HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


When good friends go macrobiotic

I'm not even sure this shouldn't go under "Not about food" based on some of the stuff they are eating.
But very good friends, who we used to cook with and share food with have gone macrobiotic. No more Thanksgiving feasts, although I think they did Tofurkey one year and might have found it inedible (as she indicated they went to Cracker Barrel afterwards).
Is there any way to cook that might accomodate our tastes (which are still spice and flavor oriented as well as protein centric) and theirs (which have included no cooking anything, only eating 'local', and a few other variations.) (And yes, they both have had some problems with thinning hair.)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My first thought is to spring for some counseling for them... (ONLY JOKING!) My second thought is to find new friends (AGAIN- ONLY JOKING)...
    I really don't understand some of the new "food fads" out there... but then again I still have problems trying to understand vegans who eliminate all dairy and food with eyes...
    How do you get all the nutrients/vitamins our bodies really need without just eating sprouts, grass and grains?
    I truly believe if you cook fresh foods and eat within the healthy guidelines my chances are just as good for longevity as the vegans/macros.
    I guess I just really love ALL foods too much to limit my selections more than just once in a while tastings...

    1 Reply
    1. re: MeffaBabe

      I'm with you MeffaBabe. I first thought get new friends. No food that has dairy or eyes. I guess thar elminates eye of round, but you know?I have never see a chicken wing with eyes or a pork chop etc.

    2. Better than a TV show I saw once with a family that had gone raw anti-vegan...all milk products, meat and eggs - none of it cooked. even some lovely aged meat... Ewww.

      Anyway, I have eaten at a raw vegan place and did like some things, but the approach to cuisine seemed to be snacky instead of the typical way most approach food. A lot of the grains are sprouted and dehydrated, which is a time consuming process requiring special equipment, so that makes it difficult. Most protein seemed to be derived from nuts. My suggestion is if you want to dine together, put together some salads that you are comfortable making. Maybe guacamole or other "raw" dips. They can bring pressed crackers and you can have your cooked ones. Make some nut milk smoothies. Ask them to bring some things and give it a try. Charlie Trotter has a raw food book out - but it looks hideously time consuming! I certainly don't buy into the philosophy, but if they are truly friends, no reason to not enjoy some time together. If hte food sharing doesn't work, then friends can be had outside food (or so I have been told).

      1. I guess you need to find out what their current diet involves. We have a macrobiotic restaurant in L.A., M Cafe de Chaya, that serves wonderful dishes that include fish, vegetables and grains. I love their grain salads, roasted vegetables, pureed soups, tuna burger, etc., and if all these ingredients were available to me to cook with I don't think I would feel particularly constrained to cook this way part of the time. (I would of course have my carne asada, ribs and homemade apricot buttermilk ice cream when they weren't around so as not to make them feel bad!)
        On the other hand, if they've gone raw or impose particular requirements on the sourcing of the food, then it's really up to them to supply everything they care to eat.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chowpatty

          OK, so I'll be the optomist here; Your friends have just given you a wonderful new excuse to learn to cook new things! Raw food recipes can be completely delicious and when made with local/organic ingredients very healthy too!

          I don't think it will kill you cook something macro on occasion and it's a great way to learn all about different whole grains, veggies, and methods of cooking. If they're friends, they'll appreciate the effort.

        2. I'm a little confused. A macrobiotic diet definitely includes cooked foods, and even fish. It also avoids heavily processed foods, so I don't get the Tofurkey at all.

          If you want to continue to share meals, I think I'd get very specific with them about their eating parameters. Then, I would look at it as a cooking challenge--to find new recipes that fit their diet and are delicious, too. Although I am an omnivore, I have thoroughly enjoyed vegetarian, vegan, and once long ago a macrobiotic meal.

          And, although I agree with those who have observed that a diet that causes your hair to thin is probably not very good for you, I wouldn't bother arguing with them about their choices. I think your options here are to respectfully try to make yummy food you all can enjoy together, or to start sharing activities that don't involve food.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Pistou

            What the Heck IS macrobiotic?? ( DOn't know if you guess but I am soooo not a diet person, or a fad person)

            1. I trained in a semi-macrobiotic restaurant (the Seventh Inn in Boston; the entire block was torn down years ago...) and based on your post your friends don't understand macrobiotics. There's exceedingly little raw food -- for most people -- in the diet. It can be a highly complex --or simple -- way to cook and eat. And if their hair is really thinning then they *really* don't get it, unless it grows back again all healthy & shiny.

              Because the first macrobiotic people were Japanese, a lot of macrobiotics think that's the way to go. But to really understand it, you need to know your ancestry (hence why raw foods are better for some people) and the foods that are native to the area & in season.

              And it gets more complicated than that. But one of the basic parts should be familiar to all CHers -- locally grown and in season. People from meat eating ancestors should include at least some meat. Preferably from grass fed cattle, and there are western nutitional concepts that support this. (Omega 3s vs. Omega 6s.)

              My teacher, however -- brought over by Michio Kushi himself -- considered macrobiotics far to complex a way to live ones life. He was a *lot* "wider". And one of the most basic precepts is akin to the broader notions of traditional chinese medicine -- it's about balance in everything. People that focus on food miss the broader picture , which includes family & friends.

              Now --what to eat? Get some macrobiotic cookbooks (maybe from the library?) and see. I can tell you that there's plenty of crossover. If the occasional "bad" (note the quotes) food makes them happy, they should eat it - because, well, happiness is important to health. Me? I like happiness, :-)

              Your friends might be suffering from the "new convert" syndrome. Give them some time. Relax, and as others have suggested do other stuff.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Richard 16

                richard is right...there is a difference between macrobiotic and raw diets. either of those, and vegan diets, can be extremely healthy, but only when you know what you're doing!! the best thing for them to do is to go see a knowledgable dietician or nutritionist (and they need to get some vitamin e for their hair ASAP!)

                Go get this cookbook: it's beautiful and the recipes are great http://www.amazon.com/Raw-Charlie-Tro...

                and this one is a staple: http://www.amazon.com/Raw-Uncook-Book...

                when you learn to create meals with raw ingredients, it adds a new perspective

                good luck!

                1. re: Richard 16

                  I used to love that restaurant1 I had a boyfriend who was a "vegetarian" but ate fish. I am not a vegetarian but love fish so we were always happy diners at the Seventh Inn. I had a number of macrobiotic friends and my attempts to cook a vegatarian dish for them gave them stomach cramps as I would unwittingly add some dairy product to the dish. Potluck might be the way to go with macrobiotic friends. You could make a salad and share a vegan dessert. It's hard to figure out the correct yin and yang of the meal if you are not a practicing macrobiotic.

                2. Could someone please describe the basics of a macrobiotic diet? I have no clue, other than a feeling that brown rice is prominent.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: pikawicca

                    whole grains are the cornerstone of the diet. a lot of people end up trying to eat mostly Japanese ingredients, but the whole point is using ingredients that are found locally and using substitutions when necessary. refined or processed foods as well as psycho-active ingredients (things like coffee and sugar) are avoided as much as possible...not sure if that includes tea? and a lot of people graze rather than eat large meals

                    1. re: kimberlya

                      also, not all macrobiotic followers are vegan.

                        1. re: pikawicca

                          i think more emphasis is placed on eating local foods rather than organic foods (especially since US standards for organic food is crap). local farmers often can't afford the huge costs of being certified organic. but i suppose every little bit counts?

                          1. re: kimberlya

                            I think the organic label is very hard for meat/chicken farmers/ ranchers, but many of our local veggie growers do it with not a lot of problems.

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              yeah, it's easier with veggies. and perhaps the cost varies by state?? most of the farmers at my local farmers markets aren't labeled as "organic", but their food is. it's harder with poultry, etc. because organic feed for animals is WAY more expensive than non....and depending on the size of your operation, feed costs can be huge

                    2. Since they're good friends: With a few restrictions and the inclusion of brown rather than white rice, a macrobiotic diet is a lot like the peasant Japanese food we grew up with. Cook (and food can be cooked using various techniques) for and with them--it should be no big deal and could be fun. The difficulty mught have to do with spice and flavor: but add those to (your) half of what you cook prior to serving.

                      1. cooking with friends is always a good thing. hammer out a menu with them and have at it. chances are you'll both learn a little and have a pretty decent time.

                        1. Hear hear, I agree with Steve H., take it as a challenge, but go a step further. Add to the guest list some one who eats no grain, another who is violently lactose intolerant and my cousin Eddie who hunts almost all of his own food. The old rhyme comes to mind "jack sprat ate no fat and his wife ate no lean...."

                          1. have them over (or go over there) for an informal cooking session to learn the ropes of their new diet-- maybe a trip to your local farmer's market first and then make a meal together?

                            have it not be a holiday/special occasion meal so that there are no expectations on the meal except for trying something different? sounds like fun to me and you'll learn what your good friends mean by "macrobiotic"-- which to me does not include tofurkey, or cracker barrel either-- relax and go with it, maybe it will be really easy to still eat together with a couple of little alterations on your part. :)

                            1. macrobiotic is about balancing yin and yang foods

                              now most balance by eating foods close to the center.... but i think it would also be balanced if you ate two foods from opposite extremes.

                              which is why a cheeseburger and a chocolate milk shake are a perfect macrobiotic meal for me