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Foods of the Month 2019

January - Tempeh   February - Kasha/ Buckwheat
March - Miso   April - Organic Canola Oil    May - Vegan Sauces
June- Whole Grain Summer Salads    July - Summer Time Grilling
August - More Whole Grain Salads   September - Millet, Late Summer Energy

January - Tempeh

Tempeh is fermented soybeans. The soybeans are boiled then mixed with a starter culture to start the fermentation process. 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.

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.

February - Kasha/ Buckwheat

Although it has two names, it is essentially the same. In the stores, usually kasha is the grain in its whole form, while buckwheat is in a flour form. Although not a true cereal grain, it is used like a grain and has similar properties of grains. And even though it is in the name, it is not a wheat at all, in fact it is gluten free. Many people with food allergies get confused and stay away from buckwheat, however they will find it is an excellent grain to start including in their diets.

Because it is a good blood building food, it can neutralize toxic acidic wastes. In Chinese Medicine it is known for feeding and nurturing the kidneys and reproductive organs. Also known as the signature grain of the winter time, it is medicinal to capillaries and blood vessels and can increase circulation to the hands and feet. Buckwheat has the longest transit time in the gut which makes it excellent to stabilize blood sugar levels. Also rich in vitamin E, very high in vitamin C, and contains almost the whole range of B-complex vitamins.

When cooking kasha, it is best to pot boil it using a two to one ratio (one part grain, two parts water). Some people like to pan roast it before pot boiling it. You do this by simply putting the grain in a skillet and cooking it until in starts to brown. Then pot boil it for about 25 minutes or until the water has all been absorbed. I hope you try this wonderful grain and here is a recipe for you to make.

March - Miso

Miso is fermented soy bean paste. It has a salty taste and is used to season dishes such as soups, sauces, and stews. It is a living food, containing lactobacillus, which is a healthful micor-organisms to help aid in digestion. Miso contains many minerals and vitamins including B12. There are 11 g. of protein in 1 tablespoon of dark miso and it is a compete protein containing all eight essential amino acids.

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 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.

April - Organic Canola Oil

Organic Canola oil is not genetically modified. It is made from canola seeds (rapeseed) which were produced using traditional breeding methods before canola was ever genetically modified. The traditional method of breeding can consist of cross breeding, pollination, and hybridzation (breeding plants naturally). Canola oil is made from the rapeseed plant that is in the cabbage family. It is the traditional cooking oil of India and Southern China.

Rapeseed oil is one of the oldest cooking oil, used in India since 4000 BC. Some people are concerned about the high levels of erucic acid in rapeseed oil, but if you consume organic, expeller pressed canola oil, it is made from plants that have been breed to contain less erucic acid, therefore making it safe to consume.

Organic canola oil is high in anti-inflammatory properties, Vitamin K, and Vitamin E (strong antioxidant). The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids is 2 to 1 in canola oil. This 2 to 1 ratio is nutritionally ideal and both are polyunsaturated fats.

May - Vegan Sauces

When creating sauces to go over pasta, brown rice, millet, or other whole grains, you want to avoid using heavy creams, dairy, or high saturated fat ingredients. Probably the sauces most people are familiar with are sauces they grew up with consisting of heavy dairy or cheese as the main ingredient. Let's look at creating healthy version of sauces that you can make and enjoy.

Some substitutes to create the creamy texture of a sauce are; cooked rolled oats, Mochi (pounded sweet brown rice), cooked sweet potato, cooked butternut squash, and vegan milk beverages. Using a food processor to puree cooked soft vegetables is key to creating a smooth sauce. Root vegetables and sweet potato are two vegetables I use often to create sauces. Make sure to peel the sweet potato before cooking and pureeing when making sauces.

Mushrooms can create a nice vegan sauce also. Mushrooms have a high water content which can help create a good sauce. Mushrooms are full of flavor and that flavor is even better when pureed with a little dark miso for flavoring. The following recipe is how to make a sweet potato sauce.

June- Whole Grain Summer Salads

Summer is the perfect time to have a refreshing salad for lunch or dinner and starting with whole grains is your best nutritional way to support your health. Whole grains are high in fiber, full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Plus whole grains give you energy. Whole grains digest slowly, releasing glucose slowly in to your body to give you long sustainable energy to last the whole day.

Quinoa, amaranth, and corn are the signature whole grains for summer. They are known for their healing properties for your brain and heart. They are all quick cooking grains that have a lighter energy to help cool the body temperature down for the hot summer days.

To create a whole grain salad that is a complete meal, start with a whole grain, such as the brown rice in the following recipe. Sometimes you can combine two whole grains, such as brown rice and corn. Then add a protein food, such as the walnuts and dulse flakes. You can add a wide variety of vegetables. Some can be lightly steamed and some can be not cooked. Vegetables that are raw are cooling to the body and help your cool off when it is hot outside. And last use a light olive oil based dressing so your salad is lighter and has less calories then a creamy dressing.

July - Summer Time Grilling

Summer is my favorite time of the year. I love the hot weather, the bright sun, all the activities you can do outside and all the delicious food you can cook outside on your grill. Food just seems to taste better when cooked outside in the summer. And do not fall into the trap of thinking your only option is to grill veggie burger or veggie hot dogs. I have found you can grill a wide variety of different foods that you probably would never have considered grilling.

I have experimented with all kinds of vegetables, beans, nuts, and fruits cooked on the grill. Some have turned out great, others I have come to the conclusion it is better not to grill that particular food. And that is ok, if something does not work out, you just move on to the next thing to try. Basically the sky is the limit when you use your imagination in cooking.

Some of my favorites to grill are vegetables. Sweet potato being one of the best. You can get a nice blackened char on the outside of cut up sweet potatoes on the grill. Broccoli and cauliflower are another favorite when grilling. An easy way to prepare your vegetables for grilling is just use olive oil and sea salt. I season the vegetables first in a bowl then put them on the hot grill, comes out delicious every time. And my favorite vegetable to grill is onions. I like to leave them on the grill for a long time so some of them turn blacked and crunchy. Next time you are grilling be adventurous and grill some vegetables you have not tried on the grill yet.

August - More Whole Grain Salads

Summer is the perfect time to have a cooling, healthy, whole grain salad. You can take advantage of the abundance of fresh vegetables from local farmers to help create a colorful, flavorful salad. Quinoa and corn are the signature whole grains for summer. They feed and nurture your brain and heart. Both are quick cooking grains and give you an abundance of energy to keep you active all summer. Quinoa has a high protein profile, is high in calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin E (a strong antioxidant) and B vitamins. Corn helps lower blood sugar levels, strengthen your overall energy, can help prevent the formation of urinary stones, and is the only whole grain with vitamin A.

Cucumbers are one of humanities earliest food crops dating back to 7750 B.C. They contain silicon which is integral for calcium absorption. Radishes have anti bacterial and anti fungal properties. Broccoli is very high in vitamin C and contains selenium, and has been studies for its anti cancer properties. You should always cook broccoli because it has a high sulfur content which makes it hard to digest, and cooking it makes it easier to assimilate. Kale is high in protein, calcium and iron. Basil has been used to treat mild depression, calm nerves, aid digestion, and can be effective treating bacterial infections. Plus basil is a natural mosquito repellent.

September - Millet, Late Summer Energy

Creamy, nutty, and slightly sweet, millet is the signature whole grain for this time of year. Known for feeding and nurturing your spleen, pancreas, and stomach, it is considered an anti-stress grain. Millet has the highest amino acid protein profile and highest iron content. It is a gluten-free grain and contains B vitamins, also rich in phosphorus. Millet is the easiest whole grain to digest and is alkalizing to the body. When cooking with millet, it will cook up creamy. It works well to thicken soups and I use it for that reason in my chili recipe. Look for millet in the bulk section or pre-package section of your local health store.

According to The Five Transformations Of Energy, it is Late Summer, or what is sometimes referred to as Indian Summer and that means we are entering the Earth energy phase. For those who are not familiar with The Transformations, let me elaborate on the subject. The Five Transformations Of Energy is the ancient Chinese study of the energy of nature and how it relates to us and our health. It is studied and used in Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and some forms of martial arts.

During the Late Summer Earth energy phase we are harvesting and gathering. Considered the center of everything, it is the most balanced energy time of year. Earth energy is considered grounding. This is where we get our resourcefulness, the ability to persevere, and our stability. We also find ourselves gathering together with our family in our homes more, as the days start to get shorter. Yellow is the color associated with this energy, the color of autumn.

The organs associated with this time of year are; spleen, pancreas, and stomach. Sweet is the signature flavor of this time, and naturally sweet foods nurture those organs. Creamy, sweet millet is the signature whole grain and chick peas are the bean for late summer. The spleen, pancreas, and stomach are some of the main organs that are effected by stress. They usually get upset when we find ourselves under too much stress. By eating the naturally sweet and creamy foods associated with this Late Summer time of year, we feed and nurture these organs and therefore helping your body deal with the stresses in every day life. To read more about the Five Transformations and Late Summer, go to Food of the Month Archive 2016: September

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