Later On

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Small tempeh-chili delight

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What was left after the first bowl was taken: enough for a second bowl.

I wanted to make just a small batch of tempeh chili, but I didn’t realize how tasty it would be. Once I had the first bowl, I had to have the rest, and anything this good deserves a post.

A 5-ounce block of tempeh

I wanted to make chili because this batch of tempeh is so good. Partly that’s because of the ingredients (black beans and black rice) and partly, I think, because I let it go for four days — plus, of course, all the things I learned and made (many previous batches and two tempeh incubators). It seems just right for chili because a) ingredients and b) nice chewy texture and good stick-togetherness. (The square grid of dots you’ll see if you enlarge the photo at the right are the result of the perforations in the Ziploc fresh-produce bag I used.)

I used my little 8″ nonstick skillet (not cast iron, since I would be simmering tomatoes). It has a lid, which I used for the simmering part.

Recall that my recipes are descriptions of what I did, not what you necessarily should do. You know your tastes.

Small tempeh-chili delight

Put into the skillet:

• 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (and make sure it’s true EVOO)
• 1 1/2 bunches scallions, chopped (including leaves, of course)
• 4 dried chipotles, cut into pieces with kitchen shears
• pinch of salt

I chose scallions over red onions because I wanted the leaves in there — the leaves are why scallions are more nutritious than storage onions. You could use half a small can of chipotles en adobo in place of dried chipotles; dried chipotles is what I happened to have. In either case, in adobo or dried, cut them up with scissors.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the scallions have wilted and are starting to turn transparent. I did this at 2 or 3 on the induction burner. Add:

• 7 cloves garlic, chopped small and allowed to rest
• 1/4 cup cooked kamut
• 4-5 oz tempeh, diced to bite size — I halved the 5-oz slab shown above to make two thin slabs and diced those

After that cooks for a couple of minutes, add:

• 10-12 mini-San-Marzano tomatoes or about 16-18 cherry tomatoes, sliced thinly
• about 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
• about 1 teaspoon ground ancho chile or smoked paprika (or chimayo chile powder)
• about 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• about 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

After the tomatoes were cooked enough to start breaking up, I added:

• 1 can Ro•Tel Original
• about 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (must be blackstrap molasses)
• 1 teaspoon instant coffee (Folger’s, as it happens)
• 1 small square baking chocolate [I actually forgot this, but it should be there]
• about 1 tablespoon tomato paste if you have a tube of it (not worth opening a can)
• dash of liquid smoke (optional, but I like it)

Cover at simmer at 200ºF for 15-20 minutes. I serve a bowl topped with:

• 1 teaspoon Bragg’s nutritional yeast

Man, it’s good! The tempeh really is chewy, like pork. I assume its the mycelium that provides that.

Update: The next batch I made, following the same general recipe as above, was even better, in part because I cut the tempeh into larger pieces. I used chimayo chile powder this time.


Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2021 at 6:16 pm

An off-diet breakfast to celebrate second shot

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It’s a beautiful morning and I’m up after a good night’s sleep and a wonderful shave, so I decided to walk over to Floyd’s Diner for a celebratory breakfast. The walk takes me past a park with some enormous growth — and some springtime pine cones.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2021 at 9:17 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Medical

Black-bean-and-black-rice tempeh a great success

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I had a temperature scare when the batch, once it started, got very hot (internal temperature of 100ºF), but as it turns out, I needn’t have worried. And come to think of it, I doubt that the fungus would generate so much heat it would harm itself. Natural selection would work strongly against that.

So after 3 days 23 hours — let’s just call it 4 days — the tempeh came out beautifully. it felt solid, like a styrofoam board. It smelled good and the mold was very soft and nice to the touch. Note the excellent marbling. 🙂

I wanted to try the tempeh, so I made:

Tempeh minichili test

I diced two of the small slabs shown above — sliced them down the middle, then across into cubes. I was just cooking one serving, so i used my 8″ nonstick skillet. It does have a lid so I could do some of the cooking covered (the simmering, for example).

• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 1/2 cup chopped red onion
• 1 red Fresno pepper, chopped
• Salt
• 12 mini-San-Marzano tomatoes, chopped
• 1 piece of tempeh, diced as above
• garlic powder
• Worcestershire sauce
• Yuzu ponzu
• Liquid Smoke
• Mexican Oregano
• Ground cumin would be right, but I didn’t feel like it so skipped it — but it really belongs
• California Sweet Paprika (couldn’t find my Smoked Spanish Paprika, so just used this)
• pinch of dried Thyme
• splash of Shaoxing wine

Sauté onion and Fresno pepper in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook until tomatoes start to soften.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Then cover the pan, reduce heat,  and let simmer a few minutes.

Remove lid and greatly reduce liquid — evaporate most of the wine. Then serve. I added:

• 1 teaspoon Bragg’s nutrition yeast
• about a tablespoon of pepitas

The tempeh held its shape remarkably well. It tasted good and had a good mouthfeel, with some chewiness. The mold is like the mold on Camembert or Brie: totally inoffensive, eminently edible. And a nice soft touch, like suede.

I was worried about this batch, but it could not have turned out better. Still, I’m going to stick to 2-cup batches: I think they would handle heat better. OTOH, there was definitely nothing wrong with this batch. So: maybe. I have to say a 2-cup batch is probably a better size for things like my next experiment: chickpeas and peanuts.

Stay tuned.


Written by Leisureguy

15 June 2021 at 10:35 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Non-animal diet, Recipes

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The Food That Can Downregulate a Metastatic Cancer Gene

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This is the third video on how diet relates to metastasis of cancer. The first one is here, the second here.

Written by Leisureguy

15 June 2021 at 1:40 pm

Black-bean-and-black-rice tempeh at 85 hours

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This is the black-bean-and-black-rice tempeh at 85 hours (3 days 13 hours). I’m going to let it go a bit longer in hopes that the mycelium will extend over that patch at the top. Elsewhere, the mycelium is healthy and thick. Internal temperature has dropped to 93ºF.

Half of this will go into a batch of tempeh chili (thus the black beans).

I do think this will be my last 3-cup batch, at least for a while. I’ll stick to 2-cup batches, which when spread out to fill the fresh-produce bag, makes a layer not so thick (and thus, I think, less likely to overheat).

Written by Leisureguy

15 June 2021 at 11:27 am

Walking vs. fasting blood glucose

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I resumed daily walks on 6 June — normally, I don’t walk on Sunday, but since I hadn’t been doing any real walking, I figured I should just start.

I noticed an immediate effect on by fasting blood glucose levels, which I graphed for that first week: steps each day and fasting blood glucose level the next day.

And you can see from last week’s steps-per-day chart, I wasn’t really doing all that many steps — I wanted to ramp up gradually. Still, I was using Nordic walking poles, which increase calorie burn by 20% (with no perceptible increase in effort, an attribute I like).

What surprises me is the impact the walking has had on my average fasting blood glucose readings. As of this morning (June 15), here’s what the averages look like:

These readings are all still in the “pre-diabetic” range, but observe the trend. (The readings in mg/dL, the measure commonly used in the US: 103, 106, 108, 114 mg/dL.)

My goal is to get all the averages below 5.5 mmol/L (99 mg/dL). That would be comfortably within the normal range.

Of course, this result is not due solely to exercise, since diet also plays a major role. I’m convinced that my whole-food non-animal diet is also essential. But (as the figures show) diet alone is insufficient. Exercise also is required, and I believe aerobics exercise (Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s term), or cardio exercise — sustained exercise — works best. I’ll continue Nordic walking, and I’ll soon be doing 1-hour walks, 6 days a week.

Written by Leisureguy

15 June 2021 at 10:32 am

Black kale and collards — and my dinner tonight

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Greens recipe

This turned out very tasty. I used a stainless-steel pot because I was going to simmer with vinegar, and I figured the starting volume would be big because of leafy vegetables, so I went with my 6-qt All-Clad d3 Stainless stockpot. It’s a wide-diameter pot so it does the sautéing well.

I of course prepared all ingredients before heating the pot: chopped vegetables, cut up peppers, minced garlic and allowed it to rest, chopped turmeric small, etc. I cut the central rib out of collards and chop it small, and do the same to the ends of the ribs from the black kale.

• 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 large red onion, chopped (had it on hand)
• 2 slender and long leeks with quite a bit of leaves, chopped (including leaves)
• kale and collard stems, chopped small
• half a dozen dried Sanaam chili peppers, cut up with shears (the peppers are long and thin)
• good pinch of salt

I added that to the pot and put heat at medium low (at 3 on my induction burner). After the leeks had cooked down — and they did collapse a fair bit — I added:

• 1 head of garlic, chopped small
• 3 good-sized turmeric roots, chopped small

I cooked that for a few minutes, then added the rest:

• 1 bunch black kale, chopped
• 1 bunch collards, chopped (stems removed and chopped small, added above)
• bout 1/3 cup Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
• about 3 tablespoons Yuzu Ponzu sauce
• about 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
• several good shakes fish sauce
• about 1 cup no-salt-added vegetable stock
• about 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper (for the turmeric)

I cooked it on 190ºF for 40 minutes. (The induction burner has a temperature option and a timer function.) The result was very tasty and will last for several meals — the photo above shows what was left after dinner, ready for the fridge.

Cooking the dinner tempeh

In small non-stick skillet that has a lid, I put:

• about 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 6 miniature San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
• a pinch of Mexican oregano
• 3 Sanaam peppers, cut up with scissors
• dash of Worcestershire sauce
• sprinkling of garlic powder
• pinch of salt

I cooked that covered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes were cooked to be a little mushy. The I added:

• 1 portion of tempeh chopped small

I covered and cooked for about 4-5 minutes, occasionally stirring or shaking the skillet.

Assembling dinner

In a bowl, I put:

• 1/3 Greens (from above)
• 1/3 cup Other Vegetables (made a few days ago)
• 2 tablespoons cooked kamut (from my stash in the fridge)
• the tempeh cooked as described above
• 1 teaspoon Bragg’s nutritional yeast

I stirred it together and found it to be a tasty and satisfying dinner.

Written by Leisureguy

14 June 2021 at 8:01 pm

A drawback to a big batch of tempeh

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Normally I use 2 cups of uncooked beans for a batch of tempeh. This latest batch I used 2 cups of black beans and 1 cup of black rice, and after cooking them separately and drying them (not a problem with the rice, which iis cooked until the water’s all absorbed), I combined them, added vinegar and culture, and put the batch into a Ziploc fresh-produce bag: beans (and rice, in this case) into the bag, zip bag shut, place it on its side, and spread the beans in the bag to make a uniform layer that fills the flat bag from side to side and top to bottom. I noticed immediately that the 3-cup batch made a layer noticeably thicker than the 2-cup batch, but didn’t see the implication. Then the bag goes into the incubator at 88ºF to get the fungus established.

Once the fungus gets a good start in the incubator, I turn the thermostat down to 77ºF. The fungus generates its own heat as it grows, and if the temperature gets too high, the fungus will start to spore, which produces unsightly gray and black patches (perfectly edible, but off-putting). So once this batch was going, I turned the thermostat down and went on my way. But when I checked later, the temperature in the incubator was 92ºF. It had gone up, not down.

Those little guys really do throw off the heat. I tried to get the temperature down through several steps: 1) move lid so top is partially open; 2) remove lid altogether; 3) remove batch from incubator and put it on a rack (so air can circulate) in the kitchen. I then took the internal temperature: 99ºF! I moved the batch into the refrigerator for a while, then removed it. I went back and forth to the fridge for an afternoon. Right now the internal temperature is 100.3ºF and the photo shows what the batch looks like. I guess back into the fridge for a while.

Lesson learned: When I use the Ziploc fresh-produce bags, I’ll stick to 2-cup batches. Those seem not to heat up so much, probably because the beans make a thinner layer. I’m curious to see how this batch comes out. I’ll let it work for another day or two to see whether the internal temperature will drop.

Update: The batch ultimately turned out fine — indeed, I would say excellent. Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

14 June 2021 at 11:10 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Non-animal diet, Recipes

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5 condiments easily made

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I’m definitely go to make the fermented mustard and the oregano oil, and maybe others, too. (I make my own mayonnaise when I want mayo, and at the link is also a good recipe (not mine) for homemade ketchup, better than store-bought.)

Written by Leisureguy

12 June 2021 at 6:35 pm

Another walk and the black-bean-and-black-rice tempeh moves to Phase 2

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Another walk, with some photos shown above. And the tempeh mold seems to have taken hold after 18 1/2 hours, so I turned the incubator down to 77ºF (25ºC). Some of the light color is moisture, but some is the fungus — and in any event, that much moisture indicates that it’s working.

The walk was longer, so I did it in two sessions, with an intermission rest between.

Click any photo for slide show; right-click photo in slide show to open in a new tab, and click to magnify.

Written by Leisureguy

12 June 2021 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Non-animal diet

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Holding diet constant, increasing exercise — look at what happens to fasting blood glucose

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Starting last Sunday I resumed my Nordic walking. My fasting blood glucose, as I mentioned in an earlier post, held steady (in the “pre-diabetic” range) for three days, and then dropped into the normal range (a fasting BG reading of 5.5 mmol/L (99 mg/dL) or less). In fact, the past 3 days my readings have been 5.4, 5.3, and 5.2 (in mmol/L — in mg/dL, that’s 97, 95, and 94).

Obviously, my fasting blood glucose cannot continue dropping (or I’m in serious trouble), nor will the number of steps per day monotonically increase. For one thing, I don’t walk on Sundays as a rule (last Sunday was an exception), and once I get to 8000 I’ll level out since I see no need to go beyond that. (The 10,000 step guideline was a marketing ploy by Japanese pedometer manufacturers.)

But even in this short sample, I’m impressed by the impact that exercise (Nordic walking) has made. It certainly wasn’t due to diet, since I held my (whole-food plant-only) diet steady — and indeed, I’ve kept my fasting blood glucose readings relatively low (though still in the “pre-diabetic” range) simply by diet. But to get to the next level — readings in the “normal” range — exercise is clearly required.

I’ll go one more day to complete the week. It was a good experiment.

Written by Leisureguy

12 June 2021 at 9:41 am

5460 steps and black beans cooking for tempeh

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Photos from today’s walk. As usual, click a photo to get a slide show, right-click a photo in the slide show to open in a new tab, and click that to enlarge.

I am cooking the black beans for the next batch of tempeh. The black rice that will be combined with the beans is already cooked and waiting. I plan to use some of the black-bean-and-black-rice tempeh to make tempeh chili, since tempeh works very well in chili.

At right is a piece cut from the above batch of tempeh — the first batch where I knew exactly what to do and why. (The photo looks a lot like a candy bar, doesn’t it? But those are soybeans, not peanuts.)

The short, soft fuzz is like the covering you see on Camembert, though the fungus on tempeh is Rhizopus oligosporus, and the fungus on Camembert (and Brie) is Penicillium camemberti. In either case, beans or cheese, the fungus colony forms a soft white crust. The job of Rhizopus, however, differs from that of Penicillium: the fluffy, white mycelium of Rhizopus welds the together beans to create an edible “cake.”

The fungus is why tempeh is more nutritious than edamame: with tempeh, you consume both the bean and the fungus mycelium. Note the difference between Rhizopus and the fungi we eat as mushrooms. When you eat mushrooms, you eat the spore-bearing bodies of the mycelium and don’t even see the mycelium, the actual fungus of which the mushroom is merely the “fruit” that bears the spores. In the case of mushrooms, the mycelium remains hidden underground — but when you eat tempeh, you eat the mycelium itself.

The Rhizopus sporing bodies don’t even appear if the tempeh maker knows what he’s doing (as I now do). They form when the tempeh is incubated at too high a temperature. Though edible, their appearance (black or dark gray) is off-putting to some. To prevent sporing, keep the incubation temperature at around 77ºF (25ºC) once the tempeh fungus colony is established. In the photo of the sample above, the snow-white mycelium is clearly visible.


Written by Leisureguy

11 June 2021 at 7:48 pm

Chayote squash and bitter melon, with onion, garlic, and turmeric

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I needed to cook Other Vegetables and thought I would also include a brick of frozen spinach. Given the liquid content, I decided to use my 4-qt All-Clad Stainless sauté pan (the d3; I don’t much like the d5: very heavy and IMO one aluminum core is plenty).

• about 1 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 bunches scallions, chopped
• 1 shallot, chopped (I found in the allium basket)
• 1/2 large red onion, chopped
• good pinch of Crystal kosher salt
• about 1.5-2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper (because of turmeric)

It turned out that a setting of 3 was fine on my Max Burton 18XL induction burner. After the onions had cook a while, I added:

• cloves from 1 head garlic, chopped small and allowed to rest
• 2 good-sized turmeric roots, chopped small (I don’t attempt to peel them)

At that point I took the photo at the right. I cooked it for a minute or two, stirring with a wood spatula, then added:

• 1 chayote squash, diced
• 1 bitter melon, quartered lengthwise, then cut across
• about 10 medium domestic white mushrooms, sliced

The bitter melon I used is at the top of the first photo at the link above: the common Chinese bitter melon.

I let the veggies cook for a while, stirring from time to time, then after the mushrooms started to release their liquid, I added:

• 5 dried chipotles, cut up with kitchen shears
• about 1/4-1/3 cup Chinkiang vinegar (black vinegar)
• good splash Eden Organics shoyu sauce
• good splash Eden Organics mirin
• good splash yuzu ponzu sauce

I cooked that briefly, stirring, then added:

• 300g block of frozen spinach

I covered the pan and simmered at setting 1 for about 15 minutes, then went into break up the block of spinach. It was simmering briskly and looking a little dry, so I added:

• 1/4-1/3 cup Shaoxing wine (sherry would do, but that’s what I had)

And I changed the setting to 190ºF and set the timer for 15 minutes more. Photo below is right after I added the wine. I had though about including some diced tempeh, but I decided I’ll serve it over diced tempeh (perhaps with a little toasted sesame oil to top it).

I am soon going to make tempeh chili, probably with the new batch of tempeh I’ll start tonight: black bean and black rice combined — 2 cups uncooked black beans, 1 cup uncooked black rice. I’ve already cooked the rice; the beans still are soaking.

Written by Leisureguy

11 June 2021 at 4:39 pm

Type 2 diabetics: Diet modification PLUS walking has helped me

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Some things I have to relearn. I have type 2 diabetes, and I can keep it under control if I do the right things. I found that modifying my diet was necessary but not sufficient. Getting good control also requires exercise (Nordic walking for me), and I believe cardio exercise — what Kenneth Cooper called “aerobics” — is the best approach from a health perspective, though certainly resistance training (for muscular strength) is a good complement.

I first changed my diet to a low-carb high-fat diet — not excessively high fat, just enough additional fat to make up the calories lost by reducing carbs, the idea being not to increase the protein level but keep it moderate. So if net carbs are reduced by 100g, fat is increased by 45g — the same caloric amount.

But after I learned of various health risks of a low-carb diet and that saturated fat increases insulin resistance, I took another look at my diet and did more reading and research. It was then that I read Michael Greger’s How Not to Die, which discusses what we know about the relationship between diet and chronic diseases from scientific studies. In Part 2 of the book, he recommends a diet based on that research, and that’s the diet I adopted.

His recommended diet is what I call a “whole-food plant-only” diet, though I also include fungi (as pesudo-plants). That means no meat, fish, dairy, or eggs (though on rare occasions I’ll have a modest amount for one meal). No meat, fish, dairy, or eggs is the same as a vegan diet, but the other restriction — whole foods — means that I avoid refined foods (refined sugar, flour, fruit juice — whole fruit is fine — and so on) and also avoid highly processed foods that are manufactured using industrial methods from refined ingredients and various additives (preservatives, coloring, flavors, and so on — usually with substantial salt and refined sugar). The vegan diet does not preclude those, though of course some vegans do avoid them and in fact follow a whole-food plant-only diet, even though the vegan diet per se does allow for refined and highly processed foods so long as they are free of animal products — and indeed a supermarket will often have a fairly large section of highly processed vegan food products.

My blood glucose readings improved remarkably on that diet, and when I also included exercise (Nordic walking is what I like), things got even better. But winter came, walking faded, and my fasting blood glucose readings slowly drifted up — my 90-day average right now is 6.4 mmol/L (115 mg/dL).

This past Sunday I started walking again.  My daily step counts starting last Sunday June 6: 2288, 2861, 3995, 4564, 4660, and 5527 steps per day — and my fasting blood glucose readings for the following days, starting Monday: 6.3, 6.3, 6.5, 5.4, 5.3, and 5.2 mmol/L. That is pretty convincing to me. Walking did seem to make a big difference (after a startup lag). The last three readings — 5.4 mmol/L = 97 mg/dL, 5.3 mmol/L = 95 mg/dL, and 5.2 mmol/L = 94 mg/dL — are well within “normal.” (“Pre-diabetic” starts at 5.6 mmol/L (101 mg/dL), and 7.0 mmol/L (126 mg/dL) is the starting point for “diabetic.” Update: See graph below, which I’ll continue to update for a while.

It seems that after four days of walking (gradually increasing the distance), the exercise effect kicked in and — with my diet staying constant — my fasting blood glucose dropped back to where it should be. I see I must walk.

Luckily, I live in a good neighborhood for walking. And it’s also lucky I enjoy the foods included in my diet (and enjoy cooking).

Written by Leisureguy

11 June 2021 at 11:05 am

4600 Steps and Saan Choy

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Another walk, and though I did see some nice-looking plants, I wanted to get back because it’s time to cook a new batch of greens, and I have a big bunch of saan choy, which is the Cantonese name. Another name is Malabar spinach, but in fact it’s related to cactus and purslane, not to spinach:

Ceylon / Indian / Surinam / Chinese / Vietnamese Spinach; Broad Bologi, Poi Baagi, Calaloo, Buffalo Spinach; Mong Toi (Viet); Paag-Prung, Phak plang yai, phalpang (Thai); Phakkang, Pak pang (Laos); Alugbati, Dundula, Grana, Libato (Philippines); Niviti (Sri Lanka); Gendola, Remayong, Tembayung (Malay); Genjerot, Jingga, Gendola (Indonesia); Saan Choy (Cantonese); Shan Tsoi, Luo Kai, Shu Chieh, Lo Kwai (China); Poi (India); Pui Shak (Bengali); Kodip PasaLi (Tamil); Tsuru Murasa Kai (Japan); Amunututu (Yoruba); Gborongi (Igbo); Basella alba]

Not related to regular spinach but rather to cactus and purslane (order Caryophyllales (Carnations)), this plant has a flavor vaguely similar to spinach, but more earthy and much milder due to low oxalic acid content. The leaves are thick, almost succulent, and actually quite filling. One cultivar, “Rubra”, has red stems.

While regular spinach is a cool temperate plant which doesn’t like the tropics at all, Malabar Spinach is a tropical vine. A fast growing perennial, it is harvested continuously by cutting new growth. It can be grown as an annual in warmer temperate regions.

An important note, which stirred me to cook it tonight:

This plant does not store well in the fridge and should be used within 2 days.


I used my All-Clad Stainless for this because I knew I would be adding vinegar to the hot pan — if I use cast iron, that would strip the seasoning. Into the pan go:

• 1.5 Tbsp EVOO
• 1 large red onion, chopped
• about 5 oz homemade soybean tempeh, diced
• pinch of salt
• sprinkling of crushed red pepper
• multiple grindings black cumin seed

Sauté that over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. When onions turn translucent, add:

• 1 bag saan choy/Malabar spinach, rinsed and chopped
• good dash tamari
• about 3 Tbsp Bragg’s apple cider vinegar

Cook for a few minutes, stirring off and on. Note from the article linked above:

For stir fries and the like, cook as for regular spinach, in just a little oil. Free water on the leaves from washing is sufficient to get it cooking. Stir frequently and stop cooking as soon as the leaves are limp and of a uniform cooked color. Do not overcook or it will become slimy and leave a metallic aftertaste.

Once I deemed it done, I put some in a bowl and sprinkled it with

• pepitas (or peanuts or pecans or pignolas)
• 1 tsp Bragg’s nutritional yeast

Extremely tasty. Will be repeated. Serving suggestion shown; click photo to enlarge.

Tomorrow, for Other Vegetables, I’ll be cooking some chayote squash with bitter melon, along with suitable aromatics, herbs, and spices.

Written by Leisureguy

9 June 2021 at 4:38 pm

How to Help Control Cancer Metastasis with Diet

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This video is the second of a three-part series on controlling cancer metastasis through diet. Part 1 is here, and part 3 is here.

Written by Leisureguy

9 June 2021 at 10:31 am

Tasting History: How to Cook the Foods of Ancient Greece & Rome, Medieval Europe, and Other Places & Periods

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Open Culture has a terrific post pointing out YouTube videos on how to cook various ancient dishes. Take a look. Includes photos.

Written by Leisureguy

8 June 2021 at 5:26 pm

Basic steps for homemade tempeh

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Black-bean-and-black-rice tempeh after four days.

I update this post from time to time as I learn more from experience. Most recent update June 16, 2021.

Tempeh is a traditional fermented Indonesian and Malaysian soy food prepared from soaked and cooked soybeans by salt-free aerobic fermentation using the mold Rhizopus oligosporus, a fungus. During the fermentation, the dense cottony mycelium produced by Rhizopus binds the soybeans together to form a compact cake. This page has a selection of excellent and informative articles about tempeh.

Tempeh has excellent nutritional value — much better than tofu, also made from soybeans, because tofu is more highly processed and to some degree refined. In terms of nutritional value, edamame (cooked fresh soybeans, a whole food) is better than tofu, and tempeh is better than edamame (because tempeh includes both the beans and the fungus mycelium).

I make Malaysian-style tempeh, with the soybean hulls left on. (Indonesian tempeh removes the hulls.) I leave the hulls on because (a) it’s easier, and (b) the hulls have nutritional value.

In my experience, homemade tempeh is much better than packaged tempeh I buy in a store — plus it’s satisfying to grow your own, as it were, and you can experiment by using different beans, boiled raw peanuts, cooked intact whole grains, or a mix. 

I started a while back, and I’ve gradually identified the success factors to the point that I can now make a good batch on purpose. Here’s a summary of my lessons learned and the method I now use:

  1. I often use soybeans, but you can use instead (or in addition) black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and so on. You can mix in cooked intact whole grain (spelt, kamut, brown rice, black rice, or the like) or boiled raw peanuts. Avoid using spices, many of which have anti-fungal properties (one reason they are used in making foods such as sausage: they act as a preservative).
  2. Cook beans without using baking soda or salt — use plain water.  (I had a series of failures until I realized that the baking soda was making the beans alkaline, and Rhizopus requires an acidic environment.) Cooking method: Soak beans overnight, drain soaking water using a sieve, then put the beans in a pot and cover well with water and simmer until done. I’ve found that beans are not so apt to boil over if I don’t cover the pot. However, with the pot uncovered, it is necessary to add water during cooking because of evaporation. I usually make a batch of 2 cups of uncooked beans.
  3. Rhizopus prospers in an acidic environment, and that is achieved by using vinegar (apple cider, white, brown rice, and wine vinegar all will work: the acidity is what’s important). You can choose between two times to add vinegar: (a) toward the end of cooking (for the last 15-20 minutes), in which case add 2 tablespoons of vinegar per cup of uncooked beans (thus I add 1/4 cup vinegar for my 2-cup batch) and continue cooking until beans are done; or (b) after the beans have been cooked, drained, dried, and cooled,  in which case use 1 tablespoon per cup of uncooked beans (2 tablespoons for my 2-cup batch).
  4. The best way I’ve found to dry the cooked beans is to drain them through a sieve and then spread them on a clean dishtowel. Using a paper towel, press the beans gently and rock them back and forth. You can also use a hair-dryer, but be careful not to get too close or the blast of air will blow the beans off the towel. Rhizopus likes a little moisture but definitely not so much that the beans are wet.
  5. Leave the beans on the towel until they’ve cooled. The common advice is to let them cool to 95ºF (35ºC), but it’s simpler just to let them cool until they are close to room temperature. Being cooler is not an issue, since they’ll warm up as you incubate them.
  6. After the beans have been dried and cooled, put them into a bowl. If you’re adding vinegar using method (b), add 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of uncooked beans. Then add either one packet of tempeh culture or — presumably — a chunk of tempeh from the previous batch, chopped up and mixed in. I still need to experiment with the latter.
  7. You can spread the beans in a layer in a flat glass dish, but I generally use a Ziploc fresh-produce bag because those bags are nicely perforated for ventilation. They’re also a good size for a 2-cup batch: if the beans are spread evenly through the bag lying on its side, so that the bag is filled side to side and top to bottom, the layer is a nice thickness. (My 3-cup batch was too thick and I had trouble keeping the temperature down once the mold started working. I now limit batch size to 2 cups.)
  8. Incubation can be done initially in an oven on the proofing setting (if your oven has that) or in an oven with the light on and the door slightly open. For various reasons I decided to build my own tempeh incubator using rigid 1″ foam insulation board (sold in 24″ squares for projects; three of those square provide enough, once cut, to make an excellent incubator — details at the link). I lay the bag on a raised rack over a seedling warming pad (see link), whose thermostat lets me regulate the temperature.
  9. Incubate at 88ºF (31ºC) until Rhizopus is well started. This will take at least 12 hours and maybe 24 or even longer. My most recent batch took 18 hours before the mold started to appear. Eventually you will see white patches of mold — it will look as though there are steamy spots inside the bag. At that point reduce the thermostat to 77ºF (25ºC) and allow the batch to continue to work for another 24-48 hours. For the first few batches I did not reduce the temperature, and as a result the mold spored, which results in dark grey or black areas. The tempeh is still good and perfectly edible, but some find the black spots off-putting. That hasn’t happened since I started reducing the temperature once the mold is established. 
  10. When you consider the batch done, remove the block of tempeh from the bag and cut into pieces that will fit your storage containers and refrigerate it.

Regarding temperature

For a 2-cup batch (a batch made from 2 cups of uncooked beans), after initial incubation at 88ªF, I just reduce the thermostat to 77ºF and finish the batch. When I made a 3-cup batch (2 cups uncooked black beans and, cooked separately, 1 cup black rice), after the initial incubation at 88ºF, I reduced the thermostat to 77ºF but the temperature in the incubator continued to rise. I at first moved the lid so that the incubator was partially open, but that was not enough — the temperature continued to be above 80ºF — and ultimately I had to remove the lid altogether. Even without the lid, the temperature remained at 77.3ºF (so that the thermostat, set at 77ºF, never turned on the heating mat). After several hours, the temperature started to rise again, and I put the batch in the refrigerator to try to control the temperature. Larger batches apparently generate a lot of heat, so keep an eye on the temperature. I think the thickness of the layer of beans was the problem: the 2-cup batch, making a thinner layer, could better dissipate internal heat than the 3-cup batch, which was rather thick. See the discussion of temperature in this post. Update – Ultimately, the higher temperature didn’t spoil the tempeh — that batch came out fine.

Use in cooking

I usually cut off a piece and fry it like a hamburger patty in a little olive oil and use it to top a dish. If the piece is thick, I cut it in half to make two thin pieces. After frying a piece of tempeh, I sometimes cut it into squares to use like croutons in a salad. You could sprinkle them with salt and some garlic powder to add flavor, or marinate them (see the recipe for tempeh bacon). I also make tempeh breakfast sausage. Sometimes I dice a portion and use the pieces in a stir fry, stew, or chili.

Here’s a 2-cup batch of soybean tempeh in process in my homemade tempeh incubator. The left photo was taken after about 12 hours at 77ºF (25ºC). I let it work for 24 hours more, and the result is shown on the right.

The difference between eating tempeh and eating mushrooms

At right is a piece cut from the above batch of soybean tempeh — the first batch where I knew exactly what to do and why. (The photo looks a lot like a candy bar, doesn’t it? But those are soybeans, not peanuts.)

The short, soft fuzz is like the covering you see on Camembert, though the fungus on tempeh is Rhizopus oligosporus, and the fungus on Camembert (and Brie) is Penicillium camemberti. In either case, beans or cheese, the fungus colony forms a soft white crust. The job of Rhizopus, however, differs from that of Penicillium: the fluffy, white mycelium of Rhizopus welds the together beans to create an edible “cake.”

The fungus is why tempeh is more nutritious than edamame: with tempeh, you consume both the bean and the fungus mycelium. Note the difference between Rhizopus and the fungi we eat as mushrooms. When you eat mushrooms, you eat the spore-bearing bodies of the mycelium and don’t even see the mycelium, the actual fungus of which the mushroom is merely the “fruit” that bears the spores. In the case of mushrooms, the mycelium remains hidden underground — but when you eat tempeh, you eat the mycelium itself.

The Rhizopus sporing bodies don’t even appear if the tempeh maker knows what he’s doing (as I now do). They form when the tempeh is incubated at too high a temperature. Though edible, their appearance (black or dark gray) is off-putting to some. To prevent sporing, keep the incubation temperature at around 77ºF (25ºC) once the tempeh fungus colony is established. In the photo of the sample above, the snow-white mycelium is clearly visible.

Written by Leisureguy

8 June 2021 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Non-animal diet, Recipes, Science

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Role of diet in assisting metastasis of cancer

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This is the first of a three-part series (the next two parts probably arriving over the next two days), but even this one part has interesting useful information. – Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Written by Leisureguy

7 June 2021 at 10:36 am

Nestlé Document Says Majority of Its Food Portfolio is Unhealthy

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The Financial Times article is behind a paywall, but Slashdot has a quote posted by msmash:

The world’s largest food company, Nestlé, has acknowledged that more than 60% of its mainstream food and drinks products do not meet a “recognised definition of health” and that “some of our categories and products will never be ‘healthy’ no matter how much we renovate.” Financial Times:

A presentation circulated among top executives this year, seen by the Financial Times, says only 37 per cent of Nestlé’s food and beverages by revenues, excluding products such as pet food and specialised medical nutrition, achieve a rating above 3.5 under Australia’s health star rating system. This system scores foods out of five stars and is used in research by international groups such as the Access to Nutrition Foundation. Nestlé, the maker of KitKats, Maggi noodles, and Nescafe, describes the 3.5 star threshold as a “recognised definition of health.”

Within its overall food and drink portfolio, about 70 per cent of Nestlé’s food products failed to meet that threshold, the presentation said, along with 96 per cent of beverages — excluding pure coffee — and 99 per cent of Nestlé’s confectionery and ice cream portfolio. Water and dairy products scored better, with 82 per cent of waters and 60 per cent of dairy meeting the threshold.

Written by Leisureguy

5 June 2021 at 9:38 pm

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