Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cooking with miso for toddlers


Few days ago, the little fella (now 16mth) had a few bouts of diarrhea. He lost his appetite and wasn't willing to eat much other than his milk. I wasn't very willing to give him milk cos his body wouldn't be able to digest lactose well during this time. Instead, I prepared him soft brown rice with miso. He was okay with it and gulped it down. Now that he has fully recovered, he has also regained his appetite and is in fact, eating a lot! He just had about 2 bowls of cornflakes, plus a mug of cocoa-avocado smoothie and a few pieces of crackers for breakfast. >.<
Now, let's talk about the reason behind giving him MISO when he had diarrhoea. Most of us have tried miso soup in almost any Japanese restaurant we frequent. Some of us refused to consume it cos it tastes of nothing but just saltiness. Little did we realize that a true, good quality miso is fermented and is very much a live enzyme food product, packed with healthy flora and lots of great nutrients and antioxidants.
Miso paste is an Asian seasoning made by fermenting a mixture of soybeans, barley, brown rice and several other grains with koji or also known as Aspergillus oryzae. The result of this fermentation is a smooth-textured paste with a strong savory flavor. Often used in Japanese cooking, miso is a healthy, probiotic food that helps support digestion by adding beneficial microorganisms to your digestive tract.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, consuming miso rich in probiotics can shorten the duration of infectious diarrhea, especially in infants and children. (Here's the reason why I served him miso when he had his bouts of diarrhea, info from here). Just like the other fermented food eg cheese, yogurt or tempeh, the array of nutrients are very wide in miso. Due to the diarrhea, it would be normal to assume that he has lost a lot of liquid and nutrients from his body, therefore feeding him miso was a good way to replenish back the good nutrients. Nutritionally, miso provides mostly carbohydrate with some protein. It is also rich in several of the B-complex vitamins and contains several minerals, including calcium, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium.
Other than its beneficial effects onto our digestive tract, it is also known to protect against radiation exposure. After the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, Japan, Dr. Akizuki fed his patients a diet rich in sea vegetables and miso, limiting their consumption of sweets and sugar. The patients at Dr. Akizuki’s hospital were only one mile from the bombsite, but everyone survived. Many people outside the hospital perished due to radiation exposure. This piece of info was gathered from here.
From its taste, you would have gathered that miso is indeed a high sodium food. According to an info from here, recent research has shown that in spite of its high-sodium content, miso does not appear to affect our cardiovascular system in the way that other high-sodium foods sometimes can. In recent animal studies, for example, identical concentrations of salt (sodium chloride) obtained from miso versus table salt were discovered to have very different impacts on blood pressure. High-salt diets that derived their high salt level from table salt raised blood pressure in these animal studies, but high-salt diets that derived their high salt from miso did not. Interesting, ay?
Tips to choose high quality miso:
Commercialized powdered miso seasoning has been stripped of its true nutritional benefits through processing. The trick to choosing high quality miso is to find the tubs that are refrigerated and marked unpasteurized to ensure enzyme activity. Personally, I prefer the ones from Japan, not the ones made in Taiwan or China.
To preserve the living microorganisms in miso paste, avoid subjecting it to high heat. Instead, add the paste to dishes that have already been cooked or heated to serving temperature.
In my case, I have just started cooking with miso for my little toddler recently (ie 16mo). Here are some ideas on cooking with miso:
Stewed pumpkin, tofu in miso paste, served with brown rice noodle
Chopped pumpkin and tofu was stir fried with minced garlic, and stewed in miso stock (1/2 tsp fresh miso and 2cups water).

Aubergine and minced meat in miso sauce, served with brown rice
Chopped aubergine was stir fried with minced meat (pork or chicken) and minced garlic, and then simmered with miso stock (1/2tsp fresh miso in 2cups water) for about 20min and then thickened with cornflour. *chopped aubergine was sprinkled with pinch of salt, and sit for about 15min, and then rinsed before cooking.

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