Garlic, ginger, turmeric, leafy greens, onion, cinnamon, green tea, burdock, broccoli, honey, umeboshi, mushrooms, miso, parsley, dried peppers, tomato: what do these foods have in common? They are considered "super foods," filled with antioxidants, phytochemicals and life force extraordinaire. Eat these to get your mojo working, and fight off what might ail you this winter. Macrobiotics tells us, and my life experience certainly confirms that many of us get sick just as the season starts to change, so it's definitely not too early to start chewing up on super foods.
"Maintaining our health is important all year round, but in winter it is especially important. If we know the right combination of foods in our daily menu, we strengthen the immune system, protect the body from infection and shorten the disease period." ? Yael Dror, M.Sc, Sports and Nutrition Physiology
A friend of mine said he thinks superfood is an unfortunate word. "So many people hear it and give these wonderful, healthy foods unrealistic powers that they don't have." But I don't agree. I really resonate with the fact that some foods are more jammed packed with good stuff than others. But what exactly are they packed with? Antioxidants are defined as "substances," and phytochemicals are "biologically active compounds," (science terms for we still don't really know?). Personally, I call these foods "high vibe," and think in a couple years science will discover what we are really talking about are foods with more beneficial, active, powerhouse microbes. The Food Party! wrote about this once before.
Nutritionist Yael Dror and myself will explore this topic November 22nd in Portola Valley during Super-foods: the natural way to protect our body in the winter. I'll cook up quick dishes using the foods listed above while Yael discusses the nutritional aspects of the food. But for those of you experimenting with this topic at home ? here's my go-to winter survival stir fry.
I feel better already.
1 T soy sauce or tamari
1 T umeboshi paste
1 T mirin
1 T toasted sesame oil
pinch cinnamon, cayenne pepper & turmeric
2 T parsley, chopped
2 T olive oil, divided
1 (8") piece of burdock, scrubbed or peeled and shaved or julienned
3 medium carrots, julienned
1 medium daikon radish, julienned
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, grated or minced
In a small bowl combine first 7 ingredients and set aside.
Heat sauté pan or wok to medium low. Add 1 tablespoon oil, pinch salt, burdock and stir. "Weigh down" (cover) with utoshibuta (see note) or a glass plate. Sauté for 5 minutes. Remove lid, add a pinch of salt, stir and cover again. Cook five more minutes and then repeat entire process 1 more time. This is called the "three times salted" method. Remove lid. Add carrots and daikon; sauté until crisp tender. Transfer to a bowl.
Heat the other tablespoon of oil to medium high; add mushrooms. Sauté a few minutes until browned. Add back burdock mixture, as well as garlic and ginger and sauté one minute. Add soy sauce mixture. Stir and serve.
Optional: Add 1 cup soaked and cooked sea vegetables
Note: An utoshibuta is a wooden lid used in Japanese cooking that increases the natural condensation and juices which occur when you sauté vegetables. They come in different sizes ? use one that is small enough to touch the food you are sautéing (smaller than the diameter of the pan). Purchase at an Asian market, or take a trip to Soko Hardware in Japan Town for a kitchen tools shopping adventure!
Nutrition Behind the Dish
Carrots: carbohydrate, fiber, vitamins: A, K, C, B6, potassium, manganese
Burdock: protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium. Tastes chickeny!
Umeboshi: macrobiotic antibiotic
Garlic: vitamins: A, C, B6, manganese & selenium
Olive oil: monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E
Shiitake: vitamin B, D, protein, iron
Ginger: good for circulation, digestion, respiration
Turmeric: Anti everything bad! Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial. Kind of the Indian antibiotic.