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NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (July 2019) - Planting Seeds: Vegan/Vegetarian-friendly

Smoked Island Tofu
Smoked Island Tofu
スモーク島どうふ

(SHOKUNO KAKEHASHI COMPANY)

It all began with a desire to support Japan's agriculture, forestry and fisheries by creating inventive foods made from local domestic ingredients unique to Okinawa, Japan's southern most tropical islands. 

The creamy taste of this smoked fermented tofu is unlike anything we've tried before and we can't wait to share it with you. Okinawan island tofu is carefully fermented and aged with kouji, then smoked using cherry blossom chips to create a fragrant favor that is ripe and moist and tastes similar to cheese but with less fat. 

Suggested use: Eat as is (pairs great with wine!) or use it as a thick spread on bread/crackers.
Ingredients: Tofu (made in Okinawa), miso, rice kouji, rice, sugar, kelp extract, nigari. Includes soy.
Nutritional information: N/A

Vegetable Park's Sesame and Kinako Brown Rice Jam
Sesame and Kinako Brown Rice Jam
おこめジャム きなこ

(VEGETABLE PARK)

Vegetable Park is a small farm located just north of Oaska that is run by Ayumu and Emi Ueda, a young couple who wanted to bring their community together by offering them the fresh foods from their land.

They created this delectable spread that uses the natural sweetness of brown rice with no added sugar or sweeteners. Sesame and kinako (ground soybean flour) are added to give this jam a Japanese peanut butter-like taste. Once you taste it you'll understand why it's the most popular of the brown rice jam flavors! 

Learn more about the young couple who started their farm as a way to bring local seasonal vegetables to their community in our Producer Spotlight.

Suggested use: Simply spread it on bread or crackers and enjoy!
Ingredients: Rice kouji, brown rice, organic sesame paste, organic kinako (soybean flour), salt
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 191kcal, Total Fat: 3g, Sodium: 0.12g, Total Carbohydrate: 37g, Protein: 4g

Okra Powder
Okra Powder

オクラパウダー
(JA EAST TOKUSHIMA)

Okra is a popular summer vegetable that grows larger in hotter climates. It's cultivated in Tokushima Prefecture, on the eastern end of Japan’s Shikoku Island, which is the traditional starting point for the island's 1,200km pilgrimage route that encompasses 88 Buddhist temples.

Okra is known as a "neba-neba" food, a group of foods (including natto and yama-imo, a sticky potato) that have a slimy and gooey texture and are rich in vitamins, folic acid and dietary fiber. They've been studied for their ability to improve insulin sensitivity and oxidative stress and are a great way to beat off summer heat fatigue.

This powder includes okra from stalk to seed, and is freeze-dried to maintain its high nutritional value. Each 1g serving includes 1 full okra so you can easily add this nutritional powerhouse to any dish or mix a spoonful with water and enjoy it as a drink. 

Learn more about the Japan Agricultural Co-operatives (JA or Nōkyō (農協)) and its almost 700 regional members in our Producer Spotlight.

Suggested use: Add to any dish or smoothie for a nutritional boost or mix with water and enjoy it as a drink.   
Ingredients: Okra
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 360kcal, Total Fat: 1.9g, Sodium: 0.028g, Total Carbohydrate: 71.2g, Protein: 14.6g

Dried Natto
Dried Natto
干し納豆
(NAGAMINE CORPORATION)

You'll either love it or hate it, there's no real in-between. There are few more controversial foods than natto. This fermented soy bean is smelly, sticky, stringy, slimy, delicious, healthy and a truly acquired taste.

To help introduce you to this unique food, we've included the purest dried natto available in Japan. It's sun-dried and unsalted using domestic soybeans from Ibaraki Prefecture, the home of natto.

Suggested use: Enjoy as is but be sure to shew it thoroughly for proper taste and digestion. No need to refrigerate. Store in a dry, cool place.
Ingredients: Soy beans, natto germs
Nutritional information: N/A

Daiginjo Naraduke (Pickling melon pickled with Daiginjo sake lees(Dassai))
Daiginjo Naraduke (Pickled Melon)
大吟醸の奈良漬
(MIKAWA)

These naraduke, pickled melons, are made from oriental pickling melons sourced from Yamaguchi prefecture that have been pickled using Daiginjo sake lees (or sake kasu, the byproduct of sake production). Diaginjo is regarded as the highest-grade of sake and is usually the most prized bottling of a sake brewery as it represents the height of the brewmaster's ability. Extra care is taken when polishing the rice to remove at least 50% of the outer layer of the grain.

The sake lees comes from the award winning sake brewery Dassai, located deep in the mountains of Yamaguchi prefecture. Dassai grew from a small brewery to one that has received international recognition. They focus on producing top-quality sake that is created using a careful combination of traditional labor-intensive hand-crafted methods and cutting edge technology, using the best quality rice for sake brewing, Yamada Nishiki. 

The combination results in a sweet and sour taste that is delicate, refined and graceful.

Suggested use: Enjoy as is.  
Ingredients: Oriental pickled melon (produced in Yamaguchi prefecture), sake lees, salt, sugar, shochu (distilled spirit), mirin (sweet sake)
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 157kcal, Total Fat: 0.17g, Sodium: 4.3g, Total Carbohydrate: 40.8g, Protein: 4.5g

Amacha Ajisai (Sweet Hydrangea) Tea
Amacha Ajisai (Sweet Hydrangea) Tea
甘茶あじさい
(IKUMI VILLAGE)

Ikumi Village is located in the green mountainous region of ​​Shizuoka. In harmony with the natural cycles of the seasons, they use traditional farming methods that have been certified by World Heritage Tea Plantation Farmers.  

This "amacha" or "sweet tea", doesn't use ordinary tea leaves, but rather a specific type of "gaku hydrangea" that is grown only in a limited area, even in Japan. It produces a tea that is 400 to 1000 times sweeter than sugar, but with no calories and no caffeine. It's even been used as a natural sugar substitute. 

When steeped, it has a soft golden color and a nectar-like aroma. The taste is a mellow sweetness with hints of floral and licorice flavors. 

Learn more about this unique tea and Ikumi Village's sustainable approach to tea farming in our Producer Spotlight.

Suggested use: Add hot water and drink as is. Can also be used as a sugar substitute in black tea or mixed with lemon to make lemonade.
Ingredients: Sweet hydrangea
Nutritional information: N/A