Made with organic soybeans, fresh and local Ingredients

Friday, March 15, 2013

'shrooms and Tofu

by Francine

photo via
Mushrooms are endowed with an assortment of health benefits - from being a boost to your immune system, to helping to prevent breast and other cancers; they assist in weight loss, fighting tumors, and they are anti-inflammatory, a source of B12 (difficult to get when you're a vegetarian). .  .There's a reason these exotic, rather cosmic edibles are associated with 'magic.' Magic indeed. And we get to eat them! And they're so declicious. Did you know there's a lobster mushroom that actually tastes like that? And oyster mushrooms. . . well, you can guess the rest.

Check out the great nutrient reference from, which tells us - among other things - that mushrooms seem to have some kind of 'smart' aspect about them, where if white blood cell is required, mushrooms push that, and when it's not, crimini mushrooms seem to have a sensor to leave the white blood cells alone. "Magic" anyone?

Here's a ridiculously easy recipe for tofu and mushrooms. It can be adapted so easily to taste. It's inexpensive, easy to prepare, and is sure to make your tummy feel swell.

What you need:

a block of tofu (plain or not), sliced or cubed
enough mushrooms to please yourself and whoever else you're cooking for
black pepper
some red onion
a few cloves of garlic
a bit of the following:
  (any other herb or spice you love)
coconut or canola oil


Slice the onion thinly. Same thing with the garlic. Saute both with a bit of oil until they become a bit transparent and soft. Add the mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms start to soften and add the tofu. Continue to saute until tofu starts to brown and everything is well mixed. Add the herbs, pepper, and continue to mix until everything is steaming and flavors are well blended.

Variation: add green or red pepper and/or cherry tomatoes, halved

Pour mixture over brown rice, quinoa, or pasta. You'll have yourself a tasty, inexpensive, and very yummy treat.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ooooh--carrot cake!

by Francine

photo via
Ok, so carrot cake is one of my mostest favorite things. Since the very first time I tasted a piece from a bakery on Castro St. many years ago. The cream cheese icing knocked me out. In fact, a piece of that cake and a cup of coffee was a treat I looked forward to at least once a week. A ritual of sorts--often enjoyed solo, but sometimes with a very special friend.

Now even then I knew the cream cheese was perhaps not the healthiest thing in the world. But what does it matter when you're having fun, right? Just like a kiss that can never be exactly as it was that first time when it knocked your socks off, I'm not sure I ever matched that particular carrot cake--in spite of all the ones I've consumed (with delight) since that one.

So speaking of delight, imagine mine when I came across this little gem from our dear friend, Louise Hagler, in her book, Tofu Cookery. No cream cheese in the "Creamy Glaze Topping." Just cream cheese.

The walnuts in this recipe are loaded with goodness (taste-wise and health-wise). A symbol of intellectuality since ancient times (maybe because the two halves of a walnut together look amazingly like a brain!), this tasty nut is teeming with Omega. And by now you know that is a very good thing. Take a look at this from

"Regular intake of walnuts in the diet helps to lower total as well as LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increases HDL or "good cholesterol" levels in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet that is rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile."

Ok, now that you know how good walnuts are and you already know how delicious and nutritious raisins are (think iron), let's delve into Louise's recipe:

Carrot Cake

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together dry ingredients:
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (Louise recommends unbleached white, but I always use whole wheat--organic, please)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt

Mix well in a separate bowl:
1/2 lbs. tofu, blended until smooth
1 lb. carrots, grated (4 1/2 - 5 cups) (incidentally carrots are one of the veggies that really should be organic)
3/4 cup oil (canola is fine)
2 cups light brown sugar (or 2/3 this amount of Agave)
1 TB vanilla
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate

Add dry ingredients to the wet ones. Stir until all dry parts are moistened. 

Fold in:
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup raisins

Oil and flour the pan. Bake for 45 minutes. When cool, top with Creamy Glaze Topping (recipe directly below)

Creamy Glaze Topping
Blend in a blender until smooth and creamy:
1/2 lb. tofu
1 TB oil
1 TB lemon juice
3 TB honey 
1/4 tsp salt

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Vegetable Salad (a la moule)

photo via
This delightful recipe, like so many others I've posted, is from Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler.

But before we get into that, did you see the recent results of a study done testing the benefits of the Mediterranean diet? Take a look at the piece published on ABC News.

Researchers stopped the study before the projected finish because the results were so dazzling--in a good way! A diet rich in seafood, olive oil, veggies, fruits, nuts, and beans. . . along with wine support a healthy heart. (Keep in mind tofu is derived from beans), so although most people don't think of tofu in Mediterranean terms, that's not to say you can't create some Mediterranean-inspired dishes using tofu.

Here's what you'll need to have on hand for this unique vegetable salad:

First, soak for 3 minutes in a small saucepan:
3 cups water
3 cubes vegetable bouillon (or just use 3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth)
.2 oz agar agar flakes (regular gelatin can be substituted if you are not opposed to using it)

After soaking, simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour into a mixing bowl with:
1 cup celery, chopped fine
3 TB onion, minced
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 lb. tofu, blended
1/4 cup sweet relish
3 TB pimentos, chopped
14 tsp. black pepper

After mixing all ingredients thoroughly together, pour into the mold or individual serving dishes. Chill until firm (4-6 hours or overnight). Remove from mold and serve.

Now you can get very creative with the center of the mold--make it pretty. Cherry tomatoes perhaps or a melange of colorful veggies. Festive, delicious, and very healthy, this dish is definitely a conversation piece.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Coriander, Curry, and Yogurt-Crusted Tofu

by Francine

photo via
My mom first gave me yogurt when I was a little girl. She put sugar in it, so how couldn't I like it? In French the word is pronounced yah-ooort (pronounced with that very French gutteral sound for the "r"). I love that sound, even now. When I was a kid I was quite the mimic and used to act out my mother's French friends talking--with what seemed to me to be a rather peculiar way of speaking. In retrospect I understand that it was simply so animated compared to the way most Americans speak English. In any cases--it was words like "yogurt" that I particularly liked, because of the seeming exagerration in pronunciation. Anyway, I suppose I'm digressing at this point, so let's get back to yogurt (also spelled "yogourt"). 

The care2 website published an informative little piece recently which is a good reminder of why yogurt is so healthy for us:

  • "If you are taking antibiotics, yogurt will help you replenish the friendly bacteria that is killed by the drugs’ actions.
  • Regular intake of yogurt keeps yeast infections away.
  • Served as delicious dips and smoothies, yogurt is an excellent protein-rich for young children.
  • It is easy to digest and promotes the bioavailability of key nutrients.
  • The proteins, vitamins and other vital nutrients in yogurt make it a powerful immunity-boosting food.
  • Yogurt is helpful in settling the stomach after a bout of diarrhea or constipation. It also reduces bloating and gas.
  • Yogurt is a time-tested beauty aid. That is because the lactic acid in it lightens blemishes and hydrates skin beautifully. Mix yogurt with olive oil and a little turmeric powder, and apply on skin. Wash off with warm water after a few minutes, and watch the fresh, dewy glow on your face!"

Yogurt is commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking. I often use it as a substitute for sour cream (in salad dressings or baked potato, for instance.) All kinds of yogurt these days--from Greek to flavored to non-fat, etc. To each his or her own, of course. But I highly recommend sticking to organic, because of where dairy is on the food chain. You're getting quite a bit of pesticide saturation in non-organic dairy products because of where dairy is on the food chain. Definitely worth the extra price for organic. 

So here's an interesting Middle-Eastern inspired recipe using our dear old favorite--that would be tofu, and yogurt. 

3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon whole coriander seed, crushed
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 -2 tablespoon olive oil
4 pieces tofu, fillets, about 6 ounces each
chopped mint (to garnish)

In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, garlic and cumin. In a separate bowl combine the coriander seeds, curry, salt and pepper.
In a very large nonstick skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, dip the tofu into the yogurt mixture to lightly coat each side, then sprinkle each side with the curry mixture, dividing the seasoning evenly among all the tofu.
Immediately place tofu in the hot pan and cook until just done, about 2½ minutes on each side. Serve with a light sprinkling of chopped mint.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Tofanana Bread

by Francine

photo via
'Yes, we have no tofannas,' (lyrics from a ridiculously old, classic, amusing and charmingly ridiculous song by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn) but we sure got bananas and we sure got tofu. When I spotted this recipe, I got interested. I love banana bread and the texture of tofu seems like an obvious blend in this concoction--although I had never thought of it on my own.

We all know bananas are loaded with potassium (although not as loaded as an equal portion of potatoes--remember?). Nevertheless, bananas are indeed loaded with the good stuff. And there's more good nutrition news as well. Think vitamin C (one banana provides you with 15% of your daily requirement), B6 (what the body uses to grow new cells)--just one banana gives you 35% of your daily requirement. Also think manganese, necessary for bone health, along with fiber, some iron, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus (more on this below)as well as vitamins A and E, folate (also known as folic acid or B12, plays an important part in the production of red blood cells), carotene (antioxidant) and choline (integral to brain and liver health and also in the reduction of inflammation). Now here's a total surprise--bananas even contain amino acids (used in every cell of our bodies to build the proteins we need to survive), albeit trace amounts. And also keep in mind that bananas are incredibly easy to digest (ripe ones, that is). That's why they are one of the very first solid foods we give to our babies.

Now, getting back to phosphorus--this is a biggie, and if you don't eat meat or dairy, primary sources of phosphorus, you'll be especially interested in bananas. Check this out from Medline Plus:

"The main function of phosphorus is in the formation of bones and teeth. It plays an important role in the body's utilization of carbohydrates and fats and in the synthesis of protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. It is also crucial for the production of ATP, a molecule the body uses to story energy.

"Phosphorus works with the B vitamins. It also assists in the contraction of muscles, in the functioning of kidneys, in maintaining the regularity of the heartbeat, and in nerve conduction."

OK, now that I've got your attention, let's move on to the recipe.

Preheat your over to 350 degrees.

Blend in a blender until smooth and creamy:
3/4 cup tofu

Pour into a mixing bowl and beat in:
1 cup sugar (or 1/2-3/4 cup agave)
1/4 cup oil (canola,recommended)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed

Mix together in another bowl:
2 cups unbleached white flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Beat everything together, then fold in:
3/4 cup walnut pieces

Pour into an oiled loaf pan. Bake for about an hour, and voila!


Medline Plus
Tofu Cookery, by Louise Hagler

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tofu for the Dressing

by Francine

photo via
Like those creamy dressings? Well here's a twist on that. Substitute the mayo or the cream or the egg or all of that for. . . You guessed it--tofu.

So easy, economical and it's not only good for salads--but sandwiches too! And if you're like me--it's always fun when someone tastes it and says, "Umm, this is so good. What's in it?" And you say (with a   poker face, "Oh, just some tofu and lemon and stuff. . . "

"WHAT? You're kidding!"

By this time, you're smiling and your friend is too.

So here we go. Again, so easy.

Combine in a blender or cuisinart:
1/2 lb. soft tofu
1/4 cup oil (organic olive or sesame)
1 TB (or more) lemon juice
1 TB sugar (totally optional, not to mention this could be agave--in which case it should be no more than 1/2 TB)
1 1/2 tsp prepared mustard (Dijon, honey, etc.--just make it something you love)
1 tsp. vinegar (apple cider, white or red wine, or rice vinegar work nicely with this recipe)
1/2 tsp salt (optional--and remember you can use a 'salt' substitute derived from seaweed)

Blend until smooth and creamy, and there you have it. BTW--this is delicious on cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, olives. Maybe a little pita on the side. It makes a killer sandwich --think chicken or veggies, or tempeh or tofu!

A word or two about the yellow stuff--the mustard. It's not just good-tasting, it's actually good for you. People have known about this for thousands of years. High in antioxidants, mustard seeds also have anti-fungal properties, and have even been found to prevent migraines. What else? Interesting you should ask. Think calcium, magnesium, and here's the one that surprised me--potassium! Remember--it's potassium for healthy blood pressure, calcium and magnesium for healthy bones. Antioxidants speak for themselves. And the idea of lessening the occurrence of migraines, we're all for that!

And check this out from, "Mustard can be used in preparations of hot compresses to help reduce the impact of strains and sprains in the body, or they can be used in poultices and plasters which can be massaged onto the chest to encourage the decongesting of blocked sinuses and lungs."

So don't be shy when you serve this salad dressing. And remember the most important part: Enjoy!

Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler

Monday, January 28, 2013

Potato Tofu Casserole

by Francine

photo via
Think potatoes, think casserole, and think winter. Right? Potatoes sometimes get a bad rap because people equate them wtih 'empty carbs', fattening, etc. Not so. It's the stuff you ADD to potatoes or the stuff they're cooked IN that is fattening. Potatoes are full of nutrition, relatively cheap, and there are so many ways to eat them!

Low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, potatoes are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, potassium (important for controlling high blood pressure), and manganese. Incidentally--potatoes have more potassium in them than bananas, especially if you keep the skins on. Which you should--not only for the potassium, but also for the other health benefits.

Now considering that potatoes grown conventionally have residues from 37 pesticides, according to the USDA Pesticide Program, you can see why I'm advocating (like I usually do), you choose organic. And remember--if you don't want to go 100% organic--because of cost, convenience, availability, or whatever else--you don't have to. Just choose wisely. With potatoes--it's important to go organic. With avocados--not so much. There is definitely a different level of saturation according to what kind of produce, where grown, etc.

So getting back to the issue at hand, which is the potato tofu casserole, let's get going:

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Mix together in a bowl:
3 cups potatoes, mashed (personally I like skins on, but you can remove or go 1/2 and 1/2)
1 1/2 lbs. tofu, mashed
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Saute together:
2 TB oil (try canola or sesame)
1 medium onion, chopped

When onions are limp, mix into the potato-tofu mixture. Spread into an oiled 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish, and sprinkle with paprika (and/or a little cayenne). Bake for 35 minutes.

Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Krazy Kale

by Francine
photo via
It's winter and in many areas of the world--winter vegetables rule the dinner table. As well they should. Packed with nutrients and amazing flavors, it makes so much sense to eat what is in season in your area--fresh and available to you without adding to the carbon footprint (in this case fuel necessary to transport the food your way). 

As a kid I remember eating kale as part of the notorious school lunch. It was canned. Even the thought of it now, so many years later, brings up that hideous tinny taste that had infiltrated the kale. So I grew up with a 'bad taste' in my mouth regarding kale. Fortunately I ate some fresh kale as an adult and I've loved it ever since--along with chard, beet tops, collard greens, spinach--i.e. all those amazing leafy greens. 

Let's zoom in on kale for a minute. In an article on kale is referred to as the 'queen of greens' and one of the healthiest vegetable on the planet. (Maybe that school I went to as a kid had a dynamite dietician who was in the know about kale--but canned?!) The article goes on to say that "choosing super-nutritious kale on a regular basis may provide significant health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol." Now if that weren't enough (and it already is for me), here's what you get in one cup of glorious kale: 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6, 40% of magnesium daily requirement, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It's also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. 

The article on is worth reading in its entirety and I urge you to do so, because there is a wealth of other information, including that kale interferes in calcium absorption (so don't eat it at the same time you're eating calcium-rich foods like yogourt, for instance). According to a study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cited in that webmd article, eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant K "can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer." (K is also found in parsley, spinach, collard greens, and animal products such as cheese, btw.)

Sold on kale? Check out this delightful recipe from Alice Currah's blog, which includes kale AND . . . tofu!:

Kale Mabu Tofu
What you need:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 – inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1/2 pound medium firm tofu, cut in 3/4-inches cubes
  • 2 tablespoons oyster flavor sauce
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Asian garlic chili sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 cups baby kale leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
How to make:
  1. Add the vegetable oil to a large skillet or wok and heat on medium-low heat.
  2. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for about half a minute, just enough to soften the garlic and for it to be aromatic.
  3. Add the pork, breaking it down with a wooden spoon, and cook until brown.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the tofu.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the oyster sauce, miso, soy sauce, and garlic chili sauce until completely mixed.
  6. Add the sauce to the skillet. Stir the pork and tofu in the sauce and cook for 2 minutes, just enough time for the sauce to coat the sausage and absorb into the meat.
  7. Stir in the chicken broth.
  8. When the broth begins to bubble in a light simmer, add the kale leaves.
  9. Stir the kale in the mabu tofu until it is barely wilted.
  10. Transfer the mabu tofu and some broth over 2 or 3 brown rice bowls.
  11. Top off with additional garlic chili sauce for more heat.
  12. Garnish with scallions.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Cloves--an overlooked spice

by Francine

Around the holidays, my yoga teacher read to us from a page she had copied from one of the health and nutrition journals she subscribes to. I was amazed to hear that according to a study (in which 1,100 foods were tested) cited in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cloves contain more than 3 times the amount of antioxidants than the nearest competitor--dried oregano. Who would have thought? Apparently, this all-too-often overlooked spice combats oxidative stress in the brain and may help dispel 'brain fog.'  That's not all.

Cloves are an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin K and C and omega-3 fatty acids, and a good source of calcium and magnesium. Cloves also have a significant amount of protein, iron, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and hydrochloric acid.So with this in mind, why relegate cloves to pumpkin pie?

Here's a tasty tofu/clove combo posted on (they have wonderful other recipes, btw) that is sure to please. And notice turmeric and lemongrass, two other mighty powerful and tasty herbs that are so good for us. Enjoy!

  • Lemongrass Tofu

    12-14 oz tofu, drained
  • 3-4 tsp minced fresh lemongrass (usually pretty easy to find in better groceries, Asian markets, or farmers markets).  Peel outer layers of 1 stalk, grate or mince bottom white part
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp tamari 
  • 2 Tbsp water 
  • 2 tsp roasted red chili paste 
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric 
  • 2 t sugar  
  • 1 t salt 
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 

  • How to make:
    Cut tofu lengthwise into thirds. Place on an absorbent kitchen towel and cover with an additional towel. Place a heavy pan on top, and allow to sit thirty minutes to remove moisture. Transfer tofu to a cutting board and cut into 3/4" cubes.
  • In a large bowl or glass container combine lemongrass, garlic, say sauce, water, red chili paste, turmeric, sugar and salt. Add tofu cubes, and carefully toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to marinate.
  • In a large wok or sauté pan, heat oil over high heat. Add tofu and cook 10-15 minutes, shaking pan every minute so tofu doesn’t stick, until golden brown on all side.
  • Add red pepper flakes the last few minutes and serve hot
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Get Corny

by Francine

photo via
Hope your holidays were fun, warm, and all the things that holidays should be. There's a reason people call it the holidaze, to be sure, however. I don't know. There's just something that happens around the last week of December--everyone buzzing around buying gifts, preparing for gatherings, meeting expectations, and somehow it's only natural that we are all seeking perfection--not so much in others, but in ourselves. And who is harder on themselves than we are ourselves, right?

Well, now that we're well ensconced in 2013 (such a strange sounding year, somehow), let's get cookin' with some down home cornmeal muffins. . . with a little tofu thrown in. Now the recipe calls for soft tofu, so it's best to use that kind. Tofu Yu tofu is fabulous for all kinds of dishes, but the tofu we make (unless it's a special order) is not the soft kind--the kind often referred to as 'silken' tofu. In this recipe, you can also use 'regular' tofu--just make sure it is not the firm type that Tofu Yu prides itself in, because it is the preferred consistency for so many Asian dishes.

A word(s) about cornmeal, according to
  • Research has shown that yellow cornmeal is rich in antioxidants known to prevent cancer, macular degeneration and cardiovascular disease.
  • The fiber in cornmeal helps promote colon health and prevent constipation.
  • The fiber in cornmeal lowers cholesterol levels.
  • Corn meal is gluten-free.
  • Corn meal is beneficial for managing diabetes.
And did you know it's loaded with potassium (think controlling blood pressure), calcium (think strong bones and teeth), and vitamin A (good for the eyes).

Check out this very easy-to-make recipe:

Preheat oven to 425 F

Mix together:
2 cups cornmeal (organic)
2 cups unbleached (organic) whole wheat flour (or for slightly lighter muffins--a combination of white and whole wheat, OR pastry flour)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Blend in a blender until smooth and creamy:
1/2 lb. soft tofu
1 1/2 cups water

Pour into bowl and then stir in:
1/4 cup oil
3 TB honey or molasses

Str the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until moist. Fill oiled muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Delicious served with cream cheese and preserves. And of course, a bit of butter melted inside a hot muffin is something that will melt the most dour frame of mind. 


Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler