Macrobiotic Week – Make-Aheads!

If you take the time to prepare a few items in advance, you will thank yourself all week!

Cooking grains all day (or for an hour or two) will make you feel all earthy and comforted. Breathing in the aromas and then storing each grain into its own container will help you to start feeling nourished even before you begin eating them. If you set aside the time, make it a relaxing experience, you will enjoy this! Assembling and processing other make-ahead items while grains are cooking will give you a great head start for an intensely nourishing week of meals. I feel relaxed just thinking about it!


Make-Ahead Grains

If you own a pressure-cooker, it is recommended that you use it for grains and other dishes. You can cook these each day for each meal. However, because grains are consumed in significant quantities on a macrobiotics diet, preparing them in advance saves time. Store refrigerated in a sealed container. The amount desired can be easily reheated. Add a little water to the grain(s), cover and reheat on the stove-top in a small pot. 

If you do not have a rice cooker…

Brown Rice

Cook rice at a ratio of 1 cup rice to 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover. It will take about 40-50 minutes to cook. Once cooked, allow to rest off heat for about five minutes. Fluff with a fork.


Note: You can reduce cooking time substantially by soaking barley for at least one hour or overnight first.

For unsoaked barley: Cook barley at a ratio of 1 cup barley to 2 cups water. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover. It will take about 30-40 minutes to cook. Once cooked, allow to rest off heat for about five minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Wheat berries

Cook wheat berries at a ratio of 1 cup berries to 3 cups water. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover. It will take about 30-50 minutes to cook. When desired texture is reached, drain. Fluff with a fork.


Cook millet grains at a ratio of 1 cup grains to 2 cups water. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover. It will take about 15-20 minutes to cook. Once cooked, allow to rest off heat for about five minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Seitan Options

Seitan is vital wheat gluten. 

  1. Make homemade seitan from whole wheat flour and spring water. You can find a recipe in The Macrobiotic Way, by Michio Kushi and Stephen Blauer. If you are going to adopt macrobiotics on a full-time basis, it may be worth your while to learn to prepare it in this way.
  2. Make your own seitan by purchasing a box of vital wheat gluten and cooking according to directions on the package. If it calls for soy sauce, use tamari instead.  It is easy to make and and you will probably save money as well, as opposed to using prepared seitan.
  3. Purchase a good quality prepared seitan. 

Mochi Options

Make your own or purchase. I am purchasing this time.

  1. In The Macrobiotic Way, you will find a very labor intensive method for preparing your own mochi from sweet brown rice. This includes 1 hour of pounding rice, followed by a couple days of drying.
  2. Purchase a good quality prepared mochi from a health foods grocer.


Soft Cereals – Congee

Congee, called “soft cereals” in macrobiotics, takes hours to cook, unless a pressure cooker is used. The idea is to break down rice to a highly digestible level. This method makes foods which are added in, more bioavailable – you absorb more nutrients. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it has long been believed that the longer congee is cooked, the more powerful it becomes. This is a very healing food, as it is especially beneficial for individuals in convalescence, those undergoing radiation and chemo, and anyone who has been overworked and under-rested.

You can cook any of the following recipes in a pressure-cooker. Alternatively, use the Congee method as described below. Adjust ratio of each recipe according to what you will consume. Smaller amounts will require less cooking time, so keep an eye on it! Add water as needed. You are looking for a creamy porridge consistency.

Soft Rice Cereal

Garnish with sliced scallions and toasted nori.

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 5 cups water
  • pinch of sea salt, 1/2 umeboshi plum, or about 3/4 – 1 T umeboshi plum paste

Whole Oats with Raisins

Garnish with gomashio or dulse flakes

  • 1 cup whole oats
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • pinch of sea salt

Soft Millet and Squash

Garnish with chopped scallions or parsley, if desired

  • 1 cup millet
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup buttercup squash or Hokkaido pumpkin, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • pinch of sea salt

Soft Barley

Optional garnishes: chopped scallions, toasted nori, sea salt, tamari

  • 1 cup barley, pre-soaked 6-8 hrs
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 konbu strip, 6 inches long, soaked (warm water for about 5 minutes) and cut into one inch squares
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • pinch of sea salt


Place all ingredients from chosen cereal into a slow cooker or pot on the stove top. Simmer for 4 to 6 hours. In Chinese medicine, it is believed that the longer congee simmers, the more powerful it becomes. Stir occasionally. Add water as needed. You are looking for a porridge consistency and you do not want it to dry and stick to the bottom of the pot.



Adzuki Beans

Very warming, and easily digestible. adzuki beans are used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) to promote kidney and bladder health. They are a very good source of magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and B vitamins. 

Soak beans for at least one hour. Drain. Place in a pot on stove-top, covered in water. Bring to boil; reduce to simmer. Cook til tender. Depending on the amount of beans, cooking time will vary between about 35 minutes to 1 hour.

Homemade Pickles

This constitutes a small, but significant element on a macrobiotics diet. Fermented vegetables maybe purchased, but it saves money and time to prepare them at home. Also, it adds variety and interest.

Here’s how: click here for a variety of pickle recipes

Baked Goods

Sourdough Bread

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • spring water
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour or 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups rye flour
  • a pinch to 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1 T sesame oil (optional)
  • about 1 cup spring water, may need a little more to bring it together. Can you believe this was left out of the recipe in the book?

Make sourdough starter by adding enough water to 1/2 cup whole wheat flour to make a thick batter. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to ferment for 3-4 days in a warm place.

In a large bowl mix the rest of the flour and salt together, add oil (if desired), and combine thoroughly by hand. Mix in 1/2 to 1 cup of sourdough starter and about 1 c water. Knead 300-350 times. (For variety, you may knead in 3/4 to 1 cup diced onion, 3/4 – 1 cup raisins, or 1/4 – 1/2 cup roasted seeds or nuts.)

Oil a bread pan with sesame oil and dust with flour. Place dough in pan and cover with a damp cloth. Let sit 8-12 hours in a warm place. After dough has risen, bake at 200° for 30 minutes and then at 350° for one hour or so.

Raisin-Nut Cookies

  • 3 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 T corn oil
  • 1 c barley malt
  • 1 c  water

Mix rolled oats, sea salt, flour, raisins and nuts together. Add oil and mix again. Add barley malt and mix thoroughly. Add water to make a thick batter. Place spoonfuls of batter about 1 1/2 inches apart on oiled cookie sheets and press down to form cookies. If cookies are too thick, they will not cook thoroughly. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. This recipe will yield between 1 and 2 dozen cookies.



  • 1 1/2 T sea salt
  • 1 c black or tan sesame seeds

Place sea salt in a stainless steel skillet and roast over medium-low heat for several minutes, constantly stirring back and forth. Grind sea salt to a fine powder. (A suribachi, mortar and pestle, is commonly used. Use any processor or grinder you have available.)

Heat a dry stainless steel skillet and place washed sesame seeds in it. Dry-roast seeds for several minutes, constantly stirring back and forth to roast evenly. When seeds give off a nutty fragrance, and begin to pop, remove from heat and place in a suribachi (mortar and pestle) with ground sea salt. Grind in a slow circular motion until sesame seeds are about half crushed. Remove and allow to cool. When gomashio is cool, store in an airtight glass container.

Sprinkle a small amount of this condiment on rice or other dishes.


Several meals require soaking legumes and grains. This is easy; you just have to remember to do it! Soaking provides another method for making nutrients in beneficial foods even more bio-available, and it reduces cooking time. Simply plan ahead!

Additional Prep

Many items can be prepared the day before they are to be cooked. This will make cooking just before mealtime much easier. Simply look ahead a day or two on the week’s menu and recipe postings for suggestions each day.


Fresh vegetables should be prepared just prior to consuming, keeping them “living” until cooked will maximize their nutritional value.

* Recipes above are modified versions of those by Michio Kushi and Stephen Blauer, from The Macrobiotic Way.


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7 thoughts on “Macrobiotic Week – Make-Aheads!”

  1. This is good, basic and efficient. Preparing ahead of time is one of my main motivations. I am not one to spend a lot of time in the kitchen everyday. If I have to start every meal from scratch, I often get lazy. This will help prevent me from grabbing a bite of something sweet just to kill my appetite and missing a healthy meal. Thanks again for walking me through this.

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