The Tantalizing Taste of Tahini

Aside from having a really fun name to say, Tahini is a pretty amazing and versatile vegan food. It adds creaminess to salad dressings, makes hummus smooth and adds a nutty flavor to any recipe you include it in.

For those of you who have yet discovered Tahini, here’s the scoop [pun intended!]:

What is it?
Tahini is ground up sesame seeds. You can get hulled, unhulled, raw and organic.

How is it made?
Sesame seed are soaked in water for a day, then crushed. The crushed seeds are put into salted water and the kernels that float are skimmed from the surface. These kernels are toasted in some cases, then ground to produce a paste. (There are speedier methods too.)

Why Should I Eat it?
It’s yummy! and a great source of calcium, protein, B vitamins, Vitamin E, Essential Fatty Acids (help to maintain healthy skin) and Methionine (the amino acid that helps your liver detox). You can see the full nutritional breakdown here.

My only ‘warning’ about Tahini is that a little goes a long way so only use a tablespoon in most cases. Otherwise, it will completely take over the taste of the dish you include it in and that’s no fun. Plus, since it is made up of mostly sesame oil and some recipes add olive oil, it’s best to use in moderation to keep your fat content to a reasonable level.

Even though Tahini is usually easy to find at your local store or online, you can make it yourself. There are lots of videos on YouTube that show various ways, but my favorite was the following since it includes fun facts, is entertaining and promotes a local nonprofit too!

What do you think? Do you like Tahini? Don’t hesitate – make that comment below!

Tamari or Soy Sauce?

I was recently asked why I use Tamari instead of Soy Sauce and I couldn’t answer. It had been a while since I made the switch and I knew it was for good reasons – just none that I could remember! So I promised to find out.

Here’s the scoop…

Soy Sauce:

  • Made from soy beans, wheat, water and salt; NOT gluten-free
  • Sharper taste
  • A product of China created ~2,800 years ago (wow!)
  • Looses most of its essential flavor (which are aromatic) when exposed to high temperatures
  • In some commercial brands, the soybeans are defatted with hexane; a petroleum derivative (ewh!)
  • Common production shortcuts include artificial fermentation methods using genetically engineered enzymes (double ewh!)

Tamari:

  • Made from soy beans, water and salt; gluten-free
  • Darker color and richer, smoother flavor
  • A product of Japan (evolved from soy sauce)
  • Retains its flavor after cooking
  • Has 37% more protein than soy sauce

I personally use Organic San-J Reduced Sodium Tamari. It contains 25% less sodium and is Certified Organic. According to their website, all of their Tamari is brewed for up to six months using traditional methods passed down for eight generations. They do not add MSG or artificial preservatives to any, and all are certified Kosher, Non GMO Project Verified and Certified Gluten-Free. Impressive!

So, now whenever I am asked in the future, I will be sure to remember the outstanding differences between the two and be able to confidently convince someone they are much better off consuming the obvious winner of this ancient competition – TAMARI!

I feel like taking an intimidating samurai stance with a corresponding scowl as I type this!

Maybe I’ll just stick with kickin’ butt in the kitchen. . .

Do you use Tamari, Soy Sauce or both? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Quinoa is the KeenWow Super Food!

While relatively new to the United States, quinoa has been cultivated in South America for over 5,000 years. The Incas considered it a sacred food and referred to it as the “mother seed.”

For the longest time I would say to myself “key-no-a” every time I saw the word ‘quinoa’. I knew it was wrong but I could never remember how to say the darn word since the spelling was a little funky. Since I have started eating it and using it as a base for lots of yummy recipes, I don’t have that problem.

Now, I just think ‘keenwow’ and I say it correctly without hesitation. It almost makes me feel like a part of some special group of veggies that have used it so much they don’t have to think about it anymore. Yeah me!

If you are not already aware of them, there are many reasons to think of Quinoa as KeenWow:

  • It contains more high quality protein than any other seed/grain
  • It is a complete, stand-alone protein; it provides all the essential amino acids in a balanced pattern
  • It contains no wheat or gluten
  • It is light, tasty and easy to digest
  • It is a nutrient powerhouse
  • It is quick and easy to prepare
  • It is low on the glycemic index and full of fiber

This video from Clean and Delicious with Dani Spies shows more reasons to love quinoa and also shows you how to buy and prepare it:

So don’t be afraid to pick some up off of the shelf at your local grocers just because you aren’t sure how to pronounce it or prepare it. That’s what this whole wannabe vegan thing is about right? Trying new things!

Do you have a great quinoa recipe? Please share below, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Say It Ain’t So Susan Sarandon!

Is anyone else as disappointed as I am in the latest round of milk commercials that are airing on TV?

They feature Susan Sarandon (and others) suggesting that you “Pour One More” serving of milk to be healthy.

Up to this point, I have seen Susan Sarandon as a wonderful example of an independent and empowered woman who makes wise decisions. She is brave, controversial and steadfast in her commitment to making the world a better place. So I was really perplexed and pissed off at her choice to participate in this campaign.

Does she really believe that cows milk is good for her and her children?

In an added twist of disgusting tactics, they have her say that kids are more likely to drink milk if they see their Mom drinking it. So it’s not enough that the California Milk Processor Board has been shoving the Got Milk? campaign down our throats for almost the last decade, they are now asking Mothers to up the quantity!

Does anyone see the irony in asking mothers to promote a product that has to be stolen from a mama cow and her babies in order to be consumed by humans?

Before I start ranting endlessly, I want you to see this

or read the info here, here or here.

It will help you understand the TRUTH about milk.

Now I realize that Susan Sarandon doesn’t give a flying leap what I think of her and she will likely never see this post, but my hope is that it will offset some of the misinformation out there and help everyone to understand more about what this campaign and the dairy industry is really about.

Have you seen the commercial? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, Facebook or Twitter.

Help the Hens in Battery Cages by Replacing Your Eggs

According to the American Egg Board, the U.S. produces about 75 billion eggs per year. That enormous amount is being produced by the more than 325 million egg laying hens confined in battery cages (small wire cages stacked in tiers and lined up in rows inside huge warehouses). Those shockingly high figures only represent 10% of worldwide egg production. Of course, this kind of massive production is in response to demand. Fortunately, demand is something we all have control over when making food choices for ourselves and our families.

My food choices became much easier for me a few years ago when I realized that I was eating an embryo of another animal when I was eating an egg. I distinctly remember the moment when I cracked an egg to discover 2 yolks and immediately had the image of twins in my mind. I realized that each egg I had eaten could have been a living thing if the natural course of events would not have been interrupted by an industry who knew I would buy what they were selling. Anyone else have the Incredible Edible Egg tune in their head right now?

So if you are disturbed by my last post and do not want to contribute to the suffering of animals, a seemingly small yet amazingly effective change you can make is to reduce or eliminate eggs from your diet. To make this a simple and easy decision, I wanted to give you some wannabe vegan options that are readily available, much healthier and guilt-free.

Each one of the following is equivalent to one egg:

  • 1/4 cup plain silken or soft organic tofu ( non-organic is made from GM soy)
  • 1 organic banana (assuming the flavor goes well with the rest of the ingredients)
  • 1/4 cup organic applesauce or pureed prunes (you may want to add 1/2 tsp baking powder to offset the heaviness of the fruit)
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground organic flax seed in 3 Tbsp. water (my personal favorite for baking)

If you are looking to replace egg whites in a recipe:

  1. 1 egg white = 1 Tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again

There are also a lot of pre-made egg replacements you can buy at the grocery but I avoid using them. They have a lot of what I consider unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients because they need to be preserved in order to be shipped and sit on store shelves. It doesn’t make sense to me to replace something unhealthy with something potentially even more unhealthy because of convenience.

So, please take some small steps in the direction of compassion by using less or no eggs in your diet. I, along with all of the future hens who will be saved because of the reduction in demand, will be forever grateful.

If you want to learn more about hens in factory farms, please visit:

If you would like to see more statistics about egg production and consumption, the USDA website has very up-to-date reports and tables you can download.

Let me know if you have any thoughts and/or suggestions about egg production or using egg replacements in the comments section below, on facebook or via twitter.

What happens when you eat too much protein?

As a follow up to my last post, I thought I would elaborate on what can happen to your body when you consume too much protein.

If you take in more protein than your body needs:

  1. you are also taking in more nitrogen so your kidneys have to work overtime to expel the extra urea and ketones through your urine. The additional strain over a long period of time may cause kidney disease.
  2. you are more prone to being dehydrated and mineral deficient (mostly calcium) since the process of expelling the extra protein leaches these from your system. This may lead to osteoporosis and kidney stones.
  3. you are more likely to development food allergies because the stress on your digestive system to rid itself of the extra protein can make you more susceptible
  4. by consuming animal protein, you are more prone to obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer because of the high cholesterol, natural carcinogens and absence of fiber in meat and dairy products. Processed meat ‘foods’ are the worst.

Symptoms of too much protein include:

  1. Headaches
  2. Body aches
  3. Mucous production when you eat
  4. Food allergies
  5. Bone and tooth decay
  6. Arthritis (high uric acid levels eat away at the cartilage in joints)

So what should everyone do to make sure they are getting enough, but not too much protein? First, get a good mix of proteins by eating a variety of foods. Eat a diverse and balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, bean, nuts, and whole grains to give your body what it needs. Second, exercise and drink lots of water. This will help your kidneys flush waste out of your system more effectively. Third, make sure you are getting enough calcium. Good, whole food sources of calcium are sesame seeds, spinach, and collard greens.

Balance is what is all about. So with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, be sure to remember to be gentle with your body and eat in moderation so that you will be healthy enough to be grateful in the coming year.

Let me know if you have any thoughts and/or suggestions about eating too much protein in the comments section below, on facebook or via twitter.