Kuzu Root – The Super Food of Natural Health

© by Jane and Lino Stanchich Licensed Nutritionists, Macrobiotic Educators, Authors

Kuzu (koo-zoo) is more than the kudzu plant called,“ The Vine That Ate Dixie.” Called a culinary super food, kuzu (spelled “kudzu” in much of the US,) is a highly medicinal, alkaline, and scientifically proven natural remedy for a myriad of serious health disorders. While the kuzu leaves are invasive perennials and a bane to farmers, others such as natural foods chefs, acupuncturists, and holistic families throughout the world prize the healing and culinary benefits of the kuzu root. 

Brought to America from Japan in 1876, as an ornamental plant and nitrogen-rich, protein-rich cattle feed, kuzu was later promoted as a solution for extensive US soil erosion in the 1930’s Dustbowl Era. The strong, aggressive kuzu plants took off in the humid Southeast United States, and became known as, “The Vine That Ate Dixie.” Kuzu  is called a weed, but it is much more. It is a very prized, valuable, and healing plant. 

Along the country highways of the South, we all have all seen the dark green kuzu leaves and their snaking vines that comically encircle and camouflage trees, power lines, telephone poles, even houses and barns, so the structures resemble green dinosaurs and alien beings. Left unchecked by herds of hungry farm animals, kuzu leaves are highly invasive and literally envelope the land. 

Kudzu festivals presented in North Carolina honored this plant that is made into almost indestructible fabric, baskets, paper and now used as a bio-fuel. The root of the kuzu, high in anti-oxidants and flavonoids, possesses a treasure of healing attributes. The leaves of the  kuzu  are edible, as well, though we have never personally sampled them. Let the cows and goats enjoy them! 

Kuzu  Root has been shown to relieve the following serious health disorders

•  Indigestion  •  Diarrhea  •  Alcohol Addiction  •  Flu and Cold Symptoms  •  Allergies  •  Acid Reflux  •  Asthma  •  Intestinal Diseases •  Hormonal Imbalance  •  High Blood Pressure  •  Blood Sugar Imbalance •  Cardiovascular Disease  • Osteoporosis  •  Migraine Headaches  •  Stomach Cramps …and more! 

The root of the kuzu plant, as it is harvested in Asia, is a very long, starchy root, frequently descending into the ground over six feet. In a costly, labor-intensive process, kuzu root is then cleaned and cut, separated from its fibrous content, and formed into a mash that is filtered repeatedly through silk screens until a white, dried, chunky starch remains. 

The valuable  kuzu  root can now be purchased at our local health food stores and macrobiotic food companies, such as Great Eastern Sun. Make sure the  kuzu  you buy is organic and is 100%  kuzu.  A prized staple of the macrobiotic diet, kuzu is often added to a variety of delicious, healing dishes and soothing, strengthening beverages. We enclose a few favorite kuzu recipes below. 

Add kuzu root to:   

•  Thicken soups and gravies
 •  Give sheen to sauces
•  Make creamy, smooth puddings and  naturally sweet desserts
•  Coat food for frying or tempura
•  Prepare good-for-you teas and home remedies   

Proper cooking of kuzu is essential. Completely dissolve the kuzu in room temperature water, then constantly stir the kuzu and water as you cook it slowly on the stove, until it changes from white to clear with a smooth texture. Lax stirring will result in hard lumps. 

Cooked with water, umeboshi plum, and a few drops of tamari, kuzu tea is a powerful home remedy that strengthens and relieves many intestinal ailments, especially diarrhea. This remedy can also strengthen a person of any age who has little appetite, such as with the flu. Follow recipes carefully. 

We hope you will sample and learn to fully appreciate the wonderful qualities of kuzu root. We recommend that you always have a package of dried kuzu root on your home remedy shelf. And take kuzu with you when you travel, however, when flying, keep it in the original unopened bag. Enjoy the many benefits and qualities of kuzu! 

– Jane and Lino 

Learn more about kuzu in these natural health publications and festival info: 
1. Japanese Foods That Heal: Using Traditional Japanese Ingredients to Promote Health, Longevity, and Well-being by Jan and John Belleme
2.  Culinary Treasures of Japan  by Jan and John Belleme
3.  The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health by Michio Kushi and Alex Jack
4.  The Book of Kuzu: A Culinary and Healing Guide by William Shurtleff

NOTE: Any serious or chronic health issue should be discussed with your healthcare professional.  

Jane and Lino Stanchich are Licensed Nutritionists and international macrobiotic teachers, lecturers, and authors who promote the macrobiotic diet and lifestyle in Asheville, NC. They both are Kushi Institute Certified Macrobiotic Educators and regularly taught at the Kushi Institute programs. Lino is author of several books including Power Eating Program, You Are How You Eat; Macrobiotic Healing Secrets; and The Natural Kidney Health and Bladder Control Program, and Laughter For Health and Happiness; and the audios, Laugh for the Health of It; Healing Mealtime Music; and Using your Mind to Heal Your Body. Mr. Stanchich is a Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist. Both Lino and Jane are counselors and Licensed Nutritionists. They can be reached at (828) 299-8657 and through their highly informative website: www.greatlifeglobal.com

Jane & Lino’s Favorite Kuzu Recipes

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Tempting Tempeh Stew with Kuzu Gravy


  • Author: © Jane and Lino Stanchich
  • Yield: Serves 4

Description

Tempeh is a very popular, delicious, and satisfying food. Our recipe is created to give us most delicious and digestible way to make tempeh, a highly nutritious soybean product, abundant in protein, Vitamin B-12, enzymes, and flavor. Serve with its own warm soothing kuzu gravy for a hearty and strengthening dish the whole family will enjoy. 


Ingredients

• 1 package uncooked soy tempeh, sliced into  1½ inch  squares
• 1 Tablespoon sesame oil 
• 2 ½ cups water
• 4 Tablespoons tamari 
• 3 Tablespoons fresh ginger juice or to taste 
• 1 Tablespoon Sweet Cloud Organic Brown Rice Syrup 
• 2 cups onions, cubed 
• 2 carrots, cubed 
• 2 Tablespoons Empero’s Kitchen Traditional Kuzu – (dry chucks) 
• 1/4 cup water 
• 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced 
• 2 scallions, sliced thinly 


Instructions

  1. Warm a large skillet on medium heat; add the oil. Set the tempeh on the oil and lightly brown both sides of each piece. Combine the 2  1/2 cups water, tamari, 2 tablespoons of the ginger juice, and brown rice syrup together and carefully pour over the tempeh. 
  2. Add the onions and carrots. Stir. Bring to low boil, cover and reduce to low simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. 
  3. Dissolve the kuzu in a cup with 1/4 cup cool water. Slowly pour kuzu into the stew, adding enough to thicken the broth. Stir constantly or kuzu will lump up. If gravy is too thick, slowly add cool water to the pan to achieve the right consistency of thick gravy. 
  4.  Keep heat low. Stir gently until kuzu becomes transparent. Avoid breaking up the tempeh. Taste and add shoyu and/or ginger juice more to taste. Simmer five minutes. Serve warm garnished with parsley and scallions. Enjoy! 

 

Amazake Pudding with Kuzu by Jane Stanchich
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Sweet and Easy Kuzu Pudding


  • Author: © Jane and Lino Stanchich

Description

Kuzu (kudzu) is a valuable, medicinal, and natural thickener made from the root of the Kudzu plant. Highly prized in Asia, kuzu is greatly beneficial for digestion, strength, and treatments for alcoholism. 


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. Place amasake or juice in a pot; add sea salt. Bring to boil on medium flame, lower flame and simmer for 2 minutes. 
  2. In a cup place kuzu with 2 tablespoons of cool water, stir, and dissolve kuzu thoroughly. 
  3. Stir kuzu into the amasake or fruit juice and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. 
  4. Pour pudding into a serving dish or dessert cups. Let cool.
  5. Garnish with fresh berries or mint leaves.

Notes

VARIATION: Add vanilla extract for a tasty vanilla pudding. 

OPTION: An alternative to amasake/fruit juice is to use one cup of water and 1/2 tablespoon of brown rice syrup or barley malt. 

© All Rights Reserved. Recipe by Jane and Linos Stanchich. Permission must be granted to reprint recipes.