organic

Eating NZ In Japan

As you may or may not know, my parents visited me recently here in Japan. And, they brought an entire SUITCASE of food just for me! OK, and maybe some for my friends… The funniest thing they managed to get through was goat’s cheese! I couldn’t believe it! 1.How does Japanese immigration allow that? and 2.How did it not go off?! As in become mouldy not beep beep in the sensor. Cheese don’t do that. Anyways, I won’t complain. I have been eating NZ in Japan. Today I had a smoothie bowl made with ViBERi blackcurrants and topped with Pic’s Peanut Butter. I ate it by myself on the grassy patch in the centre of my apartment complex and though highly optimistic, I/it did not lure any boys to the yard.

In a food processor, simply blend the following until smooth and creamy:

1 large frozen banana
1 cup freeze-dried or frozen ViBERi blackcurrants.
3/4 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond)
1 tsp pure maple syrup (optional)

Finish with a large dollop of Pic’s Peanut Butter and whatever else your heart (and stomach) desires. I used fresh banana, chia-seeds, shredded coconut, macadamia nuts, more blackcurrants and raw almonds.
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Day Nine, Our First Hanami!

Hanami literally means “flower viewing”, however, it commonly refers only to cherry blossom viewing. Cherry blossom viewing is easy: simply enjoy the intensity of the many blossoms by looking at a single tree or a group of trees and eat good food. I made Petite Kitchen’s gluten and refined-sugar free cheesecake topped with 100% cherry jam, My New Root’s Life-Changing Loaf, hummus, babaganoush/eggplant dip (recipe below) and a simple pasta salad with tuna, blue-cheese stuffed olives, red onion, parsley and cherry tomatoes. My beautiful friend Mina prepared a vegetable frittata, brown rice, carrot, mushroom and soybean onigiri (rice ball), rice-paper rolls, semi-dried bananas, a tomato salad and cut fruit. It was all so good. I am so happy. Happy one year Japanniversary to me! <3

PS: Just like that, sakura carpets, already!
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Babaganoush:
1 large eggplant
2 tbsp tahini
juice of half a lemon
2 garlic cloves

Optional toppings: a handful of skinned then roasted pistachio nuts, some sesame seeds, and a small dollop of extra virgin olive oil.

You’re going to take me as a fool but I’m not kidding, honto (really in Japanese). Place the eggplant as is in a toaster oven or normal oven on high heat (mine goes up to 220) until burnt on the outside and squishy on the inside. Don’t fret the burnt skin, it’s what gives this dip its smoke.

When cooled, scoop out the insides and blitz alongside remaining ingredients (excluding toppings – well, duh) in a food processor or in batches, in a blender like moi. Das all. Top with toppings and enjoy with bread, cut veggies, grissini or what have you!

Day Six: Okayama

WOW what a day! Lunch at my all-time favorite (and organic) Japanese restaurant: nonocafe followed by a visit to Okayama Crow Castle (because of its black colour), Okayama Korakuen (apparently Japan’s third best garden) and lastly, a healthy picnic dinner in Kurashiki Ivy Square. Note: the woman posing in the eight picture after the fish tehe.
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How To Eat Healthy In Japan

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Basically, the idea that you all have, and I had, before coming to Japan is that Japanese food is healthy. Well, it is if you’re only eating tofu, seaweed and sashimi…which no one is. Instead, with the introduction of Western foods and Japan’s own variation on Western foods, Japan’s food has become processed, often fried and almost always packed with excess sugar and salt. Actually, I am repeatedly flabbergasted by just how “unhealthy” people eat. In particular, my colleagues. But but but before you hate-mail me, let me explain that I understand there is no one definition of “healthy” and that there is no ONE right way to eat. But drinking a carton of cow’s milk alongside cup noodles and one or three cherry blossom flavored sweets daily, can’t be it.

1. Stay away from supermarket bread
Read article here or just know that if you search for a million and one years, you will not find legitimate brown bread in the supermarket. What you will find is a soft cake-like thing packed with chemicals and sugar. Don’t do it. Trust me. Try instead to bake your own, it can be done, in even the small toaster-ovens (no one has a regular sized oven in Japan unless they’re an avid foodie or rollin’ in the monaaay). Or, Google your nearest Organic bakery. In Okayama, I’ve found real bread like the ones that actually require the use of teeth, in Cotan, Opusuto and Hugo et Leo. In Tottori, Ritotto Marche. Fingers and toes crossed there are also some health conscious folk who also happen to bake, around where you are living.

2. Brown rice.
Like the cake bread, Japanese people like their rice white and squishy. In fact, many have never even eaten brown rice! Can you believe it? In a country where there are more rice than vending machines (if you know Japan, you’ll know what I mean). So yeah, what I’m saying is, source out the brown rice and eat that instead. Since only few supermarkets stock it (again, why?!) you’ll have to go to a Farmer’s Markets to get it. Find it, cook it and enjoy its fibre goodness. Otherwise white rice is simply a filler upperer and that’s it.
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3. Decipher the ingredients
If you, like me, don’t know Japanese, try learn the few kanji required for sugar, fat and protein. Here’s a great link for it. Or, be lazy like me and guesstimate the health-factor of an item by its amount of calories. Seriously, you’d be gobsmacked by how much crap (I’m sorry but it really is) manufacturers can pack into a thing. Things include yoghurt, breakfast cereals, fruit juice, cooking sauces and dressings. Also, this JAS sign stands for organic, as in, additive-free. Of course, just because something is organic doesnt mean you should binge on it.

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4. Eat more vegetables!
Though fruit is expensive as F&’%, vegetables in Japan are varied, delicious and relatively cheap. Alas, they’re often eaten fried as tempura or kushikatsu, pickled with excess salt and sugar or drowned in mayo or other dressing. Eat more vegetables people and if you can, eat them from the Farmers Market cos then you know they’re local and fresh and hopefully organic and actually cheaper! Cos they don’t have the fancy wrapping which is the opposite of back home, isn’t it? Also, that’s where you can find free-range eggs.

When it comes to fresh produce, the smaller the better, contrary to Japanese standards. This is because the smaller the thing, the less sprays and chemicals it has indured. Also applies to fish, the smaller the fish, the less time it has swam in filth. Unless of course it is natrually a large thing like a daikon or a pomelo. Apples on the other-hand, should not be the size of my father’s head. Make a colorful salad with a simple lemon juice or apple cider and olive oil dressing, steam them, boil them or stir fry with a home-made sauce. Yummy. There is no excuse for consuming rubbish (sorry not sorry) when vegetables are “cheap as chips”, literally!
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5.When travelling, pack a bento! Don’t buy one.
A year of residence in the country has given me the opportunity to travel and sightsee much of its beauty. I have done this by car because I like driving and I find it more convenient for me. What I’ve come to learn from my countless stops at high-way service areas (not to be confused with conbinis -convenience stores- which stock salads, fruits, boiled chicken breasts and eggs amongst other things) is that they sell nothing literally NOTHING I consider healthy. Okay, a white rice, rice ball with salmon isn’t that bad a thing but if you’re after a vegetable sandwich, some fruit, a salad, veggies, a healthy snack, anything that isn’t bursting with salt and sugar then you better take my word for it and pack your own thing. I love picnics. Actually, what I love more than the picnic is the picnic basket hehe. I love to fill it with healthy and delicious treats. Join me in my infatuation and do the thing! Pack a basket (or a lunchbox). My favorite roadie treats are strawberries, cut veggies, home-made popcorn and healthy sweets: muffins, bars, balls and so on which can be so easy to make, really!

6. Hit up the pharmacy.
No not for diet pills or supplements. Personally (you know cos this is my blog tehe) I don’t believe in such things.. unless they’re entirely natural. Ah I hear ya! But what and who defines natural?! Aye? Aye? Shut up. Let me go on. Ok so pharmacies or the pharmacy sections of supermarkets often sell “healthfoods” or “superfoods” like Spirulina powder, chia-seeds, coconut oil, Acai powder, hemp seeds, flax seeds and so on. So what I’m saying is, you won’t find raw cacao in the “food” isles but you might find it next to the sunscreen. Go figure.

7. When all else fails: import store!
Again, this requires some Googling. Import stores though highly expensive have become a savior for me. My personal favourite is called Jupiter. There, you should be able to find all-natural and additive-free canned legumes, dry legumes, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, granola, nut butters, 100% fruit jams, 100% fruit juice, brown rice, brown pasta, oats, quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, amaranth, whole-wheat crackers, bran and so forth.

8. Take advantage of the “healthy” food Japan has to offer! 
These are many but the ones that come to mind are the incredible variety of mushrooms, tofu products: my favourite being okara, 100% organic soy milk (cos usually plant-based milks are packed with unnecessary oil and salt), fermented foods like miso, koji and natto, seaweed, konjac, matcha, fresh seafood, soba and as already mentioned, fresh and local brown rice and vegetables.

Vegan Cafe Bonheur

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Finding vegan food let alone vegan eateries in Japan is somewhat problematic. Ok, it’s problematic. Not somewhat. Actually, I was once told by a writer friend to not use that word, ever. Sorry. So yeah, it’s difficult to find food without dashi (fish stock) or niku (meat) here. So when my adorable yogi friend, Mi-chan told us about entirely vegetarian Café Bonheur, I got pretty excited.

After having lunch there yesterday, my verdict is, Café Bonheur is a nice place to take your Mother on Mother’s Day (take that as you will). The building itself, its interior and the overall feel of the place is really beautiful and stylish. It is not Japanese whatsoever. I would describe it as an artisan beach-style café. Adorned with sunlight and pot plants, it is much like sitting inside a glasshouse. In one word, elegant.

As for the food, for the price of 1000 yen (about 10 dollars) we ordered the one lunch plate on offer containing a variety of tasty creations including soy “chicken karaage”, tofu “mozzarella”, braised vegetables (2 kinds), garden salad, brown rice and barley soup. For an extra 300 yen ($3 or so dollars) we were able to have a coffee AND a vegan tofu chocolate cake after. Everything was tasty and again, elegant, lush, luxurious. Without stereotyping too much, I know my mother would love it and my father’d have a fit.

MY Kind Of ‘Food Porn’

Being a food blogger is easy: you just eat food and photograph it.

From top to bottom: my goods in my kitchen, power slaw using soft-dried blackcurrants in place of raisins, an incredible spread of home-made bread, fresh fruit (sweet lemon, strawberries and blood orange), onigiri and a simple sweet potato and black sesame seed medley, homemade green tea, the organic plate from nonocafe and last but not least, their yellow kiwi-fruit cheesecake.
imageimage (11)image (2)image (3)image (4)image (1)image (9)image (6)image (5)image (7)image (8)image (10)On another note, Japan is still bloody cold, my parents arrive in exactly 2 weeks, 13 days, not including today (not that I’m counting) and I realized recently that my blog, much like my life, is rather jumbled and lacking one major goal (sigh). Though even so, for some reason, y’all still follow… So, arigato, arigato and chuuu xx

People Who Love To Eat Are Always The Best People

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

“In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.”

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”

“A party without cake is just a meeting”

“You don’t spring into good cooking naked. You have to have some training. You have to learn how to eat.”

“Bon Appétit”

-Julia Child

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From left to right: kale and spinach salad with boiled quail eggs and yuzu peel, sweet potato frittata, potato and venison in tomato sauce and last but not least, braised cabbage with cumin. Top centre is home-made mustard mayonnaise. Oh my goodness. If Julia were there, she’d have loved it.

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Fried little fishes, that were scary at first but turned out to be super oishi (delicious) and fried sunchokes aka Israeli artichokes.

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My favourite dish of the night! Parsley crumbed fresh sardines. Oh mama mia!image

A Cheap Organic And Entirely Vegan Lunch For Under 8 Bucks

I had the most amazing lunch in Setouchi, Okayama the day I tried on that glorious Kimono. It was BIG, ORGANIC, ENTIRELY VEGAN and only 880 yen, about $8USD (the lunch not the kimono). The cafe itself, was super cute, all nice and wooden with glass windows providing a lovely sea view! Speaking of lovely, their one and only chef, an adorable woman (late 70s) sporting the sweetest uniform you ever saw is definitely another reason to go. We ate this humongous tray of brown rice topped with crushed sesame seeds alongside a bean, potato and homemade “ham” stew, daikon soup, raw daikon and kabocha squash salad, tofu and “mince”, sesame tofu and orange marmalade for dessert. Full, is an understatement.

So healthy, so cheap and so good. MMM!

Click HERE for more info.
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Tomorrow’s lunch

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I have been staying away from canned tuna in Japan simply because I can’t read the labels and don’t want to end up with stinky sardines by accident. Though yesterday, my beautiful friend, Mina gifted me a can of tuna (oh, a little poem) so tonight, I decided to make a healthy version of tuna macaroni salad for my school lunch tomorrow.

1.5 cups of macaroni, cooked as per packet instructions then cooled
1 can of tuna in olive oil
1 zucchini, diced small
1 capsicum, diced small
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 cup of broccolini florets or broccoli florets, chopped small

juice of half a lemon
2 tsp seeded mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
a bunch of fresh basil, torn
salt and pepper

Mix salad ingredients together.

Mix dressing ingredients together then combine with salad ingredients.

DAS IT

Fat free chips

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What’s the bet this will become my most viewed post? Guess only time shall tell. Last week, I was given a bag full of sunchokes AKA Jerusalem artichokes from my friend and our local organic farmer, Gery. Sunchokes are knobby-looking tubers that grow underground. They are rich in vitamins and practically fat free. According to Gery-san, they grow all year round but are at their sweetest in winter. They are to be eaten like a potato, roasted, pureed into soup or last but not least, chipified. But, since I don’t eat fried food (lol), okay, you caught me, let’s try that again, since I don’t cook fried food, I baked my sunchokes. Baked em free of fat, salt or any additives at all.

Unlike most tubers, but in common with many other members of the Asteraceae (including the artichoke), sunchokes store the carbohydrate inulin (not to be confused with insulin) instead of starch. For this reason, sunchokes are the best “clean” potato substitute both for diabetics and the health conscious in general.

Ingredients:
Sunchokes.

Preheat toaster oven to 260C (don’t fret, I’m sure a regular oven will work too! You might just have to squat a few times outside of your gym schedule).
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Wash sunchokes then slice em thin – best to use a slicer thingy (no need to peel, the extra fiber is good).
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Rub between paper towels in order to draw out as much moisture as possible.
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Place sunchoke slices on an oven tray and bake in small batches until crispy.image[4]
That’s it! Just watch them so they don’t burn by turning them often (hence the squatting/gym reference).

Nothing else, no oil, no spice, no salt. Just as is. You’ll be surprised at how naturally flavorful and sweet they are all nat-u-ral.

Enjoy as you would regular chips, with a movie, smothered in dip or at 3am in your lonesome bed. Nah, just kidding no one does that… so a more appropriate suggestion for this hashtagfitfam generation would be to mix them through your paleo salad.