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Miso Hungry June 3, 2013

If you are not already aware, we are embarking on a two-week whole foods cleanse. Fortunately, we are not alone. In fact, we are 15 strong. Now that the “prep week” is upon us, I’m so grateful for the participation and support of our patients. I’m at the point where, if I didn’t have 15 other people holding me accountable, I could come up with at least 15 excuses why I should continue to eat sugar.

By the way, it’s not too late to participate with us. It’s free (aside from the cost of your groceries). You have nothing to lose except, perhaps, a few pounds, your fatigue, and your low immunity.

Cleanse dates: June 10th – June 24th
Prep week: June 3rd (today!) – June 9th

One of the “yes” ingredients on this whole foods cleanse is miso; chickpea miso to be exact. Traditional miso typically contains wheat, and wheat is on the “no” list for this cleanse. However, chickpea miso is gluten-free and therefore allowed. It is such a versatile and tasty food that I feel compelled to expound on miso’s many virtues. But first of all…

What is miso? How do you cook with it? Where can you find it?

misoMiso is a Japanese seasoning with a paste-like consistency. It is made from fermenting grains or legumes such as soybeans or chickpeas. “Fermenting?” you say. Believe it or not, you are quite familiar with fermented foods if you’ve ever indulged in a beer, cheese, pickles, or yogurt. The process of fermenting is a natural one performed by microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast. It is used in the leavening of bread, the preservation of foods such as sauerkraut and sausage, and the pickling of foods such as, well, pickles.

Fermented foods are hugely beneficial to us. They aid in digestion and, subsequently, support our immunity. In a sense, fermented foods are already partially digested thanks to the hard work of those aforementioned microorganisms, and so they are easy on our own digestive systems. What’s more, fermented foods introduce beneficial bacteria into our digestive tracts, and this is essential in terms of our overall health. Probiotics are essentially billions upon billions of these beneficial bacteria in concentrated form. When our digestion is functioning properly, we are absorbing the nutrients we need from the foods we eat and our immune system pulls itself up by its bootstraps.

As a fermented food, miso has life-of-the-party qualities. Whether you’re participating in this cleanse or not, miso is so delectable and multi-talented that you’re going to fall hard for it. It’s salty, flavorful spark is so easy to love.

Miso Salad Dressing
Combine ½ cup each of miso paste, water, and olive oil. Add ⅛ cup chopped onion, ½ TBS honey and 1 TBS white vinegar. Heck, throw some garlic or some fresh grated ginger in there as well. Put it in a blender and your next summer salad will start to drool.

Miso Broth
Also known as “Miso soup,” you can dissolve your miso paste in hot water and simmer it with some sliced scallions, mushrooms, and a little bit of organic chicken (if you’re doing the cleanse) or some tofu (if you’re not doing the cleanse and want a more traditional miso soup).

Miso Mashed Potatoes
Make your mashed potatoes dairy free by nixing the milk and butter and adding miso paste dissolved in a little bit of hot water.

Miso Marinade
Again, just thin the paste with a little bit of water and use it to marinade your chicken, fish, beef or veggies.

How about this recipe? It’s a Ginger-Miso Edemame Spread that I found this week on Crumb: A Food Blog. I have yet to try it, but what a great option for us cleansers who need something in which to dunk our veggies!

Really, the possibilities are endless. If you know of more miso recipes, please share.

If you’re on the cleanse and you’re specifically looking for chickpea miso, I know of two places so far in the Volusia County area where you can find it. Access to Organics in downtown Daytona has chickpea miso for $10.89/lb. They also have “white” miso (if you’re not cleansing) which is made from fermented rice, barley and soybeans. Love’s Whole Foods in Ormond Beach has chickpea miso for $10.69/lb.
Miso Master Organic Chickpea MisoLook for it in the cooler section of these supermarkets. And while you’re in that section, pick up a “kombucha” drink. It’s fermented and is highly recommended for those of us who are cleansing next week. You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it.

Go forth and ferment!

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