Okonomiyaki – Japanese Pancake

okonomiyaki templeWe spent New Year’s Eve in Kyoto this year with my sister-in-law and her beau. It was beautiful and busy, but most restaurants were not open. It seems to me that Japanese people take their holidays very seriously.  I mean, where are people going to eat? Options limited for dining and drinking, we made the best of the situation and bought kimonos to stroll around the streets of Gion, greeting passersby with “Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!” During our stay, we ended up eating at an okonomiyaki place twice… in one day. Yes, it was that delicious, but our hand was a little forced by the occasion.

okonomiyaki kyotoKyoto is in a region of Japan that is well known for its okonomiyaki. The name for this savory, grilled “pancake” translates as okonomi, for “whatever you want,” and yaki, for “grilled.” I particularly like how easy this is to throw together. I think it’s a great, last-minute meal for cleaning out the refrigerator, which is appealing to my frugal senses. I purchased a gigantic head of cabbage for fewer than two bucks and had to make plans for using it up. After Mexican and Vietnamese inspired coleslaws, I still had a lot leftover. Okonomiyaki is the perfect vehicle for hiding lots of veggies into a quick and delicious dinner. Continue reading

Ayurveda and Lemon Water

lemon water juicerOhayou gozaimasu! Good morning from Okinawa, Japan.  It’s January, the month of new beginnings and changes. It also began with a new moon, which is interesting even if you don’t think so.

Did you make any resolutions this year? If so, tell me about them. If not, I suggest that you add warm lemon water to your morning routine, known as dinacharya in ayurveda. It’s uncomplicated and effective, valuable attributes in resolutions if I do say so myself. Continue reading

Spinach curry with lotus root

spinach lotus curry platedIt seems like the recent typhoon activity ushered in some cooler weather here in Okinawa. It’s a welcome change from all the heat. Warming soups and stews are particularly good during the changing weather. They’re also great for balancing vata.

I picked up some Okinawan spinach, or handama, this week. Handama has a beautiful purple color on one side the leaf. It can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s got a pleasant and mild taste. I also found fresh lotus root, known as renkon in Japanese. It’s easy to find packaged renkon in the local Japanese stores, but this is the first time I’ve been able to use it fresh. It’s cooling and great for the liver. Continue reading

Ginger Tea

ginger tea pouringGinger is my go-to herb of choice. I prefer ginger to analgesics, and have been known to carry raw ginger in my purse. It’s a great anti-inflammatory, immunity booster, and is wonderful for digestion.  Helpful for breaking up colds, coughs, and phlegm, you’ll want to keep ginger around all winter. Continue reading

DIY Ayurvedic Body Scrub – Vata

vata scrub lavender nutmegBody scrubs are ridiculously cheap and easy to make. You can use all sorts of things to make a body scrub: beans, grains, salt, sugar, herbs, flowers, or spices. A body scrub should be edible. If you can’t put it in your mouth, you probably shouldn’t put it on your skin.

If you’re a variable vata person, your skin is probably on the dry side, especially during the winter. We’re going to be making a nourishing body scrub today. Most oils are good for vata. Olive oil is easy to find and is warming. The lentils and nutmeg are ground into a fine powder and are gentle enough for daily use. Ashwaghanda is calming for the skin and helps to keep it from thinning. Honey is nourishing and moisturizing. This scrub has a lovely spicy floral scent, and is very soothing.  Continue reading

Kabocha Spice Latte (Dairy-free)

kabocha latte kabocha and mugAutumn is approaching. I know this because my Facebook news feed is full of comments about a certain company’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. Not because there’s been a weather change or anything silly like that. It’s Okinawa. It’s still hot here. Thank goodness my news feed keeps me informed.

Seriously though, let’s make a healthier version of this fall treat for you pumpkin lovers. You can say no thanks to the artificial pumpkin-flavored syrup, and hello to real food. Since I’ve yet to see a real-deal pumpkin in the local Japanese markets, guess what we’ll be using? Kabocha, of course! Continue reading

DIY Ayurvedic Body Scrub – Pitta

pitta scrub tubBody scrubs are ridiculously cheap and easy to make. You can use all sorts of things to make a body scrub: beans, grains, salt, sugar, herbs, flowers, or spices. A body scrub should be edible. If you can’t put it in your mouth, you probably shouldn’t put it on your skin.  Continue reading