Tahini Miso Dip

Makes 1/2 C

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As a mom, I’m always searching for another goody to whip up in the kitchen that just may WOW my toddler.  She’s a good eater most of the time, and I am certainly grateful for that.  Still, it’s good to keep pushing the envelope, expanding gastronomic horizons, and educating the palate.

I’m also doing a 4-week detox at the moment and miso, while solely my addition to this type of detox, plays a big role in my diet.  Having spent 3 years living in Japan, I’ve come to LOVE miso soup in all its variations and for every meal of the day.  Breakfast, too.  But, it’s so nice when it pops up in a place you least expect it.

A.G., a peer in culinary school, first introduced this to me when I was doing all kinds of experiments with my diet.  It’s expanded and grown over the years, but this time I’ve kept it simple, for those still tender and emerging tastebuds that can so easily be put off (seemingly) forever!

Why miso?

The simple answer is that it’s a true super food.  The details are as follows:

  • Miso is a fermented paste of soybeans, rice, barley or other grain and a koji inoculant.
  • Fermented means that is a probiotic.
  • Probiotic = bacteria.  The good bacteria that create a lustrous environment of strong cells to ward off the not-friendly bacteria.  It’s the immune boosting bacteria that also settles your digestive system.  And, it also makes you happy.  Seriously.
  • Miso is a known anti-carcinogen and is also known to reduce the effects of radiation and environmental toxins.  (Next time you’re going for x-rays, eat miso before and afterwards.  Help your body out!)

In this recipe it’s used completely raw, but when you’re cooking with miso, you want to make sure you don’t COOK the miso.  Heating miso kills all of its incredible healing properties.  So, if you’re making soup for example, add a bit of the water/stock to a small bowl and dissolve the miso in it before adding it to the pot.  Make sure the stove is off and just stir it in.  It’ll work it’s magic, in flavor and healing, on its own.

To be honest, my little one doesn’t love this just yet, but I know it’s totally up her alley.  All she has to do is try it!

You’ll need:

  • 1/4 C organic tahini
  • 2 t yellow or red miso (depending on your preferences…I used red miso.)
  • 2 T fresh squeezed lime juice (or lemons)
  • 1/2 t lime zest (or lemon)
  • 2-3 T water (you could need more depending on the consistency you’re looking for)

To make:

Stir all ingredients together except for the water.  Then, add the water in a slow drizzle to achieve the level of consistency you’re happiest with.  If it’s a bit too tart, you can add a little drizzle of honey or maple syrup to even it out.

Enjoy and smile 🙂

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Trick for Treat

By Guest Writer:  Sophia Lambrakis

Click photo for credit:)

You need to pay now to party later.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and The Holidays are just around the corner, and they each bring with them their own share of calorie-packed treats and gut-busting goodies. And while the uninhibited merry-making is certainly a pleasure for the soul, the body is a little bit less forgiving. By January 1st, most of us get on the scale with a gripping sense of panic and regret. The mirth and cheer are quickly replaced by retribution in the form of sobering resolutions.  But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.

With a little preparation now, in early autumn, we can allow ourselves to give in to the approaching decadence, guilt free. You see, our systems don’t work that well on the principle of “enjoy now, pay later.”  They respond much better to prepaid credit, if you will. Treat your body well ahead of time, and you will reap the benefits later, despite the occasional indulgence. The more credit you purchase in advance, the more permissive you can be, before it’s time to reload, again.

One of the best ways to recharge your system and give it the boost it needs to take you through the winter is body detoxification. What are the signs that you are ripe for a good detox? Well, do you often feel fatigued, heavy, achy, lethargic, ill, and/or forgetful?  Then, chances are your body has accumulated more harmful toxins than it can reasonably process and eliminate. And that’s pretty easy in today’s world. Thanks to CO2 emissions in the air we breathe,  heavy metals in our water, arsenic in our apples and rice, pesticides and dioxins in our fruits and vegetables, growth-hormones and antibiotics in our meats, and BPA in our food containers and homes –just to name a few of the culprits (!!!) – it’s no wonder we feel lousy!

Luckily, a good dose of detoxification is all it takes to ease your overworked liver, kidneys, gut and skin, and cleanse your system of a myriad of harmful contaminants. That way, when the holiday season begins, you can enjoy it with a clean body, a clear conscience, and a couple of extra ‘brownie points’.

There are a number of meal plans and rules you can follow to create a detox course that is best suited for your individual needs. But, generally speaking, a good cleansing plan should be carried out for at least two weeks and should include whole, organic, unprocessed, unrefined (animal-free) foods served in smaller than usual portions, and, no doubt,  lots of filtered water. One of the dishes I often turn to during my autumn detox is a miso soup variation (*recipe below) that is as hearty as it is beneficial. A large pot (sans the miso paste and barley) will keep for several days in the fridge. Just warm a bowl, add miso and barley to your liking, and enjoy!

Hearty Miso Soup (with Pearl Barley)

NOTE: Miso is a thick, fermented paste that contains a significant amount of beneficial bacteria which help promote health by stimulating digestion and aiding the body to build resistance against disease. Since it is considered a living food, it’s important to never cook miso or allow it to come to a boil. Instead, be sure to add it to foods that are already prepared.

4 cups Dashi (see recipe below)

1 cup water

2 tsp oil (sesame or olive)

2 carrots (peeled and cut into matchsticks)

1-2 tsp grated fresh ginger

3-6 mushrooms (preferably shiitake, either fresh or reconstituted, and sliced thin)

1 cup spinach (fresh or frozen)

2 scallion (sliced thinly on the diagonal)

2- 3 tbsp miso paste

1 tbsp shoyu or tamari

Red pepper flakes (to taste)

Grated fresh ginger (optional)

OPTIONAL:

½ cup cooked pearl barley (prepared in a separate pot according to package directions)

Directions

  1. Sauté ginger, carrots and mushrooms in a large pot with 2 tsp oil. (About 3-4 minutes)
  2. Add water to pot. Bring to a boil, then add dashi.
  3. Allow to simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, then add spinach and simmer another 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Add scallions, miso that has been mixed with some water, and shoyu.
  5. Season with red pepper flakes.
  6. Enjoy soup plain or add cooked barley for a heartier meal.

Dashi

Note: Makes 8 cups. Dashi is a basic Japanese stock used to make many soups including traditional Miso soup.

1 square piece kombu  (3×3 inches)

8 cups water

1 loose cup bonito flakes

Directions

  1. Put kombu in a large pot, cover with water and soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Set the pot over medium heat until small bubbles form around the sides of the pan, 9 – 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the kombu from the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the bonito flakes. Simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Strain the liquid through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Reserve the kombu and bonito flakes for another use.
  5. Store in an airtight container. Use within 1 week refrigerated or freeze for up to 1 month.

Sophia Lambrakis is a writer, a chef and a nutritional consultant.  She lives and cooks in Salzburg, Austria.

P.S. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m making this version of miso soup today and racking up some credit!  Good luck and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (guayagourmet@gmail.com) or leave a comment.  Thanks!  (Love, Nathalie and Claire Berlin)

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

 

I make one version or another of hummus weekly.  It’s delicious as a dip or spread for sandwiches.  It’s my go to lunch with avocado, tomato, and something green and leafy whether it’s baby spinach or micro greens.  YUM!

In addition to the traditional ingredients, I up the health ante by adding a tablespoon of miso.  Miso is an anti-carcinogen that also reduces the effects of environmental toxins, such as air pollution.  It is a concentrated source of protein containing all eight essential amino acids and is an incredible digestive aid because it is naturally fermented.  Miso is a good source of manganese and zinc and is also an important source of several phytonutrient antioxidants.

By the way, the chickpeas pack their own nutritional punch, too.  It is also a wonderful source of protein and provides more Vitamin C, iron and fat than most other legumes (except for soybeans).  They are also great blood sugar and cholesterol regulators and because they are high in dietary fiber, they do a great job at flushing toxins from the body.

You’ll need:

1/2 C dried chickpeas, soaked (or 1 can of organic chickpeas)
2 garlic cloves
1 red pepper, roasted
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon juice (usually 1 juicy lemon will do)
3-4 T tahini
1 T white miso
1 T ground cumin
Sea salt to taste

To make:

1. Cook chickpeas – drain and rinse and then add chickpeas to a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and partially cover.  (Feel free to add an 1″ of kombu or a bay leaf here, too.)  Chickpeas take a while to get soft so check once in a while to make sure water hasn’t completely evaporated.

2. Once chickpeas are done and cooled, add everything to a food processor and whiz away.  You may need to add a bit more oil or water if the hummus is too thick.  Taste as you go and adjust seasonings to your liking.

3. Enjoy with crudite, rice crackers, pita bread, etc. etc.