Although I haven’t been following my diet, I still keep an eye out for food and health related stuff. One thing I keep seeing come up — mostly when I read about Japanese food, not when I’m reading about low carb foods — is natto. It’s Japanese fermented soybeans. I always tucked it away in the back of my mind as something to read more about and to try later, but never got around to doing. I ended up doing a little bit of research last night because I came across an article about aging and beauty. The point they were trying to make was, since natto is loaded with vitamin K2, it aids in preventing wrinkles and I believe it was used to explain why Asians age so well. I thought it was mostly genetic, which I still think plays a part (becaus a lot of people still think I look much younger than I am), but it looks like Asians have a lot more vitamin K2 in their diet than we do out west. According to wikipedia, there are other cultures have that dishes that are very similar to natto.
Many countries produce similar traditional soybean foods fermented with Bacillus subtilis, such as shuǐdòuchǐ (水豆豉) of China, cheonggukjang (청국장) of Korea, thuanao (ถั่วเน่า) of Thailand, kinema of Nepal and the Himalayan regions of West Bengal and Sikkim, hawaijaar of Manipur, akhuni of Nagaland, piak of Arunachal Pradesh, India.
I’ve read that it’s an acquired taste and I’ve seen some people compare it to other foods that smell bad, but it tastes good, like durian. Some people say it has a bad taste, though, so I guess it depends on your palate. When you buy it, it may have a couple of different packets of sauce to mix with it to help with the smell and taste. I’ve read that some people mix it into other dishes to mask them. I may try that if I find I don’t really like it right out of the package because I’d still like to reap the benefits of natto. According to the wiki article linked earlier:
A 2009 internet survey in Japan indicated 70.2% of respondents like nattō and 29.8% do not, but out of 29.8% who dislike nattō, about half of them eat nattō for its health benefits.
One recipe I’ve seen on the internet is one that I originally saw in a Hard Gay video (may be NSFW) where Hard Gay, a Japanese comedian, tries to help a child overcome his dislike of natto. The recipe consists of putting the natto in coffee jelly and topping it with whipped cream. You could put it on toast, but seeing as I’m on keto, I probably won’t and the whipped cream will have to be the sugar-free kind (I used to use this on sugar-free jello as a snack, mmm).
It’s supposed to have other health benefits other than helping with wrinkles, but that was the main point of that article. A simple google search will show what other benefits it offers, but a couple are it helps to lower cholesterol (something that I’m interested in) and reduces blood clotting, helping to avoid heart attacks or strokes.
Out west, we can get our K2 from foods like beef, chicken, butter, milk, cheese, and eggs, but it has to come from grassfed animals and the quality of soil that the grass is growing in is also a factor (source). I’m guessing it’s because of the bacteria that’s used when fermenting the soybeans. “Historically, nattō was made by storing the steamed soybeans in rice straw, which naturally contains B. subtilis natto. The soybeans were packed in straw and left to ferment” (wikipedia). Anyway, we don’t seem to get enough of it out here because what percent of the population buys grassfed? I would guess not the majority. Definitely not my family. We aren’t poor, but we try to save by buying what’s cheap, so eating organic or grassfed (if I recall correctly, these don’t mean the same thing) is not in our shopping habits. It’s whatever is on sale at the supermarket. One day, though, I’m going to change that.
Anyway, natto is one of the foods that I want to try to work into my diet. Another one is maybe shirataki rice and noodles. It really makes me sad that I can’t have the real things while on keto and like I’ve said before, I’m going to try to work a minimal amount into my diet again once I hit my goal weight, but in the meantime, I want a substitute (I’ll probably alternate with “riced” cauliflower). I’ve thought of just eating more vegetables or tofu with the food I prepare, but sometimes I just want to have rice with it. We make our dishes saucier than you’d normally get them because we like to ladle the sauce over rice and noodles.
While I’ve read some negative stuff about shirataki products, like the smell and taste, I’ve also read good ones and how to do something about these problems (rinsing thoroughly and drying by roasting in a pan on low-medium heat). It makes me think that the negative reviews are either old, written before people figured out how to solve these problems, or they’re written by people who just haven’t tried hard enough or done enough research on the preparation of shirataki products. There are other things I’ve read, like shirataki can’t replace pasta in Italian dishes, but are good in Asian ones, like pho. Again, though, I’ve read of people making it work in Italian dishes or in macaroni and cheese, so I’m thinking the dishes that came out horribly are probably failed attempts by the same people mentioned earlier. I came across a comment where someone seems to have the same view. I forget which product page I saw it on, but the person said something along the lines of people are treating shirataki noodles like regular pasta and expecting the same results as regular pasta, but they don’t realize it’s not the same and that there’s a different way to prepare it.
So, in short, I’m not letting the bad reviews faze me. I usually do a good amount of research before I buy something and I think I have a good idea of how to make it work. I think it’s worth trying out.
Lately, I’ve been limited to eggs, bacon, salads, and some frozen seasoned chicken. Occasionally, I’ll have fish. I definitely need to add more to this list because it’s getting boring (I had more variety when I was doing the shopping back when I was living with my boyfriend, but I’m not doing the shopping now), so I’m also always on the lookout to add new stuff to my diet.