Archive for January 7th, 2011

“Everyone Knows Someone Who Needs This Information!” (TM)

As the first week of 2011 closes, I want diabetics to get back on track and start to really plan out healthy meals. So, the recipes I’m suggesting today were chosen to help you either: detox from all that celebrating, keep you protected better from random viruses and be easy to make some parts ahead or recipes that respect your time in the morning so that you can get a warm breakfast!

At Elizabeth Andoh my favorite Japanese cook (who is a 40 year resident American in Japan), states: “More than a thousand years ago, the savvy Japanese spoke of watari-dori (“migrating birds”) coming from the Asian mainland in wintertime … bringing with them the possibility of flu-like viruses! Eating nanakusa-gayu on the 7th day of the new year is believed to strengthen resistance to infection and colds.” Her more traditional Nanakusa Gayu recipe is at that link, too.

Nanakusa, literally 7 Spring grasses, are vitamin and mineral rich herbaceous leafy and flowering greens. The classic seven are:

___ seri – water dropwort / like watercress
___ nazuna – shepherd’s purse
___ gogyou – cudweed
___ hakobera – chickweed
___ hotoke no za  – henbit OR konitabirako – nipplewort
___ suzuna – kabu turnip and tops
___ suzushiro –  baby daikon radish and tops

So, in a gentle way, use a soothing, cleansing recipe of renewal that still feels appropriate as the end of 2011’s first week closes. It’s a welcome break from complicated meals.

Borrowing from the Japanese tradition of Nanakusa Gayu, The 7 Grasses Soup for New Year, which was traditionally eaten around Chinese New Year, in February (both cultures used the lunar calendar until recently).

There’s little or no natural, wild-crafted herbs to be gathering from the land at this month in much of Japan, so trying to fit this in 6 – 8 weeks early,  to comply with the legal Western calendar, before “real Spring” comes is now problematical.  So, now it’s all hothouse and very little foraged (which compromises the plants, as wild-crafted plants are SO much more vigorous and nutritious).

This is for a simple dish of little more than rice and greens — which promises wealth, good luck — you get a healthy, clean start to another year.

Traditionally, this is a rice porridge (congee), slow-cooked in a heavy pot and it becomes glutinous (like mochi). It requires seven different, distinct herbs and greens but outside Japan, if you don’t have an excellent Asian market carrying the herbs now, then use creativity to replace the typical Japanese herbs with ones more easily obtainable locally.

AND, I suggest, that you make it a new consistency which appeals more to Westerners. I have to say that I have never liked mochi or congee (but this traditional porridge is great for old folks and young children, as well as those with delicate health).

In this soup version, leeks, celery and parsley and more are used, as they are more tasty than many other bitter herbs and vegetables. Yet, those bitters do have their place in helping to detoxify, so don’t be afraid to use cilantro, kale, mizuna, and (gasp!) — broccoli rabe and more (not for me tho’ — broccoli raab is WAY too bitter – I love the others).

My version also differs significantly in consistency from the traditional, by using cooked, steamed organic brown rice almost at the last minute, keeping the grains whole and distinct, and creating more of a soup than a porridge in the end — although my addition of the quick-cooked quinoa gives an underlying unity and smoothness, as well as complementary protein.

It is warming, soothing and quick.

Though the greens wilt down, this recipe still makes a lot of food, so you can easily halve the recipe unless you need that many servings.

You may want to keep the rice on the side for future leftovers. Don’t put it into any left over soup, again, until serving time OR use the rice for something else, like a veggie stir-fry.



Serves 8 – 12

1 med organic leek, cleaned *, sliced into thin half-moons
2 stalks organic celery, with leaves, chop OR more traditionally 1 medium organic turnip and its greens – dice root, and rough-chop greens **

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece Kombu seaweed, about a 3″ square
5 -6 C filtered or spring water
3 – 4 T organic Aka (Red) Miso paste (refrigerated tubs at health stores)***
4 C pre-cooked, organic brown rice (make room temperature as chop veggies)
1/2 lb fresh organic kale, chop stems thinly and julienne the leaves thinly
1/2 lb organic fresh baby spinach and / or baby bok choy – sliced small and / or fresh organic romaine (cos) lettuce, chopped OR a combo
1 small diameter daikon radish and tops
1/2 C organic parsley OR cilantro – rough chopped (just as add, if cilantro)
1/2C organic quinoa – washed well in a sieve


Sesame Seeds (Gomasio)
Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
Plum paste / shiso leaves

Set a large stock pot with the water, on the stove on moderate heat. Add the leek, celery, garlic, (turnip and / or daikon – if using), kale stems, (bok choy stems – if using) and the square of kombu.

Bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 15 – 20 minutes, until the garlic has mellowed and the veggies have softened. Carefully remove the slippery kombu with tongs or a flat ladle, and slice it into bite-sized pieces (use kitchen shears) before returning it to the pot.

Add in the washed, uncooked quinoa, room temperature cooked brown rice, along with all of the remaining greens and herbs. You may need to add the greens in batches, stirring each one in gently – start with the kale leaves as it takes the longest. Wait until wilted enough to make more room in the soup pot before adding more. Cook for just 2 more minutes after the last batch, and turn off the heat.

At the very end of cooking, in a small dish, place the miso paste, and add in a splash of water from the stock pot. Mix well so that the miso is completely dissolved and no lumps remain and it is “soupy” enough to immediately incorporate into the soup (you do not want a bunch of miso in any spot). Pour the miso liquid back into the pot, and stir to incorporate, as you serve the portions OR divide proportionately into the bottoms of the soup bowls before ladling in the soup. Miso should not be boiled.

Ladle portions into bowls, including a good amount of broth for each one. Top each serving with a light sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and red pepper flakes OR with the plum paste.

NOTES ———————————-

* make an “X” in the top of the leek shaft and expose the section where dirt can collect. Wash well and then cut the leek shaft into the sizes and numbers you want. Half-moons are recommended.

** Select seven fresh local herbs and greens – others not listed above could include: dandelion leaves , Swiss chard , mache,  purslane, watercress

*** I only have white Barley miso in the refrigerator at the moment, so I’m using it. Don’t go buy Red Miso if you already have another kind. Miso gets used slowly.

Nanakusa Gayu recipe
A Westerner’s Nanakusa Gayu recipe
Tokyo-style Nanakusa
A Simple Nanakusa Gayu

======================================================== those unfamiliar with American Southern New Year Traditions, look at
the recipes at Dr. Timothy Harlan, MDs New Year recipes



(a kosher, expanded version loosely-based on Jessica Seinfeld’s recipe)
Makes 6
Prep: 30 mins

6 slices no-nitrite pastrami (get at Trader Joe’s) OR 4 ozs. no-nitrite Lox (also at Trader Joe’s) OR 4oz. white kamaboko* (all optional)
6 Omega-3, free-range eggs
1/3C   non-dairy milk OR organic milk** (still kosher if using lox)
1/4 t (Celtic) sea salt
1/8t fresh-ground black pepper and a teeny pinch of cayenne (optional)
6T Parmesan cheese or vegetarian almond cheese
1T organic parsley OR cilantro, chopped
3T hummus from Trader Joe’s – OR mashed, cooked black-eye peas – seasoned w/ some garlic /sea salt, as needed OR add canned gingko nut in the middle of the muffin – halved or quartered for young kids

3 English Muffins or Bagels

selected vegetables and fruits — see below

olive oil to prepare the muffin tins OR non-stick cooking spray
six standard muffin tins – metal or silicon ones

1. Coat the cups with some vegetable oil OR use non-stick cooking spray).

2. Prepare all the ingredients:
Chop the meat / fish and greens the night before. Prepare the mashed peas, if using. Prepare veggie or fruit sides that won’t darken while waiting.

3.In the morning, gently whisk the eggs, milk and spices. Add the hummus / peas to the eggs and mix well. Add the meats / fish and greens.

4. Divide the egg mixture evenly among the prepared cups. Top with cheese.

5. Seinfeld has you bake it too high, at 400 °F (200 °C) for 13 – 15 minutes or until the eggs puff and are cooked through. Let cool slightly. Release from cups. This would have de-natured the egg protein. Here’s the solution …

So, I prefer to put the muffin pan in another pan filled with about 1 – 2 inches of hot water, and make them in a 325F oven until a knife comes out cleanly.

6. Serve with English muffin half or a bagel quarter, sliced into 3 horizontal pieces. Add and more “veggies” on the side, like tomato or avocado (both are fruits) lettuce, sweet potato slices, and red bell pepper hearts for Valentines Day!

* kamaboko is a Japanese steamed white fish cake. It often comes on a cedar board and is a cyclindrical half-dome shape. Do not get the red dyed one! Go to a great Asian market, preferably Japanese.

** do not use ultra-pasteurized milk. It is heated too high for too long. It’s a dead “food”. Trader Joes has some organic, pasteurized milk, not ultra-pasteurized; read the labels.

I hope you start 2011 off well. Use these recipes as tools, as you need them.

More science next time, probably, unless I decide to cook more!

Best to all — Em

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(c)2011 Em at https://diabetesdietdialogue.wordpress.com

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