How to Make Carrot & Burdock Kinpira

Hey macro-friends ♥

I made a new dish---new to me, that is. Actually, I've been meaning to make it for years! I've tasted it before in Japan, eating out or from the supermarket. But I haven't ever actually made it myself. I suppose it was the call of my fresh supply of burdock that finally beckoned me to put on my creative pants and step into the "new dish" zone. 

In any case, it's about time that I tried a kinpira dish. According to wikipedia, "kinpira is a cooking style that can be summarized as a technique of "sauté and simmer". 

That works for me.

Carrot & Burdock Kinpira

Step 1: Shave the burdock --- just like you would do to sharpen a pencil with a knife. I didn't really measure, but used about 1 whole long burdock.

Step 2: Cut carrots into matchsticks.

To do this, you start by slicing thin diagonals, then stack a few on top of each other, and slice into skinny rectangles, or "matchsticks". I used 3 large carrots. Basically from all the various recipes I have seen, usually carrot & burdock are in equal proportion (so for example, 2 cups of each).

Step 3: Sauté the burdock in a bit of toasted sesame oil for about 3 minutes until some of the liquid starts coming out. I used 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil, and stirred the burdock aroundquite often.

Step 4:  Layer in the carrots on top of the burdock, & add a very tiny sprinkle of sea salt, and
sauté another few minutes, no stirring this time.

Step 5: Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the sauté pan.

Step 6: Cover, and simmer on low heat for anywhere between 15-40 minutes depending on how soft you want the veggies, and which veggies you use. I simmered for about 15 minutes, but I checked to make sure there was still some liquid coming out so the pan wouldn't burn. You can add a tiny bit more water as needed, if you prefer to cook it a bit longer and all the liquid is gone.

Step 7: Add in tamari or shoyu to taste, simmer for 3 more minutes. I did 1.5 tsp of tamari.

Step 8: Garnish with a few toasted sesame seeds (optional). Serve.


We enjoyed this dish with freshly cooked rice, and some steamed greens to balance out all the concentrated yang energy of salt & root veggies. Overall, a very satisfying dish!

*There are many variations on this dish, some recipes call for matchstick cutting both veggies. others use entirely different veggie combinations. They all look really great to me.

UPDATE: As of right now, October 2015, this dish has become a regular. I've made it with turnips, and also with daikon, in place of burdock for a few different variations. Lately I have been cutting both kinds of veggies into matchsticks, rather than shaving the burdock. Both styles work equally as well. :)

Have you tried kinpira before? What is your favourite method, or which veggies are your favourite to use?

How to make a macrobiotic meal in less than 10 minutes.

I had a long day of teaching yoga yesterday morning. Then I went out to a garden centre to get soil, because I am going to start my first garden this year! But while I was in Spring mode, and looking at gardening supplies, the weather suddenly changed and it became really chilly and grey and windy.

hrmph. Thanks, Spring.

By the time I came home, it was after 2pm, and I was freezing cold and really hungry.

How to make a macrobiotic meal in less than 10 minutes.

I knew that I wanted something dense, stew-like, and warm. And I knew that I was too cold and grumpy hungry to cook for long :)

I opened the fridge, and saw a random assortment of veggies, and then I discovered the golden ticket: leftover millet! Millet is delicious, and not only is it actually golden, but it has many consistencies, depending on how you cook it. The day before, it was simply pan-toasted and then pressure-cooked. We ate it for lunch, topped with a squash sauce.

For my quick lunch I threw the leftover millet in a pan with some water, and brought it to boil while chopping up a few carrots, and some parsley. I also found some organic corn kernels in the freezer. I threw all the veggies in, and once it was boiling, I brought the temperature down, and simmered with a lid on for about 6 minutes. Then I stirred in a tiny bit of tamari, and let cook for another 4 minutes.

10 minutes later, after topping with a bit of black sesame, I was eating a lovely bowl of...millet & vegetable stew? Or perhaps it was more like Millet & Vegetable Porridge? Either way, it was pure bliss. And warmed me right up!

How to make a macrobiotic meal in less than 10 minutes.

Yum!!! The best thing you can do to save yourself time is to cook grains with leftovers in mind...always make more than you need, so you have cooked grain ready to use for quick meals.

My two favourite & SPEEDY ways to create meals using leftover grains are:

Boil with more water to make a thick porridge or stew--->can be savoury or sweet (great for breakfast). You can add anything you like (veggies, beans, fresh or dried fruit for breakfast, miso or tamari for flavour,herbs, etc). You can add as much liquid as you like, making it into a soup like if you prefer.

Pan fry with some  veggies (green onions and mushrooms are a divine combo) in a tiny bit of toasted sesame oil  & tamari

Of course, you can simply steam leftover grain and eat them plain too. Something I also often do.

I have made countless varieties of grain & veggies porridges as quick meals: rice + leftover bean + parsley. Quinoa + celery + carrot. Millet + Squash + miso. etc. etc. All yummy!

So I guess since this post is on a Thursday, this week's Thursday Things is about valuing time! Save yourself time by creating quick meals using leftovers!

What's your favourite way to use leftover grains?

Brown Rice: A step by step guide to make the most perfect grain

If you've been reading my blog, you'll know that I have a huge love for brown rice. I have always liked it, but my intense love affair began with a 7 day brown rice fast last year. Brown Rice makes it's appearance on my table at least once a day.

When people find out that I eat brown rice, the most common response is: "but it takes so long to cook!" My response? Well, not if you try making it like I do! I cook it in less than 30 minutes--and it's not chewy and hard!

Brown Rice: Dainty Pig Style

What you'll need:
* 2 cups of short grain brown rice (other types work too, but this is my favourite)
* 4 cups water (plus a bit)
* a nice cooking pot (stainless steel works really well)
* a pinch of sea salt
* some dried wakame, ~2 inches (optional)
* a bit of ginger ~1cm chunk (optional)
* lots of love

1. Rinse your beautiful grain! I rinse all my grains; brown rice is no exception! Most books / articles recommend rinsing until the water running through is no longer milky, but clear. I usually just put my rice into a sieve and shake under running water for a few minutes.

2. Soak!! Add the drained brown rice to a pot, add the water, and let it sit there(I usually just rest the lid on top, kinda half on) for as long as you can. I usually soak mine for at least 6 hours, but most often overnight. This not only saves you cooking time, but makes the rice easier to digest, AND makes the grain more alkaline! And another bonus: the rice becomes so fluffy--much more voluminous!

3. Once you are done soaking, get the wakame and ginger ready |if you aren't using wakame or ginger, skip right to step 6|

Chop up the wakame, and soak in a bowl with enough lukewarm water to cover, for ~10mins. This re-hydrates the seaweed.

Dice up the fresh ginger root (you can even leave the peel on!), and add it
to the pot of rice.

4. Bring the rice to a boil, with the lid off.
This should take around 10 minutes, so by the time the rice has begun boiling, the wakame should be nice and soaked.

5. Add the soaking water from the wakame to the pot (this lets you keep the nutrients in the water).

6. Wait until the water boils again, and then add the pinch of sea salt.

7. Turn the stove down to simmer, and put on the lid. Set a time for ~15 minutes.

8. When the timer goes off, add the soaked wakame to the pot, and put the lid back on. Cook for ~10-15 mins. more. The total cooking time is usually around 30 minutes --not so long, definitely worth it You can lift the lid off to make sure there is no water left in the bottom.

(usually there is some water left when I add the seaweed in--sometimes there isn't, and this is ok...the seaweed just gets a bit "steamed")

9. Last step: leave the lid on, just shut the stove off, and let the rice sit in the pot for about 10 minutes. This steams away any last bit of water, and by waiting, also stops the rice from sticking to the pot. If you leave it on the turned off burner, the rice will end up a bit drier. I prefer mine not so dry, so I just take it right off the burner.

10. Eat!! Store the rest of the rice in the fridge. I usually have about 6 servings from this amount of rice.

**I find that it works best to cook at least 1 cup of rice at a time, and the bonus of doing this is that you get easy leftovers. Just make sure you use 2:1 water to rice.
**the longer you soak the rice, the fluffier it gets, and the less time it takes to cook
**To use the leftover rice, I sometimes just eat it cold, or steam it for a few minutes, or add a bit of water and boil. You can also use it in soups, stews, or casseroles.

Please check out my newer post, Brown Rice Version 2.0 (in the pressure cooker!).

Enjoy your rice, my lovelies! What is your favourite grain? How do you make it and what do you eat it with? Do you eat brown rice?

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:

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!

The quickest oatmeal loveliness ever!

So I really like oats. And oatmeal. And oatbran. My absolute favourite way of eating oats is the whole oat thing, but that takes awhile, and unfortunately, doesn't happen as much as I would like it to. Even regular stovetop oatmeal can take a few minutes (and pan washing!). BUT, I am not so much a fan of quick oats.
My solution???

Quick Oatmeal/bran (minus the quick oat part)

Take your favourite mug, and add:
~1/4 cup of oatbran
~1/4 cup of rolled oats

Then pour boiling water over top of the oats (just eyeball how much...the oats gobble it up pretty fast).
Do a little stir...maybe add a bit more water.
Then cover the mug with a plate, or whatever, to seal in the heat.
Wait for a few minutes (maybe 3?), then uncover and there you go!

Add whatever delicious toppings you like, and you're ready to feast!
This works AMAZINGLY well if you need to take a snack with you to work. All you need is a kettle at work, and you can bring the oats in a tupperware with a lid.

Today I topped mine with coconut milk, cocoa nibs, and cinnamon....mmmmm....
Sometimes I use more oats than oatbran, othertimes I used more oatbran...and depending on the size of the mug, the amount of oats might be bigger!

I also sometimes make a hot cocoa base (add some cocoa powder, spices, and amasake or ricemilk to create a liquid paste) then add the dry oats to that, then add the hot water. This is delicious too.
Here are a few photos of QUICK cocoa oats in a mug, with some cinnamon, and either a bit of maple syrup of rice syrup:

If you need some oats quickly, don't like the idea of "quick oats" and don't have access to a stove, or simply don't want to wash a pan, this is for you!