Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Miso Magic

Miso is a fermented paste with a texture like almond butter. It is made from soybeans, koji (a bacterial starter), salt and a grain - usually rice or barley.

There is quite a variety of Miso's on the market, as soybeans can be fermented into a range of different flavours, from rich and savoury to delicate and sweet. They come in varieties of either dark brown, red, white or yellow in colour.

Miso is so wonderful and holds amazing health properties. Miso acts as an anticarcinogen, and is also effective in reducing the effects of radiation, smoking, air pollution and other enviromental toxins. The darker the colour the more potent its medicinal properties. Miso is also a wonderful digestive aid because of the fermentation process. So having a cup of warm miso soup before or after a meal is the perfect choice is your digestive system is a bit off!

Miso is also a concentrated protein source, it contains approximately 12-20% protein depending on the source. It is also low in fat, but in keep in check that it is fairly high in salt!

Miso can be used in a variety of dishes and recipes. Because of the variety of flavours and colours to choose from, each one will derive a different outcome. It can be used in place of worcestershire sauce, salt and soy sauce as a seasoning agent. Miso is most typically used as the base of soup, where it provides a rich and flavourful broth. But it can also be used in marinades, salad dresssing and even some desserts.

So get yourself equiped with at least two different varieties of miso (a sweet miso and a dark brown miso), so that you can create different recipes with different flavours. You will not be disappointed, as miso is magical and makes you feel good all over!

Quick Tip: Before adding miso to your pot of soup, take some water out and stir in the miso until it has completely dissolved. Then pour the miso mixture back into the soup pot with the heat turned off.

Miso should never come in direct contact with boiling water as it will affect it's naturally occuring enzymes and delicate properties!

Sweet Miso Dressing:
½ cup white miso
1/3 cup agave nectar
½ cup mirin
¼ cup sesame oil
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ chopped ginger

In a blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. Store in refrigerator for 3-4 days. Makes about 2 cups.

Add this dressing to any salad or slaw with a variety of vegetables like: napa cabbage, carrots, beets, cucumber and throw some sea vegetables in too (arame, wakame, nori....)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Balance is Everything!

Balance really is everything when it comes to your blood sugar levels. It is extremely important to make sure you moderate and regulate your sugar intake everyday. As participants learned in tonight's Sweet and Low Cooking Class, whether you have diabetes, hypoglycemia or just want to stay within a normal range and avoid cravings, it is vital to learn which foods will do the job and keep you in balance!

Here is a quick resource of some daily things you can be doing to keep your levels in check while creating overall, balanced and healthy eating habits!

Tips for Regulating your Blood Sugar Levels on Daily Basis Naturally

Always eat a balanced breakfast, everyday!
Do not go more than 2 hours without food or consume large heavy meals. Eat six to eight small meals throughout the day. Even eating a small snack before bed might help.
Eat a diet high in fiber (whole grains, legumes) and include large amounts of vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, squash, spinach and green beans and whole fresh fruits.
Consume beans, brown rice, oats, oat bran, lentils, sweet potatoes, tofu and fruits such as apples, apricots, avocados, banana, lemons.
For protein eat white fish or wild salmon, turkey, lean chicken breast, eggs and goats and sheep’s milk cheeses or sheep’s milk yogurt.
Use natural low glycemic sweeteners such as: brown rice syrup, barley malt, agave nectar, dates, stevia* and maple syrup (in moderation)
Stay away from high fatty foods and fried foods and choose healthy fats and oils instead: (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil or other cold pressed natural oils, raw nuts and seeds)
Remove alcohol, processed foods, sulphured dried fruits, table salt, white sugar, saturated fats, soft drinks and white flour. Also avoid food with artificial colours and preservatives.

Special foods with special properties for blood sugar:

Avocado: contains a sugar that depresses insulin production, which make them an excellent chose for people with hypoglycemia.
Cinnamon: has a lowering affect on blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of insulin secreted. Consume at least 1 teaspoon everyday!
Brewer’s Yeast: (1 Tbsp. twice daily) provides a rich source of the mineral, chromium, which has a glucose tolerance normalizing effect.
Soybeans and other legumes: (1 cup or more daily) Kidney beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, and lima beans retard the rate of absorption of carbohydrate into the blood stream.
Onions and garlic: (1/2 a clove twice daily) normalize blood sugar regulation by decreasing the rate of insulin elimination by the liver.
Other blood sugar controlling foods include: berries (especially blueberries), celery, cucumber, green leafy vegetables, sprouts, string beans, parsley, garlic, onions, psyllium, flaxseed, lemons, oat bran, radishes, sauerkraut, sunflower seeds, squash, watercress.