This month’s Recipe Redux theme is something pretty interesting, it’s all about fermented foods!

Have you grown up eating something that you didn’t know was good for you? Sure there are healthy dishes like baked potatoes with steamed broccoli & cheese, roasted chicken and veggies, or a nice chef’s salad. One of my favorite Japanese foods was a simple soup made with miso paste and garnished with green onion and tofu. Japanese restaurants always serve this with your meal, but homemade versions of miso soup can have dried shrimp, pieces of chicken or beef, a raw egg stirred into the steaming broth (like Chinese egg flower soup) or it can be made into a hearty meal with pearl barley, carrots, and konbu (see my recipe here). It’s also eaten for breakfast! Better than a bowl of cereal, miso soup is gluten-free, vegan, contains probiotics to keep your gut healthy, is low in fat and calories, and even contains protein, vitamins and minerals. (The ingredients of Shirakiku brand shiro miso contains water, soybeans, rice, salt, and alcohol.)

Turkey and Vegetable Seaweed Soup uses chicken broth and white miso.

After doing some reading, I now know a little more about the benefits behind this savory soy-based paste. Probiotics are the gut-friendly bacteria that help maintain the integrity of the stomach lining, break down food, and boost our immune systems. These little critters are found in fermented foods like miso, kimchee (Korean pickled cabbage), tsukemono (Japanese pickles), sauerkraut, dill pickles, and yogurt. Though bacteria might seem indestructible when you’re trying to get rid of it, they can be destroyed with antibiotics, a poor diet, or stress, and this leads to an increase in the unfriendly bacteria that causes gas, bloating, cramps, and…well, you probably know what I’m talking about! But as long as we have a good amount of probiotics in our gut, it will be easier to stay healthy and function like the happy humans we were born to be.

Another way to ensure a good supply of gut-friendly bacteria is to eat yogurt. Check the label to be sure it contains live active cultures.

Here is an easy recipe for chicken that is marinated overnight and cooked in just minutes. For an easy clean-up, use a foil lined pan or do what I do and improvise!

Easy Miso Chicken (serves 2)

1/2 cup shiro (white) miso paste
1/2 cup sake (Japanese rice wine)
1 teaspoon white or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
sesame oil
several pieces green onion (about 1/4 cup chopped)

Directions:

Combine miso, sake, sugar, and pepper flakes in a bowl, mix with a wire whisk until combined. Reserve half of marinade and store in tightly sealed container in refrigerator. Add chicken, coat well. Cover with plastic wrap or store in a plastic container with lid, refrigerate overnight.

Pan-fry Method: Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off. Fry chicken pieces for 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Top with reserved marinade and let simmer for a minute or two before serving. Garnish with chopped green onion.

No pan? Use heavy-duty foil or double-up regular foil, fold the edges up to form a shallow dish and pinch the edges. Place on a pizza pan or cookie sheet when baking. Use foil to store leftover chicken or toss when done.

Oven Method: Drizzle sesame oil in a shallow baking dish lined with foil, add chicken and marinade, making sure chicken is in one layer. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 7 minutes or until top is starting to brown. Remove and set oven to broil. Top with reserved marinade, return to oven and broil for 3-5 minutes or until top begins to scorch (but don’t let the whole thing scorch!) Garnish with chopped green onion.

Serve on a bed of fresh spinach with steamed brown rice and kimchee or tsukemono.

Easy miso chicken

Here are more recipes using miso:

Panko Crusted Chicken Strips
Miso-Lemon Dressing
Miso Quinoa Salad (use Miso-Lemon Dressing above)
Turkey and Vegetable Seaweed Soup (shown above and featured in May’s Recipe Redux)
For more information on the health benefits of miso, check out this great article at The World’s Healthiest Foods : http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=114.

Want to know more on probiotics and Asian fermented foods?

Kimchi and probiotics: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/grace-suh-coscia-lac-diplom/fermented-foods_b_1220756.html
A mouth-watering guide to Japanese pickleshttp://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2349.html
7 Benefits of probiotics: http://www.3fatchicks.com/7-benefits-of-probiotics/
Facts on my yogurt of choicehttp://chobani.com/products/faq/




Is it August already?! Time flies when you’re having fun, especially for those of us who share yummy treats and awesome eats on What I Ate Wednesdays!

Last month was incredibly fun with Jenn’s theme of “Food, Fun and Fitness” and the momentum is carried over to August with “Summer Staples.” One summer staple I’ve been enjoying are big bowls of healthy fruit disguised as lunch salads. Combinations of fresh fruits, veggies, yogurt, and even some protein powder make a wonderful midday meal that is packed with vitamins, minerals, water, fiber, protein, and deliciousness! It’s a mish-mash of raw foods and gut-friendly yogurt, so it’s also great for digestion. Plus, it’s low in fat…reeealll low! ;)

On to breakfast!

Post-workout breakfast was peanut butter jelly toast, coffee and fruit (recycled picture here):

Lunch was a fruit & veggie salad bowl (It’s been my favorite for the past couple weeks now!) If you regularly have a good supply of fruits and veggies, you can come up with some crazy combinations that taste great!

A mish-mash of fruits, veggies, and marinated tofu & cucumber…delicious!

This has got to be the most delicious and healthy snack I’ve made in a long, long time: 6oz yogurt mixed with a spoonful of protein powder, dash of cinnamon (for sweetness and flavor,) and a heaping half cup of fresh fruits:

Make your own yogurt bowl with any combination of yogurt and fruits (no granola needed!)

Dinner was inspired by Paula Deen’s recipe for “Oven Fried Chicken.” I reduced the cheese and oil and added miso paste for flavor (and some salt.) Instead of water and additional oil, I used lemon juice. Serve it up with Lemony Basil Pesto and steamed brown rice (don’t forget the chopsticks!)

With brown rice and Lemony Pine Nut Pesto, this dinner is complete!

Basil Crusted Panko Chicken Strips – serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cup panko or crushed corn flakes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil (or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white miso paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 8-oz chicken breast, cut into 1/4″ think pieces
optional veggie sides: asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, or any veggie you like roasted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix panko, cheese and basil. Divide in half, set aside. Mix olive oil, miso, and lemon juice. Add chicken pieces and stir to coat. Dip chicken pieces in half of the panko mixture, adding more from the reserve mix as needed. Place on silpat or cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, leaving some room for veggies, if using.

There was enough room to squeeze in the asparagus. Perfect dinner for two!

Using your hand, toss veggies in leftover miso paste, add 1-2 tablespoons panko mixture and tossing well to coat. Place on cookie sheet with chicken or on a new sheet if not enough room. (leftover panko mix can be used in your favorite burger, meat loaf or meat ball mixture. Store in fridge for up to 3 days.)

Bake for 10-12 minutes (3-5 minutes longer if your chicken is cut into thicker pieces.) Serve immediately with Lemony Pine Nut Pesto.

What are some of your favorite fruits of the summer? Got any great recipes for potlucks, picnics or family gatherings?

Land and sea vegetable soup

This month’s Recipe Redux sponsored by The Professional Palate features the little underdogs of the sea: tiny fishes such as sardines and smelts, as well as sea vegetables, including kelp and seaweed. Initially I made a version of turkey bean burgers on a bed of  rice noodles and wakame, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with how it turned out. It was tasty, but I decided to scrap the whole project and start from scratch. This morning. :)

Here’s one of my favorite soup recipes that I’d normally make as soon as I got back from my evening exercise class. It takes about 30 minutes, and you can let it simmer while you jump in the shower (and your husband watches the stove,) so it’ll be ready when you are. It’s packed with land and sea vegetables, so you get the best of both worlds here. Sea veggies are a good source of minerals including iron, iodine and calcium, and even protein. They’re low in fat and calories, can be eaten dried (nori sprinkled on steamed rice or popcorn,) cooked (with braised vegetables, stews) and in desserts (where agar agar is used as a thickener to make jellys and yokan, a sweet bean dessert.) Check out this website for more information on sea vegetable varieties.

Turkey and Vegetable Seaweed Soup

1 teaspoon oil
1/4 lb. ground turkey
1/4 chopped onion
32 oz. chicken broth
1/4 cup dried wakame, nori, or any seaweed, cut into bite-sized pieces (not the nori used for sushi!)
1 small carrot, chopped
1 cup chopped kale leaves and stems
1 stem celery, chopped
1/2 cup cooked rice or barley
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 cup hot water

In a medium sized pot, cook turkey in oil until browned, breaking up chunks with wooden spoon. Add onion, sautee 1 minute. Add broth, bring to simmer. Add everything except rice (or barley) and miso paste. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.

Add cooked rice or barley, stir and simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Mix miso paste in 1 cup hot water, add to soup and stir well. Serve immediately.

Want to ‘sea’ what other reduxers have been making with the ocean’s bounty? Click on the link below:
http://professionalpalate.squarespace.com/blog/the-recipe-redux-little-fish-cakes.html



The main ingredients: shiro (white) miso, sesame oil, and lemon.

Miso is a fermented soybean paste that can be used to add rich flavor to soups, as a flavor-enhancer for burger mixes, smeared on fish and broiled to a carmelized crust, or as a savory dressing or marinade.

Here is a recipe for a tangy dressing I like to use on salads or as a marinade for chicken. Do you like deviled eggs? Try mashing hard-boiled yolks with a bit of miso-lemon dressing and you’ll be surprised at the results!

Miso-Lemon Dressing, serves 4

2 tablespoons shiro (white) miso paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
juice of 1/2 lemon, plus zest (zest the lemon before you cut it in half, it’s easier!)
2 teaspoons yellow mustard OR stone ground mustard
1/4 cup water (more, if needed)
1 teaspoon golden flax seeds (optional, but good for nutrition content)

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl, adding enough water  to thin to desired consistency. Makes approximately 4 oz dressing.

For salads: put mixed greens in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon dressing. Toss well, a little goes a long way!
As a marinade: smear miso-lemon dressing on meat, seal in ziploc bag and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.
Miso Deviled Eggs: mash 2 teaspoons with 4 egg yolks, adding more dressing to taste. Fill hard-cooked egg whites with mixture, sprinkle with sesame seeds or flax seeds and chopped green onion.

Tossing a mixing bowl full of greens (about 4 cups) with just a tablespoon of miso-lemon dressing is more than enough to flavor your favorite salad. Ingredients here: mixed greens, chopped apple, chopped dates, raw beets, sliced grapes, hard-boiled egg, strawberries, soaked almonds, and goat cheese.