Written by Milica (Millie) Milovanovic- certified Macrobiotic teacher and counselor whose life and work is dedicated to helping others help themselves.
Winter Chimes, Santa Claus and Holy Water Energy
Winter is the time of the year that brings with it peace and rest. During this time the energy is condensing, preserving and maintaining itself. The weather is cold, days are short and nights are long. In the winter time, the surface of the body is cooler, and the inside gets warmer. The present coldness and darkness are motivating us to search for the inner warmth and increase storage of the physical energy by gentle raising our body mass in order to survive the winter. During this time, we enter the cycle of spontaneous energy, which is the water energy. The color that corresponds to this energy is black. Moderately salty taste supports this energetic phase. Bladder, kidneys and reproductive organs are being nourished by the water energy.
The water energy is responsible for preserving our life force and maintaining out vitality. As the water energy is the determining factor of our existence, it is responsible for survival and fear. The water energy is very adaptable and it represents the beginning of the rising energy. On one hand, this adaptable energy is giving us the opportunity for self-reflection and rest (just like the winter). On the other, it is opening us to new challenges, supporting our adventurous side.
Moderately salty taste corresponds to this energetic phase because it is necessary for good blood, lymph and other bodily fluids. Salt is necessary in cooking and it enhances the food flavor. The food should not feel salty, as large amounts of sodium will harm the kidney, causing the cooling effect and increased intake of water.
People with strong water energy are capable to confront the challenges and problems and to find the solutions. Within them arises curiosity and desires to try whatever the world has to offer.
Decreasing stagnant energy invokes the sense of inhibition and insecurity about life in general, and it develops even deeper fears as the imbalance progresses. We start to see the world as a frightening place and ourselves as weak and vulnerable. We become intolerant to changes and overly controlling of our environment, developing different types of phobias. Chronic, clinical fears are developing when the water energy is seriously lacking. Dissipated water energy is reflecting on both physical and emotional level. Nervousness arises, ticks and hitches are possible. Our movements become spasmodic, and we become anxious and upset. Dark, purple rings start to appear underneath the eyes and in the corners of the lips. Our skin complexion acquires a washed out look. Chronic pain in the lower back and swelling around the ankles are the signs of weak kidneys. Our voice loses its strength, becomes more shallow and we sound like we have been crying. Body language becomes self-protecting, with the arms crossed at the chest and back leaned against the wall. We tend to always feel vulnerable and exposed, and we believe that we have to be informed about everything that is happening around us, so that we don’t have to deal with surprises.
Too much of this energy can induce irrational courage due to the phlegmatic feelings induced by excess of water energy. We become dull and only danger can stimulate our purpose for living. This dangerous imbalance inhibits healthy judgment, and can set us in danger. Our voice becomes strong and overwhelming. Swellings underneath the eyes and rigid, stiff lower back area along with swollen lower extremities are the common physical reflections of this energetic state.
In Chinese philosophy, kidneys control the water metabolism and bladder. Accordingly, the kidneys are the root and the foundation of the body. They are the rulers of the lower body, including the genitals and their reproductive functions. The explanation, from the Chinese standpoint, is that the activities of adrenal glands are a part of kidney functions. Adrenal glands contribute to energy, warmth, and sexuality. The connection between the kidneys and adrenal glands is due to the placement of the adrenal glands – right on top of the kidneys. They produce the substances that are supporting the activities of the kidneys, and their functionality creates the emotions of fear and vulnerability.
During the winter time we should consume the food that strengthens the “water” organs. Oats, buckwheat, adzuki and other beans, seaweed, burdock, vegetables, berry fruits, along with the salty and salty-sour spices which are very important during this period.
SUGGESTIONS FOR WINTER DIET:
Note: After the initial boiling, simmer on low heat! (this applies to all cooking recipes)
- 1 cup (250grams) of whole oats (no steel cut, no quick oats)
- 5 cups of water
- 1 pinch of sea salt ( per cup of oats )
Clean the oats first by washing and then soak it over night in the pressure cooker. You will use the same pressure cooker for cooking the next day. Place the pressure cooker on the stove but do not seal it (just close the lid). Turn on the stove and when the water boils add a pinch of sea salt and then seal the pot. Let the pressure rise slowly. Leave it until the steam starts shaking the pressure regulatior, and then place a deflector underneath the pot. Put the flame on low and cook for 2-5 hours. When done, it should be creamy.
KASHA WITH BUCKWHEAT AND SOUERKRAUT
Buckwheat is a grain that is native to Russa and middle Europe. It is the most yang grain and it should be eaten only during the winter in the balanced ammount.
- 1 cup of roasted buckwheat
- 2 cups of boiled water
- Pinch of salt
Bring water to boil and then add bucwkeat with a pinch of sea salt. Close the pot, and lower the heat – simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.
- 2 TBSP of oil
- 1 onion
Sautee the onion on low heat with oil, and cover the pot. Add the sauerkraut (if it is too salty you can wash it under water) and sauteé it along with onions. After sauteeing is over, place the mixture in a pan and bake in the oven.
AZUKI BEANS WITH SQUASH
- 1 cup of azuki beans
- 2 cups of squash cut in squares
- 1 inch of kombu seaweed (2-3 cm)
- ½ tsp of sea salt
- 3 cups of water
First clean the beans by washing them and soak them with kombu over night. Place the squash on the bottom of the pan, and azuki beans on top. Cook in the water which was left from soaking. Do not cover the beans when you start to cook. After the water boils lower the heat and cover the pot, after 10-15 minutes of cooking. Cook until beans are 70-80 % done and then add the salt. Cook for another 15-20 minutes after that.
OVEN ROASTED VEGETABLES
Clean and wash the vegetables (carrots, onion and other root vegetables). Cut the vegetables in big chunks. Cover the pan with aluminium foil, add the vegetables along with the oil, and sprinkle with some sea salt and a little bit of water. Envelop the vegetables in aluminium foil to perserve the natural juices and to keep the veggies moist. Place the pan in the oven and bake.
PICKLES (in tamari sauce)
The ammount of tamari sauce depends on the ammount of pickles to be prepeared. Make a mixture of ¼ tamari and ¾ of water. Water needs to be boiled and cooled beforehand. Cut the carrots in an angle and fill the jar with them. Cover the carrots with the mixture of tamari and water. Do not close the jar – just cover it with a gauze or a cheesecloth, and let it sit on a kitchen countertop for 2 days. Afterwards, close the jar and store it in a fridge.
HIJIKI WITH BURDOCK
- 50 grams of Hijiki
- 3 - 4 cups of water
- 1 cup of burdock
- 1- 2 cups of sesame oil
- 3 - 4 TBSP of soy sauce
Wash and soak the hijiki in 3 - 4 cups of water for about 10 minutes (save the soaking water). Cut the burdock in matchsticks (kinpira style). Preheat the oil and sautee the burdock for couple of minutes. Add hijiki and sautee until it dryes, and then add the soaking water along with the soy sauce. Cook uncovered on medium heat for about 40 minutes, with occasional sitrring. When there is almost no water left in the pot, lower the flame and cook for another 15 minutes until the surface of hijiki becomes shiny. Serve hot or at a room temperature.
Clean and wash brocolli. Place water in the pot, add a pinch of salt and bring to boil. Add brocolli to the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Strain and then cool the brocolli with the cold water (as it will retain the green color and crispness). Make a mixture with a tablespoon of tahini, umeboshi paste and a little water. Pour the sauce over the brocolli.
OVEN ROASTED APPLES
Wash 6 apples and carve their tops. Stuff the apples with the mixture of peanut butter and miso. Sprinkle with some walnuts on top. Bake the apples in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Note: In everyday cooking use only good quality cold pressed oils: sesame oil, sunflower oil, olive oil etc.. Also, a good quality sea salt is very important. During this energetic period you can include some spices; garlic, ginger, pepper, majoran, basil, bay leaves etc..