February 26, 2012

Secret Weapon: Soba Noodles and Other Forms of Buckwheat

Steam-sauteed vegetables with black beans and soba noodles.

I'm finally on the soba noodle bandwagon.   While exploring GERD-friendly ingredients, I kept ignoring soba noodles because I'm not a fan of buckwheat.   That is almost outrageous, since my neighborhood is known for its fabulous Eastern European restaurants and shops, all selling ready-to-eat cooked kasha and endless boxes of buckwheat groats.  Noted by health "gurus" as a "superfood," buckwheat is healthy and versatile, especially for plant-based diets, and with help like the Vegan Coach's buckwheat page, I'm inspired to cultivate a taste for it.

My own experience with buckwheat and its impact on my GERD is positive.   I regard it as what I think of as a GERD "safe food" for me -- foods which never, or very rarely, bother my gut.   These are the foods that make me think afterwards, "Wow!  So this is what a normal gut feels like!"   Buckwheat groats (kasha) and soba noodles are in this category -- every time I eat them, I can almost palpably feel my stomach, esophagus and intestines breathe a sigh of relief and just relax into a comfortable state.   Likewise with other "safe" foods including applesauce, edamame, tofu, homemade lentil soup, winter squash, carrots, and pu-ehr tea.


This is not so much a recipe than a declaration of how well soba, greens and beans go together.  Having these ingredients on hand (and not ready to deal with pressing tofu yet), I made this dinner to great success, both taste-wise and gut-wise.   Try experimenting with soba, some mix of vegetables, and some kind of beans -- the higher the quality, the better.  For my dish I used:

1. Hakubaku Organic Soba Noodles

2. Slow-sauteed vegetables: 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin (from greenmarket); 1 onion, chopped (from greenmarket); bok choy, sliced (from supermarket).  I've paired bok choy with leeks and carrots in the past with tasty results.  Some sliced scallions would also go well.

3. Black beans from Cayuga Pure Organics: from "scratch;" I've learned dried beans at the greenmarket are not only fantastic, but a time-saver, since they do not require overnight soaking.  I just soak them for two hours and boil for one hour, adding a small pinch of salt in the last 10 minutes -- easy enough to accomplish while doing other things in the house or even a work-night evening.  (The website says 3-4 hours soak, but my farmstand source tells me 2 hours, and she's right -- any more than this, they'd be mush.)   Fresh made beans freeze exceptionally well; I make meal-sized portions out of my batches and this works like a charm.  (Reheat in oven or on the range, defrost first or don't, microwave if you wish.)

For our dinner, I didn't bother to mix anything together, though topping the soba with the veggies, or quickly sauteing them with the noodles just before serving would be quite pleasing, I imagine!

Another green that might pair well with soba -- pea shoots!

Google "soba noodles vegan" and infinite possibilities turn up!  These look mouthwatering and GERD-friendly:
  1. Chef In You's Japanese Soba Noodle Recipe
  2. Branny Boils Over's Soba Noodle and Pea Salad (though I'd watch the soy sauce -- perhaps not good for some of our cranky guts…)
  3. Dana Treat's Super Soba Noodles blog recipe post looks delectable!  This recipe also uses bok choy, as well as mushrooms and cilantro.  I'm not sure how mushrooms and GERD fit together because I don't like mushrooms, so they're not in my diet.  If I  make this, I'll just omit the mushrooms and probably the soy sauce, as well.
  4. And not be missed is Hiroko Kato's interesting Tokyo Vegetarian Guide and her noodle intro page, with recipes and nutrition info for not only soba but also udon, somen and ramen.

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