All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Yuzu miso / sweet miso with yuzu citrus

Yuzu, a winter citrus, instantly adds an intriguing aroma and transforms any miso paste into an amazing sauce.

Whole recipe:
216 calories; 7.2 g protein; 2.2 g fat; 36.5 g carbohydrate; 31.7 g net carbs; 1,369 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 4.8 g fiber

1 tablespoon (18 g):
34 calories; 1.1 g protein; 0.4 g fat; 5.8 g carbohydrate; 5.0 g net carbs; 218 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.8 g fiber

Seriyaki / water dropwort with konnyaku noodles and thin deep-fried tofu

Although the name literally means "roasted/grilled" seri, seri in this dish is usually blanched and mixed with other ingredients, at least with the regional seriyaki in Akita Prefecture. A past simple version, possibly in a different region, used a roasting or grilling technique to prepare seri. So why not grill seri to intensify its flavor and then cook it as Akita people do?
Seri roots are probably the tastiest part, as the roots get rave reviews with seri grown in the Mitsuseki region in Akita. While store-bought seri here does not come with yummy roots (and my own seri is impossible to dig in the hard-frozen ground outside), you can still enjoy the toasty note and sweet juiciness of the vegetable from grilling.

1/2 of recipe:
70 calories; 4.0 g protein; 2.9 g fat; 6.0 g carbohydrate; 3.2 g net carbs; 145 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.8 g fiber

1/3 of recipe:
93 calories; 2.7 g protein; 2.0 g fat; 4.0 g carbohydrate; 2.1 g net carbs; 93 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.9 g fiber


Karashi renkon / deep-fried lotus root with mustard-flavored miso

A regional specialty with 400 years of history from Kumamoto in southern Japan. It makes a great appetizer, as the dish was originally designed to stimulate the appetite and improve the health of a great lord. Sweet miso blended with spicy karashi mustard releases a soft yet pungent aroma as you bite into the crunchy lotus root, making you want to take another sip of sake or bite of plain rice ...
Actual cooking time is not particularly long, but preparation does take some time to let the lotus root and filling work on their own to stabilize the karashi-miso mixture, so plan ahead.

Whole recipe:
419 calories; 7.1 g protein; 26.3 g fat; 38.3 g carbohydrate; 32.0 g net carbs; 444 mg sodium; 14 mg cholesterol; 6.3 g fiber

1/2 of recipe:
210 calories; 3.6 g protein; 13.2 g fat; 19.2 g carbohydrate; 16.0 g net carbs; 222 mg sodium; 7 mg cholesterol; 3.2 g fiber

1/3 of recipe:
140 calories; 2.4 g protein; 8.8 g fat; 12.8 g carbohydrate; 10.7 g net carbs; 148 mg sodium; 5 mg cholesterol; 2.1 g fiber


Satsumaimo no ukishima / steamed bean paste cake with roasted sweet potato

This moist and gently sweet sponge cake is another great teatime companion. While it contains sweet bean paste, its egg and flour content lets it also complement Western meals when served as a dessert.  Below, I replaced some shiroan white bean paste with yakiimo roasted satsumaimo sweet potato, and threw in some apple bits cooked with mikan tangerine and cinnamon.

Whole recipe:
464 calories; 14.9 g protein; 5.8 g fat; 88.3 g carbohydrate; 78.7 g net carbs; 77 mg sodium; 196 mg cholesterol; 9.6 g fiber


Suigyoza no chige-fu nabe / jjigae-style hotpot with shui jiao dumplings

A spicy red hotpot for chilly days, very filling yet gentle on your stomach. Have lots of fresh lemon wedges ready -- they will work some amazing magic at the end.
As with any nabe hotpot, any ingredients in the fridge or on the kitchen counter can go in. Explore with what you have, and find your favorite combinations.

1/2 of recipe (when taking a few sips of broth): 
436 calories; 25.8 g protein; 10.2 g fat; 58.2 g carbohydrate; 47.2 g net carbs; 366 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 38 mg cholesterol; 11.0 g fiber


Osechi New Year's Day meal, 2017

Finally, I was able to make a tasty reduced-sodium version of ozoni soup, ganmodoki to warabi no nimono tofu patties and bracken simmered in broth, and ebi no umani shrimp in broth. This marks a big step forward from previous years' osechi.

I skipped making chrysanthemum flower-cut kabu Japanese turnip marinated in sweetened vinegar as we could not find the vegetable, but I missed the sweet and fresh taste of kabu, which provides a nice contrast to other dishes and works great to refresh your mouth. The appearance of plates and bowls when placed on each tray seemed to lack something as well. The bright green camellia leaves that accompany chrysanthemum flower-cut kabu usually tighten the overall scene, and without the leaves, the picture looked a bit fuzzy. You notice how important something is only when it is not there.