For thousands of years, societies have incorporated food into their health and wellness practices, and yet currently the world is overwhelmed by “lifestyle diseases” – obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, the list goes on. Fortunately, these ailments can be prevented (and, in many cases, overcome) by what you eat.
The R-emergence of the Five Healing Cuisines.
Ayurveda, Macrobiotics, Raw and Living, Vegan, and Vegetarian. The time-honored practices of using food as medicine unify the principles of these five traditional healing cuisines into a present-day method of individualized healing, one that also happens to be the basis for exciting new forms of cuisine.
The Five Healing Cuisines combine ancient and contemporary healing practices, refining them for the modern eater. The uniqueness of each individual, and their process of creating a diet using food as medicine, is the reason these cultural cuisines have been selected for their ability to treat everyone, based on personal structure and constitution.
The benefits of each of these cuisines offer an extensive knowledge base to draw from, and a unique perspective on food as healing. If you apply them non-dogmatically, they’re a good starting point for developing a personalized diet for contemporary living:
- Vegetarian. Abstains from consuming meat in any form, often resulting in better digestion and reduced inflammation.
- Vegan. Goes a step further, removing all animal products from the diet, which may benefit heart health for some since dietary cholesterol from animal sources is eliminated.
- Raw and living foods. Excel in preserving living enzymes in food, offering your body an abundant supply of nutrients that can sometimes diminish during cooking.
- Ayurveda. Utilizes ancient Indian practices of balancing the body using food and spices.
- Macrobiotics. Encompasses Eastern traditions of harnessing the healing power of local and seasonal grains, vegetables, sea vegetables, and fermented foods.
The plethora and the dearth.
Austin is one of the most health and fitness-oriented cities in the U.S. – yoga, runners, swimmers, bicyclists, crossfitters, bootcampers, and 5 and 10K’ers are everywhere. So how come there’s not a healthy restaurant on every corner?
Like everywhere else, there’s a plethora of places serving what the January issue of Bon Appetit magazine calls the new trend, Healthy-ish – comfort food that also happens to be good for you. There are also plenty of V, VEG, and GF menu items on menus, along with local and even organic ingredients.
New transplants from other big metropolitan areas, however, are often surprised to find a dearth of exclusively vegetarian and vegan indoor restaurants, even though there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan food trucks. Vegetarian stalwarts Mr. Natural and Mother’s Café have been around for decades, the vegan Counter Culture is a relative newcomer that started out as a food truck before getting a roof over its head, and there are no longer any Austin restaurants that come to mind that are focusing exclusively on raw food.
Why not? Where’s the no-beef?
For starters, this is still Texas, even if it’s one of the
trendier parts – one of the most internationally famous dining establishments in town is a miniscule barbecue joint on the East Side. There are, however, plenty of folks ready to eat healthy and creative cuisines. Until recently, though, there may not have been enough trained professionals to prepare it and to educate people’s palates on the possibilities of innovative and tasty dishes using the principles of the Five Healing Cuisines.
Yoga Yoga, an Austin institution, started taking steps to change that when they merged with Natural Epicurean in 2009, expanding their teaching program into a full-fledged culinary arts academy specializing in healthy food based on the Five Healing Cuisines. Natural Epicurean’s curriculum offerings include:
- A 900-hour Professional Culinary Program.
- A Cooking Together Program, with online learning and
cooking classes for the public.
- A Physician’s Kitchen Program, allowing healthcare
practitioners to provide their patients with hands-on instruction in healthy culinary options.
Healing with food is a good idea. Healing with food that tastes good because it’s been creatively prepared by trained professional chefs is a better one.
Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts at offers serious cooking, passionate healing, and elevated learning. 1700 S. Lamar, #316. For information on all programs, call (512) 476-2276, or visit www.NaturalEpicurean.com.