Konnyaku is better than The Secret

The principle behind The Secret is that you have to put positive energy “out there” in order to receive positive energy.  Well, I must be doing it wrong.  Or maybe this positive energy helped us remember how wonderful Konnyaku and Shirataki are for a low calorie diet!

Konnyaku is a gel like food that is derived from the Konjac plant.  The corn of the plant is made into a flour which is mixed with water to create Konnyaku.  It is 97% water and the rest of it is pretty much just fiber.  It’s tasteless but if you throw it in some good broth or put some sauce over it, you’re still saving the calories you would normally eat from traditional pasta.  Konnyaku usually looks like white or grayish blocks of jelly.  But there are various types of konnyaku that are made in the shape of noodles.  You may have eaten some if you like Shabu Shabu or Sukiyaki.  It’s the grayish noodle that’s all curly and has no real taste.  The best part of konnyaku?  Almost ZERO calories.  And that it’s also been known to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.  And it’s wheat and gluten free.  But mostly, it’s ZERO calories!!!

Shirataki is literally, “white waterfall,” named after its appearance.  This is white konnyaku in noodle form.  There is a version in many U.S. supermarkets now that combine some tofu which adds more protein to the noodles.  They have them in the traditional Shirataki shape but they’ve expanded the shapes to include angel hair, spaghetti and fettucine.  This tofu version has about 20 calories per serving.

We’re currently trying out some konnyaku/shirataki recipes and we’ll see how it goes.  People have been eating it for 1500 years.  There must be something to it!  I’m just concerned that I’m going to get carried away and pour bbq sauce all over it justifying that the noodle part is low calorie.  Yes, that would be a problem.  Positive energy… Positive energy…






Miya’s Flower Shop Pictures

I forgot to add the pictures from the University of California digital archives!  Here they are:

These three women, two of them Issei resettlers, are assembling artificial flower novelties in a workroom of the Miya Flower and Novelty company, New York City. The resettlers are Mrs. H. Tamaki (left), formerly of Covina, California, and the Heart Mountain Relocation Center; and Mrs. M. Kiyam, formerly of Los Angeles and the Jerome Relocation Center. The shop in which they and ten other evacuees are employed is owned by Chosuke Miyahira, who started the business in 1937. — Photographer: Ishimaru, Stone — New York, New York. 3/?/45

Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library.  University of California, Berkeley


Otozo Iwatsu, Issei, a former resident of San Francisco and the Central Utah Relocation Center, is now employed by the Miya Flower and Novelty Company in New York City, where he is shown sorting straw flowers. Mr. Iwatsu is one of 12 evacuees employed by the company, which is owned by Chosuke Miyahira. He started the business in 1937. Mr. Iwatsu relocated to New York City in January 1942 with Mrs. Iwatsu and their 17-year-old son David, who now attends Stuyvesant High School there. The Iwatsus have two other sons, John, an architectural draftsman, who preceded his parents to New York from Central Utah in October, 1943; and Peter, a first lieutenant in the Engineer Corps, U.S. Army. Mrs. and Mrs. Iwatsu owned a restaurant in San Francisco prior to their evacuation in May 1942 to the Tanforan Assembly Center. In September 1942 the family went to Central Utah, where Mr. Iwatsu was employed as a second cook. — Photographer: Ishimaru, Stone — New York, New York. 3/?/45

Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library.  University of California, Berkeley



Chosuke Miyahira

It’s a day late to post this to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month but it’s certainly worth a post!  We also just visited the cemetery to pay our respects to Bob’s family members who have passed on so it seemed like a good time to say a little something about the founder of this company, Chosuke Miyahira.

I came across some images while googling his name just to see what would come up.  They are part of University of California’s digital archives and they were kind enough to let me use these photos for company use.

I’ve never met Mr. Miya but I’ve heard about him, of course, from Bob and his family.  He began his flower shop in the 30s in NYC and although many of his family members were taken to interment camps during World War II, their properties and most of their possessions confiscated by the government, Japanese Americans living on the East Coast were not interned and were mostly able to keep their businesses.  Of course, that is not to say that they had it easy.  Racism and feelings of mistrust against Japanese Americans at the time had its toll on the community.

While interned, some people had the opportunity to apply for jobs that would move them away from the West Coast.  Mr. Miya offered jobs to many evacuees to help them start a new life in New York.  These pictures depict the people who were able to do just that.

One of Mr. Miya’s nieces wrote a book about the experience of being interned and moving to New York to work with Uncle Miya.  It’s called Bend With the Wind by Sachi Kaneshiro.  It’s a beautiful book that recounts the story of the Tamaki family, the sadness and despair of the era, and ultimately, the hope that keeps us all going.   As she writes of her family’s first reunion after the war,

“We had survived the test.  Mama said it best at our first dinner together: ‘We bend with the wind.  We did not break.  Like bamboo.'”

It’s a nice read – not sure if it’s available anywhere but I’ll add excerpts from it another time.  Good stuff.