Saturday, December 27, 2008

outside your food zone

When I was studying to become a Nutrition Educator one of the important lessons we were taught was to be sensitive to the food culture that other people came from.  If you are trying to help them learn to make positive changes you need to do it within the context of the food they are familiar and comfortable with.  I think this is very important as it gives people more of a chance to make successful changes.  

Having said that I also believe that it is fun to step outside our "normal" food patterns and look at what is available in other cultures. We are very fortunate, where we live, to have large numbers of people from other cultures in our community.  This means that there are abundant shopping opportunities for the adventurous eater.

Today I took my oldest daughter on an expedition to an Asian market.  We were in search of a few things that we were familiar and comfortable with but also willing to try other foods.  A casual comment about miso in one of the isles turned into a serendipitous encounter with a very friendly person who introduced us to a new kind of green, a new kind of chive, a different kind of miso and an explanation of the best way to cook the type of seaweed we had chosen.  His accent was not difficult to understand and his enthusiasm for sharing his native cuisine was wonderful; we left the store excited to try the new foods that we had purchased.

After we got home we made a most delicious and satisfying miso soup for dinner.  This recipe is not an exact science, but it worked really well.

Miso Soup
bring a large pot of water to a boil
add some wakame seaweed
turn off heat, cover and let sit 30 minutes
pour a little boiling water over dried shitake mushroom
let sit to rehydrate
prepare a pot of vegetarian soup base
add a generous spoonful of miso paste
cook on medium until hot and starting to thicken
drain and pat dry wakame
snip into small pieces
cut medium firm tofu into blocks
shred one carrot
dice scallions or chives
slice mushrooms
wash and shred greens (we chose watercress)
place "fixings" in your bowl
ladle soup liquid over it

I encourage you to think outside your comfort zone when it comes to food.  Look, listen, learn; who knows what delicious dishes await you.

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