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MM: Macrobiotics, Victoria Style :)

One of the things I love the most about living in Victoria, are the many many MANY healthy eating options. There are just so many cafes, bakeries, healthy restaurants, and markets. Foodie heaven, for sure.

Macro Monday: Macrobiotics in Victoria

Restaurants & Cafes

I haven't even come close to trying all the Dainty Pig friendly places to eat...but here's a list of some of favourites so far. Rest assured there will be multiple followups to this post.

Kissako Green Tea Cafe
http://www.kissakogreenteacafe.com/

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  • A cute, small, family style cafe in Oak Bay. As the name suggests, you can get a mean cup of green tea here. I'm talking high quality Japanese Matcha, made properly...you know, so it isn't bitter, and froths perfectly.
  • The food is great: straight up Japanese Macrobiotic food. I've tried the kinpira, miso udon, age dashi tofu, and veggie gyoza. All were the best versions of those foods that both T & I have ever tried, anywhere...even in Japan.
  • They also have a substantial brown rice veggie sushi menu!
  • They also have lovely desserts like green tea roll cakes & daifuku...which, if you're a red bean dessert fan like me, will be your remedy for Japanese food homesickness.
  • Bonus: the place is very cute inside, and so are the owners -- they are very friendly!
  • Another bonus: priced very fairly.

Rebar Modern Food Cafe
http://rebarmodernfood.com/

Green veggie curry with tofu, lime & peanuts :)

Green veggie curry with tofu, lime & peanuts :)

Barley Miso

Barley Miso

  • Right in the heart of downtown, in Bastion Square, Rebar is a Victoria classic. Rebar has it all: plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and macro friendly options.
  • I like it because you can get simple stuff like a basket of steamed veggies and brown rice with a side miso soup...or you can get all fancy with soba salads & green curries, or you can get your sweet comfort food like tempeh reubens and yam fries.
  • Their vegetarian dishes are really great (so I've heard), with some of the best veggie burgers and miso gravy fries in town.
  • They also have a great fresh juice selection, and they have chosen awesomely funny names for their juice creations - you'll have to visit to see for yourself.
  • The atmosphere inside is funky, and also relaxing & chill. The price is a bit more than others on my list, but it's worth it.

Green Cuisine
http://www.greencuisine.com/

Macro Takeout :)  

Macro Takeout :)
 

  • This gem is tucked away in the lower part of Market Square downtown.
  • They are basically a vegan self-serve buffet (but highly Macrobiotic)-- with eat in or takeout options.
  • The menu rotates daily (you can check before hand online) but there is always a couple of soups, cornbread, pickled veggies, salad options, steamed veggies, and tofu, seitan, or tempeh dishes. Often as well, are cold noodle salads like soba or Mediterranean pasta salads. There are usually stews and bean patties or falafels too. Toppings include gomaisho (sesame salt), and various oils like flax and olive oil, and seasonings like nutritional yeast and roasted pumpkin seeds.
  • Then of course, is my favourite part about this lovely place: the treats. SO MANY wonderful treats to choose from, all are vegan, and most are Macrobiotic. This is like finding a needle in a haystack. Seriously, so lucky to have this place here for when the sweet craving strikes and I don't wanna bake. There are daily cakes -- often cheesecakes or mousse cakes, and fruit crumbles. But my favourites are the baked goodies, like the brown rice peanut butter cookies, or the oat & hemp seed bars. Their spelt blackberry muffins are great. And if you want a really decadent treat, try their brownies or their "not nanaimo" bars.
  • Also a bonus, they make their own pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, and amasake...you may have seen them before in larger chains like planet organic :)

Sakura Japanese Sushi & Restaurant

sakura brown rice sushi
  • A cute place tucked away on Yates street (right by The Market on Yates grocery store). It really reminds T & I of a homestyle country Japanese food.
  • The menu has lots of different brown rice veggie rolls (all delicious), and various bento boxes and donburis. Along with the rolls, the miso is fantastic, and one of my favourite things to get is the ginger tofu & veggies donburi. Super yummy!
  • Another bonus: free barley tea with your meal.

Sen Zushi
http://www.senzushi.com/

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  • Excellent, excellent Japanese food.
  • They have many macro friendly options, including brown rice & delicious udon (which they import from Ehime, the prefecture where I lived for 2 years) which you can order with natto! but in all reality, their specialty is sushi, and they do it amazingly well! Probably the best sushi I've ever had.
  • On the winter menu, you can order tofu veggie nabe (a wonderful hotpot) and it was so good!
  • This place gets BUSY FAST...so make a reservation

Be Love
http://beloverestaurant.ca/

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  • Right on Blanshard & Fort, downtown.
  • Be Love just opened up recently, and we've been quite a few times!
  • Really awesome space, cool design, friendly staff, and mouthwatering desserts.
  • I would say the restaurant is definitely slanted more to the raw foods lifestyle (lots of juices, raw crackers and raw breads), but they definitely do have enough cooked food options that I can't stop going back.
  • They have a macro bowl on the menu, made with quinoa, seaweed, lots of veggies, sauerkraut & flax oil -- it's delicious & I've also had an amazing polenta dish :)
  • Their desserts are pretty insane...raw cheesecakes like no others!
  • They also have some really neat drinks like Mu tea soda
  • The price is mid-range. Similar or a little less than Rebar.

Bakeries

Fry's Red Wheat Bread
http://www.frysbakery.com/

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  • Worth the trip out to Esquimalt in a heart beat, as it is definitely the best bread I've ever eaten. It doesn't hurt my belly...that's the most important thing...but it tastes phenomenal (also SUPER important!).
  • All of their breads are fermented naturally aka natural sourdough...and they do it right! They use whole grains and the red wheat is very tasty!
  • They have great special creations, like the time I was lucky enough to snag a wholegrain loaf that had kabocha in it!
  • They make great breakfast breads too, with hazelnuts & raisins
  • And for the treat lovers out there, their pastries look out of this world. Their german pretzels are soooo good too :)

Wildfire
http://www.wildfirebakery.ca/

Vegan Sandwich to go <3

Vegan Sandwich to go <3

  • On Quadra street.
  • These guys also do all natural sourdough bread, and they have lots of SPELT flour sourdough breads, which is pretty cool
  • They have some awesome take-out sandwiches...or you can stay in and enjoy a coffee and a delicious vegan ginger blueberry spelt muffin or some toast made with your choice of bread.
  • There are many vegan goodies to choose from (just ask) & I've been told that their absolutely stunning vegan chocolate cake is to die for.
  • The granola they make is also super yum, with all turkish apricots, hazelnuts, and orange zest

Fol Epi
http://folepi.ca/

  • A really neat gem tucked away in Esquimalt
  • Awesome design, and delicious organic bread (well, the one time I've tried it - I should go back soon!).
  • They make some really good looking treats too - like macarons, & individual pastries and tarts.
  • I've heard they make really great pizza too!

Ingredients & Groceries

Ingredients Health Food & Apple Cafe
http://ingredientshealthfood.com/

  • I stumbled into this place my mistake one time, and sure am happy about it! It's right downtown along the water on Store street, and is the bulk store of your dreams, combined with a cute cafe and a space where people can teach small groups classes
  • The prices here are some of the best I've seen in the city!

Niagara Grocery
http://getfreshwithalocal.com/

  • On Niagara street (you guessed it), in James bay.
  • This was another lucky find on a walk a few months back.
  • They have a great selection of everything: natural pickles, tofu, beans, organic veggies, nut/seed butters, jams/honey, milk alternatives, they carry Wildfire Bakery bread and other good breads, local ice creams, local vegan goodies, and plenty of organic chocolate, coffee and tea.
  • They also have a coffeebar, and a few tables.

Local Neighbourhood Markets

  • There are so many Markets here, it's a huge delight.
  • In the summer & fall, I was visiting Moss Street Market every Saturday, and stocking up on GREAT veggies!
  • There are markets all throughout the city, such as one in James Bay, Bastion Square...seriously, all over :)

Sakura

  • Same place as listed above...they also have a small grocery store attached where you can buy natto, soba, green tea, seaweed, organic miso, and other Japanese items!

The Market on Yates
http://www.themarketstores.com/

  • This grocery store has a surprisingly large selection of everything...you just need to dig a bit to find everything amongst regular items.
  • You can find ume products, seaweed, and a large selection of tofu here.
  • Also, there is a great coffee / tea section, along with lots of local chocolate.
  • They also have a pretty good bulk selection, and many organic fruits and veggies.

Ottavio
http://www.ottaviovictoria.com/

  • This is an amazing Italian market / cafe in Oak Bay.
  • If you're from Edmonton and love/miss the Italian Centre...this is the closest I have yet to find something similar, here in Victoria.
  • This would be the place for anything like olives, goat cheeses, olive oil, good quality pasta, chesnuts!!!, dried mushrooms etc.
  • They also sell one of my favourite brands of tea: Kusmi tea.

Places On My Radar That I Plan to Check Out:

Futaba
http://www.futaba.ca/main.html

  • This Japanese restaurant supposedly offers brown rice sushi, and gets great reviews

Victoria Public Market
http://victoriapublicmarket.com/

  • This public market at the Hudson, is relatively new, as far as I understand, and is inspired by the year-long indoor market at Granville Island in Vancouver
  • I can't wait to check out the regular vendors, for veggies and other fantastic products.

Fuji ya
http://www.fujiya.ca/aboutFujiya/fujiyastores/victoria.asp

  • I was recommended to check here for many Japanese ingredients I have been searching for :)

 

***And also some places very worth noting that I plan to get some of photos of next time and do a write up for are: Soltice Cafe & Bliss Cafe <3

Any and all recommendations are much appreciated!

To your delicious dining when you visit this haven known as Victoria,
xo Jess



 

 

Macro Monday: Macrobiotics' Secret Ingredient

How do you thicken gravy, make a pudding, pie filling or fruit sauce, and also help relieve indigestion using Macrobiotic friendly ingredients?

Well, get yourself a big bag of magical white powdery stuff...NO, I don't mean THIS KIND of white stuff. :)

I mean the kind of white powder that you'll find in the "odds & ends & weird ingredients" aisle at your health foods store. It's called Kuzu!

MM: All About Kuzu (Kudzu)

 Macrobiotics' Secret Ingredient:

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What is it?

Kuzu (Kudzu) is a vine that grows in Asia, and is also known as Japanese Arrowroot. Thanks to Wikipedia, I finally understand why there are multiple spellings of the same word: The Japanese word for the plant is kuzu (クズ or 葛), but when the word was first put into latin script (romanized) it appeared as kudzu. Same plant, same meaning, two ways to spell it: I'll go with kuzu.

Traditional & Medicinal Qualities & Uses

Both the roots & the flowers of this vine have been used for centuries in Chinese Medicine & in Japan to treat many health ailments, including but not limited to:  headaches, diarrhea, colds, rashes, migraines, stomach problems & indigestion, the flu, hangovers and even hayfever!

Because of the isoflavones (especially isoflavone puerarin) and other plant compounds in Kuzu, it can help relieve many other complaints, such as undesirable menopausal issues & hormone imbalances. Kuzu also appears to have cardiovascular benefits: it decreases blood pressure, and can even assist with circulation within the heart itself.

Kuzu has been used historically in the treatment of alcoholism (it can suppress alcohol cravings) and irregular heartbeat, and in China it has been used when giving treatment for strokes. It is even said to have antioxidant & anti-viral activity, and can help with blood sugar levels & insulin resistance.

Um....Wowza!

I have read about Macrobiotic remedies using Kuzu, but I did not know the full extent of its powers. The sources where I read about all these mind boggling health benefits are here & here  .

In Macrobiotics

In my understanding, Macrobiotics would classify kuzu as having a YANG effect: a downward & inwards moving energy --> perfect for helping the lower intestine and strengthening digestion!

Kuzu root is also an extremely alkalizing food. Outside of cooking (see section below), kuzu is most often used in Macrobiotics as an alkalizing remedy for health issues that are caused by over-acidity, such as indigestion caused by over-consumption of acidic foods and/or overeating, and even cancer as it is a highly acidic condition.

In most Macrobiotic books you'll find a recipe for some sort of an umeboshi & kuzu healing drink. Sometimes it is made with teas, sometimes with shoyu (soy sauce), and sometimes with ginger! I haven't personally tried it myself yet, but I do recommend consulting a qualified health care practitioner before undertaking any new remedy.

But, if you are curious, Here's a simple recipe for ume-sho-kuzu with cute pictures!
**please note: I have more commonly seen this recipe with a smaller amount of umeboshi, such as this one, but I just loved the pics with the first link.

Culinary Uses

Kuzu starch (powder / rock chunks) is used in cooking to thicken liquids! You can use it like you would cornstarch or arrowroot powder. But, unlike corn starch that may thin if the liquid cools, kuzu just keeps getting thicker & thicker. I like it because it's a more natural alternative that has undergone much less processing than regular ol' starches. It is the perfect ingredient to use when making gravy, soups & dessert!

Here are the directions on the back of the package: 

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I have used kuzu as a thickener in many dishes, including:

And one of the most delicious treats I tried in Japan was Kudzu Mochi.

YUM! 

 

Expect a delicious new dessert recipe that uses kuzu up on the blog mid-week, so please check back soon <3

Have you ever tried Kuzu in cooking, or in a remedy?
I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Macro Mondays: My Macrobiotic Pantry - part 1

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Macrobiotic foods can seem a little strange at first. After scouring a good Macrobiotic book you might find yourself looking at bins upon bins of grains & beans in the bulk section.

Which ones should you purchase? What are good things to have on hand?

MM: My Macrobiotic Pantry

Here's a look at my little "Macrobiotic Pantry" ( FYI - I almost typed Macrobiotic panty...and am now envisioning underwear sewn together out of rice, seaweed, and beans).

Anyways, here's what's currently on my little shelf where I go to begin most of my meals.

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The top shelf has a bunch of different legumes and beans, dried seaweed, and a couple of other dried items. From left to right I have: french lentils, red lentils, adzuki beans, a blend of sprouted beans, mung beans, wakame, kombu, dulse, dried daikon, & dried chestnuts. For a quick and satisfying meal, you could try making my favourite lentil stew using french lentils.

The middle row is all my whole grains, flours, and cracked grains. I have short grain brown rice, (unseen behind) sweet brown rice, oat flour, quinoa, black rice, corn grits/polenta, rolled oats, millet & behind the millet (unseen) whole oat groats. Whenever I cook grains, I make a big batch so that I have leftovers to use in things like a Mexican Macro feast over the next few days.

The bottom row has some random stuff. The black hanging basket is full of whole grain pastas of various kinds: brown rice pasta, black rice pasta, kamut pasta, whole wheat pasta. I have these occasionally, but T often makes pasta for a quick lunch. Then I have my suribachi (like a mortar & pestle) I carted home from Japan, and a bowl of lemons. I also have some thyme from my garden, drying on the shelf.

The colourful bird makes me happy, and I enjoy my apron --- also from Japan. Creating a space in your kitchen that you like looking at, and enjoy visiting, will make you more likely to cook and create nourishing meals, because you will be happy to be in there!

When storing items in your "pantry" you don't have to separate your grains and beans (obviously), but for me it makes it easier when figuring out what to make. I prefer keeping things in glass jars because it's pretty, allows me to see what I have more easily, and also allows some air to circulate in the dried beans/grains, which is good for them.

Part II is coming soon, as I keep other ingredients and quick meal staples elsewhere.

Have a  great Monday!