Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Roasted bean curd roll

1 roll makes about 8 servings


Outer layer:
1 1/2 pound frozen bean curd sheets
1 tablespoon salt

Sauce for outer layer:
8 tablespoons maple syrup
8 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 tablespoons low-salt soy sauce

2 pounds of assorted ground mushrooms
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup or equivalent sweetener
1/2 teaspoon five-spiced powder
a dash of black pepper

To wrap:
2 layers of 15x15 banana leaves
30-inch cotton string

Sauce for roasting:
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

1. Rinse frozen bean curd sheets with warm water 3 times. Marinade the sheets in 1 tbsp salt for 5 minutes. Squeeze out excess water.
2. Combine ingredients for sauce for the outer layer and mix well.
3. Sauté the mushooms.
4. Lay the two banana leaves on top of each other on a flat surface. Spread the bean curd on the banana leaves. Spread the mushroom mixture at the end near you. Wrap tightly into a roll, folding the edges of the banana leaves in as you roll. Tie the roll from top to bottom with a string.
5. Steam for 1 hour. Let cool completely.
6. Unwrap the roll.
7. Combine the sauce for roasting and mix well.
8. Brush the roll with sauce.
9. Fill a baking tray with about 1 cup water, put the roll on the rack, and place the rack on the baking tray.
10. Bake at 350 degrees F. Brush with sauce every 15 minutes. Bake for about 1 hour or until brown.

Baked bean curd on sugar cane sticks

Makes 15 sticks

Follow the recipe for steamed bean curd sheet on lemon grass sticks but use sugar cane sticks instead.

Sauce for baking:

  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

1. Brush the sauce on each stick, bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.
2. Turn the sticks over, brush with sauce again, bake for 15 more minutes or until brown.

Natural Sweeteners

By Annie Berthold-Bond and Nava Atlas, author of The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet

The array of products in the sweetener aisle of your health food store might seem rather mystifying to the natural foods novice, but with a little help, sweeteners like rice syrup, barley malt syrup, and date sugar, among others, can be used with great effect in baked goods of all kinds.

While the detrimental effects of refined sweeteners such as white sugar and corn syrup are still being debated, there is little doubt that Americans consume far too much of it. While natural sweeteners are not nutritional bell ringers, they are generally considered to produce less of a shock to blood sugar level because among the nutrients found in whole food, sugars are necessary minerals that help with sugar metabolism.

From a culinary standpoint, natural sweeteners offer bolder, more complex flavors than sugar, adding delectably different dimensions to baked goods and other treats.

A list of less refined sweeteners, including a chart of equivalents:

These sweeteners can be used like white sugar in baking and cooking and in hot and cold beverages, in general.
Note: Sweeteners containing maltose are less destructive to the body’s mineral balance. Recommended for infant formulas.

Agave Nectar: Extracted from the agave plant. It comes in three grades: light, medium and amber. Light agave has a sweet neutral taste; the flavor of the darker shades is more intense and earthy. Low on the glycemic index.

Amasake: fermented rice; 40% maltose

Barley Malt: Dark, sticky and boldly flavored; 50% maltose, a complex sugar that enters the bloodstream slowly. This sweetener offers trace amounts of eight vitamins and several minerals. It is a wonderful addition to squash and pumpkin breads, bran muffins, and hearty rye or pumpernickel breads. Use it to glaze sweet potatoes and to make winter malts combined with bananas and soy milk.

Date Sugar: Ground from dehydrated dates; high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals. Use in cakes, muffins and quick breads. Make crumb toppings for pies and fruit crisps. Cannot use to sweeten beverages, as the tiny pieces will not dissolve.

Fruit Juice Concentrates: Fruit juice that has been reduced about one quarter by slow cooking. Note: Some commercial fruit juice concentrates have been stripped of flavor and nutritional value.

Fruit Source: Made from a natural blend of grape and rice carbohydrates (contains fat and sugars). Add 1¼ cups Fruit source to 1 cup of sugar and reduce fat by 50 percent. Optimal oven temperature-- 325 degrees.

Granular Fruit Sweeteners: White grape juice and grain sweeteners that have been dehydrated and granulated.

Honey: nectar from flowers processed in the stomach of bees.

Maltose: Sprouted grains and cooked rice, heated and fermented until starch turns to sugar. Available in Chinese markets.

Maple Syrup: Boiled-down sap of maple trees; has twice as much calcium as milk. Note: Not all maple syrup is pure; some contains traces of formaldehyde, a carcinogen, so it is best to buy organic maple syrup.

Maple Sugar: Left-over dregs from maple syrup; has a wonderful, maple and earthy flavor.

Molasses: Unsulphured molasses is made from the juice of sun-ripened cane and is a byproduct of refined sugar. Blackstrap molasses is the residue of the cane syrup after the sugar crystals have been separated--very nutritious, with high levels of calcium, iron and potassium.

Natural and Organic Sugar: Such as certified organically grown from Florida Crystals, these sweeteners are minimally processed sugar cane.

Rice Syrup: A traditional Asian sweetener; made from rice starch converted into maltose (50%), a complex sugar. Rice syrup is the mildest-flavored of the liquid sweeteners and contains trace amounts of B vitamins and minerals. Use in cereals, cooking and baking, to sweeten hot or cold beverages and cereals, or as a spread for fresh breads.

Sorghum Syrup: Sorghum cane juice, boiled to a syrup. Sorghum cane tends to need few pesticides due to natural insect resistance.

Stevia: Derived from an herb native to Paraguay. It is controversial as a sweetener, but the FDA has approved it as a dietary supplement. Available in a greenish powder or as an extract. Stevia imparts a powerful sweetness with an herbal undertone. It is expensive and extremely sweet, but a little goes a very long way.

Sugar is a major life force and our bodies need it as fuel to feed the ongoing fire of life’s process. The sugars in whole food are balanced with the proper minerals. The energy obtained from breaking and assimilating these sugrs is of a constant and enduring nature.

Natural sweeteners such as fructose, raw sugar, turinado and sucanat

NOTE: Aspartame (brands Nutrasweet or Equal), and saccharin, are artificial sweeteners. A significant body of evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners can cause health problems. Many doctors now warm pregnant women to avoid any products containing Aspartame.

Sweetener Equivalents for 1/2 Cup of Sugar
Agave: ¼ cup
Barley Malt: 1½ cup
Date Sugar: ½ cup
Fruit Juice Concentrate: equal to sugar
Granular Fruit Sweeteners: equal to sugar
Honey: 1/3 cup
Maltose (from sprouted grains): 1¼ cup
Maple Syrup: equal to sugar
Maple Sugar: ¼ cup
Molasses: 1/3 cup
Rice Syrup: 1¼ cup
Sorghum Syrup: 1/3 cup
Sucanat: Same as sugar
Organic sugar: Same as sugar

Tips for the Tradeoff
When a recipe does not call for liquid, such as for cookies, choose a dry, granular sweetener such as date sugar, or the cookies will be too bread-like. When you substitute liquid sweeteners for dry, you will need to reduce or eliminate the liquid content of the recipe, and increase the flour. For breads and pies, fruit juice concentrates, barley malt and rice syrup work well. For cakes and cupcakes, choose sweeteners such as sorghum syrup or Sucanat.

How to Make Concentrated Liquid Sweeteners
Adapted from Naturally Sweet Desserts: The Sugar-free Dessert Cookbook, by Marcea Weber.
Fruit Juices: Boil eight cups organic juice until reduced to two cups. Cool and freeze. To use, warm a knife under hot water and cut out the amount of frozen juice needed, and return the remaining to the freezer.

Brown Rice: Cook two cups organic brown rice in five cups of water for 45 minutes. Place in a glass bowl until mixture has cooled to 140 degrees. Add one tablespoon of sprouts made from grain, such as wheat. Cover and place in a warm oven (120-140 degrees) for six hours.

Nutritional Analysis of Sucanat for 150g (one cup)







vitamin A…………………………..1600IU

thiamin (B1)……………………..0.21mg

riboflavin (B2)…………………..0.21mg




vitamin B6………………………..0.60mg




pantothenic acid……………….1.8mg



Source: USDA Handbook of Nutrient Content of Foods

Casava cake

  • 3 packets of frozen ground casava (yucca root), defrost
  • 2 can coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 cups maple syrup or equivalent sweetener

1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together.
2. Grease a 9x5 pan, transfer the above mixture to the pan. Brush the top with oil.
3. Baked at 350 degree F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until brown.

Baked tofu balls with seaweed

Makes about 40-50 balls


* 2 packets Nasoya extra firm tofu
* 1 cup Vital wheat gluten
* 2 toasted seaweed sheets, crushed
* 2 teaspoons sea salt
* 2 tablespoons maple syrup or equivalent sweetener
* 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
* 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 tablespoon oil

Sauce for baking:

* 1/2 teaspoon paprika
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
* 1/2 tablespoon molasses
* 1 tablespoon oil


1. Cut each block of tofu into 8 pieces. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain and press dry, mash.
2. In a bowl, mix everything together, except for the sauce to bake.
3. Roll the mixture into little balls, each the size of half a ping-pong ball, for example.
4. Steam for 20 minutes.
5. Let the tofu balls cool completely.

6. Combine the ingredients to make the sauce.
7. Coat the balls with sauce, bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
8. Turn the balls over, bake for about 10 more minutes or until brown.

Thanksgiving meal

Baked tofu balls with vital gluten flour and roasted seaweed

Thai curry with boiled seitan, king oyster mushrooms, portabella mushrooms, eggplants, okras, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes. Served with warm French bread. It was the biggest hit.

Roasted bean curd roll with mushrooms

Bean curd sheets on lemon grass sticks or sugar cane sticks

Salad served with soy mayo, lime juice, and maple syrup dressing

Casava Cake

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Easy whole wheat bread sticks from toaster oven

I made these bread sticks for a party at work today, everybody liked them since they were so tasty and healthy. You will be surprised to see how easy it is to make these sticks. By adding more water and let the dough rise slowly overnight in the refrigerator, there was not necessary to knead it at all.

Makes 32 sticks


  • 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 handfuls sesame seeds to coat (optional)


1. In a large bowl, mix in all the ingredients (except sesame seeds) until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. I used a stand mixer.
2. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap, I used a clean plastic shower cap.
3. Put the dough in the refrigerator overnight.
4. In the morning, let the dough out in room temperature for about 30 minutes.
5. On a flat surface, greased with oil, take about a half size of a ping-pong dough, roll the dough on the surface, stress it out as you roll to make a 9-inch stick.
6. Spread a thin layer of sesame seeds, roll the stick over to coat. (Optional)
7. Toast 4 sticks a time on top brown 2 times.
8. Turn the sticks over, toast on top brown 1 more time.
9. Place them on a rack to cool.
10. I rolled 4 sticks, toasted them, while toasting, I rolled 4 more and toasted until no more dough.
11. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for a week. You can have fresh bread sticks everyday if you want. They taste very good out of the oven. Have fun.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Glass is the most inert of all cookware, meaning that it doesn’t leach metals or other ingredients into the food.

Cookware Layered cookware is called clad. Typically, stainless steel surrounds a sandwich of other metals, such as aluminum or copper. The inert stainless steel provides the cooking surface, while the aluminum or copper improves the heat conductivity. (I don’t personally have clad cookware, but I consider it in the family of stainless steel, below, that I do have.)

Stainless Steel
Stainless is a very good choice for healthy cooking because it is one of the most inert metals. It reportedly does leach a small amount of nickel. One drawback is that it doesn’t conduct heat evenly, so consider stainless “clad,” described above, for this purpose.

Porcelain-Coated Cookware
Also called enamel, this cookware is nonreactive and conducts heat evenly. The porcelain is usually over an iron base. Le Creuset is an example of a porcelain-coated cookware brand. The drawback with porcelain-coated cookware is that once the porcelain chips, the food is exposed to the iron, which can rust.

Read more about nonstick cookware and alternative tips in Melissa Breyers article that mentions them along with other alternatives and materials to avoid.

Silicone Bakeware?
My concern about silicone isn’t that it will off-gas when it is heated (most bakeware can withstand 500 degrees F before it breaks down), but that very small amounts of migrating silicone oil could get on food, hands and other skin.

Tips for Safe Cookware
• Avoid oven cookware that has any plastic, even if the manufacturer claims it can withstand up to 400F.
• Cast-iron cookware labels sometimes state that the pans are pre-seasoned. This refers to a wax-based coating that keeps the pan from rusting between manufacture and purchase.

Annie Bond is the author of Home Enlightenment (Rodale, paperback, 2008).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tofu on sugar cane sticks (chạo tôm chay) (edited)

Makes 15 sticks


* 2 packets Nasoya extra firm tofu
* 1/2 cup Vital gluten wheat flour
* 2 teaspoons sea salt
* 2 tablespoons maple syrup or equivalent sweetener
* 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
* 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 tablespoon oil
* 15 5-inch long sugar cane sticks

Sauce for baking:

* 1/2 teaspoon paprika
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
* 1/2 tablespoon molasses
* 1 tablespoon oil


1. Boil water in a 4-quart pot. Cut each block of tofu into 8 pieces. Add tofu to the pot, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain the tofu, press dry with a paper tower, mash. (A potato ricer can be used to mash the tofu.)
2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients, except the ingredients for the sauce.
3. Take a handful of the above mixture and pack tightly on the sugar cane sticks.
4. Put the tofu sticks in a single layer on a steamer. Steam on high heat for 30 minutes.
5. Let the tofu sticks cool completely.
6. Combine the ingredients for the sauce.

7. Transfer tofu stickes to a greased baking sheet. Brush the sauce on the tofu sticks, bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes.
7. Turn the sticks over. Brush the stick with the sauce on the other side, bake for about 15 more minutes or until brown.