Food for spring, time for "deep cleansing"

In anatomical terms, give oneself to the spring means open the chest, back and iliopsoas, expand the lungs. In a spiritual sense, it means recover the gifts of childhood e nurture your own personal vision.

Il cibo può aiutare questo processo di apertura e di espansione. Sauro Ricci, cuoco macrobiotico del paese trasferitosi a Lisbona, dove studia presso l'Instituto Macrobiotico De Portugal, e lavora, come secondo chef, nel ristorante 5 Sabores, ci svela in che modo.


In spring we are in the Wood element: the growing Yang, the decreasing Yin. So should we prefer Yin foods (fruit, oils, vegetables, foods with sugars, etc) or make Yang ones prevail (fish, cereals, legumes, etc)? And should cooking times be short or long?

First I think it is appropriate to change the name of the energy phase Wood to Tree, so that the direction of the energy is better expressed. In spring, I think the most important thing to do is to maintain a balanced trend in nutrition, and as my teacher advises Martin Halsey it would be appropriate to do a "cleaning" period.

Halsey proposes a food "lent", a diet of forty days (or less, each with its own possibilities and based on its own motivation) in which the focus is mainly on cereals and vegetables, removing: animal products, oils, fresh fruit, baked goods and stimulants. This means that the liver, the organ that has the most energy at this stage of the year, performs its functions blood filtering like never before, bringing us a deep well-being in the organism. Beyond this, the typical cooking of this season is the quick sautéed (non-stick!).

Wood also evokes the green color, the natural force of the wind and recalls the acid flavor. What are the acid-tasting foods in macrobiotic cuisine and what other foods should they combine with?

There are no properly macrobiotic foods with an acidic taste except for the condiments of the oriental culinary tradition such as umeboshi acidulate, rice vinegar, mirin, etc., which have a strong acidity, but are precisely seasonings. As for vegetables that have a sour taste like celery, leek or the many "green leaves" that we use in the kitchen, these can be lightly seared to accompany the dishes, perhaps with a sauce, or as is the case with leek, chives, they can be cut very finely and used to open the flavor of soups or more composed dishes .

The flavor that I recommend using a little more often this season is thebitter-sweet which is very relaxing for the liver.


The organs associated with the element and spring in traditional Chinese medicine are the Liver (Gan) and the Gall Bladder. The Liver is the impetus of life, which however is quickly exhausted if the support of the Kidneys is lacking. Can you give us an example of a model dish made of foods that help both organs and combine well with each other?

Some azuki beans cooked with kombu seaweed they are great for the kidneys, we can accompany them with del brown rice cooked with a little barley which is together with the farro the cereal that has more characteristics associated with the Energy Tree phase, therefore excellent for the liver, and turnip greens seared with a mustard sauce, a simple and very balanced dish, but I would say even if you allow, very good.


Spring, a period of allergies and asthma-related ailments. Which senses do these disturbances convey from a macrobiotic point of view?

They are disorders related torespiratory system as obvious, but they are disorders that improve significantly if they are eliminated refined sugar e dairy product which are truly foods harmful to the lungs. There is no particular sense attached to these diseases in the macrobiotic perspective. What I can tell you is that with a standard diet you recover from allergies in four months, or 120 days, exactly the time it takes for blood to renew itself completely.



The characteristic of the Wood phase is the growth of buds and shoots, after the winter rest; in symbolic terms, life manifesting its movement and externalizing itself. Does this energetic condition of rebirth and exteriorization affect your gestures as a cook, on the spirit and the way you juggle in the kitchen?

In my opinion theinfluence of nature on what I cook is fundamentaland why the dish is balanced. This is to say that it is far from my instinct at the moment to cook a pumpkin in the oven, or overdo it with fish or maybe do very long cooking. Let's say that I often feel like a channel, a channel in which energy passes, in which a creative force passes, but let's be clear I don't feel like a puppet, I put myself at the disposal of this force and I relate to it, in short the dishes I make are done with four hands, I put two on and two come from far away.


An example of a macrobiotic spring menu of the day, from breakfast to dinner.

Steamed muffins with dried fruit and a cup of kukichà

Spring miso soup (with spring onions and sprouts)
Polenta triangles with grilled tofu and barbecue sauce (macrobiotic of course!)
Strawberry parfait

Cream of carrot and ginger
Tempeh croquettes with round rice and wild rice, steamed vegetables with tahini sauce
Orange jelly with sesame crunch


Enjoy your meal and thank you!


A macrobiotic recipe for the summer


To learn more:

> Macrobiotic diet, the principles


Pictures | Sauro Ricci 


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