Friday, March 25, 2011

Soymilk Without a Soymilk Maker, Homemade Tofu and a Soap Review

This post is long overdue and I apologize for the delay. The first time I made homemade tofu I didn’t take pictures of the steps because I didn’t actually expect it to be this simple or that it would work the first time I tried it, but it did. That meant I needed to make tofu a second time to photograph everything. Oops. ;-)

First here is what I was up to today. For some reason it is unseasonably cold now with Thursday being colder than Wednesday. It was only 41 this morning when Dan and I went for a walk before breakfast. Good thing we were moving fast or it would have felt much colder outside. On the bright side even though it was gray outside at least it wasn’t rainy and that was a very good thing.

When we got back home I made Dan’s breakfast (wild blueberry oatmeal) and packed his lunch while he got ready for work. I considered going for another walk by myself later today after Dan left for work, but I needed to warm up since it was darn cold outside this morning. Who knows I might even wear pants that go to my ankles for my second trip. It is funny that I was cold yesterday in capri yoga pants and still wore them today even though it was colder outside. Earth to Alicia, do you ever learn that you get cold? LOL, apparently I am too stubborn for my own good. ;-)

I used my TRX for a little strength training this morning which also helped me warm up. Then it was time for my breakfast. I can’t tell you how nice it is to eat whatever I am in the mood for. Can you tell I am not good at following a structured diet? Honestly I don’t know how anyone stays on them I find them to be entirely too restrictive. Not to mention why would any diet restrict vegetable consumption? I still can’t get over the fact that a diet would restrict how many vegetables someone could eat. *rolls eyes* ;-)

This morning I was in the mood for savory oatmeal, made my way with loads of veggies. Today my oatmeal included the following: ½ cup oats, approximately 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons wheat germ, 1 tablespoon freshly ground flax, approximately 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, some cumin, some oregano and no-salt seasoning to taste, 3 cups baby spinach, salsa (about ¼ cup), marinated mushrooms (about ¼ cup). This is my idea of breakfast. Savory oatmeal you will never know how much I missed you, LOL. That assumes savory oatmeal can think but you get the idea. ;-)

For those of you that haven’t noticed I tend to eat a big breakfast. My body seems to work best when I make breakfast the largest meal of my day. I am always open to experimenting with both my food and exercise to see what works best for me. I can’t remember where I read making breakfast your largest meal works for some people and I seem to be one of those people. The concept originally made sense to me since you go longer between dinner and breakfast than any other meal. Also if breakfast is your biggest meal you have all day to burn if off. Conversely when you eat a big dinner normally none of us are very active and needs that many calories to fuel our evening of sitting on the couch. If that makes sense to anyone I hope you might give a big breakfast a try.

After I finished my savoy oatmeal and my cup of tulsi and white tea I started making another batch of soymilk and then tofu so that I could photograph the steps for the blog.

Lunch was leftover French Market Soup from yesterday. What would I do without my intentional leftovers? Seriously if I didn’t always make leftovers I could never eat a diet this healthy. Intentional leftovers come to my rescue all the time.

Next I decided to start playing around with Facebook. For those of you that just fell out of your respective chairs I am sorry for the shock. I have no idea what I am doing at the moment but according to my friend Laura Jill I haven’t made a faux pas (yet) and she promised to keep an eye on me which is good. When I feel like I know what I am doing I will post a link. It may take me a couple weeks since I am a technology dinosaur. ;-)

Dinner? Oh yeah we do need to eat don’t we? Oops … guess who didn’t plan dinner again? How we ever manage to eat is sometimes beyond me. I often get so busy doing things that I forget completely about dinner. I decided to make something easy for dinner namely a big salad. The good thing about forgetting dinner tonight is that Dan doesn’t need lunch tomorrow since it is training day at work and lunch gets brought in which means I don’t need leftovers. Thank goodness for small favors right?

Making Soymilk Without A Soymilk Maker:

The first step to making soymilk is to soak soybeans overnight in your refrigerator. I used 1 cup of organic soybeans (the only ones I will buy) and placed them in a quart mason jar and covered them with filtered water.

 (soybeans with hulls)

 (pouring hulls off the soybeans)

(soybeans without hulls)

The next morning drain the water from the soybeans and move them to a large container (one you can easily get a hand into), hopefully this container will have a spout. Now use your hand to smush the beans between your fingers like you are making bean burgers or meat loaf. This smushing action will release the outer skin from the beans. Now add water to the container and the outer skin (hulls) will float to the surface and you can pour them out of the container. Continue to do this until you have removed most of the hulls which will take about 5 minutes. Removing the hulls isn’t absolutely necessary but it results in a soymilk that has less of a bean taste.

(straining okara from the soymilk using a jelly strainer)

Drain the hulled soybeans and place them in your blender (I used a Vitamix) add 4 cups of filtered water to the blender. Now process the hulled soybeans and water on high for two minutes. Pour this thick liquid into a large pot and cook until the mixture foams then strain the solids form the liquid. I used a jelly strainer and that works faster than the strainer that came with the soymilk maker. While the soymilk is straining clean the pot ,the milk will have formed a tough film inside the pot no matter how low the heat and how often you stir. Return the strained milk to the clean pot and bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes to make the soymilk digestible.

If you are fortunate enough to have a soymilk maker use that to make your milk because it makes for much easier clean up. You need to strain this like you are making soymilk since that is the first step.

Making Tofu:

No matter which method you use now you need to heat the strained milk to 180 degrees then turn off the heat.

(nigari to coagulate soymilk)
(curdled soymilk)

While you are heating the milk combine 1 teaspoon of nigari with ¼ cup of water and heat to dissolve the nigari. Pour the nigari and water into the milk and stir once or twice to combine then leave the milk alone and let it sit for 8 minutes. You will see the milk curdle and the whey begin to separate.

You can use a strainer lined with three layers of cheesecloth to make your tofu which will result in a round tofu.

Or you can use an old tofu container that you punch holes in with a knife and line that with cheese cloth (3 layers). Be sure to put this inside another container so you don’t end up with whey in your refrigerator.

(coagulated soymilk after 8 minutes)

(soymilk solids before being pressed) 

(homemade tofu in water ready to be refrigerated)

Pour the curdled soymilk into the cheese cloth. Fold the cheesecloth over, press out any water, put a weight on top of the “tofu” and place this in the refrigerator for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Remove the tofu and store it in filtered water in a covered container in your refrigerator. Homemade firm tofu is that simple. 

The best part of homemade tofu is the taste which is subtle and fresher tasting. For those of you that ever made fresh ricotta cheese and remember how different that is from the commercial stuff fresh tofu is very similar.  It will be very tough to use the commercial stuff now that I have had homemade. Fortunately I only have a few packages of the commercial stuff in the freezer to use up.
Now that I have made soymilk in my blender and in my soymilk maker I definitely have a preference. When Dan first wanted to buy me the soymilk maker I thought it was extravagant and unnecessary. Here is where I have to eat those words and admit that my husband was right, and therefore I was “less right”. Okay I was wrong, but I hate to say it out loud since he will never let me forget it.

The problem with making soymilk without the maker is the clean up. Each time you cook the soymilk it scorches on the bottom of the pan and is a pain to clean. If you plan to make your own soymilk you will say a lot of time if you have a soymilk maker. I can safely say that I am now very happy to have my soymilk maker. Thank you Dan for insisting on buying it for me even though I wasn’t sure it was necessary. Mea culpa, LOL.

Angelic Soap: A Review

As all of you know I haven’t been very keen to accept products for review in the past because I didn’t want to appear biased. However when Teresa contacted me about reviewing her soap there was something in me that immediately said yes which was completely out of character. I am not sure if it is because Teresa is a blog reader, or because I am not fond of commercial soap but either way I am very happy that I said yes. Now I need to give you a little background before I get to the review, please bare with me.

Back in 2005 I came across a book “Toxic Overload” and read it cover to cover with great interest. This was interesting to me because the doctor had said the cancer was probably due to an exposure to a toxin. When I pressed him for what type of toxin could we possibly have come into contact with the doctor explained that it could be something simple like artificial flavors, preservatives or something in our environment like cleaning products. Given my propensity to go at something 100% I tried to educate myself regarding where these toxins were lurking in our life. This book was a great primer on what I should be avoiding. Reading the section of the book that talked about beauty products was simultaneously enlightening and horrifying. After reading that book I became much more conscious of the things that came into the house. This resulted in my eliminating many items that were previously always in our house.

It seems second nature to me now but I was initially shocked when I realized now many chemicals and known carcinogens are found in beauty products. Before you think it doesn’t make a difference since you aren’t eating them think again. Many items you put on your skin are absorbed into your body. Think of nicotine patches to stop smoking or birth control patches. Once you think about things being absorbed through your skin it is difficult to put carcinogens on your body. What are some known carcinogens in beauty products: coal tar (shampoo), benzyl violet 4B (shampoo and moisturizing body bar), formaldehyde (shampoo, sunscreen), phthalates (moisturizers), parabens (moisturizers, sunscreen, foundation, etc.), sodium lauryl sulfate (shampoo, body wash), and resorcinol (shampoo) to name a few. I could have listed many more items but I think you get the idea. I started using the Environmental Working Group website to select the healthiest products for us to use. Finding soap that we liked was extremely difficult. I tried Dr. Bronner’s and using our organic shampoo as body wash but nothing was quite right. I always had it in the back of my head to try making soap for us to use but it seemed a little scary and I never got around to it.

When Teresa suggested that she would like to send me some of her homemade soap to try I thought this was marvelous. I will admit that had no idea what to expect when I said yes. Then I went to her website and I was blown away. Not only is the soup made using old world techniques but each of them is a little work of art. When I said that to Teresa she told me she has a Master’s degree in Fine Art and think that is very obvious in the look of the soap.

I image you are thinking being beautiful is great but how does it work? From the first time I used the soap my skin felt hydrated and soft. I can’t say I understand how this is possible exactly but it is true. Teresa explained that her soap has a high fat content and is made from the highest quality ingredients. Additionally Teresa explained that her handcrafted soap retains all the natural vegetable glycerin which increases the humectant factor. All I know is that I love her soap which is more than enough for me. It is gorgeous to look it, smells wonderful, doesn’t include anything I that don’t recognize and it leaves my skin feeling smooth and soft. If you haven’t checked out her website please do. Other than a few obvious items which contain goat milk or honey her products are vegan. I have been completely blown away by the quality of her products. In fact I don’t think that I can go back to any commercial products again.

You can find out more about Teresa's products at her blog and her etsy shop.

Happy Thoughts:

• It was great to get up early enough this morning that Dan and I could go for a walk together before breakfast. This needs to happen more often at our house. With spring there is lots of rain in the forecast but hopefully that will prompt us to the go to the gym together on days when rain is scheduled for the morning. *fingers crossed*

• It was great to be back to my food, woo hoo! I had no idea that I would miss it so much. Before the diet guinea pig project started I expected to be able to do it a week which would give a good idea of the diet. Little did I know I would get so cranky on that diet. I suppose this proves that willpower alone is not enough. However I will say I am happy that things turned out the way that they did. I firmly believe that only permanent lifestyle changes are what any of us should be making. I realize that we are all in a different place when it comes to nutrition but I hope my attempt to use myself as the experiment helped at least one person think about lifestyle changes versus a diet and what that means.

• Today I made soymilk using my soymilk maker which means I am very thankful for it today. I am also thankful for my wonderful husband who insisted on buying the soymilk maker. Love you!

• I decided to confront my Facebook fear and jumped into today, hopefully not head first. I am proud of myself for just doing something. Also I am thankful for Laura Jill who graciously volunteered to keep any eye on me to hopefully keep my stupid mistakes to a minimum, LOL.

• We had another beautiful sky this evening. I love to watch the sunset each night. Do any of you do that too?

• We are having dinner with some good friends tomorrow which I am very much looking forward to. I can’t wait to hear all about Deirdre’s new life as a student since she bravely checked out of the work world and went back to school full time to follow her passion. Walid always makes me feel appreciated and his wife Jackie is one of the funniest people I know. Doesn’t it sound like it will be a great evening? As you can tell I am really looking forward to it? ;-)

Signing out:

Even I can’t believe I wrote this much today. Sorry for the long post. I hope you have a good sense of how to make soymilk and tofu. I also really hope that you check out Teresa’s soap it is amazing.

Tomorrow is Friday *woo hoo* and I can’t wait for the weekend. Come on Friday night you can’t come soon enough. I hope the week has treated you well and that you are looking forward to your weekend. Talk to you again tomorrow. Have a great evening!!!!!


  1. Ali, You are ambitious to make your own soy milk and tofu.
    I bet that tofu is delicious!
    I made almond milk once, but I give in to time constraints and typically purchase it.
    Thank you so much for your time and kindness for writing your review of my soap
    I am eternally grateful!
    Angelic Hugs,

  2. I can't believe you make your own tofu (bowing down repeatedly). Holy industriousness!!!!!!

  3. Ali, I'm SO impressed by the tofu. Someday, I might try that myself...someday....

    I'm also impressed that you're on facebook, and very proud of you for making the leap. I noticed twice this week in your blog that you referred to your age...I'd love to see you stop referring to yourself as old, because you're not! :)

    Love the soap review--I'm pretty dedicated to Lush soaps, but I'll definitely check those out. :)


  4. Teresa,

    Tofu is easy, a little time consuming but still easy. The flavor is SO much better I can't imagine going back.

    You are very welcome for the review. Your products are absolutely amazing. I had no idea handcrafted soap would be that different. Thank you for asking me to try it.


  5. healthy girl,

    Tofu really isn't difficult. I hope that came out in the post. It does take a while but most of that time is waiting. The flavor is incredibly fresh and subtle. I am going to try to add "cheezy" flavor soon and see if I can built umami into tofu.

    Thanks for the encouragement, it is always appreciated.

    Happy Friday,

  6. Laura Jill,

    You of all people need to make your own tofu at least once. I know you would love doing it. ;-)

    I am having the annual "my birthday is approaching" age crisis. Once my birthday has happened it will go away. But I appreciate the sentiment. Thank you for your help on Facebook, BTW.

    The soap is so incredible it was difficult to put into words. I can't get over the difference in my skin. As you can tell I am seriously impressed with Teresa's soap.

    talk to you later,

  7. What a great tutorial.. Thanks for sharing. The salad looks awesome by the way!
    Blessings, Debra
    Raw Vegan Diet

  8. Debra,

    Thanks! I hope it showed how easy tofu is to make. It does take a while but I think it is worth it because the taste is far superior.

    Salad tends to be my go to dinner lately. With spring approaching I don't want to be in the kitchen I guess.


  9. I must make homemade tofu one of these days!

  10. Bianca,

    The taste of fresh tofu is vastly superior to the commercial stuff. It does take a while to make, but isn't difficult. I think you will enjoy the process.


  11. Wow - what a detailed post! Thank you. I am intrigued, and one day I do want to make my own tofu. Maybe I should start looking into soymilk makers, too.

  12. 41 isn't all that cold, but it is definitely pants weather, lol! You are brave to go out in capris--I would have had a hard time warming up too!

    Wow--making tofu looks a lot easier than I expected! Thanks so much for documenting it. It is awesome that you were able to find nigari and give it a go.

    Those soaps are gorgeous! I am glad you are enjoying them :-)


  13. I have added you to my blog roll. I believe we have a lot in common!

  14. Jessica,

    I am very happy to hear you are thinking about making your own tofu. I think homemade tofu has great flavor and hope you agree. The soymilk maker I have is great. There is a review of it on my blog if you are interested. ;-)

    hope you are enjoying your weekend,

  15. Courtney,

    I think foolish is a better description than brave. I agree 41 isn't terribly cold but when it is humid for some reason if feels colder to me.

    Tofu making was easier than I thought too, LOL.

    The handcrafted soaps are beyond amazing. I can't get over how much better my skin feels.

    talk to you later,

  16. Wendy,

    Thanks! I will stop by your blog as soon as I finish responding to the new comments on mine. It is always nice to meet other people that are interested in health. :-)


  17. I knew people would respond to the homemade tofu post! YAY!
    I cannot wait for the tempeh post! I know how to make both, but I am lazy and well...yeah, lazy pretty much covers it. LOL
    I am proud of you! Pat yourself on the back for this one girlie!
    Talk to you later!


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