Product Review: Trader Joe’s Sprouted Tofu

Why Sprouted? (we’re beyond ‘Why Tofu?’, right?!) Regular tofu is made from cooked soybeans while sprouted tofu is made from sprouted soybeans. Sprouted tofu is easier to digest (sprouting softens the beans and releases troublesome phytates), and is richer in protein, calcium, and iron. Too good to be true? Nope! Sprouted T is similar in calories, slightly lower in carbohydrates, and slightly higher in fat (but the good omega-3 fish-oil type).

Getting soy foods into your cauldron is a pretty good idea. They help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, especially the bad, garbage-on-the-curb-of-your-arteries LDL kind, while also curbing diabetes and preventing cancer and its recurrence.

Sprouted tofu is used just like regular tofu (in Chocolate Mousse, or any of these 200 recipes), but what about the taste? Sponge-tastic? I surveyed Team Reilly in comparison to Trader Joe’s organic regular extra firm tofu (which is a family favorite). Both tofus were uncooked and untouched.

During a blind taste-test, I asked the team which one they preferred and if they could tell which one was sprouted.

Bitchin’ Dietitian: Preferred the softer-textured sprouted tofu, and of course knew it was the sprouted tofu b/c she made up the test.
Bitchin’ Husband:  Thought the regular tofu had more flavor, and that the sprouted tofu wasn’t bad, but tasted like nothing. Guessed that the one he preferred was the sprouted tofu, but it was actually the regular tofu.
5-Year-Old: MUCH preferred the sprouted tofu and ate more than her taste-test serving, but thought it was the regular one.
3-Year-Old: MUCH preferred the regular tofu and ate more than his taste-test serving, but thought it was the sprouted one.
1-Year-Old: Didn’t have a preference, and ate both quite vigorously. When asked which one he thought was the sprouted one, he said “eh eh eh.” Translation:  “the one on the left” (the sprouted one).

Interpretation of Results:
Sprouted tofu–with its easier digestion, higher levels of protein, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fats–is a groovy alternative to regular tofu. Since few people eat tofu raw (thank your lucky stars you weren’t part of today’s test), stir-frying, and adding flavors to tofu will change both types similarly. Sounds like a Sprout-Out for TJ’s Sprouted Tofu!

Recipe op?… What are your favorite ways to do tofu, or, now, sprouted tofu?

Tart Cherry Juice for Sleep: Better than Tylenol PM?

Photo credit: TimWilson

While vacationing in Florida at my parents’ house, bedtime came quickly the first night and out came the tart cherry juice. At first I thought my wild parents decided to enjoy another glass of red wine, which I wouldn’t put past them in their rowdy retirement lifestyle that now includes late-night line dancing and swims with alligators. My dad–nutrition questionner extraordinnaire–poured himself a 4-oz. glass. “I’ve had so much trouble sleeping lately and the last few nights with this magic elixir have been amazing!”

We all have trouble sleeping occasionally, and it’s true that foods naturally rich in the antioxidant and sleep hormone melatonin (tart cherries, bananas, tomatoes, oats, rice bran, sweet corn, wheatgrass juice, and ginger) or the amino acid and serotonin precursor tryptophan (soy, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, beans, and tofu) can help our noisy brains take it down a notch when our heads hit the pillow. But, how much sleepy food do we need and how many calories can we afford just to get a good night’s rest?

Since my first pregnancy nearly 7 years ago, I got in the habit of enjoying an open-face peanut butter or almond butter and banana sandwich at bedtime, to not only help prevent a ravenous 3 AM wake-up, but to calm my unruly hormonal brain which would otherwise start recounting 4th grade spelling bees. Since I now chase 3 young kids and dirty dishes from dawn till dusk, falling asleep at bedtime isn’t usually an issue. But on nights when I’m extra “busy,” could tart cherry juice work just as well as my PB&B? This week, I’ve tested it out:

Keep in mind this test was done on an 8-day vacation where the biggest stressor was deciding whether or not to take the morning swim in the backyard pool or the large club poolbut still, there was enough activity that winding down at the end of the day may have been tricky.

How I cherried: 4 oz Very Cherre 15-30 minutes before bed: 65 calories, 10.5 g sugar. Bedtime was 10-10:30 PM. I know it’s vacation, but the kids are up at 5:30 sometimes. Can you blame me?

What happened: Fell asleep within 5 minutes of head hitting the pillow, except the night I had the Dixie Chick’s “There’s Your Trouble” stuck in my head. That night it took 5-10 minutes to fall asleep. No trouble here!

So?: If falling asleep or staying asleep are potential problems, tart cherry juice is definitely worth a try. Even if it doesn’t work, you’re getting a hefty dose of antioxidants, some potential arthritis relief, and half your day’s supply of vitamin C in a low-cal, 4-oz glass. And, there’s a chance having the juice in the AM and the PM may work even better than solely @ bedtime (according to Dr. Weil).

This just in… you MUST try The Sleep Doctor’s Sleep Slim Smoothie courtesy of Dr. Oz. Sweet Dreams!

What other foods or drinks help YOU unwind?

Fun Food Fact Friday: Pawpaws!

Photo by: Veggie Gardening Tips

I always thought I was on the cutting edge of produce. Straight out of college I helped rally two ultimate frisbee teams into calling themselves “Jicama” and ” the Yams” (Eventhough one guy was lobbying hard for “Silence of the Yams”). So when Dr. (we’ll call him) ‘Pennsylvania’ showed up to work with pawpaws, I was floored. “They taste like custard.” A fruit that tastes like custard? Nature is so sneaky and so brilliant! And yes, after getting my paws on the pawpaw, it was confirmed. Pawpaws without the lima-bean sized black pits and peel are creamy with subtle pineapple and banana flavors. Deciduously delicious!

So now I’ve done some research. Nicknamed the “Hoosier Banana,” pawpaws are the largest fruit native to America (conveniently sized to fit in a human paw). The reason we don’t see them in the Whole Foods Market produce section? They have very specific growing conditions and are currently found mostly in the eastern U.S. Their shelf life is short… 2-3 days, but up to 3 weeks if refrigerated. The real kicker is that they’re not self-pollinating, and require cross pollination from unrelated pawpaw trees (when this happens, it’s a minor miracle). AND pollination-enthusiast bees show no interest in pawpaw flowers. How rude! So, pollination is dependent on lazy flies and beetles. Therefore, hand-pollination is key. If you’re interested in trying a pawpaw, your best bet is to plant your own tree, and then enjoy every tidbit of it!

Ever had a pawpaw? I want to hear all about it!