I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I guess would be called “nutri-diversity,” sort of like biodiversity. The concept of biodiversity tells us that the more different species there are, the healthier an ecosystem will be. Similarly, the more diversity there is within one given species, the healthier, stronger, and more likely to survive that species is.
It seems to me the same is true with the way we feed ourselves. It’s relatively common knowledge that a variety of fruits and vegetables gives us the greatest variety of nutrients. From there, I’ve been thinking about the other types of foods we eat and how incredibly limited so many of us are. Maybe it’s not that big of a deal since, of course, each ancient people had its primary grain and is primary sweetener, but it certainly couldn’t hurt to branch out, right?
That’s why, as of this week, I’ve decided that I’m going to try and introduce more variety into our diets. Perhaps we eat too much cane sugar and wheat flour. I’m starting with sugars, exploring: date sugar, agave nectar, honey, brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup. Then I’ll move on to flours: spelt, teff, possibly others like chickpea, potato, rice, etc. Finally, we already have a more diverse dairy diet, eating cheeses made of goat’s and sheep’s milks, but we may also try alternative yogurts and, as a byproduct, frozen yogurts.
But we’re starting out slowly. Tonight I replaced cane sugar in both components of our meal, bulgogi (a Korean marinated grilled beef) and jap chae (Korean-style noodle dish). They may not be strictly authentic recipes, but they are tasty, though very mildly flavored. I prefer a stronger, saltier, more garlicky flavor, so next time I make this I may play around a little with the recipe, or just fry up some minced garlic and sprinkle it over the dish.
Bulgogi (Korean Grilled Beef) (2 servings)
- 1 c. apple cider
- 1/2 c. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1/3 c. agave nectar
- 6 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lb. steak (cut is up to you but sirloin would work well)
- In an 8-inch square baking dish, whisk together all ingredients except steak. Place steak in the marinade, and turn over.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, turning every half hour or so to marinate evenly.
- On a hot grill, place meat and cook about 3-4 minutes on each side for medium rare, depending on thickness of steak.
- Let rest ten minutes, then slice thinly against the grain.
Jap Chae (Korean-Style Noodles) (2 servings)
- 2 oz. Asian-rice noodles (the kind you soak and then fry)
- half head of Savoy or Napa cabbage, shredded
- 6 oz. Shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 c. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- Place rice noodles in a small baking dish. Boil water and pour over the noodles to cover, reserving some of the water. Let noodles soak for 10 minutes, then drain.
- Meanwhile, wilt cabbage in several tablespoons of lightly salted water. Set aside in a bowl.
- Heat a little vegetable oil in the same pan. Saute sliced mushrooms for a few moments, and then remove to the same bowl as the cabbage.
- Mix soy sauce and 1/4 c. of the boiling water with the maple syrup in a small bowl.
- Heat several tablespoons of vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add noodles and sauce mixture, and fry several minutes or until some of the water has evaporated. Add cabbage and mushrooms, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and everything is heated through.