Food Patterns in the Body

Sister Amy sent me this to post.  She says, “Just give me 3 minutes and 16 seconds of your day and I guarantee you will not look at fresh fruits and veggies again in the same way!”  While I’ve read of some of these correlations before (i.e. a walnut looks like the brain, the organ best served by the walnut) what I really love is the greater implications of this idea…  Not only does our beloved Earth-Garden produce all that we need to thrive, everything is “coded” in accord to the energy it correlates to and serves!


RECIPE: Ginger Peach Tofu Dinner

The origin of the Cultivating Heaven blog was my blog, Heavenly Cooking, where I collected and commented on my family’s favorite Vegetarian and Vegan meals.  I’ve been into a Veggie lifestyle throughout various spans of the past 17 years and raised my two-oldest children as Vegetarians back when few around me had heard of such a thing.  In 1995 I even managed to have one of my recipes featured in Vegetarian Times, which gave me confidence in my ability to prepare delicious Veggie cuisine.

But what I admittedly didn’t understand was that Veggie doesn’t automatically equate with healthy.  I was conscious of protein in-take and organic when we could afford to be,  there were times when I even grew a good portion of what we ate, but I didn’t start grasping “Healthy” until about two years ago.  That’s when I started experimenting the Alkaline diet and incorporating raw foods that weren’t just straight from earth and vine, but actual compositions of raw ingredients.  I deleted my old way of doing things and started this blog.  And although I recently expanded Cultivating Heaven into a vessel that holds more than just a single aspect of my life, I still intend to share stellar recipes on occasion.

Case in point.  The other night I made what my DH calls “the best tofu he’s ever ate”.  That’s saying a lot because we love tofu at my house!  In fact, DH still raves about the teriyaki tofu I served him the first night we met!  I call this stellar because it’s both healthy and crazy-delicious!!



*     1 15 oz can or 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained

*     2 tablespoons olive oil (best if cold-pressed)

*     1 teaspoon real salt or Celtic sea salt

*     1 teaspoon chipotle powder

*     juice of ½ lemon

*     8 oz. extra firm tofu, drained but not pressed

*     1 tablespoons ginger pulp

*     1 tablespoon sesame oil

*     1 tablespoon tamari or Braggs

*     2 teaspoons sirachi

*     1 tablespoon coconut oil

*     1 large sweet onion, diced

*     1 teaspoon real salt or Celtic sea salt

*     1 cup peaches, fresh or frozen

*     ½ cup water

*     2 tablespoons honey

*     1 tablespoon ginger pulp

*     2 teaspoons sirachi

*     ½ teaspoon real salt or Celtic sea salt

*     1 tablespoon organic sherry

*     juice of ½ lemon

*     1 large roasted red pepper, diced

*     3 green onion, thinly sliced

*     several tablespoons raw almonds, thinly sliced

*     prepared brown rice or a light quinoa


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. While the over preheats, rinse and dry chickpeas with a towel.  Spread them into a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.  Evenly sprinkle on the salt and chipotle powder.  Squeeze the juice from ½ the lemon over the oiled and seasoned chickpeas.  Set aside.
  3. Next, get the tofu ready to put into the oven with the chickpeas.  Usually I press my tofu well, but not for this recipe.  This allows it to have the same baking time as the chickpeas without drying out.  Just put the whole tofu block into a small baking dish.  Put the designated quantities of ginger, sesame oil, tamari and sirachi on top of the tofu.  Using the back of a spoon, rub it all together and then down the sides.  Flip over, and then over again, so that the mixture is generally spread around.  This dish has several steps, so make it easier on yourself by taking short cuts like this.
  4. Put both the chickpeas and the tofu into the preheated oven for 45 minutes.
  5. While these are cooking, melt the coconut oil in a skillet and get your onions sautéing.  Don’t forget to salt them.
  6. While the onions are working toward the right translucency, start the ginger-peach sauce.  I used peaches I’d frozen from the summer glut.  They were already peeled and halved, and I didn’t bother to break them down any further.  After they’ve cooked awhile a few good mashes with a steel or wooden masher will sauce them just fine!   Just pour the water over the peaches, toss in the honey, ginger, sirachi, and salt, give it a few stirs, and bring it up to a low-simmer.  You’ll want this to simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  7. When the onions just start to stick, deglaze the skillet with the sherry.  Cook 1 to 2 minutes more or until any liquid is more of a sauce-like consistency.  Remove from heat and set-aside.
  8. When your chickpeas and tofu are out of the oven, give the peaches a few good mashes, if they require it.  Add in the juice of ½ lemon, roasted red peppers, and the sautéed onions.  Heat through.  As this is heating, cut tofu into cubes.  It will be hot but shouldn’t require much handling.
  9. To serve: Make a nice mound of rice or quinoa in a bowl or on a plate.  Top with a portion of the tofu.  My family is seven strong, so I divide the tofu into 8 portions, leaving a portion for my DH’s lunch the next day.  Cover the tofu portion with several tablespoons of the ginger-peach-veggie mixture.  Garnish liberally with roasted chickpeas, green onion slices and a generous spoonful of almonds.  AMAZING!!

Why we Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows

I am nearing the middle of a week-long fast right now, so it feels rather peculiar to be discussing dietary preference.  However, I’ve wanted to share this book trailer for Why we Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows for some time now, and am ecstatically working my way down a list I plan on discarding by the day’s end!

So, a friend gushed over this book and posted the trailer.  The trailer prompted me to borrow it and see for myself!  As promised, even if you’re already Vegetarian or Vegan, this remains both insightful and compelling!  I have seen many reviews which suggest this book makes the inconvenient truth of  “Carnism” more accessible to carnivores, and while that may be true, I feel its most important to focus on the unique spirit of this information – which doesn’t blame or shame an individual for their choice.  Rather, what makes this book so original, logical and compelling is that it examines our relationship to animals and diet from a cultural perspective and gets people thinking about how to take responsibility instead of blaming a faulty system for their choices.  Selective empathy is a conscious choice!

Window Cleaning Chemical Injected into Hamburger Meat

So what do you do if you’re in the beef business and have all sorts of extra parts and trimmings that used to be sold at a great profit to the pet food industry, before a law was passed against it due to Mad Cow fears?!?!?

You chop it, scrape it together into a pink mass, inject it with ammonia to kill the e.coli and sell it to McDonald’s, Burger King, the School Lunch programs, and certain other fast food chains, restaurants, and grocery stores. According to the FDA, it’s perfectly fine for people to consume ammonia in their hamburgers!!

This is originally from an investigation done by the New York Times.  Sometimes the Truth is harsh…

Window Cleaning Chemical Injected into Hamburger Meat

Red Meat is Death

This week  a federal study announced its finding that a diet heavy in red meat raises the risk of mortality, while those limiting the intake of red and processed meats reduce their risk of cancer and heart disease.

The largest study ever of its kind finds that older people who eat large amounts of red meat and processed meats face a greater risk of death from heart disease and cancer.

The federal study of more than half a million American men and women bolsters prior evidence of the health risks of diets laden with red meat like hamburger and processed meats like hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts.

Calling the increased risk modest, lead author Rashmi Sinha of the National Cancer Institute said the findings support the advice of several health groups to limit red and processed meat intake to decrease cancer risk.

The findings appear in Monday’s Archives of Internal Medicine.

Over 10 years, eating the equivalent of a quarter-pound hamburger daily gave men in the study a 22 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease. That’s compared to those who ate the least red meat, just 5 ounces per week.

Women who ate large amounts of red meat had a 20 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 50 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease than women who ate less.

For processed meats, the increased risks for large quantities were slightly lower overall than for red meat. The researchers compared deaths in the people with the highest intakes to deaths in people with the lowest to calculate the increased risk.

People whose diets contained more white meat like chicken and fish had lower risks of death.

The researchers surveyed more than 545,000 people, ages 50 to 71 years old, on their eating habits, then followed them for 10 years. There were more than 70,000 deaths during that time.

Study subjects were recruited from AARP members, a group that’s healthier than other similarly aged Americans. That means the findings may not apply to all groups, Sinha said. The study also relied on people’s memory of what they ate, which can be faulty.

In the analysis, the researchers took into account other risk factors such as smoking, family history of cancer and high body mass index.

In an accompanying editorial, Barry Popkin, director of the Interdisciplinary Obesity Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote that reducing meat intake would have benefits beyond improved health.

Livestock increase greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming, he wrote, and nations should reevaluate farm subsidies that distort prices and encourage meat-based diets.

“We’ve promoted a diet that has added excessively to global warming,” Popkin said in an interview.

Successfully shifting away from red meat can be as easy as increasing fruits and vegetables in the diet, said Elisabetta Politi of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina.

“I’m not saying everybody should turn into vegetarians,” Politi said. “Meat should be a supporting actor on the plate, not the main character.”

The National Pork Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association questioned the findings.

Dietitian Ceci Snyder said in a statement for the pork board that the study “attempts to indict all red meat consumption by looking at extremes in meat consumption, as opposed to what most Americans eat.”
Facts On Meat Consumption:

According to the Agriculture Department, U.S. per capita consumption of red meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb and mutton) was estimated at 119 pounds in 2008, slightly more than two pounds a week; poultry (mature chickens, broilers, turkeys) was 106 pounds. –
Dangers Of Red Meat~Video

Vegan Radio Shows Scheduled for February

Have you heard of Spiritual Awakening Radio?  It’s producer is James Bean, the SantMat Mystic – a man who has taught me so much across the years simply through his generous sharing of “the world of spirituality”.

Thus I was excited to see that every week during February he’ll be interviewing guests about vegetarianism, the vegan diet, and raw foods.  The theme will be:  Be Veg, Go Green, Save the Planet!

Check out his broadcast at every Friday between 10-11 am, Pacific Time!

Mahavira Jain

Vegetable Island

As you may know, a primary interest of mine is sustainable living.  That is, living in such a way so as to provide for as many of your necessities as possible.  This might include building your own home out of local materials, letting the sun and wind provide for your energy needs, growing your own food, etc.

In a way, growing your own food seems much easier for the Vegetarian.  I mean, there’s no raising of livestock, hunting or fishing, right?  On the other hand, however, there are some extra considerations to take into account.

When I tell people I’m a Vegetarian the most common reaction is that I must be protein deficient.  “How on Earth do you get enough protein?”, they ask.  Since I’m not Vegan I do eat some dairy and eggs, and if you add to that soy and other beans and nuts, protein isn’t a problem.

The real challenge for a Vegetarian is assuring there’s enough intake of the Vitamin B-12.  This Vitamin is uncommon in plants, although it is often found on plants in the form of manure and healthy bacterium.  If you eat a good deal of eggs and milk, this isn’t such an issue.  However, I don’t drink milk, don’t eat a lot of eggs, and would prefer not to stuff myself with cheese.

Take a supplement you say?  Many of my Veggie friends do just that, or make sure to drink up a daily dose of one of the bazillion organic, B-12 fortified juices out there.  We’re talking sustainable living, though, right?

So a discussion recently arose on a Sustainable Living group I frequent on this very topic.  More specifically someone asked this question: “If you were being sent to a Vegetarian Island and could take with you ten food-producers, what would you take in order to assure your diet could provide sufficient B-12?”

I learned a lot.

For starters, there were several objections to the question, or maybe better said, requests for clarification.  Everyone agreed that the local bio-region of the “Vegetarian Island” should be the largest determining factor behind such a list.  Once we got past that sticking-point the B-12 winners were as follows….

  • Soybeans
  • Barley
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Mushrooms

Far from 10.  Why?  No one could come up with anything more than these five that were verifiable.  However, as I stated, I learned a lot.

Shitake Mushrooms have more B-12 than any other mushroom variety.  They are also an excellent choice because they average 18% protein, in a perfectly complete balance.  Yet if you’re concerned with alkaline eating, mushrooms aren’t for you.

Also, root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and Jerusalem artichoke have all been shown to contain B-12 WHEN the soil is organically fertilized with a B-12 analogue.  Good B-12 analogue fertilizers include cow dung and seaweed emulsions.  Humanure is one of the best B-12 analogue fertilizers but you don’t want that on your root veggies.

Everyone concluded that short of eating some dirt, the best method to obtain B-12 in a sustainable living situation would be to look beyond the world of veggies and fruits.

Seaweeds are the best solution.  One version, known as Dulse (Palmaria Palmata) just about triples every other variety.  Kelp is the next in line, but with 1/3 the B-12 analogue that Dulse offers.  This worked as a solution in our scenario but not everyone is heading out to live on an island or has a salt-water pond hanging around their backyard.  Also, it’s important to note that seaweed should never be consumed in large quantities due to exceptionally high iodine levels.

And this brings me to another important factor.  Some foods touted as “B-12 rich” can actually LOWER your B-12 levels due to a B-12 consuming enzyme they produce.  One of these foods is Nori, especially raw.

We came across many rumors that have long been taken as true.  The first was that any soybean product is rich in B-12.  Nope.  Fresh soybeans (Edamame) are the only soybeans which test positive for B-12 analogues.  Tofu and fermented soybean products do not contain any measurable B-12.  Miso is not rich in B-12.  And there isn’t a trace of B-12 in the dried beans, the bean paste, or in soy sauce.  So much for all the Veggies who claim to get sufficient B-12 from Tempeh.  If they are not B-12 deficient due to their false belief, they are getting the nutrient elsewhere.

Something similar should be said for Barley.  While the grain can provide a low-dose of B-12, malted Barley Syrup does not, as several sites suggest.

And a final note.  Yeasts and bacterium.  Have you ever seen fresh, organicaly grown grapes that seem to have a dry, white powder on their exterior?  If you don’t wash the grapes (which is only recommended if you KNOW exactly how the grapes have been cared for) they can provide a moderate-source of B-12.  The same with a carrot left at room temperature for a few hours, but this last one is a gamble, as it must be a specific form of bacteria which makes its home on the carrot in order for that carrot to provide you with B-12.