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  • Hui Hui Lee, RD/LD

The Morning Routine we should not skip

School is back in session, which means we are back (again) to our normal routine. From what I observed, many of us struggle in the morning during most of the weekdays, and breakfast seems to be the first thing we take out of our weekday morning routine. I remember vividly that breakfast used to be a big deal for everyone when I was a kid. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, people these days seem to care less about it. I am going to this opportunity to remind everyone that it is important to start our day right with a nutritious breakfast. You might ask why breakfast is crucial. A nutritious breakfast provides the proper fuel for our body to prepare us mentally and physically for the day.

Today I would like to share with you something unique and interesting, which is a traditional Japanese breakfast. Why? The traditional Japanese diet is known to have a great impact on the population's longevity and overall health outcomes. And the traditional Japanese diet emphasized a nutritious, well-balanced meal (at every single meal, including breakfast) adopting the concept of “Ichiju Sansai”, which is directly translated in English as “one soup three dishes”. The meal is made up of a bowl of warm rice complemented with a variety of side dishes, soup, and pickles.

The breakfast recipes that I am about to share with you guys may look a little bit complicated, but I will provide you with some suggestions for the simplified versions of each dish of the traditional Japanese breakfast. Lastly, I will also provide you with a modified version of the healthier breakfast idea that I thought is going to be way more familiar and easier for most of you.

Salted Salmon (broiled method): This Japanese version of the salted salmon recipe is so simple but just requires a little bit more time for marination (approximately 2 days). If you like to try to make this, I would recommend you prepare several portions of salted salmon at once and freeze the extra marinated uncooked salmon for later use. Once the salmon is done marinating, we just need to broil it for approximately 8-10 minutes for each side (maybe more) until the salmon is cooked. NOTE: make sure to place your oven rack in the center position (approximately 9”) away from the top heating element to prevent the top of the salmon from getting burned too quickly before the salmon is fully cooked. If you think this salted salmon recipe is too bland, I would recommend baked salmon with some homemade teriyaki sauce. The salted salmon recipe is inspired by Just One Cookbook.

Japanese Sweet Rolled Omelet (Tamagoyaki): I love this rolled omelet a lot! It is a very delicate omelet recipe and has a very unique look and taste (in a pleasant way). I have to admit this rolled omelet requires some skills to prepare it. If you find it too difficult to make it, you can substitute this dish with a sunny-side-up egg or scrambled eggs, or even a hard-boiled egg. You can make this sweet rolled omelet ahead of time and freeze them. The recipe was adapted from Just One Cookbook.

Miso Soup: Miso soup is the key element of the Japanese diet, and is believed to have a great impact on health. It is a super easy soup recipe, which is made with three components: dashi stock, miso paste, and additional soup ingredients like soft tofu and wakame seaweed! In Japan, this miso soup is served almost every day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you would like to make the miso soup from scratch, please refer to the recipe in Just One Cookbook. If you are like me and have no time for preparing the dashi stock, I will recommend you try preparing some miso balls (plain, with hondashi/dashi stock granules, miso paste, and chopped green onion) in advance, then adding wakame seaweed and tofu cubes when the soup. The miso balls recipe is inspired by Okonomi Kitchen.

Japanese Pickled Cabbage: Try this quick and easy Japanese version of pickled cabbage. Japanese pickle recipes are different from what we are used to (western pickle recipes). Unlike most Western pickle recipes using vinegar-based brine, Japanese pickles use salt brine and apply pressure during the pickling process. If you are interested in giving this Japanese pickled cabbage a try, feel free to check out Just One Cookbook.

Steamed/Blanched Broccoli: There is no recipe for this cooked broccoli. What I did was blanch (cook the broccoli in boiling water for approximately 1-2 minutes) a handful of bite-sized broccoli, then drained out the water, and transferred the cooked broccoli to a clean serving dish. Before serving, drizzle the broccoli with some toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds.

How can we apply traditional Japanese breakfast to our breakfast in the United States? Because of the cultural differences, we need to make some modifications to the recipes. So, I came up with the idea of an egg salad sandwich (with brioche buns, turkey slices or you can use smoked salmon, egg salad, and cabbage slaw) and served it along with low-fat plain yogurt. There are many egg salad recipes available out there, feel free to use whichever one you prefer, or refer to the recipe from Oh Sweet Basil.

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