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Baked Tofu Bowl as Main Dish

Topped with Kim Chi and Asian Pickled Greens, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach

This recipe is for the Baked Tofu. The bowl is filled with Brown Rice, then topped with Seasoned Tommy’s Sweet Potatoes from Costco, Spinach, Pickled Veggies, Baked Tofu recipe is below.

Set Oven for 400 degrees.

One package of Organic Extra Firm Tofu (14oz). Do not buy the super extra firm because it is so hard, it does not absorb the marinate, hence lacks flavor.

Drain fluid off Tofu. While still in box, cut Tofu into 1/2 x 2 inch pieces.

Cut Tofu in the box

Place into a medium glass dish and pour in enough marinate to cover the tofu pieces. Examples of marinates are Teriyaki, Curry or Gyoza dipping sauce. Cover. Marinate at least 2 hours to over night in refrigerator.

Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil. Spread out the Tofu pieces evenly onto sheet.

Bake at @ 400 degrees 15mins x 2 -> At 15min mark, flip tofu over and continue to bake for another 15mins. Although I don’t bother with flipping. It seems to turn out ok. You could use a metal rack to have the underside bake. I prefer to use Pure Convection setting on my oven. You get crispier results. For my oven, if I am using convection, I lower the temp by 25 degrees and reduce time by 10%. You need to know your oven…bon appétit.

Let me know how yours turn out in the comments.

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Iodine in our Diets and Cancer Risk

Unfortunately, most Americans are not getting enough Iodine. It is important to get the correct amount because it affects your thyroid function therefore your metabolism. Plus Iodine may help reduce the risk of our most frequent cancers: breast and prostate. (1)

Prior to 1920’s, around the Great Lakes, Appalachians and Northwest were known as the “goiter belt.” People had significant iodine deficient. 30-40% of the population had goiters as a result. (2) This decreased significantly when iodine was added to table salt.

Thereafter, Americans are getting most of their dietary iodine from table salt. 1/4 teaspoon of iodized table salt contains about 71 mcg iodine along with 575mg of sodium. We now tell people to reduce/avoid salt for health reasons.(4) Plus if your salt has been sitting around, the iodine added to your salt has an expiration date of 5 years from manufacturing date.

The amount of iodine you need each day depends on your age and health circumstance. Average Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) amounts are listed below in micrograms (mcg). (3)

Life StageRecommended Amount
Birth to 6 months110 mcg
Infants 7-12 months130 mcg
Children 1-8 years90 mcg
Children 9-13 years120 mcg
Teens 14-18 years150 mcg
Adults150 mcg
Pregnant teens and women220 mcg
Breastfeeding teens and women290 mcg

Besides iodized table salt, other sources of Iodine in diet are: (mcg of iodine)(5)(6)(7)

  • Iodized salt: 1/4 tsp 71mcg
  • Kelp, 1/4 cup wet: 415 mcg or more. Amount is highly variable
  • Seaweed, dried, 1 ounce: up to 18,000 mcg. Amount is highly variable
  • Oysters (per 100gms): 160mcg
  • Canned salmon (per 100gms): 60mcg
  • Bread (except organic) (per 100gms): 46 mcg
  • Haddock, 3 ounces: 104-145 mcg
  • Cod, 3 ounces: 99 mcg
  • Shrimp, 3 ounces: 21-37 mcg
  • Processed fish sticks: 17 mcg per piece
  • Tuna, canned, 3 ounces: 17 mcg
  • Milk, 1 cup: 55-60 mcg
  • Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup: 25-75 mcg
  • Egg, 1 large: 18-29 mcg
  • Turkey breast, cooked, 3 ounces: 34 mcg
  • Ground beef, cooked, 3 ounces: 8 mcg

Other sources

  • Vitamins (prenatal, labelled content per daily serving): 75–200 μg4
  • Amiodarone (per 200 mg): 75,000 μg
  • Iodinated contrast (free iodine content, per CT scan): 13,500 μg
  • Topical iodine (povidone iodine): variable, usually 1–5%
  • Expectorants, mouthwashes, vaginal douches: variable
  • Saturated solution of potassium iodide (per drop): 50,000 μg

Not getting enough Iodine can be related to cancer. But so can too much. The Japanese have less breast and prostate cancer than Americans. (8) A possible explanation is that they consume a lot foods originating from the ocean. They consume up 10-100 times more iodine in their diet than Americans. (9)(10) Now I am not saying we should eat that much. The upper limits of Iodine ingestion is maximum 1,100 mcg of iodine per day. (3)

When you consume too little or too much, it likely will cause thyroid dysfunction and poorer health outcomes. How your thyroid is going to react is not predictable. There have been some cases of thyroid cancer in Japanese who consume too much iodine. (11)

The upper limits for iodine by age and health circumstance are listed below. These levels do not apply to people who are taking iodine for medical reasons and or under the care of a doctor.

Life StageUpper Limit
Birth to 12 months:Not established
Children 1-3 years:200 mcg
Children 4-8 years:300 mcg
Children 9-13 years:600 mcg
Teens 14-18 years:900 mcg
Adults:1,100 mcg

When consuming natural forms of iodine from diet, the amount consumed can’t be exact because nature is not exact. For example, Dulse flakes, a 3 gram (one tablespoon) serving equals 330% RDA, meaning a one teaspoon amount is all you should take per day. Hard to know how much exposure you get to heavy metals when eating things from the sea. Consuming it with cilantro and garlic may reduce the absorption of some of these heavy metals.

How your thyroid reacts to too much iodine is not predictable. Getting the Recommended Daily Amount is important.

(1) Pearce, E.N. (2015, Winter). Is Iodine Deficiency reemerging in the United States? Retrieved from https://journals.aace.com/doi/pdf/10.4158/EP14472.CO

(2) Meletis, C.D. and Zabriskie, N. (2007, Jun 29). Iodine, a Critically Overlooked Nutrient. Retrieved from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/act.2007.13309?journalCode=act

(3) NIH, (2016, Feb 17). https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-Consumer/

(4) Leonard, J. (2018, Jul 30). Does pink Himalayan salt have any health benefits? Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315081.php

(5) Leung, A.M. and Braverman, L.E. (2013, Dec 17). Consequences of excess iodine. Retrieved from http:// https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976240/

(6)Diet Health, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.diet.com/g/iodine

(7)Food Standards. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/nutrition/iodinefood/Pages/default.aspx

(8) Kargar, S. and Shiryazdi, S.M. et al. (2017). Urinary Iodine Concentrations in Cancer Patients. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5464505/

(9)Rappaport, J. (2017, Jan 13). Changes in Dietary Iodine Explains Increasing Incidence of Breast Cancer with Distant Involvement in Young Women. Retrieved from http://www.jcancer.org/v08p0174.htm

(10) Zava, T.T. and Zava, D.T. (2011, Oct 5). Assessment of Japanese iodine intake based on seaweed consumption in Japan: A literature-based analysis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3204293/

(11) Michikawa, T. et al. (2012, May). Seaweed consumption and the risk of thyroid cancer in women: the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22414981

American Thyroid Association. (2013, Jun 5). ATA Statement on the Potential Risks of Excess Iodine Ingestion and Exposure. Retrieved from https://www.thyroid.org/ata-statement-on-the-potential-risks-of-excess-iodine-ingestion-and-exposure/

https://www.veggiechallenge.com/concerns/vegetarians-veganssalt-high-blood-pressure-iodine-and-soy/

Roasted Cauliflower with Vegan Aioli dip

Ingredients:

One head of cauliflower cut into floret pieces, or buy ready cut

olive oil spray

salt and pepper

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Vegan Spread and dressing

1 tsp minced garlic

Sriracha Sauce optional

Prep:

Spray a baking sheet pan with olive oil. Put the florets in pan, spreading them out. Spray the Florets with olive oil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake at 425 deg x 25-30 mins. Until tips are golden brown. I use pure convention, adjusting the time and temperature accord to your oven.

Meanwhile to make the dipping sauce, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl.

Serve while still warm. Use as appetizer or side dish.

Honey Tofu Chocolate Pudding

Does not require any cooking

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

5 tbsp raw honey,

1/4 tsp salt.

One squeeze of lemon,

1/2 cup Cacao powder

14 oz soft Tofu- put into a food processor or blender 

Coconut oil 2 tsp

Coconut milk  3-6 tbsp

Vanilla 1 -2 tsp

18 Raspberries and Fresh Mint leaves to decorate

Prep:

Blend all the ingredients (except Raspberries and Mint) until smooth, divide up to fill  6 ramekins. Cool in refrigerator at least 30 mins or cover tightly store overnight.

Top w fresh berries and garnish w fresh mint before serving.

Sauté Spinach and Onions

Side dish for 6

Ingredients:

1 small or 1/2 large onion, chopped

1-2 tsp garlic, chopped

1 tsp ginger, grated

2 tbsp Avocado oil

1 – 16 oz bag of frozen organic spinach

1/2 cup Vegetable broth or 1 tsp Vegan Bouillon

Squeeze of lemon or sprinkle of apple cider vinegar

Salt and Pepper

Prep:

Heat oil in a wok. Add onions, garlic, ginger, sauté over medium heat, until onions look clear.

Add bag of spinach, broth, continue to stir until liquid evaporates. Add rest of ingredients

You have option to add 1/2 cup mushrooms in with the onions

Serve on top of brown rice, noodles or pasta along side a protein like grilled Tofu or Vegan Chili.

On Bringing Flight Attendants Gifts

It is a very tough job being a flight attendant. They really do work hard with very little thanks or appreciation. Some passenger behave like they are entitled to the service (and this behavior is in public…wonder home they behave at home..).

I recommend we all bring them something. Everyone loves a gift. Luggage limitations means it has to be physically small in size.

I like to gift this natural spray hand sanitizer from Trader Joe’s. If they don’t always in stock, you can always make one too (click on Homemade Hand Sanitizer). The aromatherapy of the essential oils can change the mood of the air plane cabin. Quite often people will say what is that? It smells wonderful.

I bring 3 of these per flight

I like the spray sanitizer over the gels bc I can use the spray to sanitize my seating area too. The screen, tray, arm rest and seat belt. The natural wet wipe that I use to wipe down is typically gray after wiping everything. These areas never get wiped clean so I am doing the airlines a favor.

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The basic essentials oils that I usually mix are:

  • Citrus for cheering things up – favorites are tangerine, lemon, grapefruit. Also consider sweet orange, bergamot.
  • Peppermint to energize.
  • Lavender to calm.

At the time of writing, the TJ hand sanitizer costs $1.99.

I have brought extra viral face masks with me on flights and offered it to coughing people with runny noses around me, so that they don’t make me or anyone else sick. Amazing how many people will say, “I am not sick, it is just allergies”. I don’t get it, Denial, selfish or what? In those situations, I put on the mask. They do reduce respiratory germ transmission.

If you have any suggestions for gifts, please write it in the comments. I avoid candy, cookies, etc bc they are unhealthy empty calories. Except maybe dark chocolates. Although that can be difficult in hotter climates, as chocolate tends to melt. Make sure any food you give is well wrapped and sealed.

Other gift suggestions: Luggage tags that represent where you are from or tell a story.

Using Reusable Straws

Headline: Los Angeles County to ban Plastic Straws. About time. These images of plastic straws polluting our earth’s water ways and hurting wild life are disturbing.

Since I last wrote about using metal reusable straws, I discovered silicone and bamboo straws. Straws are useful if you have sensitive teeth, want to keep your teeth from staining, have orthodontic work or unable to drink from a cup bc of health reasons. I like the silicone ones the best due to their “flexibility” but bamboo straws are 100% natural and biodegradable. The hole in the bamboo straw is smaller than silicone, so not useful for thick smoothies. The metal straws can feel harsh against your teeth.

I needed the longer the 11 inch silicone straw for my 20 oz stainless steel thermo container.

After use, the silicone straw tucks nicely into my container for storage until I get home. Otherwise a wet straw is a messy thing to handle. Checklist when purchasing a container:

  • dishwasher safe for lazy cleaning
  • wide mouth so you can add powders and or pour smoothie in it easily and also easy cleaning
  • an attached smaller lid so you won’t lose it.
  • the part that touches your mouth is completely covered by the lid to avoid contamination and dirt getting on it
  • if going to use in car, make sure not so wide that it will not fit into a cup holder
  • avoid plastic. BPA and BPS (the BPA substitute) are both bad for you
  • stainless steel and glass are the most neutral. The silicone covered glass is less breakable
  • Double thickness containers insulate better so drinks can be kept either hot or cold longer. Plus the neutral temperature of the exterior of the container makes it more comfortable to hold onto

How to fold your silicone straw into your container when finished

The silicone ones have the advantage of being folded into a small container like a pill bottle or extra orthodontic retainer container. This makes it much easier to carrier around with you.

To clean these straws: You can do by hand or put the silicone ones in the dishwasher. Since these silicone ones are larger, they do not fall threw the holes in the cutlery rack. I would not recommend putting the bamboo ones in dishwasher bc they might splinter and crack. The straws almost always come with a brush too.

Hand washing: Soak for minute or two in soapy water, make sure some of water gets into the center of straw. Wiggle it around a bit. Clean inside with brush. Rinse. Dry on a rack that drains.

My vegan lunch smoothie recipe to be posted soon.

Please leave me any comments or questions. I look forward to them!

Biodegradable Dental Floss

For proper oral hygiene, you need to floss daily. Ever wonder what happens to the plastic dental floss like Glide? I can just imagine it gets into our Oceans, resulting in choking and or strangling of marine life.

Now there are other options. Biodegradable silk or bamboo floss. They are a little thicker than Glide so it your teeth are tight, it could takes some time to get use to it. But it works. With the extra thickness, it removes more food particles per swipe! Give it a try. You help the planet, the planet helps you. Karma.

I bought these on Amazon.

If you have short roots, I would not recommend.

Valentine Almond Cookies

This is a recipe from the Island of Malta. You can shape them into Hearts and decorate with a Maraschino Cherry (Whole Foods has sans food coloring). These cookies have 2 versions: vegan and traditional with egg whites.

Bake @ 400F for 8-10 mins. Makes 84 x 2inch round cookies

Ingredients:

4 cups ground almonds

1.5 cups oat bran

2 cups sugar

5 egg whites (or egg substitute)

2 Tbsp Almond Essence

Pinch of salt

Sliced Almonds or Maraschino Cherries, cut cherries in half, let it drain, set aside.

Edible Premium Wafer Paper 8.25″ x 11.75″ Pkg of 20 for Cake or Food Decorating (I bought these on Amazon) – cut these into circles or hearts for Valentines one sheet should give you 12 circles (about 2 inch or so diameter) or 4 hearts

Mix almonds and bran in a large bowl and set aside. Mix the rest of the ingredients (except decorating cherry and sliced almonds) and mix with an electric beater until well mixed. Fold this into the dry ingredients.

Put the Wafer Paper cutouts on baking pan. Roll the cookie mixture into 1 inch balls and place on Wafer Paper. Use dampened fingers and press down dough, leaving a small edge of Wafer Paper.

Be careful not to get the dough onto the baking sheet as the dough will stick to the pan. Decorate with sliced almond or cherry before baking.

Bake 400 degree F x 8-10 until cookie edges are a very light brown

Will be bringing these to share at work on Valentine’s Day.

Remind people that the paper is edible. Some people waste quite a bit of time trying to peel the paper off 😉

Best face mask for cleaning and refining pores

I bought the clay from Amazon and organic Apple Cider vinegar is sold in most grocery stores. I use a large stainless tablespoon to mix the ingredients.

Scoop some clay onto spoon and add some apple cider vinegar about 1:1 (the vinegar has healthy probiotics and the acidity exfoliates). It will start to bubble. Mix the solution well with finger or cotton swab. Then apply to face, avoiding eyes. Let dry about 5 minute-10 minutes depending on how thick you make the mask. You will feel your skin tightening.

I remove mask by gently wiping off some of it with either a hypoallergenic natural facial towelette or a moistened tissue before rinsing off with water. This is to prevent the clay from accumulating in the drain and risk clogging up the sink.

Voila- nice smooth skin and smaller pores. Of course don’t do this if your skin is sensitive.