6 Secrets behind Japan’s Low Obesity, Longevity, and Health

“What if there was a land where people lived longer than anywhere else on earth, obesity was remarkably low, and women in their forties still looked like they were in their twenties? Wouldn’t you want to know their extraordinary secret?” — Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat by Naomi Moriyami

Source: Lizzie McGuire

Source: Lizzie McGuire

The secret, Naomi Moriyama explains in her book, can be found in her mother’s Tokyo kitchen — Japanese home cooking (as opposed to the sushi and izakaya plates we typically see in restaurants).

Here are 6 secrets from inside a Japanese mother’s kitchen that you can incorporate to make your life healthier!

Secret 1: The five pillars of the Japanese diet are fish, soy, rice, vegetables, and fruit

Japanese people eat more than 2x as much fish, 10x as much soy products, and 5x as much cruciferous veggies (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage) as Americans do. In exchange, they eat significantly less milk, butter, cheese, pasta, and red meat.

Easy resolution: Substitute fish for meat whenever you can!

Source: Hauling Gear

Source: Hauling Gear

Secret 2: The Japanese eat much smaller portions, and think carefully about how their food is presented. 

In Japan, food is meant to be eaten slowly, and every bite should be savored. Meals are presented on tableware that is much smaller, and the principles of food presentation are:

  • Never completely fill the plate
  • Each item is served on its own dish

Easy resolution: Savor your food more by focusing on it — when you eat, only eat — it can take as little as 15 minutes and you’ll be recharged to do what you need to do next with more focus and energy

Source: jesuisteleactrice

Source: jesuisteleactrice

Secret 3: For Japanese cooking, the best cooking is the least cooking 

Japanese kitchens are usually too small for ovens, so Japanese people usually gently steam, pan-grill, sauté, simmer, or stir-fry their food. These methods preserve more of a food’s nutrients.

Easy resolution: When you cook, try to make sure people can recognize what the food looked like in its natural state (e.g. potato –> mashed potato doesn’t pass the test)

Secret 4: The Japanese eat rice instead of bread with every meal

Japanese people eat a medium portion of rice with almost every meal and by having it, they are able to avoid the more processed and less fiber-rich calories in muffins, rolls, and white bread.

Easy resolution: replace rice for bread for one meal this week

Secret 5: Japanese people have mastered the power breakfast

A typical breakfast in Japan includes green tea, a bowl of steamed rice, miso soup with tofu, nori seaweed, fruit, and a small omelette or piece of grilled salmon. In Japan, breakfast is the most important and often biggest meal of the day.

Easy resolution: Make sure you always eat breakfast!

Source: Tumblr

Source: Tumblr

Secret 6: The Japanese have a healthier relationship with food

Probably the single most important difference – Japanese people have a healthier relationship with food.

“Americans primarily associate food with health objectives such as being thin [rather than] with the simple pleasure of a satisfying meal.” — Steve Hawks, Associate Professor of Health Science @ Brigham Young University

Easy resolution: stop thinking about calories and instead focus on how wonderful food tastes and how satisfied you are when you have had a good meal

Source: 30 Rock

Source: 30 Rock

What to do next?

  • Learn some of the basics of Japanese cooking by coming to our Onigilly event — get some hands-on action with Japanese ongiri and Onigilly’s high quality seafood/meat/veggie fillings
  • Copy this easy resolution list:
    1. Substitute fish for meat whenever you can!
    2. Savor your food more by focusing on it — when you eat, only eat — it can take as little as 15 minutes and you’ll be recharged to do what you need to do next with more focus and energy
    3. When you cook, try to make sure people can recognize what the food looked like in its natural state
    4. Replace rice for bread for one meal this week
    5. Make sure you always eat breakfast!
    6. Stop thinking about calories and instead focus on how wonderful food tastes and how satisfied you are when you have had a good meal
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6 Most Common Coffee Drinks and How to Navigate Your Way Around Them

Legend has it, coffee was discovered when Ethiopian shepherds noticed their goats were getting frisky and having trouble sleeping after eating from certain bushes.

Source: Cheezburger

Source: Cheezburger

It reached America during the Colonial period, where it wasn’t as successful initially because, um, people preferred to drink alcohol. It wasn’t until the Boston Tea Party, after which many Americans refused to drink tea, that coffee really started becoming popular. Today, coffee is the second most traded commodity on earth (oil is the first)!

The basic brew has been transformed in so many ways that looking at a cafe menu can feel overwhelming…especially before you’ve had your coffee. Here’s a quick and dirty explanation on the makeup of some of the most popular drinks.

1. Espresso and Drip Coffee

The main differences between espresso and drip coffee are how finely ground the coffee is and the brewing time. Espresso is more finely ground and espresso machines generate high pressure to force water through the tightly packed ground coffee, thus shortening the brewing time. This produces a “shot,” or a small amount of pretty concentrated coffee.

Credit: Coolhunting

Source: Coolhunting

Drip coffee, on the other hand, is made with loose ground coffee, through which water filters by the power of gravity (woo!). Because hot water is in contact with the coffee grounds for much longer, this creates for a more caffeinated beverage.

Credit: Clover Food Lab

Source: Clover Food Lab

2. Americano

An Americano is a shot of espresso with hot water. It is served without milk (add milk and you will be judged). The effect is a diluted espresso that is less bitter than black drip coffee.

Credit: Amigos Coffee

Source: Amigos Coffee

3. Macchiato

A traditional macchiato (vs. a Starbucks one…) is a shot of espresso topped with a small amount of frothed milk. It delivers a very potent espresso flavor, with the frothed milk cutting the intensity of a pure shot of espresso just a little.

Frothed milk (as opposed to steamed milk) is milk in which air has been incorporated to form a foam. This creates a new texture for the milk and a slightly sweeter taste.

Credit: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

For all intents and purposes, this basically tastes like espresso, though, so imagine the “gotcha” moment for somebody ordering their first non-Starbucks macchiato…

surprisedbaby

4. Cappuccino

A cappuccino is one part espresso, one part steamed milk, and one part frothed milk. If made properly, every sip should include equal parts of each. The steamed milk cuts the intensity of the espresso much more than in a macchiato but nowhere near as much as in a latte.

Credit: Ventnor Coffee

Source: Ventnor Coffee

5. Latte

A latte is two parts steamed milk and one part coffee. More milk means a more diluted espresso flavor, so the drink is gentler tasting and can also be more easily flavored with syrups like hazelnut or pumpkin spice.

It’s kind of like the gateway version of coffee.

Source: http://www.caffelatte.com/images/CaffeLatte_Glasses.jpg

Source: Caffe Latte

6. Mocha

A mocha is a desert-y drink that is kind of like a latte with cocoa powder or chocolate added. When you get a mocha, you’re pretty much getting an adult hot chocolate, where adult means caffeinated, not spiked. It’s ok to just get the hot chocolate.

Source: www.wikimedia.org

Source: Wikimedia

For extra credit:

Gibraltar/Cortado

Usually not on the menu (but something any decent barista can make), the Gibraltar/Cortado is a little like the secret handshake of coffee geeks. They are two names for the same drink, which is a shot of espresso with some steamed milk. The intensity of the espresso flavor is somewhere between that of a macchiato and a cappuccino.

The name Gibraltar came from the Gibraltar glass in which it was originally served, so if your barista apologizes for not having the right type of glasses, just smile magnanimously and wave it off.

Source: www.foodrepublic.com/

Source: Food Republic

Now go forth and order like a pro.

Interested in learning how to make all of these and taste them side by side? Check out our upcoming event with Contraband Coffee Bar and enjoy a night of coffee geekery!

Get your dessert on – in the form of a sandwich!

Get your dessert on - in the form of a sandwich!

What can be better than a perfect balance of banana, honey, chocolate, peanut butter, and frosted flakes within a fresh brioche bun? Oh, that’s right. BACON. (An optional add-on for you vegetarians out there)

Mission Picnic is tiny, adorable new sandwich shop at 22nd and Valencia. It’s the perfect spot to satisfy that sandwich craving with plenty of sweet, savory, veggie, and vegan options. Check it out – the wait’s always short and the staff always friendly! There may not be too much seating, but Dolores Park is only a few blocks away.