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A quickie.

T & I had a flashback to our Japan days while eating dinner the other night.

A quickie.

Lovely

Japanese Mushrooms

from the

Asian Supermarket

are the star of this simple stir fry.

Very loose directions:

Sauté some minced ginger and a sliced green onion in a teeny bit of toasted sesame oil.

Add in 2 packages of 

Bunashimeji

mushrooms.

Let them cook for a few minutes with the lid on. 

The mushrooms let go of a lot of liquid and create a bit of a sauce. 

Add in some cut up carrots and daikon, and a tiny splash of tamari.

Put the lid back on and sauté / steam for a few minutes.

Add in broccoli stems for a few minutes, along with a tiny bit of water.

Add in the broccoli crowns.

Last but not least, add in some kind of green---I'm going to say collards, but any will do!

Simple, fast, and delicious.

We ate it with brown rice (duh).

A quickie.

We ate this almost every week night while we were living in Japan.

We tried many different vegetable combos, and different kinds of mushrooms.

We never got sick of it, because the different kinds of mushrooms give SO much flavour.

What's do you like to put in your stir fry?

What's your favourite kind of mushroom?

How to Make Carrot & Burdock Kinpira

Hey macro-friends ♥

I made a new dish---new to me, that is. Actually, I've been meaning to make it for years! I've tasted it before in Japan, eating out or from the supermarket. But I haven't ever actually made it myself. I suppose it was the call of my fresh supply of burdock that finally beckoned me to put on my creative pants and step into the "new dish" zone. 

In any case, it's about time that I tried a kinpira dish. According to wikipedia, "kinpira is a cooking style that can be summarized as a technique of "sauté and simmer". 

That works for me.

Carrot & Burdock Kinpira

Step 1: Shave the burdock --- just like you would do to sharpen a pencil with a knife. I didn't really measure, but used about 1 whole long burdock.

Step 2: Cut carrots into matchsticks.

To do this, you start by slicing thin diagonals, then stack a few on top of each other, and slice into skinny rectangles, or "matchsticks". I used 3 large carrots. Basically from all the various recipes I have seen, usually carrot & burdock are in equal proportion (so for example, 2 cups of each).

Step 3: Sauté the burdock in a bit of toasted sesame oil for about 3 minutes until some of the liquid starts coming out. I used 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil, and stirred the burdock aroundquite often.

Step 4:  Layer in the carrots on top of the burdock, & add a very tiny sprinkle of sea salt, and
sauté another few minutes, no stirring this time.

Step 5: Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the sauté pan.

Step 6: Cover, and simmer on low heat for anywhere between 15-40 minutes depending on how soft you want the veggies, and which veggies you use. I simmered for about 15 minutes, but I checked to make sure there was still some liquid coming out so the pan wouldn't burn. You can add a tiny bit more water as needed, if you prefer to cook it a bit longer and all the liquid is gone.

Step 7: Add in tamari or shoyu to taste, simmer for 3 more minutes. I did 1.5 tsp of tamari.

Step 8: Garnish with a few toasted sesame seeds (optional). Serve.

YUM!!!

We enjoyed this dish with freshly cooked rice, and some steamed greens to balance out all the concentrated yang energy of salt & root veggies. Overall, a very satisfying dish!

*There are many variations on this dish, some recipes call for matchstick cutting both veggies. others use entirely different veggie combinations. They all look really great to me.

UPDATE: As of right now, October 2015, this dish has become a regular. I've made it with turnips, and also with daikon, in place of burdock for a few different variations. Lately I have been cutting both kinds of veggies into matchsticks, rather than shaving the burdock. Both styles work equally as well. :)

Have you tried kinpira before? What is your favourite method, or which veggies are your favourite to use?

Mushroom Leek Gravy

A rainbow of colourful vegetables provide the perfect crunch, in-between bites of creamy mushroom leek gravy covered brown rice.

Mushroom Leek Gravy

Leeks are a new-to-me vegetable. I tend to not eat many onion-family vegetables, usually only stepping into the territory with the occasional green onion. But since signing up for an organic veggie box delivery every two weeks, I decided to give them a try.

Mushroom Leek Gravy

I decided to explore. Create something new.

I had some brown rice, and steamed veggies, and wanted something a little more rich and creamy. Something with a bit of comfort factor. And it needed to take less than 20 minutes to make, because I was hungry.

Mushroom Leek Gravy

Mushroom Leek Gravy

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound mushrooms of your choice, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 leeks (washed, bottom beard cut off, and sliced into thin rings)
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 Tbsp tamari
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1.5 Tablespoons arrowroot powder (or kuzu)

Directions

  1. Add 2tsp sesame oil to pan, and heat to medium-high.
  2. When the pan sizzles, add in the leeks, and let saute for about 5 minutes until browned.
  3. Stir in the mushrooms, and the thyme.
  4. Place a lid on top, and let saute for about 8 minutes. Checking every few minutes, adding a bit of water if sticking.
  5. Add in the tamari, and let cook about a minute.
  6. Pour in 1.5 cups water.
  7. Dilute the arrowroot in a bit of cold water, stirring out any lumps. Add to pan.
  8. Let cook another 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently until gravy is thickened.
  9. Add in the 1 tsp toasted sesame oil for flavour.
  10. Serve over top brown rice and steamed veggies (recommended vegs: broccoli, carrots, daikon).
Mushroom Leek Gravy
Mushroom Leek Gravy

YUM!!!

To steam veggies;

Place daikon and carrot chunks in an inch of water in a pot. Add a teeny pinch of salt. Bring to boil with lid on. Add in broccoli. Let cook for about 2-3 minutes. That's it!

Brown Rice:

If you need to know how to make brown rice, check out

this post for boiling method,

and

this post for pressure cooking

.

Mushroom Leek Gravy

Lucky me---my veggie box is coming this week. This one is definitely a repeat :) 

Soba soba soba.

Soba. Soba Soba.
So...yummy!

Piles of delicious noodles.
Warm broth.
Vegetables infused with toasted sesame flavour.
Chewy lemony tofu.

In other words, comfort in a bowl.
I can count on one hand the number of times I have eaten noodles in the last few years.

It's sad, because I was in Japan where Udon and Soba were a plenty.
But, it was hard to find 100% buckwheat noodles...most places use a mix of wheat/buckwheat noodles in soba, and udon, while insanely delicious, is made with wheat flour. I did indulge a few times, and loved every bite, but it was very infrequent.

Well, I found all buckwheat noodles here. And it's plenty cold right now (Winter seems to have forgotten that it missed it's chance...March is not time to start blizzarding and freezing). And on a Friday, simple meals are much appreciated. So here it is:

Sesame Veggie Soba Bowl

Ingredients (for 2 big servings):
* 2 bundles of soba noodles (usually they come pacakged with each serving wrapped in a little paper band).
* 6 cups water
* few pinches of sea salt
*2 Tbsp kuzu or arrowroot powder (for a slight thickening)
*1 Tbsp sesame oil
*1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
*1 head of broccoli in small pieces (including the stem)
* 2 smallish carrots, in thin rounds
*2" of daikon, in thin half moons
*half a package of firm pressed tofu (2 servings), cut into pieces and marinated in lemon juice, shoyu, and a few drops sesame oil for at least an hour if possible
* grated or minced ginger to your preference, or about 1Tbsp ginger juice
*1T or more shoyu or tamari (your preference).
Directions
1. Boil water. Add salt, then noodles. Boil according to pkg (mine said for 6 mins).
2. Scoop out noodles into a colander, and rinse with cold water. Let noodles drain.  Keep the noodle water.
3. Mix kuzu/arrowroot powder with a tiny bit of water, stirring until lumps are gone.
4. Add kuzu and ginger juice to noodle water and stir occasionally, letting it come back to boil, then simmer.
6.  Meanwhile, sauté veggies in sesame oils with a lid on. If they become dry, add a teeny tiny bit of water.
6. When veggies are 80% cooked (just about soft), add them to the broth. Shake the condensation from the lid into the noodle pot. Trust me on this one---it's very flavourful.
7.  Add shoyu or tamari to the broth, to taste. Let simmer for at least 5 minutes.
8.  Meanwhile, saute tofu in pan until browned a bit on each side, adding water/oil if needed.
9. Put noodles into the bottom of 2 bowls.
10.. Once the tofu's browned, add it to the veggies and broth. Simmer for ~3 mins.
11. Scoop veggies and tofu into each bowl, and then pour the broth over top.
One of the most satisfying meals I've eaten in ages.

P.S. Recommended eating utensils are chopsticks. Slurp and pour the broth into your mouth straight from the bowl.
How do you like your noodles?

In 11 weeks I'm leaving for...

Can you guess where?

If you like sushi as much as I do, then you probably guessed it: I am going to Japan in only 3ish months! I realized yesterday, that I have been failing to mention this big life change that is coming up right away!

Why am I going to Japan, you ask? Why haven't I mentioned it? Well here's the skinny:

I graduated this past December with a philosophy degree. I know, I know: what do you do with a philosophy degree, right? Well...you get RYA certified and teach yoga! This is what I have been doing since last summer, and I am absolutely loving it! I did my 200 hour yoga teacher training over the summer, and just kind of fell into teaching at my favourite studio (dream job! yipee!!). I have been teaching since september, but not so much in the fall as I was finishing off school. Since December I have been teaching more and more, and have found my groove.

That being said, I applied in November for a teaching english in Japan program. It is a year long contract with the government, and they pay for your flight and a nice hefty salary, which will help with my GIANT STUDENT LOANS. I just found out about a month ago, that I was accepted (it's a REALLY long application process). I am pretty excited to be going to Japan, as I love Japanese culture. I have read almost every Haruki Murakami book out there, love the cuisine, and the country just looks beautiful.

Financially wise, going to Japan is a sound decision, as it will let me pay off a large chunk of my debt. Excitement wise, going to Japan is also a great decision! I love traveling, and I'm only 23, so I can pick up with whatever when i'm back. So why have I been avoiding posting about this? Well, I feel as though I'm finally settling into teaching. I'm done school, which is nice, and I'm supporting myself with teaching classes. This leaves me with plenty of time to do other things I like, and basically lead a simple, happy, and stress-free life. Which is nice after a long and mentally draining degree! I keep thinking that it would be so much easier to stay here in my comfortable routine! And I'm hesitant to give up my teaching here. I feel as though i'm still learning so much, I adore my studio, and I love my teachers and students.

My mind was in battle mode for a long time: teach yoga here vs. crazy adventure over there. After much deliberation, and discussion with my guy (I promised him we would go somewhere when I was done my degree), and discussion with my teacher (he said not to worry, that i'll be able to teach yoga in Japan for sure, and they will always be here when/if I come back), I decided to just go for it, and take the position. But somedays I still feel as though I'm being negligent to my "career" by giving up my teaching jobs here, and that I will desperately miss my studio. Any thoughts you guys? Any reassurances or similar situations you've been in?

Whew. After that crazy venting session, I'll leave you with slightly less words, and lots of foodie photos. I've stopped taking photos of my rice because well, it's rice. You've seen it before. On to my veggie-ful eats:

I have been continuing on my ravenous veggie eating path, and am loving it!
I opened one of the salted seaweed bags I bought the other day, and it was super yummy. Basically, you rinse off all the salt, let the seaweed soak for 10 minutes. Rinse and soak again, and then drain. You can then cut it up and do whatever you like with it! I think my favourite way to eat is is to just dice it up small, and toss with a bit of toasted sesame oil, lemon, and a bit of shoyu! Very macrobiotic, and so delicious.

You can't beat seaweed salad:

Because soy bugs me, and this month i'm trying to be nice to my body, no shoyu in this one. Along with my seaweed salad, I made a really quick stir-fry made up of sui choy, broccoli, carrots, kale, bok choy, brussel sprouts...I think that's it. I stir fried it in water, and added some dulse flakes at the end. Once it had cooled a bit, I added flax oil:

I liked it so much I made another one the next day, and added in some seaweed:

And I have been eating copious amounts of these guys (sugar snap peas)right out of the bag:

So I decided to post today about all of this because I just had my first Japanese lesson last night, and got kinda excited... Have any of you ever had to make a hard choice between leaving a "good career and life opportunity" and "going on an adventure"?

Typical Macrobiotic Day


So I'm always talking about Macrobiotics. But what is macrobiotics? At least...what does it mean for me??
Well, there are plenty of books (I've got most of them kickin' around) that outline the philosophical principles behind macrobiotics, as well as what you can and cannot eat. I want to do a post really soon describing some of these things.
For now, to ease your curiosity (if you have any, that is), here is what it means for me:

A whole lotta whole grains (mostly short grain brown rice, quinoa, and whole oats--although sometimes i get a bit crazy and mix it up with some kasha, or toasted buckwheat, millet, and barley).

Also, a whole lotta veggies. Think greens (kale, collards, sometimes chard), daikon radish, carrots, shitake mushrooms, and squash if I have some.

My ideal breakfast is a serving (a really big one...haha) of whole grains topped with seaweed, with steamed or quick boiled greens, carrots, shitake and daikon radish. Well okay, my ideal MACROBIOTIC breakfast consists of these foods. I am a breakfast gal. My absolute favourite snack / meal at any time of the day was cold cereal. But once I tried macrobiotics, I realized how much BETTER I felt eating WHOLE grains...and have thus been transformed into this kind of breakfast lover.

And vegetables for breakfast? wtf mate? well...I wouldn't knock it till you try it!
They make you feel so lovely and balanced! (even though sometimes I gotta sneak in a bit of sweet at the end, via grains with brown rice syrup and cinnamon, or maybe a squeak of cocoa...shhh...don't tell anyone).

Don't even get me started on SEAWEED. I frickin' love it. I probably crave it the most out of any food now.I top ALL of my grains with a bit of seaweed. Even at breakfast. Dulse flakes are my best friend. I also cook wakame in with my rice...and would gorge every single day on seaweed salad if I could afford it.

Soup is also a major part of the macrobiotic diet. While most meals start with miso soup (1-2 times / day)I usually just sip the vitamin filled water that remains after I quick boil my veggies. I love miso soup, but generally seem to find soy upsetting to my poor little tummy, so I just have the veggie water/soup/stock with my meal (that is what is in the blue mug in the picture above).

The hardest part for most people on a macrobiotic is satisfying the sweet craving. I am a FRUIT LOVER, and this is where I used to get all my sweet satisfaction from. Since switching to a mostly macrobiotic diet, I try to not have that much fruit. They (the "macrobiotic gurus") recommend only having fruit 2-3 times per week--which is probably better for my easily-bloated tummy anyways. Instead, grain based sweeteners like amasake (fermented brown rice drink that is actually delicious), brown rice syrup and barley malt are recommended, and of course even better are sweet vegetables like squash or carrots, or sweet grains like oats! I usually stick to fruit for my fixin' (as little as my greedy little taste buds can make do with), and brown rice syrup. I use brown rice syrup to top off whole grains like brown rice, whole oats and quinoa, or even the less preferred rolled oats or the not so macrobiotic oat bran (not-so-macrobiotic because it is just one part of the grain, and not whole). I also sometimes make desserts using grains, and fruit with kuzu powder (japanese arrowroot)for a pudding like substance, or fruit and agar flakes (like gelatin, but a seaweed!) to make kanteens. If I make one again, i'll post pics. Check out the saladgirl's amazing blog for some macrobiotic dessert photos: http://www.thesaladgirl.com/2009/02/27/unsweetened-dessert-jelly-jell-o/

Another part of my typical macrobiotic day consists of:
chewing...REALLY REALLY well. I have a tendency to scarf down my food, always thinking of what to eat next, and I usually end up with a not-so-happy tummy and a burned tongue. Chewing starts the digestion process, and is SOOO important. It is a continuous goal of mine to chew more...up to 50X per bite!

Also, not eating when i'm not hungry....aka not mindlessly snacking...which I LOVE to do...a big challenge for me. I often end up failing at this *cough*my food dedicated blog with photos of glorious snacks*cough* but i'm trying...and i'm getting better at it.

What do I drink on a macrobiotic diet??
Well...not coffee, that is for sure. I do sometimes sneak in a latte made with almond milk...but that is rare...or rather, SHOULD be rare. teehee. Seriously though: I drink a lot of water, because it's free, and good for you. Kukicha tea (twig tea) is wonderful at balancing the body after a meal, and is a nice substitute for black tea and coffee. I also drink green tea! Dairy should be avoided on a macrobiotic diet, and it upsets me anyways, so that's okay. Sometimes I use unsweetened almond milk, or rice milk.

Fermented Foods are not part of a typical North American diet...but they are certainly important in a Macrobiotic one! Even though they make me a bit gassy (haha...because i'm sure you wanted to know) I try to eat some whenever I can. For me, this usually means a bit of naturally fermented sauerkraut, some pickled daikon radish...and miso occasionally.

And lastly...but what about seasoning, flavouring, and oils?? Well: I usually sprinkle some flax oil on my grains, and some Udo's 3-6-9 oil on my greens (or vice versa). Other oils I use are sesame, toasted sesame, and occasionally olive oil. Toasted nuts and seeds are a great topping as well: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds. Roasted sesame seeds, and sesame salt (gomaisho) are delicious too! And of course, to give your food a bit of a zing: lemon, umeboshi vinegar, ume paste, rice vinegar for sushi, and tamari or soy sauce in cooking (although I have been avoiding it as per soy-tummy-trouble). And of course SEA SALT. I use a pinch when cooking grains, and sometimes sprinkle some on my steamed veggies.

Whew. That was a lot to digest....sorry guys. Make sure you let your mind chew it over really well ;)

Maybe I'll post some photos from tonight's dinner...this is all for now...but there will me more to come, and any questions are welcomed!

Oat Bran Loveliness - Macrobiotic Style

Okay...so I used to think I was a weirdo. After finishing my dinner, my sweet tooth would call me back to the kitchen, leaving me wandering aimlessly for something delicious and healthy to satisfy my craving.

One evening, I discovered mixing a small bit of oats with hot water, cinnamon, a bit of rice syrup, and maybe some amasake or almond milk: and it was delicious. A nice little whole-grain, not too sweet, healthy-ish dessert.

BUT, I was all out of oats one evening, and all I could find in my cupboard was oat bran. My cravings won out, so I just tossed a few tablespoons of oat bran in a cup, added some boiling water, stirred, let is sit, added some more water, and then flavoured with amasake, rice syrup, and cinnamon: DELICIOUS.

Since then, I have been frequently enjoying oatbran as a lovely little mid-day or post-dinner snack. I thought I was the only one who fully realized oatbran's greatness, until I stumbled upon these blogs the last few days:

http://www.thesaladgirl.com/
http://heathereatsalmondbutter.com/

What a delight!! I am not alone in the land of oat bran. So many delicious creations!! These are my two new favourite blogs/websites.

Last night after practicing/teaching 3 yoga classes and working at the studio all afternoon, I was soooo tired and exhausted. I normally don't like to eat in the evenings, but I couldn't help myself this time. So in honour of the new blogging world oat bran craze, I made some oat bran, macrobiotic style:

Oatbran with Toasted Sesame Oil, Sunflower Seeds, and Dulse

boil ~1.5 cups of water on the stove (I used leftover collard/daikon/carrot broth plus some extra water)
add in ~1/3 cup of oatbran
simmer for a few moments

Once cooked until your desired consistency, remove from heat and add to serving bowl.
Let cool for a few minutes.
Stir in Toasted Sesame oil (I used about 1tsp).
Garnish with as much sunflower seeds and dulse as you like! I used dulse flakes, and I like to add it while the oats are still hot, so that they melt in.

MMMMMM so satisfying and delicious!

*** The absolute BEST sunflower seeds I have bought are: Go Raw - sprouted sunflower seeds. They are a bit pricey, but so worth it! They are sprouted, so they are easier to digest, and are seasoned with just a little bit of celtic sea salt! Their sprouted pumpkin seeds are even better, but even more expensive....but if you're going to splurge on something, it may as well be delicious ingredients!