Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tofu Spice Rub & Thoughts on Which Studies to Put into Practice

Monday wasn’t bad in terms of getting things accomplished but I was a little more rushed than I prefer. I listened to the last day of “The Great Health Debate” which lasted longer than any of the prior days. However it was nice to hear Dr. T. Colin Campbell talk about health. I am going to summarize my thoughts on the debate and get those posted as soon as I can. Much to my surprise the “experts” agreed on more points than I expected.

It was almost 2pm before I was finished listening to the audio and then it was time to write the post I put up on Monday. I didn’t actually start dinner until about 5pm. Nothing like planning right? I was craving tofu and decided to make it with a spice rub I used with pork loin in the past. This rub is good but unusual spice rub that I think you will like. It can be altered and will outline that in the comments. Here is what I did:

Spice Rub for Tofu
Enough for two 14 ounce blocks of tofu


1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (this amount is approximate)


Combine the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a pan and heat over medium, shaking the pan periodically to toast all seeds. Heat the seeds until the coriander begins to turn a light brown and you can smell the spices. Next place the toasted seeds into a spice grinder and add the cocoa powder. Grind the seeds until they are a powder.

Use half of the spice rub to coat a 14 ounce block of tofu that you have cut into 6 pieces. Bake the tofu until it is the texture you like.

Nutritional information for ½ the spice rub:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 8.7
Calories From Fat (44%) - 3.85

Total Fat - 0.46g
Saturated Fat - 0.06g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 2.57mg
Potassium - 43.07mg
Total Carbohydrates - 1.39g
Fiber - 0.72g
Sugar-  0.03g
Protein-  0.44g


This spice rub worked really well with tofu, better than I expected actually. If you want to change it up a little you can add ½ tablespoon freshly grated ginger or ½ tablespoon of espresso powder. I have added both of those in the past and they work well with these spices. If you eat sugar a little brown sugar in the mix is also good. If you add the sugar you need to be careful that the sugar doesn’t scorch while the tofu is baking.

Valentine’s dinner was tofu with the spice rub and roasted fingerling potatoes, broccoli and raw grape tomatoes. When the potatoes and broccoli were cooked I tossed them in fresh lemon juice and then added Italian seasoning and freshly ground black pepper. The tomatoes were added for temperature contrast and nutrition. There is a nutritional synergy that takes place when you combine broccoli and tomatoes which I try to keep in mind when planning meals.

Thoughts on “Scientific Research”:

Laura asked a great question that I wanted to share with everyone and then discuss my thoughts on the topic. Her question was: “You already share quite a lot of research-type info, but being a science person I always want to know more...for example, why you will or won't incorporate certain results/recommendations into your diet.” I thought this was a great starting off point for a conversation about “science”.

This question came up on the last post where I talked about the vitamin K2 in hard cheese being reported to have anti-angiogenesis properties. However there is also science that shows that dairy is tumor and metastases promoting. For me it comes down to what or who to believe.

If T. Colin Campbell had been the only one to discuss the tumor promoting effects of casein I wouldn’t know what to do since there appears to be science on both sides of this argument. However in the book “Life Over Cancer” there is also a discussion about the impact of casein on tumor growth (it starts on page 68). The doctor explains that dairy is bad for a number of reasons, these are:

• Dairy is high in cholesterol which is a problem in terms of cancer. High cholesterol is associated with metastases as well as making tumors more resistant to chemotherapy.

• Additionally dairy boosts estradiol which stimulates tumor growth particularly of hormonal cancers like breast, ovarian, uterine, and cervical. I should mention that eating a high-fiber, vegetable-rich diet lowers estradiol.

• Dairy contains calcium which binds with your vitamin D stores which you don’t want. Vitamin D appears to be crucial for controlling cancer cell division (growth).

• The saturated fat in dairy increases the likelihood of blood clots which is a problem for many with cancer.

• Milk/dairy contains lactose (milk sugar) which can raise blood sugar.

• The casein in dairy accelerates the growth of tumors and metastases by fueling IGF-1.

When I compare this to the idea that vitamin K2 may be good I decided to avoid the cheese and get my K2 elsewhere. I can’t say that either Dan or I are looking forward to consuming natto. The idea of a slimy gelatinous product doesn’t appeal to either of us but if it helps our health then we are going to find a way to consume it. I will keep you posted on what works and doesn’t work in regard to getting natto into our diet.

Since Doctor Block (who wrote “Life Over Cancer”) has been treating cancer patients in his facility for 30 years I tend to put more stock in his findings versus a research scientist like Dr. Li. I am not saying Dr. Li is wrong but Dr. Block being in the trenches with 1,000’s of patients gives me the feeling he has more experience with what works on people as compared to in the lab.

This was rather a long winded answer on why I am not jumping to add cheese to our diet. However I hope it gives you some insight. One thing that used to confuse me was all the apparently conflicting “science” around nutrition. I think part of this is the fact that we tend to look at food in a reductionist manner. What I mean by that is hard cheese is recommended for the vitamin K2 it contains however that isn’t all that is in cheese. When you look at cheese in its entirety I think there is more bad than good. I hope that makes some sense.

I will try to write a review of “Life Over Cancer” this week. This book is one of the best, if not the best, that I have read regarding cancer. If you are worried about cancer I would recommend you see if your library has a copy. I think you will find it is worth owning. I use it as a resource quite often.

Happy Thoughts:

The week is starting off well so far. Here are my happy thoughts at the moment:

• Tuesday has been much more relaxed than the prior 8 days. Both Dan and I had appointments with the internist today. The lab results were excellent except one thing I want to work on. I will share details with you very soon, maybe tomorrow if I have my new plan in place that quickly. I was thrilled that our blood glucose levels were 75 and 87. Nutrition really makes a huge difference. ;-)

• Dan worked from home Tuesday morning since appointments were at noon and 12:20. It was nice to have him in the house even if he was upstairs in his home office. I also loved spending time riding with Dan riding to the appointment and in the exam room. We always have a friendly battle or how has better numbers. Yes we are that geeky. LOL

• Since we had quite a bit of time together today I had a chance to discuss getting to the gym in the morning again. I am happy to say Dan has agreed that we need to get back on our morning schedule and that he plans to be home early enough that we can go tomorrow before work. I am looking forward to starting my day early at the gym tomorrow. Who said that? *looks around* ;-)

• I am also thankful for this sweet little angel. This is one of the rare pictures of Binky’s big brother Massimo (aka Masi) with his eyes open. Masi was very happy when we came home from the doctor and turned on the electric blanket as you can see from the look on his face. He is such a precious baby and I am very thankful to have him in my life.

• The weather service is predicting temperatures to reach 70 on Friday. Woo hoo! I may have to change my schedule so that I can enjoy my Friday rather than running errands. I can’t wait for spring to get here. Dan and I were discussing putting in a garden bed in the backyard this spring if we can find a spot with enough sun. I am definitely getting spring fever. LOL

Signing out:

Being out of the house for hours today means I am behind at home. I need to log off and get some laundry done and make something for dinner. Talk to you again tomorrow.


  1. So glad you're having a great start to the week and got to spend a little extra time with Dan!

  2. Lovely colorful meal. The spice rub is a great idea, I am glad to hear it was successful. That will be a fun one to play with.

    That is my favorite picture of Masi ever, precious!

  3. I've heard about the K2 in dairy. But I'd rather get it elsewhere to. Supposedly greens are a good source of K vitamins, right?

  4. I just LOVE that picture of Masi. I so wish I wasn't so allergic to cats! And I agree with what you said about which science to believe...plus, since vegan "feels" right to me and in my body, that's what I'm sticking with!

  5. Natto...it's smelly, slimy and unpleasant texture wise - please let me know if you find an appealing way to consume it LOL. At my work, we know carry vitamin k2 supplements sourced from natto - I know supplements are not the same as eating it in its whole form, but could be a good option.
    Love the spice combination!
    Question: Do you have to toast seeds/spices before grinding them or how do you find it alters the flavours?
    Take care!

  6. Heather,

    Thanks! It is nice to feel like my life is returning to normal. I have missed reading other blogs and responding to comments. I hope your week is going well too!


  7. Great explanation on the K2 issue...it really helps that you're familiar with the authors/researchers and can steer us in the right direction. A couple other things I'm confused about are calcium supplementation and tofu (why do I continue to hear bad things about unfermented soy products?). BTW I made your lasagna recipe for Valentine's Day, yum!

  8. Sarah,

    Thank you! I love the little purple potatoes too. ;-) I wasn't sure how the rub would work on tofu but it worked fine. This was one of my favorite rubs when I was omni. If you like coffee the espresso powder addition is very nice in this.

    I was very surprised to get a picture of Masi with his eyes open. You know he always closes them on me. He is such a precious little sweetie. No bias here, LOL.

    talk to you later,

  9. Bitt,

    Greens are a good source of vitamin K1. However your question made me realize I should write more about the various forms of vitamin K. I will include that in today's post. Thanks for the idea.


  10. Stephanie,

    Knowing which "science" to believe is so tough. They are seem to make sense in isolation and that is the problem at least for me. But I agree with you that being vegan feels right to me too. My lab results were all excellent, except that one pesky test which was still better than the average American. It is hard to argue with the lab results both Dan and I have seen since going vegan.

    Masi does not like the camera and normally turns away or closes his eyes. That is why you typically see pictures of Binky. He is the only feline we have that poses for the camera. I think Binky (Nicco) has a little ham in him. ;-)


  11. Possum (N),

    Your description is exactly why the natto is still in the package in our refrigerator, LOL. I need to be brave and just open and see what I can do with it. It has a huge amount of K2 1000mcg compared to 70 for the same amount of hard cheese.

    However in the event we can't find a palatable way to consume the natto it is good to know there are supplements made from natto we can take. Thank you so much for sharing that. I had no idea they existed. :-)

    You do not have to toast the seeds before grinding them. Sometimes I do that and sometimes I don't. It seems to intensify the flavor a little. But I have made it both ways.

    talk to you later,

  12. Laura,

    *happy dance* I am so glad you liked the tofu lasagna. Thank you very much for letting me know. That is one of Dan's favorite recipes. If he sees your comment he will want me to make it again soon. LOL

    I will put calcium supplementation and tofu on my list of topics to cover soon. As you may have guessed I am not concerned about tofu (provided it doesn't have soy isolate in it) but to go into detail I will need to put that into a post. Thanks for two more great ideas! :-)

    talk to you later,

  13. I originally read your post in my Google reader and just happened to click over. That's when I saw the queso, and oh my goodness, I will have to make that this weekend. It looks incredible. I'm currently living with a diabetic who has a pretty unhealthty diet but is open to all my crazy vegan cooking. We'll have to give the queso a spin.

  14. I forgot to mention that I don't precook the lasagna noodles anymore and they come out fine. I use lots of sauce and cook the lasagna for about an hour when using whole-wheat noodles (less when using regular ones). One less pot to wash!

    Ali, I want to tell you again how valuable your recipes, methods and cooking guidelines have been. I'm getting pretty good at throwing together quick, healthy and tasty dishes. Especially soups and stews, which we even made while on vacation. I still have a long way to go (to eat as healthy as you), but I'm on my way!

  15. Brigid,

    I hope the queso is as big a hit with you as it is here. My very omni Egyptian friend Walid says it is better than dairy cheese dip. Please let me know what you think. Dan and I believe it is one of my better recipes in terms of authenticity to the original.


  16. Laura,

    Ages ago I made my lasagna without cooking the noodles but haven't tried that since going vegan. Thanks for the reminder I will give it a try the next time I make lasagna for Dan to take to work for lunch.

    That is very exciting that you are getting good and throwing things together. I would say you are on your way. When I could make stuff up on the fly was when I knew I had progressed to the next level. Thank you very much for letting me know that I helped. :-)


  17. Your tofu dish looks amazing! That rub sounds like a great idea.
    Masi is precious!

  18. im emailing the milk facts to my mom. she just wont let go of that old way of thinking. *pulls hair out*

  19. Your potato/broccoli/tomato looks so very good.

    Thanks for the discussion of what studies you put into practice. It's so important to consider the source and depth of the study and not just the results.

    Masi looks so content on the blanket! And we got almost to 70 today, I hope that weather is headed your way!

  20. Thanks for all this great info. I love reading your Hpapy Thoughts, too--always gives me a better perspective on my own day. The spice rub sounds great, too. So you just put it directly on the tofu--no marinade first?


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