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Vegetarians! Are you eating Vegetables?

If you are a vegetarian and overweight or at all unhealthy, constipated, or have a preventable disease, I suspect you are eating many of the foods I recommend trying to quit or radically reduce, and probably lots of “good fats” too. 

You may not be eating animal foods, but you’re probably not eating an incredible amount of fresh fruit and vegetables either.  Am I right? 

Also beware, many vegetarian processed foods are pretty dubious – some vegetarian sausages and veggie-burgers are filled with really bad ingredients. 

Please please please, do not eat processed, pre-packaged vegetarian foods unless you have complete and total confidence in your ability to read labels. 

Try to go for foods with ONE ingredient – themselves, and do your own cooking.

Many vegetarian restaurants and dishes are good, many are bad.  Like everyone else, vegetarians need to understand how these foods are prepared and if there are any bad ingredients or if they are soaked in vegetable oil, etc.

Dairy fat is a big temptation for lacto-ovo vegetarians, but I don’t quite understand how consuming lots of dairy makes any sense for anyone who is very concerned about the welfare of animals

If you must have dairy, you should make it organic and fat-free, and limit your intake of diary to once a day maximum. 

If you have not experimented with light soy and oat or rice-based drinks instead of dairy milk, please do so.  These are superb alternatives, provided they don’t contain sugar. 

Additionally, many vegetarians simply do not get enough high value protein in a lean and concentrated form, therefore they wind up hungry, and noshing on bad carbs. 

If you exercise a lot, or are in a weak state of health, you must ensure you are getting good high value proteins.  Soy is a good solution, so ensure you are getting enough. 

Make sure you are eating “integrated” foods – protein/ carbohydrates such as pulses and legumes, and ensure you are eating lots of different types of organic grains, fruits, vegetables, soy products such as tofu and edamame, and that you also are cooking with soybeans like any other pulse or bean.  Variety is key if you are vegetarian.

If you are celebrating vegetable plant life with your vegetarian diet, that is absolutely wonderful – ensure to celebrate the full spectrum and spend lots of time in the fresh produce section of your supermarket – where the fruit and vegetables are! 

You may wish to consider eating organic, wild fish from time to time, but that’s down to you.  If not a little fish, perhaps a few organic eggs.  Organic eggs are excellent sources of protein.  I believe it is better to eat organic fish and eggs than dairy products.

If you are vegetarian, Macrobiotics can be the solution for life-long health.  If you’re a passionate vegetarian I encourage you to explore the philosophy and methods of the Macrobiotic diet.  It is truly a celebration of plant foods, and will teach you about food combinations and ingredients, as well as a whole integrated philosophy about eating well. 

You may not think you are killing an animal, but ensure you’re not killing yourself either!

Love to you all!
La Libertini

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The Best Tofu

When I read about nigari tofu in Aveline Kushi’s book, The Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking, I knew why so many of my previous experiences of tofu had not always been great.

And I finally found some nigari tofu at The Organic on Clifton Road in Maida Vale, made by a company called Dragonfly.

Nigari is the residue that remains after sea salt is extracted from seawater.  Highly concentrated, it is rich in minerals such as magnesium and iron.  The taste is totally different to that of silken tofu, which you could not consider using in this recipe.  Your tofu must be organic, and solidified in the traditional way, with nigari.

Tofu Feast
Get a steamer rack ready and hot.  You should steam the tofu over water, you can add a few inches of kombu to the steaming water if you wish – this not only creates a delicious stock but imparts a delicious flavour to the tofu.

Slice one approximately 250 gram block of tofu in half, so you have two thinner pieces.

Finely mince 4-5 spring onions (or scallions) and a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger.

Lay the tofu onto the steamer rack, sprinkle lighly with Jurassic salt, and liberally pile the ginger and scallion mix on top of it.  Sprinkle a further pinch of Jurassic salt on top. Cover with lid and steam for 15 minutes.

Serve by dividing each slice of tofu again into 4 cubes, so that you have 8 smaller pieces of tofu in total.

A little brown rice vinegar can be added, but just a touch. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds as desired.

In our view, tofu is best served and appreciated with macrobiotic accompaniments. These would be brown rice, pearl barley, or Nishime style vegetables.

Nishime Style Vegetables
Take any three of of turnip, carrot, leek, fennel, radishes, daikon, purple sprouting broccoli, pumpkin, shallot, swede, beetroot, cauliflower, etc.

Peel and chop into larger bite-size pieces.

Take one sheet of kombu, cut into 3-inch slices and place in the bottom of a pan.  Arrange the vegetables on top of the kombu, adding enough water to come just halfway up the height of the vegetables.

Sprinkle with Jurassic salt and a dash of sesame oil.  Place a tight-fitting lid on and gently simmer until the vegetables are tender.  This should take no more than 15 minutes, but check after 10 minutes for tenderness, and to also ensure pan has not boiled dry.

Once cooked, put vegetables and remaining stock into a bowl, sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds and just a touch more Jurassic salt if required.

Remove the kombu and chop into very fine ribbons (chiffonade).  Sprinkle with a tiny bit of tamari soy sauce, some brown rice vinegar and roasted sesame seeds as desired.

We also like to eat the above feast with umeboshi plums and hijiki.  Delicious.