Made with organic soybeans, fresh and local Ingredients

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sesame Tofu Sez Me

by Francine

photo via
Before I share with you this delicious and easy to prepare tofu recipe, I want you to be as amazed as I was when I took a look at the health benefits of those tiny delicate wonders we call sesame seeds. I already knew they were loaded with vitamin E, but at this point that's kind of a 'no-brainer' because seeds and nuts are known for being loaded with the vitamin. I just didn't realize to what extent sesame seeds are imbued with medicinal (as well as tasty) benefits. 

Check this out: According to, the history of sesame as a medicine goes back 3600 years to Egyptian times where it was listed in the scrolls of the Ebers (one of the oldest medical books in the world) as a favored medicine.  Beautiful women of ancient Babylon are said to have used a mixture of honey and sesame seeds (havla) to prolong youth and beauty. Roman soldiers ate the mixture for strength and energy.

Below is a small sampling of information I found on (please check this link so you can see the whole story), pointing to the amazing health benefits of this delicate and flavorful little seed. In addition to what you see here are recommendations to use it as a massage oil for babies, its effectiveness in helping to prevent atherosclerosis, its efficiency as an anti-depressant, and the  protection it offers against many forms of cancer.

What you are truly is what you eat. If you make it a point to eat a varied diet of nutritious food, you're doing what nature intended. Why else would all that good stuff be here for us? 
  1. Diabetes: A study published in 2011 in the Clinical Journal of Nutrition showed that sesame oil improved the effectiveness of the oral antidiabetic drug glibenclamide in type 2 diabetic patients. Another study published a few years earlier in the Journal of Medicinal Foods showed that using sesame seed oil as the sole edible oil lowers blood pressure and glucose in hypertensive diabetics. 
  1. High blood pressure: A study published in 2006 in the Yale Journal of Biological Medicine showed that sesame seed oil has a beneficial effect in hypertensive patients on either diuretics or beta-blockers. Substitution of all dietary oils with sesame oil brought down systolic and dystolic blood pressure to normal.
  1. Gingivitis/Dental Plaque: Ayurvedic medicine, which has been around for thousands of years, indicates a process for oral health which involves swishing sesame seed oil in the mouth for prolonged durations. This is said to prevent teeth decay, halitosis, bleeding gums, dry throat, and that it strengthens the teeth, gums and jaw. Clinical research now confirms that it compares favorably to chemical mouthwash.
OK, now for the recipe:

Sesame Tofu

Cut into 3/4" cubes or 1/4" thick slices:
2 lbs firm tofu

Marinate for 2 hours in a mixture of:
1/3 cup soy sauce (or tamari, and remember you can use the low-sodium variety, and you don't need to use the full 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (fresh is better, if you can get it) (you can add more btw)
1 TB ginger root, grated or 1/4 tsp ginger (more works here as well; spices and herbs are always 'to taste')

Roll in:
1 cup sesame seeds ground in a blender and 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
Brown in oil (canola or coconut). Serve with rice of quinoa. 

Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Creamy Creme de Celery Soup

photo via
by Francine

Bet you don't know how healthy celery is. Well, maybe you do. . .Recently I happened to see it on a list of foods that support healthy blood pressure. That got me curious and I started doing a little digging about what other hidden health benefits celery offers. My mom used to say celery is "nature's tooth brush." I figuredTarzan and Jane ate it for just that reason. When my daughter was little, I used to prepare healthy (and yummy, of course) after school snacks for her --including celery sticks filled with a bit of low-fat cream cheese (Neuchatel) and alfalfa sprouts on top, or just plain alongside carrot sticks, cucumber, whatever other crunchy veggie on hand. . .

Delicious just plain 'naked', in salads, soups, or a variety of other dishes that involve veggies, celery offers us a variety of reasons to eat them (and did I mention the crunchy factor is fun?). Check out some of the many health benefits of this chlorophyll-filled wonder (adapted from an article posted 10/10/12 by Diana Herrington on the care2 site)

* Celery has blood pressure reducing properties. It contains active phthalides, which relax the muscles of the arteries that regulate blood pressure so the vessels dilate. Phthalides also reduce stress hormones, which can cause blood vessels to constrict.
*Celery is purported to be a negative calorie food, which means it takes the body more calories to digest it than the food itself contains. While this is not strictly accurate, a single stalk of celery still has only a few calories due to being full of cellulose. The addition of celery to your diet will help your weight loss efforts.  
*Celery contains plant hormones that calm and soothe the central nervous system, which will make losing weight an easier thing to do. (Plus, it just feels better to be calm. . . )
*Celery leaves are a source of flavonoid antioxidants zeaxanthin, lutein and beta-carotene, which have antioxidant, cancer-protective, and immune-boosting functions
So while you're crunching away on a stalk of celery, how about making some soup for a chilly day? Come on. Let's go.
Here's what you need to have ready:
2 lbs. celery, coarsely chopped
1 lb. green onions or leeks, coarsely chopped (or a combo)
2 carrots, diced in 1/2" squares
Set aside:
1/4 cup oil (olive) and 3 TB unbleached flour that have been combined in a 4-quart saucepan. Let these bubble together over low heat for about 2 minutes.
Whisk in:
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth (try to use organic, low-sodium)
Reserve 1 cup each of celery and carrots, then add the rest of the chopped vegetables to the thickened broth. Simmer for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Remove from heat and put it all through a food mill, or let it cool and blend in a blender until smooth.
While the vegetables are simmering in the thickened broth, saute until tender:
2 TB oil
the reserved celery and carrot pieces
Add the sauteed veggies to the blended broth mixture along with:
1 1/2 cups soft tofu, blended smooth and creamy
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
NOTE: When reheating the soup, try not to let it boil.

Enjoy! And btw--my dog loves bite-size pieces as a snack. In fact, she can't get enough of them. :)

Tofu Cookery, by Louise Hagler

Monday, December 10, 2012

Inspirational Breakfast Taco

a fresh batch of pesto tofu
photo by Francine Schwartz
We'd love to post your favorite tofu recipes. Just post it on Facebook and we'll post it on our blog.

Here's a delicious (and easy) recipe from Jen Gagnon of Colfax, California. Thank you, Jen!:

"My favorite recipe is no recipe, just inspiration. I originally got it from Ike's Quarter Cafe in Nevada City and it is simply...breakfast taco. My favorite combo is your pepper garlic tofu (crumbled), veggie sausage, green olives, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and caramelized onion stuffed into a fried corn tortilla with a balsamic glaze drizzled all over. The possibilities are endless!"

Saturday, December 8, 2012

All Good Almond Salad

by Francine

photo via
Almonds are so nutritious. If you eat them regularly (just a daily handful or so), you're doing your body good. I start my day with a handful of almonds and a cup of piping hot green tea to which I've added half a lemon (skin on) and a tsp. of honey. On these chilly December mornings, I enjoy my tea and almonds while cozied up in bed--with my feline and canine relaxing alongside me. In fact, many a blog post have been compiled just that way. . .

We've got a nice recipe (two actually) here for you today. But let's start with a few of the many benefits of eating almonds:

Almonds help to increase the level of high density lipoproteins (HDL) and reduce the level of low density lipoproteins (LDL) in your blood. The mono-saturated fat, protein, and potassium (which helps to regulate blood pressure) contained in almonds are good for the heart. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and reduces the risk of heart diseases. The presence of magnesium in almonds helps to prevent heart attacks. (Magnesium also regulates the absorption of calcium and is involved in the structural integrity of bones and teeth.) According to, women need about 320 mg of magnesium per day, while men need 420 mg. Almonds are also a source of folic acid, helping to reduce the level of homocystein, which causes fatty plaque buildup in arteries. Folic acid is very important for pregnant women because it helps to reduce the incidence of birth defects in newborns.

Almonds are beneficial great for the skin. A massage with almond oil is often recommended for new born babies. Almonds improves the movement of food through the colon, thereby helping to prevent colon cancer by preventing constipation. Be sure to drink a fair amount of water (or herbal tea) after eating almonds.

In addition, almonds offer protection against diabetes: They help to reduct the rise in sugar and insulin levels after meals.

Believe it or not, these are only a few of the health benefits of almonds. And let's not forget how delicious they are--raw, toasted--plain or with tamari. NOTE: If you suffer from kidney or gall bladder problems, consult your doctor to learn whether or not almonds are good for you.

Now here's a tasty recipe using almonds:

Combine in a bowl:
1 1/2 lbs. tofu, cut in 1/2" cibes
3 TBs fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp. celery salt

Mix in:
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1/3 cup green onion, minced
3/4 cup almonds, slivered and toasted
1/2 tsp. salt (if you use tamari almonds, you can eliminate the salt)

Blend together with:
1 1/2 cups tofu sour creme dressing (which follows).

When it's all blended, chill and serve to 4-6 delighted people.

Tofu Sour Creme dressing:

(The only way this recipe could be easier is if you opened a jar and poured it out.)

Combine in a blender:

1/2 lb. tofu
1/4 cup oil
1 TB lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. sugar (or 1 tsp. agave)
1/2 tsp salt (or less, or none at all)

Blend unti smooth and creamy. Voila. That's it. Just add it to the salad and you're there!

Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mama Mia, lovely Chia

by Francine

photo via
Hailed as a superfood, and let's not forget those infamous chia pets from several years back, chia seeds are attributed with all kinds of health benefits, and they are so easy to use!

Let's start with the benefits:

Those tiny seeds are loaded with omega-3′s, antioxidants, fiber, calcium, protein and a number of other vitamins and minerals. One ounce (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals. The seeds are said to help control blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease. Although scientific evidence lags behind in supporting these theories, keep in mind that this is often the case. Numerous studies need to be conducted before conclusive evidence is deemed sufficient to make a scientific/medical claim. But keep in mind that chia, an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, has been grown in Mexico dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. "Chia" means strength, and folklore has it that these cultures used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster.

On, you'll see a quote by well-known TV physician Dr. Oz when he appeared on Oprah, "They [chia seeds] just may be one of the healthiest things around."

And from noted nutrition expert, Dr. Weil, "A healthful and interesting addition to my diet. My prediction? You will begin to see chia being added to more and more commercial products, such as prepared baby foods, nutrition bars, and baked goods."

From an article by WebMD columnist, Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD: "More study is needed before chia can be recommended either for weight loss and heart health," says Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD, chief editor of Natural Standard Research Collaboration. The article also cautions that if you have food allergies (especially to sesame or mustard seeds) or are on high blood pressure medications or blood thinners, you should consult with your physician before adding chia to your diet.

That said, although WebMD seems reluctant to endorse the weight loss claim, they do say "Enjoy chia seeds for their flavor and to boost the fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3s in your diet."

Sprinkle on cereal, sauces, vegetables, rice dishes, or yogurt or mixed into drinks and baked goods. The thing is they virtually disappear and have very mild nutty flavor that virtually disappears when blended in with other foods. 

  • Eat raw for that nice "nutty" flavor.
  • Soak in fruit juice (in Mexico, they call this "chia fresca").
  • Add to porridges and puddings (while they cook or sprinkled on afterwards).
  • Include in baked goods--breads, cakes and biscuits.
  • Add to power drinks, be it a base of dairy, almond, or coconut milk. 
  • Sprinkle on your yogourt (or frozen yogourt!)

For more good ways to use chia seeds, check out this great resource: