Radio Hosts Deliver Dismal Carrot Cake Report

Jannine Myers

The other day as I was driving to work, I heard on the radio a couple of FM broadcasters declaring their shock revelation of traditional cream cheese frosted carrot cakes containing as much as 854 calories per slice. Significantly more calories – and fat – than a McDonald’s Big Mac burger.

Carrot Cake

Calories: As many as 854 (with a whopping 480 calories from fat!)

Fat: 47g

Big Mac

Calories: 540 (260 of these calories from fat)

Fat: 29g

To put things into perspective, most major health and nutrition organizations consensually agree that daily fat intake be limited to no more than 30% of total daily calories. So, for a person on a 1500 calorie-per-day diet, total fat intake for the day should be no more than 50g. One slice of carrot cake however, adds up to almost the entire fat allowance for the day, not to mention more than half of the recommended daily calorie intake.

A further irony, given that carrot cakes are often seen as the healthier choice of cake, is that a slice of frosted chocolate cake typically has less than 300 calories and around 15g of fat. With those stats, you may as well go straight for the chocolate cake! Unless of course you prefer carrot cake, in which case you should most definitely indulge because it’s not like you eat carrot every single day (heck, where is the fun in life if you never let yourself enjoy a few indulgences).

For those of you however who are very health conscious and would prefer to “say no” to a calorie and fat laden slice of cake, you can always make your own slimmed-down version. After hearing the dismal news report mentioned above, I decided to head home after work and see what I could come up with by using only ingredients I already had on hand (I knew I already had carrots because I have a human rabbit in my house who eats her way through a kilo or two of carrots a week).

Here’s what I took from my pantry and refrigerator:

Bananas – 2 (medium, and very ripe)

Carrots – 2 (large)

Dates – 1/2 cup (dried and pitted)

Peanut Butter – about 1/4 to 1/3 cup (very oily)

Sugar – 1/3 cup

Almond milk – 1/3 cup (plain, unsweetened)

Chia seeds – 2 tbsps (soaked in 6 tbsps water)

Baking soda – 2 tsps (dissolved in a little almond milk)

Flour – 2 cups (plain)

Cinnamon – 1 tsp

Walnuts – 1/4 cup (chopped)

Salt – 1/4 tsp

Lemon – 1

Powdered sugar – 3/4 cup

Almond milk (extra – approx. 1 tbsp)

Directions:

Heat the oven to 175 C. Grease a rectangular baking pan and set aside.

First, soak the dates in hot boiling water, and set aside. Next, prepare two chia eggs by mixing the chia seeds in 6 tbsps of water and leaving to set for at least 5 minutes. Finally, grate the carrots and put aside. Now you’re ready to start baking.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.

In a blender, add the two bananas, the peanut butter with as much oil as possible, and the dates (with about 1/4 of the amount of water that they were soaking in – the rest can be disposed of). Pulse until just combined; the texture should be wet but slightly lumpy. Add the baking soda (already dissolved in a little almond milk), and then pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Finally, add the chia eggs and walnuts. Gently mix everything together until the flour can no longer be seen. Pour into the cake pan and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.

While the cake is baking, make a lemon powdered glaze by simply mixing together the juice of one lemon with 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and adding a little almond milk until a runny glaze-like consistency is achieved. When the cake comes out of the oven and has cooled a little, poke holes in the surface and pour the glaze all over. Then leave the cake to completely cool before slicing.

The end result is a health-ier lemon-glazed carrot cake with not-so-alarming nutrition stats:

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Makes 20 servings (20 slices)
Serving Size 1 slice / Amount Per Serving:

Calories 140 (calories from fat – 35)

Total Fat 3.65g (saturated fat .0.6g)

 

A Bread You Can Make With Just 3 Ingredients

Jannine Myers

I was recently browsing the site of an acquaintance (Tully Zander) and came across an easy bread recipe she shared. It’s so easy in fact, that it contains just three ingredients. Which, by the way, reminded me of a post I published a few years back when I was living in a US military community and shocked by the breads available in the base commissaries. Some of the more widely purchased breads, unbeknownst to those buying and consuming them, contained an ingredient list a mile long (not kidding; read my post).

Here in New Zealand, the breads generally contain far less ingredients, and supposedly non-harmful emulsifiers (used to enhance flavour and preserve shelf life), but if you don’t mind baking and would prefer to make your own bread, there are many safe and simple recipes online that even your kids would have no trouble following.

This one below, is my “slightly tweaked” version of Tully’s easy bread recipe. It’s the same essentially, except that I made it not only dairy-free but gluten-free as well. Although not as soft in texture as Tully’s recipe, I am sure that a little experimentation of flour and liquid amounts, as well as time spent kneading the dough, could potentially fix that.

I have been eating my bread toasted and I love it! It actually brings back childhood memories of weekend breakfasts, when almost every dairy in NZ sold freshly baked white bread loaves on Sunday mornings. Mum would send my brother and I out to buy a couple of loaves, and we’d devour them with butter and our favourite spreads (along with our cups of hot milo).

Nothing quite compares with the smell and taste of the breads back then, but give this recipe a try; it sounds bland and boring with so few ingredients but I think you’ll be surprised.

A favourite combo of peanut butter and banana

A favourite combo of mine: peanut butter and banana – and served with hot tea or coffee….sooooo good!

Ingredients:

4 cups gluten free flour

2 tsps yeast

1 1/3 cups non-dairy milk (or water)

Directions:

In a large bowl mix together the flour and yeast, and form a well in the bottom.

Pour in your choice of non-dairy milk (or water, for a lighter, fluffier bread), and gently combine until the flour and yeast absorbs it all.

Now you can begin to work on your dough. Knead it into a large ball and place on a floured surface. Do this for approximately five minutes or until it becomes smooth and a bit sticky. Resist the temptation to add additional flour, unless it’s so moist that it won’t combine. Alternately, if it’s too dry, add more milk or water, just a little at a time.

Once that’s done, lightly dust some flour on the top of your dough, place in a bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel. Let it sit in a warm, dry place and allow it to rise for an hour (or until it doubles in size).

Return the dough back onto your working surface and gently flatten it. Knead it some more to get rid of the excess air bubbles, and start shaping it into a loaf by repeatedly folding it on itself and rolling it.

Place your dough into a lightly greased loaf pan and cover again with a kitchen towel. Allow to sit for a further hour.

Allow the dough to rise by setting it in a warm, dry place for an hour or so

Allow the dough to rise by setting it in a warm, dry place for about an hour.

Towards the last few minutes of the previous step, preheat the oven to 180 C. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. If you are unsure, perform a quick tap test and check that it sounds hollow.

Let the bread cool for 5 to 10 minutes before you turn it out onto a wire rack. Best eaten while still warm from the oven, or toasted.

[This bread stores well in an air-tight container kept in the refrigerator, and you can slice and freeze it too if you want to save for later]

Hammer Protein Choc-Almond Cake-Cookies

Jannine Myers

Since I’m often out doing longer endurance-type activities, I like fueling with inexpensive home-made snacks that contain a good ratio of carbohydrates-protein-fat (approximately 40 to 60% carbohydrate, and 15 to 30% each protein and fat). These cake-like cookies are the result of a few pantry staples that I threw together; they fit the bill for the following reasons:

  • they meet the macro requirements that I personally prefer
  • they fit two-to-a-snack-size ziploc, and are therefore easily portable if I choose to eat them during extended outdoor activities
  • they’re not too sweet, so hopefully less likely to mess with your stomach
  • apart from the slightly chewy texture that comes from the protein powder, they’re fairly easy to eat on-the-run
  • they contain a good quality protein powder that doesn’t have any added fillers, sugars, artificial sweeteners, or any other undesirable ingredients

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Ingredients

1/8 cup Brown rice Syrup

1/8 cup Agave Nectar

1/8 cup Smooth Peanut Butter

1/2 cup Organic Oats, pulsed into a finer flour-like texture

1/2 cup Almond Meal/Flour

1 cup Plain Gluten Free Flour

1/2 tsp Baking Soda, dissolved in a little Almond Milk

2 scoops Hammer Nutrition Chocolate Protein Powder

1/4 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

16 Whole Almonds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly Grease a cookie tray. Whisk the sweeteners and peanut butter until well combined, and add the previously dissolved baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add the wet ingredients. Slowly add the almond milk, a little at a time, until a cookie dough texture is achieved (not too wet and not too dry). Form golf ball size size cookies and lay out on the tray. Flatten each cookie with the back of a fork, and press an almond into the centre. Bake for approximately 12 minutes and allow to cool.

Makes 16 servings (16 each)

[For my vegan friends out there, try these 5-ingredient choc-chip cookies by Tully Zander]

Nutrition Data (per cookie):

Calories 99.81

Fat 3.52g (saturated fat 0.36g)

Carbohydrate 13.15g (Sugars 4.27g)

Protein 4.93g

 

Macro Distribution:

Carbohydrate 51% / Protein 19% / Fat 30%

Why Hammer Nutrition Protein? Get the facts here: www.hammernutrition.com/blog/hammer-whey-superior-protein-health-recovery

Spiced-Apple Tofu and Millet Bake

Jannine Myers

A co-worker asked me recently how I cook with tofu; she had been using it mostly as a stir-fry ingredient but was lost for other ideas on how to use it and how – specifically – to turn it into a palatable dish that the whole family might enjoy. I find tofu to be a very versatile ingredient that can enhance almost any recipe and please even the pickiest of taste buds; the following is my latest tofu creation, and listed further below are links to a couple of other tofu recipes that you might like to try:

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INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup uncooked millet
¾ cup almond milk
¾ cup water
3 or 4 green apples
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp minced ginger
1 packet firm tofu + a little almond milk to blend with (use soft tofu if you prefer a less dry texture)
¼ cup raw honey
1/4 cup raisins
¼ cup chopped brazil nuts
Additional milk (if needed)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a pie dish.

Remove the tofu from package and wrap in paper towels to absorb excess liquid.
Add the millet, almond milk, and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer covered for about 15 minutes.

Skin and dice the apples and add to a small saucepan. Add a little water, as well as the spices and minced ginger. Bring to a boil then turn heat down and simmer covered until all the liquid has absorbed and the apples are soft and mushy.

Melt the honey, and add with the tofu to a blender, then pulse until a smooth texture is achieved (add a little almond milk if necessary). In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked millet, the pulsed tofu, the stewed apples, and the raisins and brazil nuts. Mix until well combined. If the mixture is still quite dry, add a little more milk.
Pour the mixture into greased pie dish and bake for about 20 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

Serve warm with plain yogurt and fresh kiwifruit slices, or your choice of fruit.

[✨ Spiced Apple Tofu Bake ✨ A great breakfast alternative! Millet contains various minerals and is high in Vitamin B, and tofu is too! Not to mention that tofu is a good source of protein]

For a little more tofu inspiration, try these tofu brownies, or these curried tofu strips with creamy coconut yoghurt dip.

Protein Brownie Muffins For Active Teens

Jannine Myers

Protein bars are a regular shopping list item for many athletes and recreational exercisers, and provided they aren’t filled with unnecessary added sugars, “questionable” ingredients, or poor quality protein, they can occasionally add value to one’s diet. I find them particularly useful when travelling, or after races, or on days when my diet is lacking in protein.

But what about young athletes? I have a young athlete at home with me; my 13-year old daughter. She spends approximately 12 hours a week at her dance studio and besides the fact that she trains hard and puts her muscles to work daily, she is also still growing. She needs quality protein in her diet just as I do!

It’s too costly for me to buy extra protein bars (and I also wouldn’t want my daughter to get addicted to the sugary candy-bar appeal of them), however I don’t mind giving her occasional home-made “treats” that she can enjoy in place of generic supermarket muesli and cereal protein bars. The following recipe is one that she really enjoys, and one you might also like to try for your active teens:

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Ingredients

2 cups chickpeas, canned is fine but drain and wash first

3 tbsps coconut oil

1 tbsp of plunger or instant decaf coffee (optional)

250ml Unsweetened Almond Milk

3 scoops of quality chocolate whey protein (1 scoop = 25g protein)

2 tbsps cocoa or cacao powder

3/4 cup organic oats

3/4 cup ground almonds

2 tsps baking powder

1/4 tsp cayenne powder (optional)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup low GI sugar

1/4 cup molasses

2 tbsps tapioca flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Boil water and add about 4 to 5 tbsps to the coffee. Then, simply add all the ingredients to a food processor, pour the coffee over, and pulse until combined. If you are omitting the coffee, just add a little extra water. Pour the mixture into pre-greased muffin pans (recipe makes 16 muffins), and bake for 15 to 20 minutes (15 to 17 mins if you prefer a really moist brownie, or up to 20 mins if you prefer more of a dense cake texture).

Nutritional Data per muffin: Calories 160; Carbs 18.95g (Sugars 9.45g); Fat: 6.25g (Saturated Fat 2.49g); Protein 7.9g; Fiber 2.5g

 

Trying To Eat Healthy On A Budget

Jannine Myers

There are many reasons to feel grateful for living in New Zealand, but the cost of living is not one of them. Grocery shopping for the average family is either a major financial burden or a nutritional nightmare. I don’t claim to have the perfect solution, but I do have a system to share that may work for you.

To start, I recommend lining your pantry shelves with staple ingredients such as spices, seasonings, sauces, healthy oils, dried fruits and nuts, seeds, baking essentials, and also canned beans, legumes, and low-sodium vegetables. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to go!

This is how I do my weekly grocery shopping and unless there are specific items I need, it does not involve writing out a shopping list:

1. Start with your nearest fresh fruit and vegetable store. Go down all the aisles and only put in your basket fruits and veges that are selling for the best price. The selection of cheaper produce will differ from week to week, but that’s a good thing as you don’t want to be eating the same foods week in and week out (greater food variety also means greater nutrient diversity).

2. Go next to your local supermarket and be prepared to only select “best deal” options. The produce section is the first area you will walk into, but since you will have already bought your fruits and vegetables, just head straight through to the deli section; I usually do a quick scan of the deli area to see if there are any exceptionally good deals, but if not I keep moving.

3. Beyond the deli section you’ll start to encounter the meats in the back of the store, as well as the first aisle entry. My strategy when supermarket shopping: is a) to look for protein foods that are on sale, to include eggs, all lean meats, seafood, and vegetarian options; b) top up on the cheapest complex carbohydrate options, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, oats, seeded breads, etc. (root vegetables would have been purchased at the fruit and vegetable store); c) choose whichever dairy (and/or refrigerated vegan) products are on sale, and d), top up on any pantry staples that need replacing.

Once home, it’s always a good idea to start food preparation right away. I almost always do my grocery shopping on days that I am off work and have enough time to shop and meal prep all in one go. You’ll find that by practicing this one habit, the likelihood of food wastage will be significantly less.

By now you’re probably wondering how I create my meals without having planned an advance menu, and the answer to that is that I simply mix and match the groceries I come home with. All of our meals are built around the concept of a balanced plate that contains some type of lean protein, a complex carbohydrate, a decent size serving of vegetables, and a small serving of some type of healthy fat (such as avocado, nuts and seeds, or olive oil). By the end of the week, if protein options are completely used up, I start using pantry supplements such as beans and legumes.

Also, it’s not necessary but if you enjoy baking as much as I do, I use overly ripe or excess fruits and vegetables to make bread loaves and muffins, and I use dried fruits and nuts to make biscuits (I prefer to have healthier home-baked snacks on hand versus store-bought packaged goods). And finally, have plenty of portable containers available to pre-pack meals for school and work, and to also store ready-made meals in the freezer that can be pulled out later in the week and re-heated.

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Jannine Myers

– Nutrition and diet has always been important to me, but it becomes even more so during times of training, racing, illness, and injury. Just as I would normally pay attention to how I fuel my body during peak training phases, I also pay extra attention to my food choices whenever my body is under other types of physical (or emotional) stress.

Key Tip # 5 – Get interested in nutrition! Seek out information on the web and at the library, or consult a dietitian if necessary; learn what foods will help to speed up your recovery. Since my immediate goal is injury/recovery-related, my kitchen efforts at this time are focused on meals that contain a lot of anti-inflammatory foods such as broccoli, salmon, walnuts, flax and chia seeds, blueberries, and ginger and turmeric. On that note, I’ll leave you with one of my anti-inflammatory (and easily portable) breakfast meals:

Turmeric-Ginger Fruit Blend With Oats 

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Ingredients (Serves 4):

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 small banana

1 small apple

3 dried dates

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 cup oats

Toppings: 

Plain greek yogurt, a couple of pieces of fresh fruit (optional), pumpkin seeds, coconut shreds

 

Directions:

Mix the coconut milk, banana, apple, and spices together in a blender.

In four bowls (or containers with lids), add 1/4 cup dry oats to each. Top with a little water to moisten the oats. Pour the coconut milk mixture in even portions over all four oat bowls. Refrigerate for at least an hour. When you’re ready to eat, top with a dollop of yogurt, some pumpkin seeds and coconut shreds.

Enjoy 🙂

A Brussels Sprouts Recipe You Might Actually Enjoy

Jannine Myers

Brussels sprouts are one of those odd vegetables that people seem to either love or hate; I personally love them! If you’re in the “indifferent” camp and don’t mind eating them, but won’t go out of your way to buy them because you’re not sure how to cook them or what to pair them with, give this recipe a try.

I made this a couple of nights ago, and not only was it super quick and easy, but it was also really delicious. And on a nutritional note, there are so many reasons why you should include brussels sprouts in your diet, including the following:

– a great source of fiber, manganese, potassium, choline, and B vitamins

– high in Vitamins C and K

– a reasonably good source of protein when compared with other green vegetables

– can potentially fight different types of cancer and improve bone health

[The following recipe directions recommend adding the brussels sprouts last, and cooking for no more than 5 minutes – brussels sprouts are nutritionally optimal when they are not overcooked].

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Ingredients

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsps Thai red curry paste

3 cups cubed cooked pumpkin, kumara, and potato (to save time, I stopped at the deli section of my local supermarket and picked up a pre-packaged container of already roasted vegetables).

1 can (400g) organic black beans

1 can (400g) coconut milk

brussels sprouts, washed and halved (about 2 cups)

brown rice, cooked (to serve as base for the curry)

Directions

Heat oil in pan, and gently saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the red curry paste and cook for a further 1 or 2 minutes.

Add the cooked vegetables, coconut milk,, and drained black beans. Cover and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts and a sprinkle of organic sugar, and stir through. Cook over low heat for a further 5 minutes and remove from the stovetop.

Serve hot over cooked brown rice.

[Recipe by Angela Casley, Viva]

No-Bake Apricot-Oat Slice

Jannine Myers

It hasn’t been much of a summer here in Auckland, but unlike the absence of sunshine there is definitely an abundance of sweet summer “stone” fruits. I’ve been enjoying daily servings of my choice of plums, peaches, nectarines, and apricots, and while I love seeing my fruit basket full, the fruits sometimes ripen faster than we can get around to eating them. When that happens it’s time to get innovative. Yesterday I did just that, and the end result was a No-Bake Apricot-Oat Slice made with pantry ingredients already on hand:

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Ingredients

5 or 6 medium size apricots

1 tsp sugar (optional)

1/4 cup peanut butter with chia seeds

1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 cups organic oats

1/2 cup whey chocolate protein powder

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

A few large chunks of dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)

Directions

Skin and roughly chop the apricots, then add to a small saucepan. Add enough water to soak the apricots and bring to a slow boil (add a little sugar if you wish). Once boiling, cover and simmer until the fruit softens. Remove the lid, increase to medium heat and allow the water to evaporate. Reduce heat again and add remaining wet ingredients (peanut butter, almond milk, and molasses). Slowly heat the mixture through, then remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a separate mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix together. Next, add the apricot mixture to the dry ingredients and combine well. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lightly grease. Pour the mixture into baking tray and spread out evenly using a spatula.

Melt the dark chocolate and spread over the apricot-oat slice. Refrigerate for at least an hour, then slice and store in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated.

Enjoy with your morning or afternoon tea/coffee, or as a pre-workout snack (and although not as sweet as store-bought granola bars, they’d also be a great, and healthier school snack).

Switch to Japanese Washoku-Style Eating for Health and Longevity

Jannine Myers

This week’s post is a little unusual but I hope you enjoy it. I had lunch recently with some elderly Japanese ladies; these women have been friends of mine for more than ten years and they have become like family to me. I have learned so much from them over the years about Japanese history and culture, and at our lunch they had more to share with me. I learned about this year’s Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival in Okinawa, and how several thousand Okinawans who live abroad returned to Okinawa to reunite with family members and enjoy a joint celebration (read this article for more information about Okinawa’s first wave of overseas migration).

The second thing I learned – which is the subject of this post – is about the traditional Japanese washoku diet. One of the ladies in the group attributes hers and her husband’s good health to the diet that they both follow; I asked her to describe for me what their daily meals typically consist of:

[Note: breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals generally include the same foods with the exception of protein source which alternates between tofu, lean cuts of meat, fish and seafood]

  • Genmai (brown rice) and beans – brown rice is high in fiber and has been linked with reduced cholesterol levels, while beans (of any kind) are really quite an amazing food with their long list of healthy nutrients.
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  • Natto – natto is fermented soybeans that have been soaked, steamed or boiled, then allowed time to ferment after the bacteria Bacillus subtilis has been added. Natto is most definitely an acquired taste, but it’s rich in both macro and micronutrients and it offers an extensive array of health benefits, hence the reason it’s enjoyed by many as a Japanese dietary staple.
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  • Miso soup – miso is also a fermented and nutritionally dense food. Lighter-colored miso is much milder (and generally sweeter) in taste than darker-colored miso, and the lighter colors indicate a shorter fermentation process. It’s probiotic properties aid in intestinal health but also help to build a stronger immune system.
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  • Other daily foods that are added to meals typically include small side servings of various kinds of seasonal vegetables (especially root vegetables) that are prepared and/or cooked in different ways. And of course, a lean protein source is always included.
  • Daily beverages include traditional Japanese teas, but two beverages my friend added to the list were Japanese black vinegar (which contains citric acid that supposedly benefits the brain and immune system by causing an increase in energy production), and hot water infused with fresh ginger and black Okinawan sugar (this beverage is especially helpful during the winter months as it is believed to warm the body from within and also promote better blood circulation).
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    Japanese Black Vinegar

And one last food that I’ve saved till last – since it’s quite interesting and I had never heard of it until now – is black garlic:

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According to my friend, she and her husband add rice and water to their rice cooker, then add several garlic bulbs on top of the rice before cooking. When the rice is done and the setting has moved to “Warm,” they leave the rice cooker unopened and untouched (no changes are made to the setting), for a minimum of two full weeks. The aroma is a little pungent at first, but it eventually settles down and when the garlic bulbs are removed two or three weeks later they look like those in the image above. The garlic cloves are peeled and eaten as is, and apparently taste very sweet and delicious; not bitter at all.

(Click this link and scroll down for a more detailed explanation of black garlic and why it is considered a health food).

Finally, if you’ve never eaten a traditional Japanese washoku meal, here’s an example of how it is typically plated:

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