Kids Cook Monday: Fried Bananas Supreme

fried bananas

Just about all children like bananas, most likely as a breakfast or snack food, eaten raw. Let’s give them their familiar banana but fry it up, which both softens the fruit and heightens the flavor, then offer a selection of toppings from chocolate to nutmeg to nuts and seeds for personalization fun. This makes an easy and special dessert, and the third recipe in our “Kids Cook Monday” series.

bananas

Fried Bananas with Chocolate and Coconut

  • ½ -1 banana per person
  • butter or coconut oil for frying
  • chunk of chocolate (dark, milk or white)
  • grated coconut

bananas

Method:

  1. With peel on, cut bananas into quarters, then peel (makes process a little neater).
  2. Heat skillet and melt butter or coconut oil.
  3. Place banana pieces side by side in pan and fry until starting to brown. Turn and fry other side.
  4. Serve with shaved chocolate and/or grated coconut sprinkled on top.

Shaving chocolate

Additional serving ideas:

  • top with cinnamon, nutmeg and/or cardamom
  • serve with ice cream or vanilla yogurt
  • drizzle with maple syrup and/or honey
  • top with nuts
  • top with berries
  • slide inside a peanut butter sandwich
  • sprinkle with black sesame seeds for a beautiful visual contrast
  • for a savory, more Latin American version, use plantains instead of bananas and serve with salt or refried beans and sour cream.

A few fun banana facts:

  1. A banana is technically a berry (and so are watermelons, coffee, pumpkins and avocados) which grows on the world’s largest herb, not a tree.
  2. There are more than a 1,000 types of bananas worldwide.  In the US, you’re probably familiar with just one: the Cavendish.
  3. In addition to edible fruit, a banana plant also offers an edible flower.  We’ve never tried a banana flower – they are hard to find in Vermont – but would love to hear what they taste like, if you have.
banana with flower

Photo thanks to pics4learning

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Nominating Cauliflower: An Educated Cabbage

cauliflower 3

What will be the trendiest vegetable in 2013 was a recent question in a focus group.   I sat up straighter in my chair. “Trendy vegetables,” I love it already!  That makes vegetables sound as revered as high fashion and haute cuisine.  Cauliflower was declared the projected winner.  It is certainly deserving: not only does it assemble itself like a bouquet of flowers, offer a mild yet complete and comforting flavor, pack an impressive dose of vitamin C, as well as fiber and potassium, and exemplify fractal design, but Mark Twain referred to it as a “cabbage with a college education.”

Generally thought of as a white vegetable, this member of the brassica family also comes in a yellowish-orange, a deep purple and the fabulous knobby green Romanesco variety. This phenomenal mini moonscape vegetable provides the added excitement of a special spiraling pattern.  Who doesn’t want a Fibonacci masterpiece on their plate?

Not sure about the spirals and the Fibonacci sequence?  Vi Hart explains it more precisely and certainly more playfully than I could in the following video. You’ll be counting spirals on pinecones, pineapples, artichokes, sunflowers, cauliflower, etc in no time.

 

With so many ways to enjoy cauliflower, let’s start with one of the simplest, yet very delicious and beautifully presented ways:  Roasted Cauliflower

roasted cauliflower- before

Place sliced cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt into a pre-heated 400˚ oven.

roasted cauliflower-after

Ten or so minutes later, remove the beautifully browned, slightly softened, still crunchy, with a decidedly sweeter and smoother flavor (than when it was raw) roasted cauliflower. Add additional salt or pepper to taste, and enjoy.

Cauliflower also does well as a potato stand-in. Whether you’re cutting down on spuds, avoiding the nightshade family, or just ready to try something new: Cauli-Millet Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower mash

From The Hip Chick’s Guide to MacrobioticsMillet Mashed “Potatoes” with Mushroom Gravy

  • 1 cup millet, washed
  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 2 cups cauliflower, in small florets or chunks
  • sea salt
  • toasted sesame oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 12 button or 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 drop brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons kuzu, diluted in 1/2 cup water
  • scallions or parsley for garnish

Method:

  1. Place the washed millet in a heavy 2-quart pot.  Over medium heat, stir the millet continuously until it dries and then becomes aromatic and ever-so-slightly golden in color.  This can take 5-8 minutes.
  2. And water and cauliflower.  Bring to a boil.  And salt.  Cover and simmer over a low flame for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat.  Put millet through a food mill or blend in a food processor.  Blend to desired creamy consistency.
  4. To make the gravy: heat toasted sesame oil over medium heat in a skillet.  Add onion, salt and sauté until translucent.  Add mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add water and bring to a boil.  Season with tamari, mirin and brown rice vinegar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to your taste, and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  5. Add diluted kuzu to simmering mixture and stir constantly as the kuzu thickens.

I made a double batch of the “Mashed Potatoes” part of the recipe above, reserving half to use as the topping in a vegan Shepard’s Pie a couple of days later.  My children ate this up so fast….

Cauliflower Shepards Pie 2

A sampling of other excellent cauliflower recipes:

And there are many, many more recipes. What are your favorite ways to prepare cauliflower?

Heart Healthy Month….Year

For the love of soup

February offers a variety of hardy eating opportunities, with Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras and those snack-filled tv nights in front of the Superbowl or the Oscars. In addition to these occasions for special feasts, February is also Heart Healthy Month. So while chocolates and candy tend to our hearts symbolically this month, the following foods will help keep it healthy and strong all year long.

A key heart-healthy nutrient is omega-3 fatty acids.  What’s important about these essential fatty acids is that you obtain them in the correct ratio of omega 3, 6 and 9.  Since the typically Western diet is (overly) abundant in omega-6, the simplified nutrition advice is add omega-3s to your diet.

Though they vary somewhat depending on their source, omega-3s can be obtained from both animal and plant foods. Some of the richest sources include wild Alaskan salmon (farmed salmon does not offer the same benefit), tuna and other cold-water fish, pasture-raised meat, organic grass-fed dairy and organic pastured eggs.  Good plant-based sources include flaxseed (which should be ground in order to enjoy their nutritional goodness), other nuts and seeds, and purslane.

BB Brownies- heart

Beans are a great source of plant-based, nutrient-dense, fiber-rich, inexpensive heart support. Adding beans to salads, soups, stews, making dips and spreads for sandwiches, (and making heart-shaped black bean brownies) allows you to enjoy bountiful fiber (good for cholesterol-lowering and blood sugar balancing), folate, manganese, magnesium, and very low-fat protein. Soy bean products, such as tofu, tempeh and natto offer similar benefits.

Whole grains such as brown rice, oat groats, wheat berries, amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa provide beneficial fiber, B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, selenium and potassium.  Be aware of the growing selection of supermarket packages claiming “whole grain” status.  The best nutrition comes from grains which are indeed whole.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly the large array of colorful ones (broccoli, spinach, winter squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, blueberries, cranberries, papaya, cantaloupe, etc.) contain heart-healthy antioxidants which help protect blood vessels and lower blood pressure.

Black and green tea contain some of the same healthful antioxidants.

Tip 4- green tea

There are several established heart-healthy diets, such as Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-inflammatory diet, which suggests many of the same foods, since inflammation is a leading cause of heart and blood vessel issues.

Dr. Esselstyn claims his no-oil, plant-based approach will leave you “heart attack proof.” Former President Bill Clinton adopted this diet after his heart surgery.

The Dr. Dean Ornish Spectrum also recommends a mostly plant-based, very low oil diet, but is not quite as strict.

And to keep things interesting, a new study shines the light on a more Mediterranean-style diet, including a significant daily helping of olive oil, nuts and fatty fish for optimal heart health.

What these dietary programs (and this is by no means a complete list) have in common is a focus on fresh whole foods with a high intake of vegetables and fruit, and very low (if any) consumption of processed and sweetened foods. Unless you find the most recent study definitive, the amount and type of animal foods (meat, fish, eggs and dairy products) as well as the amount of oil in a heart-healthy diet seems to still be keeping researchers busy.

Bringing it Home: Growing a Farm-to-School Program

In the hour before the rain, we met at Stony Loam Farm, an organic vegetable farm two miles down the road from our school. It was our first harvest & process day in what we hope will become a series, and develop into a full-sized farm-to-school program.  But like all crops, growing a new food program, starts with a sprout: a small group of families, an accommodating farmer, committed teachers and administrators and a passionate food service director. On day one, we picked green beans and cherry tomatoes.

Given an opportunity to pick, to squat between the plants, and to allow a hand to detour away from the bucket and up to the mouth, kids eat vegetables.  They really do. So much so, that we had to cut them off, as painful as it is to tell kids to stop eating delicious, organic vegetables, our task was to bring fresh produce back to school for the lunch program.  Creating the opportunity for kids to be a part of the growing, harvesting, and preparing of their food, cultivates a greater appreciation of freshness, local producers, and the time, work and energy required to grow it.  From this stems a willingness to try new things, to waste less, to feel a stronger connection to place and local community – all while enjoying fresher, healthier, tastier lunches.

We proudly met our school food director with 36 pounds of green beans and another 20 of cherry tomatoes at the school kitchen.  With crates flipped upside down to help the smallest children reach the sink, the green bean washing team was immediately in full swing.  Meanwhile, parents sorted the cherry tomatoes: some for fresh eating the coming week, others for freezing for use in polka dot soup in the winter.

For more than a week, the school lunch salad bar featured freshly picked organic cherry tomatoes and green beans.  And my daughter came home one day reporting how much fun she had walking through the cafeteria offering her classmates roasted green beans as a taste test. Having enthusiastic children (instead of adults) market foods which might be new to others is just one of our cook’s many effective ideas.

Looking ahead, we have plans to pick apples and make applesauce; to gather potatoes, walking behind the farmer pulling up spuds with his tractor; and to puree and freeze pumpkins and winter squashes for use in wintertime soups, casseroles, and baked goods.

To share the experience, the locally harvested crops are offered as taste tests to all students, and to track our sourcing, we’re planning a food mapping project.  Starting with the local, in-season foods on the menu this fall, and photographs of the farmers who grew them, we’re looking forward to Food Day, October 24, to launch our farm-to-school map on the cafeteria wall.  These are some initial steps in enhancing a school lunch program (a daily part of a child’s experience), which can simply feed, or can be cooked up as an opportunity to expand palates and extend learning.

Simple Recipes:

1. Our cafeteria roasted green beans:

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, washed and ends removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚.
  2. Toss green beans with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Roast, flipping beans once or twice, until lightly caramelized and starting to crisp, between 10-15 minutes.

2. For a main dish which uses both green beans and cherry tomatoes, try Beans, Toms and Tempeh for a colorful vegan meal or to participate in Meatless Monday, at home or at school.

Do Tofu? Try Crispy Patties

At my high school reunion, I learned that several classmates remembered me because I ate tofu (and other unheard of items thanks to my parents’ macrobiotic diet). Good news: in the years since graduation, tofu has steadily climbed the popularity ladder, making “tofu eater” a less effective descriptor.

Tofu is a now readily available in most grocery stores and on more and more restaurant menus.  Made from soybeans, it is eaten as a plant-based source of protein, which also offers a good amount of iron, manganese, trytophan, and depending on how it is produced, calcium.  In many Asian cuisines, it is eaten daily, often as a condiment.  In the west, it has grown to become a staple on vegetarian menus, taking on countless flavors and configurations depending on how and with what it is prepared.

Whether you are new to tofu or not, this easy way to prepare it, works well as a meat substitute, served with potatoes and a vegetable on Meatless Monday, in place of a fried egg for a vegan breakfast, instead of a burger at a BBQ, chicken nuggets or fish sticks, sandwiched between two slices of bread, with lettuce and tomato for a satisfying lunch, or with a fresh vegetable salad.

For the best flavor, press your soybean curd cake between two plates with some weight on top (a large can works well) for up to an hour. This squeezes out excess water and allows for improved flavor in your cooking.

If you’re of a diy mind, give making tofu a try.  It’s not particularly difficult and the results are unsurpassed! Click here for more information, instructions and additional recipes.

Crispy Tofu Patties

  • 1 package of tofu (organic*, ideally firm and pressed)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (high in protein and vitamins, particularly the B complex)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko (look for hydrogenated oil and preservative-free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • several grinds of black pepper
  • butter, coconut oil or grapeseed oil for frying

Method:

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a shallow bowl.
  2. Slice tofu in roughly 1/2″ slices, and roll in dry mix to thoroughly cover.
  3. Heat butter or oil in skillet until hot but not smoking.
  4. Fry tofu slices, several minutes on each side until brown and crispy.
  5. Serve immediately or keep warm in a low oven.

Another easy and healthy soy food is tempeh (some claim more so than tofu because it is made with fermented soybeans).  Here are two recipes to try: tempeh instead of bacon in a BLT, and in this colorful stir-fry.

* With more than 90% of soybeans grown from genetically modified seeds, I strongly recommend only eating tofu (and tempeh) made from organically grown soybeans.

Meatless Monday: Japchae – Vermont Garden Edition

Thank you Korean inventor of sweet potato vermicelli noodles.  I don’t know who you are or how these came to be, but I am grateful for your creative mind and for the well-stocked Asian grocery stores who carry your fine product (including, I just discovered, Amazon.com).  Grain-free, wheat-free and gluten-free, easy to work with, and fun to eat, these noodles landed in my kitchen after a successful shopping trip in Montreal’s Chinatown yesterday.

The Vermont garden version of the Korean Japchae noodle dish I made, may not fully qualify for the name, but it was easy to make with vegetables I had, and the noodles and the Asian flavored sauce made the meal stand out as something special.

Vermont Garden Japchae

  • 1 bag sweet potato vermicelli noodles
  • 1 package of tofu, ideally drained and pressed for several hours before cooking
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into inch long pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into inch long pieces
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup red, yellow, orange and/or green bell pepper slices
  • 1 bunch bok choy, chopped
  • good handful of green beans
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • small handful of fresh basil leaves, cut finely
  • 1/3 cup tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili sauce (such as Sriracha) or to taste
  • sesame seeds
  • additional soy sauce, hot sauce, sesame seeds, lime wedges (optional, for serving)

Method:

  1. If your package of sweet potato vermicelli comes with preparation instructions you understand, please follow them. Mine did not, so I guessed: I soaked the noodles for about 20 minutes and when they weren’t soft enough yet, I cooked them in boiling water for another 5-10. Drain softened noodles and set aside.
  2. Cut tofu into small 1/2 inch pieces and fry them in 2 tablespoons coconut oil until they develop a light brown crust. Slide them onto a plate and set aside.
  3. Warm the remaining coconut oil in a skillet, and sauté onions until just starting to brown.  Add ginger, garlic and other vegetables and sauté for another few minutes.  I added the carrot and basil at the very end to keep them raw, bright and crunchy.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together the sauce ingredients.
  5. In a large pot, such as a Dutch oven, combine softened noodles, vegetables, tofu and sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve (tongs make for easiest serving)
  6. Serve with additional soy sauce, hot sauce, lime wedges, and sesame seeds; and either chop sticks, a fork, or maybe a pair of scissors (those are some long noodles).

It was a “Can I have seconds?”, “Can I have thirds?” kind of dinner.  My favorite kind.

Planting a Protein Garden

Life Cycle of Bean Plant

For the past five years, I have expanded my vegetable garden by as much as my spade could turn over. I’m now bringing in a decent amount of fresh produce in the summer, with more ripening in early fall, giving me enough to put some away for the first few colder months.  There’s nothing quite as satisfying and nourishing as feeding your family what you’ve grown just steps from your kitchen table. But, I thought, I’m only making a dent in one food group. I wanted to be able to grow a complete meal.

I adopted a small flock of hens. Within no time, we had a lovely mutually beneficial relationship going: I fed them, and they fed us. Perfect farmhouse symbiosis: organic feed and kitchen scraps for them; incredibly rich, yellow yoked eggs for us.  But huevoes rancheros, one of my favorite breakfasts, also calls for beans.  So, I planted black turtle beans.

Copying a gardening technique practiced by Native Americans, I planted a “three sisters” garden. Beans went around the base of the developing corn stalks, which wound their way up as the stalks grew. The cornstalks offered a convenient trellis for the beans, while the beans provided nitrogen for the corn. Encircling the duo, I planted squash, whose course, prickly vines helped deter animals from snacking on the corn and beans.

Beans, best known for their notable fiber content (one cup provides between 9 to 13 grams), are also a great source of plant protein, complex carbohydrates, folate and iron, as well as at least eight different phytonutrients which contribute to their dark color (in the case of black beans), and indicate the presence of valuable antioxidants.

By the end of the summer, my bean plants were mature, the pods were full-grown and starting to dry, and I crawled in to harvest the beautiful, garden-grown black beans.  I had grown my own protein.

As thoroughly satisfying as that was, I was disappointed to see that my numerous rows of black bean plants amounted to merely a pint-sized jar of dried beans – hardly enough to feed a mostly vegetarian family of four until next year at this time.

I’ll have to grow many more next summer and look into growing grains, but for now we’re digging into a hot bowl of home-grown sweet potato and black bean soup.

“Green Dream” Creamy Cabbage Soup

Celebrating green?  Whether to mark the first signs of spring, appreciating the Irish, feeling eco-friendly and/or wanting to eat well, here’s an easy blender soup to feed your green.

It’s all about cabbage, an excellent source of vitamin C and K, fiber, folate, potassium and manganese.  Various types of cabbage have been studied for their cancer prevention properties, cholesterol-lowering support, anti-inflammatory action and all around health benefits.

Similar to the traditional Irish colcannon (with its pairing of potatoes and green cabbage), but with a bright surprise thrown in, this soup is a cheerful presentation on any dinner table. It is substantial enough to serve as a full meal, but can also be served in smaller portions as a starter.

Green Dream Cabbage Soup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 white or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 green cabbage, chopped
  • 5 cups vegetable stock (or homemade)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil and/or thyme
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese (1/2 a typically-sized package)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup milk (depending on desired consistency)
  • 1 bag frozen green peas
  • nutmeg, freshly ground
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • handful of baby spinach, thinly sliced (as optional garnish)
  • 1 carrot, grated (as optional garnish)
  • croutons (as optional garnish)
Method:
  1. Warm butter in a Dutch oven or other soup pot.  Sauté onions until thoroughly soft (10-15 minutes).
  2. Add garlic, potatoes, cabbage and spices and stir to coat. Pour in stock, bring to boil, cover and reduce to simmer. Stir once or twice as vegetables cook until soft.
  3. Turn off heat, add cream cheese and gently mix in, blending in the cheese using a wooden spoon against the side of the soup pot.  Stir in 1/2 cup of milk, peas and nutmeg.
  4. In batches in a food processor/blender, purée the soup to a smooth bright green mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Add additional milk if too thick.
  5. Serve with brightly colored garnishes such as spinach ribbons and grated carrots, and/or something crunchy such as croutons or roasted seeds.

To make it vegan: a creamy consistency can be created simply by cooking potatoes in stock, and puréeing them without adding any cream cheese or milk.  Sautéed leeks can add to the creamy texture.  You can substitute some of the onions with leeks. This soup can also be made vegan by substituting the dairy products with non-dairy versions.

To make it paleo/primal: Use coconut oil for sautéing, and skip the dairy products.  You can use a meat or vegetable stock, and add coconut milk for added creaminess if you like.

Red Velvet Borscht

The beet, like a fist tightly clenching its sweetest, is one of the most brilliantly colored treasures held in the dirt. Once scrubbed (and possibly peeled), it begins to reveal its sweet beauty.  Cultivated in numerous varieties, colors, shapes and designs (if you’ve never admired the Chioggia beet, have a look here), all of which offer an excellent source of folate, antioxidants, manganese, vitamin C, potassium and fiber, among other nutrients. If you like to grow your own, here’s a nice collection of varied beet seeds for a full array.

The wild beet, the ancestor of what we eat today, traces its roots to North Africa. Initially only the greens were eaten (something we would be wise to do more of). Early Romans began cultivating beets for the roots, and as they traveled through the continent, beets were widely adopted to feed both animals and humans. By the 19th century, they reached the height of their popularity when the Poles built the first sugar beet factory to extract their highly concentrated sweetness.

This versatile beet soup, when served hot, will warm you to the core, and when enjoyed chilled with fresh dill, is wonderfully refreshing.  Blended with an additional splash of water or milk, it becomes an invigorating smoothie.  When I made it for my weekly “Market Day Soup,” I was delighted by the color. This is winter food at its most colorful.

Red Velvet Borscht Soup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large red onions, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 red potatoes, peeled and cubed (ideally a variety with red flesh such as Adirondack reds)
  • 4 bright red beets, peeled and cubed
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill seed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • fresh or dried dill weed
  • cream, plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)
Method:
  1. Warm soup pot and melt butter. Add onions and cook for 10-15 minutes over low heat until translucent. Add garlic, potatoes and beets, stir to coat.
  2. Add stock and dill seeds and bring to a boil.  Cover and allow to simmer until vegetables are soft (approximately 20 minutes).
  3. Turn off heat and add milk.
  4. In batches, puree soup in a blender or food processor until velvety smooth.  Adjust consistency by adding more water, stock or milk.
  5. Gently reheat, or chill. Serve with a dash of cream or dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of dill.

I added another splash or two of milk and ended up with a delicious savory smoothie.  Just the thing for a quick lunch.

Make it vegan: Substitute olive oil for butter, and a non-dairy milk for the milk.

Make it paleo/primal: Substitute coconut oil for the butter, and coconut milk for the milk.

Vegetable Miso Soup with Tofu

You are probably familiar with miso soup as the light salty broth often served in sushi restaurants before the nori rolls. It has long been used in Asian cooking, primarily in Japan, as a highly nutritious flavoring made from fermented soybeans (sometimes in combination with rice, barley or wheat).  The process of fermentation increases the nutritional value with additional B vitamins, enzymes and probiotics.  It is easy to work with and should be a regular in every kitchen.

My first impression of miso was a memorable one.  I was a young teen and my parents had recently decided to follow the macrobiotic diet.  I came downstairs one night looking for a snack when I discovered an unfamiliar dark brown paste in the refrigerator which looked, to my tired and undiscerning eyes, remarkably like chocolate paste.  Ready to receive a spoonful of something akin to Nutella, my tongue jerked is horror when it tasted an outrageously salty tablespoon of miso!

Miso (along with other probiotic foods, discussed further here), is a healthy additional to any diet, and is essential during and after a course of antibiotics.  The immune system starts in the gut, so to be in good health, you’ve got to start there.  Full of “friendly” bacteria which aid in digestion as well as form the first line of defense against undesirable bugs, the gut and its bacterial staff need regular upkeep, and require a full restaffing after an antibacterial wave has washed through. As more and more people are prescribed frequent courses of antibiotics, the need for additional probiotics in our diet has increased.

In addition to probiotics, miso contains more available isoflavones (the nutrients credited with cancer prevention) than unfermented soy, as well as protein, antioxidants, vitamins B and K, and several minerals including zinc.

Vegetable Miso Soup with Tofu

This is a very flexible recipe.  You can easily substitute with vegetables you have, you can omit some or you can add noodles or rice to make it a complete meal.

Method:
  1. Warm oil in large soup pan. Sauté onions and leeks until soft.
  2. Add garlic, carrots, corn, daikon, mushrooms (and/or other vegetables you want to use) for a quick sauté. Add water and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add tofu, seaweed and tamari and simmer another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Scoop 1/2 cup of broth out of soup pot and use it to dissolve miso paste to make a strong miso broth.
  5. With the heat under soup pot turned off, mix in miso broth. Adjust to taste with additional tamari and/or miso. Serve warm garnished with sliced scallions.
  6. If you need to reheat miso soup, keep the temperature just under a boil, since boiling miso will reduce its many health benefits.

* A note about soybeans and soybean products.  I strongly encourage purchasing organic soy.  Soy is a very commonly genetically modified crop, and the only way to be sure you are getting a real food is to select organic versions.