Making miso soup tastier

Miso soup

Another attempt at creating a delicious miso soup

Vinny and I have a lot in common. I’ve heard that kids often need to taste a food 10 times before they learn to like it. That’s me to a T with miso. More

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Easy miso soup

Miso's Christmas toy

Miso’s Christmas toy

“Here, Miso,” called Vinny, holding out his hand to his fluffy caramel kitten, who gladly came over for a gentle rub behind the ears.

“Why did you call him Miso,” Isla asked as she threw a small toy mouse for the kitten to chase.

“I suppose it was because I like Asian food,” said Vinny, “and this little guy is the exact same color as miso, a food used in Asian cooking. More

Gut wars! Arm yourself with yogurt and prosper

Grilled pineapple, sweetened greek yogurt, cinnamon & almonds

Yogurt, yogurt everywhere!

 En garde!

Trillions of bacteria live happily in our gut. The goodies among them help us digest our food and absorb its nutrients. They also help our body make vitamins, absorb minerals, and get rid of  toxins. They make our immune system strong. And best of all, they work on our brain cells to help them battle anxiety, stress, and depression. Friendly bugs in our gut make up the army that protects us from disease, including mental illness.

Good bacteria, called probiotics, come to us in fermented foods. Buttermilk, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, sour dough bread, raw-milk cheeses and kefir all harbor the good guys. For many, though, probiotics march forth  into our gut in yogurt. More

Sauerkraut’s probiotics sweeten Polish cabbage and chicken dish

Bavarian chicken

Sauerkraut

Will and Isla carefully chop through mountains of cabbage.

“In the old days,” Vinny says, “people made their own sauerkraut so they would have veggies to eat during the long winters.Your great grandpappy was a sauerkraut-maker extraordinaire. People came from all over to buy his home-made kraut. Now, we just go to the deli. It comes in jars or cans, too, at the grocery store. I like the Polish kind best myself. It’s good to keep the old ways alive. Keep chopping!”

“Val deree, val derah, val deree, val der-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha,” sing Will and Vinny at the top of their lungs. Isla just hums, too busy chopping to get involved with words.

Today we know that the old ways were healthy ways. Sauerkraut is what you get after cabbage is well salted and allowed to rest for a few weeks in a crock, closed off  from air. Salt pulls water from the cabbage to make a brine.  The little bugs that thrive in this environment are good bacteria. They make the brine acidic, in a process called fermentation.

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Cabbage makes good sauerkraut

Probiotics

These healthy bugs go by the name probiotics. They work against the bad bacteria in our stomachs to improve  digestion.

Many people think the healthy bacteria protect us by keeping inflammation in check, reducing allergies, preventing constipation, and boosting our brain power. The science is still young. But to be safe many nutritionists recommend two servings of probiotic foods a day.

Probiotics are found in fermented foods… like pickles, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, and, of course, sauerkraut. You can also get probiotics in supplements. But unless you’re taking antibiotics, which wipe out the good bugs along with the bad ones, it’s best to rely on real food for your probiotics.

Sauerkraut processed in cans or jars doesn’t have any live probiotics, because heat kills all those cute little helpful bacteria. Instead, buy it raw at farmer’s markets or delis for the real stuff. Or make it yourself!

But processed or cooked sauerkraut still has all the nutrients from cabbage. Enjoy it both ways. It’s packed with vitamin C!

Meal suggestions

Pair well-rinsed raw sauerkraut with soft poached eggs in the morning. The meal has a nice tang and makes a satisfying start to the day.

At lunch, sauerkraut makes a tasty addition to salad. But what I like best is putting a big scoop into the bottom of my bowl before pouring hot soup over it. Yummy!

For dinner, Vinny suggests a Polish chicken dish, starring a heap of sauerkraut.

Bavarian chicken

Vinny’s Polish chicken
serves three

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 large apple, cored and chopped
  • 8 ounces sauerkraut, well rinsed to remove salt (if you have raw sauerkraut, reserve some to add to the plate at serving time)
  • 12 medium Brussels sprouts, stemmed and cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1/2  teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3 chicken breasts or legs,  or a small roasting chicken
  1. Sauté the onions, ginger, and garlic in a large soup pot, using a bit of oil.
  2. Add the rest of the veggies, spices and other ingredients and  over medium heat, bring to boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Chicken

  1. Before you start cooking the veggies, put a  small chicken in the oven to roast or prepare three boneless chicken breasts for  the barbecue. If the meat is ready first, keep it warm, then serve the chicken on top of the veggies.
  2. Alternatively, poach the chicken breasts in the soup pot, submerged in the liquid. Add the chicken after the liquid has come to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the meat to cook through, about 20-30 minutes. This method is easier, but I like roasted or grilled chicken better :).

Garnish

  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill weed, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons paprika

Paprika boosts metabolism and fresh dill contains vitamins.

This dish is one of my favorites. The stove-top veggies are good with lots of  lean meats… tasty even for folks who say they don’t like cabbage (or Brussels sprouts).

Nutrition

The veggies (per serving): Calories (kcal)100.1, Fat (g) 3.6, Sodium (mg) 377.0, Potassium (mg) 433.1, Fibre (g) 5.1, Vitamin A (RAE) 27.4, Vitamin C (mg) 48.7, Calcium (mg) 60.9, Folate (DFE) 51.4.  The chicken: a 6-oz breast has 252 calories and 46 grams of protein.

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A Polish meal is all I need
To make my day complete.
It’s hard to keep account of all
The cabbage that I eat.

 

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