There is an off-season for everyone (that happens to care about health, physical fitness, or just plain old appearance), and I’m just now remembering that this is the bulk of most American’s year! The past 6 months have been the strangest for me, as I sat out from competing and my usual routine of hard core training. The last time I had this much freedom was circa 2009, but I didn’t have a clue how to eat for health or what to eat for weight maintenance. When pool season was over, the safety of an all-concealing sweater allowed me to eat what I “deserved,” after-all, those off-seasons meant Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, super bowl, Easter, birthdays, happy hour, blah blah blah.
For me, I prefer the structure of the on-season. There is discipline, focus, direction. There is support from co-competitors, judges, coaches. You’re in the zone. But like I said… I’m off season. So, I am faced with all the issues most people are challenged with. It’s a time when you let your hair down and you lighten up on some of the restrictions. Only issue is, I know why I don’t enjoy certain foods in the on-season, so why would I allow myself to have them in the off?
Reduced fat and fat free dairy contain more lactose than their full-fat counterpart. Lactose is essentially a sugar (type of carbohydrate), and can cause insulin sensitivity and fat storage in our body. So should I eat the extraordinarily yummy (and high protein) greek yogurts on the market? Full fat dairy is high in saturated fat (still rich in lactose) and can cause blood cholesterol to rise, put us at risk for heart disease, and also cause fat storage. So when can I eat my beloved gorgonzola, feta, blue cheese, or frozen yogurt? Most pasta is made of wheat, has gluten, is high in starch, and is generally paired with a creamy sauce. Starch breaks down as glucose, and although glucose helps fuel our body with energy, it too is a sugar and too much of it leads to fat storage. Then we have pies, cakes, cookies, candy, and all that other good stuff. Yeah, I know, just saying the words scream sugar, and I hope you’re getting the point.
All this stuff makes my head dizzy.
Off season isn’t happy season when you’ve constantly gotta worry about all that darn sugar! So when I found the carb free, House Foods brand, Tofu Shiratake noodles at Whole Foods, I had to see what they were all about. According to their site, Tofu Shirataki has been pegged as a pasta alternative because unlike pasta, it’s gluten-free, cholesterol-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan, organic, non-gmo and kosher certified. It honestly can’t get much better than that!
Now I know you’re wondering about the phytoestrogen issue. First off, flaxseed is the best source of phytoestrogen, with 379,380 mcg per 100g, while soy has only 104,000 mcg per 100g. You don’t hear of many people getting breast cancer from their over consumption of flax seed, nor do you hear of any epidemics in Asia from their consumption of tofu. So what’s the deal and what are the results of all this “research?”
Tofu Shirataki is a whole food, made from organic soybeans. Unlike non-organic soy protein isolates (powdered soy product extracted from soybean) that are added to drinks and foods and are very allergenic, tofu goes through little processing. It is important to note that most research I’m familiar with, in relation to animal testing of soy, only gmo soy protein isolates were used. GMO=Pesticides, and pesticides contain high quantities of phytoestrogen (a chemical the deters insects from messing with plants) thus adding to the overall amount in soy derived, or any other phytoestrogen containing foods. Dietary phytoestrogens may provide health benefits, including reducing the risk of some cancers and protecting against osteoporosis, and it may also decrease menopausal symptoms; however, synthetic phytoestrogen can obviously cause catastrophic damage by inducing auto-immune disorders in our body. Moral of the story, stay AWAY from soy protein isolates, soy lecithins, or any other processed, non-organic soy products.
Tofu Shirataki Cauliflower Mushroom Alfredo
1 package House Foods Tofu Shirataki noodles, spaghetti or fettucini shaped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 head cauliflower florets, finely chopped
8 oz. package organic mushrooms (crimini, white, portabella), finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp Braggs apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp raw cashew butter
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 packet stevia
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
Himalayan pink crystal salt and peppercorn, to taste
Rinse and drain tofu noodles very well, set aside. In a large skillet, combine olive oil, cauliflower and mushrooms, and cook over medium heat until mushrooms have broken down. Add onions, reduce heat to medium low, and continue cooking till onions have turned a light golden brown.
Meanwhile, add all remaining ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the alfredo sauce into the skillet, and stir till combined. Serve immediately.