Almond-Tahini Stir-Fry Sauce & Notes From Dr. Fuhrman’s Immersion

Hello again! I’m so glad you liked my post and photos from Dr. Fuhrman’s Immersion last weekend in San Francisco. I had a lot of fun writing about it. As promised, I am going to include my notes from the event along with this blog entry. First, though, I want to share a recipe for Almond-Tahini Stir-Fry Sauce that I made last night, it was so delicious on water-sauteed veggies.

The ingredients for the sauce were these:

I don’t normally use sugar or salt in my cooking, but this sauce has a little bit of both from the maple syrup and the coconut aminos. I think the trade-off for flavor in this case is acceptable, though, and it would be a great sauce for kids or people who claim they don’t like vegetables.

You don’t even need to use a blender for this sauce, you just add the ingredients to a bowl and stir. In the meantime, you can water-saute your veggies, I used onions, bell pepper, tofu, mushrooms, garlic, kidney beans, bok choy, broccoli and herbs in my mix:

The greens go in near the end:

Finally, the sauce tops it all:

Once it is all stirred together, I turned off the heat and then served it up with some sesame seeds sprinkled on top:

Maybe it is because I used some salt and sugar in the sauce, but this tasted to me like something that would be served at a restaurant (in a good way). It was delectable. Here is the recipe for the sauce:

Going back to Dr. Fuhrman’s Immersion, I went through all of my notes from the event last night and compiled them into the following list. I just want to tell you that these are my interpretations of what he said, I didn’t include information taken directly from his slides. In other words, I’m not quoting him directly, I’m just including the tidbits of information that I picked up. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at carrieonvegan @ gmail . com (one word, no spaces) or leave a comment on this post. Enjoy!

Basic Concepts

  • As you achieve micronutrient adequacy, your desire to overeat will diminish.
  • Exercise is the only healthy way to speed up metabolism.
  • Too much fat on the body is inflammatory and cancer-promoting because it stores toxins.
  • The hormone IGF-1 is most closely linked with cancers and goes up when consuming higher biological proteins. Protein intake is the key determinant of IGF-1 levels in humans. It is possible for soy foods to raise IGF-1 levels if consumed in excess.
  • It can take populations 40-50 years to catch up with the science as far as eating behaviors.
  • Ideally, BMI should be less than 22.
  • When eating cruciferous vegetables, it is important to chew them well so the cancer-fighting isothiocyanates (ITCs) are formed.
  • It is important to eat at least one big salad a day, chewed well.
  • It is not healthy to consume oils because they are absorbed too quickly into the system to be used for energy; they get stored as fat instead. Whole fat sources are a much better choice because they help preserve glycogen stores and help us to stay full longer.
  • The addictive potential of food is indicative of its danger.

Food Addiction

  • “The best sauce is hunger” to make food taste better.
  • Don’t strive to be hungry when you eat, eat when you’re hungry.
  • Nuts and seeds are great for weight loss because we need to eat some fat to lose fat; otherwise the body holds on too tightly to stored fat.
  • The two types of food addiction are overeating for a dopamine surge and overeating because of detoxification.
  • The longer you can stay in a catabolic state, the longer you live.


  • It is important to eat lots of green vegetables to maximize the benefits from these foods.
  • Each green vegetable has different types of ITCs.
  • Our bodies and immune systems are dependent upon eating green vegetables.
  • Our digestive tracts are the first line of defense in our immune system.
  • It is important to consume a variety of mushrooms.
  • Spinach should make up only 1/3 maximum of our consumption of greens due to oxalic acid that blocks the absorption of calcium.
  • 1 ounce of nuts provides about 10-15 grams of fat. 1-2 ounces per day for most people is a good amount.
  • The seeds containing protective lignans include sesame, chia and flax.


  • Black rice is the healthiest type of rice, even more so than brown rice due to antioxidants present in black rice.
  • Muscle tissue helps lower overall IGF-1 levels in the body.
  • The protein in beans (except soy beans) does not raise IGF-1 levels.
  • Make sure your nutritional yeast is not fortified with folic acid.
  • Make sure your sesame seeds are unhulled, otherwise the calcium is stripped away. Most commercially produced tahini is made from hulled sesame seeds which means it is not as good of a source of calcium.
  • Melatonin has anti-cancer properties, especially against breast cancer.
  • It is okay for nuts to be roasted up to 170-200 degrees F.
  • Dr. Fuhrman now includes a daily dose of 1/4 teaspoon of saffron in his depression protocol.
  • Shallots are incredibly healthy and cancer fighting.
  • Don’t eat dried fruits made with sulfur dioxide.
  • Avoid tomato products in cans, find versions in glass jars instead.
  • Turmeric has anti-cancer properties.
  • Choose cauliflower over white potatoes because it does not have glycemic effect of potatoes and can taste similar.

Cooking Demo:

  • Agar agar is used for gel-like consistency, arrowroot is a thickener.
  • Use 1 tsp of arrowroot for 1 cup of liquid and boil for 1 min. max.
  • We get about 400-600 mg of sodium from a natural diet so it is okay to get an additional 200-300 mg more a day from other sources.
  • Only use about 2T of nutritional yeast at a time because of the potential issue of folic acid fortification.


  • There are too many potentially risky things about coffee. Also, having coffee prolongs an oral fixation.
  • Agave is not health-promoting, it can raise triglycerides.
  • Wild blueberries are a superfood; they protect our brains.
  • Don’t ever eat so much that you get stomach distention, you should never even notice your stomach the same way you never notice your liver.
  • Because of the arsenic issue with brown rice, if you are going to eat it, prepare it with extra water and drain it off or buy brown rice from a trusted source.

As you can see from this list, there was a lot of information covered at the event; it was pretty awesome.

Wow, it’s Friday already which means that it’s time for Healthy Vegan Fridays, our weekly blog link-up party. The top three most clicked-upon recipes last week were these:

1.  buddha veggie bowl with a ginger-miso-lime dressing from janet @ the taste space:

2. creamy gingerbread cookie cup from stephanie @ eating freely

3. pasta with cauliflower cream sauce from sarah @ this is what i eat:

Be sure to link-up your favorite whole food, vegan recipe at the end of this post.

Last, but not list, follow this link to read a great review of my iPhone and iPad app, Vegan Delish, on one of my favorite blogs,…you can also leave a comment on that post to win a free download of the app!

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you back here on Monday Tuesday.


  1. says

    Thanks for the notes on the Immersion! That sauce looks fantastic! Veggies with a creamy sauce… I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! 😉 I really like using coconut aminos. I like the flavor and it is not as salty as traditional tamari/soy sauce.

  2. says

    Hey Carrie! Love the recipe – I’m going to start lightly cooking my greens into dishes, it always looks so delish!

    Question: does Dr.Fuhrman say anything “special” about coconut oil? In Eat to Live he says to avoid coconut & palm oils because of their high saturated fat content, but the organic coconut oil I have contains Medium Chain Triglycerides, so it gets processed in the liver and converts to energy instead of clogging up my arteries, no? That’s just what I believe because of Brendan Brazier’s book, Thrive Foods. Now I’m confused- maybe I’ll just use the giant tub for hair & skin care!

    • says

      Hi Nicole, great question about coco oil. I think the bottom line is that coconuts are not dangerous, but it would better to consume the whole food as opposed to just the oil. Does that make sense? By the way, I sometimes use coconut oil, but I try not to. If I get a real yen for that yummy coco flavor, I’ll incorporate some unsweetened shredded coconut into a dish. 🙂 I have also heard Dr. F say that using coconut milk or coconut water occasionally is acceptable. The oil is probably the least desirable just because it is pure fat and more easily overconsumed.

  3. says

    Hi Carrie! Recipe looks great! Thanks for sharing your notes on the immersion.

    I also have a question – does he distinguish between a 22 BMI for body fat and 22 BMI because of muscle mass? Someone with a ton of muscle mass is going to have a high BMI.

    And as far as I understand the coconut oil question per my nutrition class and research – there’s debate in scientific communities about coconut oil because it is processed differently in the body than other saturated fats (plus, a little saturated fat from sources like coconut oil isn’t going to kill us – I’m actually in the (veggie?) paleo camp on this one).

    • says

      Hi Liz! Great question! I think there is a potential issue about having too much muscle mass and Dr. Fuhrman has addressed this by bringing up studies showing that football players have a higher risk of cardiac death due to the pressure placed on the heart from high body mass (fat or muscle). I think this would be the very rare exception, though, most people’s BMIs are too high due to having too much body fat.

      In regards to the coco oil, I’d love to have you read what I wrote in response to Nicole’s question about it and let me know what you think.

  4. says

    Thanks for the notes. It was helpful to learn the latest findings of Dr. F. I like your stir fry too. Do you normally buy organic for your fruits and vegetables?

    • says

      Hi Jonathan! I’m glad you enjoyed my summary of the Immersion and what I learned there. To answer your question, I do try to buy organic fruits and vegetables but I most often buy non-certified organic yet pesticide free versions at my local farmers’ markets.

  5. Helena says

    Thank you for the recipe and for the summary! The recipe looks yummy as always and I’m going to order some coconut amino’s right away (I loved the confirmation that we can have a bit of added sodium in our diet, as long as it’s only a few hundred mgs, which is easy if you eat the way we do).
    But thanks especially for the summary. That’s so helpful and I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. I will probably never get to attend an immersion or getaway so getting to learn a bit about that this way is wonderful. I knew to avoid oil because of the empty calories issue, but it is good to be reminded that there are other issues with it as well (like with all processed foods of course). I was surprised about the saffron. Will research that more. I had seen a video by Dr Greger about it too, so it is good to see it again here.
    Don’t know about the beans other than soy don’t raise IGF-1 issue. Did he cite any references for that? I’d think it’s a bit more compicated than that. One issue is that people don’t eat cups and cups of beans, but that it’s easy to get lots of soy protein. But if “higher biological protein” is the issue, than black beans should raise IGF-1 too. They have a great amino acid profile. (Personally, I don’t worry a bit about this. I’m just interested in the theory).

    • says

      Hi Helena! I’m glad you enjoyed the summary. Just to confirm, the calories in oil are not empty, they are fat. They are empty in the sense that they don’t contain phytochemicals, maybe that is what you meant? I don’t have any other info about saffron, this was the first time I have heard Dr. F mention it. I’m glad you saw something from Dr. Greger, Dr. Fuhrman must have seen the same report. In regards to the IGF-1 issue and beans, I do not think that black beans are similar enough to soy beans in their amino acid profile, but please let me know if you know of any research that shows otherwise. Soy is most closely related to animal protein.

      • Helena says

        Hi Carrie, thanks for your reply! To confirm, with “empty calories” I meant indeed “devoid of micronutrients”. About the black beans: if I look at the amino acid profile of cooked black beans on it looks fairly similar to that of tofu and other soy products (it depends a bit on what kind of tofu you look for, some are even worse, with less methionine+cystine). Black beans meet or exceed the reference value for all the essential amino acids (as evidenced by the protein score of 103 on nutritiondata). I can imagine that there is something specific about common soy foods (like tofu) that make the protein more easily absorbable or something that like that. And again, personally I find it easy to overeat soy. A cup of soymilk in a smoothie, a block of tofu in a stir-fry, some tempeh in a salad, etc. Therefore for me the warning about soy and IGF-1 was useful. I don’t see myself regularly eating more than a cup of black beans a day (unless I start eating lots of black bean brownies – but that may not be the greatest idea for other reasons 🙂 )

        • says

          Hi Helena! Wow, that is fascinating about black beans, but Dr. Fuhrman was very specific when he said that soy beans were the only ones connected with increases in IGF-1. I think you’re right that there must be some component of soy that makes it of higher biological value, or it could be that the research just hasn’t been done on black beans yet. In any case, I think it is confirmation of the importance of variety in our diet, even in our bean consumption. There was a teleconference done on Dr. Fuhrman’s Member Center earlier this year about the amount of soy protein that is acceptable in a day to not raise IGF-1 levels and I believe it was about 12 grams per day.

          P.S. Your comment about black bean brownies made me giggle. 🙂

    • Rebecca says


      Overeating due to detoxification relates to Dr Fuhrman’s topic of toxic hunger: that basically, we often eat because we are experiencing symptoms (lightheaded, stomach discomfort, etc) that we believe are signs of hunger – but Dr F says these are actually signs that the body is detoxifying itself. So when you then eat, in order to get rid of those symptoms, the body isn’t able to complete its detoxification process, because now it goes to work on digesting. Dr F encourages you to get in touch with true hunger – which is a completely different experience than those symptoms listed above, and to only eat when experiencing true, not toxic, hunger.

  6. says

    Hi Carrie, I’ve linked up my dessert today which has dairy free and vegan options BUT it does contain agave as the vegan option which I have always suspected is not healthy (as you point out) . Aloso it contains nuts – lots of them so in fact it probably is a very UNhealthy dessert! Lol – I should have read your post first!

    Such a great post, I love it, all this information..

    • says

      Hi Vicky! I’m glad you contributed a recipe to the link-up party, even with the agave. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the summary of the Immersion.

  7. Laura S. says

    About the sesame seeds in the “food” section, did you mean unhulled sesame seeds, not “unhealed?” 🙂

    Also, what is the arsenic issue with brown rice??? I have never heard of that! Ugh. I have a feeling whatever the answer is is going to make me sad!

    Thanks so much for sharing your insights, Carrie!

  8. Rebecca says

    Hi Carrie,

    SO much great information! I’m going to be re-reading this post, for sure! One quick question: have you found a brand of tahini that uses unhulled sesame seeds? I’ve been on the search, but no luck so far. I use it daily in my salad dressing, so I definitely want to make this change!


    • says

      Hi Rebecca! Great question and I am wondering if raw tahini (does that exist?) would be made from unhulled seeds. I am not going to eliminate jarred tahini from my life, but I am trying to use both unhulled sesame seeds and tahini in different dishes as part of making sure I get enough calcium. Let me know if you find out anymore about this and I’ll let you know what I discover.

  9. Angela says

    Thanks for your notes from Dr. Fuhrman’s presentations! -All very helpful.

    I noticed you mentioned the link between melatonin and breast cancer. I have been a student of a researcher, Dr. Richard Stevens, who is a pioneer in this area. He’s featured in a great film on the topic of light at night, called the City Dark, which I highly recommend.

    I also saw you mentioned folic acid a couple times. Can you explain further why its consumption should be limited or any studies Dr. Fuhrman referenced? I recently spoke with a naturopath who mentioned that the rise in the fortification of foods and supplements with folic acid has coincided with increases in the prevalence of autism and the persistence of genetic mutations that greatly reduce the production of the enzyme that converts folic acid, and folate from foods, into L-methylfolate. This process is important for cell division and neurotransmitter production. This is an area of current interest to me, so if you could provide any more information that would be much appreciated.

    And, as always, love checking out the links to the Healthy Vegan Fridays recipes. Thanks!

    • Helena says

      Hi Angela,
      You may be interested in Dr Fuhrmans Position Paper about folate/folic acid. You can get it for free if you sign up for his (free) mailing list. See
      There’s also this article:
      I don’t know about the autism connection, but I thought I’d mention that I live in a European country where food isn’t fortified with folic acid, yet autism is on the rise here as well.

    • says

      Hi Angela! Thanks for the film recommendation. I had no idea how important melatonin is, I thought it was only related to sleep. Last weekend was the first time I had heard Dr. Fuhrman mention the research linking it to cancer. I have already decided that I am going to buy one of those lights you sit in front of in the winter when there is less sun. In my case, I’ll be using it in the summer when it is very overcast along the coast in California.

      The folic acid connection Dr. Fuhrman mentioned was with breast cancer. Apparently, women who have taken folic acid supplements during pregnancy have higher rates of breast cancer years down the line. He didn’t mention any link with autism. I haven’t done my own research on this and I don’t have any references right now (I’m sure Dr. Fuhrman does but I am too lazy to look for them), but let me know if you can’t find anything and I’ll poke around. Of course, the connection doesn’t exist with folate because that is the natural version.

      • Angela says

        Thanks for your response and for sharing all this wonderful information! Definitely food for thought!

        One thing I wanted to note is that, the way I understand the research so far, if folic acid supplementation is allowing more babies to be born with a genetic mutation that causes them to be unable to create the enzyme to break down folic acid, this might be the same for folate. Though I totally agree we should be consuming micronutrients in their plant-based, natural, whole forms, I’m afraid that the artificial supplementation of folic acid is causing us to be unable to process natural folate, too. However, I would assume that having natural folate circulating through the body is not as bad as free folic acid. This is an interesting topic that I’ll definitely have to research more to make sure I’m understanding the science correctly, but I thought it was a interesting discussion topic considering our similar interests in nutrition and public health. 🙂

        Be well,

  10. Dawn says

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a great recap. I wish I could have been there. Okay–where have I been? I had no idea there was an arsenic issue with brown rice. And what is a “trusted source”? So cooking with extra water seems the way to go for me. Your posts always inspire me to keep trying to feed myself healthfully. Glad you are doing so well after your surgery. I know you know this but —sunscreen all the time will help with your scar. Which will fade a ton on a young woman like you. Thanks again!–Dawn

    • says

      You’re welcome, Dawn!!! I’m really glad you liked my re-cap. Yeah, I was pretty upset to hear about the arsenic issue, too. If it makes you feel any better, Dr. Fuhrman said his kids still insist on eating brown rice and that’s when he suggested just making it with extra water and draining it off. He didn’t get anymore specific about the trusted source except I think he mentioned if a company does testing of their products. Perhaps there are some specialty farmers that do test their rice for arsenic? Thanks for the well wishes, too. 🙂

  11. says

    I thought I was the only one to use Coconut Aminos ;p Everyone else seems to use soy sauce. I try not to use the aminos often either because it’s “processed” salt – but it’s nice once in awhile.
    Thank you for sharing your notes from your weekend! I knew a fair amount of some of the things discussed, but I learned some great new tips.

  12. Sharon says

    Hi Carrie,

    Thank you so much for your great recap of the Immersion Event in S.F. I’ve been tempted to go to one of these before but after seeing your photos & summaries, I really hope to be able to attend one next year. I love your blog and your Vegan Delish app! (I’m zawask at the member center) You’re such an inspiration to me! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. Mwah!

  13. says

    Thanks for the awesome recap! I would really love to go to one of his immersions someday. Until then, I’ll live vicariously through posts like this one!

    Wow, good point about the folic acid in nutritional yeast. It’s kinda crazy that I never thought about it. After reading about the dangers of certain supplements in Super Immunity and then researching other sources, I’m very cautious with supplementation. I guess not cautious enough 😉 Eating nooch every once in a while likely doesn’t pose that much of a threat to my health, but it’s always good to be aware of what I’m putting in my body.


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  2. […] It’s nice to have my energy back so I feel more motivated to do more in the kitchen. It couldn’t have come fast enough because Alan staged a mini-revolt on Friday and requested no. more. soup for at least a few days. I’m the kind of person who can eat the same foods day in and day out, but he likes a little more variety and I can appreciate that. He asked for a stir-fry so that’s what we had. I used my basic recipe with Almond-Tahini Sauce. […]

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