An important aspect of macrobiotic practice is understanding how to align ourselves with the environment to produce great health and vitality. The model we use in macrobiotics to understand our connection to nature is called the Five Transformations. We are at the tail end of the late summer season which corresponds to the Soil or Earth element and spleen, pancreas and stomach health.
These organs play an important role in blood sugar stability and our ability to take care of ourselves (our self-reliance). They are supported by the mild sweet taste that is naturally found in round vegetables such as onions, cabbage, squash and sweet potato. Millet is a wonderful grain to nourish these organs and stabilize blood sugar. Chickpeas, hummus and a nice sweet creamy pureed soup like squash or carrot or cauliflower are also very beneficial. Eating these foods now help to tonify and support the functioning of the spleen, pancreas and stomach.
As we move closer to the official date of fall on September 22nd, we enter the Metal element which corresponds to the lungs and large intestine or colon. It is interesting how more people experience colds, upper respiratory issues and digestive imbalances in the fall. These paired organs are "cleaning out" so to speak.
As the weather gets a little colder it is time to reduce cooling foods to align with the changing environment. This means less fruit and juice, fewer spritzers, raw salads and fun treats like non-dairy ice cream due to their cooling nature. While temperatures vary according to location in the country, reducing the colder foods helps strengthen immunity at this transitional time.
During the fall, we start to emphasize more root vegetables like daikon, carrot, burdock and lotus root. Cooking styles like nishime and kinpira are very strengthening for the lungs and large intestine. Nishime is a way to slow cook root and round vegetables by steaming. Kinpira is a cooking method that sautés and simmers matchstick cuts of roots and rounds in a skillet. For Metal, we start to emphasize brown rice and more pungent flavors like mustard, ginger, horseradish and grated daikon which are all helpful for the lungs and colon. Longer cooking times, steaming and pressure cooking will also support these organs.
By making these adjustments we have an easier transition from one season to the next and stay healthy and strong. Good quality miso and fermented foods like soy sauce/tamari, pickles and umeboshi plums all help with our immunity. Dried daikon and dried shiitake are wonderful for the lymph system and cleansing. Don't forget the importance of high quality sea salt for the needed minerals.