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Foods of the Month 2017

January - Roasting Vegetables    February - Sweet Potato for your Sweetheart
March - Aquafaba    April -Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!   May - Protein on a Vegan Diet
June- Tempeh and Soy Foods

January - Roasting Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are a simple and easy way to incorporate more vegetables in your diet. When you roast the vegetables you bring out the natural sweetness to the vegetables. And when you get a little browning on the vegetables they are exceptionally delicious! Some tips to making sure your roasted vegetables are the best they can be: Lay the vegetables out in a single layer, do not pile them on top of each other. I prefer to keep the different vegetables separate and cook them on separate dishes. The reason I do this is because some vegetables will cook faster then others and you can take them out of the oven at different times.

You can use a variety of vegetables when roasting. Cauliflower is one of my favorites. Roast the cauliflower to the point it is browning and it gets kind of crisp. And cauliflower is tremendously healthy for you. Being in the cruciferous family of vegetables, it has anti-cancer properties. High in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and B Vitamins. Also known as the best brain food, helps improve blood pressure, and helps boost heart health. The dietary fiber in cauliflower helps to protect the lining of the stomach preventing bacterial overgrowth. And it contains anti-inflammatory properties.


February - Sweet Potato for your Sweetheart

One of the most loving things you can do for your sweetheart is to make them a special sweet treat. And if that treat has health benefits you are helping keep your significant other feeling better. For Valentine's day, you can make a wonderfully, delicious, sweet treat and still have it be healthy. With the addition of sweet potato in your treats it adds another layer of sweetness and rich taste.
Native to South America, the sweet potato is high in fiber, vitamin C, calcium, manganese, riboflavin, panthothenic acid, and vitamin A. Known for feeding and nurturing your spleen, pancreas. and stomach, their natural sweet taste and creamy texture make them anti-stress food. Sweet potatoes are orange, reddish, or yellow in color. Sometimes confused for a yam, which is white, ivory, cream, pink, or purple, they are completely different vegetables. And sweet potatoes are not related to the white potato either.

March - Aquafaba
(Chick Pea Cooking Liquid)

Have you heard of aquafaba? It is an amazing ingredient that is all the rave in the vegan community. I have started using it this summer and created my amazingly light and delicious vegan ice cream with aquafaba. I am very excited to be able to share this month a new Blueberry Muffin recipe I just created using aquafaba as an egg replacement. These muffins are very light and moist from the addition of the aquafaba.

Aquafaba is the liquid that is left over when you cook beans. The most popular is the liquid from when you cook chick peas. The chick pea liquid seems to work best, and has a neutral flavor.I have tried a few different beans to use their cooking liquid, and I have to agree that the chick pea liquid seems to work the best. Because of the starches, proteins, other plant solids that are left in the water after cooking chick peas, the water whipped up to make firm peaks. It is as if you are using egg whites and creating a meringue. The first time I tried to whip the aquafaba, I was so surprised to see how it expanded and looked like meringue. It is a really cool thing to witness.

You can use the aquafaba to create meringues, mayonnaise, butter spreads, vegan cheeses, macaroons, frozen desserts, and as an egg replacement to create light baked goods.

April -Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!

Pasta is part of a healthy whole foods lifestyle. Traditionally made using wheat flour and water, pasta has a long history of being a part of our diet. The origins of pasta has been contributed to the Chinese, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, however it is the Italians that have been most noted for the origins of pasta as we know it now. Long standing, traditional pasta is made from soft wheat flour and water. Italian traditional pasta is made from hard, durum wheat flour and water. Soft wheat contains less protein, and absorbs less water. Durum wheat is a large grain with sharp edges, is difficult to break apart and is yellow, amber color. Which creates different types of pasta for us all to choose from.

For those looking for a wheat free or gluten free pasta, there are many options out there that are delicious and easy to use in any dish you prepare. My favorite is brown rice pasta, the brand I buy is, 'Tinkyada'. It cooks up very nicely and does not stick together. Other options are; quinoa, buckwheat, sprouted grain, and corn.

The best way to cook pasta is bring a large pot of water to a boil, put pasta in and keep the temperature on high, and cook pasta in boiling water for 7 to 10 minutes until done. To test to see if it is done, I take a piece out of the water and taste it to see if it is done. I do not cook my pasta with oil or salt. There is no need to season pasta while it is cooking, you season it with the sauce that you add to the pasta.

May - Protein on a Vegan Diet

Where do you get your protein? A question I get asked all the time. Here is my answer, "Everything that comes from Mother Nature in its whole form, except fruit, has protein".

That means everything I eat has protein: whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, sea vegetables, tofu, tempeh, and vegetables, Every time I eat I am getting some protein. Eating the S.A.D (standard American diet) does not supply as much protein as most vegan and vegetarian diets include.

One great protein food to start using in your cooking is miso. Made from fermenting soybeans, miso is a salty condiment and adds a rich taste to your dishes. Being a fermented food, it is a live food, containing lactobacillus (same as yogurt). Miso is 13 to 20 % protein, helps alkalize your body, helps eliminate toxins from your body, helps improve circulation, and feeds and strengthens the kidneys, pancreas, and colon.

Protein is present in every cell in our body. Protein is responsible for cell replication and required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body's tissues and organs. Protein builds strong muscles and the biggest muscle in the body is the heart. Keeping our heart healthy by eating whole foods, protein rich, dishes is an important part of living a healthy vegan lifestyle.

June- Tempeh and Soy Foods

Some of my favorite ingredients to cook with are tofu and tempeh. Both made from the soybean, they are so versatile that the possibilities are endless for these two wondrous foods. Neither one has that much taste by themselves, they take on whatever taste you desire in your recipes.

The soybean has been cultivated for about 2,500 years and for good reason. These wonderful beans contain iron, carotene, niacin, vitamins B and B2. They promote clear vision and vitality, as well as improve circulation and support detoxification. Along with all these wonderful traits, soybeans also have isoflavones, which are similar to a natural estrogen that may help prevent hot flashes.

They also contain genistein, which helps prevent heart disease and may stop the spread of some cancers in their early stages. These power packed beans also contain protease inhibitors that are a universal anti-carcinogen and may block the action of cancer causing enzymes. And if that is not enough reason to start enjoying these wondrous beans, they also contain phytic acids that inhibit the growth of tumors.

You will find the tofu in firm or soft style. The firm is used when you want the tofu to keep its shape, such as marinating it. The soft is better used to create sauces and dressings. Always cook your tofu before eating, cooking makes it more digestible. Tofu is 8% protein, and high in good quality unsaturated fat, 4.3%. It contains all your amino acids and is an excellent source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and Vitamins B and E.

The texture of tempeh is chunky, it gives the illusion of meat in some recipes. It is 19.5% protein and it is a complete protein. It contains all the essential amino acids and B12. Tempeh tastes especially good sautéed in toasted sesame oil with a little tamari to season. It can also be crumbled and then molded into patties or loafs.

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