Osechi Ryori Photos

I’ve put together a set of photos that highlight some of the deliciousness I learned during my macrobiotic studies in Japan. Some of the dishes are pictured here.  The dishes eaten during the first few days of the New Year are intended to bring more abundance, happiness, longevity, and health into your life.

All of these recipes were vegan and macrobiotic using the best quality organic and hand made ingredients. There was no refined sugar contained in the recipes, only natural macrobiotic quality sweeteners.

Boiled Vegetable Salad with Dressing

Chirashizushi (Beautiful Decorated Sushi Rice)

Datemaki (Tofu and Millet Rolls)

Kombumaki (Kombu Rolls)

Kuromame (Black Soy Beans)

Makizushi (Sushi Rolls)

Namasu salad (Raw Vegetables with Vinegar Dressing)

Nishime (Simmered Root Vegetables)

Oden (Daikon Stew)

Omelet (Tofu, Vegetables, and Hijiki)

Sekihan (Red Beans Rice)

Shofuyaki

Yakisoba (Stir-fried Vegetables and Soba Noodles)

Dessert: Cranberry Kanten

Dessert: Kurikinton (Chestnut and Sweet Potato Twists)

Yum!

Lucky Foods For The New Year * Osechi Ryori

When I lived in Japan, one of the tastiest menus that I learned was how to prepare the traditional New Year’s food. First introduced during the Heinan Period, osechi-ryori is basically a bento (boxed lunch) prepared in advance, stored in a cool place, and reheated when it is to be eaten during the first three days of the new year. Each dish and ingredient in osechi has meaning, such as good health, fertility, good harvest, happiness, and long life.

Cleaning up everything from the previous year and starting the new year with a clean slate complete with nourishing healthy food is very culturally important!

Here are some of the ingredients and their significance.

Mochi

Black Soybeans (Kuromame)

These sweet and hearty beans signify good health, vitality, wealth, abundance, and prosperity. These are typically made these days with sugar and shoyu, though the macrobiotic way is to replace these with natural handmade mirin, brown rice syrup, and unpasteurized, fermented shoyu.

Soba Noodles

Long life

Kombu (seaweed)

Usually made into kombu maki (as seen on the left), this represents joy.

Nishime

A slow simmered vegetable dish signifying “harmonious family relationships”.

Renkon/Lotus Root

This is an auspicious food, because you can see through the holes of the root “into the future.”

Datemaki

Sweet rolled omelette (seen on the right) traditionally mixed with fish paste which symbolizes wishes for many auspicious days filled with gold, wealth, fertility, and children. I learned how to make it with tofu and millet (also, minus the fish paste).

Datemaki

Gobo/Burdock Root

Usually made into a dish called “kinpira gobo”. This symbolizes “wishing for luck to split and multiply.”

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Have a safe, happy, healthy, and abundant new year everyone!

osechi plated final

Thanksgiving photos

Preparing holiday meals with seasonal ingredients makes for fresh and vibrant food.  Here is a sampling of some of the dishes I cooked this Thanksgiving in various stages of preparation.

Special Vegan Dining Experience

This weekend I joined the women of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Hawai’i Chapter, to celebrate their birthday at the Sheraton Waikiki. The original menu was not something that I would have normally eaten, so the Dames President of the Hawai’i chapter arranged for me to get a special vegan course menu, and it was absolutely scrumptious. I felt completely spoiled and so happy to be out enjoying such a tasty and special meal as this is more difficult to find here in Honolulu. The course was prepared by the Executive Sous Chef Colin Hazama and his team.

Vegan Prix Fixe Menu

Something I would love to see more of on Oahu is high end vegan cuisine in an upscale atmosphere. I love dining out but usually don’t because there are so few options. I’ve known about Roy’s for a while, but just recently dined there to see what their vegan prix fixe menu was all about. I have to say, although the food was generally saltier and oiler than I would normally prepare for my own clients, it was all lovely, flavorful, presented well, and the service superb. The waitress said that the menu changes every few months, so that’s nice to know I can go back and have something different. I chose the menu option paired with wine. I prefer red wine, but everything they paired with the food was white. Be prepared to spend money on this when you go. When you add in the the tip and parking, it will be about $75 (less if you leave out the wine pairings).

Here’s what the menu looked like as of June 2013.

Edamame with Prosecco

Curried Kabocha and Carrot Soup with a Pineapple Emulsion

I’m pretty sure that this had sugar in it. It was still delicious.

Asparagus Tartare with Sweet Potato Chips, Roasted Chickpeas, and Tomato (might have had a balsamic reduction on the side)

Kung Pao Eggplant over Quinoa with Cauliflower Sauce

Not spicy (fortunately!) and extremely flavorful! I was definitely getting full.

Apple Crisp with Lime Sorbet

By the time this huge dessert came, I was already pleasantly stuffed! I ate the sorbet and apple chip and then a few bites of the apple crisp. They packed the rest for me to take home, which I heartily enjoyed for breakfast the next day.

They do have two other vegan menu options, one of which is sushi. I’ve had that before, and it’s also very delicious!

Today’s Inspiration

Monday wasn’t the best day for me, but my father always says, “Get a good night’s sleep. Things will look different the following day.”  Hearing his voice, I went to bed early and when I got up on Tuesday and went outside, the first thing I saw was my orchid had bloomed in triplicate!  So beautiful!  It really was a great way to start the day.

Other simple pleasures of the day came from a phone call from two people who were  updating me about their lives, expressing their happiness, growth, and changes.  The personal connection and time spent sharing stories as well as celebration of another person’s success was very healing.

Later, I went  grocery shopping to restock on staple items and things to cook with this week. For some reason, I’ve been thinking about Turkey, a country I’ve never been to yet, but would really love to see at some point.  While I was grocery shopping, I was thinking about Mediterranean food, so picked up a variety of things that sounded good such as olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, local cucumbers and tomatoes, and artisan quality fig walnut bread.

These were transformed into “mezze” for my meal, and for dessert, some lilikoi that a friend shared with me from her garden along with a little bit of dark chocolate.  She gave me baby plants that popped up out of her yard, and at long last they are fruiting, so my own will be ripe very soon.

All of the small stuff brightened my day!

 

Benefits of Cooking and Eating at Home

The magazine Whole Living reports that when women who are trying to lose weight eat meals they’ve made at home (especially lunch), they drop 5 pounds a year more than women who eat out. Those who eat regular meals every day lost 8 pounds more. (This is probably true for men as well given that restaurants in general tend to add a lot of fat, salt, and sugar to their food to make it taste better.)

Here’s an example of a quick, easy, and healthy meal that I made after the Thanksgiving holiday to carry to the beach. It’s a chilled soba noodle salad with tofu, veggies (like cilantro, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and wakame), with peanut sauce.  This is as simple as boiling the noodles, chopping the vegetables, and mixing together the ingredients for the dressing!

Holiday Cooking Class (a few select photos)

Here are a few images of the food from today’s side dishes class.

The menu was:

Holiday Rice
Artichoke and Heart of Palm Salad
Pumpkin Coconut Bisque
Christmas Parsnip Soup
Sweet Potato Casserole with Mapled Pecans
Oven Baked Squash

Also the second side dishes class included: Cranberry Chutney; Green Beans w/Pumpkin Seed Dressing; Mashed Potatoes w/Shiitake Gravy; Olive, Onion, Walnut Pan Bread; Brussels Sprout Salad.

Apple Pie is on the dessert menu ?

Culinary explorations & adventures in community

This September, I had a chance to go visit my family on the mainland.  Here are a few of the wonderful things I saw:

  • Fall harvest vegetables grown just outside the city.  There are white pumpkins and wing squashes along with other varieties.
  • Food truck rally – I found it fascinating that one of the trucks was painted with the phrase “Recession Dining”.  The food truck culture was huge there!  To my surprise (and joy) there was a truck that had a couple of vegan options, one of which had already sold out.
  • My favorite truck was Native Foods.  The woman who owned it was a young woman with so much love and joy for cooking.  Her passion came through in the flavors.  I nibbled a little bit of the fry bread and tasted some of her french fries.  She made tacos and enchiladas with the fry bread as a shell.
  • The last thing was an amazing new health food store complete with a demo kitchen and community room.  How I wish it were mine!

 

Healing Foods: Parsley

If you’ve been to my cooking classes,  you probably know how much I love parsley! Here are the reasons why:

Parsley’s volatile oils qualify it as a “chemoprotective” food, and in particular, a food that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens (like the benzopyrenes that are part of cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke). In addition to its volatile oils and flavonoids, parsley is an excellent source of two vital nutrients that are also important for the prevention of many diseases: vitamin C and vitamin A (notably through its concentration of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene). Some studies indicate that vitamin C-rich foods, such as parsley, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints.