Christina's Pantry

Essential Pantry

Soybeans

Soybeans are rich in nutrients, particularly protein with 35-38% of their calories derived from this nutrient. 40% of soy nutrients come from fat with 63% of that unsaturated.

 

But it’s the micro-nutrients that concern most of us, specifically phyto-estrogens. Let’s clear this up so we can enjoy the many benefits of tofu.

 

Phytoestrogens are plant-derived xenoestrogens not generated within the endocrine system but consumed by eating phytoestrogenic plants, like soybeans. Also called "dietary estrogens", they are a diverse group of naturally occurring nonsteroidal plant compounds that, because of their structural similarity with estradiol, have the ability to cause estrogenic or/and anti-estrogenic effects by sitting in and blocking receptor sites against estrogen.

 

This is important to understand as women are being advised by medical professionals to avoid soy in their diet because of estrogen. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you read the definition carefully, you will understand that what phytoestrogens do is keep the human body hormonally balanced by blocking or absorbing estrogen as needed. There is nothing to fear from traditional soy products like tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy sauce and miso

 

Always choose organic soy products to avoid any GM varieties of soybeans.

Spices

Spices are highly aromatic seasonings that come from the seed, root, bark, and buds of plants, while herbs are obtained from the leaves and stems. Spices generally give food a very strong taste and energy, and can be quite stimulating to our vitality. Use of spices can be very helpful in getting energy moving when stagnant or “stuck.” Spices become stale when kept for more than six months, so it is advisable to buy them in small quantities that you will use in that time period. Store spices and herbs in well-sealed containers in a cool, dark place to retain potency.

Tempeh

A traditional Indonesian soy product created by fermenting split, cooked soybeans with a starter. As the tempeh ferments, a white mycelium of enzymes develops on the surface, making the soybeans more digestible as well as providing a healthy range of B vitamins, except B-12. Found in the refrigerator or freezer section of natural foods stores, tempeh is great in everything from sandwiches to salads to stews to casseroles.

Tofu (soybean curd)

Fast becoming a popular low-fat food in our fat-crazed world, tofu is a wonderful source of protein and phytoestrogens and is both inexpensive and versatile. Rich in calcium and cholesterol-free, tofu is made by extracting curd from coagulated soy milk and then pressing it into bricks. For use in everything from soups and stews to salads, casseroles and quiches or as the creamy base to sauces and dressings.

Vanilla (pure vanilla extract)

A smoky, smooth flavoring made by extracting the essence from vanilla beans and preserving it in alcohol and water, although nowadays you can obtain vanilla preserved without alcohol. Pure vanilla extract is a bit expensive, but a small bit goes a long way, so splurge and get the best. By the way, inexpensive, artificial vanilla is made from vanillin, a by-product of paper making—appetizing, no?

Wakame (alaria)

A very delicate member of the kelp family, wakame is most traditionally used in miso soups and tender salads. It requires only a brief soaking and short cooking time and has a very gentle flavor, so it is a great way to add sea vegetables to your diet.

Whole-wheat flour

A flour ground from whole-wheat berries that is high in gluten. Good, stone-ground flour retains much of its germ and bran, and thus much more of its nutrients than its unbleached white counterpart, making it a healthier choice for bread baking.

Whole-wheat pastry flour

A flour ground from a softer strain of wheat that is low in gluten. It is more finely milled than regular whole-wheat flour, making it an excellent choice for pastry, cookie, cake, and muffin baking.

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