Japanese Superfoods: Shichimi

The Huffington Post put shichimi togarashi on its list of 14 foods to add to your diet in 2014, but the Japanese have been onto this since the 17th century. This little powder not only packs a punch in the spiciness department, but is on fire in the nutritional stakes, too!

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What It Is

Shichimi togarashi (commonly known as shichimi) is translated as “seven spice powder” and includes ground red chilli peppers, Szechuan peppers, citrus peel, sesame seeds (white and black), ginger and nori, all combined into an amazing seasoning powder blend of complementary tastes. Some variations may also include a mixture of hemp seeds, poppy seeds, garlic or shiso.

Health Benefits

Shichimi was invented by a Japanese herbal medicine expert in the Edo period, with the intention of creating a mix in which every ingredient has some medicinal healing quality.

Red chilli peppers, the main ingredient, contain capsaicin, which is the substance that gives peppers their pungency and spice. Capsaicin health benefits can include clearing sinus congestion, promoting blood circulation, relieving muscle pain, assisting with weight loss and aiding digestion.

Szechuan peppers are said to aid the stomach and digestive system, as well as have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

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Citrus peel, namely mandarin or orang,e is included for its high vitamin C content, which can help with colds, fevers, headaches and stomachaches.

Sesame seeds, my ultimate favorite seed, is packed with so much goodness, it deserves its own review! High in vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, copper and magnesium, sesame seeds can help prevent diabetes and osteoporosis, and are great for heart and lung health as well as beautiful skin.

Ginger, a world famous natural health herb, helps with digestion, bloating, joint pain, nausea, colds and sore throats.

Nori, a type of seaweed, is high in iodine and iron, essential for good thyroid function and production of red blood cells respectively.

How to Use It

Generally shichimi is used as a condiment, and is often sprinkled on soba and udon noodles for added spice and flavor. It can also be topped on rice, meats, vegetables or any dish as a substitute for salt and pepper to give a little kick and mix things up.

For something a little different, try out this East-meets-West, healthy grownup’s popcorn!

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Shichimi Spiced Popcorn

Gluten free/sugar free/egg free/dairy free option

What You Need

50 grams popcorn kernels

1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other oil)

1 tablespoon butter (or coconut oil for dairy free option)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

½ -1 teaspoon shichimi powder

Sea salt to taste

What to Do

  1. Coat popcorn kernels with the coconut oil and place in heavy saucepan. Put the lid on and pop on medium heat until all kernels have popped. Tip popped corn into a large bowl.
  2. In the same saucepan, melt butter and fry garlic until fragrant.
  3. Pour garlic butter over popcorn, sprinkle with shichimi and sea salt, and mix well to combine.