Made with organic soybeans, fresh and local Ingredients

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Go Quinoa

by Francine

photo via
Jam-packed with goodness and protein - from the tofu and the quinoa, this dish is sure to please. And you can add your creativity by customizing it differently each time you make it. (Which in itself is one of the supreme joys of cooking.) Make a large batch and store what's left in the refrigerator. Stays delicious for several days. In fact, the flavors blend and the overall experience is enhanced!
i cup quinoa, rinsed once or twice through a sieve 
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (for the quinoa) or just plain water
about 3 or 4 cups of fresh spinach, chopped fine
a couple handfuls of parsley, chopped fine
2 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced fine (if you're like me--you'll want at least 4)
6 or so tbs of olive oil
juice of a whole lemon (or more--i.e. to taste)
i block of flavored tofu (i.e pesto, pepper, smoked, etc. )
2 or 3 Roma tomatoes
oregano (to taste)
basil (to taste)
black pepper
salsa (as hot as you like it)
onion (optional)
1 or 2 lemons

Make the quinoa (bring to a boil with 2 cups of liquid and then simmer for 20 minutes) and let it sit at room temperature. Chop the spinach and parsley together as fine as you can manage. Dice the tomatoes. If you use onion, chop it fine. Dice the tofu into small bites. 

Add all the ingredients to the quinoa and mix. Add the oil-lemon mixture and mix in. If it seems that there isn't enough to distribute generously throughout the mixture, add more oil, lemon, and garlic accordingly.

Serve with the salsa. 
In a small jar, add the oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs. Mix in vigorously. Dish out into pretty bowls or plates. Season with salsa to taste.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Live longer - with coffee

by Francine

From an article published on care2:

photo via
"For 13 years, the AARP in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health followed the lives of over 400,000 healthy adults aged 50-71. During the course of the study, about 13 percent of the participants died. Coffee drinkers were less likely to be among that 13 percent of participants, with a direct link between the cups of coffee consumed in a day and a lower mortality risk. When broken down by the way participants had died, the pattern held true for all ailments with the exception of cancer."*

And in an article about the same study, published on is something else very interesting:  "Drinking two to three cups a day lowered the overall risk of death 10%, says the study, funded by the National Cancer Institute and AARP."

WebMD reports: "Coffee is a rich source of disease-fighting antioxidants. And studies have shown that it may reduce cavities, boost athletic performance, improve moods, and stop headaches  -- not to mention reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, liver cancer, gall stones, cirrhosis of the liver, and Parkinson's diseases.
"The studies have shown that regular coffee drinkers can reduce their risk of Parkinson's disease by 80%, the risk of colon cancer by 25%, the risk of cirrhosis of the liver by 80%, and cut the risk of gallstones in half. In one study, people who drank 2 cups a day of decaf coffee had half the risk of rectal cancer, compared with tea or caffeinated coffee drinkers.

"The amount of coffee consumed in the studies has varied widely. But in the research into type 2 diabetes and liver cancer, the more you drink, the lower your risk appears to be."

Curious to know what's actually in coffee (besides that addictive flavor available in so many tasty versions)?

Here goes:

Well, for one thing--coffee beans contain antioxidants called quinines, which become more potent after roasting. It so happens they are hell on wheels when it comes to fighting disease. Now here's an interesting fact, according to the same article quoted above in WebMd. According to an American Chemical Society news release, coffee is the leading source of antioxidants in American diets -- but you need to keep in mind that this is at least partly because of how prevalent coffee is in American diets. . .

Quinines, along with magnesium (also found naturally in coffee), affect blood sugar levels and are believed to be associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Coffee also contains trigonelline, an antibacterial compound that gives coffee its wonderful aroma and may be even help to prevent cavities.

 * In another article published by WebMD--specifically about the recent study: "Among women, coffee drinkers and non-drinkers were equally likely to die of cancer. Among men, there was only a slight connection between heavier coffee drinking and increased risk of dying from cancer."

Coffee is a pretty interesting drink, to be sure. And people have varied tolerances for the 'buzz' from the caffeine. My daughter, who is in her mid-twenties, can drink coffee before going to bed, and she claims it doesn't affect her sleep at all. Other people feel as if their eyes are popping out of their head after just one cup in the a.m.

BTW- in spite of the new supportive evidence to longevity associated with coffee, people susceptible to high blood pressure should exercise caution re: drinking even a cup. There is no doubt that caffeine can increase your blood pressure. Definitely something to discuss with your physician. And remember that caffeine isn't limited to coffee or green tea. It's found in many delicious things--namely chocolate and wine!

Lastly--when it comes to what is actually IN coffee--consider this. There are more than 1000 compounds in java. Amazing, right? And according to the WebMD article quoted above, "very little of them have been studied."

Bottoms up!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tantalizing tarragon

by Francine

photo via
It's amazing the variety of health benefits we get from herbs. As I read more about the wonders of these delicate green leafy plants that flavor our cooking and do such good to our bodies, I begin to understand why ancient cultures were so in awe and so respectful of herbalists, and why herbalists were viewed as belonging to a class all their own. And remember that those poor maligned witches were associated with wild herbs and cures. Amazing that people were so in fear of precisely what they needed to cure themselves. . .

Widely used in cooking, tarragon has a long history of medicinal use. The ancient Greeks chewed tarragon leaves to treat toothaches. The herb was used during the Middle Ages as an antidote for poisonous snakebites. Tarragon has also been used as a digestive aid, mild sedative, and as a heart disease prevention aid. It also has a long history of treating stomach cramps and promoting the appetite.

Tarragon is known to help fight off fatigue and calm the nerves. Tarragon promotes the production of bile by the liver, which aids in digestion and helps speed the process of eliminating toxic waste in the body. Tarragon offers healing properties for the stomach and liver. People with high blood pressure can use tarragon as a salt substitute. Tarragon is reputed to be a mild sedative and has been taken to aid sleep. Tarragon is extremely valuable in fighting intestinal worms.

Tarragon is commonly used as a flavoring for vinegar, pickles, relishes, prepared mustards, and sauces. Tarragon leaves have a sweet flavor similar to anise or licorice. The herb also blends well with other spices and herbs; particularly chervil, parsley, and chives. Tarragon complements fish, meat, chicken, tofu, soups and stews, and is frequently used in tomato and egg dishes.

Tarragon Tofu
Prep: 5 min, Cook: 20 min.
  • 1 lb. firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 1 inch slices (use Tofu Yu plain, pesto, or pepper tofu
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh Roma tomatoes crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp. tarragon, or 1-1/2 tsp. fresh, chopped (fresh if possible)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt* (optional), or to taste (can also use small amount of crushed garlic which provides zing)
  • 2 Tbs. olive or coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange tofu in an oiled baking dish. Add tomatoes. Sprinkle with tarragon, salt (and/or garlic) and pepper to taste. Dot with oil and bake 20-25 minutes or until heated throughout.

*Remember--tarragon in itself is a salt substitute


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cheese of Asia

by Francine

photo via
Some random, interesting facts about tofu:

1) The firmer it is, the more fat it contains. The softer version contains more water, making it softer.

2) Once a container of tofu is opened, you need to refrigerate it--covered with water. Best thing to do is rinse it and change the water daily. If you do that, the tofu should be fine for up to a week.

3) You can freeze tofu and it will stay good. Be warned that it will turn a yellowish color and make the texture spongy and absorbent.

4) "Soy products ranging from tofu to veggie patties, though generally marketed toward the health-conscious, are actually largely made from genetically engineered soy." - from an article in The Signal. As would be expected one of the biggest opponents to GMO labeling is Monsanto, the largest pesticide and genetically engineered food manufacturer. Labeling gives us the right to choose. Without it, we have no idea what we're ingesting. If you choose only organic tofu, you have the assurance of knowing it was made from organic soybeans (that were not genetically engineered).

5) Another name for silken tofu is Japanese style tofu. This tofu (the lowest in fat, btw), is the soft, custardy kind.

6) The calcium content in tofu is about 227mg in one half-cup serving. As a comparison, there is about 150 mg in 1/2 cup of milk.

7) Tofu is rich in iron--providing 33.8% of the DV for this important mineral in 4 ounces,.

8) Rich in protein--tofu provides you with 9.2 grams in just four ounces, which is equal to 18.3% of the daily value for protein.

9) And as for those important omega 3 fatty acids-- tofu provides 14.4% of the daily value for these beneficial fats in just 4 ounces.

10) Tofu is one of the cheapest proteins around. It picks up the flavors it's cooked with, and is as adaptable as you want it to be--saute it, steam it, deep fry it, mash it up.

11) Soy has been shown to be helpful in alleviating the symptoms associated with menopause. According to "When women's production of natural estrogen drops at menopause, soy's isoflavones may provide just enough estrogenic activity to prevent or reduce uncomfortable symptoms, like hot flashes."