The brain is an incredible thing when it comes to food. At least my brain is, because, somewhat like George Costanza, if my brain were a head of lettuce, all but one leaf would be devoted to thinking about food: What will I eat next? Where does this come from? How can I cook this? Am I willing to pay 398 yen for a tiny jar of pickles? What IS that?! In Japan, I often find myself staring at squishy packages of shale-colored lumps, internal organs of unidentified animals, and seafood counters that include octopus beaks, whole flounder, and something that looks suspiciously like krill. There is an endless variety of excitement to be deciphered when I take my frequent trips to the grocery store.
The brain also convinces us what we can and can’t do, or what we can and can’t eat. Tackling food allergies is more about changing your mind than simply changing your diet. How we approach food affects our satisfaction with it. I’ve fully embraced the gluten-free lifestyle and am so much happier and healthier for it. Sometimes I have romantic pangs for cheese and greek yogurt, but I’ve accepted that being dairy-free is the healthiest bet for me. And after a few months of trial and error, I’ve discovered it is possible to be soy-free in, of all places, Japan. So if you think you can’t do it – then you won’t, or you won’t be happy. But if you think about how much healthier and truly happier you will be, if you can eradicate all that is dragging you down in life, like a chronic illness caused by food intolerances, a change in your diet is possible. In fact, enjoyable. I have to thank my dad for spurring one of the best changes in my life.
I thought being gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and, by choice, refined sugar free got me off the hook as far as any other dietary changes went. But it seems there are still a few more changes waiting in the wings. (don’t worry readers! I still will discuss all of the above in future posts, with recipes) Back home in Wisconsin, I could get eggs cheaply and safely from a local supplier. But at my local grocery store here in Chiba, it seems the chickens that supply the eggs are being fed either gluten or soy, so that means I have to take a breather from the incredible edible until I can find a trusted local source. However, that doesn’t mean you all can’t enjoy eggs, or find a substitute. I’ll eat this hash, sans eggs, no problem! It is a great weekend brunch, and the leftovers keep well so you can reheat them for your weekday mornings.
international breakfast hash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow or Vidalia onion, diced
1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed and diced (try kabocha squash or pumpkin too!)
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
2 large or 3 small radishes, peeled and diced (parsnips would be great as well)
2 Tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar, separated
three free-range eggs, optional
in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and then add the onion. cook for about 3-4 minutes until the onion begins to soften, then add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Cook the onions for another 2-3 minutes until they begin to caramelize in the vinegar. Turn down the heat to medium low and add the sweet potato and carrot. Saute for another 5 minutes, then add the radishes, stirring all the ingredients together to incorporate. Then let the vegetables cook undisturbed for 5 minutes or so until a nice brown crust forms on the underside. Add the final tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and stir everything around to mix well. If the veggies are still hard, cook on low heat for a few minutes more. I like my dice to be about the size of my thumbnail, so it doesn’t usually take too long.
While the hash is finishing, in a separate pan fry up the eggs in olive, sunflower, or coconut oil. Top each bowl of hash with an egg and get crackin! a little pepper on top of the egg is nice too.
You know what else is nice? comments! this is my first true post, so feedback is much appreciated.