Simmered Vegetables Pork and Tofu

I made simmered cabbage and pork two weeks ago and decided to expand on the recipe.  You may notice a color difference in the soup.  I added some Chinese chili paste to the meat mixture.  I cooked this in the slow cooker but it works just the same on the stove top.

Simmered Vegetables, Pork and Tofu

200g ground pork or pork and beef mix
1/2 block firm tofu
2 tablespoons miso
1 teaspoon Chinese chili paste
1-2 tablespoons cooking sake
1/4-1/2 cup
panko (or bread crumbs, leftover rice, bread, etc.)
1 egg
10-15 cm
negi or leek, sliced very thinly
salt and pepper to taste
a little less than a quarter of a Chinese cabbage, chopped into large bite sized pieces
7cm of daikon, sliced thinly
1/2 carrot, sliced thinly
2-3 cups fish stock (

Chop the Chinese cabbage into large but still bite sized pieces and wash.  Mix the rest of the ingredients, except the fish stock, carrot and daikon,  in a bowl with your hands until combined.  Decide how many layers you want to do.  I did Veggies, meat, veggies, meat, veggies, meat, veggies.  You want to layer the veggies and meat with veggies on top and bottom. Divide your ingredients up based on how many layers you want.  Layer your ingredients in a crock pot, large sauce pan or small soup pot starting and ending with veggies.  Pour the fish stock gently over the top. Cook on low for a few hours or high for an hour in the crock pot.  On the stove top: bring to a gentle boil, turn down and simmer gently covered until cooked through.  Make sure you don’t boil it too much as the layers will probably be ruined – it won’t affect the taste though.

It tastes great the next day as soup for noodles.  I did soba but udon would be even better (udon is my favorite type of Japanese noodle).

Banana Ice Cream for Breakfast

Please forgive the fuzzy picture.  I was too excited to try this to find my camera.  We had cold baked oatmeal topped with a bit of yogurt, flax seeds, banana soft serve and yesterday’s toasted quinoa.

I found this banana soft serve recipe last week and have been wanting to try it but lacked bananas.  Yesterday there were ripe bananas on sale at the grocery store and a light went off in my head.  I decided to serve it for breakfast.  I peeled and chopped the bananas and popped them in the freezer.  On a side note, the hubby used to like to much on frozen bananas and grapes.  Good healthy husband snack.  I’ve written down the recipe in my own words below.

Banana Soft Serve


frozen bananas

Put the bananas in a food process and process for about five minutes.  You will need to scrape down the sides once in a while.  After a while the bananas will become creamy just like soft serve.  Serve immediately.

Toasted Quinoa

Granola topped with yogurt, partially dried figs (the consistency of prunes) and toasted quinoa.

I was quite excited to find this recipe last week because I struggle to find ways of eating quinoa that I like.  I don’t really like the taste of it but it’s healthy and not to hard to find in Japan.  I am on a mission to get the hubby to eat more whole grains.  Being Japanese, he grew up eating white rice two or three times per day and unfortunately, won’t switch over to brown rice.  I need to be more inventive.  He doesn’t like when I serve barley instead of rice (even when I make non-Japanese food) but  I can add a bit of barley to rice.  So basically I can’t mess with the rice.  Cereal is another story.  Lately we have been eating granola, fruit and yogurt for breakfast.  This is a perfect opportunity to throw some more whole grains on top.  He can’t eat much in the morning volume-wise so I need to make really calorie dense but healthy breakfasts.

I found the original recipe on The Healthy Tipping Point, one of the blogs I have started following recently.  There are tons of great healthy recipes you should check out.

Toasted Quinoa

1 cup quinoa
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar (use maple syrup if you have it, I didn’t)
1 tablespoon water (if you use maple syrup, skip this)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 170C. Mix the sugar and water in the bottom of a bowl that will comfortably hold all of the ingredients.  If you use maple syrup, add the quinoa first and drizzle with syrup.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until the quinoa is coated well.  Spread out on a greased cookie sheet (I used a silicon sheet but still sprayed it with oil since there was no fat added).  Bake for 20-30 minutes until browned.  The original recipe says fifteen minutes but I made a triple batch.  Stir the mixture a couple times during the baking process.  I found a cooking chopstick worked really well for this.

The hubby enjoyed this on his yogurt and so did I.

Salt and Vinegar Chickpeas

I found a great new snack on one of the blogs I recently started following, Oh She Glows.  It is a blog about healthy living, something I am passionate about, that has a great assortment of recipes.  I was very excited to find something both healthy and salt & vinegar flavored.  There are only four ingredients: chickpeas, vinegar, salt and olive oil.  All readily available in your average Japanese supermarket.  I like recipes which have ingredients that are accessible to all.  When was the last time you saw an artichoke in Japan, really?

You can find the recipe HERE.

Changes: I used one can and measured it as just under two cups.  I reduced the amount of vinegar to 500mL and think I will try 400mL next time.

I really enjoy these and hope the hubby does to because they are a great source of protein in snack form.  Enjoy!

Green Pea Soup

This is one of my favorite soups.  I can’t regularly find frozen green peas in supermarkets in Japan, making it tough to make it regularly.  I just noticed last week that they sell frozen green peas at the supermarket around the corner from my house.  Score!  I hope this is a regular stock item.  The original recipe called for green peas but I found it in the dead of winter and had to compromise.  I am quite satisfied with frozen pea soup and haven’t actually tried fresh peas which are readily available in Japan when in season.  The recipe came from The Joy of Soup, a blog that is no longer updated but has a wealth of great soup recipes on it.  Definitely worth checking out.  If I were a cold soup person I would probably like this soup cold as well as hot.  I still have difficulty with cold soups – some psychological problem I guess.

Fresh Pea Soup

The Joy of Soup

1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 small clove garlic, chopped

2 tablespoon butter (I usually use olive oil)
4 cups fresh peas, shelled

chicken stock or vegetable stock or water
1 teaspoon of fresh oregano, chopped
(I used dried and add when cooking)
1 teaspoon of fresh marjoram, chopped (I skip this every time)

Saute the onion in butter in the bottom of a 5-quart soup pot. Add a bit of salt and cover the pot to ensure that the onions slowly become translucent and do not scorch. Add the chopped garlic and continue sauteing for an additional 3 minutes. Add the liquid and the peas. Stir in the chooped herbs with a little salt and cover. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer unitl the peas are tender.

Use a hand-held immersion blender to puree the soup into a smooth consistancy. ( If you preffer to use a blender, let the soup cool down and blend small batches – one cup at a time.) Stir in 1/2 cup of cream and serve.

Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of chopped herbs and some fresh whole peas that have been blanched in salted water.