meal ideas

6 Healthy Japanese Foods You Must Try

Back in college I spent about a year in Japan. To me, one of the most intriguing parts about Japan is the food. The Japanese have been renowned world wide for their diet which supports not only a healthy weight, but a long healthy life.

Here is my list of nutritious Japanese foods that you can use to add variety to your diet while still retaining flavor and health. These foods (in conjuction with healthy eating and exercise) will help you lose weight and gain overall health!

1. Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin)- If you are a sucker for everything pumpkin in the fall, you have got to try kabocha! Kabocha is denser than butternut squash and has a very sweet, almost cake-like flavor and texture. A one cup serving of Kabocha has only 40 calories and 70% of your daily value of vitamin A. I like to roast 1-2 Kabocha at the beginning of the week for my meal prep and eat a serving as my source of carbohydrates for the meal.

2. Satsuma Imo (Japanese Sweet Potato)- Satsuma Imo is similar in taste and texture to the Kabocha, it is drier,denser and milder than the American sweet potato. You can recognize a Satsuma Imo because it has purple skin and yellow flesh. Satsuma Imo is a great source of fiber and Vitamin C. Since Sweet Potatoes are a staple in many physique athlete’s diets, this Japanese version can be swapped out to add variety. I also bake these weekly with my meal prep when I can find them.

3. Konnyaku- Made from the Konjac plant has close to zero calories. Konnyaku became sort of main stream with Shirataki noodles (a combination of tofu and shirataki). But you can find plain konnyaku and cook it up for a filling fibrous meal with even fewer calories. Konnyaku can smell fishy and feel slimy when you take it out of the package but don’t let that scare you away, with proper cooking and a good recipe you have a tasty, filling, almost calorie free food.

4. Seaweed- Packs of seaweed have also reached mainstream markets in the US. I have seen “seaweed snacks” in Trader Joes, Costco, & Wegmanns. Seaweed is another food that has barely any calories- around 25 per serving.

A 2011 review of  100 studies on the health benefits of seaweed found that seaweed had more bioactive peptides, which aid in heart health and blood pressure reduction. Additionally, seaweed is a good source of other micronutrients like iodine, Vitamin A, B-6 and C.

Sashimi

5. Sashimi- Most people are familiar with sushi but many people don’t know the difference between sushi and sashimi. Whereas sushi includes rice and other ingredients, sashimi is just the raw fish. This way you get protein, omega three fatty acids and fewer calories and carbohydrates than sushi rolls. After all, with toppings like mayonnaise and fried noodles you didn’t really expect your average sushi roll to be a healthy choice did you?

6. Green Tea- Green Tea is full of antioxidants which are powerful free radical fighters. Green Tea also helps boost your metabolism so you burn more calories even while at rest. I love drinking green tea with my breakfast or as I am teaching classes to give me a little boost of energy and soothe my dry throat.

While Japan has many other foods to explore, this is my top list of healthy go-tos that have been favorites of mine throughout the years.

Meal Prep: Breakfast ideas

Hi guys!

Its a beautiful weekend, but I’m inside meal preppin’. For those of you in the bodybuilding/fitness world, most of you are familiar with “meal prep” that is, making your meals in advance since you have to eat 5-6 times a day.

Meal prep is a great way to make sure you have healthy eats readily available throughout the week, but I haven’t always been such a big meal prep fan. I made a post not too long ago about “prep-less meal prep.” Basically buying as much pre-prepared healthy food as possible to cut down on my preparation time. That worked well for me for the last two preps because l am always short on time, and the little free time I do have, I don’t want to spend in the kitchen. I wish I liked cooking but I just don’t.

The problem with buying things mostly pre-made is that it gets expensive really quickly. For example, at whole foods, I would buy a 4 pack of plain, pre-cooked chicken breasts for $14.99, while a package of chicken breasts un-cooked costs about $6.00. I also noticed that I have been leaning on convenience foods a lot more lately. Unless I have the foresight to pack myself a few salads for my day I rarely eat the amount of vegetables I should.

I am starting slowly into my competition prep plan this time, and although I did the work-outs last week I did not really follow my meal plan. This week I am trying to start things right by prepping my breakfasts.

Many of my days start at 5:00 am so in the interest of sleep I try to push my wake-up time back as much as possible. Having a healthy breakfast ready to go will help me get some more sleep in and prevent my from relying on less healthy convenience foods.

Since oatmeal and egg whites are on my meal plan for breakfasts here is how I made them more convenient:

Mini Egg White Omlettes:

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1.5 cups of egg whites

1.5 cups Cut up veggies (I used peppers, onions, and tomatoes)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 & spray muffin tin with oil

2. Put cut up veggies into muffin tin

3. Beat egg whites until fluffy (I cheated and used a food processor)

4. Pour eggs over veggies in muffin tins

5. Bake for 20 min.

 

 

Baked Oatmeal “Muffins”

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2 cups Old fashioned oats

1/2 cup flavored flax oil (I used Barleans blackberry)

1/2 cup Truvia or other sweetener

2/3 cup of milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

2/3 cup of blueberries

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1.Pre-heat oven to 350 and put cupcake papers in muffin pan

2. Mix dry ingredients

3. Add wet ingredients (including blueberries)

4. Spoon into cupcake papers

5. Bake for 30 min.

 

Now that I am done meal prepping I am excited to eat healthy this week. I have a couple questions for you, though:

1. Any ideas on how to make you grilled chicken breasts taste better/ be less dry?

2. Do you think the Iso bag/ 6 pack bags are worth the money? I currently have a cheap-o cooler and am considering an upgrade.

 

Have a great week!