This week on Thrive we're talking about how to stop the bloating and the post-lunch slump. Part of the answer to that is eating LIVE FOOD that's full of the sun's energy, nourishes your adrenals and is kind to you liver. LIVE FOOD comprises of fresh, fruits & vegetables because they are full of the raw enzymes and nutrients your body needs for healthy digestive power. However, FERMENTED PRODUCTS are also LIVE FOOD because they are full of friendly bacteria that keep your gut healthy and happy. Examples, include kimchi, sauerkraut, miso & yoghurt.
But not all of these products give you "bacteria-bang" for your buck. A lot of the commercially made kimchi and sauerkraut - for example - are pasteurised to preserve the shelf life resulting in no friendly bacteria at all. Moreover, vinegar & sugar are normally added, which can cause inflammation and potentially worsen a Candida yeast problem in the gut.
Of course - you could always make it yourself. But....
Do you have time or desire to ferment?
Thankfully, Hong Kong is blessed with Shima Shimizu, head chef of Foodcraft.
One fine day, I ordered her Japanese-flavoured sauerkraut and WOW! I opened the jar....no offensive smell. I tasted the finely shredded cabbage with just the right hint of seasoning and it was so very, very delicious that I smiled - and my gut smiled with me.
It was love at first bite.
So today, I'm interviewing the uncompromising Shima Shimizu so she can share with all of us her experience with fermented products and why she only uses the traditional Japanese method of fermentation to make her signature goods.
Cristina: Shima -- I'd like to start off by saying that I so admire and respect what you do. It's so easy when you go into business to cut corners and take the easy way out. But your conviction to create the highest quality, handcrafted, fermented products is so present in your food. So, I'd like to start off by asking you a little bit about your personal story and what lead you to your career as a healthy chef extraordinaire? What drives your passion for doing what you do?
Shima: My parents worked in a hospital and I hated going to visit their workplace. I never liked the smell and the atmosphere. As I child I was thinking 'how can I avoid hospitals and stay healthy?' My mother taught me to choose natural foods as much as possible and avoid using meds unless I really needed them and that is when I linked health and food.
After moving to HK and working in an office for a few years, in 2009 I finally decided go to California to learn rawfoods at Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and from there I worked in Bangkok as a rawfood chef at Rasayana Retreat. When I came back to Hong Kong, I started Sesame Kitchen to teach Classes. We now not only do teaching classes but also cater handcrafted healthy foods to cafe and shops; and I'm also the head chef at FoodCraft.
I believe food can save us from getting sick. Mental health plays a very important role in health but food connects us to happiness and eating well is the first step to being well and loving yourself. We want to be a support and an option to people who are ready for a change.
Cristina: Food is definitely therapeutic. I love the cooking classes that you are organizing at Sesame Kitchen. You run a few classes on the GAPS diet? I've given people a link to learn more about the GAPS diet, but can you tell us your personal experience with it?
Shima: GAPS diet was an eye opener for me. Until I knew GAPS, I was a rawfoodist but I knew something wasn't working for me. I came to realize that I was taking too much sugar with my raw food diet. GAPS is basically a gluten & casein free diet. In other words it's no grains and no milk. I tried this and also used this mainly when I had my daughter. I'm so happy I did GAPS for her. She is such a healthy, strong and happy child and I think this is because I fed her breast milk and homemade formula milk up till she was two years old and her first foods were mainly bone broth based foods and zero grains till she was one year old. I highly recommend this diet for children as of a young age (because its easier to start early!) and also for adults.
Cristina: You make the most wonderful and delicious fermented foods I've ever tasted. And I don't give that compliment lightly. I have always struggled with fermented foods because of the taste. But I really love your stuff. Can you tell us how you make your fermented foodproducts?
Shima: Thank you for the compliment! We make a few fermented products at our kitchen. Coconut yogurts, sourdough, chickpea and quinoa miso, koji, sauerkrauts... etc. We add probiotics to help the fermentation (like for example, the coconut yogurts, we add vegan probiotics); and the rest is a wild fermentation.
We don't use any vinegar. For the original sauerkraut - just cabbage and salt and the sugar from the cabbage is what's used during the lacto-fermentation process. We shred the cabbage and massage the salt in by hand and ferment it at room temp for 3 days. And we don't pasteurise, so all the live bacteria remains intact.
Fermentation requires attention and if you are too busy with your life your fermentation can go WILD! That is why we started to make fermented foods at Foodcraft as we noticed people in Hong Kong are too busy for this. We spend 12 hours a day in the kitchen and that makes it possible to really pay attention to our fermented foods and do it right.
Cristina: So I assume you and your family are big fermented foodies! Can you describe some of the benefits you've experienced as a result of eating a diet rich in fermented food?
Shima: It has been a journey and some things are liked and some are not in our household to be honest! But I try to have at least one fermented item on the table for our meals. When I started fermenting at home years ago, my helper and I were experimenting with many things. After 2 weeks, my helper lost 5kg just from her bloated belly and her skin started to glow. We knew we were feeling better and something good was happening to us.
Cristina: Out of your line of fermented food products, which one is your favourite and why?
Shima: I like the Nori Snack. I think its one of the healthiest snack that we've created as it's very low in sugar and high in fibre and minerals - but you don't notice how healthy it is and can keep munching on it. I made it for my daughter when she was turning 2 and she still snacks on this up to this day. (My husband snacks on this too!)
Cristina: I'm going to share with the Thrive community my favourite recipe using your Chickpea Miso. But before I do, I would love to hear what yours is.
Shima: I use the chickpea miso almost every lunch at work and share it with my staff. I mix it in salads, spread it on sourdough, during the summer I make cold miso soups with it... but my new thing is to make miso bombs. Here are some recipes I've shared. Miso is not only for Japanese food. It can be used in Western, Chinese, Indian cuisines as it adds the umami flavor and of course the probiotic benefits.
Cristina: Shima, thanks so much for your time today and for bringing Hong Kong the absolute best, handcrafted fermented products on the market. You are such an inspiration. Tell us, when is your next cooking class and what will you be teaching?
Shima: Thank you Cristina! It is our pleasure. Our next class will be September 20 @ 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm for GAPS Level 3. For the GAPS diet, you can start at any level but Level 1 is very important and if you can only take one class - Level 1 should be it. We have all our upcoming classes listed on our website. We are excited to help people change the way they eat!
I love this lady's passion and uncompromising vision to produce fermented products in their truest and most beneficial form. Her miso bombs are amazing and if you make a load, you can just keep them in your fridge for a month. And when you get home from work - alakazam! You've got a healthy soup base in minutes!
I myself, am kind of addicted to this salad dressing / dip made with Foodcraft's organic chickpea miso:
- 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked for a few hours (for those of you nut allergies, try using 1/2 cup of tahini paste)
- about 3 tspn of Foodcraft's chickpea miso
- juice of 1/2 lemon
Drain and rinse the cashews and put in a high speed blender with the miso and lemon juice. Add a few oz of water to get the motor going and whizz on high until the mix is well-blended.
Store in an air tight container in the fridge. To use as a dressing, just scoop out 1 tbsp iinto a small bowl and add water. Stir the water in vigorously until it's perfectly blended OR whizz in a small blender to combine. Otherwise, leave thick to use as a dip for veggie sticks.
I love pairing this dip with freshly cut veggies and as a result, I find myself eating more vegetables! And more veggies means more fibre and more fibre means.......
(oh yeah...insert happy poop emoji here)
Hope Shima and I have given you some inspiration to incorporate fermented foods into your daily diet and reach your goal to BLOAT-NO-MORE!
Cristina Tahoces is a holistic nutritionist and owner of Thrive Nutrition Practice. Please join her Facebook group “Thrive Nutrition Practice” for daily articles, recipes, promotions on professional grade supplements and upcoming workshops.
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