This blog is a place to share my passion for cooking and inspire people to cook more from scratch. With six people in the family, cooking is something that is always on my mind. I want to share some of my favorite foods and recipes and share more about traditional diets (like the kind of food our great, great, great grandmothers would have made). Right now I am fascinated with fermented vegetables, coconuts, seafood with a cerviche twist and organ meats... although maybe not all in the same meal!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Super Immunity Hijiki-Shiitake Wraps

The immune boosting ingredients are just popping out to jump start your immune system!

In my cooking class we spent some time this week talking about menu planning for specific health reasons.  I decided to look into immune boosting foods since cold and flu season are right around the corner and I thought this would be something with broad interest.

So off I went to the library to do some research on immune boosting foods and I found some good inspiration in the book Super Immunity Foods.   One of the recipes in the book called attention to the combination of Shiitake mushrooms, which are a good source of an immunity building compound called lentian, and apparently this becomes even more powerful when paired with the sea vegetable Hijiki.  So using these two ingredients as a starting point, I tweaked one of their recipes and started to add even more immune boosting foods to create a wrap so darn healthy that I don't even know where to begin.

Another chart that I found useful in looking for immune boosting foods came from a chart I found on the internet from the World's Healthiest Foods and if you scroll down a bit on this link you'll find a chart that lists some super healthy foods for the immune system along with a mention of what immune boosting compounds they contain.

Donna's Super Immunity Hijiki-Shiitake Wraps

1/4 cup dried Hijiki  (a type of seaweed)
6 - 8 oz Shiitake mushrooms
2 tbs coconut oil
2 carrots diced small
1 squash diced small
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic diced finely
1 Tbs grated ginger
1 cup diced Tempeh (a fermented soybean) * (If you prefer, you could use diced chicken or fish instead)
1/4 cup Tamari sauce
Homemade Sauerkraut if available (optional but worth it!)
Sea Salt/Pepper to taste
Lacinto Kale (several big leaves)

Soak Hijiki in cold water for ten minutes to hydrate and soak Shiitake mushrooms in warm water also for 10 minutes.  Rinse Hijiki and discard water.  Put coconut oil in hot saute' pan and then add onions, carrots, squash and then garlic and ginger.  When nice and soft then add the Tempeh, mushrooms and hijiki and Tamari sauce and also salt/pepper to taste.  

In a pot of boiling water quickly blanch large Kale leaves and then put in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Place the wrap on a plate and then add a dollop of homemade sauerkraut and then put a larger amount of the Hijiki-Shiitake mushroom mix on the wrap as well and then roll up the kale to make a wrap.

Here's a photo of just the Hijiki-Shiitake mix:

This is so tasty and full of immune boosters!  The Kale has Vitamin A, E and K to enhance the function of white blood cells, increase the responses to antigens and provide antiviral protection.  The homemade sauerkraut if you have it is a great source of probiotics that will boost immunity and has so many phytonutrients that you get from all the colors used in making the kraut.  Onions and garlic contain sulfur and flavenoid phytonutrients to provide antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties and the Shitake mushrooms contain lentian to strengthen the immune system.  According to fats expert Dr. Mary Enig, "coconut oil has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties of the medium chain fatty acids/triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut oil and have been known to researchers since the 1960s."  Ginger is beneficial for the digestive tract and has anti inflammatory properties.  Tamari, which is a fermented soy sauce, is a good source of Vitamin B3 and B2 as well as minerals such as iron, phosphorous and manganese and also has free amino acids.  Tempeh, which is fermented soy and in my opinion healthy only because the fermentation process, is a source of Vitamin B12 and also B2, B3, and B6.  Unfermented soy products such as Tofu can be dangerous when eaten in large amounts.  I don't want to get off topic here, but for the dangers of unfermented soy I recommend The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla Daniel.

Now the best news about all of this is that my youngest daughter actually ATE this mixture tonight for her dinner!  I felt like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams... if you build it, they will come!  You have to just keep on letting your kids try these new combinations of foods and when you least expect it, your child will eat some of this stuff!  I honestly did not think my daughter would eat mushrooms or Tempeh or any of this stuff but she DID and SHE ENJOYED IT!  So never give up on trying to introduce these kinds of foods to your kids.  Her little body got such an immune boost and that in turn, gives me a giant smile and probably an immune boost myself!

Also posted at

And Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday

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