Category Archives: Commonly Used Ingredients and Products

Tamari

Tamari is soy sauce traditionally wheat-free but of course, not all manufacturers make it that way.  It has a very high sodium content and therefore is not suitable for low sodium diets.

I use Amano brand.

Mirin – Rice Cooking Wine

Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking wine made from fermented brown rice.  Tastes kind of like sweet saki!  Used in broths, soups, sauces, stir fries, dips,  dressings and marinades.  Can also be used as a glaze for baked or grilled foods.

I use Eden Foods brand.  Check ingredient list and avoid brands with added corn or alcohol.  The list should simply say Water, Rice, Koji (or Aspergillus Oryzae) and Sea Salt.

Vegetable Stock

Vegetable Stock can be made or purchased in a prepared carton and powder, it is basically just vegetable and herb infused water.

I always use an organic low-sodium stock like Pacific Natural Foods.  Look at the ingredients list, it should be made up of vegetables, herbs and sea salt, anything else is just added crap you don’t need!

For a instant powder mix,  chose carefully, I have a box I picked  up from Whole Foods: Gayelord Hauser Instant All Natural Vegetable Broth.  I like this one because it has a special high potency, non-active nutritional yeast (grown in beet molasses) plus a whole list of healthy ingredients – NO ADDED CRAP!

Peanut Sauce Healthy Style

Home-made, sugar-free, wheat-free peanut sauce.  Jar it and store in the fridge to use whenever you please!  Can’t do peanut?  Go with Sesame Butter instead.

Need I say more?

1/4      cup Organic Chunky Peanut Butter
2          tablespoon Coconut Milk
1          teaspoon Red Chili Paste
2          tablespoon Maple Syrup
2          tablespoon Lime Juice
1          teaspoon Wheat-Free Tamari
3          tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil

Blend or process all ingredients.

Kombu

Kombu seaweed is an important part of Japanese cuisine. Kombu is also eaten in other parts of Asia as well; it can be found fresh, dried, pickled, and frozen in many Asian markets. There are a wide range of uses;kombu, and it is one of the more popular foods in Japan since it is so versatile and affordable, thanks to seaweed farming which makes it easy to cultivate and harvest. It grows naturally in the deep waters of the ocean and is a variety of very thick, wide and dark green kelp. While it is commonly used in cooking, specifically to make soup stocks, candy and condiments, Kombu is also useful in natural cures and home remedies.

Because Kombu, like all other seaweed, is harvested from the ocean, it is extraordinarily rich in mineral elements that provide immense nutritional benefits. Believed to be beneficial to beauty and diet, Kombu is also very low in calories.

Known to reduce rates of breast cancer in women, the Lignans in Kombu are specifically believed to be responsible for the lower incidence of the disease in Japanese women who consume diets rich in sea vegetables, including Kombu.

In people with under-active thyroids or who are deficient in proper levels of iodine, Kombu is also known to help increase physical energy. In fact, it is widely used in natural cures and home remedies to treat both of these disorders.

As a naturally rich source of dietary fiber, Kombu is also commonly used to treat bowel issues, including constipation, and other digestive ailments.

Kombu also helps to soften beans and legumes, making them easier to digest and will help to prevent gas too.

Black Beans

Black beans could not be more succinctly and descriptively named. They are commonly referred to as turtle beans, probably in reference to their shiny, dark, shell-like appearance. With a rich flavor that has been compared to mushrooms, black beans have a velvety texture while holding their shape well during cooking.

Black beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other legumes. In addition to lowering cholesterol, black beans’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, black beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein. You may already be familiar with beans’ fiber and protein, but this is far from all black beans have to offer.

Black beans are an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites. Sulfites are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods like delicatessen salads and salad bars. Persons who are sensitive to sulfites in these foods may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation if sulfites are unwittingly consumed. If you have ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because your molybdenum stores are insufficient to detoxify them. A cup of black beans will give you 172.0% of the daily value for this helpful trace mineral.

Research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry indicates that black beans are as rich in antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins as grapes and cranberries, fruits long considered antioxidant superstars.

When researchers analyzed different types of beans, they found that, the darker the bean’s seed coat, the higher its level of antioxidant activity. Gram for gram, black beans were found to have the most antioxidant activity, followed in descending order by red, brown, yellow, and white beans.

Overall, the level of antioxidants found in black beans in this study is approximately 10 times that found in an equivalent amount of oranges, and comparable to that found in an equivalent amount of grapes or cranberries.

A study published in Food Chemistry and Toxicology suggests not only that black beans may help protect against cancer, but that whole foods naturally contain an array of compounds that work together for our benefit. When researchers fed laboratory animals a 20% black bean diet to see if it would cause any mutagenic or genotoxic activity, not only did black beans not promote cancer, but a clear reduction in the number of pre-cancerous cells was seen, even in animals who were simultaneously given an agent known to promote cancer, the mutagen, cyclophosphamide.

Limes Leaves

Lime leaves come from the Kaffir Lime Tree,  native to Indonesia. They are easily recognizable by their emerald-green,doubled sections, which makes them appear as if two leaves are joined together.

Lime leaves are commonly used in Laotian and Thai curry paste, adding an aromatic, astringent flavor. The leaves are used in Indonesian cuisine (especially Balinese and Javanese), for foods such as sayur asam, and are used along with Indonesian bay leaf for chicken and fish. They are also found in Malaysian and Burmese cuisines.

The leaves can be used fresh or dried, and can be stored frozen. The juice and rinds of kaffir limes are used in traditional Indonesian medicine; for this reason the fruit is referred to in Indonesia as jeruk obat (“medicine citrus”). The oil from the rind has strong insecticidal properties. The juice is generally regarded as too acidic to use in food preparation, but finds use as a cleanser for clothing and hair in Thailand.

Other Uses:
Try adding some fresh leaves to a hot bath. You will need to try this to believe the delightful fragrance that will waft from your bathwater.

Bruise a few leaves and add to an outdoor citrus-scented potpourri, the scent will linger in the evening air when eating outdoors.