Starting this weekend, macrobiotic chef Mutsuko Johnson will take participants of her Autumn home-cooking course on a journey into cooking from the ‘hara’ – the centre of our body. Here she explains the importance of listening to our bodies, how cooking is a dance with Nature and shows us some delicious seasonal recipes.

‘Autumn is the harvest season, so in Japan it is time to harvest the rice. It is beautiful, when you go to the countryside you see the golden rice plants, they look like a boat bowing. We get the fresh rice then, which is always a special rice to eat. When you look at Nature, the leaves turn orange, some turn golden yellow like the Gingko leaf, it is also the Japanese maple time, the leaves turn vivid red, it’s so beautiful. Some are always green like the pine tree, making beautiful colour combinations: green, orange, red, golden yellow. So we can recreate that in our cooking. It is time to enjoy more colourful vegetables! All round vegetables, such as kabocha, pumpkin and onions are good for the stomach.

Also, the weather is changing, it is a bit tricky to adjust to that, so towards winter eat more root vegetables. Listen to your body, sometimes if you feel you are going to catch a cold, it is nice to have just a simple bowl of Miso Soup with root vegetables. Sometimes if it is sunny it’s nice to have a little bit of fresh greens or a little salad. You can always change with what is going on in Nature, it is simply like dancing with Nature: that is how we balance the energies of the cooking. It’s not complicated. In the past myself and many Macrobiotics friends made mistakes, always thinking with our heads, wondering what is Yin what is Yang, when really it is all about cooking from the heart and from the centre of the body the “Hara” (Japanese word for belly) or “Dan Tien” (the Chinese word), the core of the body. Cooking with the whole body, not just from the head. We all have different needs, some people are on the computer all day, others are outside all day, some drive all day etc… Learning to listen to our body, that is the most important thing.’



Lotus with Aduki Bean
Lotus Root is very pleasant cooked with some oil, this is a nice appetiser and very nourishing.

1 lotus root
Some cooked aduki beans
1 cup flour
¾ cup water
Oil for deep frying

Thinly slice the lotus root.
Make a sandwich with the cooked aduki beans and two slices of lotus root.
Make a simple tempura batter.
Heat up oil in tempura pot (or wok).
Dip lotus sandwich in tempura butter.
Drop in hot oil and cook for a few minutes and serve.

Gomoku Gohan (Five taste rice)

A taste of autumn. This is nice as take away rice or picnic.

1 cup short grain brown rice
1 cup long grain brown rice
Wash and soak in 2½ cup of water in the pressure cooker.
4 pieces dried shiitake (soak in ½ cup of water, use this water for cooking)
1 piece dried tofu (soak in warm water and squeeze out the water)
½ carrot (wash and cut in small pieces)
Burdock or lotus root (wash and cut small piece about 3-4 tbsp)
Hijiki seaweed (cut small, do not soak in the water)
1 tbsp. sake (optional)
1 tbsp. mirin
2 tbsp. shoyu
Pinch of sea salt
Bonito flakes (optional)

Place all the ingredients in the pressure cooker.
Close the lid, start with large flame then turn down small and cook for 40 minutes, turn off the stove and let the pressure come down.
Open the lid, mix and serve with finely cut nori on the top.

Sautéed Kale with Sweet Potato Chips

1 bunch kale
½ sweet potato
oil for deep frying
pinch of sea salt

Wash kale and chop. Heat up skillet with oil and sauté.
Season with Shoyu.
Peel the sweet potato, slice thinly and deep fry.
Place kale and sweet potato on a plate.