All Posts for May 2006


Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer. One of the highlights of this weekend is the start of picnics and Bar-B-Qs, and one of my favorite foods for picnics is potato salad. Now, some of you may be thinking, “But aren’t potatoes high in calories and carbs?” Since I raised that same question when I was pondering what to post on my blog this week, I checked out potatoes on the Internet and came up with an interesting article from the Washington State Potato Commission at

Potatoes are an excellent source of potassium (40% more than the banana), which is important for muscle performance and the response of nerves. They also contain Vitamin C, Iron, and other important nutrients in small amounts. (The article on the Internet has a nutrition chart.) Besides the bevy of nutritional benefits that potatoes offer, they are also good sources of fiber and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

According to the article, carbohydrates do not cause weight gain unless you consume more calories than you expend; also, carbs do not automatically cause a spike in blood sugar levels, and carbs are not responsible for causing diabetes, heart diseases or cancer. So the potato, eaten in moderation, can be part of a balanced diet.

However, as you enjoy your picnic or Bar-B-Q with family and friends, do not forget the real meaning of Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day. The information below is excerpted/quoted from the website on Memorial Day:

Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps.”

So, as you enjoy your holiday, AND remember that MEMORIAL DAY is not just about……

(Basic, non-traditional recipe using roasted potatoes)

I’ve never been a great mayonnaise fan, using it in very few dishes, such as last week’s Tempuna recipe. I prefer tossing my potato salad with oil and herbs. Below is my own recipe for Roasted Potato Salad, with crispy potatoes tossed with oil and herbs— a lighter salad than the one made with mayo. Also, the roasted potatoes never seem to get soggy. Instead, they are crunchy, like the potatoes often served with eggs for breakfast at a restaurant. Hoping you will try my non-traditional potato salad as you celebrate a traditional American holiday.

2- 2 1/2 pounds organic red-skinned potatoes (small size)
2-3 T. oil of choice (See choices below)
2-3 scallions, washed and minced
2-3 tsp. herbs of choice
sesame seeds, optional
salt & pepper, optional

1. Scrub and cut potatoes in half or quarters (if larger than a handball).
2. Place potatoes in steamer and steam for about 15 minutes, until barely tender. While potatoes are steaming, preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3. Remove potatoes and cool until you can handle. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Place on a non-stick cookie sheet and toss with 2 T. oil and sprinkle with a little salt & pepper, if using.
4. Bake in the middle of the oven until edges are crisp (20-30 minutes), turning once to be sure all sides are getting crisp, using the last 5 minutes to place on broil. Watch they don’t burn!
Remove from oven. Toss with another 1-2 T. oil, herbs of choice, scallions, and seeds, if using. Serve warm or chilled, but if refrigerating overnight, you may need to add a little more oil the next day.

VARIETY of CHOICES: Olive oil with oregano, thyme and basil; corn oil with hot pepper flakes and cilantro; peanut oil with cardamom; toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and black sesame seeds (Photo). Enjoy!

Is Soy Good or Not Soy Good?

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

Picture of Tempuna: Recipe of the Week. See ingredients and directions below.

For many years I have been eating soy foods as a major protein source. Soy foods are considered good plant sources of estrogen and are in a category called phyto-estrogens. Recently, however, some negative facts about soy have been surfacing, so I did some research via Google. I found pros and cons, inspiring me to do even more extensive research, and also to modify my vegetarian diet, once again.

Because of my growing concerns about the negative information on soy foods, I contacted BETTY KAMEN, who has a PhD. in nutrition. (See more about Betty below.*) Betty said she was not an avid fan of soy products, but if using them, they should be whole soy products. She explained that her negative view of soy for some people stems from the fact that Asians have a different protein metabolism than those descended from, for example, Northern Europeans. This is because of the limited amount of protein consumed by the former culture compared with the latter, over the centuries. In addition, any knowledgeable food expert knows that the soy protein available in America does not always meet Asian standards of quality, although organic soy may be an exception.

As a result of my research and contact with Betty, some of the changes I made to my vegetarian diet of 30 years was to add organic, free-range eggs back to my menus and to eliminate soy milk, soy cheese, and other “fractured” soy foods. Most importantly, I avoid any products that contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated soy oil. Of all the poor uses of soy, this one tops my list for foods NOT to eat. Hydrogenated oils of any kind are considered harmful, soy or otherwise.Even partially hydrogenated, as Betty says, is like being a little bit pregnant. (More on this is another blog. Not about being pregnant, but about hydrogenation!)

Currently, I am working to include more TEMPEH in my diet and somewhat less TOFU. Tempeh is a fermented product made from whole soybeans (fermenting a food always improves its nutrient value), whereas tofu is a fiberless food made from the “milk” of the soybean (coagulated rather than fermented), and not the bean itself. I have also added whole green soybeans, called Edamame beans, to my bean cuisine. Edamame are often served in Asian restaurants as an appetizer and I like to eat the unshelled beans as a snack and put the shelled beans in entrees. The key for me is to BALANCE my own diet with several kinds of high quality, meatless protein along with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, and sprouts.

If you are an adventurous cook and want to try something different as well as healthy, pick up a package of tempeh in the refrigerated section of a health food store or supermarket and try this salad I originally created as a “mock tuna fish” salad, but now has become a tasty salad or spread in its own right. Surprisingly, my 99 year-old mother-in-law, featured on my Mother’s Day blog last week and is not a vegetarian, loves this salad, so I feel safe in introducing here. Your comments would be welcome.


This dish is a “knock-off” tuna salad, but does not really taste like tuna, if my memory serves me correctly. But it is high in protein and phyto-estrogens, considered by many to be good for midlife women. And it does have my Good Taste of Health seal of approval from my mother-in-law!

One 8 oz. package tempeh (soy product), steamed
Two scallions, minced
One small carrot, grated
One stalk celery, diced
Mayonnaise or Nayonaise (approx. 1/4 cup to start)
Salt, pepper, and paprika to taste

1. Steam tempeh for 5-7 minutes.
2. While it cools, prepare the veggies and place in a bowl with the mayo or nayo-naise.
3. Grate the tempeh into the bowl, adding salt, pepper, and paprika to taste.
4. Add more mayo or nayo if too dry. Chill and serve on crackers, bread, or as stuffing for tomatoes.
(Feel free to add garlic powder, curry powder, Italian seasonings, mustard, etc. to vary the flavor.)


I met Betty Kamen about 27 years ago, after giving birth to my third child at the then ancient age of 41. She hosted a radio show in New York City and she interviewed me as part of a Mother’s Day program. Fast-forward to the present: Betty went back to school and earned a doctorate in nutrition at an age most women would consider too old to study.

Betty has authored many books. The one most relevant to my blog is “Hormone Replacement Therapy: Yes or No?”More importantly, she now has a website: Each day she gives one healthy hint (with another doctor). These terse, timely tips are helpful tidbits that I keep in my computer. I have also put her website in a link on the margin to the right of my article, so you can just click on the link.

Review her website and get on her mailing list (the daily hints are free). I am sure you will benefit from the website, as many readers already have. Betty has just entered her ninth decade (she’s 81) and is still going strong. That in itself is an indication of her commitment to good health.

Betty Kamen
Newest book: Lose Weight with the California
Calcium Countdown
Alternate Recipe: Substitute regular tofu (not extra firm) in place of tempeh for Eggless Egg Salad, adding turmeric to the mayonnaise to give the yellow egg color. (Tofu has no fiber, but is considered a good meatless protein source.)