Whether you are dieting, have health concerns, or just want to try a traditional Japanese diet, these five dishes are sure to not only satisfy your hunger but leave you feeling pretty good afterwards as well too.
While it’s not always possible to avoid eating foods that are bad for you, adding a healthy alternative to your meal can make some difference in your diet. After learning the basics of how to eat healthy in Japan, here are the five best Japanese traditional side dishes to add to your diet in order to not only improve your nutrition but also potentially undo some of the damage caused by too many indulgent modern meals. The best part is, all of these dishes can be found pre-made at most supermarkets or convenience stores too — and they’re not expensive at all.
This is essentially a blanched spinach salad served with bonito flakes and sesame seeds with a dash of soy sauce or sesame seed dressing — or no sauce at all. Easy and quick to make, spinach ohitashi can be made with either fresh or frozen spinach, and can be eaten as a side dish, added to a salad mix, or put with leftover rice to create your own mixed onigiri. Spinach is a great source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A and folic acid which are crucial for healthy bones, skin, and energy. Skip the soy sauce and add a splash of your favorite salad dressing or just lemon juice instead if you want a sodium-reduced option.
Slimy yet satisfying, to take a Lion King quote out of context, natto is a food that you just have to get used to — much in the same way that no one is born loving green peppers or other such strongly flavored foods. Natto is fermented soybeans served with soy sauce, karashi mustard and sliced green onions, although many also enjoy adding a raw egg to this dish as well. If you need another reason to get used to eating these sticky beans, natto is cholesterol-free, and is rich in B vitamins (especially B2 and B6), vitamins E and K, plus potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, protein, dietary fiber, and more. It’s stinky and doesn’t look great, but will have a positive effect on your health, so give it a try!
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