The Center for Sustainability: Healthy Food
Information compiled by: Tania Slawecki, Fall 1999


1. The Autumn Greens Harvest

Culinary Herbs: Parsley, cilantro, marjoram, oregano, thyme, anise hyssop, sweet cicely, mints (spearmint, peppermint), lemon balm, garlic tops, chives, scallions, nasturtium (leaves + flowers), borage (leaves + flowers), salad burnet, sage, dill, fennel, tarragon, celery, rosemary (potted).

Wild Greens: dandelion (+ root), daylily (stem base + tuber), galinsoga (“quickweed”), chickweed, violet leaves & flowers, purslane, plantain, stinging nettles, garlic mustard (“jack- by-the-hedge”), pansy flowers, cress

Garden Greens (raw): sorrel, arugula, mizuna, mustard, spinach, mache, & other mesclun greens (orach, endive, chervil, radicchio, etc.), cabbages, wheat & rye grass

Garden Greens (to cook): chard, mustard, kale, collards, spinach, beet & mangel tops, broccoli, broccoli-rabe

Medicinal Herbs: comfrey, horehound, ashwaganda (“poor man’s ginseng”), wormwood (toxic!), borage, sweet woodruff

2. The Autumn / Winter Roots & Tubers Harvest

Garden Roots & Tubers: carrots, radishes, turnips, beets, mangels, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes (“sunchokes”), potatoes, onions, leek, garlic, horseradish, rutabaga, fennel (root + seeds), kohlrabi...

Wild Roots & Tubers: dandelion, daylily tubers, burdock...

Medicinal Roots & Tubers: ashwaganda, echinacea (purple cone flower), valerian, elecampane, licorice, goldenseal rhizomes, peony root & bark, pokeroot, rhubarb, sage, skullcap, chickweed, comfrey, dandelion,, stinging nettle...

3. Grain/Calorie Crops [typically purchased, rather than grown in the garden]

Gluten-containing: wheat (durum, semolina [=sifted durum flour], couscous, bulgur, etc.), rye, oats, triticale (cross between wheat & rye), oats, barley, spelt, kamut, amaranth, quinoa, teff (?)

Gluten-free: millet, buckwheat, short & long-grain brown rice, brown basmati rice, red & wild rices, corn, soy

4. Seeds [typically purchased due to harvest/hulling procedure]

Eating/Sprouting: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame (tahini), flax (egg substitute), broccoli, alfalfa, radish (including young seed pods), plus all whole grain seeds.

Culinary Spices: caraway, dill, fennel, mustard, coriander

5. Nuts [typically purchased due to complexity of harvest/hulling]

Local: walnuts, butternut (white walnut), filberts (hazelnuts), chestnut, peanuts (legume)

From South and elsewhere: almonds, cashews, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts

6. Natural Sweeteners

From Sugar Cane: sucanat, turbinado, “raw” sugar, brown sugar, molasses (byproduct of sugar refinement - blackstrap is most nutritious)

Other high-fructose & sucrose sources: beet sugar, corn/sorghum syrup, honey, maple syrup, pure fructose (usually refined from corn syrup, sugar, pears or grapes), white grape juice, sweet cactus nectar (from the Blue Agave Cactus - 25% sweeter than sugar), date sugar.

Mildly sweet complex carbohydrates(high in maltose = 1/3 as sweet as sucrose): brown rice syrup, malted barley (sprout barley, dry it, then cook it in water), Amasake (rice fermented with Koji bacteria containing yeast culture which converts rice starch to simple sugars - makes rice milk sweet!)

Unrefined sweeteners: honey, maple syrup, date sugar, evaporated cane juice (crystallized sugar cane or sugar beet juice), sucanat (evaporated cane juice with molasses)

Herbal sources: licorice root (contains glycyrrhizin which is ~50x sweeter than sucrose), stevia (~200x as sweet as sugar), sweet cicely, spearmint

6. Starches/Thickeners/Gels

Gels (Procedure: stir in when cool, heat to boil, stir until dissolved, cool): Gelatin (from cow or horse marrow); Agar-agar (Kanten - extracted from seaweed: 1 Tbsp gels 1 C fruit juice); low-methoxyl pectin

Thickeners: Cornstarch, arrowroot, tapioca flour, potato starch flour, xanthan gum (milled from the dried cell coat of the Xanthomonas campestris microorganism, grown under laboratory conditions), kuzu (or Kudzu - powdered root of plant)

Digestibility of Foods (fastest to slowest):

Fruit -> Salads/raw veggies -> cooked veggies -> starches -> proteins & fats

Theory of Proper Food Combining:

1. Eat fresh fruit by itself, allowing it 30 minutes to digest before eating other foods.

2. Combine veggies with proteins, or veggies with starches, but NOT proteins with starches. Plate of food should be 50%+ green.

3. Try to balance acid foods with more alkaline ones as the former tax your body’s buffering ability which can lead to significant bone loss. The body prefers to be slightly alkaline. (See Susan Lark’s The Chemistry of Success) Foods which cause acidic reactions in the body when ingested include meats (esp. red meat), dairy products (due to casein), most fruits, nuts, refined sugar, corn sweeteners, chocolate, refined flour products (especially due to gluten), soft drinks, beer, wine, coffee, and black tea [p.44]. Less acidic, more alkaline foods include vegetables, starches, non-gluten-containing whole-grain products, beans and peas, seafood, eggs, and a few fruits like melons and papayas [p.46].

4. Allow food to digest for 3 hours before ingesting fruit again. For more optimal digestion, oxygenate the body through aerobic exercise prior to eating and/or take a brisk walk after eating.

5. Drink liquids (e.g. water) before meal or in very small sips during meal - never dilute mouthful of food with liquid as it dilutes the action of the enzymes in the mouth and washes food down to the stomach quickly, preventing proper digestive action to take place along the way.

Tidbits:

1. Crush garlic and let sit for 10 minutes before cooking to allow enzymes to release anti- cancer compounds. The enzymes are killed by heat, but the anti-cancer compounds (once released) are not. [Penn State research, 1999]

2. When using sweeteners, remember that fructose burns at a lower temperature than sucrose, and it’s sweeter than sucrose. Also, honey is changed by heat - you can notice the difference in taste, and it is not healthy to ingest. Dissolve honey in warm, not hot water, and use other sweeteners in baking, cooking or hot beverages.

3. Nightshade family fruits (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes) can cause arthritic conditions in some people, are sources of allergy for others, and should be consumed in moderation. Because toxic solanine is found in pretty high quantities in the skin of the potato, Bargyla Rateaver (Organic Primer Update) recommends peeling it.

4. Keep tomatoes at room temperature to allow for further ripening and maximum vitamin C.

5. When baking, use 15% rye flour when using wheat flour. Rye blocks the action of phytates in the wheat, and phytates lock up iron and other minerals. So if your receipe calls for 3 C flour, you should use approximately 2.5 C wheat flour and 0.5 C rye flour. (From Bargyla Rateaver’s Organic Primer Update)

6. Soak nuts and seeds to activate enzymes for easier digestion.

7. Eat fresh raw foods (and soaked seeds and nuts) if you have digestive difficulties, as they are full of enzymes to help you digest the foods. Freshly-picked food must be consumed immediately for best effect of enzymes and vitamins - else cool ‘em down to near freezing within minutes of picking to preserve these things.

8. Eat fully cooked food (i.e., Macrobiotic) if you’re having immune system problems (e.g. cancer) to reduce the number of parasitic invaders in your body. Certain cooked foods, especially carrots, are more “bioavailable” for nutrient absorption since cooking breaks down the tough cell walls of the root which might otherwise pass through unabsorbed. Note that juicing also breaks down the cell walls and frees these same nutrients. Ideally, use grass juice enemas to deliver nutrients directly to the bloodstream through the walls of the colon, especially if there is significant weight loss.

9. Egg substitute recipe - 4 tsp flax seed, ground fine, whisked into 1/4 C water until thick. Ratio is 1/4 C flaxseed to 3/4 C water for 3 eggs. Works well in cakes and a few other baked goods. Does not work for quiches, custards or meringues! Unnoticeable in cakes, it has a somewhat mucilagenous presence in pies and frittatas.

10. If cooking food, lightly steamed is optimal, baked is next best, sauteed in a small amount of oil is next, and fried or deep fried is about the worst you can do to your food - about the same as grilling over a flame or charcoals. These latter two methods introduce many carcinogenic materials into your foods. The best oil to use is still recommended to be olive oil, according to all of the sources I’ve read, but do not use it to fry. Grapeseed oil is better to use if heating oil to higher temperatures. Canola oil is next best. Store oils in the refrigerator to prevent them from turning rancid. Never use rancid oil! (See Andrew Weil’s Natural Health, Natural Medicine)

11. Since many chemical pesticides and herbicides will become quite concentrated in plant oils, it is best to use oils which are from organically-grown sources. Ingesting oils laced with carcinogenic chemicals leads to a build-up of these chemicals in your own fatty tissue and can precipitate cancer. This choice is one of the hardest to implement because organic oils are so expensive and you don’t “see, taste or smell” the “bad stuff”.

12. Cooking pots and pans should be, ideally, either cast iron or glass; stainless steel is next best, and aluminum is the worst. Acidic foods (e.g. tomatoes) leach nickel out of stainless steel. It is not clear what the long-term effects of ingesting nickel are. Aluminum toxicity, however, is very real and undesirable! Coated aluminum pans (teflon or porcelain) eventually scratch or chip, exposing your food to the chemical bonding substrate and the direct aluminum. Some teflon pans also give off a toxic gas when heated which has been documented to kill birds kept as housepets. Another caution: While many vegetarians can use the iron which leaches out of cast iron pots & pans, some people have too much iron in their body and should not use these items.

13. To inhibit calcium loss from oxalic acid intake, prepare high-oxalic content foods with a “buffer” - Bargyla Rateaver recommends cooking them in milk; Serving these foods with yogurt or sesame tahini dressings, both of which are high in calcium, offset the effects of the oxalic acid. Some also claim that vitamin C prevents the oxalic acid from robbing the body of calcium (source of info?). High oxalic acid foods include cranberries, rhubarb, chard, beet greens and spinach. Avoid eating these foods raw. Even light steaming begins to break down the oxalic acid.