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FOOD FIRST - April 2016 - Kansas City

The Standards: Vietnamese Kelp Noodle Bowl

By Bethany Klug


I’m offering you the recipes Hubby and I turn to again and again because they taste and make us feel great. The Standard this month is a tasty Vietnamese Kelp Noodle Bowl. I served it recently to my friend Michael, who came to town to lead a mindfulness retreat this past January. Michael spent nine years at Plum Village, the monastery of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in France. As such, he has eaten his share of Vietnamese food. At first he seemed disappointed that weren’t going out. I reminded him that he would get more than his share of eating out during his visit and he might appreciate a home cooked meal. He proceeded to devour this soup and had seconds. Michael informed me that presence of star anise in the soup makes it a pho, pronounced “fuh,” which is the best most westerners can do to approximate the true pronunciation of the word. This soup is my go-to for potlucks. It’s a terrific way to enjoy raw vegetables and warm up at the same time. I place all the vegetables on a platter in the middle of the table, so everyone can top their soup their way. For authenticity, stop into one our local asian markets for big soup bowls, porcelain soup spoons and chopsticks.


I prefer kelp noodles over rice noodles usually served in Vietnamese soup. Kelp noodles look like traditional clear noodles and keep the carbs low. Most health food stores stock kelp noodles. I’ve seen them at Hy-Vee in their health market section. I keep dried shiitake mushrooms slices around, since fresh aren’t always available. carries a variety of quality dried mushrooms. It is best to soak them first, but I’ve been known to throw them in the pot dry. I purchase star anise in pieces and grind them in a spice grinder. A spice grinder is a coffee grinder reserved for spices. Cashews add good quality protein and fat if you prefer a vegetarian dish. Tofu would work well, too. Otherwise add your favorite animal flesh, cooked or raw. The toppings listed are my favorites, but the season determines which ones I use. Don’t see your favorite? Go ahead and give it a try!



Vietnamese Kelp Noodle Bowl (Serves 6)


Soup Broth

1 TBSP grape seed oil

1 small onion, sliced into half-moons

1/4 cup peeled and thinly sliced fresh ginger

6 cups water or vegetable stock

2 cubes Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon (no salt added), if using water

1 cup stemmed and sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms or 3/4 cup dried

1 TBSP gluten-free tamari (natural soy sauce)

1/2 tsp ground star anise.

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups finely chopped bok choy

1 TBSP toasted sesame oil

2 bags Kelp noodles



A scant handful of each per person, less for the onions, herbs and jalapeño pepper.


Sprouts! Mung bean are traditional but I often use sunflower sprouts

Micro greens

Shredded Napa or other cabbage

Broccoli florets

Julienned carrots

Julienned salad turnips

Julienned red and yellow peppers

Cherry tomato halves

Green beans

Spiral sliced watermelon radishes. The pink color of their centers brightens up the bowl!

Raw cashews

Tofu, cubed, marinated in tamari

Your favorite animal flesh cut in to bite size pieces, cooked or raw

Green onions, thinly sliced

Cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Mint leaves, coarsely chopped

Basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced

Lime, sliced


Heat the grape seed oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and ginger. Sauté until the onions soften. Stir in vegetable stock (or water and bouillon), mushrooms, tamari, star anise and salt. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add bok choy and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add toasted sesame oil.


Place a generous handful of kelp noodles in each bowl. Ladle soup broth over the noodles. Add toppings, a squeeze of lime and enjoy.

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HealthSpan, the holistic medicine practice of Dr. Bethany Klug, is offering some excellent classes this summer to help you reduce your toxic load and add some quick, easy and delicious dishes to you weekly repertoire. Learn more at



Bethany Klug, DO created HealthSpan out of a deep wish: for everyone to experience vibrant health. We go beyond the conventional pill-for an-ill approach to educate and inspire you so you can successfully make positive steps toward greater health and wellbeing. Learn more at or 913-642-1900.

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