The Mind Diet
The right diet
makes you healthy. But what about "mental junk food" -- stress, pain and
Vegetarian Organic Life talks a lot about diet -- how to get rid of the bad
food and bring in the good.
For total health, a parallel
process needs to happen with our minds. We need to learn how to put our
minds on a diet, getting rid of harmful, recurring thoughts and emotions
and replacing them with constructive, healthful mental activity.
What's on the menu?
Generous, frequent helpings of meditation.
Our lives sometimes feel
chaotic and out of control. Suffering and agony are part of being human.
The most common reaction to
the inevitable pain of existence is escapism of one form or another.
Drugs -- including alcohol, prescription medications and illegal
narcotics -- are the most common and harmful means of escape. TV and
entertainment, gossip and other diversions, overworking, shopping --
even surfing the Internet -- are also employed in the universal desire
to cope with the pains and stresses of our lives.
There is a better way: We can learn to nurture our minds, bodies and
spirits with simple and effective meditative techniques.
We do not and cannot control what happens in the world. But we can
control our reaction to it.
Sitting meditation, yoga and
tai chi incrementally
improve your ability to cope with pain, and maintain a clear mind even
in the midst of chaos and crisis. That ability gives you the strength to
reject escapism and look reality in the face at every turn.
Achieving a clear, peaceful state of mind through meditation also helps
you stay connected with
beings -- especially loved ones -- during both good times and bad.
The more we calm our minds, the more we develop
our ability to understand the way the world works -- and accept it. This
gives us a doorway to open our hearts and become more loving and
compassionate toward ourselves, other people and even our enemies.
Meditation is a gift only you can give yourself.
Through the wisdom of physically nurturing your body with wholesome
foods and exercise as well as emotionally nurturing your mind with
stress management techniques like yoga, tai chi and meditation, you
can discover the true potential of your own being to experience inner
peace and loving relationships even -- or
shall I say, especially -- in times of hardship.
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Food for Thought
Tofu, one of the healthiest foods on earth, is available at all health
food stores and many regular grocery stores in the refrigerated section.
Organic tofu is the best
tofu you can buy. Avoid tofu made with genetically modified soybeans,
which are widely used in most conventionally produced soy products. Tofu
may come packaged in water, vacuum-packed, aseptic container and in bulk
in tubs of water. (See
last week's column
to learn about the different kinds of tofu.)
The firmness of tofu depends on how much liquid is pressed
out as the curds are compressed into a block.
Regular tofu will last in the refrigerator until the expiration date.
Open tofu packages, however, should be used right away for best
consistency. Once open you can also store it in water in a tightly
closed container so it won’t absorb any surrounding odors and flavors.
Try to use it as soon as possible—it will only last a few days. Regular
tofu can also be frozen and last a few months (this will change the
texture to a spongy consistency). To freeze packaged tofu, open it, cut
it into slabs of about a half inch thick, let it drain on a cutting
board lined with paper towel or a non-fiber shedding cloth. Store it in
an airtight container or wrap in plastic and freeze. Thaw at room
temperature or in the fridge, drain once more and use within two days.
Silken tofu can be found in the refrigerated sections of health food
stores or may also come in aseptic containers that don’t require
refrigeration. Once open, however, it must be placed in the fridge but
it will only last a couple of days. Silken tofu should not be frozen.
Baked tofu comes in many flavors such as teriyaki, Italian, Thai, etc.,
and is readily available at many health food stores and supermarkets to
be eaten right out of the package by itself and sliced or cubed to use
in salads or sandwiches. It can also be cooked and added to meals and
recipes that call for regular tofu. As I said in a previous issue,
White Wave baked tofu
is my favorite.
If time is not an issue, you can bake your own, which is a good way of
using up tofu that’s about to expire.
Since tofu will absorb any flavors you can prepare marinades using your
favorite spices and seasonings with dressings or sauces to achieve
different types of world cuisines tastes. For Italian flavor for
example, create a marinade using olive oil, basil, oregano, tamari
sauce, garlic and your favorite tomato sauce or even pesto sauce. Here
20 or 16 ounce package of firm or extra firm tofu (drained)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable broth or stock
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon safflower oil
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
3 cloves fresh minced or pressed garlic
1. Cut tofu into half to one inch thick slabs and let it drain covered
on a cutting board lined with paper towel or a non-fiber shedding cloth
for a couple of hours.
2. Repeat the draining process but this time line with new paper towels
with a large platter, cutting board or cookie sheet, placing the tofu
slabs flat on top. Cover tofu with using new paper towels or non-fiber
shedding cloth and place a cutting board on top for added weight and
maybe even a heavy book on top of board to press out excess liquid and
moisture from tofu. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine water, broth, tamari, oil, lemon
and garlic mixing well.
4. Arrange tofu slabs flat (without stacking) on a large glass baking
dish and pour marinade spreading evenly over tofu. Cover and refrigerate
overnight for best results (but no less than 4 hours) turning tofu once
5. After marinating is done, preheat oven to 350ºF. Meanwhile, oil
lightly a baking sheet. Take the tofu out of the fridge, remove it from
the marinade in a glass dish and place it on an oiled baking sheet. Bake
tofu for 30 minutes and then turn it over. Bake for another 30 minutes
or until it looks brown and feels firm. Serve hot or let it cool at room
temperature and refrigerate for later use.
Words of Wisdom
“There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the
other in the year's course. Even a happy life cannot be without a
measure of darkness, and the word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it
were not balanced by sadness.”
The Research Department
preliminary study at the University of California, San Diego
(conducted by meat-eating researchers) shows that a non-human molecule
naturally occurring in beef, pork and milk gets into the human body when
eaten and builds up in tumors over time. They also discovered that the
body produces an immune response against the molecule. The highest
amount of the molecule was found in red meat, according to the
Vegetarian Organic Recipe of the
Click on the picture for a closer look!
Miso and Noodle Soup (vegan)
As a nutritious lunch or dinner, this simple but hearty tasting noodle
soup is good for you and tastes fabulous.
About the ingredients:
- The Japanese style Udon noodles have a thick texture, are made from
wheat and are available at health food stores, Asian markets and Trader
- Miso, rich in B vitamins and protein, is a staple ingredient in
Japanese cuisine. It is a fermented soybean paste made by combining
cooked soybeans with koji (a mold, which is cultivated in a soybean,
barley or rice base) and salt. The basic categories of miso are barley,
rice and soybean. Miso is sold in a variety of flavors and colors, which
is determined by amount of soybeans, koji, salt used and length of time
it is aged (6 months to 3 years). The lighter color miso varieties are
sweet and mild and the darker colors have strong flavors. Though it may
be used in soups, dressings, sauces, dips, condiment, main dishes and
marinades, it should be used in moderation as it’s high in sodium. Miso
can be found in the refrigerated sections of Asian and natural health
food stores. Westbrae Natural is an excellent brand.
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Equipment: Food
processor or blender
Get ingredients ready (use organic ingredients if possible)
Water for boiling noodles (1 gallon)
2 tablespoons unrefined safflower or canola oil
4 fresh garlic cloves
1 small onion peeled and cut in 4 pieces
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
4 cups fat free vegetable broth or stock
3 cups water (a little more if desired)
20 ounces fresh firm tofu, finely cubed (about 3 cups of ¼ inch cubes)
7 tablespoons white miso paste (mild or mellow)
1 large carrot washed, peeled with ends trimmed and cut in 5 pieces
7 ounces Udon noodles (about ⅔ of package)
⅓ cup fresh chives or green onions (scallions), finely chopped
1. In a large pot, boil water for noodles. In a separate large pot, heat
oil over low heat. Meanwhile, process garlic and onions in the food
processor or blender until very finely chopped. Add garlic and onion
mixture to oil sautéing over medium heat for 5 minutes.
2. In the meantime, mix and dissolve peanut butter with ¼ cup of the
vegetable broth. Add peanut butter mixture, water, tofu and remaining
broth to garlic and onions stirring well.
3. Take about 1 cup of liquid from the cooking broth and in a small bowl
combine broth and miso paste mixing well with fork or small whisker. Add
miso mixture to tofu and broth. Cover and continue to simmer over low to
4. Meanwhile, cook noodles in boiling water per package instructions.
Drain and rinse with cold water. Place carrots in food processor and
finely chop. Add noodles and carrots to miso soup cooking for 6 minutes.
Add chives stirring well. Serve and garnish with additional chives if
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This newsletter is not intended to provide and replace medical advice. The author and editor expressly disclaim all responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from any information, diet or exercise suggestions. It is imperative that the advice of a physician is sought before any diet or exercise programs are adopted.
Copyright© 2003 - 2009 Amira Elgan. All Rights Reserved.