Sesame Dressings: Korean and Japanese Style

Store bought dressings are typically and unfortunately the unhealthy part of the salad, because of the amount of additives that are usually in. Here are 2 types of sesame dressings that many people have enjoyed when I make them. Traditionally, these “dressings” are both used for marinating lightly cooked or steamed vegetables, but you can also use as a regular dressing on top of fresh vegetables. The key to the great aroma is to use the roasted sesame which you can easily make and store them or you can purchase at Asian grocery stores. 

1) Japanese Sesame Dressing 

This is called, “goma-ae” in Japanese. You can really enjoy the taste of roasted sesame with this dressing. This is more like  a paste then a dressing, so it is much easier to use with cooked vegetables (see below for instruction)

Ingredients 

  • 3-4 tbsp Roasted sesame, grounded (or little different version, you can use tahini instead)
  • 1 tbsp Soy source 
  • 1 tbsp or less honey, maple syrup, molasses, or any natural sweetener

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, add vegetables (see below) mixed well

1) Korean Sesame Dressing 

This is called, “Namul” in Korean. It has a well balanced spice of garlic & ginger, and goes really well with rice!

Ingredients 

  • 2 tbsp Roasted sesame
  • 1 tbsp Soy source 
  • 1 tbsp Rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp ginger, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, add vegetables (see below) mixed well

Tips: Vegetables typically used are such as spinach, beans, carrots and/or bean sprouts. Boil water in a large pot with a pinch of salt, then boil vegetable lightly (vegetables are tender enough, but still has little crunchiness). Take the vegetable out when it is ready, and cool it down with a cold running water. Drain exsess water well from the vegetables and mix/marinate with either of dressings above.

Sesame is a great source of fiber and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper, also is high in amino acid, tryptophan.

Traditional Kelp Soup Stock

I think one of the nutritious food items that is so hard to introduce in Canadian daily meal is KELP (Kombu in Japanese). Here in Toronto is especially so faraway from the ocean, that smell of “sea” is somewhat foreign to people.

Making a soup stock is one idea of using kelp in quite paritable way! The bonus is it is super simple!  

This is a traditional way of taking soup stock from kelp in Japan. We use this in any type of soup, hot-pot, and cook with vegetables (nimono). When you mix this stock in soup (such as miso soup, chicken noodle, stew etc),  you will hardly know there is kelp in it. So I think this would be a good way to introduce kelp to children, too!

Kelp Soup Stock 1 (cold-water extracted)

Ingredients:

  • Dried kelp, about 4′ x 8′ (about 30g) 
  • Filtered water, 1L
Direction:
Wipe the surface of kelp with a dry cloth to clean (never wash it!). Put kelp in water and extract it for 10-12 hours. Take kelp out and use the soup stock. You can also eat or cook this kelp!
In Japanese home, we usually prepare the stock in the morning to use it for dinner, or just prepare it overnight. Kelp is also an alkalizing food because of its rich mineral contents, so it is recommended to drink a glass of this stock first thing in a morning!

 

Kelp Soup Stock 2 (hot-water extracted)

Ingredients

  • Dried kelp, about 4′ x 8′ (about 30g) 
  • Filtered water, 1L
Direction:
This is a quicker way of taking broth. Wipe the surface of kelp with a dry cloth to clean (never wash it!). In a large pot, put kelp and water and soak for 30 min. Place this pot on medium heat, slowly bring it to boil, and just before boiling, take kelp out of soup stock. Again, you can also eat or cook this kelp!
Variation:
You can also add dried Shiitake mushroom in the soup to add more flavour + nutrient (Shiitake is a great immune enhancer). You can add 5 dried Shiitake mushroom in a large pot with kelp and water for soaking 30 min. Place this pot on medium heat, slowly bring it to boil, and just before boiling, take kelp out of soup stock but leave the Shiitake mushroom in the stock. Reduce the heat to low-medium, simmer for another 30 min.
Here is a little highlight for the benefit of Kelp
  • good source of minerals including: iodine, potassium, magnesium, calcium, boron, and iron (important for healthy thyroid gland and bone)
  • Good source of vitamins including: b vitamins, vitaminC and E
  • Cancer prevention: has ability to induce apoptoses (cell death) in cancer cells
  • Remove radioactive substances: Sodium alginate in kelp (as well as in other seaweeds) reduce absorption of radioactive strontium by the intestine.
  • Anti-inflammatory: kelp contains fucoidan, a powerful anti-inflammatory

What is Natto?

Natto is a traditional, yet still a common daily Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. It has a distinctive pungent smell, like of aged cheese, and stringy consistency due to the beneficial bacteria, bacillus subtilis. So many people in the West tend to NOT like it…

However Natto is being slowly introduced to the West and becoming more popular due to its many health benefits:

  • One of the best source for vitamin K2 (helps build strong bones, antioxidants, helps cardiovascular health)
  • High in well balanced protein, iron, manganese, magnesium, and calcium
  • Contains Nattokinase, which has been shown to dissolve the blood clots
  • Because of fermentation, natto can enjoy the benefit of soy such as cancer prevention, with much reduced amount of “anti-nutrients” that soy has
  • Enjoy all the benefit of beneficial bacteria (read more from here)
  • Also there are more nutrients in natto yet to discover (such as vitamin PQQ etc), and has a potential benefit in Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, cardiovascular health, and stroke

How do you eat it?
Traditionally eaten with rice (natto sushi rolls are also common!), it is also possible to mix with more western foods as well such like pasta, salad, etc. You can find your best way to eat it! I found for the beginners, mixing natto with shallot or chive, vinegar, salt and olive oil and have it like a salad is nice way to eat it.

Where can you buy it?
Find them in Asian grocery stores in your area. Try to get the non-GMO, organic types as often as possible. Most of natto comes with sauces or brines that can contain high fructose corn syrups and the like. So do not use the syrups, you can simply use soya sauce, or salt.

Spring Celebration: Fiddlehead & Asparagus Soup

Spring equinox is quickly approaching, so I wanted to share something to celebrate this wonderful weather we have been having! It is still early for our regular fiddlehe

ad season, but most likely we will be having early fiddlehead season this year.

Fiddleheads are the tops of baby ostrich ferns. They are great source of antioxidants, high in iron, magnesium and other minerals. They are also a source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. When you buy fiddleheads, look for a tight coil with only an inch or two of stem beyond the coil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 tbsp of butter or coconut oil
  • 3 green onion or a bunch of chive, chopped finely
  • 3 tbsp flour (or brown rice flour to make it gluten free)
  • 3 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 20 fiddleheads, cleaned well
  • 1 parsnips, chopped in pieces
  • 2 stalk of celery, chopped
  • natural salt and peppers for taste
  • freshly graded nutmeg for taste
  • 1.5 to 2 cup of milk or any substitute
  • OPTIONAL: a bunch of young nettle leaves, chopped
  • OPTIONAL: fresh Ontario goat cheese for a topping
Direction:
  1. Preparing asparagus by snapping off the ends. Place asparagus in ovenware, sprinkle natural salt and pepper, covered with top or with foil. Grill asparagus in 475F for 5-10 min until tender, set aside.
  2. Melt butter (or coconut oil) in large soup pot at low heat. Add green onion and cook until tender. Blend in flour to make a roux; cooking for 2 minutes at low hear. 
  3. Whisk in stock in batches. Add oven grilled asparagus, fiddleheads, parnsips and celery (and nettle) to pot. Bring to boil on med-high heat and stir occasionally. Once it boils, bring down  to low-medium heat, cover, simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Puree soup in blender then return to pot. Stir in milk and seasonings.
  5. Optional: for a decoration, top with fresh goat cheese and a boiled fiddlehead on soup  

NOTE: Fiddleheads contain natural substance that can cause gastric irritation, so take the brown fussy covering with your fingers and wash well before cooking, and make sure to cook well!

 

Harmony in Gut

This is from Yuri’s Village Feburary 2012 Newsletter. Sign-up Free for health tips, latest events from here

You already may know my special interest in fermented foods and probiotic; here, I want to share a little taste of why I get so excited about these bacteria!

For each of us, the gut is home to about 100 trillium bacteria with which we live inharmony. They are first line of protection against infection, help optimal immune function of the body, aid digestion, provide nutrition to the cells, produce vitamins, eliminate toxins, keep disease causing bacteria in control, prevent allergy, and of course more! In a mice study, it was found that chemicals that associate with emotion and behaviour, such like serotonin and dopamine are regulated by gut bacteria, showing the connection with brain function and gut bacteria (1). There are even mounting evidence that a healthy gut bacteria help maintain a healthy weight by bacteria extracting calories from the food we eat. Further more, multiple studies have shown that people with obesity have different intestinal bacteria than slim people (2, 3).
So these bacteria are vital to our health, and any disruption can result in life threatening conditions tochronic diseases.

There are actually quite a lot of factors that disrupt our health of gut bacteria such factors are: use of antibiotics, steroids, birth control pills, and drugs in general, consuming a poor diet & alcohol, also exposure to pollution, and radiation.

It is best to get bacteria from healthy balanced food (2). There are about 800 bacterial species with more than 7,000 strains in the average gut. Some of them are similar, but their functions are different. Supplementation with probiotic is useful when we need a specific strain to help the body fight or heal, however, compare to fermented food in where these bacteria naturally live, supplementation only gives you one or a few strains.

Further more, by fermenting the food, it increases nutrition of the food (ie. sauerkraut has more vitamin C then raw cabbage), and makes easy to digest and assimilate nutrients by the body.
Just make sure your fermented food has living bacteria. The best way to make sure if you make your own! (See how to make it: click here)Body is like our planet earth. We can find many of the same materials, elements, or chemicals on the earth in our body. Also just like human beings are living on the earth, bacteria live in us. If you want the environment (your body) to be healthy place, you want to make the residents (bacteria) happy and healthy! We live in a mutually beneficial state with bacteria, so we need to co-operate as a one unit.

References:

  1. Rochellys Dias Heijtz, et al. “Normal gut microbiota modulated brain development and behaviour”. PNAS, online early edition 31 January – 4 February 2011.
  2. Medical College of Georgia, “Eating Right – Not Supplements – Is Best At Keeping Your Good Bacteria Healthy, Dietitian Says”. ScienceDaily, 21 October, 2009.
  3. Joesph Mercola, “Dietitian Says Eating Right is Best Way to Optimize Good Gut Bacteria”. Mercola.com, 10 November, 2009.

“Simple is The Best” Salad

This is really a simple easy salad with full of antioxidant-rich vegetables! Also this salad uses root vegetables which is tend to be yang to neutral in nature, so it does not cool your body down like salad with tomato and cucumber, and it is a good winter fresh salad!

Ingredients (for a medium bowl of salad)

  • 4 large leaves of kale
  • 2 medium beets
  • 2 medium carrots (you can use different colours of carrots)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 2-3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 anchovy fillet (or sea salt for taste)

Direction

  1. Chop kale into thin strips (thinner the easier to eat!) put them into a salad bowl
  2. Grade beets, carrots and ginger on top of kale
  3. Mince or crash garlic, and mix with vinegar, oil, finely chopped anchovy (or salt) and use as a dressing.

Because his is so simple, you can add any extra vegetables, nuts & seeds, and/or fresh goat cheese (which goes really well together!) to have a variation!

Nutrients

  • Kale: high in vitamin K, C and A, fiber, and manganese. Rich in nutrients for antioxidants, anti-inflammation, and anti-cancer effects.
  • Beets: high in folate, manganese, fiber, potassium, tryptophan, and vitamin C. Rich in nutrients for antioxidants, promoting detoxification, and anti-inflammation
  • Carrot: high in vitamin A, K, C and B6. Supports the healthy vision and the heat.

Miso Soup for anti-radiation

“Miso soup” has been a quite common food in Canada through an introduction of Japanese restaurants. In Japan, miso soup is a daily food which most of people eat at least once a day (it used to be once per meal!). Miso soup has now recognized its health benefit especially as a protection from radiation damage. In fact after the nuclear bomb in Nagasaki, one of the doctor based at a hospital recorded miso soup was very helpful in recovery due to a wide of nutrients which was in a easily assimilated form, also the good bacteria from the fermentation, and seaweed particularly the kelp which is high in minerals and helped remove radioactive metals such as strontium and iodine.

Unfortunately the most of restaurant miso soup uses MSG as a “instant” soup stock. Fortunately miso soup is REALLY easy to make at home! Typical soup stock uses fish as a part, but in this recipe I will introduce vegan ingredients which would be easier to get in Canada.

Miso Soup (for 2)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup Filtered water
  • 10 cm x 10 cm square size of Kelp (kombu) (wipe with a dry cloth, do not wash it!)
  • 2 Sun-dried Shiitake mushroom
  • Miso 2-3 table spoon
  • Seasonal vegetables, tofu, wakame, green onion etc your favorite combo.

Direction

  1. In a medium size pot, put water and soak kelp and mushroom in room temperature at least for 30 min.
  2. Place a pot on a high heat, bring the water to boil. When the water reach to boil, take kelp out and bring the heat down to simmer.
  3. Add any hard vegetables (root vegetables etc) and cook them until tender. Add any leafy vegetables, tofu at this point, cook for a minute, and turn off the heat.
  4. In a small soup dish, mix miso with some of hot soup to melt miso, then put this into the pot with the rest of soup
  5. Serve in a soup dish, add fresh green onion or any other fresh herbs for taste.

Beef Stew with Winter Squash

Squash is one of my favorite vegetables, even it does need quite an effort to cut and cook it! So when I finally decide to cut a squash, I usually make a big butch of soup (recipe). But this time, I made a comforting beef stew with winter squash for dinner…and it’s becoming one of our favourite foods!

The day after is always the best for beef stew, so make a big portion and enjoy the left over next day, too.

This beef stew recipe is from my mom’s and I modified over the years, so enjoy and share it with your friends!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium squash (any kind that you like)
  • 1.5 – 2 lb stewing beef, cut in cubes
  • 3 tbsp flour (can be rice flour, buckweat to make it gluten free)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 riped tomatoes or 1 can of whole tomato
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 clobes finely chopped garlic
  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • a pinch of salt, black pepper
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Toping: pumpkin seed, roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper in 350F oven for 5-10 min

Direction

  1. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto stewing beef, and add flour (or substitute) to coat the surface (this process makes beef to keep its juice, and makes it so tender). Heat a flying pan on a high heat, put olive oil and place meat. Do not move too much until the surface is cooked well, then turn it to different side, and cook all the surface of cubed meet.
  2. Meanwhile, in a big pot, place olive oil, onion and garlic and saute on medium-low heat until onion becomes golden. Add fresh tomatoes and cook it down or add canned tomato.
  3. When the meat is cooked well, add meet into the pot with onion and tomato. Add some water into a pan, and take as much juice from the pan into the water.
  4. Cut squash, carrot, potato in a one bite size and add all to the pot, stir for 2 minutes.
  5. Add water from the pan, red wine and rest of water in the pot, bring the heat to high and let it boil slowly. Stir the vegetable occasionally. When it starts to boil, add bay leaves and bring the heat down to medium-high and continue cooking vegetables until all the root vegetables are tender.
  6. Season with salt & pepper and stir well.
  7. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle some roasted pumpkin seeds

“Can we eat to starve cancer?” by William Li

The idea of “Food is Medicine” has becoming a general knowledge, but how is it so? and is it really?

I watched this clip a while ago, and fascinated by what simple, common food can do to protect ourself from developing cancer. I hope this motivate you to eat a plenty of veges today as it did to me!!

William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer? (click to watch)

This video was filmed in Feb. 2010 by TED.

Vitalize with Change of Season Soup

Last couple of days, the air has been cooling down, and I have noticed many people started to develop some cold symptoms. As we are always in a close relationship to the natural environment, with a change of season our body also goes into a transition. As a result, during this time, we tends to develop cold like symptoms (like fatigue, nasal obstruction, sore throat, headache, etc), or any part of the “weak spot” of the body tend to surface.

“Change of Season Soup” is one of my favourite ways to .support the smooth transition of the immune system. This soup is made of 4 commonly used Chinese herbs, design to enhance the immune system, to prevent a cold and flu, and to resist the body from everyday stress. It can be drink as a tea or soup for about 2 weeks during the change of season (especially from summer to fall). If you already developed a cold, treat the illness first, and drink this when you recovered from it.

Ingredients

Astragalus membranaceus: Helps elevate energy, helps build immune system and blood.

Codonopsis pilosula: Used as a tonic for weakness, fatigue and enhance immune system.

Dioscorea sinensis (Chinese yam): Helps the function of lung by hydrating and improves protective mechanims of the Lung.

Lyciium barbarum (Goji berries): Rich in antioxidants, improve circulations and boost immunity.

For basic stock: In a large pot, add 1-2L of water and about 2 to 3oz each of the herbs avobe. Cover the top and bring to boil, simmer for 4-6 hours. Top the water as necessary.

This basic stock has a mild sweatness and bitterness. For your taste, you can use this as a soup base to make your own chicken soup! Also check here to see herbs for chicken soup that also helps for the infection.

Good quality of self-care is highly recommended this time of the season. Eat well, rest well, and be well!

If you want to prepae for cold season, we offer herbal tincture making workshop on Wednesday Sept. 21, 2011! See detail from the website