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Vegan Ramen with Brown Rice Noodles

Oh mama.

First, just to clear the air - I have never actually had a bowl of real ramen. Yes, I've had the packaged instant ramen noodles back in the day. Does anyone else remember that terrifying phase in the 90s where kids just ate crunchy ramen noodles out the bag at lunchtime? Though I was sad at the time, looking back now, I am so glad my mom wouldn't let us do that. And I've had some fish or veggie ramen out at restaurants before, and they've been wonderful. But I have never had a bowl of delicious, high quality ramen out a good Japanese place or ramen shop - here in Canada, or when I was in Japan.

But don't worry. My guy T, who has indeed tried and loved many a real ramen in his day, loves this version just as much. So do I. I bet you will too.

It's super quick to make, very warming and satisfying on a cool winter evening, you can use up all the odds and ends kind of veggies in your fridge, and really let's be honest: eating squiggly noodles is just fun.

Vegan Ramen (with Brown Rice & Millet Noodles)

for two.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of brown rice ramen noodles. I use this one here, by lotus foods. FYI - they have it at Costco - a 10 pack for around $10 <3
  • 4 - 6 cups of water, or soup stock (we like a lot of broth with our noodles, so we use 6 cups)
  • Veggies of choice. We love: thinly sliced daikon or turnips, carrots, mushrooms of any kind, broccoli, greens - especially cabbage, and green onions.
  • Protein of choice: chickpeas, or some tofu are delicious. Sauteed tempeh would also be mega-yum.
  • lemon juice or vinegar.
  • 3 tsp miso paste of choice (we rotate through mugi miso, a millet miso I picked up, and brown rice miso) OR 1 tbsp shoyu.
  • some spice, if you like it hot: chili pepper flakes, a dash of cayenne, some grated fresh ginger
  • dash of nori flakes or other seaweed flakes.

Directions

  1. Heat up a dash of toasted sesame oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Saute your veggies, starting with the green onions (you can add a pinch of salt), and then add the rest one at at time, starting with the thicker or longer cooking veggies first. Leave out the greens to add in later (unless you're using cabbage, if so, throw them in now).
  3. If using tofu, add it in now and saute for a richer flavour. You can also throw it in later.
  4. Add in soup stock / water.
  5. Bring to boil, and let simmer with the lid on until veggies are fairly tender. If you slice your veggies thinly, then probably around 10 - 15 minutes.
  6. Somewhere along the way, add in a squeeze of lemon, or a dash of brown rice vinegar, and any spices you desire. If using shoyu rather than miso, add the shoyu in now.
  7. Add in sliced greens, and the ramen noodles, and let simmer for about 4 minutes (as per package instructions).
  8. If using Miso, after you put the noodles in, stir your miso with a bit of water or some stock, and add to the pot. let simmer on low (not boiling) for about 4 minutes.
  9. I usually throw in some seaweed flakes near the end, after the noodles are added.
  10.  Enjoy! I like mine with a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime.

Macro Monday: A Macrobiotic Staple...Miso Soup

Hi Guys,

Happy Monday. Can you believe January is already more than half over? Time flies!

Today's post is about one of the top Macrobiotic Staples.

MM: Miso Soup

Barley Miso at Rebar &lt;3

Barley Miso at Rebar <3

I get asked about miso a lot. I know, kinda weird, right? But so is miso. I think it often freaks people out a little...especially when they hear the words "fermented" and "bean paste." And then they think of this tub just sitting there, in the back of their fridge, and being not sure what the heck to do with it. So I hope this helps!

 

What is Miso?

Well, as I said, it is a traditional Japanese fermented bean/grain paste, dating back to China (likely) 2500 years ago, used most often for seasoning soups.

It is most commonly made from combining soybeans, sea salt, and the starter koji (usually the fungus aspergillus oryzaea ), and mixed with grains such as rice or barley. It is fermented from 3 months up to 3 years. The variation in fermentation lengths, and the different beans or grains used, allows for there to be an amazing variety in kinds of miso, each one with a differing taste ranging from sweeter to more salty.

Miso is sold as a paste, often in plastic tubs or glass jars, in the cool section of the grocery store. You want to make sure you are purchasing miso that does not have preservatives in it, and that has been actually fermented, not simply filled with chemicals or artifical ingredients.

Miso paste can be added to soups, sauces, desserts and whatever else your heart desires, to add an amazing depth of flavour.

 

Health Benefits

Miso is extremely enzyme rich and is great for the immune system, which is perfect during the flu season. It also has a plethora of other health & healing benefits, including:

  • It is a good source of plant derived B vitamins, especially B12, which is very important and more difficult for vegetarians to get.
  • Along with other traditionally fermented products (like real sauerkraut), miso is a wonderful source of natural digestive-friendly good bacteria. It can help balance & restore beneficial probiotics to the intestines.
  • Miso is teeming with all the essential amino acids your body needs to function properly.
  • Miso is very alkalizing, which is what we want, as diseases flourish in acidic conditions, and cannot survive in alkaline conditions.
  • It can help to stimulate your digestive system and get things moving along
  • Due to the dipilocolonic acid in miso, it can help your body remove any accumulated heavy metals, and can help protect from radiation
  • Miso is a great source of manganese, copper & zinc, along with other amazing antioxidants.

 

How to Use It

While there are many different things you can make with miso, I want to focus today on the basic miso soup.

It is actually not so basic, as depending on the kind of miso paste, and the ingredients such as root veggies and/or noodles and/or protein such as tofu, you can create a hearty filling soup, or a very light simple soup to accompany any meal.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • You do NOT want to boil the miso paste - this will destroy the beneficial enzymes and good bacteria. It is therefore best added at the end, after all the veggies or whatever else are done boiling, and the stove temperature is lowered so your soup is just lightly simmering.
  • It is best to mix a few spoons of miso with some warm water in a separate bowl, until it has more of a sauce consistency, before adding it into your pot. This will prevent it from simply being one giant chunk in your soup :)
  • Please note: miso is fairly salty...it's probably best to not have more than 2 tsp per person, per day.
  • There are many kinds of miso (I read 1300 types!), and some are better at different times of the year:
    • Heavier miso types like straight soybean (hatcho miso) or darker rice miso in the winter
    • Barley (mugi miso) is great for a more year-round soup.
    • White miso (shiro miso) has a sweeter flavour and works better in dressing, sauces, and desserts.

 

Recipe for a Simple Veggie Miso Soup

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 inch piece of wakame, soaked in 1 cup water (keep the water to add to the soup)
  • 4 heaping teaspoons miso paste (I enjoy brown rice, barley or a new favourite is adzuki bean miso)
  • 1-2 tsps of sesame or toasted sesame oil
  • Veggies of your choice! Here's a recent combo I really enjoyed: few inches of thinly sliced daikon, a couple leaves of chinese cabbage or bok choy, about 1/4 of an onion or leek, and a few slices of green onion for garnish. {carrots and shitake are also lovely}
adzuki bean miso.JPG

Directions

  1. Soak wakame in about 1 cup of water, until softened (around 10 minutes).
  2. Wash and rinse all veggies. Cut the daikon pieces into half circles (moons), thinly chop the leek or onion, and thinly slice the cabbage or bok choy.
  3. Heat the oil in the bottom of a saucepan, and brown the onions or leek with a teeny tiny bit of sea salt, adding a bit of water if necessary, to prevent burning.
  4. Add in the daikon slices & the cabbage or bok choy stems, stirring for a few minutes until slightly sauteed.
  5. Chop up the soaked wakame.
  6. Add the 3 cups water, and the wakame soaking water to the pot, and bring to boil.
  7. Add the wakame, and let the veggies simmer until tender, between 5-10 minutes. Add in the finely chopped bok choy leaves closer to the end of that time frame, as they only need a few minutes to soften.
  8. Scoop out your miso paste, and mix with a tiny bit of water in a cup or bowl, until it is all dissolved and runny.
  9. Lower the temperature until the soup is barely simmering, and whisk the miso in. Alternatively, you can even remove the pot from the heat completely, and then whisk the miso in.
  10. Let it cook for a few minutes, until you see "clouds" appear. The miso will kind of puff up to the surface, like clouds, and then you'll know it's done.
  11. Throw on some green onion slices if desired, and serve.

*This miso will not be what you are used to getting at sushi restaurants...that stuff is often instant miso. It will have more of a texture. If you do not like the small bits of grain/bean chunks from the miso paste (most people don't mind), you can actually whisk your miso through a strainer like so:

More miso recipes to come in the weeks to follow :)

If you have any questions, or a favourite miso recipe to share, don't hesitate to comment or email me!

Enjoy, and may this week be nurturing, comforting, and healing for you, my friends.

xoxo Jess


 

 

Celeriac & Carrot Soup - with kombu dashi

I've been debating what recipe to post first on the dainty pig's new blog home. You see, I've done a lot of baking recently. But this soup was just SO good. I mean the kind of good where you plan for leftovers but end up eating the whole pot of soup in one go. Wait..that's happened to you before, right?  

Transient
Transient

This creamy, slightly sweet, completely comforting soup is surprisingly simple, quick and easy, but tastes beyond delicious.

I'm also rather embarrassed to say that it's my first time trying celeriac. This lovely & fragrant root vegetable made it's way into my kitchen because it happened to be included in the organic vegetable box we get delivered every couple of weeks. I took it out of the box, and it looked pretty yucky...gritty, dirty, and shaped rather weirdly. But I had faith that it would turn out to be an ugly duckling kind of situation. Looks like I was right.

Carrot & Celeriac Soup

*largely inspired by this recipe @ the nourishing gourmet

Ingredients

  • 1-2 TBSP vegetable oil -- I used olive oil
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced, most the white part
  • 4 small-medium celery roots, peeled & diced
  • 4 giant carrots (~6 medium carrots), cut into chunks
  • 8 cups of veggie broth (I used kombu-dashi, kelp broth, see directions at bottom of post)
  • few pinches of sea salt
  • parsley & pumpkin seeds for garnish, if desired

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium heat (making sure oil doesn't smoke)
  2. Sauté green onions for a few minutes
  3. Add carrots & sauté for another couple of minutes.
  4. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on top, and put lid on. Let the veggies "sweat" for a few minutes (adding a tiny bit of water if necessary, to prevent burning)
  5. Gently pour in the broth, give a quick stir.
  6. Add in celery root, and let soup come to a boil.
  7. Simmer with the lid on for 20-25 minutes, until veggies are tender (mine took only 20 mins.).
  8. Very carefully puree or blend soup, to create a creamy & thick consistency. If you are in no rush, then I recommend letting the soup cool for a bit, before spooning it into a blender. I personally used an immersion blender in the big pot I cooked it in.
  9. Pour back into saucepan and reheat. Taste and add a bit more sea salt if necessary.
  10. Serve immediately, garnishing with some parsley and pumpkin seeds, if desired.
Transient

Kombu Dashi

  • Take a few 2" squares of dried kelp (kombu). Wipe off excess salt if desired, and then place in the bottom of a large bowl.
  • Pour 8 cups of boiling water over top.
  • Put a lid or plate on top of the bowl, and let sit at least 30 minutes. The longer the better.
  • Remove kelp and use liquid as a very quick stock for any soups / sauces.

* My favourite restaurant in Japan used kombu dashi in lots of their cooking.  Another version is to simply let the kombu soak in room-temperature water (or in the fridge) overnight. The longer soaking time with cooler water does the trick.

We ate this soup with a side of steamed greens, and some leftover brown rice. It was so good I would have eaten it for breakfast, had we managed to keep leftovers.

Have you ever eaten celeriac? How do you enjoy it?

The sun is shining,

and life is good :)
Hey guys. Long time no see write.
Not much new in my life, other than beginning to get stuff sorted out to go home!!
I have 3 months left here (sad, but a bit excited too), and I want to be able to enjoy my time here in the summer without spending all my time packing up and sorting, so we are beginning to make lists and get boxes ready.
And we had some family visit, and have been digging picnics under these glorious blankets of beauty:

I think ohanami might be my favourite activity in the world!
Are there any blossoms where you are?
In my city in Canada, there was just a blizzard last weekend....eeeergh.
I have been eating closer to my heart these days.
Less giant bowls of porridge, and more of this:
Somehow I forgot about how great wakame makes me feel. I tried some of the
cheaper store brands here when I first came, and didn't really like them, so I just let
it fall off my radar. Well, I found a better high end brand, and am cooking it
into my rice everyday and LOVING it. So energizing!
But, there have been some giant bowls of this in my life lately:

Simple yellow split pea soup:
~2 cups yellow split peas rinsed and soaked for awhile, then drained
~3 cups chopped greens (something sort of like kale?)
~6 cups of water
~salt
~spoon of cumin and some cayenne
1. Bring split peas and water to a boil.
2. Scoop off any foam that forms (if you want)
3. Lower heat and simmer for about 30 mins or until the split peas are quite broken down.
4. Chop up greens and add in, cooking until they soften (~15 minutes more?).
5. Add a pinch of salt and spices to taste and cook for about 10 more minutes.
6. Scoop out some parts of the soup and blend if desired, adding back in and reheating.
7. Serve, topped with some flax seed, sunflower seeds, and parsley.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I have been focusing on my yoga these days. I am loving it!!!
Meditating a bit more, and practicing regularly at home. 
Spending time reading on it as well.
It's what makes my heart sing, so why not spend as much time as I can on it!?
What makes your heart sing!?

Some Eats This Week

Hello hello.
As promised, some food from this week:
Lentil and Veggie Soup
This one had burdock, carrots, green lentils, onions, and parsley.

Served with some yummy brown rice (cooked with wakame), and topped with shoyu toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Mixed Veggie Soup
I believe this one had cabbage, daikon, celery and carrots, and kudzu for thickening.
Topped with shredded nori, and green onions.


I have also been enjoying one of my favourite vegetables: Kabocha Squash.
So so so yummy.
I just steamed it, and then blended up a bit with some homemade almond milk and cinnamon.
3 minute pumpkin pudding!
I also saved some and cooked it into steel cut oats in the morning.

I am just LOVING soups! Thanks to my new cookbook I am experimenting with different vegetable combos, and cooking styles. The soups are all fairly simple, cutting up the veggies, layering them according to yin and yang, adding water, bringing to boil, them simmering.
Yesterday I made a delicious red lentil soup...it turned out more like red lentil dhal with chopped up veggies in it, and I was ok with that. Mmmm.
What's your favourite soup?
I tend to enjoy creamier thicker soups, with pumpkin, or chickpeas or lentils. But I am definitely enjoying experimenting with brothy soups.
Happy Weekend to you all! I am off to go on an adventure in the car, through the mountains to a delicious macrobiotic restaurant I have heard lots about. Can't wait!