interview with berkshire vegan + a simple cashew cheese sauce

Posted in dessert, interview, macrobiotics, vegan by jill on September 22, 2010

Image courtesy of the Berkshire Vegan

I was introduced to Yukiko Sato, better know as the Berkshire Vegan, the minute I bit into her cashew cream vanilla cake. Turns out this talented vegan/macro lass has her own catering business and offers classes around the general vicinity. I’ve personally been inspired by vegan desserts and dairy alternatives in cooking and baking, Yukiko clearly has it down. You go girl!

First off, where did you get that recipe for that cake? Was it a recipe you improvised from the book you were mentioning or did you alter it? Everyone at Kushi Institute was raving about how delicious it was!

Thank you! Sweet and Natural by Meredith McCarty is the book. The book gives some leeway as to what sweetener or milk substitute you use but it’s pretty much based on the recipe. I like to use half maple syrup and half brown rice syrup for sweetener. If you use only rice syrup, the cake tends to get dense and heavy and if you use only maple syrup, the taste is a bit overpowering.


Yukiko’s scrumptious vanilla cakes

So, what got you in the kitchen in the first place? And what inspired you to become vegan/macrobiotic?

I always loved cooking when I was a little kid. My mom’s a good cook and used to bake a lot. Soon I kind of took over when I was young. I’ve been health conscious and became interested in making healthy desserts. In the beginning, I would make really dense and heavy tasteless desserts and made my mom say, “I like it better with butter and sugar and heavy cream.” Taking some macrobiotic dessert classes in Tokyo inspired me and that made me want to learn about macrobiotics.

What’s inspiring you these days?

Cookbooks and recipes online (,, Also when I see fresh local ingredients that are in season, I ponder what I can do with them.

What’s your motto when you start making delicious creations like the vanilla cakes we consumed that evening?

To have a clear vision of what I want to make, taste wise and presentation wise. I like to be organized so I can proceed in a calm manner.

What’s the most essential ingredient you use in macro/vegan cooking and why?

Love! I really believe energy you put in food makes a lot of difference.

What knife brand do you use?

NHS, the one that the Kushi Store carries.

Actually, what are other must-have kitchen weapons that any macrobiotic ninjas must own? Any recommended brands?

Good blender (I love Vita-Mix). I know too much creaminess is not so good but it’s important to be able to make something that has a creamy/comforting mouth-feel especially if you are cooking for someone that’s just transitioning to macrobiotics. Stainless steel cookware, wooden spoons and a rubber spatula (my favorite kitchen tool!) are important, I think.

What music do you rock out to while cooking?

Depends on my mood that day. Sometimes jazz, sometimes rock. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Hawaiian music.

Anything on your bookshelf that you love?

I have too many books that I love. Christina Pirello, Jessica Porter, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. A lot of times I don’t strictly follow recipes but like to flip through cookbooks to get ideas. The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld is a good one if you want to make something nice and fancy. Simple Treats by Ellen Abraham has a lot of nice cookie recipes.

You have the whole day off. Where do you go to chill out?

I like hanging out at health food stores or kitchen specialty stores to check out new products and gadgets. Or bookstores to flip through cookbooks.

What’s your 9 Star Ki?

I’m a 3 tree. Yep, creative and organized but wishy washy!

Image Courtesy of the Berkshire Vegan

Image courtesy of the Berkshire Vegan

For any cheese fanatics, Yukiko left me with a quick and simple recipe of hers. She recommends to eyeball the proportions if the measurements are off.


1/2 cup cashews
1 cup water
1 tbs sweet miso
2 tsp ume paste
2 tbs nutritional yeast
Little bit of onion powder and garlic powder

Blend everything until smooth in a blender and heat up in a saucepan. Throw in some cooked pasta and veggies you like (peas, cooked broccoli, onions, etc.), add salt if necessary, crack some black pepper and serve.

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a healing dinner

Posted in cooking by jill on March 22, 2010

Recently, I had a trip to the emergency room. Everything turned out fine in the end, but I was a little shaken by the experience and hope the situation will never happen again.

I was actually hesitant to share this, but the entry today is a toast to our nation’s healthcare system. We must always remember to actively take care of ourselves.

I was looking to make a more healing dinner – something that would nourish the soul, mind, and body. I made a lotus daikon miso soup as well as hijiki wild/brown rice with mung beans, shiitake, goji berries and pumpkin seeds. This was paired perfectly with a piping hot cup of green tea.

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Posted in cooking by jill on March 16, 2010

Sometimes I have those nights where I return late and all I want is something light and warm to fill my stomach. To me, the most comforting quality of the soup is chopping fresh vegetables and soaking seaweed and shiitake. It’s a slow and calming process and this sort of therapy is free.

On this particular night, I made a light udon miso soup and a quick stirfry. They say never go to bed angry. I say never to go to the bed overly satiated. Unless it’s chocolate or some type of dessert.

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