Denise Cavassa’s Basic Tofu Recipe

By Denise Cavassa, CMA

Prep Time:  10minutes; Cook Time:  20-25 minutes; Serving Size: ¾ cup (3 oz.); Makes 4 servings

Tofu is made from soybean curds and provides all of the essential amino acids needed in your diet, making it a “complete protein.”  It is low calorie, gluten-free, has no cholesterol, is high in healthy polyunsaturated fats (especially omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid), and is also an excellent source of iron and calcium.  Tofu is almost the perfect food, providing daily recommended amounts of 44% of calcium, 40% of iron, 9% of magnesium, and small amounts of vitamin K, folate, choline, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, manganese, selenium, and phosphorus.  A ½ cup serving of tofu contains 94 calories, 5 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein, and 2 grams of carbohydrate.

Tofu can be purchased in a variety of textures from soft (silken) to extra firm which makes it ideal as a meat substitute for just about every kind of meal.  The problem is that it has no flavor!

I provide my tried and trusted true recipe for a basic tofu seasoning that will make it the perfect ingredient in any meal.  Aside from being absolutely delicious and using unadulterated ingredients, this recipe can be adapted to season tofu however you like to keep healthy, fully digestible meals interesting and something to look forward to!  Best of all, it’s a one-pot, quick and easy recipe with extremely easy clean-up!

Ingredients

I highly recommend using ingredients that are organic and/or have no chemical additives.

  • 1 12oz package of Extra Firm Tofu
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ medium red onion cut as desired (sliced, chopped, cubed) *
  • ¼ cup A1 steak sauce (or equivalent)
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ tbsp onion powder
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • ⅛ tsp Tabasco Sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning: ½ in mixture and sprinkle other ½ while cooking
  • ¼ – ½ tsp dried parsley to taste while cooking – add 2nd pour

Notes:

  • No salt is needed because the flavor and ingredients of both the A1 and Worcestershire sauces are salty.
  • All seasoning amounts are suggestions and I highly encourage you to season to taste. Add other ingredients for different flavors for your tofu (see Tips & Suggestions).
  • Tofu is porous so always purchase in sealed packages to avoid contamination. Be certain to check the sell-by date.  Store tofu in the refrigerator.

* Red onion may be substituted for any onion of choice.  This recipe also works nicely with scallions.

1)    Rinse Tofu and cut it into cubes.

a)    I find it easier to cut length-wise and then, width-wise into cubes.  I also recommend cutting tofu into smaller cubes for even cooking.

2)    Mix seasonings in a measuring cup with a spout for easier pouring and stir.

3)    In a medium frying pan or wok, sauté onions in the olive oil on a medium flame until translucent.  Sprinkle ¼ tsp of poultry seasoning into oil, stir, and let simmer for approximately 1 minute.

4)    Pour in ½ liquid (“1st pour”), stir, and bring to a light boil.  Turn down to a medium flame immediately and add tofu, stir.  Tofu should be covered with liquid.  Cover pot with a lid on a medium flame and let simmer.

a)    © Denise Cavassa, CMA ~ BodyKnowledge.biz, FitFun.comIt is important to completely cover the tofu with the seasoning mix on the first pour so that even absorption can occur for all tofu cubes.  You’re going for a stew type of consistency (versus a soup).

b)    If you discover that you use more than half of your seasoning mix, just make a little more.

5)    Let simmer for approximately 10 minutes.  When liquid is half-way evaporated, stir tofu, cover, let simmer for approximately 10 minutes.

a)    I recommend not removing the lid too often so that the liquid can steam as well as simmer into the tofu.

6)    © Denise Cavassa, CMA ~ BodyKnowledge.biz, FitFun.comWhen liquid is barely visible in the bottom of the pan, tofu will be covered with a soft glaze.  Sprinkle remaining poultry seasoning and parsley and stir.  Add remaining liquid, cover, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.

7)    Repeat step 4.

8)    When liquid is barely visible in the bottom of the pan, reduce flame, stir and let the glaze thicken a bit by leaving the tofu uncovered for 2-5 minutes so that the mixture becomes a slightly crisp glaze but does not stick in the pan.

a)    Tip: you can turn out flame and let tofu sit in the pan to let the glaze harden a bit more.

b)    Desired texture: a light crust from the glaze will give a slightly crunchy texture to the tofu on one or two sides, depending on how much you stirred during the final process.

9)    Serve as desired.  This recipe makes a scrumptious tofu that can be enjoyed without additional sauces or seasonings.

Tips & Serving Suggestions

  • The first time you make this recipe, I recommend babysitting the tofu to understand the timing, as it is easy to burn it.
  • Instead of water, you can use vegetable stock or soup (e.g., vegetarian lentil, onion, split pea, tomato, etc.)
  • Other seasoning suggestions: sesame oil drizzle; Tabasco (¼ tsp added to liquid mixture); curry; cumin; cilantro; liquid smoke; let your imagination run wild!
  • Serve with everything: pasta, potatoes, rice, noodles, vegetables, bread, salad, etc.! This recipe is delicious hot or cold.
  • If you make a little extra seasoning mix (approximately ¼ cup), you can pour it into the pan after you remove the tofu to season rice, pasta, vegetables, etc.
  • I often make a double batch (double the recipe) and freeze half of the tofu for later enjoyment. Freeze in an air-tight, plastic, freezer bag and you can do a quick thaw in warm water.

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How To Best Fold A Yoga Mat (with photos)

By Denise Cavassa, CMA

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Hygiene is one of the main considerations for having your own, personal, yoga mat.  However, one of the detriments to your hygienic practice is the improper care of that very same mat.  Aside from proper cleaning (see Cleaning Your Yoga Mat), folding the side of the mat that touches the floor to rest against the side that you rest your body and face on fosters a breeding ground for germs!  Follow the instructions below for the best way to fold and store your yoga mat with ease, efficiency, and to preserve its life.

Create A Clip Fastener

1)    Using a needle-nose pliers, make a small loop in both ends of a large, plastic-coated, paper-clip.1clip2sm

a)    It may be easier to bend the ends if you spread the clip apart a little bit.  The plastic coating on the paper-clip allows for an easier slide against the mat.

b)    Store your clip on the end of your mat during and after use.

Fold and Store Your Mat

1mat3-sm1)    Fold one end of your yoga mat to meet the other so that the “body side” (the side you rest your body on) is enclosed within the fold.
2)    Keeping the ends together, use both hands and roll your mat towards the fold.  You do not have to roll very tightly, but the tighter the roll, the thinner your mat will be to store.1mat4-sm

3)    Place your fingers in the center of your rolled mat and, holding the fold with your thumb, slide the paper-clip between the fold and the immediate layer of the mat.1mat5-sm
4)    Allow your mat to ease to be able to balance to stand for travel and storage.

TIP:  Do not roll the mat too tightly – allow it to ease a bit to allow for vertical, air flow.  Air flow prevents odor and possible mold build-up if your mat does not adequately dry.Denise Cavassa, CMA yoga mat

 

Clean Your Yoga Mat The Easy Way

By Denise Cavassa, CMA

Yoga mats can accumulate quite a bit of dirt, sweat, and grime build-up just after one use.  Below are a variety of options to keep your mat clean and sanitary.  Of course, I always opt for the most natural options, but, as I give thanks for every day, I am so thrilled to live in the “Star Trek Age” where we have so many options to achieve our goals.

While it is best to give your mat a spray and/or wipe down after every use, if you only use your mat at home, you should cleanse it at least once a week.  Clean feet with every use will cut down on dirt and odor accumulation.

Cleaning Cloths.  It’s easy to put a few cloths into a zip-locking, plastic bag to carry with you.  Most yoga mat manufacturers make wipes with essential oils that won’t cause your mat to become sticky.  You can even purchase environmentally safe cloths.  If you use a heavy-duty cloth, be certain to give your map a wipe-down with a moist, paper towel to remove chemical residue.  I have even used baby wipes in a pinch with success!

All-Natural Cleaners.  For best results, use a water-based, all-natural cleaner that won’t decompose natural, tree rubber.  This is a safe bet for most mat materials.

Spray Bottle.  Soap and water are always a good bet.  It is important not to use too much soap.  A recommended mixture is ¼ tablespoon of mild, dishwashing liquid to 1 quart of water, or 4 drops of dishwashing liquid to 2 cups of water.  Spray, wipe, and for best results, wipe again with plane water before allowing your mat to dry.

  •   It’s very easy to fill the tub with a few inches of water, a bit of dishwashing liquid, and clean your mat with a sponge.  You can even use a gentle, scrub brush for dirt that may become ingrained in a mat with crevices.  Drain the tub and rinse, hang or pat dry, and you’re done!  However, certain mats are spongy and can become “water-logged,” so it is not recommended to submerge your mat often.

Washing machine and dryer.  If you’re really lazy (and believe me, no judgment here!), you can pop your mat into the washing machine in cold water and gentle soap on the gentle cycle.  I recommend baby-sitting your mat because not all mats are created equal and some may not be as sturdy as others.  Remove your mat from the machine before the spin cycle and rinse off the soap with cool water.  Hang to dry – which can take a couple of days.  Avoid hanging or storing your mat in sunlight as it can become dried out and deteriorate.

Go Natural!  Best bet:  Equal parts of white vinegar and water, spray and/or wipe with a damp sponge.  You can add a few drops of essential oils (and I do mean a few drops) for aromatic benefits, but check with your mat’s manufacturer to ensure that their properties are compatible with your mat.

Drying Tips.  Great ways to dry your mat are to use terrycloth or other reusable fabrics, such as Sham-wow.  Allow your mat to thoroughly dry before storing it.

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 Click HERE for more Tips

 

Tips on How To Use Nasaline (Nasal Irrigation System)

By Denise Cavassa, CMA

Whether you’re looking forward to Spring after a brutal winter or dealing with irritants (like cigarette smoke, dust, pollution, etc.), allergies can make your life miserable on a variety of levels. While many people pray for relief from pharmaceuticals, there are no cures for allergies. There are, however, a variety of things that you can do to control and alleviate symptoms naturally.

Nasal congestion and an abundance of mucus are two major causes of allergy suffering, contributing to issues with headaches, ears and balance, sore throats and vocal cords, eye pressure and irritation, and even digestion. Nasal irrigation is a simple and effective way to manage allergy symptoms and discomforts. With repeated use, you may even be able to achieve permanent improvements – I have.

While Nasaline may be one of the simplest and best items on the market for sinus care, you can find yourself a bit frustrated as you try to learn to use it without snorting water up your nose! And then, there is the fear of pushing water up into your nose in the first place! Below are tips for safe, easy, and successful nasal irrigation with Nasline without experiencing discomforts similar to cannon-balling into a pool of water without nose plugs.

What is Nasaline?

Nasaline, by Squip, Inc., is a drug-free, simple, nasal irrigation system that is an alternative to a neti pot. Using saline solution in a large syringe made of medical-grade silicone with a specially designed tip that fits most noses, it is easy to quickly flush your nasal passages with considerably little fuss or mess. Users can control the flow, pressure, comfort, and effectiveness of the saline solution as it gently swirls to enter the nose. Nasaline is useful to alleviate symptoms associated with sinus congestion, allergies and related infections, and the discomforts associated with these conditions including headaches and ear pressure. Nasaline reduces nasal irritation, cleans and hydrates the mucous membranes, and soothes your nasal passages. Nasaline can be a quick and easy relief in and after dusty, smoky, dry, etc., environments.

How To Use Nasaline

1) Into 1 cup of warm (body temperature), sterilized or distilled water, stir to dissolve ½ teaspoon of salt (or 1 package of Nasaline salt). Gently fill the Nasaline applicator with the saline solution.

a) NOTE: The manufacturer does not recommend using iodized table salt (to avoid allergic reactions to iodine) or sea salt (which may contain pollen, algae, or other irritants. Nasaline’s brand of salt contains no preservatives or additives.

2) Leaning over a basin (e.g., bathroom sink or tub), place the applicator’s silicone tip against the nose so that it completely seals the nostril.

3) As you slowly and evenly push the saline solution up into the nostril, breathe normally (or say aaahhh…) through the mouth, refraining from swallowing. This process should take from 3 to 7 seconds for each nostril. By reflex, your palate will close so that the solution will pour out of the other nostril.

a) TIP: Try tilting the silicone tip slightly forward, away from your chin, so that your nostril is slightly stretched forward. This helps to anchor the tip while you push the saline solution into your nostril.

b) TIP: Be aware NOT to squeeze the back of your throat while inserting the saline solution (and saying aaahhh…) into your nostril to avoid trapping liquid in your sinus cavity – like what happens when constricting your muscles when jumping into a pool and water is painfully forced and trapped up your nose. The more you relax, the easier the flow of solution through your nasal passages.

c) TIP: Relax your neck and shoulders so that you don’t restrict muscles that can affect your normal breathing. I recommend leaning over the basin with a straight upper back (in other words, not hunched over) or leaning on your forearms or elbows to avoid compressing your neck, shoulders, and upper back.

d) TIP: If the solution-releasing nostril is congested, try giving a quick and gentle, exhaling blow (like a little blast of air; think of how a bull snorts to express dominance) to assist the solution in streaming out.

e) NOTE: Occasionally, the saline solution may trickle down the back of your throat, which is not harmful.

4) Repeat for your other nostril. It s recommended to flush 2 full syringes twice in each nostril once or twice a day, or as instructed by your physician.

a) NOTE: I suggest that you do not fill the syringe more than ¾ full to avoid difficulties when you press the plunger – e.g., the plunger sticking and shooting a forceful stream of water up your nose.

5) When your rinsing session is completed, blow your nose gently to clear any remaining solution and mucus. If some of the saline solution remains in your nasal passages, it will trickle out within a few hours. Or you can lean forward and tilt your head from side to side immediately after rinsing to release it.

a) TIP: I find that leaning with a gentle, forward shake a few times helps trapped water to be released from my nasal passages.

b) TIP: Simple exercises like touching your toes (soft knees) with your neck relaxed and head resting towards your knees (Standing Forward Bend) will help to pressurize your sinus cavities to release any remaining solution.

c) TIP: After nasal irrigation, you may also want to gargle to remove mucus and alleviate irritation in the back of your throat.

6) Cleaning your Nasaline. When finished nasal rinsing, clean your Nasaline by completely pulling out the plunger from the syringe, removing the silicone tip and flushing all 3 parts with water. You can also clean your Nasaline with a mild dishwashing liquid and rinse well. Allow your Nasaline to air dry.

a) TIP: I use a soft toothbrush and a cotton swab (such as a Q-Tip) to clean the Nasaline’s crevices.

7) When not in use for long periods of time, it is recommended that you store your unit in its travel cylinder to avoid any swelling of the rubber around the plunger. If your plunger doesn’t slide easily in the syringe, a drop of olive oil rubbed around the black, rubber ring will do the trick.

See video demonstration below on how to use Nasaline. More information can be found on the Manufacturer’s website along with other health aids.

 

Making A SmartStart™ For Fitness

original document: Making a SmartStart™ In The New Year by Denise Cavassa, CMA

It continues to become more evident than ever in the global economy, the environment, and in human relations that destructive behaviors do not work and continuing to do them is the sure path to suffering.  The same analogy can be made for diet, exercise, and personal well-being.

To start off the new decade on an empowering note, here are a few BodyKnowledge™ tips to create new opportunities for successful achievement of your health and wellness goals.

1)    Commit to achieving your goals by making yourself right.  When you make choices from a negative perspective, you make yourself wrong, which is a total set-up for failure.  There are enough things in life that are positioned to invalidate you, so beating up on yourself is a certain path to disaster.  Choosing to create habits that support your health, happiness, and enjoyment of life are empowering motivations.  Get clear on what you really want and trust that you have the power and the ability to make a loving commitment to achieve your goals.  Know that it is your right to be healthy and happy – whatever that is for you.  Give yourself permission to go for and have what you desire.

2)    Determine your “ideal” according to who you are.  Get clear on whether you are respecting your cultural and unique characteristics in your concept of health and beauty or whether you are being a “slave to media conditioning.”  Educate yourself to your body type and form and the fashion styles that compliment you.

3)    Respect the process.  A truly bad habit is to be in a hurry for results.  It took a lifetime of experiences to get where you are now, so allow yourself time to appreciate your individual process of self-discovery in order to make lasting changes.  You do this by:

a)    forgiving yourself for your past and respecting it as a learning experience;

b)    empowering yourself to be in the NOW by:

i)      letting go of the past and choosing to be responsible to your present choices;

ii)     creating small goals to lead to larger ones;

iii)    affirming yourself through the process without condemning yourself for slip-ups, and

c)    educating yourself for intelligent and proper self-care.  Learn how and what to do to safely and wisely progress in your personal maintenance program.

4)    Begin correctly and enjoy long-lasting results.  Start with professional guidance. Investigate the credentials and educational background of the professionals you choose to ensure they are right for you.  Use a search engine to determine what the curriculum is for their certifications, degrees, etc., and research questions (and answers) to interview any prospective pro that you hire.  It is wise to make a small investment at the start of your program rather than suffering huge costs (quite probably financial, medical, etc.) caused by attempting to take short-cuts and save a buck.  Remember, you are investing in your most valuable resource: you.

5)    Trust that you have the right and the power to achieve your goals.  A few tips for keeping the faith are:

a)    develop a routine of daily affirmations.  The “chatter” that goes on in your mind can often be influenced by negative thoughts so it is important to consciously affirm yourself to stay motivated;

b)    give daily thanks for all you have.  An “attitude of gratitude” keeps your focus on just how fortunate you really are which is one of the most empowering, motivational tools you have;

c)    like your “exercise look” to feel good about yourself while doing this part of your wellness program; and

d)    give yourself daily, weekly and monthly rewards for what you’ve done towards your goal achievements.

6)    Create a loving support system with a motivation partner(s).  Choose someone of “like energy” with whom you easily recognize your true power to share your goals, dreams, stresses, and success.  It is important to have someone who is on the same level of commitment and motivation to stay focused and to battle the tough times and naysayers with you.  Advertise for an exercise buddy at your fitness facility, online (e.g., on social networking sites), your local newspaper, etc.

7)    Be creative and have fun!  Try new things.  Research new modalities.  Be brave and try them.  You have nothing to lose (choose wisely – see all steps above) and you’ll have a good time with new adventures!

Denise Cavassa, CMA is a Certified Movement Analyst, fitness-nutrition-wellness expert, and behavioral modification specialist in New York City.

Re-Emergence

In 2005, due to the negligence of my former slumlord, I fell down a flight of marble stairs.  Since then, I have been virtually immobilized and unable to walk without the use of a cane and a neck-brace.

I am ever grateful that I was in amazing physical condition and caught myself before I fell on my head or I would, most likely, have been paralyzed or dead.  At first, I thought I’d merely sprained my back.  I had no idea that I incurred the serious injury of a bulging disc at L5-S1 which presses on several nerves at the base of my spine – which means that ALL movement,  including breathing, causes excruciating pain.

I surmise that because I’m not fat and out of shape; I don’t look like something the cat dragged in; I’m well-spoken and educated; and I have forced my insurance companies to provide many of the therapies that do help extreme back pain and injury management, the United States Social Security Disability Administration considers the fact that I’ve been unable to work in either of the fields that I have degrees and certifications not enough reason to “award” me disability benefits.  The FACT that I have numerous diagnoses  from a variety of orthopedic and other medical professionals supporting the truth of my injury continues to be ignored by the administration.

I take a moment here to state that the judges from the Disability Administration who’ve presided over my case were so grotesquely obese that the mere concept of them judging ME adds insult to my injuries.

So, I continue to live in 24-hour, non-stop pain… for a while longer.  Before I leave the earth plane, I want to give the techniques I’ve developed for health, wellness, back care, and pain management to those who are worthy of having my illustrious work: people who:

  1. take responsibility for their wellness;
  2. do not use pain, etc., as a manipulation tool for sympathy or for any other reason; and
  3. strive to be the best they can be no matter what.

I understand the emotional, psychological, and financial tolls that pain takes on a person – first hand.  However, I refuse to make anyone else miserable with my miseries and people who choose to keep a positive perspective will be the ones who benefit from my work.

Quite frankly, I don’t care about people who use illness as an agenda to control others.  Growing up a sickly child who spent too much time in hospitals, I consider people who want to make others ill with their illnesses abominable and wasting valuable oxygen.  I strive for wellness and optimal living and those who waste any opportunity to be their best don’t deserve my work.

My concern is for the people who honor the Gift of Life by caring for themselves with the utmost intelligence and respect and who extend the same consideration to others in their lives.

Trusting how I’ve seen The Universe work, the “whiners and mega-diners” will inevitably find issue with me and my work – which is acceptable to me because I’ve already stated that I do not care for or about them.  People who have the intelligence, integrity, and security of personal responsibility for the value in their lives will find great benefit from what I offer.  And that is the reason I offer my work at all instead of taking it with me to my grave.

Now, if you just got your panties in a bunch because my direct, no-nonsense, unaccommodating-of-immature-perspectives-approach rubs you the wrong way, my work is not for you.  I do not coddle; I give the information straight with no chaser because I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to waste time getting to the point.  And I don’t want my time or efforts wasted.

www.BodyKnowledge.bizMay excellent health be your priority and best opportunity for joy.

It’s your choice.

Denise Cavassa, CMA
www.BodyKnowledge.biz