Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More People Eating Soy and More New Products

A report that showed up in my inbox has all kinds of statistics about how more Americans are eating soy. It appears that a lot of the information is coming from a study done annually by the United Soy Bean Board. And guess what there mission is? To get people to learn more about, and eat more, soy.

A 2008 study by the International Food and Information Council (IFIC) reports that people are changing their eating habits to improve overall well being (69%), lose weight (69%) or improve their physical well being (64%). Many of them are eating more soy foods in an attempt to do this.

It sounds fine in theory, except the soy that isn't organic is genetically modified and most people are not getting soy in its whole form. They are eating many of the 2700 new products that have been introduced into the marketplace from 2000 to 2007. These are processed foods. And you've read before what I think about processed foods -- they are not as good as foods in their natural state, and never will be.

So, if you are seeking out soy, seek out tempeh, edamame, miso, tofu or lightly processed soy milk. Avoid foods that contain soy protein isolate or other processed soy products. And always buy organic soy. Read labels, or choose mostly foods that don't contain labels. Don't be duped by the United Soy Bean Board or anyone else.

BTW, IFIC referred to above, is an industry trade group. They will not necessarily present unbiased information. I try to take a good look at the issue and give you my best perspective.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Spicing It Up -- Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

The saying is that if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Well, this post is about spicing things up in the kitchen. And sometimes it's going to get hot and sometimes it'll get messy and sometimes ugly and downright not-too-tasty. But if you don't try new things, you'll miss that experience, however it turns out in the end.

Just the other day I was the presenter at an all day workshop. My goal was to teach the people working at the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) office in Napa about whole grains, seasonal vegetables and fruit and soy, especially tofu. The way that I did this was through talk, tasting and cooking.

What I discovered is that some people have a narrow range of tastes and flavors that they are used to eating. But also, many people are willing to try new things if they are presented. They are not likely, though, to go out of their way to try them without prompting.

This is where The Veggie Queen comes in. I encourage people to try things that may seem foreign and have them become part of their everyday eating. A number of the participants at the workshop kept asking me about adding salt. I tend to cook without adding a lot of salt. I use a lot of spices and herbs for flavoring. I teach people what they are and how to use them. It opens the door to a new world of flavors.

Today I baked some tofu with my latest favorite herb blend Organic Vegetable Rub from The Cape Herb and Spice Company. These herbs come from South Africa. I know that it's far away but they know how to do it there. I will be selling them in my next email newsletter so sign up now at my website so that you can get the info. I often have exclusive offers only for my mailing list.

Baked Tofu with Organic Herb Blend

  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, squeezed, cut into thin slices and then triangles (makes 30 or so)
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 1-3 teaspoons herb blend (or your favorite spice mix)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Use a 9 X 13 glass baking dish.

Put the tofu triangles into the dish. Drizzle the sesame oil on top, if using. Drizzle the tamari on top of the tofu, along with the rice vinegar. Sprinkle with the herb blend and let sit for 5 or more minutes, but not longer than 15. Turn the triangles over.

Put into the hot oven for 10 minutes. Turn the triangles again. And bake another 10 minutes or until the triangles are dry and a bit crispy. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove tofu and eat as is, use in sandwiches, added to grain salads or in stir-fries.

c 2008, The Veggie Queen, .

Think of spicing up your life every day. It's OK to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Remember, it will only be NEW once.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Vegan 100 List

The Vegan's 100 list was compiled by Hannah of Bittersweet . I found out about it from Hannah states " News travels pretty fast in the blogosphere, and the latest craze that’s been showing up on food blogs far and wide has been The Omnivore’s Hundred, a list of 100 foods that all omnivores should eat at some point in their lives. Well, I like the idea, but obviously that sort of thing just doesn’t fly with me. Instead, I present to you my revised list, The Vegan’s Hundred instead!

Everything here is either naturally free of animal products or can be veganized, and just like the original, these foods vary from the every day to extraordinary, delectable and disgusting. They’re simply all of the things that, in my opinion, any vegan foodie should definitely sink their teeth into at least once. (MY note, I am not sure I agree as there are some things that I've had once and it was one time too many. For instance, number 1 on the list -- natto.) My Vegan 100 list would look a bit different but, that's just me.

  1. Natto

  2. Green Smoothie

  3. Tofu Scramble

  4. Haggis

  5. Mangosteen

  6. Creme brulee

  7. Fondue

  8. Marmite/Vegemite

  9. Borscht
  10. Baba ghanoush

  11. Nachos

  12. Authentic soba noodles

  13. Peanut butter & jelly sandwich

  14. Aloo gobi

  15. Taco from a street cart

  16. Boba Tea

  17. Black truffle

  18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

  19. Gyoza

  20. Vanilla ice cream (try So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla)
  21. Heirloom tomatoes

  22. Fresh wild berries

  23. Ceviche

  24. Rice and beans

  25. Knish (I grew up in New York)
  26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper

  27. Dulce de leche

  28. Caviar
  29. Baklava

  30. Pate (you've got to try mine with walnuts, mushrooms and lentils)

  31. Wasabi peas

  32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl

  33. Mango lassi

  34. Sauerkraut (Making some right now)

  35. Root beer float

  36. Mulled cider

  37. Scones with buttery spread and jam

  38. Vodka jelly

  39. Gumbo

  40. Fast food french fries (Not in 20+ years)

  41. Raw Brownies

  42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans

  43. Dahl

  44. Homemade Soymilk

  45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (Not often enough)

  46. Stroopwafle

  47. Samosas

  48. Vegetable Sushi

  49. Glazed doughnut

  50. Seaweed (almost daily)

  51. Prickly pear

  52. Umeboshi
  53. Tofurky

  54. Sheese (I'd like to but haven't seen it)

  55. Cotton candy

  56. Gnocchi

  57. PiƱa colada

  58. Birch beer

  59. Scrapple (as a child one time -- GROSS)

  60. Carob chips

  61. S’mores (not a fan ever)
  62. Soy curls

  63. Chickpea
  64. Curry

  65. Durian

  66. Homemade Sausages
  67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake (more fried things, yuck)

  68. Smoked tofu (especially good when tea smoked by you)

  69. Fried plantain

  70. Mochi

  71. Gazpacho

  72. Warm chocolate chip cookies

  73. Absinthe

  74. Corn on the cob

  75. Whipped cream, straight from the can

  76. Pomegranate

  77. Fauxstess Cupcake

  78. Mashed potatoes with gravy

  79. Jerky

  80. Croissants

  81. French onion soup

  82. Savory crepes

  83. Tings (WHAT?)

  84. A meal at Candle 79 (I"D LIKE TO GO)

  85. Moussaka

  86. Sprouted grains or seeds

  87. Macaroni and “cheese”
  88. Flowers

  89. Matzoh ball soup

  90. White chocolate

  91. Seitan

  92. Kimchi

  93. Butterscotch chips

  94. Yellow watermelon

  95. Chili with chocolate

  96. Bagel and Toffuti Cream Cheese
  97. Potato milk

  98. Polenta

  99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

  100. Raw cookie dough

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Jeff Novick Entertains at McDougall Advanced Study Weekend

Today I had the chance to listen to my fellow Registered Dietitian, colleague and friend Jeff Novick as he presented at the McDougall program to a group of about 100 very interested people. Jeff is very funny. And he also provides a lot of useful information.

His talk today was on label reading and why you want and need to avoid processed and packaged foods. He explained that most of what you read on a label is a lie, and it is really your responsibility to learn how to judge a product. His rules were simple, and I won't repeat them in case you get the chance to hear Jeff speak. I don't want to ruin your fun or his.

The one thing that he did discuss that I want to echo is about sodium in the diet. He provided the following statistics:

  • 77% of the sodium in your diet comes from processed and restaurant food

  • 12% occurs naturally in food

  • 5% is from what you use in cooking

  • 6% is added at your table

So you can see that eating at home cooked food and adding a bit of salt is just fine. One of my biggest complaints about eating in restaurants is that the food is too salty for me. I'd rather undersalt and then add a sprinkle on top, where you can really taste it.

I am going to be carrying a line of seasonings in adjustable grinders that contain salt and seasonings. They are perfect for boosting flavor in a big way.

Eating real food at home is the ideal way to get what you need nutritionally and for taste.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Considering Blackberries

Throughout the summer I think about blackberries because they grow wild where I live. They are an amazing plant with a good defense. You likely know the saying that the best offense is a good defense. Well, blackberries have it down.

I see the green berries forming early in the summer, and watch the vines grow long and thorny. Then when the fruit is ripe, the vines get incredibly unruly and tangled so that picking the berries can be a painful affair. The vines snake across the path and even up into trees -- they are good at movement for something without legs.

There are 2 kinds of blackberries that grow here -- one is large and the other is small. And when they are ripe, they are equally as delicious. When they're not quite ripe, and picked by mistake, they are both sour. They're always full of fiber which means that they have seeds although when dead-ripe and almost falling off the plant, the berry seems to just melt in my mouth. This is the exception, not the rule.

Some of the best berries are hard to get to or hidden high in a tree. I'm short so they are a challenge to pick but worth it.

And as I worked on this blog post, I came across a link to a rat study recently done on black raspberries and their anticancer effect That fruit likely contains the same kind of antioxidant activity as blackberries. So eat them up, when you can easily get to them.