Bowls of Morning Miso

Flipping through our well thumbed clinic copy of The Whole Foods Nutrition cookbook we were struck by the idea of Miso soup for breakfast. It seemed so odd, so out of place, and yet so completely perfect.  

A traditional Japanese breakfast, miso soup is cleansing, light, nourishing, and filled with beneficial bacteria. It stimulates your digestive system and is easily absorbed by your body. You will feel energized as you move through your day and your digestion will be grateful for the chance to rest and recharge in this month of darkness and renewal.

Because mornings can be a tough time to think about cooking we have structured the recipe so that you prep everything at the beginning of the week and then finish each bowl in the morning when you warm it up. 

Warming Miso Soup
adapted from the Whole Foods Nutrition Cookbook
by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre

2 teaspoons toasted sesame or coconut oil
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or thin rounds
3-4 (shitake) mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or put through a garlic press
2 - 3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
4 cups water
1 small strip wakame seaweed, broken into pieces

1 cup thinly sliced baby bok choy leaves
2 - 3 green onions, thinly sliced into rounds
2 - 3 tablespoons of gluten-free miso
wheat free tamari or coconut aminos
brown rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar
hot pepper sesame oil or chilli flakes

optional:
4 organic eggs

Heat the toasted sesame oil in a 3-quart pot over medium heat. (If you use coconut oil you will lose the rich depth of flavour that sesame oil brings). Add the carrots, mushrooms, garlic and ginger and sauté for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to brown the vegetables. Add the water and wakame seaweed and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. 

At this point you can continue with one large batch if you will be serving 4, or continue as instructed for individual bowls of morning miso. 

For a large batch: turn off the heat and add the bok choy, green onions and miso that has been mixed with a little water. Then add 1-2 tablespoons of tamari, 1 tablespoon of vinegar of your choice and 2-3 teaspoons of hot pepper sesame oil (or chilli flakes to taste).

For individual bowls: Put your sliced bok choy and green onions in airtight containers in your fridge. You can add a bit of water to help keep them crisp. 

Bring a cup of broth to a boil in the morning, turn off the heat and add a 1/4 cup of bok choy, a good sprinkle of green onions and 2-3 teaspoons of miso that has been mixed with a little water. Garnish to taste with tamari, vinegar and chillies. 

Optional to add a poached egg to your bowl or to make your miso into egg drop soup by cracking an egg into the broth just before the heat is turned off. 

Making Bone Broth or, How to Feed our Winter Souls

As we move into the damp and darker weather that this time of year brings our bodies crave a different kind of nutrition. We crave warming and supportive foods that nourish our souls as well as our bodies. We fight the shortening of daylight at the same time that we fight the common cold and the flu. 

To satisfy these primal cravings and fortify ourselves for what is to come we have brewed bone broth for centuries. Filled to the brim with protein, collagen, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, bone broth has been a staple in almost all traditional cuisines around the world. In our culture the simmering pot on Grandma's stove is a symbol of love and healing. One of the most easily absorbed foods bone both is also extremely hydrating, making it perhaps the most perfect winter superfood. 

Ingredients:

1 organic chicken carcass
4 quarts of filtered water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic 

Begin by roasting your chicken bones. If your carcass is left from a roasted chicken they are ready to go. If they are left from deboning the roasting will bring out a richness and depth of flavour in your broth. (You can of course skip this step if you are looking to save time)

Place roasted chicken bones in a medium/large pot and add water, vinegar and vegetables. 

Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. 

Lower the heat and simmer your stock for 8 hours. When it is done the bones should be soft and break in half easily. 

Strain out the veggies and chicken bones. Let cool in the fridge. This allows the fat to rise to the top, which can then easily be skimmed off before using or putting into the freezer for longer storage. 

Use within one week of refrigeration or six months of freezing. 

7 Ingredient Vegan Cheesecake

What better way to celebrate berry season and the summer sun than with a delicious, creamy, dairy-free, gluten-free....and the most importantly easy cheesecake recipe : )

The thing I love most about this recipe, other than it only having 7 ingredients, is that you can make these scrumptious treats in any flavour of your choosing.  As I mentioned above, its berry season so I'm thinking cherry, blueberry and strawberry!

Instead of turning on the oven in this summer heat, you just pop them in the freezer to set.  

Prep time - 1h 30m       Freezing time - 4 to 6hrs                             Serves: 12

Ingredients

CRUST

  • 1 cup packed (200 g) pitted dates*

  • 1 cup (120 g) raw walnuts

FILLING

  • 1 1/2 cups (180 g) raw cashews, quick soaked*

  • 1 large lemon, juiced (scant 1/4 cup or 50 ml)

  • 1/3 cup (80 g) coconut oil, melted

  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (150 ml) full fat coconut milk (see instructions for note)

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)

FLAVOR ADD-INS optional

  • 1/4 cup (37 g) wild berries (fresh or frozen)

  • or maybe - 2 Tbsp (32 g) salted almond or hazelnut

Instructions

  1. Add dates to a food processor and blend until small bits remain and it forms into a ball. Remove and set aside.

  2. Next add nuts and process into a meal. Then add dates back in and blend until a loose dough forms - it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it's too dry, add a few more dates through the spout while processing. If too wet, add more almond or walnut meal. Optional: add a pinch of salt to taste.

  3. Lightly grease a standard, 12 slot muffin tin. To make removing the cheesecakes easier, cut strips of parchment paper and lay them in the slots. This creates little tabs that makes removing them easier to pop out once frozen.

  4. Next scoop in heaping 1 Tbsp amounts of crust and press with fingers. To pack it down, use a small glass or the back of a spoon to compact it and really press it down. I found the bottom of a glass works well. If it sticks, separate the crust and the glass with a small piece of parchment. Set in freezer to firm up.

  5. Add all filling ingredients to a blender and mix until very smooth. For the coconut milk, I like to scoop the "cream" off the top because it provides a richer texture. But if yours is already all mixed together, just add it in as is.

  6. You don't need a Vitamix for this recipe, just a quality blender. I mixed mine for 1 minute, then "liquified" or "pureed" it until silky smooth. If it won't come together, add a touch more lemon juice or agave or a splash more coconut milk liquid as the liquid should help it blend better.

  7. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. If adding peanut butter, add to the blender and mix until thoroughly combined. If flavoring with berries or caramel, wait and swirl on top of plain cheesecakes (optional).

  8. Divide filling evenly among the muffin tins. Tap a few times to release any air bubbles, then cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard - about 4-6 hours.

  9. Once set, remove by tugging on the tabs or loosening them with a butter knife. They should pop right out. Our favorite way to devour these was with a little more and a touch of coconut whipped cream. But they're perfect as is! Keep in the freezer for up to 1-2 weeks.

  10. Optional: you can set them out for 10 minutes before serving to soften, but I liked them frozen as well.

Notes

*If your dates are not sticky and moist, you can soak them in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain. But be sure to drain thoroughly and pat dry to prevent the crust from getting soggy.
*To quick soak cashews, pour boiling hot water over the cashews, soak for 1 hour uncovered, then drain and use as instructed.

Source - http://minimalistbaker.com/7-ingredient-vegan-cheesecakes/

Grated Beet and Carrot Salad with Radish-Miso Dressing

This delicious Asian flavoured salad can be made into a meal by adding some grilled salmon or any other protein that suits your taste buds.   We feel so fortunate to still be pulling carrots and beets from the ground.  And this salad is perfect for spring!

1 head leaf lettuce, rinsed, spun, and torn into pieces

1 large beet, peeled and grated

3 to 4 large carrots, grated

A delicious and colorful salad to kick start your liver as we enter the season of the Wood element.

A delicious and colorful salad to kick start your liver as we enter the season of the Wood element.

1/2 to 1 cup chopped cilantro

Dressing:

5 small radishes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Adzuki Bean Miso

1/4 cup water

1 clove garlic

1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled

Place the lettuce into a large salad bowl and top with the grated beets, carrots, and cilantro.

To make the dressing add all ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth and creamy. the dressing will be a slight pink color. Dressing can be kept in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Source: www.NourishingMeals.com

Garlic Honey Cough Syrup

This is a staple in our house through the winter months…works super well!

Very easy to make:

Fill a mason jar with peeled garlic about 1/2 way - we use our own organically grown garlic.  Fill the rest of the jar with unpasteurized local honey.  Let it sit in a cool dark cupboard for 4 weeks.  Strain.  And done!  

Give 1 tsp 2-4 times/day - as needed for cough.  (Not for children under age 1)

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Tomato Chickpea Coconut Soup

Yay!  Soup season has arrived.   I like to make large batches and freeze extra portions in mason jars.  I am also very much into soups that are blended so that chopping with a little person on my hip is minimal.   This one is delicious.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

▪   1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil

▪   1 small yellow onion, chopped

▪   2 big garlic cloves, no need to chop

▪   1 teaspoon smoked paprika (sometimes I use sweet paprika)

▪   salt, pepper

▪   splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar (approximately 1 tablespoon)

▪   1 14-oz. can of diced tomatoes, with juice

▪   fresh thyme - leaves from 2 sprigs, or ½ tsp dried

▪   1 cup cooked chickpeas (rinsed, drained)

▪   1 cup coconut milk, full fat tastes best

▪   1.5 cups water or vegetable or chicken broth

Instructions

Heat oil in a medium pot. Add the onion, garlic a few pinches of salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the paprika and cook until fragrant (30 seconds or so). Add a good splash of balsamic vinegar and stir. Add the tomatoes and thyme leaves. Stir, then add the chickpeas, coconut milk and water. Cover and gently simmer for 20-30 minutes. Uncover and let cool slightly.

Transfer to a blender and puree.

Note: This soup tastes even better the next day so it is a great one to make in advance.

Raw Kale Avocado Salad with Carrot Coriander Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1 large bunch curly kale, rinsed, stemmed and chopped
2 avocadoes, diced
1 cup sunflower seeds

Dressing:
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 cup fresh carrot juice
½ medium shallot
1/8 cup champagne vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
sea salt/black pepper to taste
(makes about ½ cup of dressing, lasts 2 weeks in fridge)

Toasting the coriander seeds. Set a small pot on medium heat. Add the coriander seeds. Toast the seeds, tossing them around in the pot frequently, until the smell of the coriander releases itself, about 5 minutes.

Reducing the carrot juice. Pour in the carrot juice and the shallot. Cook until the carrot juice is reduced down to about 1/4 cup, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the champagne vinegar to the carrot juice and give it a stir.

Finishing the vinaigrette. Pour the liquid in the pot into a blender. Blend on medium speed. Slowly, drizzle in the olive oil until the oil is fully incorporated into the dressing, about 2 minutes. Add the cilantro and blend until it’s mixed into the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place kale, and sunflower seeds in large bowl. Add dressing to salad, gently massage into kale with hands. This will soften it almost immediately. Add avocado and sunflower seeds. Gently toss and serve. Excellent over quinoa!

Recipe adapted from Nourishing Meals Cookbook and the Gluten-Free Girl Recipe Blog, both frequently consulted in our kitchen.

 

Why Eat Fermented Foods?

I find myself recommending probiotics (beneficial bacteria) to many people throughout the day. Probiotics promote regular bowel movements, improve digestion in general, enhance immune function, produce antioxidants, normalize skin conditions, reduce cholesterol, help to maintain bone health, help to manage blood sugar levels and promote a positive mood. Fermented foods contain natural, good bacteria and are well tolerated by people who experience adverse reactions to probiotic supplements. Examples of fermented foods are plain yogourt, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and kombucha.

To get the full benefit, make sure when purchasing these products that they have not been pasteurized. Heat destroys the good bacteria, so the foods must be raw to be beneficial.
I have recently been inspired to make my own Kimchi. (Thanks Barbara!)
Here is the recipe I followed:

Kimchi
Makes a lot.

Ingredients: 
1 Napa cabbage (1 kg total weight) 
1 daikon radish
3 large carrots 
1/2 bunch green onions (about 4) 
1 apple 
3 tbsp fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic 
2 tbsp crushed red chili flakes
1/8 cup good-quality sea salt

Directions:

  1. Wash all veggies. Chop cabbage into bite-sized chunks, julienne or grate carrots, daikon, and apple. Slice green onion. Place all vegetables in a very large bowl. 

  2. In a food processor blend ginger, garlic, and chili until well combined. Add this mixture to the bowl of vegetables along with the salt. 

  3. Mix and vigorously massage all ingredients together until the cabbage begins to soften and release fluid. Continue until you have a fair amount of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, about 4-5 minutes. The vegetables at this point should have lost much of their volume. Let the bowl sit out at room temperature for a few hours, massaging once or twice more. Season to taste. 

  4. In a large, sterilized jar (or several small ones), pack in the vegetables trying to avoid any air pockets, making sure to leave a few inches of space at the top of the jar for carbon dioxide. Cover the jar with a loosely with a lid, or make sure to open it periodically to release any pressure that may build up. Leave the jar on the counter for 2-4 days. You may see bubbles forming in the jar – this is carbon dioxide and totally normal. Taste the kimchi now and again. Mine still has another day or two to go. Once the flavour is to your liking, seal the jar and place in the fridge. Keeps for several months.

*Tip: After removing kimchi from the container to eat, push the remaining back down to keep most of the cabbage submerged in the brine (the liquid). This will help keep it fresh for longer.

Delicious Savoury Kale Chips

We over-wintered kale in our garden this year, so are currently eating it by the bowlful – green smoothies in the morning, soups, salads throughout the day, and one of my favourite snacks:

Delicious Savoury Kale Chips

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews

  • 1 large bowl kale, washed and dried, de-stemmed and ripped into “chip” sized pieces (I did not do this, just put whole leaves directly into the dehydrator, stem included, they are easy to break up once dry)

  • 1/2 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped into small pieces

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled, crushed

  • 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil

  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (not to be confused with Brewer's yeast)

  • 1 lemon, peeled, cut into wedges, and de-seeded

  1. Cover the cashews with water in a small bowl and let the soak for at least one hour before processing.

  2. Add the cashews, red pepper, garlic, soy sauce, oil, and nutritional yeast to a food processor or vitamix/blendtec blender. Scoop the flesh from the lemon and add this to the food processor as well. Blend until smooth.

  3. In a large bowl, combine kale and cashew paste, making sure kale is evenly coated. Place kale pieces on baking sheets allowing space between each piece so they do not touch or overlap.

  4. Drying can be done in the oven or using a food dehydrator.
    a) We used a food dehydrator, which makes it really easy, the kale does not have to be dry, just rinsed and then spun out in a salad spinner. Then, once coated in mixture, spread out on trays and set to the Fruit/Vegetable temperature (ours is set at 135 degrees) and left to dehydrate for about 5 hours. Should be crispy when finished.
    b) If using an oven, set temperature to 300 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread kale out in single layer. Bake for 30 minutes turning once. In my experience these need to be watched very carefully so as not to burn. If not dried well before mixing with topping, they have a tendency to burn. Chips will be ready when crunchy and stiff and topping doesn't feel chewy or moist.

Kale chips will keep in an airtight container for one week, but I bet they won’t last that long.  ☺

 

Carrot and Parsnip Soup with Tarragon Cashew Sour Cream

This recipe is for two soups served in a single bowl.  Both soups have similar viscosities, so when poured simultaneously from two ladles into one bowl, they remain separate. 

Beautiful presentation.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!  

 

Carrot and Red Pepper Soup

2 yellow onions chopped
3 cups chopped carrots
1/3 cup of dry white wine
¼ tsp sea salt
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and diced
1 tsp dried thyme
1/3 tsp dried dill
3 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup white miso
2 cups soymilk or rice milk or almond milk
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

In a soup pot, combine the onions, carrots, wine and sea salt.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the liquid evaporates.  Add the red peppers, thyme, dill and stock.  Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Transfer to blender.  Add the miso and blend until smooth.  Return to pot and stir in ‘milk’.  Add cayenne.

 

Parsnip Soup

2 yellow onions chopped
3 cups chopped parsnips
1/3 cup of dry white wine
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/3 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup white miso
4 cups soymilk or rice milk or almond milk
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a soup pot, combine the onions, parsnips, wine and salt.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until liquid evaporates.  Add the thyme, tarragon, nutmeg and stock.  Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Transfer to blender, add miso.  Blend until smooth.  Return to pot and stir in ‘milk’.  Add salt and pepper.

Into each serving bowl simultaneously ladle both soups, keeping the ladles close to the bowl.  Drizzle on the Tarragon-Cashew Sour Cream.

 

Tarragon Cashew Sour Cream

½ cup raw cashews
2 tsp light miso
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup water
sea salt to taste

In a blender, combine the cashews, miso, lemon juice, nutmeg and ½ cup of the water.  Blend to make a coarse, thick paste.  With the blender running, gradually add the remaining water until smooth.  Add salt to taste.   

Taken from The Millenium Cookbook, Eric Tucker & John Westerdahl