Strong Arms for Kids

Actually, the real reason I am doing the triathlon is so that I can eat all I want and still be in good shape.  Well, thats what I thought, but in actuality, it is driving me crazy.  Really!  I eat a HUGE meal and about an hour later I will be hungry again.  I thought I would enjoy eating so much, but eating has become a chore (well sort of).  The worst is waking up in the morning with my stomach growling and having to rush through my morning routine in order to satisfy the beast which has become my stomach.

What I am eating...

             This is a list of my favorite recipes I have found (from all over), as well as, a glance at all the delicious, vegetarian friendly, food found in Ishigaki.

BREAKFAST (I never miss it)

Cold Oatmeal

Sound disgusting? Not when you love oatmeal but its 90 degrees at 8:00am. 

1 cup oatmeal
1 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon honey

Mix these ingredients together.  Then add anything else you would like to add and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.  You can add any sort of frozen fruit or I like to add cinnamon and then in the morning add fresh sliced bananas.

Banana "Ice Cream" (yes, ice cream for breakfast)

I got this recipe from one of my favorite blogs called Fatfree Kitchen Vegan.  This is so yummy!

2 frozen bananas
1/2 cup soymilk
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Granola or cereal

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend just until smooth.  Again, you can add anything you want to this.  Sometimes I put frozen blueberries or frozen pineapple. Then put some granola or cereal on top for some crunchiness.

Yogurt with Applesauce and Cereal

As the name states, I put yogurt, applesauce and cereal (usually Fiber One) together, and it is absolutely delicious.  The tricky part is that applesauce doesn't exist in Japan.  So, I make my own, but, unfortunately it is super expensive, so I usually only make it when I feel like I deserve a nice treat.  I also like to add frozen raspberries to make it just like my favorite applesauce I used to buy at Trader Joe's.  Here is my applesauce recipe:

3 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples
4 strips of lemon peel
Juice of one lemon
3 cinnamon sticks
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/2 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 bag frozen raspberries

1. Put all ingredients into a large pot.  Cover. Bring to boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
2. Remove from heat.  Remove cinnamon sticks, and lemon peels.  Mash with a potato masher.

Oatmeal Pancakes

I recently found another great vegetarian blog, with lots of interesting recipes.  This one is  Lisa explains that soaking oats overnight, usually in yogurt, help with absorption of vitamins and minerals in the oats, which therefore makes them healthier for you.  These pancakes are super healthy, super easy and super yummy.  I pounded down 5 of them the other day, topped with outrageously expensive strawberries and bananas, before my practice mini triathlon, and I felt great for the whole workout.

Banana oatmeal pancakes

3/4 cup rolled or steel-cut oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup yogurt
1 cup spring water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 large egg
2 bananas

Stir the oats and flour into the yogurt and water in a large mixing bowl and leave to soak overnight at room temperature. In the morning when you're ready to make the pancakes, stir in the baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Break the egg and combine the peeled bananas into the mixture with a potato masher until well blended but slightly lumpy.

Lightly butter a large cast-iron skillet or frying pan and warm up on medium-low heat. At the same time, preheat an oven to 175°.

Drop in a quarter-cup of the batter for each pancake and fry for a couple of minutes before turning over and frying on the other side until the pancakes are golden brown on both sides. Remove from the pan and place on a plate in the oven to keep warm until all the batter's been used up for pancakes.

Serve the pancakes warm and pour over them some pure maple syrup. Add a little butter if you like, and slices of banana.

Makes about 12 four-inch pancakes.

The Easiest Rice Pudding EVER!!

This is the easiest breakfast or dessert recipe that is stored away in my brain.  Take any leftover rice that you have and put it in a Tupperware.  Add the soy milk and fill it to just above the rice.  Add honey and vanilla.  Then you can add whatever you want to it.  Sometimes I add cinnamon and raisins, or strawberries and soybean powder, or banana.  Then let it sit overnight, and your leftover dinner rice, becomes a delicious and nutritious breakfast in the morning.  See, eating healthy can be easy…sometimes


1)    Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
•    1 frozen banana
•    1 spoonful of peanut butter
•    2 tbsp cocoa powder
•    ½ cup soymilk
•    1 tbsp honey
•    1 tsp vanilla

2) Pumpkin Smoothie
•    ½ cup mashed pumpkin or pumpkin puree
•    1 tbsp orange juice
•    2 tbsp plain yogurt
•    ½ cup soymilk
•    1 frozen banana
•    1 tbsp honey
•    1 tsp vanilla
•    cinnamon
•    nutmeg

3) Banana and Soybean powder
•    1 frozen banana
•    2 tbsp soybean powder
•    1 cup soymilk
•    1 tsp vanilla
•    1 tbsp honey
•    cinnamon
(you can put chopped cherries in it to make it really delicious)

4) Oatmeal Strawberry Banana Smoothie
•    1 frozen banana
•    4-5 strawberries
•    ½ oats (soaked overnight in yogurt)
•    1 cup soymilk
•    1 tbsp honey
•    1 tsp vanilla

5) Lemon Mint Orange Kiwi Smoothie
•    1 tbsp lemon juice
•    lemon zest
•    1 orange (peeled and frozen)
•    1 kiwi (peeled and frozen)
•    mint leaves
•    1 tbsp honey
•    ¼ cup yogurt
•    ¼ cup orange juice

            I lied, this last one isn’t a favorite, I just made it up because I didn’t have a 5th favorite, but it sounds pretty good.


Cumin Bread

This is a bread I used to make all the time in Nicaragua.  I love love love the combination of flavors in this bread, and so did my Nicaraguan host family.  And actually, so does my favorite Japanese person (one of my coworkers).  He freaked out when he tasted this bread.  Its relatively easy and I never use a bread machine, I feel like it takes the fun away from making bread.  So even though the recipe says to use a bread machine, just knead the dough a lot, and it will come out fine.  I also tried a new technique today, which is, putting a glass tray with ice cubes on the bottom of the oven, while it is pre-heating, and then remove it once the ice cubes have melted.  This should help make the crust even crispier.  I found this recipe on, but I originally found the recipe in one of my bread recipe books, but the name escapes me right now. 

1 cup milk
1/2 cup honey
6 tablespoons canola oil (or other light oil)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup orange juice
3 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (stone ground is preferred)
1 1/2 cups rye flour
white flour, for kneading
Directions Scald the milk. Add honey, oil, salt and cumin seed. Add orange juice (it will curdle) and cool to lukewarm.
In mixer bowl combine yeast and warm water with sugar and let sit until bubbly.
Add milk/juice mixture. Add 3 cups unbleached white flour in 1/2 cup increments and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
Mix and rough sift the rye and whole wheat flour to remove coarse bran hulls (which are in homeground but probably not in store bought) and when the 2 minutes are up, add the combined rye and whole wheat flours in half cup increments (this method of adding the flour is important unless you want to make bricks). You are waiting for a shaggy mass that pulls away from sides of bowl.
Resting: Now turn off the machine and clean up your mess. Oil the bowl for the first rising. Call your mother. Play with the cat. (It's hard to break stride at this point but it's a crucial step.) You want the flours to absorb maximum moisture. Run the machine a few seconds to evaluate the sticky factor and then change to the dough hook.
Kneading: Machine knead for 8 minutes. Push and shove the dough into the hook, always keeping dough involved. Stay alert or you'll lose the paddle and your hand. Frequent finger sprinkles of unbleached white flour keep the stickiness in control. Don't leave the machine unattended since the dough may look smooth and elastic and grasp the hook naturally and in another second it turns viciously sticky and avoids the hook.
Turn dough out to a lightly floured counter space. Hand knead until you are satisfied with the dough.
First rise: Lightly oil a bowl, turn the dough in it and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until it is at least doubled.
Prepare for baking: Place a baking stone (or clay tiles that can be used for bread baking) in your oven. Turn on oven to 400.
Shape the loaf: Turn out to a floured counter top and knead out any air bubbles. Then form the loaf into a football shape. (Beginning bread bakers should consult a good article or book to learn how to shape free-form loaves, or get an experienced bread-baking friend to show you how.).
Second rise: Set up the bread's "home" for the second rise. You can use parchment paper on a peel (huge wooden paddle) but an inverted cookie sheet will do. Sprinkle parchment paper with cornmeal. Gently place dough in the center and cover with a terrycloth towel. (Don't worry about weight of towel -- yeast is mighty strong at this point.) Leave loaf until it is nearly double (about 25 minutes or more). UNDER rising is better since, if it rises too high, it will not oven spring and it may even collapse. Over-rising on first rise can be a blessing. On second rise, too high is a disaster.
Slashing the loaf: Before putting in oven, with a single edge razor blade, make three long slashes. Don't do a direct north/south (ceiling to floor) slash but rather keep the blade almost parallel to the floor. This way the slashed dough will fold out and be even rather than form gullies.
Baking: With a minimum of vibration, carefully slide the dough AND the paper into the oven.
After 15 minutes it will be possible to gently pull the paper out (it will start to brown) and change position of the loaf which should have sprung in the oven. Be gentle, the crust is extremely fragile at this stage and if you break it, the steam will escape and it won't cook chewy.
Turn the heat down to 350 and let it bake another 40 minutes or so. Occasionally change the loaf's position because of oven hot spots. After 40 minutes lift loaf and tap bottom. If it sounds hollow it is done. If you have any doubt, return to oven another 5 minutes or so.
Remove to a wire rack (a spare cold oven rack will do). Let cool.


Crazy 5 Day Multi-grain Bread

I got this crazy recipe from The Knead for Bread website.  This is an amazing website for bread recipes and step-by-step recipes for all types of bread.  This bread called for a mix of 8 different grains.  Well, I only had two.  I used cracked wheat and oatmeal.  I added too much water to the grains and when I added it to the dough, it made the dough way too wet.  I added tons of flour but it never got less sticky.  I completely doubted the outcome of my bread, but the texture actually turned out fine, it was just lacking in flavor.  But, if you put enough good stuff on top of it, you don't notice that the bread doesn't have much flavor.  I put the herbed tofu cheese on top, in this photo (you can find that recipe in my Vegan Eggplant lasagna recipe.

Ingredients Day 1:
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/4 cup room temp water
  • Soaker
  • 1 1/2 cups 8 grains
  • 1 cup water
Day 2:
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoon salt
Method Day 1, mix together 2 cups of bread flour, instant yeast, honey and water into a large bowl till smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 24 hours on the counter. After 24 hours add the day 2 ingredients to the mixture; mix till smooth and cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 2 hours. Take the bowl and place into the refrigerator for another 24 to 72 hours. The night before you want to bake the bread you will need to create the soaker. You need to add the 8 grains to a bowl and add the 1 cup of water. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit on the counter overnight. When you are ready to make the bread. remove the dough from the fridge and allow to sit on the counter for 2 hours. Pour mixture out onto a flat surface and add the soaked grains. Knead for 6 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky, but not wet. So, if you need to add a little more flour go a head. Add just a tablespoon of flour at a time. Place dough in a lightly oiled large bowl and turn a few times to lightly coat. Allow to rest for 1 1/2 hours. Afterwards, pour dough out onto a flat surface and punch down. Cut dough into 3 equal parts. Flatten each piece and roll up like a jelly roll; be sure that they are rolled tightly. Place loaves on top of parchment that is sprinkled with cormeal. You may only be able to bake two first and the third one separately. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour. Dust with flour and score the tops just before placing into oven. Place into a preheated 400 degree oven with a baking stone. Create steam by placing a cast iron pan on the bottom of the oven the same time that you turn on the oven. Once you place the breads onto the baking stone pour about a cup of boiling water into the hot pan and close the door. Bake for 30 -35 minutes or till when tapped on the bottom of the loaf it sounds hollow or a meat thermometer reads 180F in the center. Remove and cool on a wire rack.



Spinach Quinoa Salad

You don't know how excited I was, when I saw quinoa in the tiny itty bitty little health food store in Ishigaki.  Unbelievable!!! Its been years since I have eaten quinoa.  Its so good for you and has such a nice light taste.  I got the idea for this recipe from but altered it enough to call it my own.  Unfortunately now my quinoa is gone, but once I get my hands on some more, this will be the first thing that I make with it.

Ingredient List

Serves 6
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups spinach leaves
2 cups dried cranberries, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/3-inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
bunch of chopped mint


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spread almonds on baking sheet, and toast 7 to 10 minutes, shaking pan occasionally, or until golden brown. Cool.

2. Bring 3 cups salted water to a boil in pot over medium-high heat. Stir in quinoa. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed.

3. Remove from heat and cool, covered, in pot.

4. Lay 5 or 6 spinach leaves flat on top of one another on cutting board. Roll tightly into cylinder, then slice into slivers. Repeat with remaining spinach.

5. Toss together quinoa, almonds, spinach, cranberries, cucumber, chickpeas and red onion in large serving bowl. Whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic in small bowl. Pour over salad, and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix in the chopped mint.  Chill 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop, then serve.


The Ultimate Vegan Saag Paneer

Its hard to make Saag Paneer look good in a photograph, but trust me, this is the best spinach curry I have ever eaten.  Its out of this world.  I was on a mission to make the best spinach curry out there, and after about 4 tries, I finally did it!  I took the best components out of a number of different recipes, put them all together and presto!!! The Ultimate Vegan Saag Paneer!  And lets not forget that its way lower in fat than most Saag Paneer recipes and very high in protein and other good things that spinach has in it that makes it so good for you.

1 block firm tofu
2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound spinach, steamed
½ cup toasted cashews, ground
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp garam marsala
1 tomato, chopped
zest from one lemon

Wrap tofu in a towel and place something heavy on top of it.  Let sit for 30 minutes so that most of the water drains out.   Then cut tofu into cubes.  In a pan, add olive oil, garlic, ginger, and tofu cubes in a pan and sauté until tofu is nice and brown.  Set aside

Once tofu is done, using the same pan, steam the spinach.  Once spinach is steamed, put spinach and its water in a blender or food processor.  Coarsely blend the spinach.  Set aside

Heat oil in a pan.  Add the onions and sauté for 1 minute.  Add all the spices and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the chopped tomato and sauté for another 5-7 minutes, until tomatoes are cooked.  Next add blended spinach and ground toasted cashews.  Let simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the tofu cubes and simmer for another 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, mix in the lemon zest and add salt.


Vegan Eggplant Lasagna

This recipe takes a classic dish, delicious, yet high in fat leaving you feeling like a bloated cow (well, at least, that's the way I used to feel after eating a hardy serving of traditional lasagna) and makes it healthy, low in fat, yet still satisfying and definitely not lacking in any flavor.  This new way of making lasagna leaves me feeling incredibly satisfied for hours but I don't feel like I'm going to break the scale.  This recipe has also been tried and tested on meat-eaters and they were just as satisfied as us non-meat eaters.

2 eggplants, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
1 bunch spinach
1 cup chickpeas
½ pound tofu herb cheese
simple tomato sauce

Pre-heat oven to 350F.   Slice eggplants into thin slices.  Lay slices flat on baking sheet.  Brush olive oil on both sides of eggplants and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake slices for one hour, flipping them over after 30 minutes.  Heat oil in a pan.  Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for another minute.  Add carrots and peppers, cook until the vegetables are almost thoroughly cooked.  Add in the spinach and chickpeas.  Once spinach is cooked, remove from heat, sprinkle vegetables lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

Once eggplant has finished baking, its time to build your lasagna.  In a lasagna pan, cover the bottom with the simple tomato sauce.  Then put a layer of eggplant.  Then put a layer of vegetables, herbed tofu cheese, and more tomato sauce. Put another layer of eggplant, then repeat the vegetables, herbed tofu cheese, and tomato sauce.  Finally put the last layer of eggplant and cover with the last of the tomato sauce.  Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350F. 

Simple Tomato Sauce
1tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1 can crushed tomatoes
zest of one lemon

Add garlic, crushed red pepper, salt and oil in a pan and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, and continue heating for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the lemon zest.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Herbed Tofu Cheese
1 block firm or extra firm tofu
2 tbsp olive oil
big bunch of herbs; Basil, Thyme, Marjoram, chopped
sea salt

Gently pat the block of tofu, removing some of the water, but not too much.  Place the tofu in a bowl and crumble the tofu with your hands.  Add the chopped herbs, olive oil and salt.  Mix all together, taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.


Asparagus Sweet Pea Soup

This may be one of the healthiest foods I EVER put in my mouth.  I got this recipe from  It is really easy to make and you can use either fresh or frozen vegetables.  Of course I like using all fresh vegetables, but the day I made this soup they only had the vegetables I needed frozen at the supermarket.  It still tasted really good, but I would love to try this recipe with all fresh vegetables.

2 T olive oil or butter
½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb asparagus
½ lb sweet peas, fresh or frozen
1 - 1.5 T fresh tarragon, or ½ T dried tarragon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 qt chicken stock or water
Kosher salt to taste
6 oz fresh spinach leaves
Lobster meat (optional, for garnish)
Heat the oil over low heat in a large, nonreactive soup pot. Add the onions and garlic, cover and sweat until the onions are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim the tough bottoms from the asparagus spears, and discard the woody parts. Trim the tips from the asparagus, and reserve for garnish. Cut the spears crosswise, into very thin slices. Add the asparagus, peas, tarragon and nutmeg to the pot, and saute over medium heat for 1 minutes.

Add the stock, and bring to a boil. Add the salt and the spinach, and boil for 1 minutes. Strain the vegetables, and puree in a food processor or blender with 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Pour the puree into a bowl, and stir in the remaining liquid.

Nestle the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water to cool down the soup. Meanwhile, briefly boil and then shock the asparagus tips (if using) in ice water. Garnish the soup with the lobster meat and asparagus tips.

Brown Rice and Lentils

For this recipe, I was actually planning on making a Tabouleh Salad, but I didn't have a lot of bulgur, and, simply, going out to the store and buying more bulgur isn't an option here on Ishigaki.  I want to save my bulgur to make a grain bread next week.  So I decided to make this instead.  I got the idea from a favorite middle eastern restaurant that I go to in Harvard Square.  Its been a while since I have been there, so I didn't really know how similar the two dishes are, but it still tasted pretty good.


½  cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup uncooked lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup carrot, grated
parsley, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
plain yogurt

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic.  Cook until the onions are soft.  Add the dry spices, in a ratio of how they are listed in the ingredients (sorry, I never measure my spices).  Cook for another minute.  Then add the carrots and again, cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the rice and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Then add the lentils and 2 cups of water.  You may need to add more water as it cooks.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer, until the rice and lentils are soft.  Once they are soft, turn off the heat.  Add the parsley and lemon juice.  This can be eaten hot or cold.  Add a dollop of plain yogurt on top when you serve this dish, to make it even more delicious.  

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

This is a pretty standard red pepper hummus.  I love the idea of making everything homemade.  The fact that I have been eating homemade hummus sandwiches on my homemade bread, makes me very happy.  If only I had a garden to grow my own vegetables, too.  Maybe someday.

1 cup dried chickpeas
1 bay leaf
2 red peppers, roasted
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice

To cook chickpeas, soak for 15 hours, changing the water, at least once.  Bring a pot of water to boil, with the chickpeas and bay leaf.  Let it simmer for 2 hours.  Go somewhere and keep yourself busy, in order not to disturb the beans.  Drain the beans, saving some of the cooking water.  Also, while the beans are cooking, wash and then place the red peppers on aluminum foil in the oven for 1 hour.  Rotate the peppers ever 20 minutes are so in order for them to roast evenly. Remove the bay leaf and rinse the beans in cold water and remove the outer cover on the beans.  This process is a pain in the butt, but it’s necessary, in order for your hummus to come out smooth, and without giving you stomach issues (if you know what I mean).  Then add all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Add the water from the beans to the hummus until you get desired consistency.  Taste and adjust flavors, as desired.

Almond-Crusted French Toast

I have no idea, how or why I came across this recipe, BUT, I do remember that as soon as I did read this recipe, I knew I had to make them, and I had to make them soon.  It actually took me a while to make the recipe, but when I did, it was totally worth the wait.  They have such a unique flavor, and the simple tomato sauce goes so well with the almonds, somehow.  Its really heavy though, so it might be a while before I make them again.  The recipe is from

Almond-Crusted French Toast with Simple Tomato Sauce & Wilted Spinach

5 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 ½ teaspoons salt
fresh ground black pepper
6 slices whole-grain sandwich bread (day old, stale works best)
2 cups toasted, finely chopped almonds

Simple Tomato Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2-28 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand or in the food processor
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt

Wilted Spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large bunches of fresh spinach (about 1 ½ lbs), washed and stemmed
pinch of salt
fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack positioned in the center. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or lightly grease.

In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, but not browned. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Simmer over medium-high heat uncovered for 15-25 minutes until reduced to a thick sauce.

In a large shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Spread the nuts out on a large plate. Place three slices of bread into the egg mixture and soak for one minute on each side. Then lay each slice, one at a time, onto the nuts, press down so that the nuts stick, and flip to coat the other side. Transfer each slice to the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining three slices of bread and arrange so that the slices do not touch. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

While the French toast bakes, heat olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Add the spinach, salt, and pepper and sauté until wilted and most of the liquid released has cooked off. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm. Flip each slice and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch and toasts are golden brown.

Serve hot with a spoonful each of spinach and tomato sauce.

Serves 6

Wild Seaweed Salad

This one I can almost call my own, but, once again, it was adapted from a recipe from, you guessed it,  I had my doubts throughout the whole prepping process, that this was going to be pretty disgusting, but good thing it turned out to be delicious, because I made a lot of it, and am going to be eating it for a few days.  Pairs great with the squash balls, from a previous post, but then again, anything goes well with kabocha.

1 cup hijiki seaweed
12 ounces extra-firm nigari tofu

Grated zest of 1 lemon
Fresh ginger, cut into a 1-inch cube, peeled, and grated
2 tablespoons honey
scant 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup unseasoned brown-rice vinegar
1/3 cup shoyu sauce (wheat-free soy sauce)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped
a bunch of white long stringy mushrooms (sorry I don't know the name)
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves/stems, chopped
6 cups cooked brown rice

Soak the hijiki seaweed for 20-30 minutes in water. 

Saute onions in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Once they start to brown, add the mushrooms and saute all together for 2-3 minutes.  Set aside.

Drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut it into rectangles roughly the size of your thumb (½ inch thick and 1 inch long). Cook the tofu in a dry nonstick (or well-seasoned) skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the pieces are browned on one side. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy. Leave the tofu like this, or cut into strips, or cubes (whatever you like). Set aside.

In the meantime, make the dressing by combining the zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, and salt in a food processor (or use a hand blender) and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and shoyu, and pulse to combine. With the machine running (or by hand), drizzle in the oils. Set aside.

Now drain the hijiki seaweed and rinse it with fresh water.  Then chop into smaller pieces.

In a large bowl, just before serving toss the onions, cilantro, hijiki, and rice with a generous amount of the dressing. Mix well and add the cooked tofu. Toss (gently) again, taste, add more dressing (and a bit of salt) if needed, and serve family-style.

Serves 10-12.

Roasted Tomato Soup

What do you do with an abundance of tomatoes?  You go to your favorite website, go to the ingredients index and copy what she did.  This roasted tomato soup is so easy and so delicious, you just need some patience because the roasting takes a while.  Also, two pieces of advice, you need to eat this soup with bread, but it does not go well with Vietnamese spring rolls.  I know, what a surprise.

5 tomatoes, cored (if necessary) and quartered
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
3 medium yellow onions, peeled, quartered
extra-virgin olive oil
5 plump cloves of garlic, unpeeled
fine-grain sea salt
2 - 3 cups light vegetable stock or water
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees and position 2 racks in the middle of the oven. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, alternately you can just rub them down with a thin glaze of olive oil.

Arrange the tomatoes, skin side down, on a baking sheet. Coat the bell pepper and onions with olive oil and put them on the other baking sheet along with the garlic, place the pepper skin side down as well. Give both sheets a light showering of salt, then bake until the tomatoes start to collapse and the onions start to brown and caramelize, about 45 minutes. Turn the onions if they start getting overly dark on the bottom .Check on the garlic as well, once the cloves are golden and oozy inside, pull them from the oven.

Peel the garlic, dump all of the roasted vegetables into a big, high-sided bowl, and puree with a hand blender. Alternately, use a conventional blender or food processor and work in batches. Blend in a cup of the stock, and keep adding the rest 1/2 cup at a time until the soup is the desired consistency. I like a little chunk and texture to this soup particularly if the weather has a bit of a chill, but smooth or chunky is your call. Add the paprika and a bit more salt if needed - adjusting to your taste.

Serves 4.


This salad was rated "Best Salad Ever" (not important who rated it).  This is yet another masterpiece from  For once, I followed the recipe exactly, too.  The only problem is finding pomegranates, they are not always in the supermarkets and when they are, a lot of the time they cost five dollars or so.  This one, I bought on special for two dollars, wahoooo.  If only Afghanistan would start cashing in on their new cash crop, instead the same old poppy plants, the world would be a better place.

2/3 cup (100g) medium or coarse bulgur
1 pound (400g) celery (a small head), cut in thin slices on a slight bias
seeds of 1/2 large pomegranate
3/4 cup (75g) walnuts, roughly chopped
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
1 scant tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped

Pomegranate Dressing:
juice of 1/2 large pomegranate
1/2 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon of salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Put the bulgur in a bowl, add (hs note: boiling hot) water to just below the surface of the wheat and leave it to stand for 10 minutes (hs note: 10 - 15 minutes), until just tender but still quite al dente. Add more water as required or drain in a colander if too wet.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, pour over the dressing and check the seasoning. Serve immediately. Make sure the walnuts are dressed just before serving, as sometimes they can impart a bitter flavour and unpleasant colour to the dressing if left to sit.

Serves 4.

from Moro East by Samuel and Samantha Clark (Ebury Press, 2007) - reprinted with permission.


Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with Oranges and Olives

I tried to get all fancy on this one, but it didn't work out as well as I had hoped.  I spent a lot of money on the ingredients only to get a mediocre outcome.  Oh well, can't win them all.  I still wouldn't have considered it a bad meal, just not a great one.  The recipe is from

6 6-ounce mahi-mahi fillets (about 1 inch thick)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
3/4 cup green olives, pitted, halved
3 oranges, peeled, cut into segments

1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Preparation Preheat oven to 400°F. Place fish in shallow bowl or glass baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, sprinkle with orange peel, and pour juice over; turn to coat.

Melt butter with 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick ovenproof skillet over high heat. Remove fish from marinade, reserving marinade; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook fish until light brown, about 3 minutes. Turn fish over; add shallot. Cook 1 minute. Stir saffron into reserved marinade; pour marinade over fish. Add olives and half of orange segments. Transfer skillet to oven; roast fish until cooked through, about 6 minutes.

Transfer fish to platter; top with remaining orange segments. Spoon sauce with oranges and olives around fish. Sprinkle with basil and chives and serve.

The soup, once again, is from  I am not going to lie, the soup isn't my favorite, but if you have any extra yogurt sauce, make some salmon and stick it on top.  It was yuuummmy!!!

Yellow Split Pea Soup

2 cups dried split yellow peas, picked over and rinsed
6 cups water

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
3 cups water

1 7-ounce container of greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded unpeeled cucumber, (deseed before shredding)
1 clove garlic, mashed and minced
scant 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
big pinch of salt

chopped olives
more olive oil to drizzle

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the yellow split peas, and cook for 20 -30 minutes, or until tender. Drain, salt to taste and set aside.

Add olive oil to a big pot over med-high heat. Stir in onions and salt and cook until the onions soften, just a minute or two. Add the cooked split peas and stock/water. Bring to a simmer and let cook for a few minutes. Now remove from the heat. Using a large cup or mug ladle half of the soup into a bowl and set aside. Using a hand blender (or regular blender) puree the soup that is still remaining in the pot. Stir the reserved (still chunky) soup back into the puree - you should have a soup that is nicely textured. If you need to thin the soup out with more water (or stock) do so a bit at a time. Give the soup a taste, if it needs more salt, add more a bit at a time until the flavor of the soup really pops.

In the meantime make the yogurt topping by mixing together the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, mint, and salt. Set aside.

Ladle soup into bowls or cups, and serve each with a generous dollop of the yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, a touch of chopped mint (any that was left on the cutting board), and a sprinkling of black olives.

Serves about 4.

The day I got the email with this recipe from, I made it!  This one was actually super easy, and, as promised, really good.  I highly recommend it.  If only I could read Japanese and find the tempeh in the supermarket, I would make it with tempeh, which it actually called for in the recipe, instead of tofu.  But tofu, is definitely an adequate substitute.

Orange Pan-glazed Tofu

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3-4 large juicy oranges)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
roughly 10 ounces of extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lime
a handful of cilantro (coriander) leaves

Put the orange juice in a small bowl. Squeeze the grated ginger over the bow to extract the juices, then discard the pulp. Add the tamari, mirin, and maple syrup, ground coriander, and garlic. Mix together and set aside.

Cut the tofu into thin-ish, bite-sized pieces, and if working with tofu, pat dry with a paper towel.

Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the tempeh and fry for 5 minutes, or until golden underneath. Turn and cook the other side for another 5 minutes, or until golden. Pour the orange juice mixture into the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to a lovely thick glaze. Turn the tofu once more during this time and spoon the sauce over the tofu from time to time.

Serve the tofu drizzled with any remaining sauce and a squeeze of lime, with the coriander scattered on top. Heidi note: As I mention in the head notes, I served this over some leftover wheat berries heated with a few handfuls of chopped kale.

Savory Leek Quiche

This is a vegan quiche and it turned out really really good.  I have been watching the series Top Chef (I am only on season 1), and am amazed how they can easily forget to add salt and pepper to their dishes.  But then I am reminded of anytime I am rushed while cooking a meal and how easily I can forget a million things, that is why I am terrible at baking.  But anyway, I was rushed all through making this quiche and thought it was going to turn out absolutely terrible, especially since this is my first time ever making a quiche.  But, truly, to my surprise it came out really well.  The crust was even kind of flaky.  I will have to make it again so that I can get a photo of it next time, but I ate this along with the carrot soup all week for lunch, so it might be a while.

Ingredient List Serves 10

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup plain soymilk
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt

4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts chopped (about 3 cups)
1 lb. firm or extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 11/2-inch cubes
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. miso paste
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes, drained

Directions To make Crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Coat 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Pulse flour, pine nuts and baking powder in food processor until finely ground. Whisk together soymilk, oil and salt in bowl. Stir in flour mixture. Press into pan. Bake 5 minutes, then cool.
To make Filling: Heat 1 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, and sauté 8 minutes, or until softened. Set aside. Bring large saucepan of water to a boil. Add tofu, and simmer 5 minutes. Drain, and pat dry. Whisk together remaining oil, lemon juice, miso, garlic and salt in bowl. Mash in tofu with fork. Stir in breadcrumbs, basil, sun-dried tomatoes and leeks.
Spoon filling into crust. Bake 40 minutes, or until crust is browned. Cool 5 minutes, then unmold.

Gingered Carrot and Pinto Bean Soup

I found a NEW food blog!!! I am so excited.  It's called Lisa's Kitchen.  It has tons (really tons!) of delicious sounding vegetarian recipes.  She has a wide variety of food recipes from all different parts of the world.  Luckily for me, I found that little health food shop in Ishigaki, or else, I wouldn't be able to make half the things on her blog.  She even special orders stuff for me.  I know have bulger!  Anyway, this soup is very tasty and, of course, very healthy.  I had it for lunch all this week and twice today. 

3/4 cup dried pinto beans
3 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 red cayenne peppers, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, both white and green parts, chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
sour cream or yogurt, and chopped fresh parsley to garnish

Rinse the pinto beans and soak overnight in several inches of cold water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain and discard the soaking liquid. Place the beans in a medium saucepan and add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1/2 hours or until tender. Set aside with the cooking liquid.

Heat a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil, wait a few moments, then swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan. Toss in the carrots, onion, cayenne peppers, and the white parts of the green onion, and sauté for 5 minutes or until the onions are soft. Add the ginger, stir in the curry powder to coat the vegetables, and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Now add the beans along with their cooking liquid, and the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are soft. Remove from heat, add the green parts of the green onion, and purée the soup with a hand blender or in batches with an ordinary blender.

Ladle into warm bowls for serving. Stir in a spoon of sour cream or yogurt, and garnish with a few leaves of fresh parsley. Serves 4 to 6.

Lentil Almond Burgers

Its a contender for best vegetable burger!!!  Voted by non-vegetarians (aka meat-eaters).  I found this recipe on  the Eating Well website and had to make them asap.  Luckily, by shear luck, I found out about this tiny, itty, bitty little health food shop in Ishigaki.  The only one of its kind on this small island and the ONLY place to buy lentils. 


    * 6 cups water
    * 1 cup brown lentils or green French lentils (see Ingredient note)
    * 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    * 3/4 cup finely chopped carrot
    * 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 medium)
    * 1/3 cup finely chopped celery (about 1 stalk) (about
    * 1/4 cup sliced almonds
    * 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    * 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
    * 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Cooking Instructions

1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in lentils, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until very tender and beginning to break down, about 25 minutes for brown lentils or 30 minutes for green lentils. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrot, shallots and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add almonds, thyme, salt and pepper; continue cooking until the almonds are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor; add 1 cup of the cooked lentils. Pulse several times, scraping down the sides once or twice, until the mixture is coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in the remaining lentils. Let cool for 10 minutes. Mix in egg yolk and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Form the lentil mixture into 5 patties. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn gently and continue to cook until lightly browned and heated through, 3 to 4 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Carob Orange Mousse

Also at the Ishigaki health food store, I picked up my first, ever, bag of carob powder.  I have never used or tasted it before.  Its supposed to be healthier than chocolate and pretty much fat-free, so I thought I would give it a try.  This recipe came out so so, but I tried the carob in one of my morning smoothies with banana and peanut butter and it was delicious.

1/2 block silken tofu
3/4 cup carob powder
1/4 cup soy milk
2 tbsp honey
zest from one orange
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 avocado
1 tsp cinnamon

Put all the ingredients together in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours.  Serve with chopped toasted almonds on top.

Ishigaki Vegetarian (almost Vegan) Thanksgiving 2008
(but, of course, you can make these recipes anytime)

Pumpkin Soup with Pistachios

I got the idea for this soup from another recipe from, but I think I have modified it enough to call it my own.  Drizzled on top is this amazing pumpkin seed oil, which I had never even heard of before, until a couchsurfer from Austria gave me a bottle as a gift.  Pumpkin seed oil for Austrians is like peanut butter for Americans, they can't live without it.

    * 1 onion , chopped
    * 1 medium carrot, chopped
    * 1 celery rib, chopped
    * 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
    * 3 large thyme sprigs
    * 1 California bay leaf
    * 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    * 1 1/2 pounds pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into (1-inch) cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
    * 5 cups water
    * 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
    * 1/2 cup pistachios, chopped (1/2 cup)

Steam the pumpkin and discard the skin.  I usually like to save the skin to eat as a snack.

Cook onions, carrot, celery, tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaf in oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.

Add pumpkin, water, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer, covered, until the pumpkin is very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard thyme and bay leaf.

Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Thin soup if desired and season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup over chopped pistachios in bowls.

Pumpkin Curry with Lentils and Apples

This recipe is taken from Vegetarian Times magazine, November 1998

* 1 cup red or brown lentils
    * 6 cups water
    * 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    * 1 tablespoon canola oil
    * 1 large onion -- diced
    * 2 tomatoes -- cored and chopped
    * 3 cloves garlic -- minced, up to 4
    * 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
    * 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    * 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    * 2 cups peeled and chopped pumpkin or other winter squash
    * 2 cups white potatoes -- unpeeled & chopped
    * 8 medium cauliflower florets
    * 2 medium carrots -- peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
    * 2 cups shredded leafy greens -- (kale, escarole or spinach)
    * 2 apples -- unpeeled, cored and diced

Place lentils, water and turmeric in a saucepan; cook about 45 minutes over medium-low heat.
Drain, reserving 2 1/2 cups cooking liquid.
Heat oil in large saucepan; add onion.
Saute over medium heat 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes and garlic; cook 4 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
Add curry, cumin, pepper, salt and cloves; cook 1 minute more, stirring frequently.

Stir in lentils, reserved cooking liquid, pumpkin, potatoes, cauliflower and carrots; cook over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, 35 to 45 minutes.
Stir in greens and apples; cook about 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Firecracker Cornbread

Of course, there had to be something from my favorite blog  But, of course, I also had to modify the recipe a bit.  I used olive oil instead of butter and I used yogurt instead of buttermilk. 

    3 tablespoons butter
    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    3/4 cup instant cornmeal (or instant polenta) or fine-grain cornmeal
    1/4 cup natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
    1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 large egg
    2 1/2 cups corn, fresh (or at room temperature if previously frozen)

    more butter for drizzling (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees, with a rack in the middle.

Just before you make the batter, in a small saucepan, melt the butter, stir in the red pepper flakes, and pour into a 9-inch pie tin (I have an enameled cast-iron one that is perfect) or equivalent baking dish. Place in the hot oven.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and corn. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until just combined. Now very carefully remove the hot pan with butter from the oven. Fill it with the cornbread batter, pushing the batter out to the sides if needed. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until the edges are golden and the center is just set. Remove and drizzle with a bit of melted butter (optional).

Asparagus with Roasted Garlic Sauce

I got this one from my second favorite blog

1/2 head roasted garlic
1/4 cup walnuts
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp. water
salt to taste
1 pound asparagus

Lightly toast the walnuts. The easiest way to do this is to put them in the oven with the garlic during the last 5 minutes that it's roasting. When they're hot but not burning, remove them from the oven and grind them in a food processor (or mash them to a paste in a mortar and pestle). Add half a head of roasted garlic, the lemon juice, and the water and continue to puree. Add salt to taste.

Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the tough ends (just hold a spear at the bottom and in the middle, and it should snap off in the right spot). Steam them lightly for 3 minutes or until they are bright green and just starting to become tender. Place them in a serving dish, and toss them with the roasted garlic sauce.

And for dessert...

Cinnamon Apples with Pumpkin Butter and Vanilla Ice Cream

So easy, yet so good...

* Apple Topping
    * 1 large tart, firm apples, peeled, cored and sliced
    * 1 Tbs. sugar
    * 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    * 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

. To make Topping: Coat nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium-high heat. Sauté apples 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened. Reduce heat to medium. Add sugar and cinnamon, and cook 5 to 10 minutes more, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice, and remove from heat.

Pumpkin Butter
* 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree
    * 3/4 cup apple juice
    * 2 teaspoons ground ginger
    * 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    * 1/2 cups white sugar
    * 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    * 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg


   1. Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently.
   2. Transfer to sterile containers and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

Turkish Pilaf with Pistachios and Chickpeas

       This recipe is also from the Fatfree Vegan Kitchen Blog.

cup brown basmati rice
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins (or zereshk)

2 onions, minced
8 ounces eggplant, diced
1/2 cup fat-free vegetable broth
16 ounces chickpeas, cooked
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
salt to taste

Cook rice with water, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, raisins (or zereshk), and salt until rice is tender.

Sauté onions in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until they begin to brown. Add the eggplant and cook for a few more minutes. Add the vegetable broth, cover, and cook until the eggplant is tender, about 8 more minutes.

Add the cooked rice to the eggplant, along with the chickpeas and cinnamon. If dry, add a little more vegetable broth. Simmer for about 5 minutes, to allow flavors to combine. Just before serving, add the tomato and chopped parsley. Add salt to taste and serve topped with pistachios. Optional: Soak a few of the zereshk in hot water; just before serving, drain them and toss them with the pilaf.  They will hold together better than the zereshk that were cooked with the rice.

Fettucine Walnut Alfredo

       Looks fattening and unhealthy, doesn't it?  Well its actually delicious, healthy, and only a little fattening but its good fat.  I got this recipe from my Delicious VegTV podcast.
3/4 cup walnuts
1/4 pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
a little parsley or basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 cup hot water

Put all the ingredients up to the hot water in a food processor and mix until its smooth.  Then add the hot water, slowly, until it is a creamy consistency or to how you like it.  In this recipe, I used whole wheat pasta and I added steamed pumpkin and broccoli.  Mix it together in a bowl, with the walnut alfredo sauce, before serving, sprinkle a little pepper on top.

Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice

       I know, I know you don't see any asparagus in the photo, nor did this dish take me ten minutes to make.  I got this recipe from my favorite food blog, and I had every intention of following the recipe BUT we just had a huge typhoon come through here, so it was slim pickings at the supermarket.  But I thought eggplant would be an excellent substitution and I was correct. YUMMY!!!  Next time I will try it with asparagus.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 or 2 14-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments
3 cups pre-cooked brown rice
1 cup almond slivers, toasted
fine grain sea salt

Tahini Dressing:
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
1/4 cup tahini
zest of one lemon
scant 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

If you're using frozen rice (did I just say that?), heat it on its own in a pot or per package instructions.

Make the dressing by whisking together the garlic, tahini, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Add the hot water to thin a bit and then the salt. Set aside.

Add a couple glugs of olive oil (roughly 3 tablespoons) to a big skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the oil around to coat the pan, then add the chickpeas and sprinkling of salt. Let the beans saute there for a couple minutes (I like to try to get some crusty color on them). Be careful, they seem to hiss and pop more then other beans over high heat. Add the garlic and onions. Stir for a minute. Stir in the asparagus with another pinch or two of salt, cover with a lid for a minute or two to steam - just until the asparagus brightens and softens up just a bit. Uncover and stir in the rice and almond slivers, reserving a few almonds for garnish. Taste and add more salt if needed (likely). Serve family-style in a big bowl drizzled with a few tablespoons of the tahini dressing, let each person add more dressing to their tastes.

Serves 4-6.

Broccoli Almond Crunch

She did it again.  This is absolutely, the best food blog on the internet! I really don't know what I would eat if it wasn't for this website. My diet would be much more boring, that's for sure!

    4 -5 cups tiny broccoli florets (and chopped stalks if you like)

    1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
    scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
    1/4 cup almond butter
    3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1 teaspoon honey
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons hot water

    2 small crisp apples, cut into bit-sized pieces (if you aren't going to use the apples immediately, let them sit in a bowl of water with the juice of 1/2 a lemon)

    1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
    1/2 cup toasted or candied walnuts or almonds
    1/3 cup pan-fried crunchy shallots*
    chives (optional)

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt as you would pasta water. Boil the broccoli just long enough to take the raw edge of - 10 or 15 seconds. Drain and immerse it in cold water (or let cold water run over it). At this point, I like to spin the broccoli in a salad spinner to get the water off, but a few good knocks against the sink in a strainer can do the trick pretty well. Set aside.

Make the dressing by sprinkling the salt over the clove of garlic. Smash the clove and chop, smash and chop - turning it into a paste. In a small bowl whisk the salty garlic paste with the almond butter, lemon juice, honey and olive oil. Add the hot water and whisk until light and creamy. Taste, make any adjustments and set aside.

In a large bowl gently toss the broccoli, apples, red onion, most of the shallots and nuts with a generous drizzle of the almond dressing. Turn out onto a platter and finish with the rest of the shallots and chives if you like. Serve family style.

Serves 4.

Cracker Lasagna

Once again, another masterpiece from  If anyone wants to buy me a birthday present, please buy me her cookbook.  I promise to cook you a thank you dinner.  Anyway, this recipe is super quick and easy, and its, of course, delicious.

1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

splash of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (optional)
1/4 pound brown mushrooms (about 12 medium), brushed clean and chopped
pinch of fresh thyme (optional)
2 big handfuls of spinach, washed and chopped
18 2 x 4 - inch crispy crackers (see head notes)

9 - inch round baking dish, or an 8x8 baking pan will work as well

Preheat oven to 400F degrees with rack in the middle. Oil your baking dish and set aside.

Using a hand blender (or food processor or regular blend) puree the cottage cheese, milk, eggs, and salt until smooth. Line a separate deep dish or baking pan with the crackers and cover with 1 1/2 cups of the cottage cheese mixture, reserving the rest for later use. Let the crackers soak for about 10 minutes - long enough for them to soften a bit, but not long enough for them to loose all their structure

In the meantime, in a large skillet over high heat, cook the onion and shallot in a splash of olive oil along with a pinch of salt. Cook for a couple minutes, until they begin to soften up a bit. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until they release their liquid and start to brown, another 5 minutes or so - stirring once or twice along the way. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach. Combine with the remaining cottage cheese mixture.

Arrange about 1/3 of the soaked crackers in a single layer in the bottom of prepared pan - I break up the crackers a bit to make things fit. I should mention things are much easier if you're using a square pan. Ladle 1/3 of the spinach mushroom mixture over the first layer of crackers. Add another layer of crackers, another 1/3 of the mushroom mixture, a final layer of crackers and the remaining mushrooms - three layers total. Place in oven for about 30 minutes or until top is golden (edges golden). Remove and cool for 15-20 minutes - this helps everything set up nicely. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 8 - 10 servings.

Salmon with Wasabi and Avocado

This is a really simple and healthy recipe.  And, cheap for me, because fish, especially sashimi is so readily available for me here.  Its the fish karma because the past two years in Nicaragua, I never ever got to eat fish.  Its amazing how much my diet changes every time I move to a different place, which has been quite often for me.  I don't remember where I found this recipe.  I just put it on a top of greens, shred some carrots and make a salad with it.

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 rounded tablespoon freshly grated wasabi or 1 level tablespoon of wasabi paste
1 pound skinless salmon filet, center-cut, sliced very thinly, sashimi-style
2 ripe avocados, sliced 1/2-inch thick, with lemon juice poured over to prevent browning
1 teaspoon sesame oil
sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 oven-proof dishes for flashing and serving

Pre-heat the broiler in your oven to high. In a small bowl, combine yuzu and wasabi and stir to mix. Shingle the avocado slices on an oven-proof dish and season with Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Brush yuzu-wasabi mixture over avocado. Top with salmon slices, lightly brush on sesame oil and season. Place dishes under broiler until just hot, about 1- 2 minutes. The salmon will still be rare. Enjoy, being careful of the hot plates.

White Fish with Chimichurri

       I got this recipe from  It calls for Halibut and says for you to grill it.  Well, I don't know what Halibut is in Japanese and I don't have a grill, so I used any white fish I could find and cooked it in a frying pan.

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced shallot
3/4 tsp hot red-pepper flakes
3/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 (6- to 8-oz) halibut steaks (3/4 to 1 inch thick)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Preparation Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, water, garlic, shallot, red-pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper until salt has dissolved. Stir in parsley. Let chimichurri stand 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas).

Pat fish dry, then brush with vegetable oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper (total).

Oil grill rack, then grill fish, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, until just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes total.

Serve fish drizzled with some of chimichurri; serve remainder on the side.

Rosemary Garlic Salmon

       This recipe I got from  It is so easy and so delicious.  I usually make a sweet potato with it and make it the same way I made the fish.  And then, of course, add something green to the dish.  I usually make this in the winter so my little oven heats up my apartment, since I don't have a heater.  Maybe by this winter my rosemary plant will have grown back.

Ingredients 2 salmon fillets
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon honey
Place salmon filets on a large sheet of foil that is big enough to fold into a "pocket" or "envelope" around the fish when closed.  Season the fillets with salt and pepper to taste. Cut garlic in thin slices and place on top of fillets. Drizzle honey on top of the fish. Place 2 sprigs rosemary on each fillet, you may choose to break them in half or at various intervals to release more flavor. Drizzle with olive oil and a dash more salt. Fold up the tin foil sheets to completely seal in the fish, leaving no holes or gapes. Cook in a 180/375 degree pre-heated oven on a baking sheet. Check for doneness after 10 minutes by gently folding open the foil (be careful, steam will escape!) and looking for "flakines" with a fork and no translucent color. May require additional time. If using frozen fish, begin checking for doneness after 15-20 minute. Can cook with potatos or sweet potatoes prepared in the same fashion.

Sushi Bowl Recipe

       This recipe I got from the blog  This is another amazing vegetarian blog.  Since a pound of sashimi grade tuna is cheaper than an apple here in Ishigaki, a lot of times I add some actual sushi to the bowl, as well.  You can actually add any toppings you want to this dish, its all good with the amazing dressing in the recipe.

2 cups short-grain brown rice
3 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 (4-inch) square sheets nori seaweed
6 ounces extra-firm tofu

grated zest and juice of one orange
grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons (raw) brown sugar (reg. sugar is ok too)
2 tablespoons shoyu sauce (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons (brown) rice vinegar

4 green onions, chopped
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Rinse and drain the rice two or three times. Combine the rice, water, and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, cover, and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 45 minutes.

Toast the nori in a preheated 300F degree oven or a medium-hot skillet for a few minutes. Crumble or chop coarsely.

Drain the tofu and pat it dry. Cut the block of tofu lengthwise through the middle to make four 1/4-to 1/2-inch thick sheets of tofu. Two at a time, cook in a dry skillet or well-seasoned skillet over medium-high for a few minutes until browned on one side. Flip gently, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy. Let cool, enough to handle, then cute crosswise into matchsticks. Repeat with the remaining sheets.

To make the dressing, set the sheets aside. Combine the orange juice lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 1 or 2 minute, the add the shoyu and vinegar. Return to a gentle boil and cook another 1 or 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the zests.

When the rice is done, stir in 1/3 cup of the dressing and add more to taste. Scoop the rice into individual bowls and top with the toasted nori, green onions, tofu, avocado slices, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Toasted Almond Tofu Burgers

       I got this recipe from  These are so good they have even been requested by my meatiest of meat-eating friends.

1 12-ounce package firm tofu, drained, patted dry, cut into 1-inch-thick slices Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 teaspoons minced peeled ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup almonds, toasted, finely chopped
1 large egg white, beaten to blend
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

4 sesame seed buns, toasted
4 tomato slices
1 cup alfalfa sprouts

Preparation Wrap tofu in doubled dish towel. Place on work surface. Weigh down with a board topped with food cans or weights for 1 hour. Squeeze towel-wrapped tofu to extract as much liquid as possible from tofu. Transfer tofu to medium bowl. Using fork, mash into small pieces. Spray medium nonstick skillet with nonstick spray; place over medium heat. Add carrot, green onions, ginger and garlic; sauté until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Cool. Mix carrot mixture, almonds, egg white, soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds into tofu. Season with salt and pepper. Shape mixture into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

If grilling, spray grill rack with nonstick spray, then prepare barbecue (medium heat). If sautéing, spray large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and heat over medium heat. Lightly spray patties on both sides with nonstick spray. Place patties on grill or in skillet and cook until golden brown and heated through, about three minutes per side.

Place 1 burger on each bun bottom. Top each with 1 tomato slice, some sprouts and bun top and serve.

Pumpkin Chili

    This is from  Chef Toni Fiore does a video podcast that you can subscribe to, and all her recipes are vegetarian and healthy.

1 sugar pumpkin, about 2 pounds (I use the Japanese pumpkin called Kabocha)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon curry powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 ½ cups cooked bulgur
1 can Organic kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
½ cup toasted (green) pumpkin seeds
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the pumpkin in half with a large knife such as a cleaver. Spoon the seeds out with a large spoon. Place the pumpkin open side down and bake until the flesh is soft, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
2. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan or stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, as well as the spices. Stir often for about 5 minutes, or until the onions turn soft. Add the tomatoes and bulgur and about 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer.
3. Meanwhile, spoon the flesh from the pumpkin and add it to the simmering chili along with the beans. Cook the chili for about 20 minutes, adding more water if necessary to attain a chili-like consistency. Right before serving add the toasted pumpkin seeds and the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Special Celebratory Dinner 

1 month as a Non-smoker (no no not me) a good friend of mine and I am so happy for him!

Pan Seared Salmon with Avocado Remoulade

I was going to make him steak and fried stuff to go along with it, but I just couldn't do it.  The fish is pan-seared in some olive oil and so are the rice cakes, does that count as fried?


    * 2 large avocados, cut and peeled
    * 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (can substitute lemon)
    * 3-4 Tbsp light olive oil (light refers to flavor and color, not calories)
    * 1 Tbsp minced shallots or green onion
    * 1 Tbsp minced parsley
    * 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or to taste
    * Salt and pepper to taste

    * 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of salmon fillets
    * Grapeseed or canola oil


1 Put avocado pieces and lime juice into a food processor or blender and pulse until blended. Slowly add olive oil, pulsing, until you reach desired consistency of sauce. Add minced shallots (or green onions) and parsley, pulse just until combined. Remove to a bowl, add mustard, salt and pepper to taste.

2 Coat the bottom of a sauté pan with oil, heat on medium high until almost smoking. Season both sides of the salmon fillets with salt and pepper, carefully lay the salmon into the pan, skin side down. Cook the salmon until about medium doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve salmon with avocado remoulade sauce.

Serves 4.

Rice Cakes

1 1/2 cups cooked rice
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 1 tomato, juice and seeds removed, diced
- one clove garlic, chopped thinly
- salt, pepper
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- fresh cilantro

Serves 2.

In a medium mixing-bowl, combine the rice, egg, spring onions, tomato, and garlic; stir until well combined. Season generously with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if using. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the rice mixture from the fridge. Use two tablespoons to form patties (about 3 inches in diameter) with the mixture, and transfer them into the skillet. Cook for five to eight minutes on one side, or until browned, then flip carefully with a spatula and cook for another five minutes on the other side.

Serve immediately with fresh cilantro

And The Dessert... Pumpkin and Chocolate Mousse

Tofu mousse is really easy.  Put whatever you want in a blender, blend it together and put in the refrigerator to cool and harden. 

Chocolate Mousse Ingredients
2 dark chocolate bars, melted
1 box silken tofu
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 avocado (this was an experiment, it should make it smooth but the avocado must be very ripe, mine wasn't)

Pumpkin Mousse Ingredients
1/2  Japanese pumpkin, steamed and mashed with soy milk
1 box silken tofu
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Amazing Vegetable Curry

I made this curry last year for Thanksgiving and I didn't miss the turkey at all.  Its very filling and full of so many flavors that I will most likely make it again this year for Thanksgiving, as well.  I love that Japan has pumpkin all year round.

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 medium eggplant, cubed
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 tablespoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1 zucchini, sliced
2 tablespoons raisins
1 cup orange juice
10 ounces spinach

DIRECTIONS In a large Dutch oven place sweet potato, eggplant, peppers, carrots, onion, and three tablespoons oil. Saute over medium heat for 5 minutes.
In a medium saucepan place 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, turmeric, curry powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper and saute over medium heat for 3 minutes.
Pour garlic and spice mixture into the Dutch oven with vegetables in it. Add the garbanzo beans, almonds, zucchini, raisins, and orange juice. Simmer 20 minutes, covered.
Add spinach to pot and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve!

Squash Balls

There is a restaurant here in Ishigaki called Garlic Busse.  My favorite thing on the menu are these Squash Balls even though they don't actually have any garlic in them.  They are awesome, so I tried to recreate them at home.  They came out really well, but I have absolutely no idea how to make the sauce that they are served in at the restaurant.

Makes 6 balls

1 whole Kabocha (Japanese squash)
1 tbsp ginger, grated
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon soymilk (or milk)
1 cup edamame, shelled
sesame seeds, toasted

Cut the kabocha into one inch cubes and steam in a metal steamer until they are soft.  Let cool for a few minutes and place in a bowl.  Mash the kabocha with a potato masher (I like to keep the skin on the kabocha, but you can remove it if you want).  Only mash slightly, then add ingredients 2 through 6.  Mash until all the ingredients are mixed in well.  Then add the edamame.  Mix them in with a fork, so that you don’t crush the beans.  Finally form them into a ball and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Tofu, Miso and Squash

Finally something Japanese.  I needed a recipe to use the basil I am growing, I found this at  I never would have thought to put basil and miso together, but its really good.  This is another really simple, easy dish to make.

 1 tb Miso
 1/2 lb Soba noodles; uncooked
1 1/2 c Hot water 1 c  tofu
2 ts Vegetable oil
1/2 c Fresh basil leaves; coarsely
2 c Onion; sliced Red pepper flakes
1/2 ts Salt Pumpkin seeds; roasted
2 1/2 c Butternut squash; diced

Combine the miso and hot water in a small bowl, and mash with a spoon until the miso is mostly dissolved. (It doesnt have to be perfectly smooth.) Set aside. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet or a saute pan over medium-high heat. When it is very hot, add the onion, and saute for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the salt, cover, and cook for about 10 more minutes over medium heat. Stir in the squash, cover again, and cook for 10 minutes longer, or until the squash is just tender. Meanwhile, put up a potful of water to boil for the soba. Stir the miso solution and tofu into the sauteed onion and squash. Turn the heat way down, cover, and let it simmer very quietly while you cook the soba according to the directions on the package. When the noodles are done to your liking, drain them thoroughly, transfer to a serving bowl, and pour the vegetable-miso mixture over the top. Toss with chopsticks or a large fork, adding the basil and red pepper flakes to taste as you go. Sprinkle the top with pumpkin seeds, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings NOTE: You can use pumpkin here instead of squash.

Curried Tofu Salad Sandwich

Since I hurt my foot, I have been trying not to eat as much.  There is actually a big decrease in my appetite (good thing or else I would gain a million pounds).  So I haven't been as excited about food, but I had this sandwich while I was back in Boston and couldn't wait to try and make it when I got back to Ishigaki.  I have had it for lunch for the past two days.  Here is my version of the recipe.

1/2 block firm Tofu, cut into cubes
1/2 apple, diced
1/4 cup scallions
1/4 cup carrots, grated
1/4 cup celery, diced

Put all these ingredients into a bowl.  In a separate bowl mix:
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tsp curry powder

Add the yogurt dressing to the tofu bowl.  Mix all together and add more spices if needed.  Put on bread with cucumbers on top.  Some other ingredients that may be good to add: walnuts, or adding mustard to the yogurt dressing (but I didn't have any of those ingredients around.

Green Papaya Salad

Green papayas are coming back to the supermarkets now.  This recipe I must say, is even better than the papaya salad I had in Thailand.  I found this recipe on  Since its almost impossible to find hot peppers in Japan, I just left them out, and the salad still tastes great.

1/4 pound small shrimp (about 9), shelled
For dressing
1 large garlic clove, forced through a garlic press
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (preferably nuoc mam)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 small thin fresh red or green Asian chili (1 to 2 inches long) or
 serrano chili, or to taste, seeded and chopped fine (wear rubber

3/4 pound green papaya, peeled, seeded, and coarsely shredded,
 preferably in a food processor (about 3 cups)
1 carrot, shredded fine
1/3 cup fresh coriander leaves, washed well and spun dry
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed

Preparation In a small saucepan of boiling salted water cook shrimp 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until cooked through. In a colander drain shrimp and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Halve shrimp horizontally and devein.

Make dressing:
In a large bowl whisk together dressing ingredients until sugar is dissolved.

Add shrimp, papaya, carrot, and coriander to dressing, tossing well. Salad may be made 2 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

Serve salad sprinkled with peanuts.

Green Papaya Salad w/ Garlic-mint Yogurt Dressing

I came up with this one all on my own.  I used the green Papaya, but I think cabbage would work well too.  I used shredded papaya, shredded carrots, and chopped celery.  Then to make the dressing I smashed one garlic clove with a morter and pestle and then added chopped mint and salt.  Smashed it a little more, then added the yogurt and mixed it all together.  I sliced up some tomato, put it on top of the salad and then drizzled the dressing all over.  Delicious...

Pickled Napa Cabbage with Umeboshi Plums

This is a really refreshing salad.  You can make a ton of it and snack on it all week or it makes a really good side dish.  I also found this recipe on

1 (3-pound) head Napa cabbage, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut crosswise into1-inch-wide strips
1/4 cup kosher salt
6 umeboshi plums, pitted and minced
1/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned) Preparation Transfer cabbage to a large bowl and separate leaves, then toss with kosher salt. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, 1 hour.

Stir together umeboshi plums, mirin, and rice vinegar in a small bowl.

Rinse cabbage with cold water in a colander and drain.

Firmly squeeze 1 handful cabbage several times to remove excess water and transfer to cleaned bowl. Repeat with remaining cabbage. Stir in umeboshi mixture, then chill, covered, stirring once or twice, at least 1 hour.

Cooks' note: Pickled cabbage can be chilled up to 3 weeks.


Saku Curry and Asian Sweets

My life revolves around curry.  No really, it does.  I don't go by the lunar calendar anymore, I now use the six week curry rotation schedule at my favorite curry restaurant.  My favorite is the vegetable curry, which luckily is always on the menu, and then on some rotations they have spinach or bean curry.  Sooooo good, I go there at least two times a week and on a first name basis with the owners. Thanks Hiro and Yuka


No not your typical Japanese food, but there is no bento in the world that is going to satisfy me after going on a 90km bike ride.  This is a photo of the "Suzy Special".  Yes, I actually have my own special at the GoGo Cafe and it is amazing.  Thank you Mayumi for satisfying the beast, even if you do always make me question, why I am doing all this exercise.

The Best Sushi in Town

Unfortunately, due to the warm waters of Ishigaki, we do not have the best sushi selection.  The supermarket actually has the best selection of sushi at the best price.  This is a common lunch for me, spinach with sesame seeds, seaweed salad and a plate of assorted sushi.  I get all of this for under $10.  What a bargain!!

SNACKY SNACKS (what keeps me going...)

Saltines (almost forgot the name)

After eating a huge breakfast at 8:30am, sure enough, 10:30am comes around and my stomach is growling.  Each month all the teachers put in 500 yen to keep a shelf filled with food, for all the teachers.  Unfortunately, lately, this has been the best thing I have found on that shelf.  'nough said :-(

SOYJOY (strawberry is my favorite)

This is the best fuel I can find, to bring along on long training sessions.  They don't taste all that great, but they are the most natural thing out there, and they are pretty satisfying.  I can't bring myself to eat those gel things.

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