Agar agar – is a seaweed found in powder, flakes, or strips, and used to make jellies. It is very rich in minerals such as iodine and phosphorus, cellulose and fiber. It is very satiating, and because it is very low in calories, it is advisable for anyone who wants to lose weight. Helps regulate intestinal transit and its high levels of iodine, helps regulate thyroid function. For the agar-agar to gelatine, it must be dissolved (1 soup spoon in 1 liter of water or other beverage) and then boiled for about 2 minutes. When you cool it gels, without needing to go to the refrigerator.
Amaranth – Amaranthaceae is a grain that has been used as a cereal and is nutritionally rich and balanced, being a good source of protein, fiber, calcium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium. It can be consumed in soups, salads, or added to stews, needing to cook for about 20 minutes.
Amazake – sweet cream originally produced from the non-alcoholic fermentation of rice, using koji (Aspergillus oryzae). We find versions of amazake also produced through other cereals like barley or millet. It is very comforting and serves to sweeten creams, or as a dessert.
Aramé – is a fine seaweed with a mild taste. It can be used raw (after soaked about 15 minutes), or cooked, added to shelled, or stewed. It is very rich in mineral salts and aids in digestion, and is still very good for relieving issues related to the reproductive organs, or to nourish spleen / pancreas and stomach.
Azuki – a type of small, round and incarnate bean, typical of Japan. Its consumption is highly advised to treat kidney issues, or to regulate issues in water energy. This bean, like all legumes, should be always soaked for at least 8 hours and its cooking time in a pressure cooker is about 20 minutes.
Bancha – tea made through the same plant of the green tea (Camellia Sinensis). While green tea is made with the young leaves of the plant, bancha is made through the leaves, shoots and stems of the plant well mature. By its maturation time, it is also known as 3-year tea and among its properties is that it is very good for alkalizing the blood.
Barley – is a cereal that we use in its integral form. It is the cereal of spring for its lightness, and the most suitable to nourish the energy of the liver. Looks great on soups, salads or cooked to accompany stewed vegetables or stews. It should be soaked for a few hours, and then boiled in triple the water, for about 30 minutes in a pressure cooker. In normal pan, your cooking time increases to about 1h, under low heat (if dry before the barley is very tender, add more water). Through the roasted barley grains, we can still make cereal coffee, or tea.
Barley malt – is a natural sweetener produced by germinated barley, with a dark brown color, with honey texture and a specific strong flavor. Less sweet than rice jelly, barley malt loses sweetness after boiling. It can be used to sweeten creams, dressings, desserts or in some sweet-fried dishes.
Buckwheat – is a cereal widely used in Russia and Eastern Europe, since it is a winter cereal that warms a lot the body and strengthens the whole cardiovascular system. Gluten-free and with a strong flavor, its cooking is done in 2 measures of water for 1 of cereal for about 10 minutes. It can be used in creams, or for salty meals. In summer, it can be consumed without cooking, soaking 8 hours in a vegetable drink, then blended and eaten with fresh fruit or other topping of your choice.
Bulgur – typical of the Middle East, is a genus of dough that is obtained through wheat. Its grains are broken, boiled and then dried. Thus, bulgur confection is rapid when compared to whole grains’ one. Because it does not contain the grain of wheat in its correct state, its use should be made with parsimony.
Burdock – plant from which we can use leaves or roots. With the leaves, we make tea, which is useful for soothing skin or liver problems. Its root can be cooked and its properties include combating kidney stones, or relieving symptoms of gallbladder problems.
Couscous – originating in North Africa, it consists of a mixture of semolina (cereal refinement product) of various cereals, mostly wheat. To be consumed, it is sufficient to pour 1 measure of boiling water on the couscous, and then to rest in a closed container for 5 to 10 minutes.
Chia Seeds – are the seeds of the Salvia Hipanica plant originating in the region of Mexico and widely consumed by the Aztec civilization. These seeds are very rich in oils and omega 3, and should be consumed raw, since when subjected to high temperatures the fats present in them degrade. When soaked, the seeds release a gum, forming a kind of gelatin. To absorb the omegas of this seed, it is best to consume it crushed on the spot. Chia is still good food to regulate blood sugar levels, intestinal transit, satiates, and also has antioxidants, minerals, protein and fiber.
Daikon – it is a type of radish, which grows in Japan. It is an excellent food to consume along with fats, since it helps a lot to your digestion, it is diuretic and it also has fibers that help in the intestinal transit. Locally, we have our local radish, or turnip that can serve as your substitutes, though with softer diuretic properties.
Dulse – is a soft red or purple seaweed with a very characteristic flavor, rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, iodine and phosphorus.
Fu – is gluten from dried and tufted wheat. To be consumed it should be soaked and then added to your cooking. It is almost free of flavor and its texture is somewhat gelatinous.
Gomasio – is a condiment obtained by mixing roasted sea salt (1 part) with toasted sesame seeds (16 parts). Sesame, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, essential amino acids and lecithin, fortifies the nervous system and sea salt helps to produce digestive juices and stimulates metabolism. When mixed with cereals, their biological value increases.
Hatcho Miso – it has been used for centuries as a healing food in China and Japan. This kind of miso is fermented, under pressure, from soybeans, for at least 18 months. Its therapeutic properties are immense, being a very rich food. It helps strengthen the immune system, is an excellent food to eliminate radioactivity, helps replenish the intestinal flora, regulates blood sugar levels and purifies it. We must take into account that the good quality miso should ferment for several months and not contain chemical agents that accelerate this process. This food is widely used in soups, in tea (home remedies), or for seasoning.
Hemp Seeds – are the seeds of Cannabis Sativa plant, but not containing THC levels. These seeds are rich in omega 3, in protein containing many of the essential amino acids, contain enzymes that help the digestion of other foods and minerals. They should be eaten raw, since when subjected to high temperatures, many of their properties are lost.
Kimpira – is a type of vegetables’ confection. The vegetables are cut in a specific way and sauté in low flame.
Kombu – is a dark seaweed that we normally consume dry and which can be found on the Portuguese coast. It is one of the richest in minerals, and the one we usually use in cooking legumes, since it facilitates their digestion and helps to reduce much the flatulence that these cause to some people.
Kuzu – is a starch of a root that can be found in South America or Asia, with many medicinal properties. We acquire it in powder, which works as a thickener, which can be compared to Araruta or Corn Starch. However, their properties are very distinct. Kuzu is an excellent repairer of the intestinal flora and helps in all matters of the digestive system. In addition, it increases vitality and relieves symptoms of tiredness and is therefore very good in any convalescent state.
Linseed – it has numerous properties when consumed raw, after soaked. It is very rich in oils and fiber, helping to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, helps to improve the quality of hair, skin and nails, regulates intestinal transit and still works as an anti-inflammatory. Because it has many oils, it should not be put on high temperatures, and the absorption of these is simpler when consumed crushed. When mixed with water and crushed, linseeds are a good substitute for eggs in cakes or pasta.
Lotus Root – is an aquatic plant root (Nelumbo nucífera) from Asia where it is used for its medicinal properties. In Portugal, we usually find this dried root for sale in natural food stores or organic supermarkets. It can be used in soups, teas, or added to stews and is an excellent food for treating airway issues.
Millet – is a cereal that can be consumed any time of the year, in soups, desserts, or as a garnish. It is very good to nourish the energy of the stomach, spleen and pancreas. To consume it, just wash it and add 3 to 4 servings of water to 1 of cereal. After boiling, cook for 15 minutes and it is ready to serve.
Mochi – is obtained through boiled brown rice and then well punched.
Mu Tea – is a blend of 16 herbs, roots and plants that was developed by George Ohsawa from a blend used to strengthen the female reproductive organs. It relieves tiredness, helps lose weight, improves stomach function, is effective in some types of cough and is a specific drink for almost any problem of female reproductive organs. It is the most Yang of macrobiotic teas and quite stimulating, so it should not be taken daily.
Mugiso Miso – is a type of miso made from barley, fermented for at least 24 hours.
Muji Tea – Roasted barley grain tea, very soothing and comforting
Natto – are fermented soybeans that have a strong taste and smell, and a viscous texture. Because it is fermented, it is a good way to consume soy.
Nettle – is a wild plant that grows throughout the Portuguese territory and is often treated as an invasive plant. It is very rich in iron and very beneficial in anemic states or to treat problems of the female reproductive system. Its leaves have a covering that causes an allergic reaction when in contact with the skin, however, the palm of the hands are immune to this cover, reason why we can catch them easily. Yet, internally the nettle does not cause any allergic reaction. They can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked, in soups, stewed or in spaghetti.
Nishime – is a cooking method in which vegetables are cut into large pieces, fat-free cooked over a long period of time. Only a little water, salt and kombu seaweed are added to the vegetables, and they cook almost steamed.
Nori – is a type of seaweed that is usually served in sushi pieces. They are fine and dry leaves that are obtained from the dehydration of porphyra seaweed. In addition to sushi, it looks great on soups and salads.
Pickles – are usually made with vegetables such as cabbage, turnip, carrot, cucumber, or onion. To the raw cut vegetable are added sea salt, some umeboshi vinegar and water. The product will have to rest, without exposure to sunlight, for a few days/months before the lactic fermentation takes place and only then will it be ready to consume. The pickles we see for sale on supermarkets are not of great quality, since the vegetables are usually precooked and then placed in water, vinegar and other substances are added to it.
Purslane – wild plant, considered by many as an invasive weed. It grows a lot in Portugal and is a vegetable famous for being very rich in iron and omega 3. It has a very peculiar acid taste. It can be consumed raw or cooked, and added to all type of dishes.
Quinoa – native to South America, this cereal has always been widely used by the Incas, who recognized it as one of the most nutrient-rich foods. It is rich in fiber, satiates, is rich in phytoestrogens and, therefore, a good food in phases of menopause also relieving symptoms of PMS, regulates the intestine, helps to control cholesterol levels, is rich in iron, fight anemias, and help fight against urinary problems and liver disease. To prepare it, simply wash, rubbing vigorously between the hands (the water will get a foam), pour the water out and cook in 2 measures of water for one of cereal, with sea salt, in low heat, for 20 minutes or until the cereal completely absorbs the water.
Rice Jelly – is a natural sweetener obtained through sprouted rice. Nutritionally it is the most balanced sweetener. It has no specific flavor and its sweetening power is similar to that of honey, as is its texture. Although it is the most balanced of sweeteners, it is a monosaccharide, so it raises blood sugar levels rapidly and should therefore be used in moderation.
Sauerkraut – is a fermented product, obtained by cutting cabbage leaves, seasoned and crushed with salt and then pressed and stored for a few months. Because it is a fermented, its properties are very beneficial to the intestine and in the strengthening of its flora, helping also to make the digestions become simpler.
Seitan – is wheat gluten. It must be cooked and is often used as a meat substitute. It has some properties that may be beneficial, however, considering the difficulty in finding good quality wheat today, and the number of people beginning to develop gluten intolerance, it is a product that I do not recommend using on a regular basis.
Shiso – is an oriental plant from which the leaves are used to make the plum pickle (Umeboshi). The leaves can also be purchased whole or in the form of seasoning.
Shitake – is a mushroom from Asia with numerous medicinal properties. We can consume them fresh or dry, and as a home remedy we use the dried mushroom that has the most concentrated properties. Its’ properties are such as very depurative, advised for those who have an excessive consumption of animal products, helps to regulate cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and protects the cardiovascular system.
Shoyu – is soy sauce that is obtained from the fermentation of its grains, wheat, yeast, water and salt. It is made through a slow fermentation process and should contain no more than the above mentioned ingredients.
Soba – is a type of Japanese dough based on buckwheat flour and durum wheat.
Suribashi – is a Japanese ceramic mortar with grooves that facilitates the process of crushing seeds to make condiments such as gomasio.
Tahin – is a cream that is obtained through crushed raw sesame seeds and which is widely used in Arabic cuisine.
Tekka – is a condiment made from the long cooking of the following ingredients: hatcho miso, sesame paste, sesame oil, lotus root, carrot, burdock and ginger. We buy it in powder and because it is very yang, should be used sparingly (1 teaspoon is enough to season a dish) except in people with very Yin conditions.
Tempeh – is originated from Indonesia and it is obtained through the fermentation of soybeans, water and the Rhizopus fungus. It is an excellent source of protein and can be used daily. We find it for sale in thin bars, and we prepare it in strips or cubes, in a frying pan, in the oven, or added to stews. Currently we also find versions of tempeh made from chickpeas or azuki bean.
Tofu – is made from a coagulated whey based on ground soybeans and nigari (magnesium salts). It is a food that nourishes much the feminine energy and that can be used in soups, in the oven, stews, or even in desserts. In the market you find several versions ranging from simple tofu to tofu with seaweed or spices. Tofu must always be cooked. If you put it in boiling water, it will be ready to be consumed the moment it floats.
Udon –is a Japanese pasta made from wheat, water and salt
Umeboshi Plum – is a pickle made from a Japanese plum. The pickle is made with plum, salt and shiso leaf and allowed to stand for more than 2 years. It has a very salty and strong flavor and numerous therapeutic properties, which is why we use it only on special occasions or as a home remedy. It is a food that alkalizes the blood, is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, it’s revitalizing, helping to regulate intestinal transit (when roasted and reduced to powder, it is good to stop diarrhea), or recover from flu states.
Wheat – is a cereal and its grains are widely used in Europe. Very much used in the confection of bread and pasta, through the flour that is obtained from its grains. Most part of wheat that we currently find in the marked is GMO, so I wouldn’t advise its use.