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is a harmless bean curd made from soybeans, so why are so many people
afraid of it? Maybe because they have tasted a dish made using the
wrong kind of tofu, and/or it was not properly seasoned or cooked.
When used in the correct way, tofu can be very tasty and can be used
to create all kinds of different dishes. The key to cooking with tofu
is that it has no real flavor on its own, so it will take on whatever
tastes you add to it when creating a dish. Always make sure you add
salt, or a salty ingredient, and make sure to cook the tofu. The cooking
process will enhance the flavor and make the tofu easier to digest.
Five thousand year
old texts describe the soybean as one of the most important crops in
China. And for good reason, high in protein, iron, B vitamins, soybeans
can also help support detoxification, improve circulation, and have
many anti-cancer properties. A food that has been eaten for thousand
of years, has been proven through time to be a healthy food for the
human species to consume. There is a lot of information out there claiming
that soy food is bad for us to consume. But do not get confused, the
bad stuff is refined and processed. Such things as: soy flour, soy flakes,
soy isolates, (TSP textured soy protein). I do not use these products
in my cooking. And when purchasing tofu and other soybean products,
always buy organic. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the soybean
crops have been genetically engineered.
Using the correct
type of tofu is also important to create the correct texture for your
dishes. I use the fresh, fir, tofu packed in water, found in the refrigerator
section, for almost all my recipes. If you can find a local producer
of tofu, that is best, the fresher the tofu the better the texture and
February - Chocolate,
Food of the Gods
of its unique taste and health benefits, chocolate a long time ago was
considered the Food of the Gods. It was thought of as such an important
crop that the Aztecs used it for currency. The history of Chocolate
begins in Mesoamerica as far back as 1900 BC. Originally prepared as
a bitter, frothy, liquid drink, sometimes it was mixed with spices,
wine, or corn puree. Most people would not recognize chocolate the way
they served it thousands of years ago. It was not until it arrived in
Europe in the sixteenth century that sugar was added to the chocolate
and it became a sweet treat.
Since most people
have heard so much about the healing benefits of chocolate; tryptophan,
endrorphins, vitamins, mineral, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron,
let's focus on how chocolate is produced for you consumption. Harvesting
the cacao bean is still done by hand. The pods are carefully broken
open, to release the cacao bean. The beans are embedded in a moist,
fibrous, white pulp. The beans and pulp are scooped out and gently heaped
in a pile. The pile of beans and pulp starts to ferment, and during
the process they are gently mixed to introduce oxygen in to the pile
which produces lactic acid. The fermentation process takes up to 8 days.
The cocoa beans, which they are now called, come out of this process
with a high moisture content. The beans are then dried in the sun. The
cocoa beans are then sent to the manufacturer for roasting. During the
roasting process the beans are cracked (not crushed), and are then called
cocoa nibs. Then the cocoa goes through a process of grinding and gets
turned in to the chocolate we all know and love. it is interesting to
note that cocoa is always roasted before we consume it, so labeling
some forms as 'raw' is very mis-leading.
Most chocolate is
sweetened with refined sugar, however I use grain sweetened chocolate
in my cooking. Being that it is made with malted corn and barley, the
sugar is maltose, the least reactive form of sugar.
of the most popular spices on the planet and for good reason. It is
what seasons so many of our favorite dishes, pies, cookies, cakes,
hot beverages, and cinnamon rolls. There are actually two different
types of cinnamon, Ceylon and Cassia. The kind most
of us use and are used to is the Cassia. It has a stronger smell and
flavor and is from Indonesia. Ceylon is from Sri Lanka, it has a milder,
sweeter taste and is more expensive.
Cinnamon was used
as early as 2,000 B.C. in Egypt for a perfuming agent in the embalming
process. It was used in ancient times as an anointing oil, and was traded
to the Europeans from the Arabs. Cinnamon became very popular in Europe,
especially when it was discovered that it could be used to preserve
meat during the cold winter months.
has gotten a lot of attention because it can help control blood sugar
levels, making it beneficial to people with diabetes. It also has anti-bacterial
properties and can be effective in treating; E-Coli, salmonella, compyobacter,
I.B.S.(irritable bowel syndrome, and can make a natural disinfectant.
Cinnamon can help with candida yeast infection. And it is one of the
most powerful anti-oxidants, helping the body fight off diseases, There
has been studies on how cinnamon has shown promising results in the
treatment on tumors, gastric cancers, and melanomas.
it's a bird, it's a plane, No, it's super radish, daikon!
With all its incredible healing properties and health benefits, it
is definitely a super food! A long, thick, white vegetable, looks
like a large carrot, that most people have seen but are afraid to
use, is daikon. It is in the radish family, but the taste is not as
strong as the small, red, round, very pungent ones most people recognize.
I, myself, am not a fan of the small red ones, but I love daikon.
When you put this power packed vegetable in stews and soups it cooks
up to be sweet in taste.
And it is one of
the best root vegetables to use to make naturally fermented pickles.
One of the easiest and most tasty ways to prepare daikon is roasting
it. That is why I have included two short, easy recipes this month.
Known for it's cleansing
properties because of it's high water content, daikon is diuretic in
nature. And it keeps your kidneys clean and functioning at a high level,
by stimulating the elimination of excess toxins. Daikon can help clear
out excess mucus and phlegm from your respiratory system with it's antibacterial
and antiviral properties. And it's anti-inflammatory properties, can
significantly reduce inflammation in the body. When you use daikon grated
and served raw, it has enzymes similar to those of the human digestive
tract to help digest fats, protein and complex carbs. And can also reduce
constipation and increase nutrient efficiency in the gut.
One great thing
about daikon is it has the ability to inhibit the formation of carcinogens
in the body. Which is one reason it has been studied to show it can
help reduce certain types of cancer, particularly the stomach.
Daikon originated in the Mediterranean and Black Sea coast. It found
it's home more then 1,300 years ago in Japan. Ninety percent of daikon
produced and eaten today is in Japan. This unique, powerful vegetable
became popular throughout the world between 1603 - 1868, when merchants
and travelers introduced different varieties to other parts of the country.
Throughout the years it has remained a main staple in the Japanese diet,
and it saved the people time and time again from famine.
When buying daikon,
look for it to still have the greens attached. That way it will be very
fresh. If you can not find it that way, look for a firm vegetable with
as little black spots as possible. No need to take the skin off, leave
it on, most of the vitamins and minerals are located right under the
skin. And if you lucky enough to find daikon with the greens make sure
to use the greens, You can cut them up and use them in stir-fries, soups,
May - Asparagus
is the season of asparagus. Their strong, green stalks are one of the
first foods to start growing after our long cold winter. Asparagus,
like many spring time foods, has the natural ability to cleanse the
body. Containing the amino acid, asparagine, asparagus acts as
a diuretic and helps remove fluids and excess salts from the body. This
is very good for people who suffer from edema, high blood pressure,
and other heart related diseases. This delicate, slightly sweet vegetable
is also high in fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E, and K.
When shopping for
asparagus, look for crisp stalks that are not wilted and the tips are
not mushy. Most of the time the bottom inch has to be cut off and discarded
because it is too fibrous.
One of my favorite
foods that most people have never heard of is mochi. It is a
traditional food from the Orient. Made from sweet brown rice, it is
sold in most health food stores. It comes in a square, wrapped in plastic.
It is made when you pound the brown rice to get a sticky consistency.
Then formed into the square cakes. My favorite way to use mochi is to
grate it. I always keep grated mochi in my freezer so I always have
it ready to use. It works great thickening a soup, like this recipe.
Once the grated mochi is cooked it becomes sticky. It will thicken soups,
make casseroles creamy, and when melted you can make a (mock) cheese
June -Soy Foods
while teaching a cooking class I get asked if soy food is good for you.
I believe there is a lot of misleading information that causes many
people to become confused. When considering what foods are good for
us and what may not be, I look to history. If a food has been eaten
for a long time, and with no problems, we can know it is safe for us
to eat. Such is the case with soy. Five thousand year old texts describe
soybeans as being one of the most important crops grown. Miso, fermented
soybeans, has been eaten since 2,500 years ago in China. And tempeh
has been eaten for centuries in Indonesia. If there was something wrong
with this food, it would have been discovered a long time ago.
Soybeans have many
- Genistein may
stop the spread of some forms of cancer at an early stage
- Protease Inhibitors,
universal anti-carcinogen and may block the action of cancer causing
- Phytic acids,
inhibit growth of tumors
Soybeans have easily
absorbable iron, many B vitamins, carotin, support detoxification, promote
vitality, and feed and nurture the lungs and large intestines. Soybeans
made into tofu are high in calcium. When made into tempeh it is 19.5%
protein. Containing all eight essential amino acids, it is a complete
protein. When made into miso it has 11 g. of complete protein in 1 T.
And by fermenting it to make the miso, the healing properties are enhanced.
Miso is a living food containing lactobacillus, a healthful micro organism
that aids in digestion. There are so many wonderful health benefits
from soy foods, I can see why we have been eating it for thousands of
I feel there is
a lot of confusion about the plant based phyto-estrogen, isoflavones
in soybeans. This part of the bean does not disrupt your estrogen levels,
it balances them. If you are too low, it raises them, it you are too
high it lowers them. These isoflavones also have been credited with
slowing the effects of osteoporosis, relieving some side effects of
menopause, and alleviating some side effects of cancer. Not to mention
it has been shown to dramatically lower the undesirable L.D.L. cholesterol.
It is interesting that in China, where they eat soybean products such
as tofu, tempeh, and miso everyday, that until recently they did not
have a word in their language for hot flashes. Of course now, because
they have introduced our highly refined and processed way of eating
into their culture, that is changing. Also many times a women is told
by her doctor to take photo-estrogen pills, for whatever reason. Why
not get it from your food instead of a pill?
I do want to say
that when buying soybean foods, you must buy organic. It is, right now,
our only way to have some kind of insurance that the soybeans have not
been genetically altered. And eat the soy foods that have stood the
test of time: tofu, tempeh, miso, tamari, and shoyu. Just like any other
food, if it has been refined or processed some of the nutritional quality
I know there are
articles and books out there that give soybeans a bad rep. They quote
studies that say it is harmful. And I have come to the conclusion these
studies are not reliable. Soybeans have been studied probably more than
any other health food. So it is easy to pick only a handful of negative
studies, if that is what will profit you, and ignore the majority of
favorable studies. And most of these studies are done on animals, usually
mice or rats. These animals are fed high amounts of the isoflavones
isolated, not the whole soybean. Also they are feed a large amount that
is much more then a human would eat. And human bodies assimilate differently
then mice, so the reaction can not be compared. Every one of these that
I have seen excludes the foods I mention above and have been eaten for
thousands of years. Our epidemic of sickness does not come from food
that has been eaten for thousands of years. It is from our culture of
fast foods, processed foods, microwaved foods, refined foods, and the
huge amount of stress we live with everyday. Also from the absurd notion
that more is better. For instance, if you drink three quarts of soy
milk a day, you are going to have some reaction. (This was actually
one study that came to the conclusion soy is bad.) That is way too much
of any one food to be consuming. I do not care if it is cow's milk,
goat's milk, almond milk, rice milk, or soy milk.
Do some research
and decide for yourself. But I would not pay any attention to studies
done on animals and studies done with huge amount of soy consumed. Up
until recently, China had one of the lowest rates of cancer. One of
their main food sources is soy and has been for thousands of years.
If there was any link with eating soy and getting cancer, don't you
think the Chinese would have been dying from cancer long before this.
(Common sense!) And lastly I would like to point out there are huge
multi billion dollar industries that would not want to lose their business
to a wonderful, high protein plant based food source. Maybe some of
these multi billion dollar industry sponsored the research?
July - Berry Crazy for Summer
summer days of July mean that we get to enjoy all the fresh berries
grown in our beautiful state of Michigan. It is my favorite month of
the year, not just because it is the month of my birthday, but also
because it is right in the middle of the warmest days of summer. During
the summer months, if you ever have the opportunity to go pick your
own berries, it is well worth your time and effort. And if you are fortunate
enough to find wild berries, they are the best treat of the summer.
All berries are
known to have high fiber content, high antioxidant properties, and phytonutrients.
However each different type of berry has its own unique healing properties.
High in potassium, folate, Vitamin C, B6, and helps combat free radicals.
Good brain food, helps to improve memory.
Raspberries: High in Vitamin C. Contains quercetin and gallic
acid, which can help fight against colon cancer, and heart and circulatory
disease. Contains rheosmin: may be able to reduce risk of obesity as
well as help with a fatty liver,
Blackberries: Rich in boiflavanoids and Vitamin C. Helps improve
digestion, promotes strong teeth and bones, can help improve vision
and prevent diseases of the eyes.
Strawberries: HIgh in Vitamin C, manganese, iodine, folate, copper,
potassium, biotin, phosphorus, magnesium, B6, and contains omega 3 fatty
to The Five Transformations Of Energy, it is summertime and that
means we are entering the Fire 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.
I have been studying and applying the theory in my own life for 18 years.
It may seem foreign at first when you hear about it, but the knowledge
is self evident when you learn about how each season, or energy phase,
connects with a certain part of our body and the foods we eat.
We are entering
the Fire energy phase or Summertime. This is the
most active time of the year. We are outside more doing yard work. We
are doing adventurous things like kayaking, bike riding, swimming, and
playing sports. This is the time of the year when we focus on easy,
quick cooking foods and eat more raw foods. The Fire energy phase is
the most Yin energy phase. Yin is an upward, expansive energy. Just
like the flames of a fire that move outward and upward rapidly, this
rapid energy holds the potential for moving forward in your life, creating
and getting your creations out into the world. The two most active organs
in your body are associated with Fire energy, the brain and heart. Also
in this energy phase is your small intestines and circulatory system.
Your brain is always thinking and creating and your heart is always
pumping blood through your whole body. With the heart being animated
by this energy phase, it is no wonder the emotions associated with Fire
energy are joy and passion.
The signature flavor
for this energy phase is bitter. Anything you eat with
a bitter taste will feed and nurture your brain, heart, small intestines,
and circulatory system. This includes; arugula, endive, broccoli, rabe,
collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, parsley, and dark leafy lettuces.
The signature grains for this phase are quinoa, corn and amaranth. These
three grains are quick cooking and have a light energy perfect for summertime.
They are also very hardy plants that are known to survive in challenging
conditions. This gives them the strengthening quality that when we eat
them, becomes our strength. You are what you eat. And you become the
energy of what you eat.
There are ways to
tell if your Fire energy is balanced, excessive, or depleted.
Balanced Fire energy gives us a sharp and clear mind. We can express
our true selves freely. Our communication skills are good and we are
passionate about our life path. We have a good sense of who we are and
can be perceived as charismatic. But just like the fire we also have
our calm side which allows us to have compassion and empathy for those
around us. If our Fire energy is excessive we can be over dramatic.
We talk with excessive animation and can be highly excitable. We magnify
everything, positive and negative. We may experience excessive anger,
crying, or even joy. Because we are overly dramatic it can be extravagant
or flamboyant. We may appear to be 'always on'. This can be exhausting
to be around for long periods of time. If our Fire energy is depleted
we experience the opposite. We are left slow moving and expressionless.
We lose our ability to feel joy or passion. We lose our ability to move
forward, no longer having passion or enthusiasm.
Our goal is to have
balanced Fire energy along with all the other energy phases. By focusing
on eating whole, unprocessed food we take a big step forward to achieving
balance. There is important knowledge about the energy of the food we
eat in The Five Transformation Theory. Our culture's simplistic views
of diets and other 'health' fads do not incorporate this knowledge.
I believe this is the missing link that we need to understand to create
a healthy life. I see and feel unbalanced energy in the people I counsel
on a regular basis. My goal is to help people understand this ancient
so they can apply it to their lives to create health and longevity.
My cooking classes are based in this knowledge. To learn more, come
to my cooking classes so you can learn how to incorporate this balanced
approach to health in your life and experience how delicious balanced
energy food can taste.
September - Late
Summer - Earth Energy Phase
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. I have
been studying and applying the theory in my own life for over 20 years.
It may seem foreign at first when you hear about it, but the knowledge
is self evident when you learn about how each season, or energy phase,
connects with a certain part of our body and the foods we eat.
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.
Some more foods associated with the Earth Energy phase are: cabbage,
parsnips, pumpkin, winter squashes, rutabaga, sweet potato, almonds,
pecans, apples, raisins, and cherries.
The emotions associated with this time of year are; compassion, self-assurance,
and thoughtfulness. When our Earth Energy is balanced, we have a great
capacity for compassion and consideration for the feelings of others.
If Earth energy is imbalanced, we can fall in to the dept of self-pity
or lose our ability to deal with life at any level. When Earth energy
is depleted or blocked we seek compassion from those around us, in fact
we demand it. We can take on the persona of the whining, complaining
weak victim. To achieve balanced Earth energy, incorporate the food
associated at this time of year in your diet.
October - Cooking
for the Fall Season with Ginger
with all its magical colors, is here. According to the Five Transformations
Of Energy (the ancient study of how nature is related to us) this
is the time of year when we feed and nurture our lungs and large intestines.
These organs represent the seat of our strength. Without being able
to breath and assimilate our food we could not live. The signature whole
grain for this season is brown rice. And the bean is soybeans, which
are mostly eaten in the form of tofu, tempeh, and miso. And the signature
flavor is pungent. Any food that has a pungent flavor feeds the lungs
and large intestines. Some examples of pungent foods would be; garlic,
raw onions, radishes, daikon, and ginger. The emotions that are associated
with this energy phase are optimism and self discipline.
Ginger is native
to South Eastern Asia. There are ancient texts that mention ginger from
China and India. Well known for it being effective in treating motion
sickness and nausea, it can also relieve heart burn. Most interesting
is ginger's strong anti-inflammatory properties. It contains a compound
calledgingerols which can help relieve the pain from arthritis.
Recently there have been some studies about ginger's effectiveness with
treating both ovarian and colon cancer. When buying ginger, look for
pieces that are not dried out. Once you have brought it home, the best
way to store it is in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator.
for the Holidays
is upon us again and, for some people, it can be challenging to remain
true to your healthy lifestyle during this decedent, rich, culinary
time of year. I have spent the last 20 years creating and perfecting
standard holiday dishes that I now cook with a healthy flare.
Some rules of thumb
to remember when you are first starting out on your healthy holiday
menu is keep it simple. You do not want to over whelm yourself at first,
so stick to what you know. If you have a recipe that you make on a regular
basis do not discount it just because you think it is not special enough
for the holidays. You can spruce up the recipe to make it more rich
for the holiday dinner table, such as adding a little more fat. Good
quality fats, such as olive oil or tahini, can be added to most recipes
to create a richer taste.
Adding a little
extra spices to your dishes can also make them special for the holidays.
Sage is the signature spice for stuffing and can be added to any brown
rice or millet dish you are creating for the holidays. Thyme and rosemary
are also great spices to add to your dishes, and all three taste very
good together. Also adding nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, imparts
wonderful flavor and texture to dishes making them richer and extra
special for the holidays.
December - Brown
what is my favorite sweetener to use I always answer, brown rice syrup.
Unfortunately most people have not heard of it, which makes it the best
kept health food secret. I make all kinds of desserts with brown rice
syrup, from cookies, cakes, and pies, to candies, fudge, jams, and so
much more. As the name implies, it is made from brown rice, which is a
whole grain complex carbohydrate, a staple in all of our ancestor's diet.The
brown rice syrup is produced when naturally occurring enzymes convert
the starch in the grain to sugar. The process retains the vitamin and
mineral content of the brown rice. And being made from a complex carbohydrate,
the sugar that is produced is maltose.
Maltose is the least
reactive sugar there is, it releases slowly into your blood stream.
Unlike white sugar or sucrose which releases very quickly into the blood
stream and reeks havoc with all the organs in your body. Brown rice
syrup and the maltose in the syrup will not spike your blood sugar.
For that reason it is considered the healthiest sweetener.
It has a mild sweet
taste that is satisfying. However, if you have been using sweeteners
that are very sweet, it may not be sweet enough for you at first. If
you stick with the brown rice syrup, it will taste sweet after you give
up all those intensely sweet foods that are not good for you. You will
find it in a jar at you local health food store, or even some main stream
grocery stores now carry it. It is thick and sticky like honey.
When measuring it,
coat your measuring cup and spatula with a little oil and the syrup
will slid right off instead of sticking.