The Incredible Edible Lotus Root

There is a commercial I would like to see, or even an image flashed  in the middle of prime time news these days.

The image I would like to see is this:

the lotus flower

and then this:

The incredible edible lotus root
The incredible edible lotus root

And then a slogan, like this:

A Renkon (lotus root) a day keeps the Doctor away.

In this time of news about swine flu and ozone layer depletion, what can we do to lesson images of masks and injection needles and increase images of natural remedies from the earth that will help us tap into our energy and find ways to boost our immunities?

Drive away in this, the commercial might say, with some wheels painted on the lotus.

try out these wheels
try out these wheels

We are lucky to live in Japan, where you can buy renkon in most any produce section of a supermarket.  Did you know that the flower above is the same plant as the root pictured here?

The lotus root  is easy to cut and to cook.  You simply slice it, and peel off the outer skin and can cook it in a simple broth of soy sauce, mirin, and dashi (soup stock; powdered instant is ok, just sprinkle in a teaspoon).  The taste might surprise you. It’s crunchy and filling.

I want to make you hungry for renkon.*

*and other root vegetables too!

New commercial for The Big Mac Alternative
New commercial for The Big Mac Alternative

An informative link to lotus root can be found here:


Aikawarazu Life in Japan

Healthy Everyday Foods You Can Find at Any Grocery Store

  1. Beets: Think of beets as red spinach because they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.
    • How to eat: Fresh, raw and grated to make a salad. Heating decreases the antioxidant power.
  2. Cabbage: Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes.
    • How to eat: Asian-style slaw or as a crunchy topping on burgers and sandwiches.
  3. Swiss chard: A leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes.
    • How to eat it: Chop and saute in olive oil.
  4. Cinnamon: May help control blood sugar and cholesterol.
    • How to eat it: Sprinkle on coffee or oatmeal.
  5. Pomegranate juice: Appears to lower blood pressure and loaded with antioxidants.
    • How to eat: Just drink it.
  6. Dried plums: So they are really prunes, but they are packed with antioxidants.

    • How to eat: Wrapped in prosciutto and baked.
  7. Pumpkin seeds: The most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of the mineral are associated with lower risk for early death.

    • How to eat: Roasted as a snack, or sprinkled on salad.
  8. Sardines: Otherwise known as “health food in a can.” They are high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins.
    • How to eat: Choose sardines packed in olive or sardine oil. Eat plain, mixed with salad, on toast, or mashed with dijon mustard and onions as a spread.
  9. Turmeric: The “superstar of spices,” it may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

    • How to eat: Mix with scrambled eggs or in any vegetable dish.
  10. Frozen blueberries: Even though freezing can degrade some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, frozen blueberries are available year-round and don’t spoil; associated with better memory in animal studies.
    • How to eat: Blended with yogurt or chocolate soy milk and sprinkled with crushed almonds.
  11. Canned pumpkin: A low-calorie vegetable that is high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A; fills you up on very few calories.

    • How to eat: Mix with a little butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.

You can find more details and recipes on the Men’s Health Web site, which published the original version of this list.

Moving Down the Food Chain or Up

blue_goals_spot“How many of us can the world support?” It depends on what level of food consumption. Right now the world produces about 2 billion tons of grain per year. Diets heavy in livestock products like the U.S., which consumes about 800 kilograms per person annually could support only 2.5 billion people if the whole world took up the U.S. way of consumption. The Italians fair better at 400 kilograms per person annually. And at the 200 kilogram level consumed by the average Indian the world grain harvest could support 10 billion.

In every society where incomes raise, people move up the food chain. They eat more animal protein. Beef, pork, poultry, milk, eggs, and seafood are mixed at different levels depending on geography and culture, but the raise in more livestock laden diets appears to be universal with a raise in purchasing power.

The worlds grain production that feeds us and all this livestock must raise along with this trend as more nations become developed and nothing is done in the way of consumption.

But, there is something you can do. What do the Italians do that they consume about half as much as Americans? What sets them apart?

They consume most of their annual consumption per person directly as either pasta, bread, rice, or breakfast cereal. But in moderation.

And even better than that the Italians live longer, too! The average life expectancy in Italy is higher than in the U.S. It turns out that people living too high or too low on the food chain don’t live as long as those in the middle. The Indians could improve their health by consuming more animal protein.

Consuming a more Mediterranean type diet that includes meat, cheese, and seafood, but all in moderation is healthier for you.

So moving down the food chain can improve your health if you eat too much food from livestock while at the same time lowering your annual grain intake. Or, if you need to eat more animal protein it could improve your health.

Also moving down the food chain has many other positive benefits for the environment. Eating lower on the food chain means you consume less energy and water per kilogram of food you eat. Helping reduce energy consumption and pollution.

Modern agriculture depends heavily on the use of gasoline and diesel fuel in tractors for plowing, planting, cultivating, and harvesting. Irrigation pumps use diesel fuel, natural gas, and coal-fired electricity. Fertilizer production is also energy-intensive: the mining, manufacture, and international transport of phosphates and potash all depend on oil. Natural gas, however, is used to synthesize the basic ammonia building block in nitrogen fertilizers.

Moving down the food chain means less energy is need to produce the food you eat. A cow takes about twice as much energy to produce a kilogram of meat than that of a pig and about 6 times as much for fish and poultry. Fish is the less energy intensive with chicken coming in at a close second.

So with this in mind we will be including recipes and diet suggestions in this section to help you explore more what you can eat to help yourself live longer and save the impact you have on the environment at the same time.