Friday, May 15, 2015

Oil-free Swiss Chard Saag and Roti bread

Saag, which is typically a well-cooked blend of spinach and other greens, has always been one of my favorite Indian dishes. My good friend Abby Bean will attest that I had trouble sharing the dish when we ordered it together last year after the Ivy-League Vegan Conference. It was also a must-get dish when I went to a vegetarian Indian restaurant in Dubai.

Until recently, I always had trouble recreating it without oil. That said, I’m pretty sure this recipe not only significantly increases the nutrition profile of the classic dish, but it also has an out-of-this world taste!



A few nights ago, after my daily four hour-long Spanish class, while M was working a 24-hour shift, I decided to surprise her with this as it is one of her favorite recipes of mine.

The following night we had a classic Indian sampling. I made the Saag, along with my lentil dal, and a simple cauliflower and potato aloo gobi.

Because I was making a few dishes, I left the rice out of the dal recipe, making it a more classic red dal. Instead, I cooked a large bowl of brown rice with cumin seeds, two bayleafs, a pinch of salt, and a well-chopped carrot.

M and I also decided to try a simple, whole-wheat roti bread, which brought the entire dish together and gave it a more authentic Indian feel.

This dish uses Swiss chard instead of the more classic spinach, but I’ve also used kale prior to moving Buenos Aires. Swiss chard is not only high in nitrates, but it may also help prevent your skin from wrinkling, as a paper published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition observed that those with the highest green leafy vegetable consumption tended to have the fewest wrinkles... So eat away!

The dish can also stand alone and is a delicious and nutrition-packed dinner when served with bread or on top of rice. 


Swiss Chard Saag
Serves 4

½ bunch swiss chard – stemmed and roughly chopped
1 large onion – chopped
1” chunk of fresh ginger - chopped
3-4 cloves garlic - chopped
1 cup plant-based milk
½ cup broth or water
¼ cup cooked chickpeas or 1 handful cashews
2 tablepsoons tomato paste
3-4 taplespoons nutrition yeast
1 teaspoon cumin (seeds or powder) - toasted
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon garma masla
A pinch of chili seeds or cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
½ cup cooked split green peas (optional)

To begin, dry sauté the chopped onion. After a few minutes, add the garlic, ginger and cumin. Cook for a few more minutes on medium heat before adding the swiss chard. Slowly add a few tablespoons of water or broth as needed to keep the cumin from sticking. After 5 minutes, the swiss chard should begin to soften and become bright green. Remove from heat and let cool.

Once the sautéed greens are cool enough, combine all the ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor. A hand-held blender also works well. Blend well.

This is a dish that you will want to test the spices as you cook and adjust accordingly. If you are serving this dish on it’s own, consider adding a half cup of cooked green peas to the dish.


Whole Wheat Roti Bread (Chapatis)
Roughly makes 10 pieces

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup of warm water
½ teaspoon salt

While this bread is very simple to make it does take a little time for it to set so plan accordingly and try and start the bread at least one hour before you plan on eating.

Most roti recipes call for a tablespoon of oil, but as you’ll see, it’s completely unnecessary for the recipe.

Simply put the flour into a large bowl with the salt. Then slowly pour the warm water onto the flour. Knead the flour until it becomes a sticky dough.

Form the dough into a ball and cover the dough and let it sit for at least 1 hour although 2 hours is preferable.

Using your hands, pull about the amount of a walnut (in the shell) from the dough and flatten it until very thin.

Place the flattened dough onto a hot pan and cook until the side starts to crisp and puff up. Flip over and repeat.

Hope you enjoy these dishes.
Chau!


M.B. Purba, et. al. “Skin Wrinking: Can food make a Difference?” Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Feb. 2001 71-80.


Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Contaminants in Food. Nitrate in Vegetables. The EFSA Journal 2008 1-79.

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mi Nueva Vida & Bok Choy Margherita Pizza

As most of you know, I recently relocated from New York, New York to Buenos Aires, Argentina. After a very bumpy flight, we arrived safely in the afternoon of April 21.

Since then it has been a whirlwind. We spent the previous week prior to my move, packing, cleaning, and clearing out, and then we spent the better part of our first week in Buenos Aires doing the same in our new apartment - cleaning, unpacking, organising, and what seemed like an unlimited amount of laundry! It’s been exhausting.

But things are finally starting to settle down (We literally fueled ourselves for the first few days with lots of mate.) 

Life here is fantastic. Argentina is entering fall, but from what I hear it’s been far more pleasant and warm here than it has been back in New York. I start my immersion Spanish courses later this week (5 days a week – 4 hours each day!) If I can’t learn Spanish under these conditions, well… then I guess I'm hopeless! Next month I'll be starting a new online program from Cornell University, and I plan on teaching English part-time as well. I am also continuing to see clients for BYOL Nutrition & Wellness counseling.



But with all the changes, I haven’t forgotten about dinner! I made this Bok choy and Basil Margherita Pizza on one of our first nights here. It’s pretty simple especially if you use a pre-made pizza crust or make a slightly altered version of my protein packed, gluten-free lentil bread ahead of time.

Bok Choy & Basil Margherita Pizza (Gluten-Free)
Serves 2

Gluten-Free Crust:
½ cup green lentils
½ cup brown rice
¼ cup amaranth
2 tablespoons flaxseed (optional)
salt to taste
Two generous pinches of dried Italian seasoning (basil, rosemary, thyme, tarragon) 
water

I recommend making the crust ahead of time so it can fully set and dry out, making for a crispier pizza crust. If you make the crust ahead of time, this pizza only takes about 25 minutes.



To keep the crust from becoming fluffy, don't add the yeast or baking soda found in the original recipe. Start by soaking the lentils, rice, and amaranth together in a large bowl with warm water. I like to let this soak for around five hours, but one hour at least (tip, if you are soaking for a shorter time, add either a vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to the water to breakdown the acids found in these cereals more quickly. Personally, I like to soak these cereals before heading to bed or off to work, they’ll be ready when you wake up or come back home). 

After soaking, rinse the ingredients well, and transfer to a blender or food processor – a hand-held immersion blender works well too. Blend with just enough water so the cereals are nearly but not completely immersed in water. Blend until smooth.

Now bake the “dough” at 350 for 25 minutes or until completely browned and firm. Now let the crust cool.

Toppings:
1-2 large tomatoes - sliced
1 small bunch bok choy – chopped, greens only
Small head of garlic - oven-roasted and diced
1 handful fresh basil
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (or make your own*)
Red and Black pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 300. While you are preparing everything else, peel and crush 5 to 6 cloves of garlic and wrap them in tinfoil and place them in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes.



*Because a Margherita pizza is all about the sauce, I like to make my own whenever I have the time. Using a jarred or canned sauce is fine too, but making your own only takes a few extra minutes and really increases the flavor! If you have the time and inclination, try this sauce and let me know what you think!

1 large can of chopped tomatoes (I like to get salt-free)
4-5 sundried tomatoes (if they are hard, try soaking them in warm water for a few minutes)  
2 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 large handful of fresh basil
1 small handful of cashews (roughly 8-12 cashews)
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
cayenne pepper to taste
a pinch of date sugar or your favorite sweetener
salt and black pepper to taste

Blend all of the sauce ingredients together until smooth. 

Now spread the sauce onto the crust and begin to add your remaining toppings. Start by placing the sliced tomatoes around the pizza. Get the roasted garlic out of the oven, dice it, and scatter it on top. Then add the washed and chopped bok choy greens. Place the pizza in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Take the pizza out and add the handful of basil on top of the other ingredients. Return the pizza to the oven for a final 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve hot with a fresh salad and roasted veggies. Enjoy!



As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Top 5 Misconceptions About Food: A Doctor’s Daily Experience by Michelle McMacken, M.D.

As a primary care doctor, I spend my days taking care of patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity. I also see “healthy” patients whose eating habits are starting them on the road to a future filled with doctor’s appointments and hospital visits.


I enjoy reminding my patients that their fork can be more powerful than my prescription pad when it comes to preventing and reversing chronic diseases. This conversation usually uncovers some common misconceptions about food and nutrition. Here are five myths that I hear almost every day, among patients and colleagues alike:

1. “I need to eat more protein.”

Many people don’t realize that the average American consumes more than twice the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein, most of it from animal products. 1,2Unfortunately, animal-based proteins have been shown to promote faster growth, not only of normal cells but of cancer cells, and have been linked to a variety of cancers as well as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and kidney stones.3,4

Plant foods contain plenty of protein, and a whole-foods, plant-based diet actually provides exactly what’s recommended in terms of protein requirements – about 8-10% of total daily calories from protein.  This happens naturally when people eat a diet of diverse, whole plant foods – there is no need to count grams of protein!  And unlike animal proteins, plant proteins from whole foods are not associated with cancer or other chronic diseases.  In fact, these foods actually prevent many of the diseases we see today!

2. “I need to drink milk to have strong bones.”

Many people equate dairy with calcium, strong bones, and the prevention of osteoporosis (low bone density). Generations of advertising slogans have perpetuated this idea. However, dairy isn’t the answer here. Studies show that dairy products may actually increase the risk of fractures related to osteoporosis!5-7

The biological purpose of cow’s milk is to support the rapid growth of a calf. Humans have no nutritional or medical need to consume the milk of cows or any other nonhuman species. Cow’s milk has significant levels of female hormones, and usually contains antibiotics, pesticides, saturated fat, and cholesterol — substances that definitely do NOT do a body good! Dairy has been specifically linked with prostate, ovarian, and uterine cancer, as well as heart disease and early death.7-13

The best sources of calcium come from the earth, in foods such as kale, broccoli, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. As a bonus, these vegetables are high in vitamin K, which is also important for strong bones. Beans may be an especially good source of calcium, because they are also high in phytates, antioxidant compounds that may enhance mineral absorption14 (despite common perception to the contrary) and thus protect bone density.15 Many brands of soy milk, almond milk, orange juice, and tofu are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, just as cow’s milk is artificially fortified with these nutrients. However, there is no need to specifically target calcium sources in the diet; a diverse, whole-foods, plant-based diet will provide all of the calcium you need.


3. “Chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs are healthy sources of protein.”

Chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs contain significant amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat, in many cases as much as beef,16 so they are not “heart healthy” foods. Plant-based sources of protein contain zero cholesterol and far less saturated fat. Chicken and turkey usually contain antibiotics, pesticides, and fecal contaminants, and have been associated with salmonella, staph, and other infectious disease outbreaks. Chicken, fish, and eggs have been associated with an increased risk of diabetes.17-25 Almost all fish contain mercury, which can cause neurologic and cognitive problems; many also contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a toxin associated with cancer.16 And a recent study showed that eggs cause intestinal bacteria to make a substance called TMAO, which can trigger heart attacks and other cardiovascular events.26

Whole plant foods supply plenty of protein, and they don’t come packaged with cholesterol or high levels of saturated fat. Instead, their protein is bundled with fiber and many necessary nutrients! Great plant-based sources of protein include lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, soybeans, and quinoa. Green vegetables such as spinach, collards, broccoli, and peas are also quite high in protein per calorie. But remember, it’s not necessary to seek out plant foods high in protein, since a varied whole-food, plant-based diet will naturally provide enough protein, without special effort.27

4. “I can’t eat carbs.”

Many people are mistakenly led to believe they should avoid carbohydrates, particularly for weight management and diabetes control. Instead, they focus on proteins — especially animal proteins — and fats. Sadly, this approach actually increases the risk of chronic disease and death,28-32 and it deprives people of the numerous nutrients found in carbohydrate-containing foods.
It is true, however, that not all carbohydrates are created equal. Refined, highly processed carbohydrates can raise triglycerides, promote weight gain, and drive up blood sugar. On the other hand, starches that come from whole grains bring fiber, essential fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, and protein into our diets and provide an excellent source of energy. Beans, legumes, starchy vegetables, and fruits are other healthy carbohydrate sources. Balancing these foods with nonstarchy vegetables is an optimal way to eat for weight loss, diabetes control, and reversal of heart disease.

5. “Healthy food is too expensive.”

You don’t need to shop at a gourmet health food store to find nutritious foods. Actually, some of the healthiest foods are the least expensive, and they are readily available at most grocery stores and many local farmers’ markets. Beans, lentils, brown rice, and frozen vegetables are usually inexpensive, especially when bought dried and in bulk. (Organic fruits and vegetables can cost more, but eating nonorganic plant-based foods is still more nutritious than eating meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy, organic or otherwise.)


Even when processed foods and animal products are sold cheaply, they are expensive in terms of the cost to your health. What you may save now, you could end up spending later in pharmacy co-payments and medical bills!

***

Michelle McMacken, M.D., is a board-certified internal medicine physician and an assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine.  She practices primary care at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City, where she also directs a medical weight-loss program.  An enthusiastic supporter of plant-based nutrition, she is committed to educating patients, medical students, and doctors about the power of healthy eating and lifestyle modification. Be sure to connect and follow Dr. McMacken on Twitter.




This article was previously published on Forks Over Knives.

***

References:
1 Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2002.
2 Rizzo NS, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Sabate J et al. Nutrient profiles of vegetarian and nonvegetarian dietary patterns. J Acad Nutr Diet 2013; 113(12):1610-9.
3Campbell TC, Campbell TM. The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health. Dallas: BenBella Books; 2006.
4 Barnard NB, Weissinger R, Jaster BJ, et al. Nutrition Guide for Clinicians, First Edition. Washington, DC: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; 2007.
5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2004.
6 Feskanich D, Willett WC, Colditz GA. Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption, and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 2003; 77:504-11.
7 Michaëlsson K, Wolk A, Langenskiöld S, et al. Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies. British Medical Journal2014;349:g6015.
8 Qin LQ, Xu JY, Wang PY, et al. Milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer: Meta-analysis of case-control studies. Nutr Cancer 2004; 48(1):22-7.
9 Qin LQ, Xu JY, Wang, PY, et al. Milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer in Western countries: Evidence from cohort studies. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2007; 16(3):467-76.
10 Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, et al. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study. Presentation, American Association for Cancer Research, San Francisco, April 2000.
11 Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, et al. Plasma insulin-like growth factor-I and prostate cancer risk: a prospective study. Science 1998; 279:563-565.
12 Genkinger JM, Hunter DJ, Spiegelman D, et al. Dairy products and ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 12 cohort studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006; 15:364–72.
13 . Ganmaa D, Sato A. The possible role of female sex hormones in milk from pregnant cows in the development of breast, ovarian, and corpus uteri cancers. Med Hypotheses 2005; 65:1028–37.
14 http://nutritionfacts.org/video/phytates-for-the-prevention-of-osteoporosis/
15 López-González AA, Grases F, Monroy N, et al. Protective effect of myo-inositol hexaphosphate (phytate) on bone mass loss in postmenopausal women. Eur J Nutr 2013; 52(2):717-26.
16 Simon, D. Meatonomics. San Francisco, Conari Press, 2013.
17Li Y, Zhou C, Zhou X, et al. Egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes: a meta-analysis. Atherosclerosis 2013; 229(2):524-30.
18 Djoussé L, Gaziano JM, Buring JE, et al. Egg consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women. Diabetes Care 2009; 32(2):295-300.
19 Radzevičienė L1, Ostrauskas R. Egg consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a case-control study. Public Health Nutr 2012; 15(8):1437-41.
20 Tonstad S, Butler T, Yan R, et al. Type of vegetarian diet, body weight, and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2009; 32(5):791–6.
21 Chiu TH, Huang H, Chiu Y. Taiwanese vegetarians and omnivores: dietary composition, prevalence of diabetes and impaired fasting glucose. PLoS One 2014; 9(2):e88547.
22 van Nielen M, Feskens EJ, Mensink M. Dietary protein intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes in Europe: the EPIC-InterAct Case-Cohort Study. Diabetes Care 2014; 37(7):1854-62.
23 van Woudenbergh GJ, van Ballegooijen AJ, Kuijsten A, et al. Eating fish and risk of type 2 diabetes: a population-based, prospective follow-up study. Diabetes Care 2009; 32:2021–6.
24 Kaushik M, Mozaffarian D, Spiegelman D, et al. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, fish intake, and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr 2009; 90:613–20.
25 Djoussé L, Gaziano JM, Buring JE, et al. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids and fish consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr 2011; 93:143–50.
26 Tang WH, Wang Z, Levison BS. Intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine and cardiovascular risk. N Engl J Med 2013; 368(17):1575-84.
27 Young VR, Pellett PL. Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr 1994; 59 (suppl):1203S-1212S.
28 Larsson SC, Orsini N. Red meat and processed meat consumption and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis. Am J Epidemiol 2014; 179(3):282-9.
29 Lagiou P, Sandin S, Lof M, et al. Low carbohydrate-high protein diet and incidence of cardiovascular diseases in Swedish women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 2012; 344:e4026.
30 Fung TT, van Dam RM, Hankinson SE, et al. Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: two cohort studies. Ann Intern Med 2010; 153(5):289-98.
31 Noto H, Goto A, Tsujimoto T, et al. Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. PloS One 2013; 8(1):e55030.

32 de Koning L, Fung TT, Liao X, et al. Low-carbohydrate diet scores and risk of type 2 diabetes in men. Am J Clin Nutr 2011; 93(4):844-50.

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Red lentil, Bulgur and Kale Patties

Later today I’m delivering a new talk called, The Facts and Fallacies of Fats at the New York Vegetarian Festival. 

So today’s post is short and sweet. 



This is a great new recipe I developed recently. Not only is it packed with nutrients and bursting with flavor, but it’s also great to pack and take along for a long day. I know I’ll have a few on me today at the Veg Fest!

This recipe calls for Bulgur wheat, but if you are following a gluten-free diet, it can easily be substituted with either quinoa or amaranth.



Red Lentil, Bulgur Wheat and Kale Patties
Makes 7-9 patties

1.5 cups of red lentils
1/2 cup of bulgur wheat (or quinoa or amaranth for gluten free)
1/3 cup of oats (either quick cooking or old fashioned)*
1 cup of kale, swiss chard or spinach - chopped
4 tbsps of canned diced tomato or tomato paste
1 clove garlic - minced
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
Small handful of fresh or 1 tsp of dried basil
1 tsp of dried tarragon or oregano
Lemon juice, ginger powder and black pepper to taste
5 cups of water or veggie broth

* get gluten-free oats if needed.

Start by boiling the red lentils in the water or broth for about 10 to 15 minutes. As the lentils begin to soften and break down, add the bulgur wheat, garlic, and spices and cook for another 10 minutes (if you are using fresh basil, save it until the end). The water in the pan should be almost completely absorbed.

Turn the heat to low and add the oats, diced tomatoes, and chopped greens. Stir until well combined. Add the lemon juice and fresh basil if you’re using it.

Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes or until the greens have softened and turned bright green.

Now pre-heat the oven to 375. Let the mixture sit while the oven pre-heats. This is important because you want to give the oats a chance to absorb any remaining liquid in the mixture. This will make the mixture start to stick together.

I recommend letting the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes.

Now line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon scoop out two tablespoons of the mixture and form into patties on the pan. If the mixture is too watery, they will not stick together, try adding more oats if this is an issue.

Once the patties are formed place in the oven and let cook for 15-18 minutes or until the patties start to brown on top. If you’d like you can flip the patties over at 12 minutes, but this isn’t necessary and increases the chance of the patties breaking apart.

I like to toss these on top of a large salad with lots of veggies, or just stick a few in a bag and take them with me for an easy on-the-go meal. They also make great burger replacements. Also try putting a tahini sauce on top.




As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Year Without Kale (and the best tofu scramble you’ve ever tried).

Before I explain the title, I want to say that I’m very excited to be speaking at the 5th Annual New York City Vegetarian Food Festival. I’ve attended each year in the past and having watched the event through its evolution, I can honestly say it has constantly gotten better. This year the speaker line up includes some of the countries foremost experts on fitness and nutrition including Dr. Joel Kahn, Rich Roll, and Sid Garza Hillman, among many others.

I will be presenting a talk called the “Facts and Fallacies of Fats.” The talk will examine the research on which fats are truly healthy, and how much fat our bodies actually need in an attempt to clarify a topic which has become increasingly confusing. I’m very excited for the opportunity, and look forward to seeing many of you there! I talk on Sunday afternoon so be sure to stop by and say hi!

Now, back to the title… A year without kale.


Wait? What!? Why?

Yes, it’s true; you’ve read that correctly. As some of you may know, I announced the other day that I’m about to make a large, life-altering change. It’s easily the biggest and scariest decision I’ve ever made, which is also what makes it so exciting.

At the end of April, I will be saying goodbye to my home in New York City and getting on a plane bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a one-way ticket in hand.



If you are curious as to why I would move to a city famous for it’s beef and it’s leather, it’s simple… my time in South America begins as many such adventures do… the pursuit of a beautiful woman.

Two Octobers ago, I met a woman at Jack Rabbit Sports Running Group. She is a doctor from Buenos Aires who was doing a month long observership at a New York hospital. We made an instant connection, and since then it’s been a wild ride of facetime phone chats and wonderful visits, which always seem far too short with far too much time in between. Anyway, we’ve now reach the point were it is time to take the next step.

But why a year without kale? Well, sadly, kale hasn’t caught on down in Argentina the way it has in the States, and it’s pretty hard to come by.  That said, I am being a little disingenuous, because we know of one market that has it on occasion, and I’ve also purchased over 1,000 seeds of different heirloom varieties, which I hope to grown on our balcony.

Now don’t worry, BYOL will continue and I’ll never be further than an email or skype message away from my readers in the States. During my time in Argentina, I plan on hosting some plant-based nutrition seminars and hope to work on some larger writing products. I will also continue the BYOL Nutrition & Wellness Counseling. And of course, I will be sharing many new recipes throughout the year!

Thank you to everyone for all of your continued support. It means more to me than I can adequately express.

***




Now for the reason you’re all really reading this post. The best tofu scramble you’ve ever tried!

I’ll do another post going through some of the questions and controversy about soy, but for now, know that whole sources of soy such as edamame, tempeh, and tofu can all be part of a balanced and health promoting diet.

That said, I always recommend purchasing organic soy products. I try not to be too much of a stickler about organics, because I don't want a plant-based diet to seem cost prohibitive. Soy, however, is a bit different, and to ensure you are getting a healthy, non-genetically modified product, organic is the way to go.

This tofu scramble is perfect for lazy weekend mornings or as a power dinner after a hard workout. But there are a few tricks to getting this just right.



Tofu Scramble:
Serves 2-3

½ block of organic tofu – drained and broken into small pieces
½ cup of quick cooking or old-fashioned oats (gluten free if desired)
4 – 5 stems of kale or spinach or any dark green
1 handful of fresh cilantro -chopped (optional)
½ avocado – cubed (optional)
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp Indian black salt* (aka kala namak)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Black pepper to taste

Roughly 2 cups of your favorite sautéed veggies: (try)
Broccoli
Bell pepper
Carrots
Mushrooms
Onion

* Black Salt is actually pink and is often found in Indian dishes. This is one of the secrets for the scramble, as the salt has a sulphur odor and taste that helps replicate the smell and taste of eggs. It will be found in almost any Indian market as well as online.



First, you need to make sure you drain the tofu well. You can easily do this with any number of tofu presses available for purchase. However, as a person who has been criticized for owning one too many kitchen gadgets, I’ve resisted making such a purchase. Instead I place the tofu on one plate and then place another plate (or two) on top of the tofu. I normally leave the tofu with the plates stacked on top of it for at least 30 minutes. This will help ensure you get all of the water out of the tofu. If you skip this step, your scramble will be watery.

While the tofu is being pressed, start chopping all of your chosen veggies. As I mentioned above you can make an endless amount of different combinations.

Once the tofu is done, use a fork to break it up into a mixing bowl. Add the spices and oats and mix well. Depending on the type of veggies I use, I normally add them to the bowl once the tofu and oats are well combined. If using the veggies above, consider keeping the greens as well as the onion and carrot to the side for now.

Now heat a pan and add the tofu and the veggies (consider adding the onion and carrot first to let them soften). Keep the greens, cilantro and avocado to the side for now. Stir the scramble frequently to prevent it from burning.

As the spice mix starts to cook into the tofu, the tofu will begin to turn a bright yellow color. Once this happens you can add the greens and cook until the greens begin to soften.


Serve and top with fresh cilantro and avocado and a piece of toasted Lentil Bread.  If you like, add hot sauce.



As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.