Made with organic soybeans, fresh and local Ingredients

Friday, April 27, 2012

What do onions, prebiotics, and HDLs have in common?

by Francine

photo via
We keep on hearing about HDLs and LDLs. I used to get them mixed up as to which was good and which was bad. Now I remember easily because I associate the good lipoproteins with the word "high" and the bad ones with "low"--as in feeling high or feeling low.

According to an article on Body Ecology
  • HDL (high density lipoprotein) is known as the"good" cholesterol because it can remove cholesterol from your arteries and take it back to your liver to be processed.
  • The higher your HDL levels, the lower your risk for heart disease.
  • LDL (low density lipoprotein) is commonly called the "bad" cholesterol and is a good indicator of your risk for fatal heart attacks, stroke, and heart disease. Low LDL cholesterol levels are desirable to prevent disease.
Now as you know, doctors are paying more attention to HDL levels these days than they used to. A high count here can compensate for an overall high count of cholesterol.

And interestingly enough, prebiotics play an important role. Prebiotics are indigestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and maintenance of beneficial gut microbiota. 

According to, here are the top food sources of prebiotics (keep in mind these are percentages found in the item per gram--meaning you'd have to have a ton of some of these to get the desirable amount of daily prebiotics into your system. To put it in perspective--eating over a pound of bananas?? Don't think so. This is why many people choose to take a prebiotic-rich supplement.):

1. Raw Chicory root: 64.6% prebiotic fiber by weight
2. Raw Jerusalem artichoke: 31.5% prebiotics by weight
          (NOTE: Jerusalem artichoke is NOT the common green globe artichoke)
3. Raw Dandelion greens: 24.3% prebiotic fiber by weight
4. Raw Garlic: 17.5% prebiotics by weight
5. Raw Leek: 11.7% prebiotic fiber by weight
6. Raw Onion: 8.6% prebiotics by weight
7. Cooked Onion: 5% prebiotic fiber by weight
8. Raw Asparagus: 5% prebiotics by weight
9. Raw Wheat bran: 5% prebiotic fiber by weight
10. Whole Wheat flour, baked: 4.8% prebiotics by weight
11. Raw Banana: 1% prebiotic fiber by weight.

Prebiotics is just one of many ways to improve your heart health through raising your HDLs. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the most beneficial foods are:
  • Whole grains, such as oatmeal, oat bran and whole-wheat products
  • Nuts, such as walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts
  • Plant sterols such as beta-sitosterol and -sitostanol (typically found in margarine spreads such as Promise activ or Benecol)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, fish oil supplements, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
In addition, the Mayo diet includes the recommendation to eat healthier fats: "Avoid foods that contain saturated and trans fats, which raise LDL cholesterol and damage your blood vessels." 25 - 35% of your total daily calories can come from fat, but only 7% from saturated fat. "Nuts, fish and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids are other good choices for improving your LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio."

And of course tofu. . . According to "Not only are you reducing your intake of saturated fat, which is known to increase LDL and lower HDL, but soy is also rich in heart-healthy fats, including both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A cup of tofu provides more than 4 g of monounsaturated fat and more than 12 g of polyunsaturated fat."

Mark's Daily Apple
Body Ecology
Mayo Clinic

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stick Your Tongue Out, Please

photo via
Just as eyes are the mirror of the soul, the mouth is a window into the digestive system. Literally. And the tongue is an indicator, a really good one, of what is going on. 

According to a very interesting article in Body Ecology how the tongue looks--its color and its coating give us enough information that make it well worth sticking out your tongue. You can read the article in its entirety, but here are a few fascinating takeaways:
First, the article states that Chinese medicine sees the body in terms of the microcosm and the macrocosm. So according to Chinese medical theory, a single pattern can repeat itself from the largest to the smallest scale.
If we consider this in terms of the body, the tongue becomes a gauge reflecting the health of our entire bodies. 

The tongue coat tells us how well we are metabolizing the food we eat. A light, thin white tongue coat indicates normal, healthy digestive function. In contrast, a thick tongue coat indicates poor gut function. If your tongue is red and shiny wet (i.e. no coating at all), this can indicate exhaustion and that you don't have enough fluids in your body.

Color is another important indicator. Tongue color ranges from pale pink to red or bluish. It reflects the distribution of fluids throughout our bodies. Paleness can indicate a shortage of blood in the body, which can be tracked to our diets, because what we eat provides us with the energy to make blood. Purple or bluish color can indicate a problem with circulation.

An acupuncturist looks at your tongue for information about your mental and emotional state--specifically the tip. For example, a red tongue tip can signal psychological stress, because over-thinking and stress can generate heat and impede the natural cooling process of body fluids.

Body Ecology


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Peppy Pepper!

by Francine

photo via
It's safe to say, say I, that most people like pepper. The amount that we use varies from person to person, obviously, but other salt, it's also safe to say that it is the most widely used spice there is. I never thought of it as having much health value until I started to realize how many health benefits were found in all herbs and spices. But for some reason, the old standby just didn't seem like a great source of anything other than fantastic flavor. I was wrong!

Think digestion. And think other benefits as well. Here you go:

As we know, black pepper (Piper nigrum), stimulates the taste buds. That stimulation isn't just for our enjoyment. It's the body's method to send an alert to to the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, which aids in digestion. Don't undermine the importance of hydrochloric acid, btw. Without sufficient quantities, food may sit in our tummies for too long. This can turn to heartburn or indigestion, or go through the intestines, where gut bacteria uses it. The results being gas, irritation, and/or diarrhea or constipation.

Along with antioxidant properties, black pepper has another surprising quality: the outer layer of the peppercorn helps stimulate fat cells, which in turn help keep us slim.

Here's an interesting factoid about black pepper, according to "[Black pepper]  once was used as money to pay taxes, tributes, dowries, and rent. Peppercorns were weighed like gold and used as a common medium of exchange. Black pepper was even used as ransom when the Visigoths captured Rome in 410 A.D."

In the same article, McCormick tells us that Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus, sought India’s Malabar Coast in hopes of gaining access to pepper’s source. And later American clipper ships traveled to far away tropical lands to buy black pepper (and other spices) to meet the rapidly increasing demand back home.

As with everything that is grown or raised, try to stick with organic. This offers you the greatest assurance that it has not been irradiated. Black pepper that has been irradiated may lead to a significant decrease in its vitamin C content and irradiation is linked to a host of other unwanted side effects as well.

Like with so many other herbs and spices, best to add black pepper toward the end of the cooking process--to maintain its wonderful and inimitable flavor.

Keep in mind that TofuYu has a tofu that is teeming with black pepper. Like our other packaged tofus, we offer it in a block, ready to be sliced, cubed, or whatever else. Pepper tofu is fantastic on its own (sauteed, for instance), or mixed with veggies, seafood, chicken, etc. You'll love all those specks of black and even more--you'll enjoy the incredible flavor!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mountain Joy

by Francine

photo via
When we think of an herb to add to something Italian, a salad, veggies, so many things. . . we usually think of oregano first.  It means 'Mountain joy' and in many parts of the world, it is known as wild marjoram. But keep in mind it is NOT the same as sweet marjoram.

Super high in vitamin K, Dr. Andrew Weil on his Dr. Andrew Weil website has this to say: "Vitamin K is an essential nutrient necessary for blood clotting - it regulates normal blood clotting by helping the body transport calcium. Vitamin K may also be helpful for bone health: it may reduce bone loss, and decrease risk of bone fractures. It also may prevent calcification of arteries and other soft tissue."

Oregano has anti-bacterial properties. It contains thymol and carvacrol, two oils known to have substantial bacteria-fighting power. As discussed in an article on, Mexican researchers have compared oregano to tinidazol, a commonly used prescription drug to treat infection from the amoeba Giardia lamblia. The same researchers have reported that oregano is a better treatment for giardia than the prescription drug commonly prescribed to treat the illness.

The herb is also a powerful antioxidant as well as a good source of fiber. 

Oregano, either in its fresh or dried form, should be added toward the end of the cooking process. Heat can easily cause a loss of its delicate flavor. 

As for cooking tofu with oregano. Not difficult to get creative. Whether it's a stir-fry, simple saute, or baked, a bit of oregano adds zest and wonderful flavor from the Mediterranean. It's best to add it towards the end of cooking so as not to compromise the delicate flavor. 

Dr. Andrew Weil: Dr. Andrew Weil website
Whole Foods: Whole Foods website
Mark's Daily Apple: Mark's Daily Apple website

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Come on, cumin!

photo via
Cumin seeds --tasty, with their tasty nutty flavor, happen to be an excellent source of iron (1 little tsp. provides you with more than 15% of what you need a day! As a comparison, you need a full serving of pork to get the same amount of iron!) By the way, if you've forgotten why iron is important (other than keeping you "strong"), iron plays an important role in our bodies. Iron transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.

Iron also plays an important role in keeping your immune system healthy. But wait. . . there's more! ;-)

Long known as beneficial to the digestive system, cumin has been shown to stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, compounds necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation.

Cumin seeds may have anti-carcinogenic properties. From the Whole Foods website, "In one study, cumin was shown to protect laboratory animals from developing stomach or liver tumors. This cancer-protective effect may be due to cumin's potent free radical scavenging abilities as well as the ability it has shown to enhance the liver's detoxification enzymes. Yet, since free radical scavenging and detoxification are important considerations for the general maintenance of wellness, cumin's contribution to wellness may be even more farther reaching."

And according to, here's a health benefit in a completely different realm: "Cumin is also said to help relieve symptoms of the common cold due to it’s antiseptic properties. . . . you’ll want to boil the seeds in a tea and then drink a couple of times a day. If you also have a sore throat then try adding some dry ginger to help soothe it."

How do you use it in your cooking? So easy. Throw it into salads, rice, veggies, marinades for tofu, chicken, etc. Here's a really interesting recipe for marinated tofu, using cumin. In fact, take a look at the some of the other recipes in this eclectic collection of recipes on the 101cooks site. Well worth considering. . .