You may have heard the term “Macro Diet” thrown around on wellness blogs or pop culture magazines discussing the latest dieting trends among celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow or Madonna. Well a Macrobiotic Diet is more than just a passing trend. And it is about more than just what you eat. Macrobiotics is really a way of life. And part of the macro life involves consuming foods that are rich in nutrients and balanced in their yin and yang properties. But really, you could study macrobiotics for years at places like the Kushi Institute (a center devoted to a Macro way of life). But for now, lets start with a few basics so that you can build your own Macro Meal!..
Macrobiotic Meal: The Basics
1. Grains. Grains are a huge staple of a macrobiotic meal. In fact, if you are a low-carb kind of dieter, you might be a bit shocked to find that whole grains should make up 50-60% of your meal. So load up on brown rice, barley, millet and more.
2. Vegetables. Veggies are the next most important aspect of your macro meal. And cooked and raw veggies should make up at least 30% of your plate. So pile on the leafy greens like kale and spinach. Other veggies may include root vegetables and whatever if local and in season. As you study macrobiotics further you will be able to learn the yin/yang properties of certain vegetables.
3. Beans. Beans, especially fermented bean products like tempeh and miso are especially important to your meal. Beans should be about 10% of your meal. Fermented beans found in tempeh or whole beans and legumes like lentils, chickpeas and more are best. But you could also use a processed bean product like tofu if need be. As you may know, fermented products are excellent for your digestive health since they contain natural probiotics from the fermentation process.
4. Fruit. Fruit, while hailed as incredibly virtuous in most diets, is really more of an afterthought in the macro diet. It is perfect for snacks and as a base for desserts — but would only be added as a pure accent or garnish in a true macro meal. Fruit-based desserts are very poplar among macro dieters with a sweet tooth.
5. Sea Veggies. Another important accent to your macro meal would be sea veggie products. Dulse, kelp, kombu, arame and more are healthy accents to your meal. Sea veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals and excellent for health. You don’t need a lot, just a small pile of those sea veggies can add salty flavor to your meal and boost nutrition.
6. Soup. Soups are a crucial part of a well-balanced macro diet. Soups that contain grains, veggies, sea veggies and beans are an ideal macro meal in a bowl. Plus the high water content and warmth of soups will fill you up and leave you satisfied. Miso soups are popular in macro cuisine.
7. Fermented Foods. Again, the importance of fermented foods is noted in macrobiotics. As mentioned above, tempeh is ideal. Also try sauerkraut and pickled veggies to get those extra probiotics in your diet.
8. Flavorings/Spices/Oils. Here are some popular kitchen pantry staples for crafting your macro meal: sesame oil, miso paste, sea salt, brown rice vinegar, tamari, safflower oil, dulse, tahini, brown rice syrup, veggie broth, dried mushrooms, nori, umeboshi vinegar, plums and paste.
9. The Fish Question. You might think that such a pure, whole-food based diet would be vegan or vegetarian — but actually if you choose, the macro diet does allow for white meat fish 1-3 times a week. The fish usually takes the place of the beans in a meal. Of course if you are vegetarian or vegan like me, you can build a well-rounded, nutrient dense, plant-based macro meal quite easily.
10. Whole Foods. Important to mention, that macro meals obviously pride themselves on being whole-food based. The less processed the better.
A great tip for starting our macro lifestyle is to buy a rice cooker. This will simplify the largest portion of your meal — whole grains!
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