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More About What Your Fingers Reveal: Self-Diagnosis & “Unique Techniques Not Found In Books”

 

 

 

 

 

 

More About What Your Fingers Reveal:  Self-Diagnosis & “Unique Techniques Not Found In Books”

by David Briscoe

As one eats a plant-based macrobiotic diet over time,  bodily changes can be observed externally,  reflecting what’s going on inside.

The fingers give us much information, including how the body condition is steadily being restored from the past effects of what I call “hard protein” consumption. I use this term to distinguish protein from different food sources. From a modern nutritional viewpoint, all protein is the same no matter what it’s source. From a macrobiotic view, on the other hand, protein has different qualities depending on the food source. Therefore, there will be different effects on the body cells, tissue and organs. The experience of many people has been that when they change from eating the hard protein of beef, pork, chicken, eggs, shrimp, lobster, cheese, and most other animal foods, and switch to eating protein from plant-based sources, they feel their body becoming more flexible, resilient, and softer in the healthy sense of “soft.” The body starts to recover from the premature-aging effects of regular consumption of hard protein to a more naturally youthful state that a plant-based macrobiotic diet supports. Go to any macrobiotic gathering and observe the older, long-time macrobiotic, people there and you’ll see what I mean.

One indicator that reveals the type of protein a person consumes is in the fingers, particularly the area from the top of the middle knuckle up to the cuticle (see illustration above). When the body condition is showing the influence of regular consumption of hard protein, the skin on this area of the finger will be thick, and there will be few and very deep horizontal lines (see Figure A below). As the consumption of hard protein foods changes, and the protein consumed is from plant food sources, the lines gradually change from the fewer deep lines to significantly more horizontal lines going up from the top of the knuckles, and these horizontal lines become very shallow, and in some cases almost imperceptible (see Figure B: finger of someone who has been on a plant-based macrobiotic diet for many years.)


It takes time for these changes to be reflected in the lines on the fingers, but in time they will happen. By observing the fingers we can watch these changes and the natural restoration of the body from an increasingly less flexible, prematurely aging state, to one that is increasingly flexible and youthful.

Other “Unique Techniques Not Found In Books,” based on my 35+ years of doing macrobiotic counseling, can be learned in the 1-Year Online Macrobiotic Counselor Training Course. A new course will begin on October 15, 2015. $3000 Scholarship Discounts available for three lucky students until October 5. Click here for more information.

 

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                    Figure A                                                                                                                               Figure B


“No Wasting” Corn-on-the-Cob by Cynthia Briscoe

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Who doesn’t love corn on the cob? Raise your hand. What! No hands?

Corn on the cob has to be one of the glories of summer fare. Picture picnics and watermelon, Fourth of July,  baked beans and children gnawing their way across ears of corn like teeth on a typewriter carriage.

The very first cooking class I ever had with
the late, great macrobiotic teacher, Cornellia Aihara was a delicious summer meal that began with her fresh corn soup. It was followed with brown rice, fresh gomashio, pan fried eggplant with lemon miso, pressed salad and an apple juice kanten floating with succulent bing cherry orbs pitted by chopstick. I still remember the simplicity and celebration of summer produce, attentively prepared, and so delicious!Two words often heard coming from Cornellia’s lips were “NO WASTING!

Her instruction concerning no wasting contained implied lessons grounded in the practical, and expanding outwardly to embrace the more subtle realms of macrobiotic principles. She never overtly spoke of such things, they were merely implied and woven within the layers of food preparation and the rhythmic chop-chop-chop sound of her knife.

In practical terms, when it came to ears of corn, that meant making use of many of the parts of the ear that many people discard without thought. By utilizing as much of the ear as possible, we not only save money but also extract as much goodness as possible from the graceful union of heaven and earth forces that miraculously and uniquely express themselves in an ear of corn. We also honor the efforts of all those who planted the seeds, those who grew, harvested and transported the corn from field to table. We value the life of the corn that in turn gives us life and energy to pursue our dreams.

Following is the method Cornellia taught for cutting corn with “no wasting”. Not only does it show appreciation for the ear of corn, but you will appreciate new depths of deliciousness!

  1. Place the ear of corn in a bowl to catch the kernels as you slice them from the cob in downward strokes. (for a short demo of this cutting and scraping technique see “No Wasting” Corn Cutting Demo by Cynthia Briscoe)
  1. Using the backside of the knife, (the dull side) scrape the cob to remove the remaining pulp from the cob. Notice the tiny dark yellow pyramid shaped bits on your knife blade. Those are the corn germ, the vital storehouse of regeneration
  1. Break the cob in half and add to soup stock or place in the pot when cooking millet or rice for a delicious sweet corn flavor.

Cornellia’s Fresh Corn Soup

3 ears fresh corn

2 medium-sized yellow onions minced

6 cups spring water or filtered water

1 tablespoon kuzu

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 stem of parsley, finely minced for garnish

  1. Trim corn from cob. Scrape cob with the dull back side of the knife to remove remaining pulp. Set corn aside.
  1. Place onion, corncobs and sea salt in a soup pot.
  1. Add enough of the water to cover and bring to a boil.
  1. Reduce heat and simmer covered until onions are completely soft.
  1. Add corn and remaining water.
  1. Return to a boil and cook an additional 10 minutes.
  1. Dilute kuzu in a little water and add to soup pot.
  1. Cook until kuzu turns clear. Cornellia suggested that the kuzu strengthens our stomach in the summer when it is hot and we have a tendency to take more iced drinks, which can cool our digestive fire.
  1. Serve garnished with a little finely minced parsley.

 

 

 

 

 


“Peach-boshi” – Making Umeboshi with Peaches? (Part 1) by Cynthia Briscoe

“Peach-boshi” – Making Umeboshi with Peaches? (Part 1)
by Cynthia Briscoe

The peach is my all-time favorite fruit.  I’m sure this is the result of childhood memories of climbing the peach tree with my Missouri farm cousin and picking only the ripest, juiciest,  red-cheekiest, sun-warm peaches right off the tree. We delighted in the heavenly stickiness dripping from our mouths and down our elbows as it stuck a day’s worth of summer play dirt to our shirts.  To even think of picking peaches while still hard and green would never have entered my mind back then.  But recently I spied small green peaches lacing the boughs of an abandoned peach tree.  Valiantly, the tree had survived neglect and drought and yet still generously offered the kindness of fruit.  Undersized from lack of water, at first I thought the small green fruits might be unripe apricots.  But no, the apricots had already come and gone.

I remembered Mr. Muramoto, author of ‘Healing Ourselves’ had creatively substituted apricots, for lack of ume, and created what he called “apri-boshi”.  “Hmm…why not try green peaches?” I thought.  And so this experiment has begun.

 


CONDIMENTS: Dandelion Oily Miso

Dandelion Oily Miso

Dandelion Oily Miso

beneficial to the liver and gall bladder,  builds red blood cells

4 cups dandelion greens chopped into 1/4 inch piece
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon barley miso

1.  Wash dandelion, drain and cut into small pieces.  Separate roots and greens if using the whole plant.

2.  Warm oil in a heavy skillet.

3.  Add dandelion roots first, then greens. Sauté the roots first until golden, then add the chopped greens, cooking until the color turns bright green.

4.  Add miso on top of dandelion green.  Stir with a spoon or chopstick, breaking up miso into smaller sections until it melts into the dandelion.

5.  Shut off flame and place in a small serving bowl.

6.   Serve a rounded teaspoon on top of rice cream porridge or other grain.


Wild Foods Recipes

Welcome Weeds

Clear the Way for Spring

By Cynthia Briscoe

As we begin to loosen from our cocoons of warm blankets and wool sweaters to venture out and enjoy the first stirrings of spring,  it’s a good time to do the same internally with our blood quality.  As you clear last year’s debris from the garden, or perhaps take a spring walk through areas less traveled, pay attention to the vegetation that rears up from the cool moist soil.  Many of the so-called “weeds” are perfect foodstuff for aligning ourselves with nature’s tick tock.

 

Generally during the colder seasons we eat foods cooked in ways that make us feel warmer and hold more energy within our bodies.  Who doesn’t enjoy a thick bean soup, hearty stew or baked casserole during the winter?  We tend to cook our food longer and use more oil, both of which help us stay warm.  Then there is the holiday fare of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s when we often celebrate with special foods and tantalizing desserts.  All this is well and good, and very enjoyable.  However, about the time we box up the decorations, have you ever noticed that there is the inevitable mysterious flu virus that descends upon much of the population?  There is always the speculation of which foreign country originated the hated virus.  Perhaps we had best look in our own back yards for the source and well as the cure.

 

Actually, those who contract viruses at this time of year, might show a tiny bit of gratitude, because those pesky ‘bugs’ roll up their sleeves and get to work spring cleaning the excesses we have shoved into the ‘liver closet’, stored in the ‘intestinal garage’ or accumulated in the ‘lung attic’ over the past few months.  With the ”joy” of tissues in hand, or experiencing diarrhea, headaches or fever, our bodies’ response to those little buggers helps clear the pathway to springtime from sluggish blood quality, congested lungs and livers, and other ‘junk drawers’ within our bodies.

 

Some of the best things in life are free, and many common “weeds” fall into this category.  They are just there for the picking.  So before you yank, compost or mow take a closer look and see if you can identify some of these beneficial common weeds.  All of them are rich in chlorophyll, which is very nourishing for the liver.  They tenaciously draw up bio-available trace minerals from the subsoil, which strengthen our immune systems and alkalize our body fluids.

 

 

 

Because they are nutritionally rich and strong energetically, use common sense and don’t over-do it.  Forage wild greens from areas that have not been sprayed or the ground subjected to chemical pollutants.  Also choose areas that are not high automobile traffic areas or subjected to feedlot run-off.

 

Here are three of my favorite common and wayside “weeds”.

Dandelion – serrated leaves with the crown close and flat to the ground.  Flowers are golden yellow and produce a round ball of fluffy parachute type seeds.  Beneficial for the liver, building red blood cells and a general tonic.  Bitter flavor.

 

Wild fennel – Early in the spring, feathery shoots grow up from the base of last year’s plant.  Pick the tender shoots and add a small amount to stir-fried veggies or a pressed salad.  Has a mild, slightly sweet anise flavor.  Clears heat from the liver, beneficial to the stomach/spleen/pancreas.

 

Wild mustard – Pick smaller, younger leaves for greens and pinch off stems of yellow blossoms.  Blanch, pickle or add to pressed salads.  Spicy, pungent flavor.  Targets the liver and clears mucous from the lungs.

 

 

Wild Fennel Napa Cabbage Quick Saute

Our daughter invented this recipe when she was only 5!

4 cups napa cabbage cut into 1 inch squares
2-3 green onions
1 -2 sprigs of wild fennel, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil or olive oil
Soy sauce to taste

1.  If the green onion roots are thick and fresh, finely mince the roots and discard the juncture between the roots and onions.

2.  Trim the tips of the green onion if they are damaged.  Slit the white portion of each onion in half length-wise.  Line up the green onions and cut into 1½  inch lengths.  Place the white portion separate from the green portion.

3.  Have the chopped vegetables arranged in sections on a plate, as the cooking goes very quickly.

4.  Warm the oil in a skillet.  Add the minced green onion roots and quickly sauté.

5.  Add the Napa cabbage and white portion of the onion and quickly sauté over a medium high heat, stirring.  This takes no longer than 30 seconds to one minute, just until the color starts to brighten.

6.  Add the green portion of the onion and the fennel.  Turn off the heat.

7.  Drizzle with soy sauce and cover with a lid for short time.

8.  Remove lid and serve.

 

 

Pressed Wild Mustard Greens

with Flowers

Pick only tender small leaves, tender flower stems and tender flower bud stems.  Place in a bowl of water and lift out and drain.  Repeat until clear.2 cups tender wild mustard green leaves and flower stems,
loosely packed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons barley malt syrup (optional)
1 teaspoon ginger juice

1.  Coarsely chop any larger leaves.  Leave the flower stems and flower buds intact.

2.  Place mustard greens and salt in a bowl.  Knead the salt into the mustard greens until they become wet and the juicy.  Squeeze out the excess liquid and discard.

3.  Add the soy sauce, sesame seeds, barley malt and ginger juice.

4. Mix together until the barley malt dissolves.

5. Pack in a small jar and push down the ingredients with a wooden pestle or wooden spoon, such that liquid rises to cover the mustard greens.

6. This may be served 30 minutes later or kept in the refrigerator to pickle. It will keep as a pickle up to three months.

7. Serve one Tablespoon as a condiment along with a meal. It is also delicious as a substitute for wasabi in a nori sushi roll, as the flavor is deeply pungent and spicy.

 

 

Dandelion Oily Miso

For the mildest flavor and most tender greens harvest dandelion plants before flowering.  The leaves may be picked and used for this recipe, or the entire plant may be dug and the roots used also.  Place the dandelion plants in the sink or a large basin of water.  Remove any debris and brown or yellow leaves.  Wash off any soil from the roots.  Lift the dandelion from the water and place in a colander.  Change the water and repeat until the water is clean and free of sand and soil.

4  cups dandelion greens chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
dandelion roots, finely minced
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon barley miso

 

       1.  Hold on to the root and chop the green part into small pieced starting from the tips
of the leaves, chopping toward the root. Set the roots aside.

       2.   Bundle the roots and mince into fine pieces.

  1. Warm oil in a heavy skillet.
  1. Add dandelion roots first, and sauté until golden.
  1. Then add the chopped greens and sauté until the color turns bright green.
  1. Add miso on top of dandelion green.  Stir with a spoon or chopstick, breaking up miso into smaller sections until it melts into the dandelion.
  1. Shut off flame and place in a serving dish.
  1. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons on grain as a condiment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Know Your Physical Limitations: A Lesson from Herman by David Briscoe

Know Your Physical Limitations:  A Lesson From Herman Aihara by David Briscoe

Freedom is a wonderful thing. It is wonderful to feel unlimited. Even the prisoner in solitary confinement can be free in his imagination. Our culture teaches us to think of ourselves as free and unlimited. But we are actually free only in spirit. Physically, we are not free or unlimited. Probably one of Herman’s most powerful, simple and often repeated statements was “Know your physical limitations.” Many times this was misunderstood by his students. Some saw this statement as negative, and they didn’t pay much attention, but in this statement was contained the essence of many of Herman’s most positive teachings. In order to be in the physical world for a normal, healthy lifetime, it is important to know how the physical world works. It has rules. The body, being part of the physical world, needs to operate by the rules or it will get sick much more than it normally would, and then it will age prematurely.

We all know that we need oxygen. If we go into outer space or under the water, we must take our supply of oxygen with us. This is one of our physical limitations. We just can’t go anywhere we want, we can only go where there is oxygen. We all come to learn soon in life that the body’s temperature maintains itself at 98.6 F. It can go up a little, maybe down a little, but it can’t go up too high for too long or down too low for too long. If it does, our life is in real danger. This having to maintain a certain body temperature is another of our physical limitations. Nobody can buy their way out of this. So, knowing this, we make sure that our temperature never gets too high or goes too low. It’s become common sense.
We all have to maintain a constant blood sugar level, we all have to consume food and water. These things we understand easily. When we study more about the body, we discover that it has even more, not-so-obvious limitations. In our blood we have to maintain a certain concentration of minerals like sodium and potassium.
This concentration of minerals must be maintained constantly or we are in big trouble. Fortunately, there are automatic functions in the body that maintain this internal mineral concentration.

Perhaps one of the most important physiological limitations is pH or acid-alkaline balance. Human blood must be maintained constantly at a pH of 7.4. If it varies from this number by much, we would go into a coma or convulsions. Our lungs, kidneys and blood buffer system help the body remove acid so that the pH of 7.4 can be steadily maintained. It is a natural process going on night and day without stop.

When we select food and drink, it adds acid or alkaline-forming elements to our blood after it is digested. Protein, fat and refined carbohydrates (white sugar, white flour, white rice, alcohol, etc.) all add acid to the body. Of course, we need a certain amount of protein, fat and unrefined carbohydrate, the body can handle
them. It’s when we eat concentrated amounts of these nutrients that we create an acid blood condition. Many, many health problem have their roots in an acid blood condition. When we learn how to wisely choose foods according to macrobiotic principles, we discover that we can easily support our body in maintaining an alkaline blood condition. When we do this we are learning to live with a physical limitation, and we know how to stay healthy longer. By understanding that we do have physical limitations, and that be learning to embrace them and live with them, we become stronger and happier people. Living with our physical limitations allows us to root ourselves strongly in the reality of our biological life. When we accomplish this, our spirit is able to soar freely and without limitation. It is like a majestic tree, firmly rooted in the earth, supporting its branches in their reach to the heavens.

© Macrobiotics America ? P.O. Box 1874, Oroville, CA 95965 ? (530) 532-1918 ? info@macroamerica.com
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