of course, sometimes some actual sugar and even coffee (usually decaf).

But, despite all this, I always felt that I was missing part of the bigger macro picture, because I didn't really cook my own beans, or make many bean dishes.

First attempt at pressure cooker: red lentil stew with greens.

I have tried a few times, but the reality is that cooking chickpeas for 4 hours on the stove was and is not going to happen very often. So, I coveted the Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cookers (see end of post for a link to the cooker I bought). I dreamt of the day where I could throw beans and veggies in a pot and have a stew in less than 15 minutes.

And that time is now here! So far I have made: lentil and spicy green stew (two times), kabocha and adzuki bean stew, straight up brown rice, straight up millet, and whole oats. 
Kabocha & Adzuki Stew with Ginger, Tamari and Shitake Mushrooms

After eating at macro restaurants in Japan, T and I both knew we loved the taste of pressure cooked grains much better than boiled grains.
Simple Brown Rice. From Cabinet to Bowl in 25 minutes.

In short, the stews have been fantastic, the grains are unbelievably delicious, and the best part is that it is SO quick, safe, and easy to clean.

Expect many more macrobiotic recipes on here, as I can now make things so quickly to go along with steamed veggies, stir-frys and grains. I plan to try cooking with many more types of legumes and grains, and am beyond excited to delve once more back into the macrobiotic land. But don't worry, there will still be yummy treats: I just took carrot millet breakfast muffins out of the oven.

Leftover pressure cooked millet added to yummy carrot muffins!

I just ate whole oats every morning this whole week, and let me tell you, they have left me feeling much more "whole" than my usual bowl of rolled oats. Not that there's anything wrong with flaked grains--->so yummy. But whole oats are so satisfying on a deeper level!

What's the best thing you've bought recently? Has it improved your quality of life, or is it just for fun?

Here's to a happy weekend, and inventive pressure cooker recipes!

I added the Pressure cooker I bought under my shop link at the top of the page. 
Check it out for more information :)

Squash, Lentil, Chickpea, Carrot Stew

If you add 6 cups of water to these ingredients:

 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
3 carrots diced
1/2 kabocha peeled and diced
1 c. red lentils rinsed
1 c. yellow split peas, rinsed
1 inch of ginger, peeled and minced
1 T cumin
pinch of black pepper
pinch of salt

and bring them to a boil and simmer for about 40 minutes, 
you will get this delicious stew:

Stir in the lime juice near the end, and garnish with chopped peanuts and parsley.

served on top of brown rice, with a side of brussel sprouts and daikon. 
Inspired by this recipe.
It's the perfect assortment of flavours, and makes your belly feel great on a winter evening.
Not to mention, it's garlic and onion free. I approve!
What's your favourite stew recipe?

Macro Plates

Usually Macro plates at restaurants offer similar things:
a whole grain (usually brown rice, but sometimes a mix too) topped with a bit of seeds
light veggies (steamed, or a salad)
roasted veggies
perhaps some sea veggies (wakame, or maybe there is some kelp with the beans)
you will probably also get a soup, usually miso, on the side.

I enjoy making these at home all the time. I know that Maggie also loves her macro plates.
This one had brown rice, steamed daikon, broccoli and greens, and 
stewed carrots and burdock (nishime style).

This one had roasted kabocha, nishime daikon with sweet potato, celery, carrots and burdock.

I freshened it up a bit with some parsley. And topped off the rice with some tamari roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
This one has all steamed broccoli, daikon and kabocha, greens and shitake sauteed with ginger, and brown rice topped with dulse powder or black sesame:

I often drink the broth from steaming veggies. Sometime I make miso soup. 
I have some issues with fermented foods, so if I have miso soup too regularly, I notice it...
but by all means, if it agrees with you, miso soup is recommended at least once per day. 
About beans: sometime I have beans lightly sauteed in sesame oil on the side. But lately, I have been preferring to make dhal and serving it ontop of brown rice, withs some light veggies on the side. 
I don't eat beans everyday...but lately probably 3 of 4 times per week.
Yum yum. 
Have you ever tried a macro plate? 
Do you like macrobiotic food?

Post-Christmas Happy

Happy New Years, friends!
2011 is going to be wicked, I just know it!

I decided to get back on track with healthy eating right away after my lovely Christmas dinner.Instead of gorging until New Years Eve and then starting fresh over, this past week has been filled with lots of steamed veggies, brown rice, quinoa, a few other odds and ends.

I realized this year that even though my Christmas meal was delicious and nice...I actually prefer the wholegrain veggie stuff. For myself anyways, bread is really yummy---but it is always such a quick, fleeting satisfaction. And it leaves me feeling pretty yucky anyways (why do I always try to forget about my wheat allergy?). So suffice to say, special occasions is the right amount for me and wheat.

A few days of clean, simple eating put me back on track, and I decided to try out some new recipes, from this book (I love this book! Every recipe I have tried has been a hit, try it!):

First up, was Nishime-style Daikon Stew
Layer some veggies up, add water, and simmer away for about 45mins-1hr. Delicious!
You can season with some salt or tamari near the end.

Mmmmm so yummy! enjoyed this over 3 days.
The last day I turned it into a soup by adding water, boiling, them simmering in some miso.

For dessert, an apple kanten.
I like to use the kanten in bar form. Soak it, add it into boiling liquid (water, juice) per package instructions. Stir--the kanten will dissolve. Cook a bit more. Then pour on top of fruit and let it set.
So simple and yummy! Kantens have been one of my favourite macrobiotic discoveries.

If you need any health products for the New Year (bath salts, essential oils, probiotics, teas), I order them from iHerb. If you are shopping there for the first time, use my code ROP008 to get 5% off your first purchase! This company has really helped me out while living abroad. I have been able to order brown rice cereal and puffs, yogi teas, probiotics, and more. And it gets to me internationally, 4 days later, for less than $10 shipping. Sweet!

As far as my thoughts and focus for the New Year go, a few simple words come to mind:
Self-love. Moderation. Freedom.

I wish you a very happy new year, from the bottom of my dainty little heart.
It's going to be a great year, I can feel it!
May you find peace, love, and happiness.