How Much Is Enough Vegetables?
Do you feel like you are eating enough vegetables? Japanese ministry of health, labor and welfare recommends 350g of vegetables every day. Traditional salad comes with lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. It has only 100 g of vegetables. But it comes with extras stuff. Bacon bits, croutons, heavy salad dressing and anything your wish for. Leafy vegetables are lite in weight. Therefore, you cannot keep eating salad 3 times a day in order to eat enough vegetables. Then, how do you accomplish eating enough vegetables?
It is not so hard to eat enough vegetables if you cook the 500 calories set meal. Because typical Japanese cooking method will help you achieve the 350g of vegetables per day. Not only will you eat enough vegetables, but also you will enjoy a variety of vegetables. You will add root vegetables and mushrooms to your diet. Moreover, you will master cooking different kinds of dishes.
Here are some examples.
- Itamemono (stir-fried vegetables)
- Nimono (simmered vegetables in sweet soy sauce)
- Kinpira (thin striped vegetables cooked in sweet soy sauce)
- Ohitashi (boiled leafy vegetables served with soy sauce and bonito flakes)
- Asazuke (salt rubbed vegetables)
- Namasu (vegetables mixed with vinegar)
- Namuru (cooked vegetables mixed with garlic and sesame oil)
- Chikuzenni (chicken, dried shitake mushroom, konnyaku, bamboo shoots, burdock all cut into bite size, briefly stir-fried and then boiled with sweet soy sauce)
There are so many choices to eat enough vegetables. Now, you can never say “I don’t have to eat vegetables tonight because I had a bowl of salad for lunch”. Let’s cook 500 calories set meal with enough vegetables!
500 calories set meal: Miso Butter Pork Cabbage Stir-Fry
Total 505 calories
Main: Miso Butter Pork Cabbage Stir-fry
Side 1: Shimeji Mushroom Pepperoncino
Side 2: Eggplant Ohitashi (Boiled Eggplant in Sweet Soy Sauce)
Soup: Shimeji Mushroom Cream Soup
Steamed White Rice 160
All recipes are made for 2 servings. This printable recipe box will allow you to change the serving size to adjust the recipe.
Main: Miso Butter Pork Cabbage Stir-fry 235 calories
Cooking Meat with Enough Vegetables
In order to eat enough vegetables, you want to have a collaboration of meat and vegetables. Everyone knows the basic cooking method stir fry, called Itamemono in Japanese. Typical American dinner comes with lump of meat and potato. Some canned vegetables such as green beans and corn are added to the meal. Do you agree? I don’t know what the benefit is to eat canned vegetables, but they don’t taste like vegetables. The texture is soft and mushy. We tend to eat softer food. We eat more processed food which is soft. Cooked fresh vegetables are crunchy and succulent. Remember, chewing is good for you. And it works for diet!
How To Cut Cabbage
Stir-fry method is a good way to consume outer leaves of cabbages. Because they are bigger and tougher. When you cut cabbage, pay attention to the grain. For cooking purpose, the best result is to cut along the grain. Cabbage will be tender and work well with sauce when it gets cooked.
About Miso Butter Sauce
Asia meets the West. Miso and butter doesn’t sound like a good match. However, miso, which is fermented soy beans paste, goes well with dairy. Miso and butter together bring rich flavor. It makes a great sauce for stir-fry. Both miso and butter help to improve the intestinal environment.
- Cut cabbage into large chunks (cut along the grain).
- Thinly Slice pork loin. Sprinkle potato starch and mix well.
- Make sauce by combining miso, sugar, sake and vinegar.
- Place oil and meat in frying pan and turn on heat.
- Cook meat and then add cabbage and butter. Stir fry until cabbage becomes tender.
- Add the sauce and cook until meat and cabbage are coated with the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Side 1: Shimeji Mushroom Pepperoncino 22 calories
About Shimeji Mushroom
Shimeji mushroom is like white mushroom for Japanese. It is common to use daily just like Shitake mushroom. It is normally bunched with hard base. You will need to cut off the bottom. Then break them apart by hand. You don’t need to wash them because they are clean and packaged in a plastic bag. Just like other mushrooms, it will lose aroma and flavor by washing them. You can wipe with soft cloth to remove dirt and moss.
Have you had zucchini pasta? Basically, thin striped zucchini as a substitute for pasta. That sounds creative. But how about Pepperoncino with Shimeji mushroom. Pepperoncino is an Italian dish. It is the simplest pasta you can order at the restaurant. Garlic and red pepper are sautéed with olive oil. You can almost imagine the aroma! Instead of using pasta, we cook Shimeji mushrooms. You will enjoy the texture! Low calories yet tasty dish. Perfect dish for a 500 calories set meal. Finally, there is a small tip. A piece of lettuce works great for presentation as well as eating enough vegetables!
Shimeji Mushroom Health Benefits
Shimeji mushrooms are low in calories. It has a good amount of niacin, which is a vitamin B complex. It helps your body convert food to energy. It improves cholesterol level and lowers cardiovascular risks. It also contains a good amount of vitamin D. It will help to absorb calcium into the body. It is rich in insoluble dietary fiber. It helps to prevent constipation and regulate bowel movement. Shimeji mushrooms help to improve the metabolism. Besides, it has beta-glucan and lecithin. It is effective to improve the immune system. Adding garlic and red pepper, which are medicinal ingredients, will make this simple dish very special for a dieter!
Where to Buy Shimeji Mushrooms?
Shimeji mushrooms are sold as Buna Shimeji. You can buy them at the Japanese store as well as Wholefoods. You may be able to find Shimeji at your local farmers market. Look for the one that doesn’t look wet. Also make sure that the plastic package looks dry with no moisture trapped inside. Remember mushrooms go bad if they are exposed to moisture.
- 100 g shimeji mushroom or any mushroom
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 30 g lettuce
- Remove the bottom of the mushroom. Break it apart with hands. Mince garlic. Slice red pepper. Remove the seeds.
- Heat up oil in frying pan. Add garlic and sauté until it becomes lite brown. Add red pepper.
- Add Shimeji mushroom and cook for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the mushroom over a piece of lettuce on plate.
Side 2: Eggplant Ohitashi (Boiled Eggplant in Sweet Soy Sauce) 49 calories
About Japanese Eggplants
Japanese eggplant is much smaller than the one you can buy in the United States. Eggplant is a summer vegetable (do you remember the vegetables that keep your body cool?). However, eggplants that are harvested in autumn taste better. Here is the reason. After eggplant is harvested in July, it gets trimmed to promote a new growth. It again has a fruit that is harvested in September. Autumn eggplants have thinner skin and less seeds than summer eggplants. There is an old famous saying in Japanese. “Don’t let your daughter-in-law eat autumn eggplants.” That sounds mean, but it means that autumn eggplants taste so good. You don’t want to share with anybody!
Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between the regular eggplants and autumn eggplants. All I know is that it turns brown when you cut them. Cut eggplant right before cooking. Or soak in water to slow the process. You cook less to enjoy chewy texture. Or you cook more to enjoy “melts in your mouth” texture.
Eggplant Health Benefit
Eggplant is low in calories because it contains 94% water. Eggplant is not a super food. However, it has a balanced health benefit. Eggplants contain some calcium, iron, potassium, and dietary fiber. It also has a small amount of vitamins A, B1, and B2. The dark color is polyphenol, which is anthocyanin. It works as antioxidants (just like blueberries!). Eggplants helps to improve the immune system. Moreover, it is a good ingredient for diet!
How to Pick Out Good Eggplants
Japanese eggplant can be purchased at the Japanese store. Pick the heavy one. The skin should be darker color, hard, smooth, and shiny. Avoid the one with lite in weight and wrinkled skin. After purchase, wrap them with saran wrap individually because they tend to lose water. Eggplants can be kept up to 4 to 7 days in the refrigerator.
- 150 g eggplant
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon mirin Japanese cooking wine
- 80 ml dashi Japanese fish broth
- 2 g bonito flakes katuso-bushi
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- Mix sugar, soy sauce, mirin and dashi.
- Slice eggplant 2cm thick.
- Heat oil in frying pan. Sautee eggplant for on minutes.
- Add the mixture into the pan. Simmer for 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle bonito flakes on top when you serve.
Soup: Shimeji Mushroom Cream Soup 39 calories
When you buy fresh mushrooms, they don’t keep fresh. Shimeji mushrooms are very delicate. Use them all when you open the package. Shimeji mushrooms are also very versatile. You can add it to stir-fry and soup. When you see smaller pieces of Shimeji (I will call Shimeji babies), set aside for soup. Because they are too small for a stir-fry. It is hard to pick up when you eat. Therefore, you can use the babies for soup. Do you remember the no wasting policy?
I hope you have “cooked” broccoli in the refrigerator. As you learned from the no wasting policy, “cooked” vegetables are very handy when you cook the 500 calories set meal. And it help you to eat enough vegetables.
- 20 g onion
- 20 g shimeji mushroom small pieces
- 20 g broccoli cooked
- 150 ml chicken broth chicken base and water
- 100 ml milk 2% low fat
- salt & pepper
- Cut onions into thin slices. Break apart Shimeji mushroom by hand. Cut cooked broccoli into small pieces.
- Place chicken broth and onion into pan. Bring to boil.
- Add mushroom and cook for a couple of minutes. Optional: If broccoli hasn’t been cooked, cook broccoli together.
- Add milk and cooked broccoli. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat just before boiling.
Steamed White Rice 160 calories
Just like zucchini pasta that I mention about earlier, how about cauliflower florets rice? Can you imagine someone came up with the idea that small chopped cauliflower can be a substitute for rice? People are extremely serious when it comes to diet, aren’t they! But, you need to eat some carbs in order to lose weight! Balanced diet is the key of the success. Look at Japanese people, a bow of rice is a big part of their diet. Enjoy genuine steamed white rice with enough vegetables!
Each 500 calories set meal comes with 100g of steamed rice. You will need to cook rice in a rice cooker or in a heavy gage pot. And measure cooked rice for 100 grams. I will show you how to make your cooking life easier. Read more How To Cook And Store Japanese Rice.