Tofu, fact or fiction? To eat or not to eat?

The other day I got a new vegan cookbook from the library and as I browsed through it, I saw that many of the recipes used the ultimate meat and dairy substitute: tofu. My uncle introduced me to tofu when I was around 14, a year before I became vegetarian, as he would put it in his veggie and rice dishes. I fell in love with how you could make it taste as good as any meat. So I inhaled tofu throughout high school and college when I was a full on vegetarian. Now that I am becoming a vegetarian again as a late 20’s adult, I’ve educated myself much more about nutrition and I have some things to say about tofu.

So many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks praise tofu, as does the book I am currently  reading titled, “The 30-day vegan challenge,” by Colleen Patrick Goudreau.

The first time I heard that tofu was bad for you and considered a filler food, I was pissed and skeptical because the person who said it sported a pot belly and didn’t seem to know anything about health. But after reading the same thing from Ani Phyo’s books, I thought twice about it. Was the pot belly girl right?

Ani Phyo references a book called “The Whole Soy story,” by Kaayla Daniel.

Apparently the difference in the way soy is made is fermentation vs. processing. In Asia, soy is fermented to eliminate anti-nutrients and soy toxins in raw soy beans. But in America, soy is processed and not fermented, failing to remove anti-nutrients and toxins that are naturally present in soy beans. Most American soy is genetically modified and the soy crop grown in the USA contains the highest levels of poisonous pesticide contaminants.

WHAT?!!

My precious soy and tofu are highly processed and bad for me?

Is that why food companies are advocating soy products? To kill us with our seemingly evolved knowledge of healthy food and eating? The same corporations that brought Agent Orange are now the driving forces behind the promotion of soy as food for humans.

I tried to find the book, “The Whole Soy Story,” at the library–two libraries. No dice.

But…I did find a bunch of reviews on the book that support the book as well as reviews that don’t support the book.

People seem to be really into soy due to research done that compared Asian diets to American diets and it was found that Asians have fewer heart attacks, less breast and prostate cancer, fewer hip fractures, and the women report fewer hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, because they eat soy. But is that the only reason reason? Maybe it also has to do with the fact that the soy in Asia is good for you because it is fermented and the soy in America is not because it is processed.

All that aside, I don’t think there is one food product that is the magic solution to all the ailments our bodies may face here in America. Do people think that if they eat so much soy they will not get a heart attack? Of course if you have soy instead of dairy, it’s better. If you drink something other than pasteurized cow’s milk, your health will improve. If you stop eating hormone-injected animals, your health will improve. I don’t believe that soy is the answer or the only solution.

Hearing what I have about soy I’ve definitely thought twice about eating tofu. I look at soy and tofu like a protein. Finding other sources of protein is what my mission is. If American soy is bad, then I can eat other things to get my protein. And you can have a variety of nut or hemp mylks rather than soy milk.

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Leave your friends alone

So I was listening to Louise Hay’s audio book, You Can Heal Your Life 4 CD Set by Hay. Louise L. ( 2004 ) Audio CD again. I reference that book a lot because I listen to it on my Ipod when I take breaks at work and I always hear new things that I feel are important for me to hear. I put my Ipod on shuffle and I often hear the same tracks from the book over and over again. I feel like I’m just meant to hear certain things. I love the shuffle function for that reason, almost like the universe is speaking to me through my Ipod.

Anyway, so there’s a track that talks about mirroring and focusing on yourself rather than focusing on others. Louise Hay straight out says, “leave your friends alone.” She says that we want to fix others before we fix ourselves. She says that you can’t change anyone. If you want to change the people around you, you must start with changing yourself. After hearing that, I just have become more aware of how the people around us are really mirrors of ourselves and we can’t change others. We can only change ourselves.

This track or chapter from Louise Hay’s book really resonated with me because this whole trying to change others has been true for me up until I came here to Arizona. I used to have a need to fix others or at least try. I would see people who seemed in bad situations and feel like I had to help them. I had an alcoholic friend who I tried to help out with nutrition and yoga who ended up drinking alcohol while doing the lemonade cleanse and ending up in the hospital. I had another nutball friend who had just gotten out of rehab. I’ll never forget taking her to her first Bikram Yoga class and waiting for her to finish smoking a cigarette around 30 minutes before the class began.

Boy was that exhausting. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t change them. Now that I’m here on my own, I have no choice but to focus on myself but sometimes I think about helping people. I just can’t help it. Most of my jobs up until now have been in the non-profit sector helping people but did I ever focus on myself or my own creative endeavors? No. I like to help people, I like to make a difference but there came a point when I realized I had to take care of myself first.

The last time I tried to help a friend it was because she asked me. She asked me what she could eat to lose weight and stop having so much gas in her stomach. So, I invited her over my mom’s house and we prepared two salads and a pasta dish. I didn’t want to scare the crap out of her by going all raw so I added the pasta dish so she would have something familiar to her.

I think the problem with that experience was that I didn’t have a plan. I kinda got together with my mom that afternoon before my friend came over and we decided on what we thought we should make. By the end of it, I don’t think my friend really enjoyed the food. The thing is, I have thought about coming up with a diet plan for her ever since that day…But I started thinking, maybe I won’t come to her with this diet plan. I’ll just write it out and experiment on myself. I mean, what better test subject than myself? I’ll just leave my friends alone and focus on me.  Maybe those people were in my life before because I had a need to fix messed up people. Now I think my need is to really focus on myself, rather than others. There’s always room for improvement. I need structure and guidance just as much as anyone else. That’s why I did the Ani Phyo raw cleanse in the first place. I needed the structure. Now that it’s over, I find myself wanting to take from different recipes and authors that I’ve read, tried, or want to try and come up with my own plan, one that is more familiar to people who are transitioning from eating Taco Bell to cooking or preparing their own meals. Dairy-free, meat-free, and inexpensive. This is the task at hand.

I use helping others as my inspiration but inevitably I have to leave them alone and not focus on pushing an alternative lifestyle on anyone. I will get prepared and if anyone comes to me, I will be ready to help.

Day 21 of 21

Ahhh! It’s here. I think the theme of the day is “let it go.” I went to work today and on the way there some funky stuff happened. My car wouldn’t start so I had to borrow my mom’s car to get to work and on the way to work there was some road work going on that delayed my freeway exit and I forgot my work badge in my car so I couldn’t get in right away and was late. But you know what? I could’ve got pissed and angry, but I didn’t. I just told myself to let it go.

And in the spirit of letting things go, today is the last day of my Ani Phyo raw food cleanse. I’ve gone through 21 days of raw food shakes, soups, salads, wraps, nuts, seeds, miso, avocados, withdrawals, cravings, slip-ups, and will power. And now that this day is coming to an end, I now let go of this experience but remain inspired and motivated to continue eating this beautiful, tasty, nutritious food. Why wouldn’t I want to feel amazing beyond 21 days? I learned so much about my body and being in my body and what foods make my body feel really good and really bad.

During the last day of the cleanse, you can eat any shake, soup, salad, or dinner you would like. So I’ve basically used the ingredients I had to make the Banana shake, Easy being green salad variation, and tonight I plan on making the Kreamy Chipotle Dressing and eating that with salad and the cashew pate to go inside of a collard wrap with cucumber and avocado. I don’t have the scallions so I’ll just have to do without.

So now that the cleanse is pretty much over, what is coming next? Plenty. I’m going to Los Angeles two weekends in a row for my best friend’s birthday and a wedding so you know I may re-tox myself a bit. Just being in Los Angeles alone, re-toxing comes with the territory 😉 Just playing, well sort of. I’m not hating on Los Angeles and the pollution or party atmosphere since you’ll find that anywhere. L.A. is my hometown and I love it to pieces.  My favorite Bikram Yoga instructor Loren Cherrstrom used to say “detox to retox” and people in class would always laugh because anyone can relate to that. No one is perfect or shall I say, we are all perfect in our imperfections :). Good thing about Bikram Yogis is that it doesn’t take much to get us drunk or full. And toxifying yourself isn’t always alcohol related. We toxify ourselves by eating too much bread, sugars, processed foods or if you are in Los Angeles of NY, just breathing in the air. I may just do a little bit of that while I’m in Los Angeles but you know when I come back I’m planning another detox. And you know which one that will be?

The Master Cleanse a.k.a The Lemonade Diet.

Yup. One of the wildest, craziest most effective detox diets I’ve ever heard of and tried. Now this cleanse is a real spiritual journey since there is NO EATING involved. This really is about cleansing not just the mind but the spirit and if you want to know more about it check out Stanley Burrough’s book “The Master Cleanser: with special needs and problems,” or “The Complete Master Cleanse: a Step-by-step guide to mastering the benefits of the lemonade diet,” by Tom Woloshyn. This diet I plan on doing in mid August for just ten days. There are some people who go 30 or 60 days. I don’t know about that one. Stanley Burroughs suggests doing the Master Cleanse four times a year rather than 60 days straight. He says in his book, “The Master Cleanser,” that it is recommended to do the cleanse a minimum of 10 days, so that’s what I’m going to do. 10 days, no more, no less. I already did this cleanse once back in February so I know I’m due for another one.

And I just want to say thank you to all the people who have joined me on this journey by following my blog. I have felt so inspired by your energy and interest in my writing topics. I am truly inspired to keep going because of you. It is my passion to share my research, knowledge, struggles, breakthroughs, and love of health with all who are interested.

Day 19 of 21

What do I love to do on my day off? Cook, experiment with recipes I’ve been reading about, watch the Food Network. Today is Friday, and I have two more days on the cleanse. I feel inspired to stay raw this time around after the cleanse is over. This is the first time in my life where I feel really safe and organized because I moved away from everything I knew and now spend a great majority of my day being productive, focusing on my health, my career, and what I love. Going on a cleanse has made my body super sensitive. It was already sensitive from doing Bikram Yoga but now it’s really sensitive. I didn’t used to get stomach aches eating bread or chips but now I do. I think I was supposed to experience days where I cheated by eating carbs so I could see just how awful my body feels when I eat food that is cooked or processed.

I think what I love the most about the cleanse is just how sensitive my system has become. Health is not a game. Good health is something we may or not be born with but I think there is no such thing as a genetic predisposition towards being fat, prone to any certain diseases or addictions. People develop sickness due to what they believe and the environments they are around. Yea, maybe if you grow up in a toxic family full of toxic thoughts and behaviors, then you will be prone to getting diseases that manifest in the body as a result of the toxic nature of the family’s thoughts and actions. Trust me, I was born into a family full of toxicity and I hung out with people who were toxic because it’s what I knew. I was pretty chubby growing up because I was fearful. In Louise Hay’s book “You can heal your life,” she has a list of ailments and the reasons why they occur, along with affirmations you can use to create new thinking that will change you and heal the ailment.

Carrying excess weight means that you are trying to get protection and you don’t feel like you are safe. That makes complete sense to me. When I was a kid, I was always scared so I put on excess weight. I didn’t feel I was okay. You can diet and exercise all you want, but if you don’t change those fundamental thoughts that made you so sick, then you aren’t going to change.

I’ve been working hard to change with diet, exercise, and affirmations. I had gained thirty pounds in a few years but now I’ve nearly lost all that weight because I changed my mind and stopped doing things out of fear. I set my affirmations hourly and read them off my phone. It’s worked for me. I knew there was something better out there for me and for all people. We are meant to operate from love and when we do that, everything else just falls away. We don’t need anything else that isn’t love.

I don’t need to eat any food out there that isn’t made with love. Raw food is made with love. It hasn’t been processed for extended shelf life so that some company can continue to manufacture their crap product on a massive scale. That’s what I think of when I think of how processed foods are created and for what purpose. If it doesn’t grow, then someone made it. Did they make it with love? Did some poor animal have to suffer or die for me to eat it and is this food going to truly nourish my body or is it going to make me sick with disease?

Anyway, these are my thoughts for today as I embrace the weekend. I have to find my camera so I can take some pictures of the awesome dishes I’ve made during this cleanse. Once, I find it I’ll update.

Day 18 of 21

With the weekend approaching, I am super excited to have some days off work and I am so close to finishing this cleanse, it makes me giddy. Last night before I went to bed, I made the raw brownies for today’s snack. What I did differently was I put the batter inside of cupcake tins with cupcake liners because I knew I wanted to take some to work to have as an afternoon snack. And I also wanted to make them cute and travel friendly for my mom as well since she seemed very interested in trying them out.

With most raw food desserts, the texture can be crumbly. I found that the brownies held together best inside of the cupcake liners. I did my best to make sure the batter was moist enough by adding a few splashes of water in addition to the sticky dates.  Putting the brownies in the refrigerator overnight helped as well. They are still pretty crumbly but oh well. That’s what you get when you don’t have milk and hydrogenated oils holding everything together for you. I feel much better eating these and in using the cacao powder, you still get a nice chocolately taste.

Well, my mom and her coworkers loved the brownies. I am so excited to share raw food with people and have them enjoy it as much as I do. It will make them want to eat and explore more. Also because I love cooking for people and sharing food. Since I’ve been exploring raw foods, I experiment with so many different ingredients and recipes. When I get to cook or shall I say prepare food for people, they can see how easy it is to make, how good it tastes, and how well eating this food makes them feel.

Day 15 of 21

Phase 3 is in full effect. It has to be said that the Kreamy Chipotle Dressing is orgasmic. I thought I loved the Thermo Dressing but this one is competing for my taste buds’ affections.

The Kreamy Chipotle dressing consists of pre-soaked cashews (1 cup), 1/2 cup water, 1 tbs miso paste, 1/2 tsp chipotle chiles. Goodness. The title of Kreamy is with a K on purpose, just to note. All the vegan mock creamy dishes use a K instead of a C on the word Cream or Kream. And the Kreamy Chipotle dressing goes over the lunch salad consisting of romaine, 2 tbs diced celery, 1/4 cup red bell pepper, and nutritional yeast.

Wasn’t too impressed with the Vanilla-Blueberry Shake. What’s cool about the dinner for today is you finally get to have zucchini noodles with raw marinara sauce. Now, I’m very excited for these noodles because I’ll be using the spiralizer to make them. Last time I did this cleanse I just used kelp noodles that I bought from the Asian market in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo arts district. Kelp noodles are from the sea, crunchy and packed with protein. Since I’m in Arizona now and don’t know where to find an Asian market that has kelp noodles, I’ll just make my own.

The spiralizer is a very cool gadget that makes noodles out of almost any vegetable. Zucchinis work best since they are long and pliable. It’s just crazy. Obviously  zucchini or kelp noodles aren’t like regular pasta noodles but have a similar consistency that is satisfying enough to trick your brain into believing you are having pasta since the mouth feel is reminiscent of a pasta noodle. But what is mostly satisfying is the marinara sauce which uses tomatoes, oregano, rosemary, lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt all blended together and just poured over the noodles.

I love this Phase and I love that my mom has a Vitamix. I was planning on buying one but for now hers will do. This is the essential blender for making raw food sauces, ice creams, soups, shakes, etc. When I did the cleanse last year I used my roomates’ cheepo blender that eventually sounded horrible because of my overuse. A Vitamix is fully equipped to chop up nuts and seeds and pulverize food into a pulp if so desired. The Vitamix really made the Kreamy Chipotle Dressing happen today. I know it can be a little expensive but you would save money buying the Vitamix once since it has a lifetime warranty rather than buying a bunch of blenders that will break down due to raw food preparation. My old roomates’ blender sounded awful and almost seemed like it was smoking sometimes when I would use it.  Anyway, just wanted to share that as well. I’m just so excited for  Phase 3. We get to use the food processor in this phase as well and have dessert later in the week 🙂

Day 14 of 21

English: Ani Phyo
English: Ani Phyo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes! It’s the end of the second week. I finally get to go through Phase 3. I have to be honest in saying that repeating Phases 1 and 2 twice can be redundant. Ani Phyo suggests repeating Phase 1 and 2 if you want to lose more weight. And I feel like I’ve been successful in that endeavor despite the little carb mishaps. I can fit into my old shorts again. I haven’t worn those bad boys in years. I have to say that this weight loss hasn’t been only due to this cleanse, but exercising as well. The two go hand in hand but diet is really important. You can’t have one without the other.

One thing I think is helpful when staying on track with this is to let everyone know what you are doing so that they can be supportive in either joining you or knowing better than to offer you things or invite you out to dinner. I don’t like to look at this cleanse as being restrictive when in reality it is. There’s something about focusing on restrictions that I find relates to the law of attraction. The more we focus on what we don’t want, the more we get of it. I think if we focus on what we can’t have then we will want more of it. I think it’s better to focus on what we have and what we can eat when doing a cleanse so that we can understand how we are feeding our bodies positively with the clean, simple foods that are on our menu.

Anyway, I’m pretty excited about having food other than salads, shakes, and soups during Phase 3. I’m so looking forward to the pates and wraps and the raw brownie dessert. I’ll add a photo of that once I get there.

 

 

 

 

Day 12 of 21

Since I already completed Phase 1 and 2 of this cleanse once last week, I feel liberal with interchanging the recipes. That may not be the entirely correct way to go about this cleanse but I’m basically using what I have so it doesn’t go bad before I go out and buy the supplies for the last phase of the cleanse next week. You don’t want to miss out on the phase 3 recipes of the Ani Phyo fat blast cleanse. You get to make wraps, rolls, desserts, pate, zucchini noodles. Phase 3 is delicious, fulfilling, and so worth the wait.

Today I had the Strawberry Mint Shake which includes avocado, providing a very creamy consistency that tastes very much like strawberry yogurt without the dairy. Avocado is amazing in its versatility. It makes me want to cry with how simple and delicious it is. Whenever people ask what my favorite food is, I always say avocado. People go around saying, oh I like Italian, pizza, fried chicken, Sushi, etc. I just straight up say, avocado.

The first time I did the fat blast cleanse last year, whenever I would have cravings, I would look up raw food recipes online and watch raw food cooking videos on Youtube for inspiration. You can pretty much make any familiar dish using raw food ingredients. There are so many creative geniuses out there that will keep you inspired if you ever feel like falling off the wagon.

One of the recipes I enjoyed and eventually made was the avocado mousse which uses avocado as the cream base, carob or cacao powder for the chocolate flavor as well as agave for sweetness and vanilla or almond extract for a nice kick to bring out the chocolate flavor. This is such a delicious recipe by raw food author and chef, Jennifer Cornbleet. She is such a spunky woman who has a great speaking voice. You can find more of her recipes at http://www.learnrawfood.com.

And watch her video for the chocolate mousse tart at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsP3E73bAJw

People love to badger vegetarians by asking them how they get their protein. Avocados! I trip out on people sometimes when they seem to be so concerned with the fats in avocados and nuts, like eating these natural sources of protein is such a crime and ingesting them will make you fatter than oh, a hormone injected fat pig or cow carcass would.

But anyway, it’s the middle of the day. I had the Easy Being Green Salad which consists of greens, tomatoes, sauerkraut, capers, fresh corn, and avocado. It’s really not as dry as you might think. The sauerkraut and avocado make it moist and flavorful. I wasn’t much of a fan of sauerkraut before but now that I’ve read about it, I understand that due to its fermentation, sauerkraut is used on this cleanse to clean out your stomach and improve your digestion so that you can better absorb the nutrients from your food and  release all the built up crap in your stomach.

This cleanse is all about probiotics and fermented food such as sauerkraut, capers, miso, apple cider vinegar. Good stuff. And my favorite “yoga beer,” otherwise known as kombucha , that is also a fermented beverage. I had a yoga instructor who called it that. Forget soda, man. Kombucha is just as good, and of course better for you.

I once thought about going to a party with a six pack of kombucha. It is said you can get drunk off kombucha. One day I’ll try that. Maybe.

Day 11 of 21

Alright! 10 more days to go and this cleanse will be complete. Today involved eating a Ginger Mango Shake for breakfast and as a snack. When I was at work I had the Spring Sauerkraut Salad with Thermo Dressing. Seriously, the Thermo Dressing is one of the best dressings I’ve ever had. When put over any bed of greens, it provides a superb flavor that totally eliminates any cravings one may have for junk food. Seriously, every time I eat this dressing over a salad, I forget completely about what I craved before. I become completely satiated physically and mentally. The thermo dressing is listed in Ani Phyo’s book “15 day fat blast” and it includes miso, raw soy sauce, ginger, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. It’s so refreshing and fulfilling, and full of nutrients. I am so proud to say that I finally bought Braggs Liquid Aminos raw soy sauce alternative. I used to buy the regular reduced sodium Kikoman brand and thought it was okay but really the Braggs has such a mild flavor and still has the taste of soy sauce without the head rush of sodium.

My uncle who was really into health food used to cook with raw soy sauce and I never knew it. Braggs totally reminds me of him and the dishes he used to make, like this one really good dish which consisted of brown rice with tofu, zucchini, and broccoli that he would simmer with raw soy sauce and garlic. Omg, this was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. My uncle is HIV positive and has been so for over twenty years. He was probably my biggest inspiration growing up in regards to health food. He always seemed so strong to me since he used to do so much for his health like work out fiercely and meditate daily as well as make juices and smoothies, and put veggies in everything. I remember as a kid being weirded out that he would put broccoli in all our food, even ramen. I didn’t get it then but I do now. Today, he doesn’t really eat like that anymore because I guess he’s going through some things mentally but I’ll never forget the way he inspired me growing up. I would love to include a bio about him in my inspirational people section. He really is an inspiration and would inspire anyone so they can see that eating the right food, meditating, and exercising really can keep you alive and healthier more so than medicine will keep you alive.

All tangents aside, I’m having the Red Pepper raw soup tonight. If you are interested in the recipes in the book “Ani’s 15-day fat blast,” by Ani Phyo, I can list them as I go on, or you can check out the book, which is so worth the buy. It makes eating raw so much easier and not such a foreign concept for hippies and eco vegans, since many of the recipes only include a few simple ingredients. The book utilizes staples like coconut oil, miso paste, and a variety of common fruits and veggies that you can find anywhere.

Day 11 is nearly over and I’m stoked about it. My uncle inspires me to go on even if he doesn’t eat this way anymore. There is always some inspiring person who leads the way and the rest of us will carry on the torch.

Day 8 of 21

Today I was at work, eating my Spicy Avocado soup in the breakroom and I saw two young girls eating hot cheetos and chips. As I observed their thin bodies and perfect skin, I started to think about age and metabolism and genes and all sorts of thinks went through my head. I’ve never been skinny, even when I was a kid but I lost weight when I became a vegetarian and modified my diet. I still ate crappy but I think avoiding meat will make you lose weight. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that I really can’t eat what I want anymore because I allowed myself to do that for a few years and I gained thirty pounds. Thirty pounds! But you know, now that I think about it, I had been a vegetarian from age 15 till 22 when I started eating chicken and other random meats. And over the course of about three years I gained that weight. I was around 25 at the time when I realized I was a heifer. I started to change my diet after I kept getting sick and had to go up in a pants size. I happened and I’ve been losing weight by doing Insanity, Bikram yoga, eating raw food. It’s been really rewarding but tough as hell.

I remember working out when I was around 19 or 20 years old and I used to eat weird stuff like whipped cream and chips for dinner. lol. and I never gained weight. But now, I’m almost 30 and I gain weight so easily and break out easily when I eat cheese or drink alcohol. Is this what we have to look forward to as we age? Well, maybe that’s the case now that I eat better and my system is sensitive?

Anyway, Day 8 has been cool. I can’t wait for phase 1 to be over so I can have salads again and then I will make note of the most awesome dishes in Phase 3 that really make you want to be and stay raw.