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August 2017

Some of the longest living and healthiest people are the Japanese. They commonly work, hike, and garden into their 80s and 90s. Principally, this is due to a healthy diet. The Japanese culture developed some of the worlds most intuitively intelligent foods. One of them is the rice ball.

Rice balls are a famed and popular lunch, snack, picnic, and travel food. Every convenience store, supermarket, train station kiosk, restaurant, and pub sells them. They are common in vending machines. Rice balls are as normal as sandwiches in the West. Japanese use rice balls as an efficient comfort food, satisfying, portable, and very energizing. They are favored amongst all age groups.

Whole Grain Brown Rice

The history of rice balls goes back centuries, even before chopsticks were widely use. Originally they were brown rice balls, stacked on a plate, no serving utensils needed and eaten like an apple. Even today, eating them by hand remains perfectly acceptable, which is rare in Japanese culture.

Rice balls today are usually made with white rice, but are much more nourishing when made with brown rice. Brown-rice balls are a favorite meal, snack, and travel food in every macrobiotic household. They are quick and easy to make and a great way to serve leftover rice. After they are made, they begin disappearing. Rice balls are more than a snack. They are perfect food, any time, to satisfy hunger.

Rice Ball - Onigiri

Rice balls are made of cooked rice that is hand formed (like a snowball) and shaped into a triangle, sphere, oval, or cylinder. Short grain rice is much preferred as it is very sticky, or glutinous. Long and medium grain rices do not do not work well for rice balls because they are not glutenous and do not hold together. The common name for rice ball in Japan is onigiri, it means ‘a grasp of rice, clenched, or squeezed,’ reflecting the way hands are used to form them. The popular triangular/pyramid shaped rice ball is called o-musubi. Its shape is said to represent a heavenly energy in food that is good for the body and spirit.

Typically rice balls are served with various surface coatings, or wrapped in sheets of toasted nori sea vegetable. The sticky nature of short grain rice, when compacted into a ball, forms a seal that keeps the grains fresher, longer. Trace mineral-rich nori also forms a seal around the grains. No matter the coating, rice balls are almost always stuffed with pickled umeboshi or other salty/sour fillings. The coatings and fillings lend a variety of delicious flavors, but they also act as a critical preservative, keeping the rice fresh without refrigeration for hours, and in some cases days, if properly made. The typical rice ball is made with about ½ cup cooked rice, about the size of a small apple. They can also be made into a bite-size, smaller version.

Delicious and Satisfying Variety

Many EDEN macrobiotic food items, condiments, and sea vegetables can be used to make a variety of appealing and satisfying rice balls.

While umeboshi plum is by far the most common filling, especially when they are to be used for travel because they preserve the rice the longest, there is endless variation. EDEN Umeboshi Plums are pickled with red shiso (beefsteak) leaves and aged for a year. They have a tangy, sour taste. Often referred to as ‘The King of Alkaline Foods’, umeboshi are an ancient health food known to balance and strengthen us. Their health benefits are renown. They soothe and strengthen us. EDEN Pickled Daikon are long, white, sun-dried radish, pickled with rice bran and sea salt. Their diastase enzymes sooth the stomach and aid digestion. EDEN Pickled Ginger Slices or sushi ginger are ginger root pickled with shiso leaf, rice malt, vinegar, and mirin. Both are excellent substitutes for umeboshi in rice balls. The EDEN variety are traditionally made with no untoward ingredients or additives. View Photo Essay.

Nori sea vegetable is the dark green outer wrap of sushi rolls. It is the most common coating for rice balls as it helps keep them fresh while preventing the fingers from becoming sticky. The nori also helps to hold them together. EDEN Nori, Sushi Nori, Spicy Nori Strips, and Toasted Nori Krinkles are hand harvested from environmentally protected areas and prepared using only traditional methods. EDEN Sea Vegetables are world renowned for purity, superb flavor, and unique nutritional value.

EDEN Gomasio is a sesame salt condiment that comes in five flavors - Plain, Black, Black & Tan, Garlic, and Seaweed. These flavorful, low sodium nutritious condiments are made of organic dry roasted sesame seeds and EDEN Sea Salt. EDEN Shake, also called furikake, is traditionally made in Japan; a blend of roasted tan and black sesame seed, nori flakes, and dried pickled shiso leaves. A historic favorite, it is a great to take sesame, nori, and shiso, and it too is very low sodium. To use these condiments as a coating for rice balls, form the rice ball, add a stuffing, and roll the ball in the condiment. EDEN Shiso Leaf Powder is a tangy condiment of red shiso leaves, sun-dried, and finely ground. All these can be sprinkled on rice balls or almost any dish as an enhancement.

Beneficial Cultural Relations

Since its beginning, Eden Foods has cultivated relationships with artisans dedicated to traditional food making for a variety of specialty foods, including sea vegetables, miso, and soy sauces. Eden has become the most respected and largest purveyor of macrobiotic natural foods in the world. Eden offers more than seventy-five of these items.

EDEN avoids untoward additives, irradiation, preservatives, food coloring, refined sugar, and genetically engineered ingredients. Each has tested radionuclide free.  Pure & Purifying™.