The Miracle of Miso

Last Updated on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 08:03 Written by Flax Tuesday, 8 November 2011 08:03

Miso is a fermented paste, salty in flavor and rich in nutrients.  There are three basic types of miso:

  • Dark miso, strong in flavor.
  • Red miso, more mild in flavor.
  • Yellow or white miso, mild and sweet in flavor.

Look for miso in the Asian section of your health food store.  Miso, sold inside a thick plastic packaging, is a live food-like yeast and after it is opened it must be kept refrigerated, preferably in a glass jar. Properly stored, miso can last for up to a year.   The live element in miso is called lactobacillus.  Lactobacillus, (also now known as probiotics) creates an alkaline condition in the body and helps us to fight off disease.  Ancient tradition holds that eating miso promotes long life and good health.

Miso first became known as the “miracle food” during WWII.  On August 9, 1945, there were two hospitals, each located about one mile from the epicenter in Nagasaki.  At University Hospital 3000 patients suffered greatly from leukemia and disfiguring radiation burns. This hospital served its patients a modern fare of sugar, white rice, and refined white flour products. The second hospital,  St. Francis Hospital, under the direction of Shinichiro Akizuki, M.D., fed his patients and staff a daily diet of brown rice, miso soup, vegetables, and seaweed.  Neither he, nor his patients suffered from the effects of the nuclear blast.   Dr. Akizuki and his co-workers continued to go around the city of Nagasaki, in straw sandals visiting the sick in their homes.  Dr. Akizuki, his staff, and the hospitals patients, were considered to be an example of a modern miracle.  Today we understand that the “miracle” was due to a healthy diet which included both miso and seaweed.

Miso soup, standard fare in any Asian style restaurant has become quite popular and is now relatively well know.  Miso however is easy to use and is also very versatile.  Try spread white miso on bread as an alternative to butter, hummus,  tehina, or even peanut butter.  Combine it with sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and honey, to make an Asian style dressing, or make a marinade out of red miso, mustard, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce to use on grilled meats, fish, or tofu.  It is important to note however that once miso is cooked the lactobacillus dies.  Add miso to the soup only after it has been removed from the flame.

Asian Style Cole-Slaw

  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp white miso
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp grated ginger

Combine all of the ingredients and mix well.

Place the vegetables and sesame seeds in a large salad bowl.  Pour on the dressing and toss.

Serve cold.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

Sima Herzfeld Navon has a clinic for holistic medicine.  She also teaches healthy cooking.

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Acorn Squash Stuffed with Chestnuts and Mushrooms

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 November 2011 10:51 Written by Flax Monday, 30 August 2010 01:22

The deep orange and green colors of the acorn squash remind us of the autumn leaves.  This is a great dish to serve at a Thanksgiving dinner, either as a beautiful first course, or as a side-dish during the main course.  If acorn squash is not available in your area, use a butternut squash instead.

The recipe below calls for both pine nuts and chestnuts.  Seeds and nuts are nature’s spark of life.  A tiny nut has the potential of producing an enormous tree, when eaten these seeds and nuts provide us with a huge amount of condensed energy.  Eaten in large quantities, oil rich nuts tax the liver.  Eaten in small quantities, nuts and seeds are beneficial to the immune system.  Nuts are fatty foods that serve as a great source of vitamin E.  Vitamin E serves as a nerve protector and as an immune-enhancing oxidant.   When eaten in small amounts, seeds and nuts can strengthen the immune system and prevent the need for taking vitamin E supplements.  If you find that you crave nuts and seeds you might want to cut back on your consumption of refined vegetable oils.  Refined vegetable oils play a significant role in our need for vitamin E.  The more refined vegetable oils that you use, the greater the need for vitamin E.

Nuts and seeds have a tendency to become rancid very quickly.  It is healthier to buy nuts in their shell and to crack them at home.  This does not have to be an overwhelming proposition, give your older children a hammer and let them have the time of their lives!

The recipe below has a few steps but it isn’t complicated

Ingredients:

  • 4 acorn squash.

Slice the squash in half and discard the seeds. Bake in a preheated oven at 180c (350f), for  30 minutes. The squash should be slightly soft but not fully cooked.  Remove from the oven, fill, and bake for twenty minutes more.

Stuffing:

  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1 box button mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 package of tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 1 bag peeled and roasted chestnuts (100 gr)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1 tbsp cranberries, for garnish

Mix together the flax seed and the hot water and allow to sit for five minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan.  Lightly saute the remaining ingredients for five minutes, until they have slightly softened.  Remove from the flame and puree in a blender or food processor until the mixture  is smooth.  Stir in the flax seed and spoon the mixture into the hollow at the center of the squash.  Garnish with the cranberries and bake for twenty minutes more.

Serve warm.  Serves 8.

Enjoy!

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Holistic Healer.  She also teaches  Healthy-Cooking Classes.

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