Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

Cashew Tofu

Today is Tofu Tuesday in my house.

I have a list of about 7 tofu dishes we love that I cycle through, and this one is my absolute favorite.

When I was a teenager in Missouri, I worked as a hostess at a popular Asian restaurant. They make a cashew chicken that I crave. Crispy white meat chicken battered and fried, topped with oyster sauce, and sprinkled with cashews and green onions. I practically lived off that cashew chicken during high school.

When I moved to Texas, I was heartbroken to discover cashew chicken here is completely different. It has sauteed chicken, a white sauce, and is loaded with celery. It simply cannot satisfy my craving. For the last 14 years I’ve had to settle with having my favorite food once every couple years during visits to my hometown.

I have tested and tested and tested various ways to make the sauce and have come up with one that satisfies my craving. The only difference is that at home, I prefer to pour it over crisped tofu instead of fried pieces of chicken. If you don’t like tofu, please, try this with chicken. It’s good. The only different prep for the chicken would be to batter it in flour to fry instead of the cornstarch I use for the tofu.

Downloadable PDF of Cashew Tofu

  • Press 1 16-ounce package extra firm tofu 1 hour or more before making the meal
    • Do this by draining the water the tofu is packaged in
    • Cut the tofu into 1-inch steaks
    • Place the steaks between paper towels – I use 6 paper towels topped with 5 tofu steaks, topped with another 6 paper towels, another layer of 5 tofu steaks, and another layer of 6 paper towels.
    • Top with either a large skillet or heavy pot
    • If using a cast iron skillet, as I do, place a layer of parchment paper on top of the paper towels to keep the moisture from harming the cast iron.
  • When ready to make the meal, chop:
    • 1/4 cup cashews
  • Toast cashews over medium low heat in a dry skillet – do not burn!
  • While cashews toast, chop:
    • 4 green onions
  • Set aside chopped green onions and toasted cashews
  • In a medium saucepan, combine:
    • 3/4 cup brown rice
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 Tablespoon butter (I use Smart Balance brand 50/50 butter)
  • Bring water to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes
  • While rice is simmering, prepare the tofu
    • Remove the pressed tofu steaks from the paper towels
    • Cut each into cubes
    • In a large bowl, combine:
      • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
      • 1 teaspoon dried garlic
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
    • Place cubed tofu in bowl and toss to coat with cornstarch mixture
    • In a large, deep skillet, heat:
      • 4 Tablespoons canola oil
    • Once hot, pour cubed tofu into skillet and cook over medium high heat until crispy and browned, about 17 – 20 minutes, separating stuck-together pieces and stirring periodically
  • While tofu is cooking, prepare sauce by combining in a small saucepan:
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • 1 Tablespoon Tamari or light soy sauce
    • 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
    • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • Whisk ingredients together, then bring to a simmer over medium low heat until thickened
  • Once tofu is browned and crispy, pour sauce over tofu
  • Serve over rice, sprinkled with green onions and cashews

Cubed tofu in cornstarch mixture
Cubed, pressed tofu in cornstarch mixture

Chopped green onions
Chopped green onions

Toasted Cashews
Chopped, toasted cashews

Cashew Tofu
Cashew Tofu, served over brown rice

Yum, yum, yum, yum! I’m so excited I can make this anytime I want and satisfy my craving for that addicting cashew chicken I lived on as at teen. I usually serve steamed broccoli alongside, since it’s a family favorite veggie.

What is your favorite restaurant meal? Do you make a version of it at home?

Downloadable PDF of Cashew Tofu

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~


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Blueberry Pecan Yogurt

With my new life counting calories, I have a new favorite breakfast that falls within my 350 calorie goal for the first meal of my day. After my morning work out that lasts between 30 minutes and 2 hours given the day, I look forward to this meal. It’s sweet, fresh, and makes me feel fully recovered from a tough workout, but not like I’ve eaten too much even on days when I don’t work out at all.


Served alongside 1 cup Smart Balance brand Fat Free Milk with Omega 3’s and Vitamin E (110 calories) mixed with 1 teaspoon Hershey brand Special Dark Chocolate Syrup (17 calories) makes a total of 342 calories. With about 22 grams of protein between the yogurt, milk, flax meal, and pecans, this keeps me full until lunch. The live bacteria in the yogurt and the omega-3 fats in the flax meal and the milk all help to keep my digestive system calm, which is an excellent way to start my day.

Blueberry Pecan Yogurt

This morning I walked the Pup for about 15 minutes through the neighborhood. It was too hot outside to take him further. So, I brought him home and then I set off for my own walk, which was about 40 minutes of alternating a brisk walk with a jog. Now, it’s off to the grocery store before spending the afternoon making pepperoni rolls from scratch for the kids. Tonight is the 6th grade dance, so E is going to her first dance with a friend of hers. That means B gets to have a friend over since she’s not old enough for this dance. I have a house full of kids tonight, one sleeping over, and a 6th grade dance amongst it all. That means they get a fun dinner of whole wheat pepperoni rolls with a tad of spinach rolled up in them as well!

Have a wonderful weekend!

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Some of my summer favorites:

Sweet Corn and Poblano Chilaquiles

1. Easy, but tasty breakfasts like poblano and sweet corn chilaquiles or a soft egg over pan-fried sliced turkey and a corn tortilla. After so many years of rushed mornings of smoothie breakfasts in the car while driving an hour to work, now that I have time to make breakfast every day and enjoy it, I take advantage. I’ve taken to eating breakfast on the front porch while the Pup hangs out, playing with his tennis ball and watching the neighborhood – one of his favorite past times. While the afternoons have been dangerously hot, the summer mornings have had a slight breeze and a comfortable temperature. I nice cup of hot Earl Gray spiked with a touch of lavender enjoyed on the front porch is a perfect start to my summer day.


2. Easy no-cook lunches. From an easy smoked salmon spread on crackers or crusty bread to the simple summer sausage, sharp cheese, and seeded flat bread above, these lunches let me feed the family lunch without taking much time from my day so I can stay on task with my daily to-do lists. I have a habit of making to-do lists longer than I have hours in the day to finish them. With a side of fruit and cut-up veggies, lunch is done and I’m back to work.

Tofu with Walnuts

3. Tofu crisped perfectly and tossed in a brown sauce with various mix-ins over brown rice. This one has chopped walnuts served over brown rice with peas. I’ve played with the seasonings for the cornstarch mixture the tofu is tossed in as well as the sauce to make different versions so we don’t feel like we’re always eating the same thing. I’ve used snap peas and carrots, the walnuts above, and just a couple nights ago used steamed broccoli. This meal is easy, versatile, light but filling – a great option the night after splurges such as pizza or burgers or steak fajitas, and tofu is super cheap (my grocer sells 16 ounces for $1.67!), making it way more affordable than Chinese delivery and much healthier (and tastier) made at home.

Halved Cherries

Peach halves

4. Desserts made from fresh summer fruits like peaches and cherries. My hubby, however, prefers something with chocolate! Can’t blame him, but I can’t let the fruits of summer go by without some desserts that remind me of the fresh produce and home-cooked dishes from my childhood at my grandparents’ house in Missouri. They had a wonderful garden!

Fried Green Tomatoes

5. Fried green tomatoes. Dipped in a vibrant sauce or stacked on a sandwich, I don’t care. Summer to me isn’t complete without fried green tomatoes. The fried green tomato BLT at Kerbey Lane Cafe is my favorite summer lunch. Ever. My homemade fried green tomatoes are dipped in a whisked egg then into a 1:1 mixture of flour and cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper, then fried in canola oil in my iron skillet. It really only takes minutes for a small batch. Add ground cayenne or smoked paprika or oregano and other herbs to the cornmeal mixture to change up the flavor.

I could add coconut frozen yogurt, anything with mangos, cool smoothies on hot days, orange glazed beets, fried chicken, and summer veggies. Probably my favorite part of this summer has been the opportunity to change careers and spend more of my time at home with my family, something I haven’t had while working long distance from home since I married.

What are your summer favorites?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Frosted Carrot Cake

I’ve been out of commission the last few days. On Thursday, hubby had to drive me to urgent care to get treated for a sudden case of kidney stone pain. I spent all day Thursday in pain that wasn’t controlled until about 7:00 pm or so. Then I spent most all of Friday asleep, only getting up to make lunch and again to make dinner. Along with dinner, I decided to throw together a simple carrot cake, because what else was I going to do with a portion of the 3 pounds of organic carrots I had in my refrigerator?

I found this recipe on a Healthy Meals in Minutes recipe card (my mom gave me a large collection of them years ago) and fell in love with the simple, wholesome ingredients. I am not a fan of carrot cakes that call for pineapple or raisins. I want my carrot cake to be just a carrot cake, and this one is just that. I only adjusted a couple of the ingredients to fit my preference, and they weren’t major adjustments.

This does not make a rich, incredibly sweet cake, but rather a hearty cake that, if you left off the frosting and baked in a muffin tin, would be great as breakfast muffins. The yogurt keeps the cake very moist throughout.

I was able to throw this together quickly while pressing the tofu for our dinner (we had tofu with walnuts over rice), then bake the cake while I made dinner. My sweet stepdaughter E sprinkled on the walnuts after I smoothed the frosting over the top of the cake. She also helped with taking the photos while I was cleaning up dishes.

Chopped Carrots

Cooling Carrot Cake

Frosted Carrot Cake

Slice Carrot Cake


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Spray an 8 or 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside
  • In a medium bowl (I used a large 4-cup-capacity measuring cup), mix together:
    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, mix together the following until combined:
    • 1/2 cup honey (I used agave)
    • 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 2 large eggs (recipe calls for two egg whites and 1 egg, but I just used two whole eggs)
    • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Once liquids are combined, fold in:
    • 2 cups shredded or finely chopped carrot (I used slightly over 2 cups by chopping 1 pound of carrots in a food processor)
  • Once carrots are folded in, slowly add in the dry ingredients while mixing with electric mixer
  • Once all is combined, pour batter into prepared baking pan
  • Bake for 30 minutes (25 minutes if using a 9-inch pan), or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
  • Cool on wire rack
  • Transfer cake to platter


  • This frosting makes a small amount, just enough to smooth over the top of the cake
  • In a mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat until combined:
    • 4 ounces fat free cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Once smooth, and cake is cooled, spread frosting over the cake
  • Sprinkle top with:
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Frosted Carrot Cake

With this recipe, I’ll be making carrot cake all the time! I love that it calls for whole wheat flour and that neither the cake nor the frosting have an abundance of sugar. My stepdaughters approved of it, too!

That’s about all I have energy for today. I believe it’s time for me to take a nap to regain some more strength. I hope to be back 100% by Monday.

Do you prefer carrot cake with just carrots, or do you like the recipes that call for extra fruits such as pineapple or raisins?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Sweet Corn and Poblano Chilaquiles

I’ve lived in Central Texas the last 14 years and never had chilaquiles. I’ve never noticed them on the menu at any of the restaurants we frequent. That was, until some friends asked us to meet them at a new place in town for dinner. Los Chilaquiles Bar & Mexican Grill has 9 flavors of chilaquiles, my favorite being the ultra rich De Rajas, with poblano pepper and onion.

To satisfy my new obsession with these chilaquiles (and poblano peppers), I make a quick version at home combining sweet corn and roasted pobalno pepper strips.

I sometimes make a batch of the corn and poblano pepper mixture (like I did earlier this week) and keep it in the refrigerator so all I have to do is crisp a couple tortillas and warm the corn and poblano mixture to spoon over (like I did this morning) for a quick breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Because I could eat this any time of day.

Downloadable PDF of Chilaquiles with Sweet Corn and Pobalno Peppers

  • In a medium, deep skillet over medium heat combine:
    • 11 ounces sweet corn (drained, if using canned)
    • 7.5 ounces roasted poblano pepper strips (drained, if using canned)
    • I use canned of each since I make this all the time, making it faster to throw together, but you can use fresh corn and roast fresh poblano peppers as well
  • Once heated through, add:
    • 1/4 cup or so of cream
    • I use soy cream, and add just enough to cover the bottom of the pan
  • Once cream is added and heated through, add:
    • 1/4 – 1/2 cup cheese
    • Use any cheese you like: cojita, Monterey Jack; my favorite for this is fresh goat cheese
    • Add 1/4 cup first and stir, melting the cheese into the cream
    • If the dish isn’t creamy enough for your liking yet, melt in more cheese
  • Reduce heat to low and keep warm
  • In another medium deep skillet (I use an iron skillet), warm just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan
  • Once oil is hot, add:
    • Corn tortillas
  • Cook tortillas just a minute or two per side, until lightly crisped
    • For one individual serving, I usually heat 1 – 3 tortillas, depending on how hungry I am
  • Once the tortillas are lightly crisped, cut them into strips, then cut the strips into smaller pieces
  • Spoon corn and poblano mixture on top, sprinkling more cheese on top if desired


This was the perfect breakfast to tide me over after my morning workout of sun salutations and a run, before heading out to volunteer a couple of hours at the Cedar Park Farms to Market. I had a lot of fun meeting new people and helping out at the farmers market! It was nice to get out of the house and have a chance to socialize. I miss that part of going to work at the university every day.

Now, it’s time to wash off the sunscreen and bug spray and settle into my kitchen to make peppermint frozen yogurt . . . which I hope turns out because it sounds so refreshing after spending the first half of my day outside. It’s hot out there! Have a great weekend!

Sweet Corn and Poblano Chilaquiles

Downloadable PDF of Chilaquiles with Sweet Corn and Pobalno Peppers

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Not the favorite veggie of many folk.

Roasted Beets
Roasted Beets

I debated about sharing this dish.


  • I can count on one hand the number of people I know who like beets (and not use all 5 fingers).
  • I normally share recipes I think a number of folk I personally know would enjoy actually trying (and this ain’t one of them).
  • It will probably turn a few heads, and not in an, “I must try that!” kind of way.

Why, then, am I sharing it?

  • I love beets (when I began researching digestive problems, it seems everywhere I turned I read about the benefits of beets).
  • I love eggs. (That’s right, beets and eggs).
  • This was the best post-run-recovery breakfast I’ve ever eaten.

It also gives me a chance to mention both:

I am a Facebook follower of Johnson’s Backyard Garden. Yesterday, they posted a link to this recipe for Almond & Beet Pancakes by Sprout & Pea. I had just roasted 4 beets purchased from Johnson’s Backyard Garden at Saturday’s farmers market, and hadn’t yet decided what I was going to make with them. They posted a link, my dilemma was solved.

Beet Pancakes

My pancakes turned out thicker than those made by Sprout & Pea. I substituted a few ingredients because I didn’t have almond flour, almond milk, or agave on hand. Instead, I used whole wheat pastry flour, light vanilla soy milk, and brown sugar. Instead of pureeing the beets in a food processor, I pureed them with additional soy milk in a blender until smooth and thick.

I taste-tested two for lunch yesterday, drizzling them with butter pecan syrup.

  • Impression #1:  you can really taste the beets! (That’s a good thing.)
  • Impression #2:  syrupy toppings are too sweet. (That’s a bad thing.)

I tucked the remaining pancakes into a storage dish and stowed in the refrigerator, happy I liked the pancakes but bummed I didn’t like the topping. Another dilemma.

Fast forward to this morning. Just as I was about to come to the finish of my morning jog, I boldly turned around and started jogging it again, reversing my route and therefore, doubling my normal jog. Longest distance I’ve jogged in 5 years! (That’s a good thing.)

Not long after, I was starving! (That’s a bad thing.)

I instinctively reached for my favorite post-run food, dreaming of a golden pool of rich yummy goodness . . .
On top of a beet pancake?
That could work.
And it did!
Sometimes, I think I could eat anything so long as it’s smothered with a river of egg yolk.

Beet Pancake with Egg

Rich and savory, I was in heaven!

Egg over easy over beet pancake

Since I’m not a nutritionist, I won’t begin to tout the health benefits because, well, I’m not really qualified to. But for me, I know when I feel physically weak (like after an intense workout), nothing makes my body feel stronger than an egg. I know it’s easier for my weakened digestive system to process an egg than a host of other protein sources. I know when I eat an egg combined with a source of whole grain, my body feels stable and nourished instead of jarringly shocked like it does if I eat carbs without balancing them with enough protein. I know when I eat beets as well as items with whole wheat flour, I’m happier because my dysfunctional digestive system is suddenly functioning like a normal person’s.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For folks with malfunctioning digestive systems like me, it can be the most debilitating meal of the day. If I eat the wrong thing that upsets the balance of my ultra-sensitive digestive system, it can take the rest of the day to heal from the crazy-painful, debilitating backlash my body reaps.

This meal was the perfect combination of . . . something . . . that made me feel amazingly WELL (and that’s a good thing).

adapted from this recipe posted by Mardi at Sprout & Pea
Downloadable PDF of Beet Pancakes with Egg Over Easy

  • In a 400 degree oven, roast:
    • 4 small or 3 medium red beets
      • I scrub the beets, place them on a sheet of foil, spritz with a tad of olive oil, and wrap the foil into a packet, enclosing the beets, then place the foil packet in a baking dish
  • Roast for 30 – 40 minutes, or until beets are tender
  • Set aside to let cool
  • Peel beets and roughly chop into large pieces
  • Place chopped beets in a blender and puree, adding soy milk (or milk of choice) as needed, until a smooth, thick puree forms
  • In a large mixing bowl, add:
    • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/4 cup soy milk (or milk of choice)
    • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Mix well, then add beet puree
  • If batter is too thick to pour, add additional soy milk to thin
  • Heat a skillet or griddle over medium to medium-low heat
  • Once heated, pour batter by 1/4 to 1/3 – cups-full and cook for just a minute or two
  • Once bubbles begin to form on top, flip pancake and cook for another minute or two, until cooked through
  • Remove and keep warm
  • Repeat with remaining batter
  • Heat another skillet coated lightly with cooking spray over medium-low heat
  • Add one egg to skillet, cover, and let cook until white is cooked through but yolk is still soft
  • Top one beet pancake with egg, season with fresh cracked black pepper, and serve
  • Other topping choices: syrup, honey, fruit, nuts

Roasted Beets

I promise, the next post will involve something normal, like chicken.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Sesame Tofu

Sesame Tofu

I have a few dinner guidelines I try to follow each week:

  • One dinner featuring chicken
  • One dinner featuring beef
  • One dinner featuring tofu
  • Three or more dinners featuring fish/seafood

Though each week doesn’t always work out quite as planned, I feel these guidelines suit our family well. It helps me plan groceries. I always know to get one package of tofu, just enough beef for one meal, same for chicken, and then I usually stock up on salmon, tilapia, and whatever other fish is on sale or featured in a new recipe I want to try.

I am building my repertoire of recipes using tofu, and last week’s was SOOOO good that I made it again this week when we had the girls. They fully approved!

I am in love with this recipe I found online for sesame tofu. I adjusted the sauce ever-so-slightly to fit our preference and added a bit more to the cornstarch for more flavor on the tofu. I adjusted the oil, poured ALL the sauce over the tofu, and served over brown rice, topped with chopped green onions. YUM!

Pan-Fried Tofu
Crispy, golden, pan-fried tofu is ready to be coated in the sweet sauce.

Downloadable PDF of SESAME TOFU

  • Drain water from:
    • 1 16-ounce package of extra firm tofu
  • Slice the tofu into 10 even-thickness slices.
    • Use either paper towels or kitchen towels to press the liquid from the tofu. The method I use is to place 6 paper towels in one layer on a cutting board, top with 5 pieces of the tofu, top with another layer of 6 paper towels, top with last 5 pieces of tofu, top with another layer of 6 paper towels, and top with something heavy (I use a large, hardcover cookbook – a heavy pan or dish will work fine).
    • Place in refrigerator until ready to use. I usually prep the tofu 1 – 3 hours in advance.
  • In a deep medium skillet over medium heat, toast:
    •  1/4 cup of sesame seeds
  • Once toasted, pour into a bowl and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine:
    • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
    • 3 cups water
  • Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 30 – 35 minutes, or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.
  • While the rice cooks, prepare the sauce and tofu.
  • In a small saucepan, combine:
    • 1/3 cup honey
    • 3 Tablespoons Tamari sauce
    • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil, not toasted
    • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
    • 2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
      • It has to be fresh for this recipe – makes all the difference! It’s easier to grate if it’s frozen, and it keeps in the freezer forever.
    • 2 large cloves minced garlic
  • Stir sauce with a whisk and heat to just a simmer, then keep warm.
    • The only changes I made to the sauce from this recipe was to eliminate the red chili flakes and decrease the ginger by 1 Tablespoon. I love the fresh ginger, but 2 Tablespoons was plenty for me. I also find it easier to grate the ginger rather than finely chop it, but whatever works best for you.
  • Remove the tofu from the refrigerator, removing the paper towel layers and discarding.
  • Cut the tofu into small cubes. I like mine much smaller than what most restaurants usually serve.
  • In a medium to large mixing bowl, whisk together the following:
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Place the cubed tofu in the cornstarch and stir to coat all pieces.
  • In a deep skillet, heat over medium heat:
    • 4 Tablespoons peanut oil, or oil of your preference
  • Once heated, add the tofu, increase heat to high, and gently toss to brown.
  • Cook tofu until golden brown and crisp on all sides. I usually cook mine about 10 minutes or so.
  • Remove tofu from heat and pour sauce over tofu and stir to coat.
  • Add toasted sesame seeds and stir to combine.
  • Serve over rice and top with chopped green onions.
  • If you like it spicy, sprinkle on red chili flakes. I find everyone has a different tolerance for spicy foods, so I leave it out of the sauce and let each person sprinkle their preferred amount on their own portion.
  • If you prefer chicken, use the same recipe, but substitute cubed raw chicken for the tofu.

Sesame Tofu

I served this with broccoli I roasted in the oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes – the same amount of time it took to cook the rice. Even though it’s over 100 degrees in Central Texas, my kids will eat their weight in roasted broccoli so I don’t mind turning on the oven. Besides, we’re probably the only family in the neighborhood who keeps our AC no lower than 77 degrees anyway, because we’re all too cold with any setting lower.

Downloadable PDF of SESAME TOFU

Do you have any guidelines for meal planning in your household?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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