Gyoza that makes you prettier...

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Did you get caught in the rain yesterday? If you did, you can't blame me! I warned you that it might rain later in the day. It's going to be sunny today with a  high of 19C. The next couple of days will see highs under 20C and then it should warm up and we'll hit 20C or 21C by the weekend. There's no rain forecast for the rest of the week, so that hopefully means we will have a sunny but cool day for the Peace Marathon...

When you think of gyoza, those meaty, vegetable-y dumplings that go so perfectly with a frosty mug of beer, do you imagine they’re more likely to appeal to dainty, health-conscious ladies, or undiscerning, ravenous salarymen? While undeniably delicious, gyoza are generally seen as an unrefined food option – good for a quick stuffing, but hardly haute cuisine. That’s all set to change with the invention of “Happy Maru“, a range of colorful boiled gyoza “dumplings” infused with beautifying collagen and polyphenols for the health and beauty-conscious modern woman. But just what’s so different about them?

The new Happy Maru gyoza were developed by frozen foods company Osaka Ohsho to cater “specifically to the needs and desires of women”. In fact, they’re the result of a series of brainstorming sessions held by an all-female research and development team within the company. Happy Maru has been designed to appeal to women in every way, from the inclusion of added beauty ingredients right down to the color scheme and the cute packaging. We love getting extra health benefits from our food, so we just had to know more about these wonder dumplings!

Happy Maru consists of four different color varieties of dumpling, each with their own flavor scheme and added health benefits. Here’s a quick breakdown of each one!

White: the white Happy Maru dumplings are the “plain” flavor, consisting of pure white flour with no added flavorings, save a dash of olive oil.

Pink: a fusion of dried tomato and mozzarella cheese, the pink dumplings have a slightly sweet yet savory taste designed to bring to mind Italian cuisine. The pink color deepens as they cook to provide a pleasant pop of color in your bowl of gyoza soup!

Green: the green dumplings are infused with chlorella, a freshwater algae that provides essential antioxidants in the form of vitamin C and carotenoids, as well as a high concentration of iron and B-vitamins for a range of overall health and beauty benefits. Inside each squishy dumpling ball is a tasty paste made from fresh basil, which besides being yummy, is also included for health reasons – basil is well-known in Japan for its anti-aging properties.

Yellow: the yellow Happy Maru are infused with yuzu peel, providing a fragrant citrus hit that’s said to improve your appetite.

Each Happy Maru dumpling ball is also filled with collagen and polyphenols. Collagen has been a huge hit in Asia for quite a while now, having found its way into all sorts of supplements and even a variety of winter hotpots, soups and other dishes. Collagen plays a significant role in the construction and health of skin, hair and nails, and consuming collagen is said to boost the elasticity and luster of one’s skin. While there isn’t a great deal of evidence in the west to support this, many Japanese women strongly believe in the skin-beautifying effects of collagen.

The plant-based chemicals known as polyphenols are said to be a type of antioxidant that can also be beneficial to gut health as well as helping to prevent premature ageing. (Polyphenols are why we’re told it’s okay to drink red wine every now and then!) If that’s not enough, they’re said to prevent cancer cell reproduction and hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart disease. If that’s still not enough, they’re also said to lower inflammation, reducing the risk of arthritis. Wow!

These super-dumplings were the recent recipient of the “Women’s Edible Beauty Grand Prix” prize at the 39th International Food and Beverage Exhibition, aka FoodEx Japan 2014. Happy Maru was selected as the winner by a pool of voters including beauty and nutrition experts, celebrities and models who you’d expect would know a thing or two about looking good.

Priced at Y475 for a pack of 8 balls, with two sachets of soup powder included per pack, you could dump the lot into your winter nabe hotpot or add a couple of balls at a time to a side dish such as the “consomme ginger soup” recommended on the Osaka Ohsho website. The dumplings can be easily cooked in the microwave or over a stovetop in just a few minutes, making them an easy option for a quick meal.

There’s bad news for allergy suffers, as well as people with certain other dietary restrictions, though. The gyoza balls and soup base contain egg, wheat, milk, pork and soy, so despite the range of health benefits, they’re not suitable for everyone.

What do you think of these so-called “Edible Beauty” products? Will you be adding them to your hotpots this winter? Or will you be giving them a miss?

Have a great day!

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