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Table for one / High-fiber, low-effort recipes full of flavor

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Barley tsukudani, left, and dried okara furikake

The Yomiuri ShimbunBarley tsukudani, dried okara furikake

A lack of appetite and an unbalanced diet can lead to health problems, especially for elderly people living alone.

This column has recently featured nutritional advice from cooking expert and nutritionist Chinami Hamauchi on dietary components essential for the elderly, as well as recipes using foods containing those components, with tips on how to use them effectively. The third and last installment is about dietary fiber.

Dietary fiber acts to clean up the intestines. There are two types — soluble and insoluble — and both create a conducive environment for the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria.

Burdock and sweet potatoes contain large amounts of insoluble fiber, which helps discharge unwanted substances from the intestine. Soluble fiber works to prevent rapid rises of blood glucose levels after meals, and has other beneficial effects. Such foodstuffs as gooey okra are rich in soluble fiber.

However, it is difficult for people who live alone to consume plenty of these vegetables.

“There are ideal foodstuffs for consuming high-fiber vegetables,” Hamauchi said.

One is mochimugi, a type of barley rich in both soluble and insoluble fibers. Mochimugi is usually steamed with white rice to make barley rice, but Hamauchi takes a different approach.

“I make a mochimugi tsukudani by simmering it with soy sauce, mirin and sugar. The dish is good with white rice,” she said.

Hamauchi recommends boiling mochimugi with hot water before seasoning it and wrapping small portions to keep in the freezer. Portions can be thawed in a microwave oven for use in soups and salads.

Boiled mochimugi has a popping yet gooey texture that is unique and addictive. Barley simmered to produce a salty-sweet flavor is also appetizing.

Another foodstuff Hamauchi suggests is dried okara, a crumbly by-product of making tofu. It is available at stores under such names as “kanso [dried] okara” or “okara powder.”

Dried okara is a more efficient way to consume dietary fiber than eating raw okara. Dried okara can be mixed into a soup or yogurt or even blended with roasted sesame and dried bonito flakes to make flavorful furikake (a dried mixed seasoning).

“It can be sprinkled over salad like dressing. It’s also good to add olive oil to your liking,” Hamauchi said.

Both tsukudani made of boiled mochimugi and dried okara furikake are convenient ways to add a twist to your daily dishes.

Concluding this series featuring dietary hints for the elderly, Hamauchi said, “At any age, let’s cherish mealtimes that start with ‘Itadakimasu’ and end with ‘Gochisosama.’ Such a mind-set will lead to mental and physical health.”

Recipes for barley tsukudani, dried okara furikake

Barley tsukudani

1. Boil 100 grams of mochimugi barley for 18 minutes with plenty of hot water. Drain with a strainer and wash with running water before draining again. (100 grams of dried mochimugi will produce about 300 grams of boiled mochimugi.)

2. Prepare a small pan and add 200 grams of boiled mochimugi. Add 3 tablespoons each of soy sauce, mirin and sugar and a knob of minced ginger. Simmer until the liquid of the ingredients evaporates.

Dried okara furikake

Mix 30 grams of dried okara, 1 tablespoon of roasted white sesame, 3 grams of dried bonito flakes, ½ teaspoon of salt and 30 grams of minced walnuts.

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