I worked as a holistic chef for David Cho's spring yoga retreat at Hidden Villa in Los Altos last weekend. This is my 3rd year in a row, and it has been always a great learning experience for me.
This beautiful retreat center has a wonderful commercial kitchen that any chef ever has dreamed of. There are huge 6 gas stove tops and 2 large ovens, a huge flat-top grill, and an entire table of cutting board. On top of that, there is another fully equipped gas stove and a sink in the corner just for the vegan use... I still remember when I first had set foot in the kitchen, I was totally speechless. So excited and thankful for giving me the opportunity of being a conductor of this lovely kitchen. I felt like I got wings that I could do anything. And it was true. We were able to create so many magic on the plates.
Since it was a spring detox retreat, I used a lot of vegetables and grains that help to detox and nourish the body. According to TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), Spring corresponds with liver and gallbladder. The liver is one of the most critical organs which plays like the role of a chemical refinery plant for the body. All the toxic food including food additives, pesticide residue, and unwasted oil we happen to eat daily get detoxified by our liver so our purified blood can circulate in the body.
When spring comes, our liver and gallbladder are at full blast because all the fat that stored in the winter to protect from the cold is no longer needed, so our life force energy tries to get rid of it just like we no longer need our coats and boots. So, we are ready for the warm season. With upward energy of spring, our organs inside of the body start to prepare for the summer.
Our mother earth prepares the perfect spring vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, leeks, arugula, bok choy, beets that help to nourish our liver and gallbladder. So, I use them all to create the food for the hungry yogis. I also used a lot of naturally fermented food such as chickpea miso, homemade amazake, soy source to promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria for improving immune function as well as digestive and heart health.
I also prepared the pile of sliced oranges every morning. The taste of sour associate with spring according to TCM. Those citric & amino acids in the fruits help to support the liver function. So, I used a lot of sour condiments such as organic apple cider vinegar and Umesu for the salad dressings.
Our eyes and tendons/muscles are connected by the meridian of the liver. Hence, if you have eye problems such as dry eyes or blurry vision, or muscles problem such as having a cramp in the middle of the night could be a sign of stagnation of your liver. So, if you have any sign on the above, it is time to take good care of your liver. Eat lots of spring vegetables, and avoid oily food until all the symptoms are gone.
If you could skip dinner, that would be even better! It is said that about 80% of your enzyme in your body is used up for digesting of the food you eat, and only 20% is used for restoring your health on a daily basis. But if you go on fasting, 100% of your enzyme is used for restoring and detoxification for your body. In the natural kingdom, wounded animals usually go on fasting so they get healed faster. Children under 7 also still have natural instincts to protect themselves. So, when they get sick, they usually lose appetite which is a natural way of healing. When we get older, many of us tend to lose or weaken our instincts somehow. If you get sick or not feeling well next time, try to skip the dinner or eat a small amount and see how you feel the next morning. A lot of my friends told me that they felt much better and see their skin more clear even though it was painful for them to sleep their stomach growing so hard...
Thank you, David Cho, for trusting me to cook meals for your precious yoga family members! Thank you all the yogis who ate all my creations with a big smile! And last but not at least, thank you Nao, Rieko and Seiya who assist me all the way through to complete the mission. I love you all!
I catered Japanese sweets - traditional sticky rice cakes called BOTAMOCHI to the Japanese community in Scotts Valley & San Jose.
Today is the first day of the spring equinox week. It is a seasonal week-long event in Japan. Spring equinox is the day when the length of day and night become almost equal. It means that the energy of Yin & Yang reaches the highest point of the year. It is the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. As it is a turning point of the season, our lives are also going to shift accordingly.
During the week of HARU-HIGAN (the spring equinox week), we have the custom to visit our ancestor's grave and offer BOTAMOCHI and flowers. It is a week to respect and honor all our ancestors who paved our ways and celebrate all the livings together.
Since I currently live in California, I can not physically visit our ancestors' graves in Japan. However, I have my sacred space in my house where I can pray every morning and night just to thank and celebrate the ancestors, friends, family and mother earth.
Also, cooking is another form of prayer for me, so the kitchen is one of my favorite places to be. I think while you are doing something you love and enjoy, you have the moments of connecting to the power of something great. For me, it is cooking. While I cook, I forget everything, and so often lose track of time.
So many people are saying that the flow is changing dramatically in so many ways from this year forward. And I have to admit that I see the sign everywhere even my small world. But, I believe as long as I eat good quality of food, my compass inside of me will not blur and lead me to the journey where I want to go. It is simple but so true... The food guide your destiny! I hope everyone has a great week of the spring equinox. Eat well and chew well!
I made 100% plant-based, gluten-free Japanese lunch boxes to celebrate women's lunar new year last weekends. Here's the menu of the lunch box.
- Root vegetable chowder
- Stuffed cabbage roll with sweet vegetable soup
- Azuki and pumpkin stew
- Steamed broccoli salad with roasted sesame seeds
- Red cabbage salad
- Kiriboshi daikon (dried radish)
- potato salad with hand made chickpea mayo
- Sautéed spiral Konjac with savory soy sauce
- Steamed half polished brown rice with lotus seeds (colored by beets juice & Umesu)
Here's the info. about Umesu → https://wanowa.weebly.com/alternative-medicine/umesu-eliminator-for-toxin
- Sake kasu cheesecake (sake kasu is the lees left over from the refining process of Sake production. it is probiotic, and highly nutritious and has robust, aromatic flavor. )
I made the steamed rice with lotus seeds. Lotus seeds have been used as an herbal medicine since ancient times. They contain vitamins, calcium, potassium, and fibers. They are a stabilizer for your nervous system, female balance hormones to help menstrual disorders or menopausal disorders, slowing down the aging process, managing diabetes and many other symptoms.
It is very simple to cook lotus seeds. You can prewash them first, and soak them in the cold water for 6-8 hours prior to the cooking. Then, you can cook together with rice. I try to eat them a few times a month. They have a nutty, sweet flavor and very delicious. I buy them at a store called Heartland organic natural food in San Jose, but you can buy any local Chinese market about $10 or so.
Here's the information that I buy my lotus seed if you are interested.
I catered the traditional Japanese dessert, called OHAGI to the Japanese community in the Bay Area on Valentine's day. OHAGI is very popular sweets among Japanese. The typical OHAGI is usually made with glutinous (sweet sticky) rice, filled with sweet red bean (AZUKI) paste, and covered by flavourful roasted soybean (KINAKO) powder. You can buy regular OHAGI at any Japanese markets, But they are store-made and using a lot of white sugar, food additives and chemicals.
Since it was a sweet Valentin's day, I created five different kinds of Wanowa's versions of OHAGI (chocolate, matcha, strawberry, sweet potato & pumpkin, and sweet azuki bean ).
They are all 100% plant-based & gluten-free, using organic grains, beans, vegetables. For sweeter, I only used dates, raisins, brown rice syrup and maple syrup. So, they are all kind to our well-being💕 They all came out wonderfully, and I was so happy to bring them to the people who love Japanese sweets.
I don't use white refined sugar in my cooking including sweet deserts for many reasons. If you google, there are many studies about the danger of sugar. Above all, I would like to introduce you a fascinating experiment about sugar intake at Tokyo University. When you intake sugar, both of your stomach and intestines suddenly stop functioning. Usually, when you eat food, your stomach automatically starts to digest, but if you take any kind of sugar, the motion of the stomach suddenly stops for about 30 minutes. This phenomenon was named "sugar reflex." So, if you eat sweet food before a meal, the food you ate later will remain in the stomach as it is undigested before this sugar reflex cannot be solved. This is a scary result!
Not so long ago, there was a popular diet called "chocolate diet" in Japan. It was said that if you eat a few chocolates prior to the meal, you don't go crazy about eating too much food because you don't feel hunger. Hence you can control your appetite. And I think that is because your stomach gets relaxed and stop functioning after eating chocolates according to the above experiment. So, it is true that you lose your appetite, but it is sort of dangerous diet since all the food you ate after having chocolates remains in your stomach without digesting...
Any course menu of cuisine such as French, Italian or Japanese, the deserts comes always at the end, and it makes a lot of sense now. After all the food you eat, your stomach gets relaxed by finishing your deserts at the end. But if you or your child have any trouble digesting, I would definitely recommend you to skip the desert. You could probably eat dessert alone at a different time. Also, it is a wise choice to avoid having any kind of sweet drinks during the meal. I see so many children having sodas while they are eating meals. It is very scary when you think about what is happening inside their stomach. The eating habits of this daily accumulation will eventually stagnate the gastrointestinal tract, and they are more likely developing any sort of health disorder later on. Since our stomach plays the role of the powerhouse in the body, it is very important to keep it healthy. By avoiding sugar intake will benefit a healthy stomach for sure.👍
The winter solstice finally arrived on December 21st. In Japan, we call it "To-Ji" and spend this day to pray for the family's health & prosperity by specially prepared food and taking a yuzu bath.
As the season circles around, our ancestors considered To-Ji as an important turning point of the year. When the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun, we receive fewer hours of sunlight. From this day forward, the duration of the sunlight becomes longer and stronger until the day of the summer solstice comes around. Therefore, the winter solstice is the celebration day for the sun's rebirth and we have a priviledge to receive the energy of resetting our lives in confirming the rythem of the universe.
Although it is a rebirth day of the sun, our ancestors also knew it is the day of the darkness/death of the year just like a Yin & Yang energy are right next to each other. During the To-Ji season, we receive less sunlight, and many people influenced by shorter hours of sunlight become prone to illness. That is why our ancestors considered To-Ji as a precious day to celebrate so we can ward off the darkness. There are many studies of physical & mental disorders under the effect of the duration of sunlight. I think this is one of the reasons that people around the world also have traditional festive event this time of the year.
So, it was a perfect day to spend Yufuko from No Gate Tea to celeberate To-Ji at BDK America in Moraga. We were so thankful that many people participated in our special event. We practiced Chair Yoga first. Yufuko introduced us the beautiful breathing technique which we can do no matter where you are including working environment. Then, we practiced walking meditations together. This technique is also easily applied to any place as long as you have a little place to walk. We did just 20 min. of walking together around BDK backyard, and it brought a calmness and appreciation.
After the walking meditations, we had a macrobiotic To-Ji lunch box that I prepared. I made a lot of items using traditonal Japaense food. Since the new year was approching, I made tradional dishes that we often eat on the new years that is Kobu-maki. Kobu means Kelp, and maki means roll. It usually stuffed with some fish inside and rolled by kelp, but I used gobo (burdock roots and carrats) to create the celeberation color of red and white. burdock roots is also represents a long life as its root has a long length. Kobu means happiness and joy in Japanese term. I hope this Kobu-maki would bring a lot of joy to everyone who eat this bento throughout the year. Cooking is one of the form of my prayer. while I cook, I pray for the happiness and heath for those who eat my bento.
I used a lot of sun-dried vegetables such as Kiriboshi daikon (Japanese daikon radish and shiitake mushrooms. They are not only loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fibers but observed condensed energy of the sun. So we can get the vital energy of the sun from the inside of our body. ☀️
Afther the lunch, Yufuko introduced 3 kinds of tea. We just enjoyed the deep flavorful tea. Each tea tasting brought us a blissful moment. Yufuko is the master of bringing out the best from within the tea. Her love and devotion for the tea is just something else.
At the end, we concluded with simple zazen meditation led by Yufuko. It is always so nice to end with a deep relaxed asmosphere with a full of gratitude. Yufuko's zazen meditation allows us to appreciate the minor things within our busy lives. So, it was a wonderful eye opener to appreciate and celebrate all the little things we have taken for granted.
I was able to carry this energy of gratitude all the way to home and even to bedtime. What a lovey way to spend To-Ji with Yufuko and everyone who participated in this yoga get together.
Thank you, Yufuko, David and everyone who joined this final event of 2018. Wishing you lots of happiness and health all the way through the new year!
I am so happy to inform you that Yufuko from No Gate Tea and I are going to hold a special workshop together to celebrate the winter solstice on 12/22 at BDK America (https://www.bdkamerica.org) in Moraga from 11:00-2:30pm. It is a mini-retreat for you to restore your life force.
Winter solstice is the day when the North Pole tilts the furthest from the sun, bringing the shortest day and longest night of the year, In Japan, it is considered the time of the sun's rebirth. From that day forward, each day gets longer. Rooted in Chinese philosophy of yin & Yang, the winter solstice is the turning point of the life force, from the cold winter to the warm spring. By celebrating the winter solstice, we can also reset our energy to welcome the prosperity.
Yufuko, a wonderful yoga instructor who is also a well known sensei, a Japanese tea ceremony leader, chado will introduce you to a comfortable practice for your physical well-being. The workshop begins with chair-yoga and breathing exercises that you can practice at home or your work place.
After practicing chair-yoga, you will have the lunch box that I will prepare to celebrate the winter solstice to nourish your internal well-being. I make everything from scratch using local organic vegetables and whole grains. I will prepare the food using the technique of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) and macrobiotic philosophy. Here's the menu.
☆ Miso soup with Chinese cabbage & fried tofu
☆ Delicious meatless black bean loaf
☆ Beets salad with cranberries and amazake dressing
☆ Tofu steak
☆ Simmered dried dikon & carrots
☆ Japanese version of rice pilaf with seasonal vegetables
☆ pumpkin stew, etc
☆ pumpkin-chesnut-mousse with sweet Azuki bean paste
While having the lunch, I will talk about a bit of TCM and macrobiotic philosophy. I will introduce you the food that nourish you in the winter time and how to stay young and heathy, so you can incorporate into your life style and diet. After that, Yufuko will concludes with Japanese tea service and meditation to balance your body and mind.
Here' the schedule.
11:00 - 12:30 – Chair yoga, breathing exercise and walking meditation
12:30 - 2:00 – Macrobiotics lunch and lectures
2:00 - 2:30 – Tea and meditation
The address of BDK America is 1675 School Street - Moraga, CA 94556
Here's the more info. about this workshop!
The fees is $60/ person & $110 for a pair.
Since space is limited, please reserve your spot early!
I have received many phone calls and emails from friends who have a lot of concerns for their children to protect their health from the polluted air due to the campfire disaster that started ten days ago. I am just so shocked to see all the things that just happened so quickly. I am so sorry to the people who lost loved ones, houses and business. Can't imagine how painful that is. I hope everyone will rise together to participate In any program/ community to help/support the people who are suffering from this disaster. I believe even a little bit of something will make a big difference... Thank you to all those firefighters, servicemen and brave people who are working so hard to help all the lives.
Here are some recommendations for protecting your throat & lungs.
☆ Salt water gargle (simple, easy & effective)
- Ingredient: 1 cup of warm water & ½ teaspoon of sea salt
Salt has been scientifically proven to help draw water out of oral tissues and help to lock out harmful toxins. It also helps to restore oral health. As soon as your children come home from the outdoor activities, let them gargle with salt water! Use warm water, so that salt dissolve easily. If you have Umesu, you can use it instead of sea salt. Here's the info. about Umesu. → https://wanowa.weebly.com/alternative-medicine/umesu-eliminator-for-toxins
☆ Salt water nasal wash
The ingredient is the same as salt water gargle. It sounds or looks a bit painful to do it, but once you get used to do this, you will know how effective this is. When I tried this at first time, I was so amazed to see so much stuff clogged in the nose came out! You feel so clean after the wash. It helps to wash away mucous crust, dirt, toxins & pollen. It also clear up the sinus passages. Very soothing! I use nasal rinse bottle which I bought in Japan. It is very easy and simple to use. Even little children can do it. When I checked out to see if I can find something similar here, I found various nailed sinus rinse bottles at local pharmacies ranging from $13-30. I will not use any chemical that comes with the kit though. I will simply use the bottle only, and make my own nasal wash water using sea salt or baking soda.
☆ Wear appropriate Face Mask when you are in the outdoors
Here's the information about the mask we need to have!
Since we might have more fires in the future, it might be a good idea to stock some. I heard many stores in Bay Area went out of stock so quickly. You can add peppermint oil to enhance efficacy of protection. Since peppermint exhibits significant antibacterial & antioxidants activities, it might be a good thing to use it. Just make a glass jar of pepper mint water using ½ cup of water and a few drops of peppermint oil. Then, spray directly to the mask before you wear. I sometimes use this method when I am on the airplane.
I recommend to use organic peppermint oil as it goes directly to your respiratory system.
From the macrobiotic view, coughing is simply an abnormal discharge mechanism by which the body attempts to eliminate mucus, toxins, or other excessive metabolic energy that cannot be processed through normal eliminatory channels. (page287, The macrobiotic path to total health by Michio Kushi & Alex Jack) It means that your body is functioning well not to bring in any toxins by coughing out.
Having said that, however, if you or your children are suffering from too much coughing or sore throat, I would like to recommend you to make this wonderful home remedies called black bean juice. In China, black soybeans have been used for TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) for thousands of years since they have a lot of medicinal properties. They are packed with full of antioxidants and antibacterial activities.
☆ Black Bean Juice (simple, easy & effective)
- Ingredient: 1/4 cup of black soy beans, 4 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt
- Direction: Pour black soybeans and water in the pot and boil with medium heat until the water goes about half amount. Add sea salt and drain. It is simple & easy♡ if you like aromatic flavor, you can roast blackens slowly in the pan for about 5 min. at first. When my son was little, he actually enjoyed roasted black beans juice since it taste almost like tea! You can use left over black beans for your salad or soup. These beans were introduced by Dr. Oz as next big health superstar!
I hope some of the home remedies are useful...
Ramen Workshop in a private house in Scotts Valley!
Come and join us on 11/20 at 10:30am - 1:30pm to learn how to make healthy ramen noodles and the ramen broth from scratch! This ramen broth is very delicious and can be used as base for many other dishes as well.
We will also make three different toppings for the noodles which can go well as side dishes, and daikon mochi cakes for an easy snack. The fee for the class is $40. You can pay me in cash or event.
The exact venue address will be informed once your attendance is confirmed. If you are interested, please email me at shinobeau@iCloud.com to reserve your seat.
If you are interested in my ramen workshop, you can see some photos of my ramen workshop which were held in the past.
⚠️ This workshop was postponed to December. Will update shortly! Thank you!
Wanowa’s once a month bento box catering was today. I made Gomoku Gohan (Japanese mixed rice) using seasonal organic vegetables, Daikon stew using home-made Demi-Glace sauce, vegetable croquette, sautéed lotus roots, beets salad, Konjac stake, and gluten-free apple tarts for dessert. All 100% plant-based, and it costs $20-25.
I decided to do bento catering to introduce this to the people in the Bay Area so they can experience what is like to have entirely plant-based food for one meal. There is no meat, no dairy, no refined sugar, no food additives, and no chemical seasonings, just organic vegetables, grains, and fruits. I make everything from scratch using local organic vegetables, and carefully selected seasonings such as sea salt, properly fermented miso, soy source, apple cider vinegar, brown rice syrup and so on.
Since I prepare everything by myself, I only can make 10-15 bento boxes. Considering the time that I dedicate to make those bentos (usually, I stay up all night because I want to bring a fresh meal and it takes a lot of time to create healing cuisine due to lots of preps) and the cost of all the organic vegetables and condiments, there is not much profit. But, if my bento brings a bit of joy & harmony into those who have my bento, I can live with it. Although I can only do it on a once a month basis.
Since we are now in the autumn, we are influenced by metal elements according to the five elements theory. Since each element resonates with paired yin-yang organs, the lung (yin), and large intestine (yang) are influenced by metal elements. They work together as partners and share similar functions, to bring in the new and to take out the waste. The lung brings in the fresh air, help to circulate the energy, blood, and lymph in the body, and expel carbon dioxide and toxins. The large intestine eliminates solid residue after digesting the food and fluid. Also, the toxins and waste are discharged through the skin by perspiration as well. Hence, the skin is often considered as the "third lung" from TCM (traditional Chinese medicine).
I used a lot of vegetables that help to nourish the above organs. Daikon, onions, scallions, dried shiitake mushrooms are great vegetable medicines. If your lung and intestines get cleansed, your skin gets cleared up automatically. They are connected with the meridian line and corroborate together. I also used our Japanese super food, Konjac to cleanse the stomach and intestines. I tried to incorporate Konjac at least one dish for any catering for the cleaning purpose. Here's the info. about Konjac.
I also used lotus root to nourish the respiratory system. Lotus root is the root of lotus flower, it grows in the water, so it has an excellent drainage effect. So, by taking those lotus roots into our body, it helps to clear up the accumulated dampness, mucus in the lung. "You are what you eat" is so true...
They also have a lot of health benefits. They are very crispy, flavorful when you just sauteed lightly. You can get lotus roots at any Asian market. But, usually, they are not organic and came from China. It is very hard to find organic lotus roots in the USA. So, I soak them in the water together with sea salt, rice bran, and apple cider vinegar overnight to remove harmful chemicals. Then, rinse them thoroughly before I cook them. One of the teachings that I learned from Macrobiotic philosophy is to appreciate what you have. So, I am grateful that I can still get those lotus roots in the Asian market. ♡♡♡
If you are interested in Wanowa's bento catering, please email me at Shinobeau@iCloud.com. I can inform you when will be the next catering day so you can plan ahead. I usually bring them to Mountain View near Nijiya market at the specific time so people ordered the bento can come to pick them up. You can also come to my house in Scotts Valley for a pickup. Also, I am happy to take orders from 6 or more if I am available. The delivery fee will be added ranging from $20-50 depending on how far I need to drive.
We also rent out our guest room on Airbnb in Scotts Valley, CA, and I make vegan breakfast for the guests. If you like to have a little retreat, please stay in our guest room! I will be delighted to be your personal chef to prepare melas just for you.
My son and I drove all the way to join Kazuko-san’s Beiju birthday party at Mume farm in Chico last weekend. In Japanese culture, reaching the age of eighty-eight is considered a big milestone. This celebration is commonly known among Japanese as Beiju. Bei means rice. In Chinese the character for rice is 米. It looks like the character of eight(八) on top and ten(十) in the middle, and an another eight(八 )at the bottom. So, when you reach at 88
(八十八), you are officially reaching at the rice(米) age!!! 🎉🎈🎊
In Japan, rice is not only the staple diet, it is the sacred food. Rice, sake (made by rice), salt and water has been offered to the foot of shrines together with branches of Sakaki (clever Japonica/holly greens) since ancient times.
Kazuko-san and her deceased husband, Junsei Yagi helped introduce the macrobiotic diet in the US together with the father of modern macrobiotics, George Ohsawa, Michio Kushi, Herman Aihara and many other teachers. It was so wonderful to see the leaders from the French Meadow camp, and all the friends who adore Kazuko-san. Hope we all work together to continue to pass on your legacy to the next generation. Thank you Ron & Kiyoko for hosting the beautiful event💕Kazuko-san, 祝米寿 Beiju Omedeto Gozaimasu❣️ We all love you❣️
Ron & Kiyoko who took over Kazuko's organic Ume (Japanese plum) farm a few years ago. They are working so hard to continue to produce wonderful Ume products such as Umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums), Umesu (Ume vinegar), activated Ume charcoal and so on.
Mume Farm (organic Japanese plum farm)
4192 County Road S, Orland, CA 95963
Orland, CA 95963
Here's the info. about Umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums)
The oldest Japanese record of pickled plums being used as a medicine is in a medical text written about one thousand years ago. Umeboshi were used to prevent fatigue, purify water, rid the body of toxins, and cure specific diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, and food poisoning. Slowly, extensive folklore developed about umeboshi's ability to prevent and cure certain diseases. You can check the website for more info. → https://www.macrobiotics.nl/library/UME1.html
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