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Macro Monday: daikon

When I wait in line at the market, and at grocery stores, I often overhear a variation of the same question..."what IS that?" says someone, while pointing at the giant daikon in my shopping basket... and "what do you do with THAT?"

Well, dear friends, if you've ever wondered just that, then this post is for you. It's all about what you can do with one of my favourite veggies:

Macro Monday: Daikon

Daikon are a kind of Asian radish, and are characterized by their enormous size. They most commonly look like giant white carrots, and can be up to 14" long.

Thanks  Wikipedia , for the image :)

Thanks Wikipedia, for the image :)

Daikon have many healing properties, and are used extensively through Asia as both food, and as remedies for specific conditions. They are often used to make pickles - Japanese style, and Korean style (spicy like kimchi). They are often in miso soup, too. Really the ways of using this wonderful veggie seem unlimited. It's just THAT good :)

I have found that the smaller and/or shorter or rounder ones have a stronger "radish" flavour. Look for ones that have the leaves on - they will be fresher, AND you can eat the leaves too (chop them up, and lightly steam or saute with the daikon).

Today though, I want to talk about a few of the different ways of preparing it!

How to Prepare Daikon

When you cook the daikon, it loses a lot of its pungency and bitterness, and instead becomes gently sweet.

Steamed

My favourite, as far as simplicity and taste goes, is simply to steam it. I cut off a chunk, scrub it, and cut it into rounds, then in half, so I have some nice half-moon shapes. Then I simply steam it, for about the same length of time as you would steam carrots (depending on the size). Daikon & carrots steamed together make a fine match, just are steamed daikon and greens. Drizzle a tiny bit of umeboshi vinegar after steaming. Yum.

Stir-Fry

I have also cut thinner rounds, and/or diced it into small chunks and thrown it into a veggie stir-fry or saute.

Long cooked // Daikon stew

You can also easily make a delicious dish of stewed daikon. And it's one of my favourite ways to enjoy this veggie.

Cut the daikon into thick rounds (peeling the skin off makes for a nicer flavour), place a strip of kombu in a saucepan, and place the daikon rounds on top. Add just enough water to cover the daikon. Bring to boil, then turn heat to low and slowly simmer with lid on. Check often, and continue adding tiny bits of water as needed, as it boils away. You can let it cook for a long time - up to an hour or perhaps even more, depending on the thickness of your daikon rounds. The longer you cook it, the sweeter it'll be. The daikon is ready when a toothpick can be easily inserted. Once it is done, add in a few teaspoons of shoyu and let simmer for 5 more minutes or so. Clamp the lid down (using an oven mitt), and give the pot a good shake, and serve.

Raw

And of course you can slice it and put it in salads just like any other radish. You can also julienne it, and/or grate it - you may have noticed that white vegetable they serve with sashimi at Japanese restaurants...yep, that'd be daikon.

Have you ever tried daikon? What's your favourite way of eating it?

I'll leave you with a photo of my goodies from the Market this week. Summer's the best. Do you see the daikon hiding in there?

Have a great week, friends, and see you back here on Friday, for MacroTreat Friday!

Post-Christmas Happy

Happy New Years, friends!
2011 is going to be wicked, I just know it!

I decided to get back on track with healthy eating right away after my lovely Christmas dinner.Instead of gorging until New Years Eve and then starting fresh over, this past week has been filled with lots of steamed veggies, brown rice, quinoa, a few other odds and ends.

I realized this year that even though my Christmas meal was delicious and nice...I actually prefer the wholegrain veggie stuff. For myself anyways, bread is really yummy---but it is always such a quick, fleeting satisfaction. And it leaves me feeling pretty yucky anyways (why do I always try to forget about my wheat allergy?). So suffice to say, special occasions is the right amount for me and wheat.

A few days of clean, simple eating put me back on track, and I decided to try out some new recipes, from this book (I love this book! Every recipe I have tried has been a hit, try it!):

First up, was Nishime-style Daikon Stew
Layer some veggies up, add water, and simmer away for about 45mins-1hr. Delicious!
You can season with some salt or tamari near the end.




Mmmmm so yummy! enjoyed this over 3 days.
The last day I turned it into a soup by adding water, boiling, them simmering in some miso.

For dessert, an apple kanten.
I like to use the kanten in bar form. Soak it, add it into boiling liquid (water, juice) per package instructions. Stir--the kanten will dissolve. Cook a bit more. Then pour on top of fruit and let it set.
So simple and yummy! Kantens have been one of my favourite macrobiotic discoveries.


If you need any health products for the New Year (bath salts, essential oils, probiotics, teas), I order them from iHerb. If you are shopping there for the first time, use my code ROP008 to get 5% off your first purchase! This company has really helped me out while living abroad. I have been able to order brown rice cereal and puffs, yogi teas, probiotics, and more. And it gets to me internationally, 4 days later, for less than $10 shipping. Sweet!

As far as my thoughts and focus for the New Year go, a few simple words come to mind:
Self-love. Moderation. Freedom.

I wish you a very happy new year, from the bottom of my dainty little heart.
It's going to be a great year, I can feel it!
May you find peace, love, and happiness.

Today's Dinner

As a nice summary of my huge (sorry, I cannot be concise) entry below, here is my yummy macrobiotic dinner for tonight:

Soaked brown rice, cooked with ginger and wakame, topped with flax oil, dulse flakes, kelp powder, shitake mushrooms and a few sunflower seeds.
Lightly boiled: daikon, carrot, collard greens, and black kale, all topped with a bit of Udo's oil and celtic sea salt.
A half of a baked Kabocha squash (the most delicious squash ever!!)
A bowl of the remaining veggie broth.

Mmmmmm!!!! Soooo satisfied. Definitely don't need anything else today (even though my my mind is trying to trick me into going back to that cocoa bliss jar....damn cocoa).

Typical Macrobiotic Day


So I'm always talking about Macrobiotics. But what is macrobiotics? At least...what does it mean for me??
Well, there are plenty of books (I've got most of them kickin' around) that outline the philosophical principles behind macrobiotics, as well as what you can and cannot eat. I want to do a post really soon describing some of these things.
For now, to ease your curiosity (if you have any, that is), here is what it means for me:

A whole lotta whole grains (mostly short grain brown rice, quinoa, and whole oats--although sometimes i get a bit crazy and mix it up with some kasha, or toasted buckwheat, millet, and barley).

Also, a whole lotta veggies. Think greens (kale, collards, sometimes chard), daikon radish, carrots, shitake mushrooms, and squash if I have some.

My ideal breakfast is a serving (a really big one...haha) of whole grains topped with seaweed, with steamed or quick boiled greens, carrots, shitake and daikon radish. Well okay, my ideal MACROBIOTIC breakfast consists of these foods. I am a breakfast gal. My absolute favourite snack / meal at any time of the day was cold cereal. But once I tried macrobiotics, I realized how much BETTER I felt eating WHOLE grains...and have thus been transformed into this kind of breakfast lover.

And vegetables for breakfast? wtf mate? well...I wouldn't knock it till you try it!
They make you feel so lovely and balanced! (even though sometimes I gotta sneak in a bit of sweet at the end, via grains with brown rice syrup and cinnamon, or maybe a squeak of cocoa...shhh...don't tell anyone).

Don't even get me started on SEAWEED. I frickin' love it. I probably crave it the most out of any food now.I top ALL of my grains with a bit of seaweed. Even at breakfast. Dulse flakes are my best friend. I also cook wakame in with my rice...and would gorge every single day on seaweed salad if I could afford it.

Soup is also a major part of the macrobiotic diet. While most meals start with miso soup (1-2 times / day)I usually just sip the vitamin filled water that remains after I quick boil my veggies. I love miso soup, but generally seem to find soy upsetting to my poor little tummy, so I just have the veggie water/soup/stock with my meal (that is what is in the blue mug in the picture above).

The hardest part for most people on a macrobiotic is satisfying the sweet craving. I am a FRUIT LOVER, and this is where I used to get all my sweet satisfaction from. Since switching to a mostly macrobiotic diet, I try to not have that much fruit. They (the "macrobiotic gurus") recommend only having fruit 2-3 times per week--which is probably better for my easily-bloated tummy anyways. Instead, grain based sweeteners like amasake (fermented brown rice drink that is actually delicious), brown rice syrup and barley malt are recommended, and of course even better are sweet vegetables like squash or carrots, or sweet grains like oats! I usually stick to fruit for my fixin' (as little as my greedy little taste buds can make do with), and brown rice syrup. I use brown rice syrup to top off whole grains like brown rice, whole oats and quinoa, or even the less preferred rolled oats or the not so macrobiotic oat bran (not-so-macrobiotic because it is just one part of the grain, and not whole). I also sometimes make desserts using grains, and fruit with kuzu powder (japanese arrowroot)for a pudding like substance, or fruit and agar flakes (like gelatin, but a seaweed!) to make kanteens. If I make one again, i'll post pics. Check out the saladgirl's amazing blog for some macrobiotic dessert photos: http://www.thesaladgirl.com/2009/02/27/unsweetened-dessert-jelly-jell-o/

Another part of my typical macrobiotic day consists of:
chewing...REALLY REALLY well. I have a tendency to scarf down my food, always thinking of what to eat next, and I usually end up with a not-so-happy tummy and a burned tongue. Chewing starts the digestion process, and is SOOO important. It is a continuous goal of mine to chew more...up to 50X per bite!

Also, not eating when i'm not hungry....aka not mindlessly snacking...which I LOVE to do...a big challenge for me. I often end up failing at this *cough*my food dedicated blog with photos of glorious snacks*cough* but i'm trying...and i'm getting better at it.

What do I drink on a macrobiotic diet??
Well...not coffee, that is for sure. I do sometimes sneak in a latte made with almond milk...but that is rare...or rather, SHOULD be rare. teehee. Seriously though: I drink a lot of water, because it's free, and good for you. Kukicha tea (twig tea) is wonderful at balancing the body after a meal, and is a nice substitute for black tea and coffee. I also drink green tea! Dairy should be avoided on a macrobiotic diet, and it upsets me anyways, so that's okay. Sometimes I use unsweetened almond milk, or rice milk.

Fermented Foods are not part of a typical North American diet...but they are certainly important in a Macrobiotic one! Even though they make me a bit gassy (haha...because i'm sure you wanted to know) I try to eat some whenever I can. For me, this usually means a bit of naturally fermented sauerkraut, some pickled daikon radish...and miso occasionally.

And lastly...but what about seasoning, flavouring, and oils?? Well: I usually sprinkle some flax oil on my grains, and some Udo's 3-6-9 oil on my greens (or vice versa). Other oils I use are sesame, toasted sesame, and occasionally olive oil. Toasted nuts and seeds are a great topping as well: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds. Roasted sesame seeds, and sesame salt (gomaisho) are delicious too! And of course, to give your food a bit of a zing: lemon, umeboshi vinegar, ume paste, rice vinegar for sushi, and tamari or soy sauce in cooking (although I have been avoiding it as per soy-tummy-trouble). And of course SEA SALT. I use a pinch when cooking grains, and sometimes sprinkle some on my steamed veggies.

Whew. That was a lot to digest....sorry guys. Make sure you let your mind chew it over really well ;)

Maybe I'll post some photos from tonight's dinner...this is all for now...but there will me more to come, and any questions are welcomed!