Warren Kramer, Macrobiotic Counselor (Part One)

The Natural Epicurean brought Warren Kramer in for several days to teach some macrobiotics classes to the professional program students and in a couple of public classes. Warren is an internationally recognized macrobiotic counselor based in the Boston, MA, area who also studied with Michio Kushi, one of the chief pioneers of macrobiotics in the world. (For more on macrobiotics, read below and check out my posts here and here.)

Group Consultation

I participated in a group consultation with a few other students one evening. Warren reviewed our brief health histories, evaluated our morphology very quickly, and made some high level recommendations. Each of us had 20 minutes, so it couldn’t be very in-depth, but it was a wonderful way to see how a top macrobiotic counselor works with clients. It was a really useful experience.

Below: Warren discusses umeboshi plums, which are a condiment used in Japanese cooking and macrobiotics. They are very salty, but good!

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Grains Class and More

Tuesday’s class involved a presentation on nutrition followed by a session where we used the rice cooked on Monday to create more complete dishes.

Demo Kitchen – Nutrition Lecture

A major focus of the program at The Natural Epicurean is healthful eating that complements and enhances wellness. So, a lot of our time in the demonstration kitchen will involve learning the nutrition principles of various schools of thought. Radhia Gleis, an Austin-based Certified Clinical Nutritionist, will be leading us through exploration of much of the nutrition theory. One thing I love about Radhia is that she does not subscribe to the “party line” of Western nutrition, yet she has a firm grasp on the science and physiology of nutrition. Like me, she has a healthy distrust of the nutrition establishment and a penchant for treating each person as an individual rather than a sample case from a corporate-funded research study.

Below: Radhia Gleis.

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Diet Is Correct

The source of this blog’s title is from an Ayurvedic saying:

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.

This quote has significance for me for a couple of reasons. Chief among them is that I believe food is by far the main cause of health issues in the US. Diet has a powerful ability to heal, connect, and inspire.

The second reason I find this quote meaningful is because when I asked myself in what direction I wanted to take my new career, focusing on food and wellness was the answer – diet is correct.

Christy Morgan’s Mac and Kale

I got a terrific kale recipe from Christy Morgan’s book, Blissful Bites (buy on Amazon), that I wanted to try. Christy, also known as The Blissful Chef, is a graduate of The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts (my soon-to-be-culinary school) and I sampled this dish at the Texas Vegetarian Chili Cookoff in 2011. I bought her book at a recent open house for The Natural Epicurean, and was looking forward to trying this recipe in particular.

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News of the Week (2012-01-28)

I felt motivated by so many articles recently, I thought I’d share some of them:

Book: The Body Ecology Diet

I love reading about nutrition theory and there is no shortage of viewpoints on how to eat healthfully. The Body Ecology Diet‘s focus is on maintaining a healthy intestinal tract populated with beneficial bacteria and void of high levels of unhealthy yeast.


Candida Yeast

The book’s focus is on the condition candidiasis, which is an overgrowth of the yeast candida albicans. Candidiasis is normally recognized as a yeast infection of the mouth, genitals, or other moist areas on/near the outside of the body. Among alternative nutrition thinkers, however, candida albicans is believed to commonly overgrow within our intestines, where it feeds on sugar and is blamed for a number of symptoms. Author Donna Gates writes that given the right conditions, candida puts toxins into your bloodstream, overgrows in the intestines, and can expand into blood and organs causing problems such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Poor memory
  • A spacey feeling in one’s head
  • Muscle aches
  • Constipation and diarrhea (probably not at the same time 😛 )
  • Impotence
  • Headaches
  • Mucus in stool
  • Food sensitivities/intolerances
  • Chronic rashes/psoriasis

I don’t understand the mechanism by which all of these issues could be impacted by an unhealthy gut, but some of them do make sense to me. For example, I believe that immune reactions I have to certain foods can precipitate “spacey” feelings that I sometimes get in my head, so it’s not a stretch to believe that intestinal health can mediate or cause the same reaction.

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School Meals That Rock

I found a mention of this Facebook site in Today’s Dietitian, devoted to school lunches that are made with care and healthfulness in mind. It’s easy for someone like myself to pick on school meals from my ivory laptop when the reality is that our school lunch planners and kitchen staff do yeoman’s work day in and out to give kids the most nutritious food the law and budgets will allow. I love the spirit of the page – www.facebook.com/SchoolMealsThatRock

Below: A photo of a lunch from School Meals that Rock. A bit much gravy and ham, I think, but major kudos for the roasted squash, baked apple, and peas. Overall, it looks quite good.



Saturday Brunch

I stopped off at the downtown Austin farmer’s market and picked up a doughnut and cornbread from True Nature’s Child – yum! Then I proceeded to make a brunch of the cornbread, hummus (The Mediterranean Chef, also of the farmer’s market) and backyard collard greens.

Greens for Brunch?

Oh, yes.

I used to think collard greens and all greens were foul and tasted of yard clippings. The truth is that I didn’t have much exposure to them, that I remember. In school, they served spinach that had been boiled to oblivion with no discernible care for flavor. We used to joke that there was a strange association with spinach day and mowing of the schoolyard. Hmm. Needless to say, no one ate the spinach.

But collard greens don’t taste like yard trimmings. With very little flavoring, they can transport you to another place – Asia, perhaps.


Hummus is largely garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Garbanzo beans are tremendous sources of fiber, iron, and other minerals. They have a lot of protein. They are more than half water when cooked. Water is a nutrient. Your food should have water in it.

Collard greens are more than 90% water. They are stocked with vitamin A and K. They are rich in folate. They provide a good source of fiber. Eating greens is like eating pure health. Greens are absolutely the best food to eat and you should eat them every single day. They will extend your life.

A Word on Doughnuts (and Other Such Things)

I’ve been thinking about my deviations from the perfect diet. In full disclosure, I am not a health “nut,” I don’t eat organic vegetables all the time (or even enough vegetables). I believe in healthful eating. I believe in gradual improvements in diet. I believe in moderation and enjoying food, not in deprivation. Reframing our definition of a satisfying meal is part of this, but it also means we can still enjoy treats.

So, I post a photo of a doughnut with pride. Guilt about eating treats may be a clue to remind you to eat better, but use your rational mind to consider how the treat fits into your diet, then discard the guilt and maintain a positive direction for your diet. (A nod to amor veri for the thoughtful post on guilt.)

A lot of so-called “treats” are not really delicious. One of my goals is to indulge in treat consumption only when it’s an item prepared with care.



Above: A cup of raw fresh collard greens, chopped. This handful constitutes one serving (1 cup). It cooks down to about a 1/2 cup.


Above: Two actual servings of vegetables, as opposed to two pretend servings of vegetables, such as might be found in a school lunch pizza. I could have easily eaten twice this amount of greens (and plan to begin doing so).


Above: My collard greens, rockin’ a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, ume plum vinegar, and gomasio (sesame and a bit of salt).