July Shenanigans & Recipes…

This summer has been one of the best.

Bobby and I have been cooking up a storm…

moscow-mule

^^A moscow mule (a drink my dad introduced me to).^^

This was mine, but I gave it to Bobby – after one sip I didn’t want anymore! It’s delicious but I wasn’t in a drinking mood. {HERE} is the recipe I posted 5 years ago when my dad first told me about it. It’s a mix of ginger beer, vodka, lime, and mint. Sometimes we do half seltzer / half ginger beer. Gingerale also works.

tempeh-onion-goop

^^Sweet and Savory Tempeh with Onions^^

I started off following Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe for Tempe Manis (Sweet Tempeh)¬†but changed it… a lot. As you guys know, I’m not really into sweets that much, so I cut out just about all the sugar, and instead caramelized some onions to give it sweetness. I will hopefully remember what I did so I can post my version of the recipe later. So delicious.

kale-mustard-green-salad-seaweed-avocado-goop

^^Kale & Seaweed Salad with Avocado – Except with Mustard Greens because I mistakenly grabbed the wrong bunch of greens!^^

Another Gwyneth Paltrow recipe. Which she actually got from Cafe Gratitude (in LA I think?). {HERE} is her recipe. I changed it a bit – I only used one avocado, I didn’t add the cucumbers (all of a sudden I am hating cucumbers, weird!), and I accidentally bought mustard greens instead of kale. I’ve remade it with kale and I actually prefer it with mustard greens. They don’t come out bitter.

dinner-veggies-kabocha-rice-beans-cucumber-mushrooms

^^Random plate^^

This plate has a veggie stir-fry that was *amazing* – it has fake chicken from Trader Joe’s, but aside from that I don’t know what’s in it because Bobby (a budding cook, apparently) made it. I’ve also been *loving* white rice. Having it almost daily, in large amounts. My appetite has been interesting the last month or so. In this pic there is also kabocha (simply steamed, though I have another kabocha recipe I’ve been meaning to share), Rachel Ray’s sesame green beans, a cucumber salad (before I started hating cucumbers), and roasted mushrooms – I think these were oyster mushrooms.

Lastly…

natto

^^Natto^^

This is a fermented soybean product that is eaten a lot in Japan. It has an interesting (funky) smell and it’s slimy/stringy like okra (only more so). It’s definitely an acquired taste, but I have learned to love it. In fact, Bobby made a batch of homemade natto this week, which is aging in the fridge right now. It should be ready this weekend.

Aside from lots of good eats, other wonderful things have happened recently.

I got to meet my close friend’s baby:

maggie-and-eden

She is so sweet. So cuddly and adorable.

And Bo the cat is a weirdo ūüėČ

bo-weirdo

I can’t believe I caught that picture! I was reorganizing the area next to my washer/dryer and was taking these shelves downstairs, but Bo decided to hang out in the shelf and I got him mid-yawn.

What have you been up to the past couple of weeks?

Tarafu Ku Manma Hijiki – Hijiki and Roe {Macrobiotics}

Today I want to spotlight on one of my favorite styles of eating – macrobiotics. (Remember Macrobiotic March?)

When Bobby and I were in Japan, Bobby’s mom bought us this package of hijiki and roe:

otyashizuoka komochihijiki - hijiki and roe japanese food

(I think you can buy it online, {HERE}.)

If I am not mistaken (I could very well be), it is called “tarafu ku manma hijiki”, but it might also be called “otyashizuoka komochihijiki”, or¬†„Āü„āČ„ĀĶ„ĀŹ„Āĺ„āď„Āĺ. (Yeah, I really don’t know if I’m right on this – any Japanese speakers care to help me out?)

It comes in a sealed plastic bag inside of a pretty paper one.

hijiki-roe-japanese-food

(You may also be able to buy it {HERE}.)

Here are various flavors of tarafu ku:

tarafuku-flavors

{source}

By the way, {THIS} is the google search I used to find more about tarafu ku manma hijiki.

And here it is at our house:

tarafu ku manma hijiki roe

After we got back from Japan (this was back in October), we got into the habit of eating a Japanese breakfast every morning. We had this side dish simply, just over white rice. It lasted a few days because we wanted to spread it out – it was delicious!

This dish is certainly macrobiotic. It combines seaweed (hijiki), which is a macrobiotic superfood, along with roe, which counts as seafood, and thus is an “occasional” food by the macrobiotic style of eating. Occasional is defined by you – that could mean a few times a week or a few times a month. Tarafu ku manma hijiki is slightly sweet though I am not sure what the sweetener is. In general, those following a macrobiotic diet shy away from anything sweet, so ideally you could make this yourself at home and use a macrobiotic-approved sweetener (brown rice syrup) or omit it entirely.

Have you ever seen this dish? Would you try it?

I have not been able to find this in any stores here in NYC. I suppose I need to keep looking, or attempt to make my own! (If I do I will share the recipe.)

{food} Japanese Lunch at Sakagura

A few weeks ago Bobby’s mom was in here in NYC for a few hours on a layover. We took the opportunity to have¬†lunch at her favorite New York restaurant, Sakagura. Sakagura has lunch specials, so we each got a different one.

I think I got this:¬†“Jewel” Oke Bento ($20.00) –¬†Assorted Appetizers , Fried Tidbits , 5 kinds of Seasonal Sashimi , Grilled Tidbits , Mini Rice Balls and Miso Soup.

There were fried intertwined veggies; a hijiki seaweed salad (the black and orange stuff in the dark brown bowl); rice balls (looks like rice sushi in the middle but really was all rice); the white ball with yellow on top (top left) is satoimo, a Japanese sweet potato; fresh sashimi (tuna, scallop – my favorite, squid, salmon, and one other that I don’t remember – mackerel?), and finally on the bottom was eel with eel sauce, a piece of pork, a piece of potato, and some scrambled egg.

My favorite part? I loved it all.

Bobby got a soba box Рit must have been this one: Kaisen Don ($21.00) РAssorted Variety of sliced Fresh Sashimi Served atop of Sushi Rice, with Soba Noodles ( Hot or Cold ). You can see the bowl of rice and sashimi (top), soba sauce (top left), soba (front and center), and a few edamame.

He also enjoyed his very much.

Bobby’s mom also ordered a soba set – I think it was set¬†C – Yakizakana Gozen¬†($20.00) – Seasonal Grilled Fish, Seasonal Appetizers, A Bowl of Rice, Homemade Soba Noodles (Hot or Cold). It looks like the fish was salmon (front slightly right); there was steamed spinach (middle right); some seaweed, potato, and pork (bottom left); soba (back left) and soba sauce (top middle); and something in the middle there that I can’t quite make out.

We all shared a bowl of black sesame ice cream for dessert. No pic! It looked too good and I forgot to take one before diving in.

Sakagura is always a hit. We have been there a few times before, but I don’t think I have blogged about it.

What is your favorite Japanese dish?

I think mine is anything with hijiki seaweed. I even had some tonight – I had some “Japanese fried rice” from Trader Joe’s that had hijiki in it; then I added 2 scrambled eggs – perfection. When we lived in California¬†I used to LOVE going to a place called Delica. They have a fantastic salad – the “Hijiki and Soybean Salad“. My attempt at recreating it is here.

Hijiki is also a staple in macro plates. Here are my favorite macro plates.

{food} Sunday Dinner with Family

Growing up I always had a friend whose Sunday nights were reserved for dinner at her Grandma’s. I always liked the idea. I guess I just like rituals. So recently Bobby and I have a new ritual with our New York family – our aunt and uncle (this is the aunt I bake gingerbread with) have been having us over for dinner each week and we are loving it! Other family members always drop by as well throughout the night.

This week’s menu was a roasted red snapper, served chilled with homemade cocktail sauce (ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice), lemon wedges, and fresh parsley.

We also had curry rice, a salad, and bread.

For dessert we had¬†an array of little chocolate pasties. They were similar, each filled with chocolate mousse and other various delicious things. There was also vanilla ice cream. The pastries are from a little shop somewhere in the East 90’s. I forget the name but can ask next time.

This past weekend was one of just two weekends I’ll have off during my yoga teacher training and I tried to enjoy it to the fullest. The only other weekend off is Thanksgiving and I have to go down to Miami to be in a wedding anyway. Then this week I jumped back into taking classes (we have to fulfill a certain number during the course of the training). And I have another exciting thing to share but I want to wait until it’s official.

Hope you all are having a lovely week so far. Sometimes I wish fall would last forever.

Complex Versus Simple Carbohydrates

I got this question at work the other day (we’re a fairly healthy-minded bunch):

What are complex carbs vs simple carbs?

This question seems complex, but the answer is quite simple. Simple carbs and complex carbs end up in the same place of the nutrition facts label, but they are most certainly different.

Are all carbs bad?

Clearly not all carbohydrates are bad. We need carbs to live – glucose (what carbs break down to in your body) is what your body uses for energy. That’s why when you eat a candy bar you get hyper for a little while – your body just got a big dose of easy-to-use energy because the carbs were partially processed before they got to your stomach. Simple carbs and complex carbs both turn into sugar in the body; the process just happens faster for simple carbs.

McDonald's Soft Serve Vanilla Ice Cream Cone

I’m pretty sensitive to sugar (too many sweet treats = too many pimples). In addition to my skin sensitivity to sugar, I also seem to have either a mental or physical reaction to eating it – once I start it’s hard to stop! If I have a McD’s cone as a snack I also want one for dessert that night, for a snack the next day, and forever more. So I try to avoid sugar to avoid sugar cravings and bad acne. When it comes down to¬†complex versus simple carbohydrates, complex is what I choose, especially complex carbs from veggies.

Which carbs are bad for us?

Most scientists agree that the faster carbs (simple, or white carbs; meaning they convert to sugar quickly) are the worst type of carbohydrate. This is mainly because they spike blood sugar, which has a number of negative long-term effects including a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. These carbs include (and thus I try* to avoid…):

  • Processed carbs like¬†white bread, white flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup (also regular corn syrup)*
  • Processed carbs like¬†candy, cookies, most baked goods*
  • Fake sweeteners (not technically carbs because they have no calories – but they give me a stomachache, a headache, and it’s probably not good to eat frankenfood chemicals)
I love muffins!
I love muffins!

*I still eat these things, but in moderation when I want them. Artisan bread with smooth creamy butter? On occasion, yes please!

Which carbs are good in moderation?

There is definitely a middle ground when it comes to complex versus simple carbs, and that middle ground is whole grain-y things (for me). They’re not the easiest foods to digest (see IBS), but they certainly are delicious. These guys include:

  • Unprocessed grains like¬†rice (white or brown).* (I grew up hating rice but now I LOVE it. I usually have it several times a week. It’s especially good with¬†ghee, aka clarified butter.)
  • Oatmeal (steel cut, regular – preferably not instant).
  • Winter squash (these are¬†my favorite foods, but¬†it’s easy to get a stomachache if you eat too much of them; squash also has lots of beta-carotene – but beware the orange glow).

I love having rice with veggies, like in bi-bim-bap (pictured above Рveggies, egg, beef over rice). In fact, I just like mixing foods together in general. Mix-it-up bowls are possibly the greatest invention ever.

Which carbs are good for us?

Most vegetable carbohydrates are good for our bodies. Some of my favorite carbs are…

  • Root veggies like carrots, parsnips, winter squash (kabocha, acorn, spaghetti, butternut, etc…)
  • Non-root veggies like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, peppers, yadda yadda yadda… Veggies are a diet staple.
  • Fruits (but not too much). Fruit makes me break out as well in large (more than 1 a day) quantities. Some lower-sugar fruits that I really like are: papaya, blueberries, berries in general, cranberry juice (without sugar) and spritzer, lime/lemon juice and spritzer, melons (cantaloupe, honeydew).

***

Do you eat a lot of carbs? Do you avoid any? Which are your favorites?

When it comes down to¬†complex carbs vs simple carbs, it’s probably better to choose the complex ones. But remember to include healthy fats (including saturated fat – it’s good for the brain) and protein. Out of the simple carbs, sugar is probably the worst. At least that is what works for me!