Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vegan MoFo 17.1: Book Review: Serene Cuisine

First off the rain has stopped and the skies are blue with puffy little wisps of clouds. It is a pretty fall morning here. It is a great day to be alive. Our morning was a little hectic with an early morning phone call but things have been looking up ever since.

We opted to have our usual green smoothies for breakfast. I love starting the morning with raw leafy green veggies.

Book Review: Serene Cuisine

This book is not vegan, but is vegetarian. I picked it up from the library because I liked the title. Anything that promises serenity is something that will get my attention every time. The premise of the book is to use ancient holistic yoga principles in regard to diet.

The book is categorized as follows:

1. yoga and yogic food
2. spices
3. basics of yogic food
4. drinks
5. soups and salads
6. raita and chutney
7. vegetables and curries
8. rice
9. dessert
10. asana index

Some of the principles in the book I don’t agree with like using minimal amounts of spice or that yogurt is healthy. But overall the recipes are healthier than many I have seen. There is not an overuse of oil which you know I like.

The book includes a number of interesting drinks and salads that I will be putting my own spin on soon.

Overall I thought it was interesting book and one worth reading. As usual I recommend this be something you check out from the library before purchasing. I found it to be a very enjoyable read.

Soy Protein Isolates:

I mention this topic frequently but apparently need to explain the problems with consumping them more completely. When I got a request to talk more about this you know I was happy to write about it. Anytime anyone is interested in making better nutrition choices I am thrilled.

Soy protein isolates are an unnatural form of soy. They are not something that we could make easily at home. When something is isolated it has either undergone high temperature and/or chemical processing. This process is not something that Asian cultures have been using thorough out history it is a fairly new Western process. This isolated soy protein is now added to our food supply in many more products than you would expect. Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is a form of isolated soy protein. However you will also find processed soy in vegan dairy substitutes, faux meat substitutes, bread, granola bars, and many other processed and packaged foods.

IGF-1 is a hormone, made in the liver that stimulates growth. IGF-1 can be increased or decreased with exercise, good nutrition, and stress reduction to name a few things. The IGF signaling pathway plays a role in the growth of cancer so it makes sense to not stimulate that growth. The consumption of soy protein isolates have been shown to increase the production of IGF-1 in the body. Other foods that increase IGF-1 include dairy and meat. The problem is that this unnatural product (soy protein isolate) has become common place in the US food supply. Unless you are predominantly eating whole natural food (veggies, fruit, unprocessed whole grains and beans) there is a good chance you eat soy protein isolates daily.

Not to be a downer but everyone’s DNA mutates daily, which could result in cancer unless your immune system is able to destroy the mutation before it causes damage. My approach is to give my body (and my husband’s body) everything it needs to function as well as it possibly can. The idea of adding something that we know fuels cancer growth is not an option for us. Both Dan and I decided that we would rather remove (or dramatically reduce) things we know to be harmful. The only question is our mind is how much impact soy protein isolate has on fueling cancer growth. In the end it isn’t worth consuming to us. It is interesting to note that foods that are high in protein (meat, dairy and soy protein) all increase IGF-1. I don’t think that is a coincidence but that is only conjecture on my part. ;-)

Cooking Contest:

If you like raw foods stop by Brigid’s blog. She is having a raw food contest. Since most of us should eat more raw food why not see what you can come up with for the contest. I am hoping to have time to take part and look forward to seeing the recipes others submit.

Happy Thoughts:

• The rain has stopped and it is a nice sunny, windy and reasonably warm (upper 50’s low 60’s) fall day. Just the sort of day you want to sip a cup of hot tea while looking out the window, which I did earlier. ;-) I love to watch the leaves blow in the wind.

• All three felines were cooperative for their morning meds and are now sweetly sleeping. Is that anything more adorable than little sleeping animals? That is tough to beat in my opinion.

• Dan and I are trying to work out how and when we are going to exercise together. As you may have guessed joining our college gym is looking more likely. Indoor pool here I come. LOL

• We got some disturbing news this morning but it reminded us how fortunate we are to have made good financial choices earlier in life. I guess our finance degrees have been good for something.

• I feel like I am more focused on health at the moment, which is always good. I am looking forward to starting 2011 more healthy than  I began last year. One thing I have learned is that for us improving our nutrition has been a process. While we went from omni to vegan in one day making other changes took much longer. I feel as though my cooking continues to become more health giving over time. I am very happy that we have both learned to love eating this way. Dan was a tough sell initially but now he is completely on board.  It is much easier to do this together I think.

Signing out:

I have a few errands to take care of today and some things to accomplish before Dan gets home. I will be back later with two quick recipes from last night. My next experiment is slow cooker lasagna. Have any of you tried that yet? If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.

Talk to you later today.


  1. Thanks for the book review, Ali. This is the type of book I would like to write...related to yoga...but vegan:))
    Have a nice day,
    Aimee xo

  2. Aimee,

    I thought of you and LJ when I was reading the book. I think both of you would enjoy it. I like the sound of your book, maybe you should write it.

    I hope you have a good one too,

  3. I tried slow cooker lasagna once early on in my cooking experience. The recipe said 4 hours on low and my slow cooker annihilated it. I think it may have been ready to eat in half the time, I hear that slow cookers vary a lot in that way. I feel like I am skilled enough now that I would know better when to stop cooking, and certainly this wouldn't be a problem for you :) What a fun experiment, can't wait to see how it turns out!

  4. Sarah,

    Thanks for the guidance on the slow cooker lasagna. I have a seen a couple of recipes but thought they might overcook in the time suggested. I am thinking of making it in a loaf pan inside the slow cooker. Since Dan loves lasagna I thought one I could make without the oven would be good in the summer. That is on my agenda for this week sometime.

    thanks again,

  5. Hi Ali,
    Knowing that you dont like to use brand names on your site, I wont mention it here. But the type of organic tofu that I buy contains "Natural soy isoflavens". This is different from isolated soy protein, correct?

    Not only do food manufacturers work up devilish ways to inject our food with cockamamie products, they also use absurdly similar names to make us think something is really something very different.

  6. Jill,

    Hmmm, why do they add soy isoflavones to the tofu? I thought isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen in soy but I don't understand why they would need to be added. I just checked my tofu and it contains: water, whole organic soybeans and magnesium chloride. I am suspicious of the added isoflavones since I don't understand why they are there.

    My personal rule is to read the ingredient labels and avoid products that contain items I don't understand. This is how we end up eating mostly whole food. It is just safer in general.

    Great question,

  7. Love that first picture by the way. I love that you and Dan are trying to figure out how to workout together. The school gym sounds ideal especially with the pool. Hope the news wasn't too terrible????

  8. Heather,

    I love taking pictures of plants. Orange is one of my favorite colors. Glad you liked it too. :-)

    The gym opens at 6am so I am trying to convince Dan we should go when it opens. I also think the college kids will still be sleeping then, LOL. That will mean changing his night owl ways though. I thought it would be a great way to wake up. Wish me luck on this one. The indoor squash courts are almost as appealing as the pool. They even have a rock climbing wall. Crazy right? When we went there I don't remember a gym.

    Luckily the news shouldn't have an impact on us. When your phone rings early in the morning it is almost never good news.

    talk to you later,

  9. Serene Cuisine sounds catchy and interesting. I have heard people (and I think this is just speculation, not studies) that try to connect hormones in animal products with tempers in people. At least it's a topic people are interested in.

    Giada's recipe has a crazy amount of oil! I rarely measure (which is why I'm a terrible baker) but I think people who do follow her recipe would. It's also interesting from the point of view of someone who would not do that at home, but would enjoy it at a restaurant where chefs add oil and butter in excess.

    Also, thanks for the additional information soy protein isolates. I sometimes eat them knowingly and sometimes unknowingly I'm sure, although I know whole food is best.

  10. Jessica,

    There is so much nastiness in meat I wouldn't be surprised by anything it caused. Though my best friend is an omnivore and he is the most gentle man I know all 6'4" of him.

    I was blown away by the amount of oil she used. Why? I agree restaurant food and processed food has much more oil than I think most people realize. Ian and I have talked about him cooking our food without oil and he can't wrap his head around the concept. He does use the least amount he thinks is necessary though for us because he knows we don't use it at home. Sounds like I need to show him it will work doesn't it? LOL

    What scares me about the soy protein isolates is how they are extracted (typically with chemicals) as well as the fact that they are in everything. Check your bread label. I bet they are in there. I had trouble finding bread without them for Thanksgiving stuffing.


  11. I missed this post the other day. Thanks for the extra information, Ali. Good to keep in mind.

  12. Foodfeud,

    I was happy to oblige. If you ever have any other questions please feel free to ask. I hope this helped. As you can tell I find soy protein isolates to be a scary thing. ;-)

    hope you are having a good evening,


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