Miso, Tahini, what in the world?…

Are ingredients I had never heard of until we started our healthier eating journey. Almost 9 years later, I don’t know what I would do with out them. Miso, a traditional Japenese food,  is a high protein seasoning made from soybeans, cultured grain, salt and water. It’s many uses include adding it to soups, or as a sauce, gravy or dressing. There are different types but most importantly I choose one that uses select organic ingredients including, non GMO whole soybeans. I have stocked both “white miso”, which has a mellow, slightly sweet flavor and “amano miso” or “barley miso” which is a naturally aged blend of pearl barley and soybeans with a full-bodied flavor.

Miso soup which is traditionally served with every meal in Japan is delicious, easy to make and loaded with vitamin D and healthy vegetable protein. I made this a few days ago when I feeling a little under the weather with flu-like symptoms. It was just what I needed…nutrition packed, chasing the flu away.


Makes 4-6 servings

5 cups vegetable broth

1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms or 2 cups thinly sliced cremini (brown) mushrooms

1/2 cup thinly sliced leek (green part mostly)

1/2 pound firm organic, non GMO tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 sheet nori, cut into 1-inch squares (nori-dried seaweed)

2 to 3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 cups small broccoli florets or bok choy chopped large pieces

1 cup julienned or grated carrot

3 to 4 tablespoons white miso or 3 tbsp barley miso

Pour the broth into a large pot, bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Add the mushrooms, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened. (if using dried shitakes) Remove the mushrooms from the broth with a slotted spoon. Cut off and discard the mushroom stems. Thinly slice the caps and set aside. If using fresh sliced mushrooms, add them to the broth together with the leeks,  bring to boil then simmer for about 5-10 minutes or until softened

Add the tofu, nori, and ginger to the broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms (if you had removed them), broccoli, and carrot. Cover and simmer for 1 minute, just until the broccoli turns bright green. Transfer 1 cup of the broth to a measuring cup and stir in the miso with a fork until it is completely dissolved. Pour the dissolved miso into the soup and stir until it is well incorporated.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator, Miso Soup will keep for up to 3 days.

Note: Do not boil the soup after the miso has been added, as high heat will destroy the beneficial enzymes in the miso.

Tahini, (raw and organic) is made using mechanically hulled sesame seeds. It is naturally low in saturated fat, and is an ingredient found in many asian foods. Instead of the high salt versions of teryiaki sauce, or soy sauce dressings and sauces, I have found a great recipe for topping stirfrys using tahini, a “no salt” added, surprisingly yummy sauce. There are a few ingredients in this sauce you may not normally stock and can be a little pricey.  They last a while when stored correctly, are healthier than the traditionally stocked condiments in your refridgerator and will open wide your taste buds to some unique and wonderful flavors. Try some new flavors in 2013!

Yummy Tahini Sauce

 1 small onion or ½ cup shallots roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp dark toasted sesame oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp Braggs ( low sodium soy sauce available in health food stores)

1/3 cup raw sesame tahini

1 tbsp maple syrup

½ cup vegetable stock (low sodium)

¼ cup olive oil

1/8 cup flax or hemp oil (found in health food stores in refridgerator)

 With a blender or food processor, blend all of the ingredients until smooth and creamy.

A little  goes a long way with this sauce. Try topping brown rice, lentils or quinoa and steamed vegees starting with  a tbsp at a time. The flavor is rich and delicious! I usually toast  raw sesame seeds and top it all with about a tbsp per person. Yum!