What is mole anyway?

“What is mole? Mole generically means “sauce”. Modern mole is a mixture of ingredients from three continents, North America, Europe and Africa, making it the first international dish created in the Americas. Moles come in various flavors and ingredients, with chili peppers as the common factor. The ingredients are all roasted and ground into a fine powder or paste depending on the ingredients used. This roasting and grinding process is extremely laborious and if done by hand, takes at least a day. Traditionally, this work was shared by several generations of women in the family, but after the arrival of electric mills, it became more common to take the ingredients to be ground. Moles made in families are all different, as each has had its own varieties passed down for generations, with the making of it reserved for special events in large batches.” (From Wikipedia)

I first had enchiladas al mole when I lived in Eugene, OR. There is a large Mexican population there so the restaurants are amazing, and my dear friend Mario (and his wife Jenny) used to treat me to his mole and homemade salsa while we listened to salsa music from all over the world.  I’ll be serving this tasty sauce over a pinto bean burrito, with a side of MA’O Organic Farms Sassy Salad.

xoconusco

Learn more on the EVENT PAGE

or

Eventbrite - Mexican Pop-Up Dinner

Cookspace Hawaii

When my friend Ashley sold her share of Baby aWEARness, my space for cooking demos went “aloha”!  I was trying not to worry about this (even with all the people asking, “Why isn’t anything on your calendar?” when one day, Melanie Kosaka called me and let me know about her new business Cookspace Hawaii that was coming on-line in the spring of 2013. Holy Wow! What manifesting luck was that?!  I recently had my first class there, which was a private corporate bonding event, and this space simply a dream come true.  Hope you’ll come check it out on 3/17 when I teach my Go Green Cuisine cooking class!

 

Mexican Pop-Up Dinner

I’m really excited to include Madre Chocolate‘s Xoconusco chocolate in my next pop-up dinner (Vegan Mexican) featuring their chocolate in a mole sauce.  In case you haven’t heard about them yet, their chocolate is made “from bean to bar” in Kailua.  I’ve taken a farm tour with them to learn how they grow the cacao as well as attended a chocolate-making class and had a complete blast. Each time, I learn so much.  Listening to them talk about flavors in chocolate reminds me of wine tasting, or learning about subtle nuances in coffee roasting to create certain flavors.

madre chocolate

Find out more about the Pop-Up dinner here: http://www.macrobiotichawaii.com/event/veganmexican/

Photos of 1/24 Pop-up Dinner

Here are some photos taken by various people from the pop-up dinner on 1/24 at Taste.  Thanks to everyone who attended. It was so much fun.

(Various photos by Amanda Corby, Kaimana Pine, Melissa Chang, Megumi Kurachi)

Healthy Cooking: Easier, More Affordable, and More Fun than You Think!

The What

Whole foods are unprocessed and unrefined and come to us from as close to the source as possible.  In contrast, processed foods are genetically modified, colored, made by synthetic means, or laden with hormone additives. White flour, sugar, white rice, most cold cereals, crackers, and packaged foods are processed, for example, and even the things we tend to buy in Costco out of convenience more often than not have a long list of chemicals, preservatives, and additives.  In contrast, think quinoa, brown rice, and other whole grains; a wide variety of fresh organic or minimally processed fruits and vegetables; beans and bean products; nuts; seeds; and natural sweeteners.  Food is medicine!

The Why

Our health (and that of our families) is compromised every time we open a microwaveable meal, a cake mix, or a processed packaged food. In contrast, when we eat a nutritious and balanced whole foods diet, we are likely to experience a wide range of health benefits – better sleep, improved mood, easier weight management, more energy and the alleviation of a wide variety of lifestyle related illnesses.

The environment: environmental health is also being negatively impacted by industrial food practices

But…. “It’s so expensive.” “I don’t have time.” “It’s too difficult.” “I don’t know how.”

$$ Buy in bulk, buy dry goods like grains and beans, grow your own, cook and eat at home as much as possible. Think about it.  How much do you spend on coffee and sugary treats to give yourself energy, aspirin to combat headaches, alcohol or sleeping pills to relax and sleep, or to purchase medication for illness?” What about the cost of a very serious illness?  How do you put a value on quality of life?  How much do you spend to do other things? How much of your money is spent on things that you don’t really need?  Did you know that lentils and brown rice cost about $1.25 per meal on average?!

  • How much of your time is spent online? Watching TV? What if cooking this way is easier than you currently think? Are you willing to explore a new belief?

The How

Rather than focusing on what you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” eat, try adding something new into your diet as often as you can.  Buy a new cookbook.  Take a cooking class. Cook with a friend.  Find strategies to make things easier for yourself, like cooking large pots of soup and freezing it for later, or packing your lunch the night before if you have to leave early in the morning.  The benefits are so worth it!

Soy Takes The Heat

I consistently run into people these days who are truly scared and unwilling to eat tofu!   This concerns me as it’s an excellent protein source and Asian countries that consume tofu and other soy products have low rates of breast cancer in particular. Further, I worked for 3 years at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii in Natural Products and Cancer Biology with a specialist who investigates soy isoflavones.  While I was there, I did numerous literature reviews and attended talks on this topic, the vast majority of which suggest that soy is health supportive. (I also have about 5 publications on which I’m a co-author that you can search for in the . I have no vested interest in posting this. I’m not getting paid by anyone!)

From the macrobiotic point of view, I would definitely say that quality and quantity are important.  The basic premises of macrobiotics include focusing your diet on ingredients that are local, organic, seasonal, and having plenty of variety.

What type of soy might you be eating, and how much of it? If you’re consuming isolated soy protein, burgers, TVP, sausages, mock chicken or other mock meats, soy cream cheese, soy sour cream, soy yogurt, and other items like that, although they are vegan, they are not whole foods so are best limited or avoided.  Processed foods are not health supportive.  If you look at the ingredients in those particular food items, you’re going to most likely see a variety of other items that are hard to pronounce.  In addition, if they’re not organic, they are pretty much almost guaranteed to be genetically modified.

In contrast, we need to look at how traditional cultures have consumed soy.  In this category I would include traditionally made and organic shoyu (soy sauce), tempeh, natto, miso, and tofu.

Here’s a great article that was published in the Dec 2011 Vegetarian Times on p24 that goes through some of the current research on this issue.

For inspiration, here’s a photo of the oven-baked tofu I just made:

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Ask the Doc

Soy Takes the Heat

Is this legume safe to eat?

Soy Takes the Heat

By Neal D. Barnard, MD

Q: I’ve heard that soy has estrogens in it. Is that good or bad?

A: Soybeans contain compounds known as isoflavones, whose chemical structure is similar to human estrogens; these similarities cause speculation that soy products might have hormonal effects?feminizing men or increasing cancer risk in women, for example. Such concerns have been put to the test. The results show no negative effects from soy on men’s hormonal function; soy does not interfere at all with testosterone or sperm production.

As for cancer risk, several research teams have tracked the dietary habits of people who’ve developed cancer and those who’ve remained cancer-free; compiling the results of these studies in 2008, researchers at the University of Southern California found that women who ate a daily serving of soy products had about a 30 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer, compared with women who consumed very little soy. (A serving is approximately 1 cup of soymilk, 1/2 cup of tofu, or a similar amount of other soy products.) So a modest amount of soy eaten regularly may actually reduce the risk that breast cancer will occur.

Moderate intake may also boost survival in women who’ve been treated for breast cancer. The Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study followed 5,042 breast cancer survivors for four years. Those who ate two daily servings of soy were about 30 percent less likely to have a cancer recurrence or cancer death, compared with those who avoided soy.

Q: Does soy cause thyroid problems?

A: Not according to the evidence. But if you’re hypothyroid?, meaning your thyroid gland acts sluggish, ?be aware that soy products can reduce the absorption of thyroid supplements. If you take these medicines, your health care provider can check if your dose needs to be adjusted.

Q: How can I tell if I am allergic to soy?

A: Like other allergies, a reaction to soy can manifest with hives, flushing, itching, runny nose, or wheezing that occurs shortly after exposure. An allergy can also cause local symptoms, such as swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat, and digestive upset, including abdominal pain and diarrhea. Some people can tolerate modest amounts of soy, and react only when they get too much. In rare cases an allergy can be life-threatening, a condition called anaphylaxis.

Most children with soy allergy outgrow it. But the opposite can occur too. A person can develop an allergy to a food that caused no problem previously.

Doctors can easily check for a soy allergy with skin testing and specialized blood tests. But if you think you might be allergic to soy, you can simply avoid it for a few weeks and notice if your symptoms improve. If so, you can challenge yourself with it later on and see if your symptoms return. Do not try this if your allergy symptoms are severe.

Q: Can I be getting too much soy?

A: Not so far as we know, but there’s some benefit in favoring minimally processed soy products; and tempeh are tops, followed by soymilk and tofu. Producing meat substitutes often means extracting and concentrating soy protein, so you’??re getting further away from the bean that nature intended.

Today’s Inspiration

Monday wasn’t the best day for me, but my father always says, “Get a good night’s sleep. Things will look different the following day.”  Hearing his voice, I went to bed early and when I got up on Tuesday and went outside, the first thing I saw was my orchid had bloomed in triplicate!  So beautiful!  It really was a great way to start the day.

Other simple pleasures of the day came from a phone call from two people who were  updating me about their lives, expressing their happiness, growth, and changes.  The personal connection and time spent sharing stories as well as celebration of another person’s success was very healing.

Later, I went  grocery shopping to restock on staple items and things to cook with this week. For some reason, I’ve been thinking about Turkey, a country I’ve never been to yet, but would really love to see at some point.  While I was grocery shopping, I was thinking about Mediterranean food, so picked up a variety of things that sounded good such as olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, local cucumbers and tomatoes, and artisan quality fig walnut bread.

These were transformed into “mezze” for my meal, and for dessert, some lilikoi that a friend shared with me from her garden along with a little bit of dark chocolate.  She gave me baby plants that popped up out of her yard, and at long last they are fruiting, so my own will be ripe very soon.

All of the small stuff brightened my day!

 

Benefits of Cooking and Eating at Home

The magazine Whole Living reports that when women who are trying to lose weight eat meals they’ve made at home (especially lunch), they drop 5 pounds a year more than women who eat out. Those who eat regular meals every day lost 8 pounds more. (This is probably true for men as well given that restaurants in general tend to add a lot of fat, salt, and sugar to their food to make it taste better.)

Here’s an example of a quick, easy, and healthy meal that I made after the Thanksgiving holiday to carry to the beach. It’s a chilled soba noodle salad with tofu, veggies (like cilantro, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and wakame), with peanut sauce.  This is as simple as boiling the noodles, chopping the vegetables, and mixing together the ingredients for the dressing!

Holiday Cooking Class (a few select photos)

Here are a few images of the food from today’s side dishes class.

The menu was:

Holiday Rice
Artichoke and Heart of Palm Salad
Pumpkin Coconut Bisque
Christmas Parsnip Soup
Sweet Potato Casserole with Mapled Pecans
Oven Baked Squash

Also the second side dishes class included: Cranberry Chutney; Green Beans w/Pumpkin Seed Dressing; Mashed Potatoes w/Shiitake Gravy; Olive, Onion, Walnut Pan Bread; Brussels Sprout Salad.

Apple Pie is on the dessert menu ?