On-Line Nutrition Course

MACROVegan Nutrition Course

Food, Health and Human Ecology

MACROVegan Online Nutrition Course is a unique and in-depth exploration of modern day nutrition from international teacher, author and health counsellor Bill Tara. If you are looking for a certificate program to add to your professional skills as a Nutritional Health Coach or simply wish to deepen your understanding of the confusion that surrounds nutrition, this course will fill your needs. The course examines our food choices and shows how they impact not only our personal health but social and environmental health as well.

A short introduction to our on line course - Please view this short introductory video that will give you an insight into the personal story from Bill Tara that led him to teaching thousands of students world-wide during the past 50 years.

online nutrition course

In this second short video here Bill will share with you the content and outline of what you will study.

My part in the course will have you all cooking up dishes in your kitchen like a professional chef. First and foremost, what we feed our bodies reflect on our day to day health and wellbeing. A naturally balanced diet is like healthy soil. When our bodies are properly nourished, the quality of our blood is sound, and the cells function in a normal way. In the KITCHEN with Marlene is where health and healing begins. The 60 recipes within the course are split into six categories.

10 Soups

10 Grains & Beans

10 Pasta/Noodles/Lighter Bowls

10 Vegetables & Sea Vegetables

10 Sauces, Dressings & Dips

10 Desserts

We look forward to working with many of you world-wide. To share our passion towards creating a healthy world for all humans and non-humans alike has been our mission and vision for decades. For immediate download you can purchase the course here from our MACROVegan Shop

There is no time-frame for completion of the course. Take as long as you like, we are here to guide and inspire you. Certification is available on completion of all the modules. We connect with all our students on our facebook discussion board page daily to answer questions and upload new material.

In good health


Reading Food Labels To Avoid Toxic Ingredients

Reading Food Labels To Avoid Toxic Ingredients

When you go shopping, your first stop should be at the colourful ailse that is stocked with wonderful seasonal fruits and vegetables.


Stock Up with Fresh Fruit & Vegetables

In this produce section, choose a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables – these are naturally low in fat, sodium and rich in cholesterol lowering fibre. You can also choose frozen fruits and vegetables to have as a stand-by when there are times that you simply need something quick.   If you buy ‘simple’ frozen vegetables without any sauces, they can be better choices than cans because they eliminate salt and that’s a must to control blood pressure and manage heart disease. When purchasing canned goods choose brands with no-added salt.

Following a Macrobiotic Vegan lifestyle means avoiding all animal foods to limit the amount of saturated fat, that’s the fat that comes from animals and hardens our organs. Be very careful to avoid trans fats, check the labels if it says partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated it contains trans fats. Trans fats can be found naturally at low levels in some foods, such as those from animals, including meat and dairy products. Artificial Trans fats can be formed when oil goes through a process called hydrogenation, which hardens the oil.

This type of fat, known as hydrogenated fat, can be used for frying or as an ingredient in processed foods. Much smaller amounts of artificial trans fats can also be made when oils are refined to make them fit to eat. Artificial Trans fats can be found in some processed foods such as biscuits and cakes where they are sometimes used to help give products a longer shelf life.  Please also be aware of using products with Palm Oil.  The industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations.

Focus on plant based protein like all sorts of beans and lentils, tofu, tempeh, seitan. These foods are fantastic sources of soluble fibre, not only to keep your digestive tract working well but also to combat cholesterol!

Beans with MarleneThe colourful bins with an array of wholegrains such as short grain brown rice, wild rice, millet, quinoa, in golden and in red, buckwheat, and so many more are the mainstay of my diet. They provide me with long lasting energy every day and don’t mess with my blood sugar, so make sure to stock up on these amazing grains.

For breakfast use wholegrain porridge or oatmeal which are excellent choices but if you are a cereal lover look for ones that have wholegrain and fibre with no sugar or make your own. When you start to read labels you will be surprised at what is actually in all those beautifully packaged ‘healthy’ breakfast cereals. There is only one brand of cornflakes that we can find that is sweetened with barley malt. Incredible eh!

There are many delicious breakfast recipe ideas on our MACROVegan you tube channel  and in my book ‘Macrobiotics for all Seasons’ available world wide on amazon or as a download with my delicious Cooklets on our MACROVegan Shop. 

In good health



Marlene's 60th Vegan Birthday Cake

Marlene's 60th Vegan Birthday Cake

Black & White Chocolate Cake

I created this recipe for my mum's 90th birthday cake. Everyone loved it, so much so, it has now become the family's birthday cake. Unfortunately, I had to make my own.!!!

vegan recipes

The crunchy base texture contrasts with the creamy top, to make this sumptuous cake irresistible

Oat or Quinoa Nut Crust

1 cup oat or quinoa flour

2 cups pecans

¼ cup brown rice syrup

1 tbsp. coconut oil

2 tbsp. maple or coconut sugar

3 tbsp. ground flax

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. sea salt

Preheat the oven to 175/350°.  Put 2 cups pecans in a food processor and process until they start to clump and oils start to release. In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil with brown rice syrup, stirring all the time. Transfer the pecan mixture into a large bowl and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Using your hands, squeeze the dough over and over to combine. You should be able to form a ball with it. If it's too dry add a little water. Transfer the pecan dough into a 9” push-up fluted flan dish and smooth out evenly. Press down firmly with fingers, bringing it up along the sides pressing as firmly as you can. Prick the dough with a fork to make a cross. Bake for 9-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

For the Cake Topping:

½ cup cacao butter

1½ cups cashew nuts, soaked overnight

1 cup almond milk

½ cup maple syrup or rice syrup

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. lemon juice

Cacao powder for dusting

Drain the cashews and rinse in cold water.  Melt the cocoa butter in a small saucepan, on a low heat. Pour into your blender. Add all the other ingredients and whizz until smooth. Pour over the cooled cake base. Sprinkle with cacao powder and place in the refrigerator.  Once set, decorate with raspberries.

 MACROVegan ChitChat

Cashews are used throughout the world, as paste base for curries in India and Sri Lanka, as whole nuts in Thailand and China, and brewed as sweeteners in Spanish and South American desserts. Add them to chocolates and cakes. Please ensure you purchase fair-trade organic cashews grown using sustainable farming practices such as biodiversity and multi-cropping.

In good health



Thriving On A MACROVegan Diet

Thriving On A MACROVegan Diet

When we reflect deeply on our relationship with the outer world, our environment, we realise that we are never independent of its influences. Our vision with MACROVegan is to continue to share our passion for a vegan world. Our Human Ecology Diet is abundant in every vitamin and mineral required for good health, vitality and longevity.

Utilising intentional living by embracing a MACROVegan way of life. We have no need for any animal flesh or dairy food to live a full long life with vibrant health. We receive all the nutrients we need from a wholefood plant based diet.

How to Rethink Protein Once and For All 


When you think of the biggest animals on the planet, elephants, giraffes, buffalo, these huge mammals, they don’t eat meat, so where do they get their protein? They eat what grows out of the ground and that is where they get their protein; it’s as simple as that. There are many foods in the plant kingdom that are especially rich in protein. All the legume family, anything that is grown in a pod, lentils, beans, chickpeas, wholegrains are full of protein, and lots of vegetables are rich in protein.

Protein is in everything: Vegan athletes are renowned for their athletic excellence.

If you are getting enough calories based on wholefoods, I am not talking about processed sugary foods, I am talking about wholefoods as they grow out of the ground – if you eat this way, wholegrains, beans, legumes, vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits, you will obtain your requirement of protein easily and in a healthful way because the protein is in the bean, in the lentil, in the wholegrain.

Protein deficiency is not an issue on a vegan diet, people simply use this as an excuse if they are not doing well…. I hear it so often……I am not getting enough protein.  That’s not the problem, there are plenty of amino acids, plenty of protein on a plant based diet. In fact, the health crisis exists because people are eating way too much protein, which in fact injure your arteries, injure your kidneys as it leaches calcium out of your bones.

Eating a plant based or vegan diet does not mean living on processed foods, sweets or soft drinks. You must eat FOOD AS GROWN to receive the adequate protein you need daily. Corn on the cob is one thing, corn chips are different, potatoes are a wholefood, and potato crisps are not. In our decades of health counselling, we have yet to meet someone with a protein deficiency Only those starving to death are deficient in protein. If you are going to be adopting a wholefoods plant based diet, there are some things you must do properly.  It’s not just a matter of eating snack foods or processed fake ‘meats’ and burgers, and think you are going to be healthy.

Please follow our MACROVegan dietary guidelines here:

Nutrient Sources in Whole Foods:

Complex Carbohydrates

Whole Grains, Beans, Vegetables, Fruits


Beans, Seeds, Nuts, Whole Grains, Seaweeds


Seeds, Nuts, Oils, Beans, Tofu, Tempeh, Oats


Dark Greens (Kale, Collards, etc.), Soybeans, Seaweeds, Seeds


Dark Greens, Seaweeds, Millet, Lentils, Garbanzo Beans, Seeds

Vitamin A

Dark Leafy Greens, Carrots, Squashes, Seaweeds

B Vitamins

Whole Grains, Sea Vegetables, Lentils, Fermented Foods

Vitamin B12

Fortified Foods, Nutritional Yeast etc., B12 supplementation

Vitamin C

Dark Greens (Kale, Parsley, Broccoli, etc.), Local Fruits

Vitamin E

Whole Grains, Unrefined Oils, Seeds, Leafy Greens

Trace Minerals

Sea Salt, Seaweeds, Organic Produce

In good health




The Five Elements - The Five Tastes

I am a long time proponent of a vegan, wholefoods, plant-based diet.  As a passionate health counsellor and teacher within the principles of macrobiotics, I adore the whole concept of ‘chi’ as expressed within Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The five transformations of energy have always made such sense to me and I love the sense and sensibility it brings to understanding health.    The five savoury tastes are the recognised basic five tastes that are naturally contained in all foods.  In TCM, each taste is correlated with a season, a type of warming or cooling energy, and a specific body organ or system.  Theoretically, each taste nourishes a specific organ or organ system.

Practically speaking, the more you consciously include a variety of the five tastes in food preparation, the more satisfying and nutritionally enhanced your meals will be.  Sometimes just a small amount of a ‘taste’ can contribute significantly (e.g. a sprig or two of bitter-tasting parsley leaf)

The five tastes are bitter, salty, sweet, sour, and pungent.  A food will never contain one exclusive taste; there will always be a predominance of tastes.  Here are some examples of food sources and TCM medical organ connections for each taste.  It is said that a little of a particular taste can strengthen an organ system, whereas excess can weaken it. Hence, too much sugar weakens our soil energy, stomach/spleen/pancreas and contributes to digestive problems.


  • BITTER – Associated with the early and mid-summer season, (FIRE) bitter foods are thought to stimulate the heart and small intestine. These foods include dandelion, parsley leaves, mustard greens, collard greens, burdock root, sesame seeds, cereal grain coffee substitute, and some types of corn.
  • SALTY – Associated with the winter season, (WATER) salty food imparts strength and is thought to influence the kidneys and bladder. These foods include sea vegetables, miso, soy sauce, sea salt, Umeboshi salt plum, and natural brine pickles.
  • SWEET – Associated with the late summer season, (EARTH) sweet food is thought to influence the pancreas, spleen and stomach – organs of sugar absorption and distribution. Its nourishing effect is centring and relaxing.  The sweet taste refers to natural wholefoods and not the excessively refined sweet we know from white sugar.  Sweet foods make up the largest percentage of our meals.  These foods include wholegrains, vegetables – especially, cabbages, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, squashes and parsnips as well as chestnuts.
  • SOUR – Associated with the spring season, (WOOD) sour tasting food has a constrictive effect, giving quickening energy. It is thought to influence the liver and gall bladder.  These foods include sourdough bread, vinegar, wheat, sauerkraut and lemon/lime.
  • Pungent – Associated with the autumn season, (METAL) the pungent taste gives off a hot, dispersing energy and is said to be beneficial to the lungs and colon. However, an excess of these foods can irritate the intestines.  Pungent foods have been known to stimulate blood circulation and, according to TCM folk medicine, have a natural ability to help break down accumulation in the body.  In most culinary cuisines, they are commonly combined with animal protein and with foods high in fat.  These foods include scallions, daikon radish (or dried daikon), ginger, peppers, wasabi (dry mustard) and horseradish.


For convenient referencing, the following chart lists some basic foods that fall into each category.

BITTER – Kale, Collards, Mustard Greens, Parsley, Endive, Celery, Arugula, Grain Beverage

SALTY - Sea salt, Tamari, Miso, Sea Vegetables, Sesame salt, Umeboshi plum, Pickles

SWEET – Corn, Cooked onions, Squash, Yams, Cooked grains, Cooked cabbage, Carrots, Parsnips, Fruits

SOUR – Lemon, Lime, Sauerkraut, Umeboshi Plum, Fermented dishes, Pickles

PUNGENT – Ginger, Garlic, Raw onions, White radish, Red radish, Scallions, Wasabi, Spices

While most of your meals will contain a minimum of 60 percent sweet foods (whole- grains, vegetables, beans and fruit) aim for a full range of other tastes with major meals.  The other tastes can be represented in side dishes, sauces and condiments, emphasising a particular taste you may crave.  There is a definite art to meal balancing.

The combination possibilities are plentiful with disease-fighting nutrients.  The underlying principle dictates that these flavours, while seeming antagonistic (not compatible) are actually, by virtue of meal balancing, complementary.

Meals that include the five tastes will prove much more satisfying, in terms of limiting cravings, and more fortifying.  Many of the recipe suggestions I give to my clients take this into account.  Eventually, this will become a natural practice as you develop your cooking efficiency and planning ability and comfortably ease into your new way of eating.


You can make delicious sauces and dressings and wonderful tasting dips using all natural ingredients that incorporate the five tastes.   Toasted sesame tahini, Umeboshi plums, brown rice syrup and barley malt, Shoyu, sweet white miso, fresh ginger juice, lemon juice, and tofu, the possibilities are endless.  All of these delicious dressings can be used on salads, boiled vegetables, noodles like soba or udon, sea vegetables and many of them can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days and re-used.

Remember it’s all about satisfying the taste buds so you don’t have cravings.  If you make your food too salty you will crave sugar.  If you constantly eat sugar laced foods your body will crave salt.  It’s all about balance.  Have fun and create some wonderful tasting dressings and sauces using the five tastes and make your food taste delicious.

Here is a super recipe to try that encompasses the five tastes;

Creamy Sesame Dressing

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, slowly adding water to achieve a creamy consistency.

4 rounded tablespoons toasted sesame tahini

1 tablespoon onion, chopped

2 umeboshi plums, pitted and chopped

Dash (shoyu) soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown rice syrup or (barley malt)

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Cup of spring or filtered water

In good health







MACROVegan for The World

MACROVegan for The World

Like many of you, I have a mission in life, and my mission requires me to have a lot of energy. Part of my mission is to entice as many people back into their kitchens and introduce them to the delicious and healthful benefits of eating an exclusively plant-based diet. My vegan lifestyle is based on eating wholegrains, beans, pulses, vegetables, sea vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and exercising my body. This lights my fire from dawn till dusk.

I am forever grateful to have been awakened at such a young age as to how to achieve the required energy I need daily to stay in tip-top condition. When we are at our best, we can give our best and I live, breathe and love my work. The truth doesn't change, a diet based on plants is the diet for health and longevity.

Firstly, the diversity and simplicity of eating this way are one of the easiest ways to excite and inspire people to get cooking with me.  Secondly, my focus is to encourage all who cross my path to start taking responsibility for their own health.  I must do more to help families out of these medical tragedies that Bill and I see month after month during health consultations with clients.

As a lover of animals, nature and life, I am in service for a healthy world for humans and non-humans alike.  I always have been, I always will be. I speak the truth, and, the truth will eventually prevail. Health and healing truly do start in your own kitchen.  There you have it. It’s that simple. My favourite chant below that I teach everyone will be inscribed on the wall at the cooking school at our MACROVegan Centre.

Food Makes the Blood

Blood Makes the Cells

Cells Makes the Tissue

Tissue Makes the Organs

And Here We Be!

For four decades, I have been involved in health and healing and have been in love with Traditional Chinese Medicine since I was a teenager.  Much to the amusement of my friends, I would discover ways to use different foods such as kelp seaweed and even harvested some seaweeds on an outdoor expedition at college. That was more than 40 years ago so I guess even as a ‘novice’ back then, ‘I knew what I knew’ without knowing what I now know about the huge benefits of sea vegetables. I seemed to be guided toward something different.

My love of fitness and health took me on a journey studying various aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Macrobiotics, based on the ‘5 transformations of energy’ and to this day I still teach Chiball & Yoga which is taught with these same principles.

For many years, I have been offering my ‘Living with the Seasons’ workshops in many countries around the globe and that is what truly lights my fire.  Working with the season’s energy makes so much sense you wonder why it isn’t taught in schools. It is one of the many reasons why I simply adore being a Macrobiotic Health Counsellor and Teacher. I combine my counselling skills with my certification in Plant Based Nutrition and teach all my students and clients this wonderful paradigm of ancient wisdom and modern science. Alongside the teaching and counselling, much of my time is spent being an activist for our beloved animal kingdom. That is what makes me jump out of bed each morning, other than my beloved husband.

I wanted to share with you all a big turning point in my life that happened 20 years ago. I had a bad accident that broke my back in three places. Of course, the medical profession was encouraging me to eat a lot of dairy food to stimulate bone growth and they recommended, as they still do, animal protein for bone health.  I needed my bones to heal and of course, I wanted to fuel my body with the best nutrient dense foods possible, but to do it my way. I knew the foods that I had always eaten that were most associated with bone health, were greens and sea vegetables, all loaded with calcium.  So, as you can imagine, I was going against the grain, so to speak. No animal foods for me thank you very much.

My wholefoods plant based diet and my magical Macrobiotic home remedies helped me to heal quickly, (much to my doctor’s amazement.) That allowed me to teach yoga and Chiball again much earlier than I could have imagined.  My adventure with food and healing my own body also inspired me to share what I learned with others. My book, ‘Macrobiotics for all Seasons’ was a joy to write as I documented and created the 200 recipes that I used as part of my incredible journey back to health.  The book is also used as a reference guide for our students and clients.

The Macrobiotic Health Coaching programme that I designed along with my husband Bill Tara, the co-founder of the Kushi Institute in Boston and founder of the Community Health Foundation in London in the 70’s. is my best work. We have had the most wonderful students graduate as Macrobiotic Health Coaches.  Each time we complete another course we see it as ‘switching on’ more MACROVegan ‘lighthouses’, around the world.  As our newly ordained students set up their own coaching practices, more lives are changed.  We now have students in 27 countries.

Our next course in November here in Oranmore, Co. Galway has students registered from the U.S. U.K. and Italy.  We have also had students from many parts of Ireland on various other courses we run.  These clients and students have travelled from Co. Limerick, Dublin, Clare Galway, and Co. Mayo. Our foreign students have the most fabulous time here on the West Coast of Ireland. They visit the beautiful Cliffs of Moher, hike on Connemara and The Burren and many bring their families on holiday whilst they study. Bill and I are forever grateful for the incredible students we have had the pleasure to share our life’s work with.

Our Food Is Our Future:

During our two-week Macrobiotic Health Coach course, our students learn that there are many different aspects that affect our health, the environment, stress, emotional factors, but for me, I am very focused on commencing with food. What we eat creates who we are and who we become. If we feed our body with good nutrient dense natural food it gives us the gift of strong blood, which gives us the gift of great health.  Food is my number one priority. It is where I start when I am coaching clients and students.

As my chant above illustrates, our food makes our blood; our blood creates and nourishes every cell in our body. At their consultation with me, clients are introduced to my magic mineral broth. This is the easiest way to have them ‘taste and see’ how simple it is to make a powerful and nutritious food/drink in their own kitchen.   This broth is perfect for any time of the year. Simply drink it hot in the winter, and cool in the summer. What we choose to eat or drink daily creates health or disease. It’s that simple.

Marlene’s Organic Magic Mineral Broth

This broth is a wonderful, filling snack that will also provide you with many healing nutrients and alkalinize your system, making it easier to detoxify, lose weight, and feel great. The recipe can be varied according to taste. A vegetable broth made from organically grown vegetables can be an excellent source of essential electrolytes. Ionic minerals are the key to maintaining good health.

2 x 5 inch strips of Kombu seaweed

6 dried Shiitake mushrooms

6 carrots cut into chunks

2 medium onions cut into chunks

1 leek, both white and green parts, cut into chunks

1 small bunch of celery including the heart, cut into chunks

1 daikon cut into chunks (and tops if available) or 1 x 6oz pack dried daikon

5 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved

1 small pumpkin or squash with skin on, quartered

5 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced

4 cups chopped greens such as kale, chard,

½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large stock or soup pot, combine all the ingredients.   Fill the pot to two inches below the rim with water, cover, and bring to a boil.  Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer for a minimum of 2 hours.  As the stock simmers, some of the water will evaporate; add more if the vegetables are exposed.  Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. Strain the stock and pour into glass storage jars.  Refrigerating works well with any broth for up to five days.

In good health


Ecosia - Tree Planting Program

Trees absorb CO2, which is one of the main drivers of climate change. Larger forests can even create clouds, which then reflect the sunlight and cool our planet.

Forests are the most diverse systems on land with millions of species out of which many have not even been discovered and analysed yet.

Trees protect the soil from erosion and they create productive and fertile land. If you cut down trees, you will very soon end up with a desert.
Trees create oxygen, which we need to breathe. They also clean the air by absorbing pollutant gases and filtering out particulates.

Forests provide us with healthy food and lots of other products, which can be sustainably harvested. Worldwide the livelihood of 1.6 billion people depends on forests.

Forests regulate the water cycles and prevent floods. They create moisturous microclimates and increase groundwater levels. They act like a “sponge” and therefore prevent droughts.

Trees mean a happy environment, healthy people and a strong economy
When you search the web with Ecosia, 80% of the profits from the search ad revenue goes to support tree planting programs. Get the free browser extension and help plant trees every time you search using ecosia.org.

Please share this project with all your family, friends and colleagues.

In good health



Winter On the West Coast of Ireland

Winter On the West Coast of Ireland


I have been in love with the concept of seasonal energy for decades. After all, it is not merely about just changing your wardrobe; it’s about adapting your diet to suit the environment and ‘Living’ with the Seasons.  Here in Galway, when I see people in cafes and bistros eating cold salads and drinking chilled fruit juices during the cold winter months it makes me shiver.  Talk about putting out your digestive fire!


My interest in health and nutrition over the past 40 years eventually led me to the macrobiotic approach to eating. When applied with common sense this is a very flexible way of eating. It reflects the connection between humanity and the planet – it is an ecological approach to eating and I love it.

Modern macrobiotic dietary principles have developed over the past 50 years in America, Europe and Asia. They are based on the philosophy of Asian medicine as practised in China and Japan. These concepts reflect physical, environmental and social observations over a period of more than 5000 years. Although the philosophy bears little relationship to Western nutritional science, the conclusions are very similar.

At our MACROVegan Centre in Oranmore, Co. Galway, we teach all our clients and students about the macrobiotic approach to eating.  This way of eating focuses on assisting the body to recover from nutritional stress, often the result of the modern diet, and return to a more sensible state of biological balance. The diet helps the body exercise its own self-healing capacity.


Try my healing tea that I suggest below and give your kidneys some T.L.C (tender, loving care) during the cold damp months of winter. Go one step further and have your partner or friend treat you to a ginger compress; it’s heaven on earth. Of course, they will expect a treatment in return, but it’s great to nourish each other through the colder, darker months of winter.  Bill and I adore this season of preserving and nourishing our energy that allows us to jump full force into spring.

Note: You will find instructions on how to do a ginger compress in the articles section on the website.


It’s All About Balance! The study of yin and yang energy is useful but is complemented in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) by the theory of the Five Transformations. The dynamic interaction between yin and yang does not produce a universe of simply black and white. Because of the infinite possibilities of yin and yang interaction, each with varying degrees of dominance, a wide variety of energetic qualities is possible. This is just like the water of a river that changes its character dramatically from rapids to waterfalls to silent ponds, before eventually flowing into the sea. The primary energy of nature expresses itself with incredible diversity, but it is the appearance that changes and not the primary reality of the water.


In TCM and Macrobiotics each season of the year is represented by an energy that dominates. Spring is dominated by TREE energy that rises and is the birthing of vegetal life. Summer is represented by FIRE – the energy of the sun and the season of abundance. As the energy of the summer wanes there is a swing season, late summer, when energy starts to settle – this is the time of SOIL. Autumn is ruled by METAL energy, when energy concentrates and settles into the earth. This settling and contracting energy is coiled and then released into WATER, the energy that animates winter before rising to continue the cycle.


The concept of seasonal eating is a basic principle in traditional health care systems from around the world. The truth is that people didn’t use to have much of an option. When you don’t have refrigerators and developed transportation systems, you eat what grows when it grows and learn to naturally preserve it, or you find out which foods can be safely stored.

One of the reasons that more people are drawn to this way of eating is that it supports regional self-sufficiency. If we can eat the foods that are produced closer to home it is better for the environment. Another reason to let the seasons guide us in food choices is that it is healthier. With enough flexibility to make a varied diet, the seasons give us what we need and serve as a guide for better health choices.



Hale & Hearty in Winter;

Winter is when the life energy of the earth settles deep within the soil. It is the time of moving within, both socially and physically. The energy of the body wants to move deeper and we have a tendency to conserve energy needed for warmth. We move indoors more and socialize with family and friends. There is a drift towards contemplation and reflection on the past seasons and making plans for the future.


General Considerations

Winter is ruled by the WATER element, which is associated with the kidneys, bladder and adrenal glands. It is a time when nature is silent and still, and at rest. In order to rejuvenate the body and the mind, we also need rest and warmth. The kidneys are of paramount importance to overall physical health and are considered to be the most vulnerable organs at this time of year.

Exercises that help to generate heat and energy in the kidneys, such as certain Pilates and Yoga postures, are extremely beneficial. The kidney energy is also depleted in the winter by long hours of work, excessive exercise or punishing fitness regimes. Little rest, lack of sleep and eating cooling foods are inappropriate for this time of year. If we dampen the warmth of the body in the winter months we are susceptible to colds and fevers.


Health is greatly enhanced by going to bed earlier in the winter and eating good, wholesome hot foods, such as whole grains, legumes, bean stews, soups and warming dinners. This is the season to give yourself permission for a lie in and to encourage yourself to go to bed early. If we take care of our energy in winter and guard against energy expenditure by cultivating quietness and contemplation, we will find ourselves feeling refreshed and healthy in spring.

The body heals and balances itself more quickly when we are still and deeply relaxed. From a place of stillness and deep reflection, we are able to flow with life and change our attitudes, perceptions and life habits with less resistance and personal drama. Nurturing the WATER element is the best way to ensure a long life.


The cooking and food choices outlined for winter are all about warming the body and strengthening the WATER element. If a person is living on a diet all year round that is better suited to hot climates or warm months, they may suffer damage to the kidneys, adrenal glands or sexual organs. The lower areas of the body or kidneys may feel cold, sexual energy may diminish or there may be a weakness in the bones. How many times have you heard someone say that they were chilled to the bone? Cooking for winter can be helpful when the body is locked into a cold condition.


Marlene’s Winter Warming Tea

A great drink for strengthening the kidney, bladder or adrenals.

1 cup adzuki beans

5 cm (2 inch) strip kombu seaweed

4 cups water

Place the adzuki beans in a pot with the kombu seaweed and soak for 4 hours or overnight. Drain, add fresh water and bring to a boil. Lower the flame, cover and simmer for approximately 20–30 minutes. Strain out the beans and drink the liquid while hot. You may continue cooking the beans longer with additional water, until soft and edible. Use the beans in a soup, stew or burgers.



In good health


vegan dish

The Healing Ginger Compress

Marlene Administering A Ginger Compress

As most of you will know, ginger has many healing capabilities and is one of my favourite home remedies.  The purpose of a hot Ginger Compress is to dissolve stagnation, mucus and tension, melt blockages and stimulate circulation and energy flow. This is a wonderful treatment for injuries to the body, especially the back. I use it on clients with scoliosis.

It is particularly good for moving stagnated chi (energy) in the kidneys and the lungs. It also helps heal skin complaints. The heat activity of the compress stimulates the blood and tissue circulation in the area being treated which then facilitates the excretion of the dispersed toxins.

It is effective in dissolving hardened accumulations of fats, proteins or minerals. Examples are kidney stones, gallbladder stones, cysts and benign tumours such as uterine fibroids.

Many types of acute or chronic pain can be relieved such as rheumatism, arthritis, backaches, cramps, kidney stone attacks, toothaches, stiff neck, frozen shoulder and similar problems. It is very effective for those suffering from asthma but will be effective ONLY when dietary recommendations are followed.

A ginger compress can speed up the improvement from a variety of inflammatory conditions, like bronchitis, prostate infection, bladder inflammation, intestinal inflammations (but never appendicitis). It is effective in relieving congestive conditions like asthma. When tissues have been damaged, the compress can speed up the regeneration of the damaged area and is also a wonderful treatment for dissolving muscle tensions.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, grate enough gingerroot into a cotton cloth or handkerchief, to equal the size of a golf ball. Secure with an elastic band. When the water comes to a boil, switch off. Place the ball into the pot and allow it to soak in the water without boiling for about 5 minutes. Place two face towels into the ginger water, wring out one of the face cloths and apply to the desired area on the body. Cover with a hand towel to hold in the heat. Change the facecloth every 2 to 3 minutes as it starts to cool off.

Alternating the cloths quickly is important so that the skin does not cool off between applications. Continue the applications for about 15 to 20 minutes until the skin has turned pink.

The tissues of the walls of the intestine if you are using it there to relieve digestive problems, is thinner than the skin on the back so be careful to use the cloths at a temperature that will not burn you. However, they do need to be hot to stimulate blood flow.

The tissues begin to receive clean, revitalised blood (if we have also changed our way of eating, and it must be emphasised the ginger compress is a waste of time if we do not). The intestines become revitalised, leading to regeneration of the tissues and restoration of their proper, harmonious function.

During Treatment.

As a result of doing this treatment, mucus deposits are gradually dissolved and toxins flushed into the bloodstream. The body may show signs of detoxification or may show no overt signs of cleansing other than increased urination and bowel movement and some fatigue.

Relax after the treatment and drink some filtered water.  The compress should be done three times a week. There will be ample ginger in the water for three applications. Simply bring the water to just below boiling and switch off.

For psoriasis or other skin, complaints place the hot towels from the sternum to the navel to cover the whole intestinal tract.  This is where the healing will take place for problems with the skin. However, you must change to an MACROVegan diet and lifestyle for full benefits and renewed health.

Never apply a ginger compress when a high fever is present or with appendicitis. As the compresses are very contractive (yang) they are hot applications, therefore, should not be used in a dense area of the body such as the brain.

The body is a self-healing organism and always strives for homoeostasis. So, eat well, hydrate and exercise for good energy and vitality. Your body will love you for it.

In good health




The macrobiotic dietary principles have been developed over the past 60 years in America, Europe and Asia. They are based on the philosophy of Asian medicine as practiced in China and Japan. These concepts reflect physical, environmental and social observations for a period of over 5,000 years.  On the surface the philosophy bears little relationship of Western nutritional science yet the conclusions are remarkably similar.

While the diet associated with macrobiotics is usually the Standard Macrobiotic Diet this way of eating is not a “diet” in the strict sense of the word.  Macrobiotics is a way of understanding the effects of different foods and making choices according to individual needs. The modern macrobiotic way of eating is a dynamic and flexible approach to nutrition and general health that can be applied by anyone who is committed to increasing his or her personal health and vitality.

Michio Kushi developed the standard diet in the early 1980’s with assistance from Bill Tara, Ed Esko, William Spear and Murray Snyder. The standard diet was presented to offer a general model of macrobiotic eating. It was not a “diet” for anyone but a rather a set of guidelines. The model was helpful to the growing number of people seeking help with their health who were dealing with cancers, heart disease and a variety of serious illnesses. While thousands of people found assistance in recovering their health using variations of the standard diet, the association of macrobiotics and healing is often misunderstood.

While specific dietary patterns may be suggested to suit specific health issues, the application of macrobiotic principles to nutrition is not an attempt to therapeutically cure the illness.  The macrobiotic approach to eating is focused on assisting the body to recover from nutritional stress, often the result of the modern diet, and return to a healthier state of biological balance.  In the process of returning to a more balanced state the body is able to recover its own self-healing capacity. This process makes it possible for many people to experience a natural recovery of health and in some cases a complete remission of serious symptoms. Specific cooking techniques, home remedies and simple external treatments may be used to speed this process.

During the 1970’s and 1980’s macrobiotic practitioners were criticized by some nutritionists as being “unscientific” and mistaken in the view that there was a direct connection between diet and serious disease. The focus by conventional nutrition on nutritional deficiency ignored the fact that the degenerative diseases of modern society are diseases of excess. The macrobiotic view has been proven true.

The overwhelming evidence of contemporary science is that food is a major contributing cause of many cancers as well as stroke, diabetes, heart disease and a variety of major illnesses. The particular dietary factors most implicated in this relationship are over consumption of meat, dairy and simple sugars. Diets that are dominated by these foods are also usually devoid of whole cereal grains, vegetable protein, adequate fresh vegetables and fruits, seeds and nuts.

The world wide macrobiotic community has played an important role in advocating dietary reform, promoting organic farming, introducing Asian soy products and encouraging individuals and families to become more conscious of food choices and return to meals prepared in the home.

It is the unfortunate truth that even though governments and health agencies recommend plant based diets almost identical to a macrobiotic program their official recommendations are overly friendly to the food industry. Even where the relationship between food and disease is unmistakable the easy road is always taken.  A perfect example of this is obesity.

Obesity is a symptom. The real problem is an increase in diabetes, cancers and heart disease. These are the result of the modern diet and reflect a major shift in eating patterns throughout the world. One of the most accurate signs of this change is world meat production. The 400% increase in production far out runs the rise in population. People who ate meat in 1961 are eating more and an increasing number of people world-wide are being introduced to meat (as well as dairy foods) as a sign of wealth and promised nutritional improvement. Promoting a high animal protein diet runs contrary to the overwhelming epidemiological evidence against it.

The macrobiotic approach to diet that we use at MACROVegan is focused on the use of whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to provide a diverse and healthy diet. Our program avoids meats, dairy and simply sugars that have been shown to have a direct relationship to non-communicable disease. An approach that improves disease prevention can also be helpful in times of illness if the diet provides complete nutritional needs.

Hundreds of international studies have shown that meat and dairy consumption dramatically increase the incidence of heart disease and many cancers. The old theories about the essential use of these foods is obsolete. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, from their 1997 report on diet and cancer prevention:

“There is no essential lower limit of intake of any type of meat, and diets including no meat are not only compatible with good health and low cancer risk, but may be preferred in some settings, especially when plant foods are abundant, reliable and varied.”

The MACROvegan approach to diet acknowledges the overwhelming proof for dietary reform. It also recognizes the positive opportunity to change existing dietary patterns in line with a healthier and earth-friendly way of eating. It is the future of nutrition.

In good health