Sep 22, 2017
How to stay healthy without a real kitchen in Japan.
Staying healthy can be difficult in any country. Knowing what to eat is hard and it’s made worse by not even knowing what the things you are eating/shopping for even are. With Mcdonalds on nearly every continent, it's easy just to fall back on the things you know, good old burger and fries and a pile of chicken nuggets. At least we know there is some chicken in there. You have also got the Japanese fast food joints like Tenya(tempura and udon) and iccho(izakaya style fast food place) to fill you up on the cheap. Its tempting to just eat deep fried treats all day everyday as well. So when confronted with a Japanese efficiency apartment and no real kitchen, Mcdonalds everyday really does become a tempting. Living in a one room Japanese apartment is like living in a university dorm room minus the school cafeteria to cook for you.
If you are lucky, there is a sink and room for a one burner stove, but some places don't even have that luxury. What does one go about doing to get the variety of nutrients for their caloric buck? Not eating deep fried things doesn't necessarily mean you are eating healthy, and there isn’t anything wrong with eating Mcdonalds on occasion, but I just wanted to share some of the things I thought about while navigating Japan when I didn’t have a place to cook. Even now with a full kitchen and a family of five to feed, these things come in handy trying to make sure everybody is getting the nutrition they need and still enjoying what we are eating.
Number one, cook at home. This goes for anywhere but preparing food at home is the best way to know exactly what you are eating and you can decide on the things you like when it comes to vegetables. But wait. How do you cook at home without a real kitchen?? Well if you are one of the lucky ones with a one burner stove, then you don't have anything to worry about. Start making those one pot meals and you are set. Curry and soups are great examples. Cook some meat, throw in some chopped up veggies, boil it down, then add the roux or soup flavoring. Living the single life and don't like eating the same thing two days in a row? Make the soup first then reheat it the next day and toss in some curry cubes. You could do the same with the nabe soup bases as well.
They sell them everywhere in supermarkets during the cooler months. The hotter summer season, you can only find a few flavors, but come winter, there are flavors galore; salt, kimchi, soy milk...you name it, you can probably find it.
And if you lack the stove like this person?
Invest in a rice cooker, microwave, and hot water pot. You will need to be creative, but making soup with just a microwave can be done. Steamed veggies that are nuked are great. Beef stew in a rice cooker is doable. Rice cooker recipes are fantastic. Cooking at home can be adventurous and fun. And because you can load up on lots of different vegetables and leaner meats, it's so easy to eat healthy. Browning meat in a rice cooker is easier than you would think. Just try things out.
Don’t be afraid to try new things, especially new vegetables and fruits.
This is broccoli...and I wouldn't have known if I didn't just pick it up at the store and wikipedia it.
Lotus root is DELICIOUS! sliced thin and sauteed, its better than fries.
Figure out what kind of fish you do like, if you aren’t a fishy fan. Some people who say they don’t like fish end up loving sushi because it doesn't have as fishy a flavor. Each trip to the supermarket should be a new adventure. Pick something up you haven’t before and try it out. Who cares if you aren’t using it the proper Japanese way? I put konyaku noodles in my curry all the time.
But what if you hate to cook?
Still shop at the grocery store. Eat whole vegetables, look in the prepared deli section for anything not deep fried, and enjoy some grocery store sushi. You can cut carbs this way, if that is what you are trying to do, by getting slices of tuna without the rice.
A few fast food places in Japan I personally enjoy are Sukiya and any shabu shabu eatery. Compared to Mcdonald's, sukiya gives just a bit more variety in your diet, and as long as you aren't ordering karaage every time, it can be fairly low calorie. The mushed up raw tuna is way more tasty than it looks or sounds.
I recently came across a shabushabu restaurant in the local Aeon mall that has an all you can eat vegetable bar for lunch. Paying less than 1000en per person, I almost wish we could go everyday.
It'd be better for my diet than going to Mcdonalds everyday, for sure.
American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too
I never knew that was broccoli! Mind blown! And I'm definitely going to have to try lotus root now that you gave me an idea of how to prepare it. I'd always been a little unsure of exactly how to use it.