Category Archives: Lifestyle

How to Take Care of Houseplants + Their Benefits

Introducing my full guide on how to take care of houseplants, their health benefits, and what I do to keep my 100+ plants alive and thrive.

How to Take Care of Houseplants

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my love for plants runs deep. It’s been a long time since I counted, but the last time I checked, I had over 100 plants, and it’s a growing collection. After my fur babies, my plant babies bring me so much joy and I just find such comfort in taking care of them and watching them grow.

While having this many plants might seem overwhelming and daunting for many, my collection grew slowly over the years and yours can too! I received many questions about how to take care of houseplants to keep them alive and healthy, and I’ll share my tips and tricks with you guys today.

Benefits of Houseplants

First, I just want to go over the benefits of having houseplants, because they are a form of therapy for me. This is why I don’t mind investing in my houseplants, because they are 100% worth it!

  • They purify the air. With so many toxins and chemicals in everyday products, indoor pollution is real. According to NASA, plants remove up to 87% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours!
    • Best air purifying plants: snake plants, devil’s ivy, money tree, spider plant, dracaenas, golden pothos, areca palms, rubber plants
  • Introducing greenery indoors helps to lower your cortisol level. We all feel more calm and less stressed when we go hiking or listen to nature sounds. We can recreate this feeling at home with plants.
  • Plants actually reduce background noise if you live in a city or a noisy street! The leaves create a soft wall for sound to absorb, deflect, or refract on. How cool is that?
    • Best noise blocking plants: rubber plants, weeping figs, peace lilies, tall cacti, fiddle leaf fig, money trees
  • They remove carbon dioxide from the air so there’s more oxygen and we feel less tired and fatigued.

Where I Purchase My Plants

This is one of the most common questions I get because I have such a variety of plants. The answer is all over! Here are some of the places I’ve purchased my plants from:

  • Local nurseries: This is where most of my plants come from. I try not to shop at Home Depot or big brands, because I find that they are usually overpriced there, and it’s so much better to support local businesses! I’m really lucky in that I live in California and there are plant nurseries everywhere. Local nurseries are usually cheaper and you can usually negotiate prices! I make sure to be extra friendly when I buy plants for a possible discount.
  • Nextdoor, OfferUp, or Letgo: All of these sites and apps are where people can sell anything they want get rid of. I actually have an alert set up for plants, so I can jump on them when they are posted. You can usually negotiate prices on these apps, because people are usually moving and they just want to get rid of things.
  • Etsy: I’ve never bought a full plant on Etsy (although they are available), but it’s a great place to find clippings of plants that aren’t rooted, especially if you are looking for a specific plant that’s hard to find locally. It’s not the cheapest option and it can be risky, because clippings are delicate and they can easily die. However, I have had really great luck with them and my pilea, prayer plant, and philodendron have all rooted and thrived beautifully from this shop.
How to Take Care of Houseplants

The Basics of How to Take Care of Houseplants

While care instructions differ from plant to plant, MOST plants require similar care and I treat most of my plants the following way:

  • Lighting: While plants love light, bright, indirect light is the best with the exception of desert plants. That means near a well-lit window, within sunlight or in the shade next to it (for medium-low light plants). If there’s direct HOT sunlight on plants, especially in the summer, put a sheer curtain on the window so the plants receive diffused, filtered light without getting burnt. One exception is succulents and cacti. They love bright, direct light!
  • Water: While there is such a thing as under-watering, I find that many make the mistake of overwatering which can quickly kill the plants. I only water my plants once a week, and even less in the winter. Before watering, stick an inch of your finger in the soil. Only water if the soil has no moisture. Make sure to only use pots that have drainage holes!
  • Wipe the leaves: For leafy plants, dust can settle on them easily, just like furniture. This dust layer actually blocks the plants ability to photosynthesize, and makes the leaves look dull and the plant weaker while attracting pests. When you see dust settle, take a damp microfiber cloth and gently wipe off the individual leaves. You may be shocked at how much dirt comes off on the cloth. I’m really bad at remembering to clean my plant leaves, but try to do this every 2-3 months!
  • Fertilize during growing season: This is usually during the spring/summer for most plants. I use organic fertilizer (I love this one!) and add it to the watering can every 2-3 months between April and September. It really makes a huge difference!
  • Repot as the plants grow: Always research the plant to see how much soil space it needs, but once it outgrows its pot, it needs more space to grow to stay healthy. This is also a great chance to replace the soil in the pot, which I highly recommend.

Why Your Plant Might Be Dying

So you’ve followed all the tips, but your plant still looks brown or yellow, and seems to be shriveling up. Here are some common reasons why your plant may not be looking so healthy:

  • Overwatering or under-watering. Check my watering tip above.
  • Too much sunlight or too little. Also see above.
  • Bacteria in the soil. If you really can’t figure out what the heck is wrong with the plant, it might be worth replacing the soil and repotting. There could be bacteria in the soil inhibiting the plant from growing properly.
  • Dry leaves. Tropical plants like ferns and split leaf philodendrons require a lot of moisture in the air and are more high maintenance. Make sure to spray the leaves with water every few days so they don’t dry out, even with consistent watering. If you aren’t good at remembering or you are lazy, you can get a humidifier instead.

Salvaging Almost Dead Plants

How to Take Care of Houseplants

You can actually save most plants that are on their last leg by snipping off the healthy looking leaves and propagating them. I’ve done this many times with success, and it’s so exciting to have a plant come back to life after you thought you lost it.

Place the bottom of the snipped leaves in water and let it sit in bright light. Change water every 3-4 days. After a week or two, the clippings will grow roots. When the roots and the leaves look healthy, plant them again in a pot with new soil. They’ll grow into a full, lush plant in no time with proper care!

Other Notable Plant Tips

  • Research: I don’t usually trust the instructions on the label that the plant comes with, because they are usually so simple and basic. Make sure to Google the plant once you are home so you know how to take care of it in the best way.
  • Watering can: While watering cans with sprinkler heads are popular, I find that it’s easy to accidentally spray water all over the floor when using them, especially for indoor plants. I really like long spouted cans (I have this one) and they are also great for accuracy in aiming if you have hanging plants like me!
  • Soil: There are various types of soil for different plants but this soil for succulents and cacti has worked for all my plants. I really like well-draining soil because holding on to moisture can cause bacteria, and even my humidity loving plants do really well with this soil.
  • Considerations if you have pets: Some plants are poisonous to pets so make sure you check this if you have fur babies. I’m lucky and my dogs have zero interest in my plants so I don’t pay attention to this, but if yours are a bit more curious, I would take this into consideration when you purchase a new plant.
  • Know before you buy: If you are shopping for a plant for a specific room, make sure to assess the lighting in that room and where you are planning to put the plant. You can then figure out what plant is right for that environment. I always check with the person working at the nursery how much lighting and water a specific plant requires before buying.
How to Take Care of Houseplants

Easy Beginner Friendly Plants

If you are just starting out with houseplants, you may be nervous about what plants to purchase at first. These are some of my favorite, low maintenance plants that are easy and will thrive in most conditions.

  • Pothos: Does well with low and bright light and also flexible with watering. And really leafy and pretty!
  • Snake plants: Also does well in various light and watering conditions.
  • Succulents and cacti: I was hesitant to add this one because I’ve heard many people having trouble with these. Just make sure to keep them in bright, direct sunlight. And while many say do not water them too much, I find that succulents thrive when I water them once a week as I normally do with other plants.
  • Spider plants: Not picky about water or sunlight and will grow well in various conditions.
  • Dracaena or money tree. I treat both of these plants similarly and they grow very easily. They like bright, indirect light and weekly watering. However, they didn’t mind when I forgot to water them for a 2-3 weeks or left them in direct sunlight for too long.

My Personal Favorite Plants

Of course, my favorite plants are the prettiest ones to look at, in my opinion. I’m a very visual person. However, they are not always low maintenance. It doesn’t matter. I love them so much that I make sure to give them extra loving and care if I see them looking a little sad.

  • Monstera
  • Pothos
  • Fiddleleaf fig tree
  • Birds of paradise
  • Rubber tree
  • Pilea
  • Prayer plant (maranta)
  • All forms of calathea – they are the most fickle plant ever so they frustrate the heck out of me, but so gorgeous!
How to Take Care of Houseplants

That’s it, guys! I hope you found this guide on how to take care of houseplants helpful. I tried to answer all the questions you asked me over on Instagram, but if didn’t answer some of them or if you have any more, just leave me a comment below and I’ll try to get to it as as soon as I can.

Lastly, don’t be intimidated by plants! I used to have a black thumb myself, and you can only get better at being a plant mom or dad by actually growing them yourself and making mistakes on the way. I actually do kill houseplants sometimes, even though it happens less and less now, and that’s okay. I just think of it as a learning experience and move on. You can only get better by adding more plants to your collection!

Happy growing, friends.

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

My First Trimester Recap: Symptoms, Supplements, and More!

Sharing my personal first trimester recap, along with my experience with getting pregnant, symptoms, and the supplements I’ve been taking!

First Trimester Recap

I have now officially started my 2nd trimester, and I’m honestly so happy about it. My first trimester was NOT easy for me and had me questioning if this whole pregnancy thing was even worth it.

However, I feel so much better now and I’m really excited to do a full first trimester recap after 12 weeks of being newly pregnant for the first time!

How We Got Pregnant/How We Found Out

As some of you may have seen in this Instagram pregnancy announcement, this was completely unplanned and was quite a surprise for both me and my husband, Charlie.

Why Our Birth Control Didn’t Work

If you’ve been following my health journey for a while now, I had quite a history of hormonal issues like hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. One of the biggest struggles I had to overcome was losing my period for over a year after going off of birth control pills. Because of this, we were practicing birth control with the NFP method (Natural Family Planning), which means I was tracking my cycle to figure out when I was fertile or not using the Flo app on my phone.

But I’ll be completely honest – I wasn’t being too careful with my tracking. Because of my past hormonal issues, I thought that my hormonal health was not fully recovered yet and that it would be difficult for me to get pregnant at all in my lifetime. This has always been on my mind. Because of this and the fact that I’ve never been a fan of babies or kids, I’ve never actually let myself WANT kids of my own.

However, I’m so thankful that my body has healed enough to grow a human being. I think a HUGE part of my recovery is not only improving my food quality, but also changing all my skin care products to those with much safer ingredients. When I started using safer products in the house and on my skin, that was when my period started regulating again. I’m not surprised because these harmful chemicals wreak havoc on our endocrine health.

Finding Out About the Pregnancy

First Trimester Recap

I found out that I was pregnant at about 7 weeks. My period was late and I’ve been pretty dang consistent for the past 8 months. I just remember thinking, “OH CRAP” and immediately went to Target to purchase a pregnancy test.

Just because I COULD NOT believe that I was actually pregnant after taking the test, I bought 2 more tests (different brands) just to make sure, and sure enough, they all said positive.

I know many women who would be overjoyed at this news, but I panicked. I never envisioned myself as a mom, nor had a strong desire to be (like I said, I never loved babies), but slowly in the past few weeks I’m getting more and more excited. It really hit home for me during our first ultrasound when we saw our baby kick and flip around. I teared up and started getting all the fuzzy feelings!

Symptoms

O man, this pregnancy has already been such a crazy ride and it’s only the beginning! I just didn’t know what to even expect from day to day because I was experiencing so many changes and symptoms. One thing I HAVEN’T experienced so far is headaches, which I hear is common. Here are some of the biggest changes I went through:

Nausea

THE WORST. From 8-11 weeks, it was nonstop morning sickness all day. Luckily, it was never bad enough that I ever threw up but it was quite debilitating. I couldn’t cook much at all or be around food which is why I paused on blogging. I honestly laid on the couch all day eating ginger chews and watching Netflix because that was all I could do.

What Helped The Most

  • Eating every 2-3 hours. It’s the last thing you want to do but it does help for sure!
  • Massages were amazing and I would feel better after because it increases circulation in the body.
  • Seabands. These bracelets are affordable and actually seemed to work! They apply pressure on accupressure points to relieve nausea naturally.
  • Naps and rest. I’m honestly so lucky to work for myself and be able to have a flexible schedule. I took as much time as I needed to rest during this time.
  • Pink Stork Pro pregnancy probiotics. These are probiotic pills that I would take in the mornings and they actually made a big difference in my nausea.
  • Unisom with vitamin B6. I really didn’t want to take any kind of drugs during my pregnancy but this combo was AMAZING when I couldn’t function from the nausea. This combo is considered safe during pregnancy and is recommended by doctors for getting through nausea. I took 1/2 Unisom tablet with B6 before bed and it would help me get a really great night’s sleep and I would wake up feeling so much better.
First Trimester Recap

BOOBS

Oh man, as someone who’s never had boobs before, I did not mind this change. They got bigger and my nipples got darker even before my nausea started and they just kept growing. However, they were really sore, tender, and sensitive to touch and that hasn’t stopped yet.

I’m sure they’ll keep growing as my pregnancy progresses, and I’m not hating it!

Fatigue

It was hard to be in tune to how tired I was because my nausea overtook all my senses. But around 11 weeks when my nausea was going away, I definitely could feel myself being way more tired, and I had to take quick 30 minute naps during the day.

SO Much Peeing

I thought frequent urination only happened towards the 2nd half of pregnancy, but that definitely wasn’t the case! I feel like I went 20 times during the day and would wake up in the middle of the night to go. It was getting annoying at one point.

Digestive Upset

I read that many women get constipated during their first trimester but I had the opposite problem (sorry if TMI). It never got serious, but I definitely went to the bathroom more and had loose stool frequently. I think the changes in my diet was affecting my digestion, along with the surge in hormones.

Nails and Skin

I’ve always had thick, strong hair that grows quickly, so I didn’t notice much difference in that, but my nails have been crazy strong! I get my nails done about every 4 weeks and they usually chip during that time, but it’s been over 4 weeks without chipping and they are still looking good. And as a food blogger who cooks all the time, I’m NOT gentle with my nails.

My skin has been another story. I think the changes in my diet also contributed to this since I was eating more carbs and sugar than before, but it became so dry and rough, with more acne. It regulated a bit now, but at one point, I had to use the Cleansing Balm as an overnight night mask every night for my skin to feel hydrated each day.

Exercise

I tried to go to yoga a few times when I was nauseous to see if it would help, but it definitely did not. It made me feel so much worse and made me nauseous all day afterwards, so I took a break from exercising for 4 weeks. The only thing active I did was walking around the neighborhood for 30 minutes-1 hour, which actually helped a bit with my nausea.

By the 11th week, I was feeling better so I started getting back into moving my body again with yoga, cycling, and weight training classes. I’m not going to lie – the first few classes were HARD. I was out of breath within the first 10 minutes and had to take a lot of breaks and drink a ton of water. This could be because I couldn’t exercise for a month beforehand, but my hormones played a MUCH bigger part.

By the 12th week, I was able to get back into full workout mode and I was feeling good. I plan to stay active throughout my entire pregnancy as long as it’s safe and possible, because I honestly feel SO MUCH better and happier after I get a good sweat going.

First Trimester Recap

Food Aversions/Cravings

I haven’t had much cravings. It was more like, what CAN I eat without getting completely grossed out? Food aversions? Heck yes. I honestly didn’t want to eat anything besides fruits but I had to eat protein because that would make me feel better.

Because I couldn’t eat like I do normally, I actually lost 5 lbs during my first trimester. I’m 5’1″ so this is a lot for so I was a bit worried about it. However, my doctor assured me that this is quite normal and I’ll gain it back later.

Biggest Aversions:

  • Beef. I seriously didn’t want to eat any kind of beef, which is crazy because it’s one of my favorite meats.
  • Eggs in all forms, which I used to eat everyday.
  • Kimchi. I had loads of it after cooking from Korean Paleo but I could not smell it without gagging.
  • Bell peppers
  • Spicy food, which was a surprise. I LOVE spicy food!

What I Survived On:

It’s so funny because none of this is what I eat normally AT ALL.

  • SO. MUCH. WATERMELON. No, it’s not watermelon season but I made Charlie get me those pre-cut, packaged ones. Not the most sustainable choice but it’s hard to think about any of that when you are feeling crappy.
  • Almond milk and gluten free cereal. It was the only thing I could stomach at one point.
  • Chicken Pad Thai from a local restaurant. I ate this for dinner ALOT.
  • Gluten free subs from a Jersey Mike’s
  • Celery with peanut butter
  • Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers
  • Dairy free yogurt with fruits

Supplements

Because I wasn’t feeling great, I did not want to swallow many pills. However, I knew I needed certain nutrients (especially with my limited diet), so I tried to take these 3 consistently:

  • Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin – I actually started taking these months ago when I was trying to improve my hormonal health. I wasn’t trying to get pregnant, but I wanted nutrients to support my health and this fit the bill, with nutrients like vitamin A, D, B12, B6, folate, and choline. It does give me more energy and I think it helped with my fertility, even when I thought I couldn’t get pregnant! It doesn’t make me queasy, but I do take it with a meal. If you have a hard time swallowing pills. these may not be for you because they are on the larger side!
  • Enzymedica’s Digest Gold – With my digestion being off with frequent heartburns, these digestive enzymes have been extremely helpful and necessary at every meal. It’s a bit pricier than other enzymes, but it seriously works SO well. I haven’t had a heartburn ever since taking these, and I could stomach things like gluten and dairy much better if I end up consuming those things (I’m intolerant to them!).
  • Pink Stork Pro pregnancy probiotics – I mentioned these earlier, because these pills were so helpful in reducing my nausea. However, I believe that you can get higher quality and better strains of probiotics through real food sources, so I didn’t purchase more ever since finishing the bottle since my nausea was gone by then. Now that I have my appetite back, I try to eat plenty of sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and kombucha throughout the day.

Bump Update

I didn’t show much at all until my 12th week. It’s common not to show at all during the first trimester for your first pregnancy, but I saw it pop up out of nowhere when I looked at the mirror one morning! I was feeling bubbly and bloated for a while before that so I thought maybe that could be it, but the more I looked at it, it just looked different.

Here are photos of me at week 12:

First Trimester Recap
First Trimester Recap

That’s all! I hope you I answered a lot of your questions in this first trimester recap. I’ll be bringing you more updates as my pregnancy progresses, since everyday I’m experiencing something new! It’s definitely an exciting time, and I can’t wait to meet our little girl or guy soon.

My due date is early September, so I’m sure I’ll be sharing plenty more on here and on Instagram through then and beyond!

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

Find all the essential ingredients for Korean Paleo cooking to make the most delicious and bold flavored dishes in the cookbook, Korean Paleo.

Necessary Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

Hi friends! If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably seen that my very first cookbook, Korean Paleo, is finally published and out in the world! It’s pretty much all I’ve been talking about and I’m so excited to share my favorite recipes I grew up with you guys.

While all the recipes are 100% grain free, gluten free, and made with real food, there are several special ingredients for Korean cooking that give this cuisine its wonderfully bold and umami flavor. You may not be familiar with all the ingredients, and some you may not even have heard of before, so I thought I would go through some of the necessary staple items to stock up on so you can cook from the book with ease.

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking-6

Before I start, I encourage you to have an open mind when cooking any cuisine that’s new to you. You may feel uncomfortable about handling certain ingredients, but keep in mind that they are what give the wonderful taste to so many traditional dishes and these cooking methods have been passed down from generation to generation!

Avoiding Processed Ingredients in Korean Cooking

Cooking Korean Paleo is slightly different than just Korean. There are some minor substitutions to make so the dishes are grain free and gluten free.

While traditional Korean cooking is quite healthy and anti-inflammatory with various fermentation methods, many sauces and condiments these days are made with wheat flour, corn, high fructose corn syrup, and shady preservatives to cut down on time and cost.

So while the ingredients that I used in Korean Paleo are shortcut-free, they are so much healthier, cleaner, and won’t give you digestive issues if you have food sensitivities!

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking-pin

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

You can find most of these ingredients if you have an Asian or Korean market near you. But in case you don’t, I am including links to where you can purchase them online! No matter where you are, I love that we all have relatively easy access to so many unique flavors with online shopping.

You can find a detailed list of all the special ingredients on pages 185-187 of the cookbook in the section called “Stocking Up Your Korean Paleo Kitchen.”

Condiments

Apple cider vinegar (or coconut vinegar): Koreans usually use rice vinegar in their cooking, which I give the option to use in the cookbook. Rice vinegar is actually quite harmless, but if you are ultra sensitive to grains, the 2 types of grain free vinegars that most resemble the slightly sweet taste are apple cider vinegar and coconut vinegar.

Coconut aminos: If you’ve been cooking paleo for a while, you probably have coconut aminos in the kitchen! It’s an amazing soy sauce substitute that’s made from the sap of the coconut and has a slightly sweeter flavor than soy sauce (used in SO many Korean dishes) without grains or gluten.

Paleo Doenjang on page 177 of Korean Paleo

Doenjang: This is a Korean version of miso paste. While Japanese miso paste is usually fermented with another grain other than soybeans, a true, authentic doenjang only uses soybeans and salt. The process of making doenjang is quite labor intensive so it’s extremely difficult to find a clean version (the only ones I found are this one and this one). Feel free to purchase them if you can consume fermented soy. But if not, I have a 100% grain free version on page 177 of the cookbook that tastes a lot like the real deal!

Fish sauce: High quality, fermented fish sauce is packed with umami and adds such an amazing flavor to so many dishes in the cookbook. The ingredients should just be fish and salt, with no other fillers or sugars. The only brand I recommend that’s high in quality with an amazing taste is Red Boat.

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking-pin

Gochugaru: Since many Korean dishes have some level of spiciness to them, gochugaru, Korean red pepper flakes, are used quite often and this is something you definitely have around if you are making Korean food often. There are two types of gochugaru: coarse flakes and fine powder. You can use coarse flakes in most Korean cooking to add flavor to dishes. The fine powder version is used to make gochujang in the cookbook, spicy and slightly sweet red chili paste that’s also ubiquitous in Korean cooking.

Gochujang: A thick and sticky red chili paste used in marinades, soups and stews, sauces and more, gochujang is made with fine gochugaru, glutinous rice, and some kind of sweetener. This is one of the higher quality ones I’ve seen, but for a truly grain free version that tastes just like the real deal, you can make your own on page 174 of the cookbook.

Saewoojeot: With this one, I really want to emphasize you to keep an open mind. Saewoojeot is basically tiny shrimp that’s been salted and fermented and it adds a ton of flavor to dishes, much like fish sauce. It should have just 2 ingredients: shrimp and salt. I couldn’t find anywhere online where you can order it, but you can easily find clean versions at Asian markets. If you don’t have access to these markets, just substitute saewoojeot with fish sauce in your cooking! This is what it looks like:

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

Other Special Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

Dried Anchovies: Called myeolchi in Korean, dried anchovies are used in so many different ways in Korean cooking and they come all different sizes as well. The kind you need to cook from Korean Paleo is  the large dried ones, which are used to make stock for soups and stews. It adds such a unique depth of flavor, and many soups and stews wouldn’t taste the same without it. While it may look a little freaky if you’ve never handled it before, you actually don’t eat it whole in my recipes, and it’s just simmered in stock for flavoring then discarded afterwards.

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

Seaweed: There are actually 3 different types of seaweed used Korean Paleo so it can be a bit confusing. Here’s how I label each in the cookbook, and what they are referring to so you can choose the correct kind in the recipes:

  • TwiGak (Sweet Fried Kelp Chips) on page 167 of Korean Paleo

    Dried kelp (or dashima in Korean and kombu in Japanese): These are thick and flat large sheets of seaweed that come in a big rectangle in various sizes. They are not easily bendable and you have to cut them with kitchen shears to break them up. A large piece of it is used to a delicious and flavorful stock by simmering it in water with spices and dried anchovies. I also have a delicious and crunchy snack called TwiGak (Sweet Fried Kelp Chips) on page 167 of the cookbook!

  • Dried seaweed (or mareun miyeok in Korean and wakame in Japanese): This is a different type of seaweed than kelp. While kelp is thick and flat, mareun miyeok is thin and stringy and comes shriveled up. You soak it in water before using it and it’ll expand in size and soften. You then using it to make soups like Miyeok Guk (Seaweed Soup) on page 67 or in side dishes like Miyeok Muchim (Seaweed Salad) on page 122 of the cookbook.
  • Dry unseasoned seaweed sheets (or gim in Korean or nori  in Japanese): This is probably the type of seaweed you may be the most familiar with. The roasted and flavored versions that are cut into mini rectangles are quite popular these days as seaweed snacks (I have a homemade version on page 129 of the cookbook!), but they can be used for various recipes as seasoning, for Korean sushi (page 15 of the cookbook, and more. You can purchase these online.

Kimchi: Probably the most popular and famous Korean food of all, kimchi is eaten alone or can be used in so many different recipes. Be cautious when you purchase kimchi from a store. Many of them are thickened with rice or wheat flour, and sometimes contain questionable sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and MSG as well. Your best best is to make it at home using clean ingredients. I have a delicious quick kimchi recipe on page 173 of the cookbook that’s flavorful and packed with probiotics. If you don’t want to make your own, you can try this brand.

Nigari for tofu making: You need these special salt flakes to make just one recipe from my cookbook, paleo Hemp Tofu on page 181. While it’s not necessary if you are not a fan of tofu, tofu is used quite often in Korean cooking and it was one of my proudest moments to be able to make tofu without soy or any grains. Nigari is used to firm and solidify the tofu and this is the cleanest version I found that works really for my recipe. And don’t forget to grab this tofu mold which is the exact one I used to make my paleo tofu!

Grab Your Copy of Korean Paleo!

I hope this list of ingredients for Korean paleo cooking was helpful for you to start cooking from my book! I know you may not be familiar with some of these ingredients, but purchasing them and trying them out in various recipes is the quickest way for you to get over your fear of using them and you’ll be familiarized with them in no time. I think you’ll love all the different and interesting textures and flavors that they impart.

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

If you have any questions about the ingredients or the cookbook, leave me a comment below! I’m happy to answer any of your questions. And if you end up cooking up from Korean Paleo, please share on social media with the hashtag #KoreanPaleoCookbook!

Grab Your Copy of Korean Paleo!

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