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Modern Macrobiotics meets Sardinian Healthy Slow Food Lifestyle - Sardinia Escapes
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Macrobiotic cake by Sardinia Escapes.

Modern Macrobiotics meets Sardinian Healthy Slow Food Lifestyle

Our co-founder Barbara Demuru has recently had the pleasure to be interviewed by Italian food blog fruttasemiebacche.com, which is entirely dedicated to the fascinating world of dried fruits, nuts and seeds.

Barbara is a Macrobiotics consultant who has studied in London with Simon Brown, one of the best expert in the field, author of Modern-Day Macrobiotics, Macrobiotics for Life and several other books on the topic.

Living and working in Sardinia, Barbara has decided to creatively combine the principles of modern macrobiotics with those of the traditional healthy slow food lifestyle of the island.

We are happy to publish an English version of Barbara’s interview on our blog. If you would like to read the original version in Italian, please follow this link: fruttasemiebacche.com/lintervista-cucina-barbara-demuru-e-la-cucina-macrobiotica.

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How would you explain Macrobiotics to those who have never heard of it?

“Macrobiotics” is a word that might sound obscure, and I personally don’t particularly like using this term. I prefer calling it the “grandmother’s (or even great-grandmother’s) cooking philosophy”. In fact, Macrobiotics is an all-natural eating style, which has been adopted by long-living populations since a very long time and in many different variations around the world, before processed food became the norm.

It’s a plant based eating style, which opts for local seasonal food, but it doesn’t exclude small quantities of high quality animal products and home made sweets for special occasions. It’s an inclusive rather than exclusive eating style; it doesn’t forbid anything in principle, on the contrary it encourages us to develop a personal approach to food, depending on our age, lifestyle and even character. It’s not a classical “diet”, as many people think. It’s a lifestyle philosophy that guides us to find our own wellbeing by following our inner rhythm and balancing our natural cycles.

The macrobiotic lifestyle includes moderate exercise, meditation and all the good practices that can reduce our stress level. The word “macrobiotics” comes from the Greek “macros” (big) and “bios” (life). Food (real food, of course) is actually “alive” and it brings us life, quite literally. In addition, each different food produces its own type of energy, which we assimilate by “eating” it.

In conclusion, the macrobiotic philosophy has always been practiced since ancient times (unconsciously and without the need of defining it) by many communities around the world, especially those living in the so-called “blue zones”, which scientists Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain have recently recognized as longevity hotspots.

What about dried fruits, nuts and seeds? Are they used often in macrobiotic cooking?

Macrobiotics opts for non processed natural food, which maintains all its nutritious properties. Therefore, dried fruits, nuts and seeds are definitely welcome! Since they are at the beginning of their vital circle, they give us an injection of fresh energy that help us to feel younger, lively and eager to start new adventures. I often use them because of their high nutritious value but also because they are excellent to season the dishes. Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are rich with vitamins and low cholesterol fats and they are ideal for breakfast as well as snacks during the day but you can include them in your lunch or dinner as well. They can also be successfully used to prepare delicious sugar-free sweets. Obviously, moderation is recommended, and you might want to avoid them if you suffer from specific food allergies.

What is your favourite dry fruit?

Personally. I’m a fan of hazelnuts and almonds, which are often used to prepare traditional Sardinian sweets.

What do you suggest for breakfast, as a good start of the day?

There isn’t a recipe that suits everyone, but if you’d like to change your breakfast routine you could try to replace bread, rusks or biscuits with something healthier. I’d suggest an oatmeal porridge with some almonds, hazelnuts or nuts, some dried fruits such as raisins or figs, and a teaspoon of almond or hazelnuts cream. It’s a nutritious breakfast that keeps us efficient and awake until lunchtime without the typical sugar levels drop at 11 a.m. You can eat it warm during the winter while you’d rather put it in the fridge overnight in the hot season. During the summer, fresh fruits are a better option rather than dried fruits and, if you like it sweet, you can add grated orange rind or a tablespoon of amasake (sweet Japanese rice cream).

... and what comes after?

I’d suggest whole grains for lunch, or traditional Italian pasta, made from ancient grains and sautéed seasonal vegetables with toasted sesame seeds, which are very rich in calcium and magnesium.

Let's talk about grains, sea vegetables and all other so-called “super foods”. In your opinion, what should we always have in our kitchen?

Among whole grains we surely should consider barley, which has a lower glycemic index and can be cooked in many different ways. It can be a tasty alternative to brown rice, cous cous and pasta. Sea vegetables are not part of the traditional Mediterranean cuisine, but we could certainly add them to our meals now and then (their price is usually quite high!). I think it is important to buy only organic sea vegetables, though. Macrobiotics is based on the traditional Chinese medicine theory of the five elements – it identifies sea vegetables with “water”, which represents the beginning of the vital circle. They help us feel more calm, spiritual and peaceful.

They are also rich in minerals, vitamins and more: they are a real super food with anti-inflammatory, detox and weight-loss properties. Kombu, for instance, can be combined with beans, because it facilitates the cooking process and avoids bloating. Wakame is perfect for soups and salads. But be careful because sea vegetables are very rich in iodine, for this reason people suffering from thyroid gland problems are advised against them.

Could you share with us a macrobiotic recipe with some of the ingredients and food we've discussed?

Sure! You could try this “macro cake”:

Mix 300 grams of cooked and blended brown rice with the pulp of 2 steamed apples. Garnish with apple slices and almond flakes and put into the oven for 40 minutes. Then dust it with cinnamon powder. You could also add some barley malt syrup, if you like. Delicious and very easy to prepare!

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