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Anti-inflammatory lunch recipes that inspire a long, healthy life—curated by Candice Kumai


Thumbnail for Anti-inflammatory lunch recipes that inspire a long, healthy life—curated by Candice Kumai
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Photo: Candice Kumai

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This January, as part of Well+Good’s (Re)New Year, famed plant-based and classically trained chef Candice Kumai is providing five weeks of healthy recipes to help not only transform your eating habits, but set you up for year-long success. Week 4 is all about eating in a way that will inspire a long, healthy life.

If you want to live to be 100, Japanese culture is a pretty great source of healthy inspo. Scientists have identified people living in the Okinawa islands as some of the oldest people on Earth. What’s even more remarkable is that they are still able to work in the fields and recall their childhood memories—well over 100!

Want to eat lunch the way they do? Candice Kumai has you covered. “My baachan—Japanese grandmother—has been making miso soup loaded with shiitake mushrooms, veggies, and tofu for 96 years,” Kumai says of one of the family recipes she shares here. “She raised four beautiful daughters through World War II. She knows a little something about comfort food.” In fact, all of the following lunch recipes are comforting—enjoyment is vital to living a long, healthy life.

Another big key is having a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods. Things like lots of veggies, plant-based protein, and gut-health boosting miso. Here in the States, meat is often the centerpiece of the meal, but in reality, plants are where it’s at! Keep reading for recipes showing how to make them the star of your mid-day meal.

Scroll down for lunch recipes crafted to inspire longevity.

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Photo: Candice Kumai

Monday: Macrobiotic hijiki-avocado salad

Serves 3

Ingredients
For the salad:
1 cup soaked/reconstituted hijiki seaweed, drained (1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp dried hijki with 3/4 cup water)
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 15 oz. can adzuki beans, rinsed and drained
1 ripe avocado, pitted and cut into cubes

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp liquid aminos or reduced-sodium tamari soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

1. In a medium bowl, soak and reconstitute the hijiki in water for about 15 minutes. Drain all excess liquid.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the liquid aminos or reduced-sodium tamari soy sauce, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. Add the reconstituted hijiki, quinoa, and adzuki beans to the dressing, and toss to coat. Top with avocado cubes and serve immediately.

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Photo: Candice Kumai

Tuesday: Kale, Swiss chard, and butternut squash salad

Serves 3

Ingredients
For salad:
1 medium bunch (2 cups) kale, chopped
1/2 medium bunch Swiss or rainbow chard
1/4 medium butternut squash
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
3 oz. fresh chèvre (goat cheese), crumbled (optional, or try vegan cheese)

For the orange vinaigrette:
1/2 medium shallot, finely diced
2 Tbsp pulp-free orange juice
1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp organic miso paste

1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients for vinaigrette together.

2. Clean and thoroughly dry kale and chard. With a sharp knife, remove woody stems from kale. Chop both greens into bite-size pieces.

3. Remove and discard seeds from butternut squash. Use a vegetable peeler to slice thin ribbons from inside the squash.

4. In a large bowl, combine greens, squash ribbons, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Toss with half the vinaigrette. Transfer salad to 6 plates. Top with crumbled chèvre and serve additional vinaigrette on the side.

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Candice Kumai barley bowl
Photo: Candice Kumai

Wednesday: Lemon-soy edamame barley bowl

Serves 2

Ingredients
2 cups cooked pearl or hulled barley
2 1/4 cups water
3/4 cups shelled, organic edamame
1 cup wild baby arugula
1 block savory, baked, organic tofu (firm or extra-firm), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 ripe avocado, halved and thinly sliced

For the lemon tahini dressing:
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon

1. Combine the barley and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, oregano, and lemon zest until well combined. Add the slightly cooled barley to the bowl and toss to coat.

3. Add the shelled edamame and arugula and toss gently to combine. To serve, divide the barley salad among four bowls and top with tofu and avocado slices.

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Candice Kumai miso soup and salad
Photo: Candice Kumai

Thursday: Miso soup & salad combo

Serves 2

Ingredients
For the miso soup:
2 cups water
1 1/2 Tbsp miso paste
1/2 cup firm tofu cubes
3 1/2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal

For the miso salad:
1 Tbsp avocado oil mayonnaise or vegannaise
1/2 Tbsp miso paste
1/2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 head tender lettuce (about 2 cups)
1/2 large carrot, trimmed, peeled, and grated on the large holes of a box grater
1/2 small cucumber, semi-peeled (so it’s striped), halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
1/2 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
1/2 of 1 14-ounce package firm tofu, drained, halved and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces

1. To make the soup, bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the miso and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the soup gently (don’t boil) for five minutes and then add the tofu and turn off the heat. Cover to keep warm while you make the salad.

2. Whisk the mayonnaise, miso paste, and rice wine vinegar together in a small bowl. In a large bowl toss the lettuce with the carrots and cucumbers. Divide the salad among two plates. Top with a few avocado slices and a few pieces of tofu and drizzle with some dressing. Divide the soup among two bowls and sprinkle with the scallions.

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Candice Kumai soup recipe
Photo: Candice Kumai

Friday: Baachan’s miso soup

Serves 2

Ingredients
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 large potatoes, cubed
1 cup fish stock (try vegetable stock if not available)
1 piece kombu (a type of seaweed used for stock)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced on the bias
1 block of firm tofu, cubed
2 Tbsp dried wakame (smaller seaweed leaves)
2 Tbsp brown miso paste
1 Tbsp white miso paste
2 Tbsp chopped green onion, to garnish

1. Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for ten minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid.

2. Add the potatoes to four cups of water in a large pot and bring the water to a boil. Once the potatoes are almost fork-tender, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the fish stock, kombu, yellow onion, carrot, firm tofu, sliced shiitake mushrooms and wakame. Cook all veggie through.

3. Add both types of miso paste and mash them into the soup until thoroughly dissolved.

4. Serve garnished with the green onion.

Here’s how to transform your year in more ways, including setting goals that set you up for success longterm

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