Healthy Cooking and Food Preparation
Preparing Food to Maximize Digestibility and Nutrition:
Why is soaking so important? In traditional diets, seeds, grains and nuts are soaked, sprouted in order to neutralize naturally occurring anti-nutrients in these foods, such as phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors, tannins and help "predigest" the macronutrients (proteins, complex carbohydrates, and fats). It essentially makes the food easier to digestion, more nutritious, and less likely to cause any sensitivity in the body.
Soak desired amount of grain in an equal amount of water. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours. When ready to cook, add remaining required amount of water or stock and cook. If preparing grain berries to grind your own sprouted grain, follow the same instructions as above, let the berries sit in a strainer for 24 hours, and use the drying instructions for the nuts. The best way to check for doneness is to crunch a berry between your teeth. If it doesn't crunch they are not dry enough. This can take anywhere from 12 to 36 hrs.
Place raw nuts in a bowl, add 1 tablespoon of sea salt, and cover with water. Leave at room temperature for 12 hours. Drain out the water. Place nuts on a cookie sheet and dry on low heat in the oven or a dehydrator (approximately 150). Option: In place of salt, add 1/4-cup tamari for tamari nuts.
Raw Beans & Lentils
Follow the same instructions as for whole grains, but POUR OFF the soaking water and replace with fresh water before cooking. Pour off and refill until there are no more bubbles on the top of the soaking water.
Steam your veggies for a few minutes then add butter or ghee, seasonings, and serve. You can also sauté your veggies in butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and then serve. Raw veggies with a homemade dressing are also good. Do not boil vegetables unless this is required to eat them.
Cookware and utensils:
All cookware should be made of stainless steel, good quality enamel, glass, or cast-iron. Clay is also an option. Avoid aluminum, cooper, and non-stick coated cookware. The elements in these utensils can get into the food and are unhealthy for your body.
The Best Cooking Methods and Appliances:
- To preserve as much nutrition in food one of the best ways to cook is with lower heat and longer duration. High heat can destroy nutrients.
- Two valuable cooking appliances for your kitchen are a crock pot (a great time saver) and a roaster.
- A wok for stir-frying (the kind that is placed right on the burner is best and only use stainless steel). The sloping sides and rounded bottom are designed so food can be quickly browned in the “belly” of the pan and them moved up to the sides where is finished cooking more slowly.
- A steamer (or a metal basket that sits in a pot) for steaming vegetables works great. Steaming cooks and seals in flavors and a great cooking method to preserve nutrients.
- A blender is valuable for making smoothies and mixing soups.
- Lastly a salad spinner helps dry green vegetables (e.g. spinach, lettuce, and kale).
Planning Your Meals
Planning and shopping are critical aspects of a healthy diet. Planning helps create complete shopping lists so you can avoid the “quick” stops to the store that waste time and money. Planning also helps you organize the best meal for your schedule on any given day. Here are some tips to help you save time and money.
- Standardize your breakfast and lunches. One of the easiest ways to be sure that you eat a healthy breakfast and lunch everyday is to PLAN! Get comfortable with about 5 to 7 breakfast and lunch meals that you enjoy and rotate them through your week.
- Keep healthy snacks available.
- Keep a running list on your fridge to help keep you stocked on the things you know you need. Right when you realize you are out of something you can right it down so you are prepared when you go to the grocery store.
- Bulk buy to save money. Usually when you buy bulk at a health food store you can get a discount. Good suggestions for bulk buying include: long storing winter vegetables in the fall (onions, garlic, winter squash, and potatoes) will last 6 to 8 months, whole grains can last up to 1 year in cool, dry container, and beans can last up to 2 years in cool, dry container. Join a food-buying club (or just get a group of friends together) to share items.
- Bulk cook when a meal or a “non-rushed” day lends the opportunity. Dishes that tend to freeze and re-heat well for a day you need a quick meal include: lasagna, muffins, waffles, small breads, pizza shells, soups, burritos, pot pies, and casseroles. (more)
- Have a list of “no-brainer” healthy meals that you and your family enjoy. With these types of meals you tend to have the ingredients always available (or ingredients that will work) and they require minimal preparation time and effort.