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Macrobiotics with a Twist
Personal chefs are whipping up healthy designer dishes for the celebrity set, but you don’t need to be a star—or hire a chef—to catch the macrobiotics wave.
“I remember having this exact thought 12 years ago,” recalls Jessica Porter, former macrobiotic chef for Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters: “If only someone like Madonna became macrobiotic, this whole thing would explode.” Visit celebrity food haunts in LA and New York these days and you’ll see just such an explosion firsthand. Porter’s not saying she predicted this trend, but she thinks it was inevitable that celebrities would get into macrobiotics. “Part of the celebrities’ job is to take care of their bodies, their emotions, and their minds,” says Porter, who also wrote The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics (Avery, 2004). “Macrobiotics is one of the most compelling and exciting ways to do this.”
So how on target was she? Using fresh, organic ingredients, chefs are extrapolating from the basic principles of macrobiotics—from the Greek term for great or large life—to whip up gourmet masterpieces for the celebrity set. Call it macrobiotics with a twist. The likes of Alicia Silverstone, Kirsten Dunst, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Andre 3000 keep coming back to Los Angeles’ M Café de Chaya restaurant, where gourmet macrobiotics rules. In Manhattan, macrobiotic Mana has served up nourishing specialties for Peter Max, Kevin Bacon, Chynna Phillips, and many others.
For the most part, the ingredients used in gourmet macrobiotic dishes are neither exotic nor mysterious. There’s an expansive selection of whole grains, land and sea vegetables, beans, fish, fruit, seeds, nuts, and fermented foods like miso. Whole grains are an integral component of the macrobiotic diet partially because they produce a gradual rise and drop in blood sugar, which promotes balance in the body. Whenever possible, macrobiotic chefs use seasonal foods that are organic and locally grown. Some of the more unusual ingredients are nutrient-rich sea vegetables, including arame, kombu, and wakame. Beverages include roasted bancha-twig (kukicha) tea, roasted brown-rice tea, and grain coffee.
General macrobiotic guidelines recommend that 50 to 60 percent of one’s daily diet come from whole grains, 25 to 30 percent from land vegetables, and 5 to 10 percent from beans and sea vegetables. But individuals can adjust these percentages based on their unique circumstances, including state of health, occupation, and lifestyle. A macrobiotic diet can also include fish, fruit, nuts, seeds, and other natural snacks, but it should reserve eggs, dairy, chicken, meat, caffeine, and refined and processed foods such as sugar and white-flour products for occasional use. If meat is a must, macrobiotic dieters opt for organic free-range offerings.
“Many people don’t realize how delicious common vegetables can be when they’re cooked properly,” says Mirea Ellis, who has been following a macrobiotic lifestyle for more than 30 years. “Steam winter squash until it...
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