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MacroTreat Friday: Spring Lemon & Berry Kanten

I love lemons. And I love berries. And the weather has been beautiful these days. So naturally I wanted to create something that involved all of these happy things.

This dessert is super simple, delicious, & mega refreshing. It's a great way to celebrate the changing seasons and warmer weather. Plus, it's kind of like jello...and while I never really had the stuff growing up, I do like this. Also, there's seaweed in it, so you can feel extra good about yourself <3

You should probably try it.

MTF: Spring Lemon & Berry Kanten

Kantens are a classic Macrobiotic treat, and are a delicious way to enjoy whatever fruit your heart desires. For this version, I wanted to use up some frozen berries I had, and just so happened to have some delightful pear juice on hand. Feel free to be creative with your juice & fruit choices.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups juice of choice - I used really natural pear juice
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 pack of kanten powder (4g) or appropriate amount of agar-agar flakes / bar ***see below
  • a touch of lemon zest
  • optional: a few spoons of rice syrup or maple syrup, if you want something a bit sweeter.
  • 2 cups frozen berries of choice. (I used a blackberry, blueberry and black currant mix). Fresh berries work great too!
  • *** For the agar agar: I still had a bit of powder from Japan, and it came in 4 gram packs, meant to gel up 2 cups of liquid. If you don't have these convenient packages, and are using agar flakes, 2 tbsp should do the trick, and if you are using agar powder use 2 tsp. For more info on what kanten/agar is, please check out my previous Macro Monday post on it here!

Directions

  1. Put frozen berries into a bowl, or pyrex dish - just something that will hold about 4 cups ( I used a big round glass tupperware, it all fit perfectly, and I could easily pop a lid on to put it in the fridge).
  2. Add juice, a pinch of sea salt, lemon zest, & sweetener (if using) to a saucepan. Whisk in the kanten powder, and bring mixture to a boil over low heat. Stir until dissolved (should only take a few minutes with powder).
  3. Pour mixture over frozen berries.
  4. Let cool completely. Mixture will set as it cools. You can put it in the fridge and enjoy it within a few hours, or wait and eat it the next day. Serve it up how you like - in slices, or by the spoonful!

If you like lemons a lot, feel free to serve with some lemon slices as I did, and it will get all juicy and wonderful and the sourness is just perfect with all the berries.

Nature is the best medicine, and sunshine on your face, with a touch of something simple & refreshing afterwards is probably one of the best things ever, in my opinion.

Have a FRESH, FUN, and DELIGHFTUL weekend outdoors, friends.
xo Jess

Β 


Macro Monday Secret Ingredient

Happy Macro Monday everyone!
Today's post is about another secret macrobiotic ingredient. It's clear. It comes from the sea. You can buy it  in the form of bars, flakes, or powder.

AND, most importantly, you can make macrobiotic jello with it.

Classy, I know.

MM: Agar Agar

A bar of agar agar soaking.

A bar of agar agar soaking.

What is it?

It is a gelatenous substance that comes from a seaweed/red algae. It has been used for centuries in China & Japan. In Japan, is in known as kanten. It is commonly used as a vegan thickener and is completely odourless, colourless, and flavourless, making it a great substitute for gelatin.

Health Benefits

Agar is very high in fibre (80% fibre!), and is good source of iron & magnesium, and also is a source of calcium. Agar has been found to relieve certain digestive orders, as well as some liver conditions (it can absorb bile, which can lower cholesterol levels).

How do you use it?

Agar should be combined / soaked with liquid and then brought to a boil in order for it to completely dissolve. It will set as it cools down.

Eden-Foods-Agar-Agar-Sea-Vegetable-Flakes.jpg

There are a few different forms of agar agar. Agar powder is much more concentrated than the flakes, so you can use 1 tsp of powder in place of 1 Tbsp flakes. If you are using it in bar form, the instructions usually say to soak the bar in a bowl of water for about 30-60 minutes. Then drain and wring out the bars, rip into small pieces, and then bring to boil with whatever ingredients you are using in your recipe.

To thicken one cup of liquid, in general, you'll need 1 tsp agar powder / 1 TBSP agar flakes or about 1/3 of a typical bar. I find though that each brand can be different, so definitely read the instructions on the back of the package.

For quick reference and an estimate based on the brands I've used:
To thicken 1 cup of liquid: 1 tsp agar powder = 1 tbsp agar flakes = 1/3 agar bar

Kinds of Foods you can make with it

Creamy Desserts

Agar agar is often used to create a creamy thick filling for pies, or in puddings (usually combined with kuzu).

tahinicustard.jpg
  • I use it in my favourite pumpkin pie recipe.
  • I have also used it to make a delicious tahini custard.
  • Easy Simple Pudding: You can make a very simple pudding that can be flavoured after, in whatever way you like by simply combining agar with your milk of choice, and cooking it, then letting it set up. The next day blend until soft like a pudding, adding in whatever you like: cocoa, vanilla, banana, peanut butter, cinnamon etc.

Lighter Fruit Jellies & Puddings.

You can make lighter dishes that are great for spring or summer, such as jelly or jello-like dishes combined with fruit. These are often referred to as kantens in Macrobiotic cooking.

strawberrykanten.jpg
  • A Delicious Strawberry Kanten
  • I have also made a kanten like the strawberry one above using various fruits such as mixed berries, thin apple slices, and grapes. It's SO EASY! Just bring the soaked agar and liquid of choice (water, tea, juice, milk) to boil, let it dissolve, then pour overtop of fruit in a pyrex dish. Let it set, and enjoy!
  • I have also made a very simple kanten with no fruit, and just flavoured the agar itself by cooking it in apple juice and mint tea. Another delicious one is to cook it with your milk of choice and chai tea, along with your preferred liquid sweetener.  After it sets you can eat as is, or you can blend into a pudding texture. YUM! (In these cases I made some very strong tea first, using multiple teabags, and used this as the water to boil the agar in).

 

I'll leave you with a fun fact: agar is often used in science as a stable growth environment for bacteria in petri dishes. Cool :)

Have you ever cooked with agar agar? What's your favourite recipe using it?

 

Tahini Custard

I made a most delicious dessert from my new favourite cookbook "The Macrobiotic Guide to Cooking" 
(I've added it to my amazon store. Check out the link!)  
Tahini Custard 
from Aveline Kushi's "Macrobiotic Guide to Cooking"
This dessert requires only a few ingredients:
  • apples
  • tahini
  • raisins
  • a bar of agar agar 
  • some water 
  • some apple juice
I made a kanten following the usual method, but used apples and tahini and raisins instead of strawberries.
Then you let it set, blend it up, let it set again, and voila! A creamy, delicious, nutty dessert. Not too sweet, but really creamy. To make a less sweet dessert, you can use less apple juice and more water...but I think it was perfect how it is! (For full directions, please check out the book!)
I love agar-agar:
Cooking away:
Yummy yummy!
 
Have you ever cooked with agar-agar? 
Do you like custards? 
What's your favourite vegan custard/pudding recipe?

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.

How About Some Lovely Berries?

Thanks for your kind words about Amber, my friends.

Today has been lovely and sunny, full of yoga, laying on blankets, and fruit (so good, but so bad). Summer just brings so many delicious fruits: apricots, cherries, and berries are so hard for me to resist. Just before going outside I ate three little apricots, and a large handful of cherries. So far my tummy isn't too bad, but it was totally worth it. Sometimes, you just gotta have some sweet summer lovin'.

Speaking of fruit, how about some strawberry kanten?


What a delicious summer dessert. So easy. So beautiful. So versatile! (sub in any fruit you like). I have been meaning to post this one for awhile.

Directions:

1. Take one of these:


It is agar in bar form, not flake form. Flakes work too though, just check the package for the amount to use.

2. Rip it up into little pieces, and soak in cold water for an hour:

3. In the meantime, cut up some gorgeous strawberries, and place them in the bottom of a pan/dish:

4. After the agar has soaked for an hour, drain the water, and then use your fingers and squish the pieces, so that the excess water comes out.

5. Put them in a pan with 2 cups of pure apple juice (I think I used 1-1.5 cups, and water for the rest).

6. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the agar is dissolved.

7. Pour the liquid over the strawberries, and let set (about 30 minutes in the fridge).

8. Enjoy your delicious feast:

Have a sweet and lovely weekend, full of sunshine. I'll post some more food pics, reviews, and recipes soon!
xoxo