Otagenki Report 2: Fit Expo 2014

I really was not expecting to enjoy myself so much at Fit Expo 2014, because Fit Expo 2013 was such a lame experience. I don’t know if the people who run the show read my piece on my personal fitness blog LessFatChick, but this time it was a big difference.

It seems like a new, and very welcome IMHO trend is REAL FOOD. Yes, you now can get a fair choice of nutrition bars and other fitness goodies that have ingredients you know and can pronounce. The only food like that you could find last year was at the Ralphs booth, and from a small company that sends a box of organic produce to your house every month. Yes, the frankenfood peddlers were still there, as were some very questionable supplements, (Ephedra? Oh really?) but there were a lot more items that were labeled organic, and a lot more with identifiable ingredients.

Another difference was a lot more experiential stuff…a lot more exercises to try, and mini-classes. The exhibitions were more interesting too, including some amazing feats of strength by professional athletes and very well trained amateurs.

So yeah, here’s another Otagenki Report. This doesn’t have any commentary…my goal with the Otagenki Reports is to tell the story with footage, not with words. I want to create something universal, that’s understandable in any language. I’ve always loved video essays and photo essays, they’re a real art form, and narration sort of breaks the mood.

Genki Okonomiyaki…my take on the One Move Forward recipe.

OK, I did it! I finally gave the Okonomiyaki recipe a shot, and it turned out great!

Here, this is what it looks like when finished…

Okonomiyaki of DOOM

Pretty cool, no?

My recipe is based on this one, here:
http://www.onemoveforward.com/2012/04/16/healthy-in-a-hurry-okonomiyaki/

However, one thing you must know about Okonomiyaki is that it really is one of those dishes that even the Japanese love to improvise with. One of the reasons the dish evolved was quite similar to the burrito and chilaquiles in Mexican food, pizza in Italian food, and a host of other dishes around the world: you can take the last bits of something you cooked last night and add it to the batter before grilling it on the griddle. As it turned out I wasn’t able to find bay shrimp or bean sprouts at my local Food 4 Less, so I used a can of clams and kanikamaboko (fake crab) instead of the bay shrimp, and more broccoli slaw and green onions instead of the bean sprouts. Okonomi quite literally translates as “whatever you like,” and yaki means “cooked on a grill” so yeah, you can put whatever you like in Okonomiyaki. I really did like what the chopped clams and the clam broth did with the recipe so that’s now a permanent part of the recipe as far as I’m concerned.

Genki (Healthy) Okonomiyaki
Ingredients
1 cup chopped cooked meat, whatever you want. I’ve had chicken in Okonomiyaki before at a really nice Japanese restaurant, so don’t just think seafood.
1 can chopped cooked clams, drained carefully, with the liquid going into a container. Measure out the liquid, reserve 1/2 cup.
1 bunch green onions, chopped.
2 cups bagged coleslaw mix
1 cup bagged broccoli slaw, or 2 if you can’t find fresh bagged bean sprouts in your store
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 1/4 cup “egg beaters” or equivalent. Good for cooking and baking, not so good for breakfast.
1 1/4 cup Whole grain baking and pancake mix. Trader Joe’s, as usual, is your friend here.
1/4 cup Oat Bran Meal. Also findable at Trader Joe’s.
1/2 cup reserved clam juice (from the canned chopped cooked clams)
1 tsp ponzu or 1/2 tsp low sodium soy sauce and 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Turkey bacon cut in small strips
Nonstick spray (I like Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil spray but their Olive Oil spray is good too!)
Low-sodium steak sauce, in lieu of more traditional Okonomiyaki sauce which is a salt BOMB and hard to get outside of Japanese grocery stores
Lite mayonnaise. Get Nisshin MayoDoree if you have a Japanese grocery store that carries it, but Best Foods/Hellman’s or Kraft or Trader Joe’s will do.

Prep
1.) Wash and chop the green onions. Add them into a big bowl along with the chopped meat, chopped drained clams, coleslaw mix, broccoli slaw and bean sprouts.
2.) Whisk the egg substitute, clam juice, ponzu, and Worcestershire sauce together.
3.) Mix together the baking mix and oat bran meal in a third bowl. Then make a well in the middle of it, and pour the liquid ingredients in. You want everything to combine at the consistency of crepe batter.
4.) Take the batter and mix it in with the meat and veggies.
5.) Preheat and spray nonstick spray on the griddle. Spoon out the Okonomiyaki onto the griddle, about 1/3 cup at a time, making pancakes. Cook on one side for 4 minutes, and while the first side is cooking arrange pieces of turkey bacon on the top. Flip after 4 minutes, and cook on the other side for 4 minutes or until the turkey bacon is as crispy as you like it.
6.) Drizzle on low-sodium steak sauce and lite mayo.
7.) Itadekimasu! (Be thankful for your food, and eat!)

Serves roughly four people. Cooked Okonomiyaki freezes well…just cool it in the refrigerator before freezing.
Again, I don’t have a calorie count, but all of this is pretty healthy.

Go hack your burger!

Alfred Can Haz Cheezburger

The hamburger is sort of the American national dish. However, the usual burger is usually a nutrition nightmare.

One of my new favorite wellness sites, One Move Forward, has put together some tips on how to fix this normally scary dish and make it healthier. My only suggestion over and above this is to check out ground turkey as a replacement for ground beef. I’ve never looked back. I love turkey burgers and do not miss the beef variety.

http://www.onemoveforward.com/2012/03/06/the-wellness-burger-turn-your-favorite-food-into-a-healthy-choice/

They also tackle the Japanese favorite Okonomiyaki. I have a version of this, with further health hacks, that I will be posting as soon as I test the recipe.
http://www.onemoveforward.com/2012/04/16/healthy-in-a-hurry-okonomiyaki/

Super Duper Genki Bars

Energy Bars Of Doom
Ingredients
Coconut oil or coconut oil spray or some kind of non-GMO neutral tasting oil spray. Olive oil has a very distinct taste so it’s not a good choice here. Coconut oil does have a distinct taste but it matches well with this recipe.
1 3/4 cups “old-fashioned” rolled oats. These are thicker than the standard kind but not as thick as non-rolled “steel-cut” oats. Measure it out as 1 cup and 3/4 cups: they will be used in different parts of the recipe in different form.
1/4 cup flax seeds
2 tbsp. whole wheat baking mix or whole wheat flour
3/4 cups roasted, unsalted nuts, chopped up coarsely.
3/4 cups dried fruit, chopped up to raisin-size pieces.
1/2 cup “goodies” like extra fruit, extra nuts, cocoa nibs, unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup honey. You want raw honey, organic if possible.
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp flavoring extract, like perhaps vanilla or almond. This is not mandatory but it helps the flavor.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and foil and grease down a baking pan. It has been suggested to me to use muffin tins and muffin tin liners but I haven’t tried it yet.
Take 3/4 cups oats and 1/4 cup flax seed and grind it up in your food processor until the consistency of cornmeal. Throw the cup of whole rolled oats and the ground mixture into a big bowl with the flour, the chopped up nuts, fruits and “goodies.” Set the bowl aside.
Mix the honey, salt, cinnamon, egg whites and flavoring extract if used.
Pat the mixture into a pan with moistened hands, or spoon into lined muffin cups about an inch and a half thick. Press the mixture down in the muffin cups.
It should take about an hour or so to bake. You want the surfaces dry to the touch. The muffin tin variation might cook faster, so check that more frequently.
If you put it in a pan you will likely not be able to cut it after cooling, but you can break it up into bar-sized chunks. Let cool and wrap with plastic wrap.

I don’t have a calorie count but the fact of the matter is that these are real food ingredients as opposed to the mystery stuff in packaged energy bars. I think that makes a big difference. And remember, these are not for idle snacking…these are to nourish you during a distance walk, run, bike ride or whatever.