Chapter Three

By Ray & Frances Foster

 

 

Vegetarian cooking can become, and really is, easier than cooking with meat, fish, fowl, or eggs. It is all a matter of what you are used to and familiar with.

 

Does Cooking Kill the Food?

While it’s true that cooking destroys some vitamins, some plant

foods greatly increase in nutrition when they are cooked. For instance, carotene in carrots is made more available to the body by cooking. Eating a wide variety of plant-based foods in as simple a form as possible will give us an ample supply of all the vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that the body requires.

 

What About "Live Enzymes"?

Let’s study what enzymes are and how they are made. Life resides in the body as a whole. There is no such thing as a live enzyme or a live finger or hand or foot or leg running around on its own. Except as the part is connected to the body, it cannot have life. There are a lot of debates on the issue of "live enzymes," so let’s try to make it understandable. The food we eat is made up of different classes of organic compounds: fats, proteins, carbohydrates, etc. As the food we eat is digested, it is broken down into substances that the body can use. When we eat a meal, the protein that is taken in must first be broken down into the amino acids from which it is made in order for the body to be able to use it. From there, the amino acids are built up again into the complex organic compounds that the body needs. Some amino acids are made into enzymes. We can say that amino acids are the building blocks from which enzymes are made. The body builds all of the enzymes it needs, and the food we eat supplies the building blocks for it. If a whole protein gets into the body that has not been broken down into amino acids, it is recognized as a foreign protein and the body destroys it because it knows that it did not make it. This would be the fate of any "live enzyme." So the argument that we must eat "live food" in order to have enough "live enzymes" to properly digest the food we eat really has no basis in modern science.

 

Why are Foods Cooked?

Why are some plants cooked before we eat them? Fruits are cooked in order to preserve them for long time storage. We call this canning, bottling, or preserving. They are cooked in order to sterilize them so that they do not spoil while on the shelf at room temperature. Some of the heat-labile (changed or degraded by heat) vitamins are lost by cooking. But cooked fruit in the middle of winter is a great improvement over no fruit in winter—or whatever time of year that you cannot get fresh fruit. Minerals are not affected by heat so cooking is not an issue with the mineral content of food.

Vegetables are sometimes cooked to make them softer and easier to eat. For instance, raw potatoes are pretty hard and would be a problem to chew your way through! Boiled or baked potatoes are soft and delicious! The softness of the potato is a great trade for a loss of a few percent of the heat-labile food elements in the raw potato, as well as making it easier to digest. The starch granules open with cooking, so the body gets more nutrition than from a raw starchy food.

Dried grains and legumes would be indigestible without cooking. There are two principle reasons for this. First: The seed is designed to stay preserved as is for a long time. There are enzymes and other inhibitors that keep the seed dormant. If you eat these inhibitors, they can cause gas and other unpleasant effects. Soaking and discarding the water is one way these inhibitors are designed to be taken out of seeds such as legumes. Once removed, the seed can sprout and grow! So grains and legumes should be soaked in water or heated to destroy these inhibiting enzymes that interfere with digestion. Second: Raw seeds are so concentrated and dry they would be very hard to chew as they are. Cooking not only inactivates the inhibitors in the seeds but also makes the seeds much softer, more easily eaten and much more digestible than are the raw grains or legumes of any kind.

 

How to Cook Plant Foods

So the question is, How are plant foods best cooked? Most plants that need cooking can be boiled. After boiling them, don’t throw away the water, but save it to use in making soups or stews that require extra water. (The water in which you soak beans should be discarded, as it contains some of the inhibiting enzymes that can cause unpleasant symptoms, such as gas.)

Better than boiling is steaming vegetables. A rack or a grid is placed in the bottom of the pot or pan and the quantity of water added just comes close to the grid or rack and does not reach the vegetables. When the water is boiled, only the steam reaches the food and cooks it without much loss of water-soluble vitamins. Of course, if the water is saved and used for soup or stew, then a larger proportion of water-soluble nutrients are saved.

Don’t Overcook Vegetables!

How do you know that something has been overcooked? Fresh vegetables are stiff and crunchy. Overcooked vegetables have no body at all and just fall apart or are mush when put in the mouth. Cooked "just right" they have about one half the crunch that they would have if not cooked at all. So vegetables that feel as though they are only half cooked are just cooked perfectly!

Grains and legumes are very different from vegetables in their cooking requirements. These are seeds, and the tight packaging of nutrients and complex carbohydrate granules in them is designed to give them a long shelf life. Cooking breaks down the tight packaging and makes the plant nutrition absorbable for human digestion. There are also enzymes to prevent sprouting and growth in seeds. These enzymes may result in uncomfortable digestive track symptoms, if eaten. Cooking, soaking in water, or sprouting, removes these enzymes in seeds. The necessity to break open the granular packaging of carbohydrates in seeds and the necessity of destroying the inhibiting enzymes require thorough cooking for grains. So how long do grains need to be cooked? Several hours is ideal for whole grains. The best way to be sure that grains are well cooked is to cook them overnight in a slow cooker on low or on high for several hours. Grains cannot be cooked too much from a nutritional standpoint, but if it is desired to have the individual kernels of the grain recognizable when eaten, different grains need different cooking times. As the starch granules are opened up in cooking, the kernels of grain tend to stick together; hence, the longer the grain is cooked the stickier it becomes. For greater separation of kernels when well-cooked, the grain may be toasted in a dry pan before boiling. If the grain is not well-cooked the nutrition in it is partially unavailable and when the grain is eaten its whole value is not realized.

It Takes the Heat!

It is the heat that does the cooking. There are many ways of getting the food hot long enough to cook. Baking is one way. Just about any plant food can be baked to good advantage. Baking takes more equipment than boiling but certain foods can be baked even on a camping trip. Whole ears of corn in their husks or whole potatoes in their skins can be wrapped in tinfoil and buried in coals from a campfire and left 15 - 30 minutes depending upon the size (test for completion and try not to burn them!) Potatoes are not good raw and need to have the starch granules broken open to be digestible. To test for doneness, put a fork into one of them. If it is soft, it is well cooked. If still crisp or hard, it is not cooked enough. Potatoes have a wide margin of tolerance for good cooking.

What About Frying?

No-fat frying in a little water or a nonstick pan is a good variation to boiling. "Frying" in water is really a steaming process. Avoid using oil to fry anything. The reasons for wanting to avoid oil are:

1) Superheated oils have substances in them that promote the development of cancers.

2) Oils tend to combine with oxygen and become rancid. Oxidized oil has free radicals which are toxic. Heat speeds up this process.

Whole olives are better than olive oil. The whole corn is preferable to corn oil. As much as possible avoid the use of oils. All the advantages of the essential fatty acids (oils) can be gained from eating the whole food and all of the harmful effects of oils can be avoided by using the whole, unrefined article. When "frying" plants, "fry" or heat them in their own juices. Add a minimum of water to avoid burning the plant in the "fry" pan.

Roasting or Broiling

Roasting or broiling is another good way to cook vegetables. Roasting is heating with radiant heat by putting the food next to an open fire. Corn can be browned to perfection by constant turning so that it does not carbonize. All of the grains can be roasted but it may not be practical. It takes more effort to keep moving the grain exposed to the heat as compared to boiling, where the water distributes the heat evenly all through the pot. Popcorn is a special grain that is whole and cooks well by radiant heat or even hot air.

Specific methods of preparing specific foods are given below. If you cannot find the food you are looking for, use the food that has the closest characteristics and chances are you will cook it correctly.

I. Fruit:

Apples
 are best eaten fresh. Skins may be removed if there is a question of a wax covering (to make it shiny), pesticides or other poisons that may not be completely removed with washing. Applesause is easily made by cooking apples for 20 minutes in 1 – 2 cups of boiling water. Putting the softened apples through a Scotch peeler or Foley mill will keep the skins and the seeds back. Applesauce can be preserved in jars in a large canning cooker or pressure cooker. They will keep for a long time after canning. The vitamins and phytochemicals are the main nutrients that tend to diminish in value with storing time. Freezing the sauce is another option.

Drying apples is another good way to preserve them. Cut them in slices, about one half inch thick at the widest, and place under netting in the sun until dried or in a fruit drier overnight (12 – 24 hours) to dry. Keep in a glass jar in a cool dark place until used. Shelf life of about 1 year can be expected. For fruit "leather," place applesauce about one quarter inch thick in a flat pan to be dried in a convection oven or regular oven at very low heat (about 150?or less). If you use a dehydrator, pour sauce on a piece of plastic wrap and set temperature to medium. Dry until "leather" (about 4 – 8 hours). Once dried, it can be cut in strips, rolled up and preserved in a sealed glass jar to keep pliable.Apricots, peaches, pears, guavas, tomatoes, and other juicy fruits are all best eaten fresh, but can be cooked and served as sauce, canned and preserved, dried, cut up, or as "leather" as described for apples.Bananasare best eaten fresh but can be prepared and served in a variety of ways. Longitudinally cut (or transversely to make circles) a quarter of an inch thick, bananas dry well and can be stored for long periods of time. A delightful dessert can be made from freezing peeled bananas and blending them along with some water and powdered soy, rice, oat milk, or some other fresh plant milk. This is the equivalent of ice cream and makes a delightful and refreshing dessert. Experiment with the proportions of ingredients to give different effects of thickness and taste. Any frozen fresh fruit, including citrus fruits, can be used in the same way to make "smoothies". Adding carob powder to the banana "smoothie" makes a delicious milkshake.Cantaloupe is best eaten fresh or in fruit salads. Sliced 3/8" thick after peeling and removing the seeds, it can be dried. It could also be used in a smoothie as described above.Dates are a very versatile fruit. When cut into small pieces they add sweetness to anything from oatmeal or other cereal to salads or smoothies. Think of dates as a wholesome and unrefined sugar that can be used with good effect wherever sugar would be used. Because dates are unrefined and carry with them the vitamins and minerals needed to digest the date sugar, they are better to use than refined sugar or even honey for sweetening. They will store an almost unlimited length of time, as long as they are kept away from weevils or other small insects that will eat them on the shelf. Their sugar content is so high that bacteria cannot live in them. So to preserve them, place them in a jar with a tight sealing lid on it. If they are a moist date, keep in refrigerator.Figs, dried or fresh, are almost as useful as dates for sweetening foods. They can be eaten with or without the skins on and are delightful in fruit salads. Figs dry very well. Depending upon the size, cut in half, or if very big, in thirds or quarters. A fruit drier can be used, or place the fruit on a screen, cover with a netting, expose them to the sun until dry, and then keep in a glass jar with a tight lid. The shelf life is a year or more. They can be used essentially interchangeably with dates if they are sweet enough. Normally, two or three times as many figs would be needed to get the same sweetening effect as with dates.Grapes are best eaten fresh. Eaten in anything from salads to cereals, or just by themselves, grapes are delicious. Grape juice is easily made in a juicer or by the old fashioned method of simply cooking or steaming the grapes, and pouring the juice into bottles for preservation. Grape sauce can be made by putting the residue through a Foley mill. Fresh grape juice is excellent when you are unable to get the whole grapes. The juice has lost some of the fiber and is somewhat "refined" but still has many phytochemicals and other nutrients which are heart protective. We are all familiar with raisins. Raisins are whole dried grapes. Raisins can be used in fruit sauces, cereals, cookies, salads and just about any other food for sweetening, much the same way as dates can be used.Huckleberry (also known as Bilberry, Whortleberry, Hurtleberry) is a member of the Heath family. A single plant in Pennsylvania covers several square miles and is estimated by botanists to be older than the oldest California redwood tree. Although resembling the blueberry, and growing in the same regions, huckleberries are not related to blueberries. There are many species of huckleberries and they are all edible. The garden huckleberry, which was developed by Luther Burbank, is closely related to the tomato. Huckleberries are most often used in the preparation of sweets, preserves, and confectionery. They make an excellent pie. In some recipes, huckleberries can be interchanged with blueberries.

Ilama is native to Mexico where it grows wild in foothills. It is a conical, heart-shaped fruit with a rough skin usually studded with protuberances, although some may be smooth-skinned. The color may vary from green to magenta pink. It is eaten fresh, served in the half-shell or scooped out of the covering and chilled. It is a good nutritional source of calcium, and the B vitamins.

 

Jackfruit is one of the largest fruits sometimes measuring 3 feet in length and weighing up to 50 or 100 pounds. It is the fruit of a tropical evergreen tree indigenous to the rain forests of India and the Malayan Peninsula. When ripe or overripe it has a smell of decayed onions before opening, but the thick, sweet, firm interior flesh has a sweet aroma and flavor reminiscent of pineapple and banana. It is a composite fruit, like a pineapple, but less regular than a pineapple, with the sections clustered in irregular clumps with a central pithy core. Westerners generally find the jackfruits best in the unripe but full-grown stage. To prepare, cut into chunks for cooking, boil in lightly salted water until tender and serve like a vegetable. The seeds are not edible in the unripe fruit. (They need to be cooked to deactivate an enzyme.) After boiling or roasting, the seeds taste much like European chestnuts. They can be ground into a starchy flour or used in soups.

 

Kiwi is also known as Chinese Gooseberry due to the flavor and color of the flesh. Cut in sections, it is one of the most beautiful fruits with a sparkling emerald green interior arranged in a bright center starburst. It adds a lot of eye appeal to fruit salads. The hairy skin is not edible and is removed before eating. The fruit is best enjoyed fresh, on its own, or as part of salads and desserts. It contains an enzyme, like pineapples and papayas, and must be cooked before adding to gelatin. Along with papaya and pineapples, it is reputed to help correct digestive problems. It is a good source of potassium, almost as good as bananas. Bananas have 396 mg. and kiwi has 332 mg. of potassium per 100 grams edible portion of fruit. This compares to 115 mg. of potassium in the apple, which excels in just about everything beneficial.

 

Lemons are one of the most useful fruits for flavor and cooking. When added flavor or tartness is needed, lemons work well. Many cooks have remarked that if they could only have one citrus fruit, they would choose a lemon. The grated lemon rind is useful to add flavor to cooked or baked goods. Lemon juice can add taste to drinks or herb teas. Lemons kept whole in a cool dark place have a long shelf life. They tend to dry up before they go rotten.

 

Melons of all kinds are best eaten fresh although they do dry well —cut thinner than apples depending on their water content. Watermelons do not preserve as well and are best eaten fresh.

 

Nectarines are best eaten fresh. They will make an attractive part of any fruit salad when sliced. They also dry well and can be frozen and used in a smoothie or fruit salad at a later date.

 

Oranges are one of the best sources of vitamin C. They are best eaten fresh by themselves or in a fruit salad. Orange juice can be made by squeezing fresh oranges or it can be purchased at the store. Store-bought orange juice is usually made from concentrate and contains very little fiber. Some "orange juice" is nothing more than sugar water flavored with orange essence. Look at the labels!

 

Papaya is best eaten fresh. It is a very versatile fruit and can be used green and cooked in place of apples. When ripe, it is delicious alone or in salads. Because of a digestive enzyme in papaya, it will keep jello from thickening. For this reason it is best left out of jellos. Papaya dries well and this is a good way to preserve it for a long time.

 

Quince is good eaten fresh. It makes a tasty jam and also makes a good fruit sauce. Quinces will dry well, cut thinly, in a fruit drier.

 

Raspberries are best eaten fresh, by themselves, or as part of a fruit salad. Their small seeds may stick in teeth, particularly of older people. Along with all deeply colored fruits and vegetables, they have wonderful cancer-preventing phytochemicals. They freeze well.

 

Strawberries, like other berries, are best eaten fresh. The redder they are in color, the greater the benefit from cancer-preventing phytochemicals. Strawberries are popular in jams and preserves which compromise the food value with excess sugar. Look for recipes using more natural sweetening.

 

Tomatoes can be considered a fruit or a vegetable. They digest quickly and easily because of their high water content and for this reason are included with the fruits. They are a very versatile fruit. They are best eaten fresh, but cook and dry well in spite of their high water content. Green tomatoes can be cooked and flavored to mimic just about anything, including apple pie. Tomatoes, as well as potatoes, are considered part of the nightshade family and some people with arthritis have found that they feel better when avoiding these foods.

 

Ugli Fruit is a hybrid, a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine or an orange. It originated in Jamaica. It is popular in English markets, where it was generally called the "ugly." It peels easily, is sweeter than its grapefruit parent and nearly seedless. It is best eaten fresh and is high in vitamin C.

 

II. Vegetables

It is a common misconception that fresh vegetables are always superior in nutritional value to cooked vegetables. Several investigations have shown frozen or canned vegetables may actually have higher nutritional value in some nutrients than fresh products. Fresh vegetables are subject to quality and vitamin losses during transportation and storage, whereas freezing or canning before these losses occur can yield a nutritionally superior product. Research has shown that a major cause of nutrient loss in vegetables is in the draining of cooking or processing liquids. This shows the importance of using these liquids in soups or stews.

 

Globe Artichokes need to be cooked. To cook globe artichokes, first, wash them well by spreading the scales under water. Cut off the stem without severing the bottom scales. Trim about 1/2 inch off the scale tips if they are hard. To prevent the scales from turning brown, dip them in a mixture of 2 cups of water and 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice. Boil the artichokes, completely covering them with water, for 20 – 40 minutes. Test with a sharp knife for doneness—softness indicates they are cooked. Eat them by peeling off the scales one by one and dipping them into a dip like a vegetable mayonnaise or the Sunflower Dressing recipe on p. 75.

 

Jerusalem Artichokes are not from Jerusalem. The name comes from a corruption of the Italian word girasole, which means to gyrate or turn to the sun. They are a type of sunflower native to North America. It is the underground tuber that is eaten. Scrub the tubers then dip in water with lemon juice to prevent the flesh from darkening. Do not cook them in aluminum pots as they will turn black. They can be sliced and eaten raw, baked or sauteed as for other vegetables.

 

Beans are one of the staples of the vegetarian diet because there are so many different types of beans and because they are so nutritious. Beans are seeds and seeds are the nutrition storage devices for the plant’s next generation. Seeds are the original diet on which mankind was designed to live. Fruits, nuts and grains are all seeds and this was the diet that mankind was instructed in the Garden of Eden to eat. Beans have a long shelf life and this aids in making them a staple food. Beans can be boiled, baked, roasted, fried, steamed, or ground up and processed into nutritious milk. There are enzymes that keep in check the growth potential in the seed that needs to be deactivated by cooking or soaking before it is eaten. The nutrients in the bean are so tightly packaged that they need to be well-cooked to make them available when eaten. Beans are associated with intestinal gas because of less than optimal preparation and chewing of the beans when eaten. Soak beans before cooking and discard the water that contains some of the inhibitory enzymes that can contribute to intestinal gas. Cook the beans well to open up the carbohydrate granule storage units in the beans. Chew beans well so that the nutrients are well-absorbed and not left for intestinal bacteria to thrive on and make gas.

 

Celery is best eaten raw. It makes a delightful part of a vegetable salad and is a welcome part of vegetable or bean soups. Celery does not need to be cooked in order to be digestible.

 

Dandelion grows everywhere and is usually considered a weed. The young leaves are eaten in salad or soups or as greens. The roots are edible—peel and slice for soups or salads, or dry and roast them and then grind and use as a coffee substitute. Dandelion leaves are high in calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, and have some B-vitamins.

 

Eggplants are among the most versatile foods that can be enjoyed fresh or cooked. Eggplant has the consistency that allows it to be used in place of flesh foods. It can be fried in water, baked or boiled. Flavor may be added to it, as eggplant, by itself, is bland. This is the reason it is so versatile a vegetable.

 

Fennel is a cousin to celery. It can be eaten raw like celery. Fennel is reportedly more nutritious than celery and can be used much like the more familiar celery is used. Fennel seeds are one of the oldest spices and can be used to make a tea that is said to alleviate bloating, flatulence and some other intestinal symptoms.

 

Garlic is one of the most important vegetables for many reasons. It is a wonderful flavoring for soups, beans, and other cooked vegetables. It also has many medicinal uses. It can be used as a deworming agent, an antiviral agent, and a natural blood-thinning agent. It lowers cholesterol and blood pressure naturally with no harmful side effects. Because of its powerful medicinal effect, consult your doctor if you are using aspirin or blood thinning agents before using large amounts of garlic frequently.

 

Kohlrabi is a stem vegetable that is best eaten cooked to soften the stem and make the vegetable more digestible.

 

Onions belong to the same family as garlic and share some of garlic’s properties both medicinally and in cooking. Some onions are good raw; others are too strong and need to be cooked to be enjoyed.

 

Potatoes are a staple food for vegetarians. Baked, boiled, fried or roasted—with cereal gravy or cereal butter (see Millet Butter on page 74), potatoes are a great food. A word of caution about potato chips: fried in oil and salted in excess, they are not a healthful food because of excess calories, lack of fiber, and excess salt. The cooked potato, in its natural, unrefined form, is a delicious and wholesome food that is very nutritious.

 

Radishes are usually eaten raw, either alone or as part of a vegetable salad. They grow easily and are readily cultivated. They are a good spice to give flavor to food.

 

Squash is a versatile vegetable of good taste. There are endless varieties of squash. Each variety has its own delicate flavor. Squash is usually boiled, but it may be baked or even eaten raw as part of a vegetable salad. The darker the squash color, the greater the vitamin, mineral, phytochemical content, and food value.

 

Turnips have been considered "the poor man’s potatoes." Turnips are good eaten raw (especially when small and tender) but can also be cooked and eaten like potatoes.

 

Yams are best eaten baked. Try them with millet butter! (See Millet Butter on page 74.) Sweet potatoes are lighter in color, drier in texture and not usually as sweet as yams. Yams are usually darker orange in color, sweeter, and more moist. There are many varieties of yams and sweet potatoes. Both have good nutrition and lots of phytochemicals. Baking is a favorite way of eating them all, but they can also be boiled.

 

III. Grains

 

Amaranth is a leafy vegetable and is very high in calcium. Its seeds are a very small grain. Amaranth flour has a mild, sweet, nutty flavor that lends itself well to cookies, breads, and other baked goods. Use 1 part amaranth flour with 3 or 4 parts wheat flour or other grain flours. It may be cooked for a hot cereal. Pop the seeds like popcorn or sprout them and use in salads or vegetable entrees.

 

Barley is a delicious, chewy grain that is tasty in soups, stews and casseroles. Barley can be served alone, as you would rice. Hulled barley takes about 1-2 hours to cook using 2 1/2 to 3 cups of water per cup of barley. If cooked in a pressure cooker it will be cooked in 15 – 30 minutes after the pressure is reached. Pearled barley has been scoured six times to remove the outer layers, is just about free from fiber and has lost over half of its fat, minerals and protein. Pearled barley takes about 45 to 60 minutes to cook and requires 2 1/2 cups of water per cup of grain. For soups just add the barley to the soup stock when cooking.

 

Corn is one of the most popular grains and is a staple diet in many countries all over the world. Cornmeal is a favorite food in the southern states, as is cornbread. Perhaps the best-known way of eating unrefined corn is boiled or roasted "corn on the cob". Corn on the cob is as American as apple pie!

 

Popcorn is a whole nutritious food and is a popular form of eating corn. Popcorn itself has only 30 calories per cup. Added fat in the form of butter makes it harder to digest. Keep the addition of salt low. Nutritional yeast sprinkled on popcorn makes a good alternative to butter and salt. Popcorn is high in fiber, B complex vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, as are all the grains.

 

Millet is a small grain that is usually used for birdseed. Millet makes good bread but must be mixed with wheat, as it has no gluten and will be crumbly and not rise well if it is used by itself. Cooked millet makes a good cereal similar to cornmeal. Use 1 part of grain to 3 parts of water and cook for 30 – 60 minutes. Cooked millet is good in casseroles, breads, stews, souffles, and stuffing. It can be served alone like rice or added to soups or bean dishes. Millet can be sprouted and used as a breakfast cereal or in bread making. Harvest the sprouts when they are the same size as the grain. Millet Butter is another innovative use of millet (p. 74).

 

Oats are commonly cooked as a breakfast cereal. Toasted whole oats that have been heated and hulled are called oat groats. They can be rolled out with a rolling pin, which makes them cook faster than in their original shape. Use 3 parts of water and 1 part oats and allow 1 – 4 hours for cooking. (or slow cooker on low overnight) Cooked oat groats taste more like cooked wheat or rice than rolled oats. Oat groats can be added to soups, soaked over night and added to bread dough, or cooked like buckwheat. Oat groats may be made finer by blending them to produce steel-cut oats. The finer the pieces the faster they cook. Use 3 cups of water and 1 cup of steel-cut oats and cook for about 1 hour. Old-fashioned rolled oats are oat groats that have been heated until soft then pressed flat with steel rollers. They will then cook more rapidly. Use 2 – 3 cups of water to 1 cup of rolled oats and cook for at least 20 minutes. "Quick oats" have been rolled and thinly sliced into 3 or 4 pieces. They will cook in about 5 minutes. "Instant oatmeal" has been precooked and rolled extremely thin. It is ready to eat with the addition of boiling water. (It might be appropriate to say that the more processing or refining a food has been through, the less nutrition it will have—and we don’t know how long since it was processed!) Oat flour is low in gluten and is best used with wheat flour when you make bread—about one cup of oat flour to 4 cups of wheat flour. Oat bran is the outer layer of oat groats. It is high in fiber and has been shown to lower blood cholesterol. Oat bran can be added to breakfast cereals, muffins, or any other foods.

 

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a grain that cooks up fluffy and makes a very nutritious cereal. It quadruples in size upon cooking. Cook 3 parts water for 1 part quinoa for 20 to 40 minutes. Cooked quinoa goes well with vegetables, in souffles and casseroles. The uncooked seeds can be added to soups as you would barley or rice. Quinoa flour, made by grinding the seeds, is also versatile. Use it in pancakes, muffins, crackers and cookies. To make baby food with quinoa: stir 1/4 cup of quinoa flour in 1 cup water and cook 20 minutes over low heat. Sprouting quinoa is fun. Soak about 1/4 cup of seeds in a quart jar for 2 - 4 hours. Drain off the water and remember to rinse the seeds twice a day. (A simple way to rinse and drain them is to keep the top of the jar covered with a fine cloth net, and screw on a canning jar ring onto the jar.) In a few days the sprouts will be about an inch long. Place near a window to allow them to turn green. Eat them in salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish.

 

Rice is a staple food for over half of the world’s population. About four hundred pounds of rice per person per year is consumed in the Far East, compared to 17 pounds in the United States. To clean, inspect the rice and pick out what is not wanted. Washing the rice removes up to 10% of the thiamine in brown rice and 25% from white rice. About the same amount of thiamine is lost whether brown or white; the difference in percentages is that brown rice has much more thiamine in it than does white rice. Brown rice is boiled by adding 2 1/2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice. Once brought to a boil, cover the rice and turn the heat to the lowest setting and leave undisturbed for at least 60 minutes. Stirring the rice while cooking will result in a sticky, gummy texture. Brown rice has the most nutrients and takes the longest to cook. For variety, add seasoning (such as onions, herbs or other flavorings) to the rice before cooking.

 

Triticale (pronounced tri-ti-kay-lee) is a grain that was developed by crossing wheat (botanical name: triticum) and rye (secale). When ripe, triticale is similar to wheat except the grain head is about twice as large. It is promoted as more nutritious and yielding higher crops than either wheat or rye alone; however, this is not always true. Cook like wheat or rye. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, add 1 cup of triticale berries, with a touch of salt, then cover and simmer for 2 – 4 hours (or slow cooker on low overnight). Use the flour for breads as you would wheat but knead gentler and raise only once. Use for anything that wheat would be used for including pancakes, pie crusts, and chapatis. Triticale is higher in protein than either rye or wheat. Also present are B-complex vitamins and minerals.

 

Wheat is usually the first grain thought of because of its use in bread, which has been called "the staff of life." Some people are gluten intolerant and are unable to use wheat in any form. There are many other grains such as millet or spelt that can be used to make bread for gluten intolerant individuals. Wheat can be eaten in other ways than in breads. The whole grain can be cooked as a cereal and is delicious that way. The most nutrition is obtained from the whole grain either as a cereal or home-ground and used in baking, yielding an unrefined product that is fresh enough not to be oxidized.

 

Wheat bran is the polishings—the outer coverings of wheat that contain 93% of the fiber and 50% of the B-complex vitamins and most of the trace minerals in wheat. The phytic acid in bran and other whole grains can combine with calcium, zinc, and iron to form indigestible compounds. This acid can be deactivated by sprouting or by long, slow cooking (at least 100? F for 2 hours).

 

Wheat germ is the kernel of the whole-wheat berry containing 23 nutrients. It can be eaten with breakfast cereals, or combined with other grains and flours. It can be sprinkled on green peas, beans, tomatoes, or other vegetables.

 

Bulgur wheat. When wheat berries are boiled, dried, and cracked, they are called Bulgur wheat. This is one of the oldest ways wheat was used in Syria, thousands of years ago.

 

Kamut and Spelt are forms of wheat that the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks used. Wheat is also mentioned in the ancient manuscripts that have come down to our day in the Bible (Exodus 9:32 and Ezekiel 4:9).

 

Enjoy!

Each fruit, vegetable, and grain has its own delicate flavor and texture to delight the tongue and the palate. Enjoy cooking and eating plant foods!