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10 Benefits & Uses of Miso

Blog1012_MisoEditor's Message: I was longing for a hot soup to go with my dinner salad last week when I walked in from the cool rain. I cleverly talked myself out of it (only because I knew deep down that it could not possibly happen -- I didn't have time to make it from scratch and there was no premade packages left). As I was reaching out for my salad basket in the fridge, a can of miso caught my eyes. Blink, miso soup it is. What a delightful addition to my dinner. So I am thrilled to introduce this topic to you today. Maybe you'll find some good use of it too.

That brings me to my next point.  No matter how discipline we are, we can't plan our days out. Once in awhile, I would find myself left with an empty fridge, not as lucky as my dinner soup last week. Rather than going for fast food, why not try catering. Many caterers are dedicated in promoting healthy eating and delicious meals using seasonal ingredients from our neighborhood. So give them a call next time you are left with an empty stomach or just want to be pampered.

What is Miso

I often introduce miso in my cooking classes or recommend its use in healing diets. As it is not a common American staple I often find that people are reluctant to pay for a tub of miso that will sit in the back of their refrigerator for most of eternity. Coming to embrace the benefits of serving miso soup as a daily part of the diet takes time for some, unless it is a necessary part of a diet meant for healing purposes. Otherwise, what to do with the soybean paste with Japanese credentials?

Miso is a paste made from soybeans, sea salt, and koji (a mold starter), often mixed with rice, barley or other grains. The mixture is allowed to ferment for 3 months to 3 years, which produces an enzyme rich food. The binding agent zybicolin in miso is effective in detoxifying and eliminating elements that are taken into the body through industrial pollution, radioactivity and artificial chemicals in the soil and food system.

Miso has been a staple in Chinese and Japanese diets dating back approximately 2,500 years. Today, most of the Japanese population begins their day with a warm bowl of miso soup believed to stimulate the digestion and energize the body. When purchasing miso avoid the pasteurized version and spend your money on the live enzyme rich product, which is also loaded with beneficial microorganisms.

10 Scientifically Researched Benefits of Eating Miso

  1. Contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
  2. Stimulates the secretion of digestive fluids in the stomach.
  3. Restores beneficial probiotics to the intestines.
  4. Aids in the digestion and assimilation of other foods in the intestines.
  5. Is a good vegetable-quality source of B vitamins (especially B12).
  6. Strengthens the quality of blood and lymph fluid.
  7. Reduces risk for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers.
  8. Protects against radiation due to dipilocolonic acid, an alkaloid that chelates heavy metals and discharges them from the body.
  9. Strengthens the immune system and helps to lower LDL cholesterol.
  10. High in antioxidants that protects against free radicals.

Miso has a wonderful sweet/salty flavor that can be used in a wide variety of recipes. The color of miso can vary from light yellow, good to use in a sweet miso soup during warm weather, to a deep dark brown with earthy tones and hearty flavor, which can be cooked with cubed root vegetables, wakame sea vegetable and dark leafy greens during the colder months. When cooking with miso use just enough to enhance flavor and avoid overpowering the dish with a strong salty taste.

10 Ways to Use Miso in Recipes

  1. Use light colored miso as a dairy substitute in place of milk, butter, and salt in creamed soups.
  2. Puree with tofu and lemon juice in place of sour cream.
  3. Blend light miso with vinegar, olive oil and herbs for salad dressing.
  4. Use unpasturized miso in marinades to help tenderize animal protein and breakdown vegetable fiber.
  5. Use the dark rice or barley miso, thinned with cooking water as a sauce for water sautéed root vegetables or winter squash.
  6. Use dark miso in a vegetable-bean casserole to supply plenty of high quality protein.
  7. Make cheese for pizza and wraps by mixing yellow miso and firm tofu.
  8. Make a spread using white miso, peanut butter and apple juice to thin.
  9. Make a pate with tofu, garlic, white miso, tahini, lemon juice and dulse flakes.
  10. Add miso to dipping sauce for spring rolls, norimake rolls or raw vegetables.

Be careful not to get carried away and use miso in everything. Your body will respond to the excess salty taste with cravings for sweets, liquids and fruit. It is suggested that the amount of miso used should not exceed 2 teaspoons per person per day.

Blog1012_Miso_RicottaSoy Ricotta Cheese

Yield: 4 - 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 block of soy tofu
  • 2 large Tbs. mellow white miso
  • 1 Tbs. nutritional yeast

Preparation:

  1. Press a heavy plate on top of the soy tofu to release the excess water.
  2. When all the water from the soy tofu has been completely expressed place the soy tofu into a bowl with the miso and the yeast.
  3. Using your hands, mash mixture.
  4. Cover the bowl and let it sit on the counter overnight.
  5. Use the soy tofu in place of ricotta cheese.

Blog1012_Miso_TahiniTahini Miso Spread

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbs. tahini
  • 1 Tbs. apple juice or water
  • 1 Tbs. sweet white miso

Preparation: Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Miso Vegetable Soup

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots julienne
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 dried shitake mushrooms, broken into pieces
  • 4-6 cups water or vegetable broth
  • small piece of wakame sea vegetable, soaked in water
  • 1 tsp. mellow white miso per cup of soup
  • 2 teaspoon green onion
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Preparation:

  1. Combine ingredients in a soup pot (including soaking liquids) and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender.
  3. Ladle a small amount into a bowl and dissolve the miso.
  4. Add the remaining soup into the bowl, top with minced green onions and toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse LLC, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle designed to achieve optimal health and well being, based on her 30 years of study, experience and practice. The programs she has created, the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics, and the Ha-Tha Yoga Method, are offered as daily and weekly classes in New Jersey and soon to be on-line.

Photo credit: Ricotta by fugzu, Spread by wrestlingentropy