Black Sesame Soba Noodles w/ Miso Glazed Turnips

May 27, 2015 22 Comments

Black Sesame Soba Noodles with Miso Glazed Turnips // From the Land we Live on

A few weeks ago I listened to Gretchen Rubin’s interview on The Good Life Project Podcast,  in which she discusses her new book Better Than Before, a book about forming habits. Habits were never really my thing, but something compelled me to listen.

Black Sesame Soba Noodles with Miso Glazed Turnips // From the Land we Live on

Gretchen proposes a framework for the way people form habits. In her research, most people related to one of the following “tendencies”:

Upholders are very driven to meet both internal and external expectations i.e. people that easily form habits and are best at life armed with lists, schedules, deadlines, and routines.

Obligers resist internal expectations but are driven to meet external expectations – i.e people are best at forming habits when external accountability, like a workout buddy for example, are involved.

Questioners resist external expectations, but readily respond to internal expectations – i.e. people that always question why they’re doing the things they’re doing and are best at forming habits on their own terms.

Rebels resist both internal and external expectations – i.e. People that are now wondering…WTF are habits? They do something because they want to, not because it’s on the to-do list.

Black Sesame Soba Noodles with Miso Glazed Turnips // From the Land we Live on

I’ll tie this in to cooking in a minute, but I found this framework quite fascinating and it was the first time I’ve ever thought of myself as a “rebel”. The word seems a little dramatic in this context, but this was one of the very few times that I’ve been able to relate to some sort of generalized human personality category (usually it’s “none of the above”, if I try).

I fully understand the benefits of having good habits, but I’m finally realizing why I’m more efficient at life without trying to do things in a structured or planned out way, while the rest of the world seems to live in list-land. As long as I’m motivated by curiosity and the prospect of adventure, good things happen. Tedious tasks (i.e. cleaning, errands) get done when things get in my way, and I exercise because it makes me feel awesome, as long it doesn’t become a routine. External accountability only goes as far as not wanting to piss anyone off, but the expectations of others have never been my light, at least not in my adult life.

Black Sesame Soba Noodles with Miso Glazed Turnips // From the Land we Live on

I’m talking about this here because the way that we form (or don’t form) habits has a lot to do with how we cook and eat. The resistance of internal expectations is why I’m so drawn to cook intuitively, experiment, and let curiosity guide the process. I’ve written about intuitive cooking here and here and have been meaning to write about the benefits of cooking that way. What I’m starting to realize, however, is that the benefits have nothing to do it.

Rebels, as it turns out, are a minority of the population when it comes to forming habits. So I’m thinking that maybe this whole “intuitive cooking” thing is just crazy talk to most people, those that love a good meal plan and shopping list. I am hoping to explore the topic a lot more, but maybe from the perspective of how to eat well in the absence of habits – for my fellow rebels. What do you guys think?

Have you listened to the podcast or read the book? I’m curious to know if Gretchen’s framework resonates with you and where you fit in with respect to forming habits, especially eating habits. Let me know in the comments below! If you are a rebel that values eating well, what do to stay on track?

I’ve said nothing about the adorable baby turnips yet, but this time I’m hoping that the pictures and recipe speak for themselves. The creamy black sesame dressing is my new way with soba noodles and if you’re going to get one thing out of this whole weird “habits meet cute turnips” post, make that!

Black Sesame Soba Noodles with Miso Glazed Turnips // From the Land we Live on

Black Sesame Soba Noodles w/ Miso Glazed Turnips

Ingredients

    Creamy Black Sesame Dressing
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 Tbsp. rice wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 - 3 Tbsp water
  • Miso-glazed Turnips
  • 2 tsp. miso paste
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. rice wine or apple cider vinagar
  • 1 bunch of baby turnips, halved, or regular turnips cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • Everything Else
  • A few large handfuls of turnip greens, spinach, chard, bok choy, or your choice of greens, chopped (see note)
  • 1 package (3-ish servings) of soba noodles (see note on gluten in soba noodles), cooked according to package instructions.
  • Thinly sliced spring onions and sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Creamy Black Sesame Dressing - In a high speed blender, combine all ingredients (start with 1 Tbsp. of water) and blend at high speed until creamy (the smoothie setting on my blendtec was perfect). Add more water and blend to thin, if necessary.
  2. Alternatively add the sesame seeds to a food processor and grind into a paste. Add remaining ingredients except for water and process for about 3 minutes until creamy (it takes longer for the sesame seeds to break down in a food processor to make the dressing creamy). Add water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, to thin, if necessary.
  3. Regardless of what method you use, taste and adjust with extra soy sauce or sweetener, if necessary.
  4. Miso-glazed Turnips - Whisk the miso, maple syrup, and rice wine vinegar and set aside.
  5. In a cast iron skillet, warm the coconut oil and lay the turnips, cut side down. Cook for a few minutes on medium heat, until they're just starting to brown, taking care not to burn the oil.
  6. Toss them and cook for another minute or two.
  7. Add the miso mix to the turnips and toss for another minute (they will sizzle), until the liquid thickens and the turnips are slightly cooked (but not mushy) and nicely glazed.
  8. Everything Else - Remove the turnips from the skillet, return skillet to heat, and add freshly washed and chopped greens. Some water on the greens helps with the wilting process, so it's good to wash them right before cooking.
  9. Cover the skillet, remove from heat, and let it sit for a few minutes until the greens are wilted. Toss with any remaining miso sauce in the skillet.
  10. Toss the soba noodles with all of the dressing and thin with a little bit of water, if necessary to get a creamy consistency. Top with wilted greens, turnips, and garnishes.

Notes

Turnip greens are delicious, and apparently very nutritious, but the stems are quite chewy so if you are using them, and I highly recommend finely chopping the stems (the ones in my pics weren't chopped enough). They're a little bit bitter, which I LOVE, especially in this dish, but you can start out mixing turnip greens with others if you're not sure about them.

Soba Noodles are usually made with a combination of buckwheat and wheat flours, and therefore are rarely gluten free. King Soba are my fav, and make all of their varieties without any wheat flour, and are acceptable for those that are avoiding gluten. They also make really delicious rice noodles.

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22 Comments

  1. Reply

    Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    May 27, 2015

    yeah, it’s a tough one. On the one hand as a robust skeptic, the questioner resonates strongly with me. On other hand, my family upbringing would want me to be pleaser/obliger which I have been trying to cast myself out of for some time now :) so I’d say at this stage in my evolution I am definitely a mix (hah!). This beautiful bowl of goodness caught my eye immediately Sofia… love the elements, the simplicity and the rustic feel. Plus, those baby turnips are beyond cute!! Will be sure to pin this week. Thank you for the gorgeous recipe and the conversation.

    • Reply

      Sofia

      May 27, 2015

      Thanks, Kelly! It’s so interesting that you relate to two opposite tendencies! I’m wondering if one has more to do with how you process information vs. form habits. What do you relate to most when it comes to eating habits? Anyway, I’m always a little skeptical of personality categories, we’re all so unique and complex and it’s really hard to think about fitting into a box…just thought it was interesting.

  2. Reply

    Sarah

    May 27, 2015

    Your photographs are so gorgeous! I just want to eat all the food.
    Questioner really speaks to me. I definitely make lists, but they’re motivated more out of a desire to investigate, explore, adventure. I have a difficult time with conventions…which is probably why I was an awful and extremely mediocre office worker. Love this post.

    • Reply

      Sofia

      May 27, 2015

      Thanks so much, Sarah! I can totally see how you relate to the questioner tendency, now that I think about it, and I really admire how much amazing work you seem to be able to get done, which maybe suggests some really great time-management habits! So awesome that you’ve found your flow and…office work…I feel ya! Haha.

  3. Reply

    Karishma

    May 27, 2015

    I find this a really interesting perspective on habits! I’ll definitely have to check that book out…I also think I would best fit a rebel! Have you heard of the book the seven habits of highly effective people? It’s a pretty famous book in the business realm and it deals with the psychology of habit forming and is quite interesting because it basically informs you that so many of the things you do are based on habits! Brushing your teeth in the morning, showering, making breakfast…so many things you do on auto-pilot.

    But it’s interesting (how many times do I have to use that word, haha) because the book kind of has a one size fits all philosophy — whereas the one you’re talking about seems like an expansion of that for different types of people.

    This noodle dish looks so delicious and fresh!

    • Reply

      Sofia

      May 27, 2015

      I’ve heard of the seven habits book so much that I feel like I’ve read it without having read it. I think the strategies in that book are great for people that can form habits to begin with. For me, even things like showering and brushing teeth aren’t done on auto-pilot….they happen daily, but not in a predictable way. Perhaps the only thing that happens on auto-pilot is my morning coffee, cuz if it doesn’t happen…that plane is coming down! I’d love to see seven habits for rebels. Let me know if you end up reading Better than Before (or listening to the podcast), curious to hear more about what you think! Thanks, Karishma :)

  4. Reply

    lynsey | lynseylovesfood

    May 28, 2015

    Those photos…. wow!! You have such a talent. This is the second time in about 5 minutes i have heard mention of this new book so i feel it is a sign for me to jump and act! I will keep you posted. xo

    • Reply

      Sofia

      May 29, 2015

      Thanks so much, Lynsey :) Listen to the podcast first! Those were the most interesting bits for me. The book is great as well (I read it selectively) if you want more.

  5. Reply

    janet @ the taste space

    May 29, 2015

    It is an interesting way to think about it but certainly, for me, it fluctuates with the task and even the circumstances. I am mostly an upholder but have been having a very hard time returning to my gym routine after recovering from surgery. I actually wrote about that recently. I was hoping that posting about it my blog would make me more motivated to visit the gym.. HA!

    • Reply

      Sofia

      May 29, 2015

      Just went and read your post! I guess you’ll find out if that extra bit of external accountability is encouraging enough to work out next week :) My explanation of the tendencies were way oversimplified (compared to what’s in the book)…Gretchen actually talks a lot about herself (an upholder) and the challenges she faces when forming habits as well. Thanks for your insight, Janet :) It’s so interesting to read other perspectives.

  6. Reply

    Shareba @ In Search Of Yummy-ness

    May 29, 2015

    Turnips are one of those vegetables that I never know what to do with. Your soba noodle dish looks really tasty though. I love your photos!

    • Reply

      Sofia

      May 29, 2015

      Thanks, Shareba! If you spot the little baby turnips, grab them. They’re sweet and delicious just on their own…no need to do anything at all :)

  7. Reply

    Jennifer Andrews

    May 29, 2015

    Thanks for the podcast and book recommendation – I made a mental note for this weekend! Habits are an oddly interesting topic and learning about how they’re made and broken can help out in so many different areas of life. I’m definitely an upholder. The word “internal” is key there because no one ever told me to make lists and schedules…it just happened, haha. The recipe is wonderful too by the way, especially the gorgeous little glazed turnips :)

    • Reply

      Sofia

      May 29, 2015

      I think you’ll enjoy the book and podcast, especially as an upholder. Gretchen talks quite a bit about herself (also an upholder) and shares a lot of her own experiences and challenges. Thanks, Jennifer :)

  8. Reply

    Teresa

    May 29, 2015

    This sounds so good and your gorgeous photos confirm it. I relate to different aspects of those categories in different parts of my life. For instance, going to exercise or yoga classes works better for me with a buddy, just because I let work or volunteer tasks get in the way if I’m scheduling it on my own.

    • Reply

      Sofia

      May 29, 2015

      Yeah! A few people mentioned that their tendencies change depending on what’s in question. How do you relate with respect to eating habits? I’m really curious about those :) Thanks, Theresa!

  9. Reply

    Bernice

    June 1, 2015

    oh I’m definitely not one of those types to plan out meals..unless it’s 4:30pm..ha! I wish I was because I find that I buy a lot of fresh food that goes to waste because I don’t have a plan.
    I recently bought some gorgeous little white radishes..do you think they could replace the turnips in this recipe?

    • Reply

      Sofia

      June 1, 2015

      I personally don’t like cooked radishes…I actually tried this first with radishes and didn’t like it but I know that many people do, so if you’re a fan then go for it! Thanks for reading, Bernice!

  10. Reply

    Anyuta

    June 15, 2015

    Personally I try to stay away from any kind of classification. I never fit 100% in any of the categories. Jokingly I answer that I am unique and misteriosly uncomprehensible. Everything depends on how old are you, what is your back experience on the subject, what period of your life you are at right now, and soooo much etc. I am extremely organized at work, but I don´t like to plan my homework or leisure (travel, basically). I think that people stick so hard to planning because they are afraid that something will slip away. But if something doesn´t go as planned, they get stressed. It´s a vicious circle for me. Life is much easier, if you want it to be. And also you are a much more interesting person, if you don´t fit in any predetermined category.

    • Reply

      Sofia

      June 15, 2015

      Thanks, Anyuta! I totally agree…I usually stay away from classifications too, but this one caught my attention, since it was the first time I was able to relate. And yeah..things will always change and it’s nice to just go with that and not think that we have to fit into some sort of classification.

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