Buckwheat porridge is often looked at as a tasteless gruel, reserved for peasants in Russia. I happen to think that "peasant food" is the most beautifying, nourishing food on the planet. After all, the peasants always outlived the gouty kings.
Buckwheat is amazing for so many reasons. One major reason is that it contains the bioflavonoid Rutin. Rutin, among many things, helps to:
- Builds and strengthens blood vessels and capillaries.
- Improves circulation, which helps maintain warmth during the colder seasons.
- Reduces skin inflammation, a common symptom of Rosacea
- Protects the body from radiation (cell phones, x-rays, and smart meters are but a few common causes)
- Can help to lower blood pressure.
- Cleans the intestines.
This recipe, adapted from Cookus Interuptus, will make your body beautiful from the inside out. Potatoes deliver healthy minerals for the blood and skin, onions provide sulfur for collagen growth, and mushrooms provide selenium as a powerful anti-cancer compound. When you add this to rutin-rich Kasha and top with sauerkraut (high in vitamin C and enzymes) you have an incredible breakfast that will clean the blood, rebuild the immune system, strengthen your circulatory system, and make your skin glow.
1C kasha (roasted buckwheat)
2-4C water (Start with 2 cups and add more if you want it soupier)
1 small red skinned potato (finely diced or grated)
1/4 - 1/2C finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
1 tbsp. of sesame oil
1) Saute onions with a little sea salt for 5-10 minutes until they become nicely browned.
2) Add the potatoes and the mushrooms and let saute for an additional 3-5 minutes, covered.
3) Throw in the kasha and let that also saute for another 2-3 minutes, covered.
4) Add water, bring to a boil, and let simmer while covered until the water is soaked up.
5) Serve with sauerkraut and steamed vegetables.
I like mine with brussel sprouts and diced carrots. You can add rosemary to increase its blood strengthening and warming properties.
Black beans are a staple in our diet. There are many reasons for this. They are, among other things, good for:
- our kidneys
- our hair
- our skin
- our livers
- our digestive systems
- our environment
- our wallets
When I tell people this I often get the response: "Oh yeah, well then why all the gas???". One compound: phytic acid. This acid, prevalent in all grains and legumes, is responsible for preventing proper protein digestion, therefor resulting in fermentation and gas, bloating, cramps, etc.
The secret to beans is one beautiful weed. It dances beneath turbulent waves along the coastline, it is home to many beautiful creatures, and it holds the power to heal and beautify by supplying every single mineral that your blood needs in the perfect amount. What is this mystery panacea? Kelp!
Kelp grows like a beautiful forest under the sea and contains a specific enzyme that breaks down phytic acid from beans, allowing them to be better digested AND taste sweeter. Kelp also adds every mineral you need to the beans, along with a huge dose of iodine which can protect the sexual organs from cancer, the body from radiation, and regulate the thyroid gland.
So how do we use these two ingredients? It's so simple. All you do is soak your beans overnight, then boil them in water with the seaweed the next day. That's it! This will remove the phytic acid, make the beans more digestible, and infuse them with healing minerals.
Here's my recipe:
1 Cup of black beans
1 palm-full of kelp/kombu (torn or in one whole sheet)
1) Soak beans overnight, then strain and rinse in the morning.
2) Add kelp/kombu to the bottom of a pot, then top with soaked beans.
3) Fill water until the beans are submerged 1 - 2 inches beneath the water.
4) Bring to a boil, then skim off the foam that is created. **This is the phytic acid leaving**
5) Once foam stops accumulating, lower to a simmer and cover the beans for 45 minutes to 2 hours - or until desired tenderness.
*Once tender, the beans can be seasoned with cumin powder to increase digestibility or celtic grey salt can be added to improve flavor and warmth in the Winter.
The beans can be strained through a colander if you want them separated, or the cover can be removed as they cool - this will allow most water to steam off, leaving you with a more refried texture and higher mineral content.
Add beans to your pasta meals, brown rice, soups, and steamed vegetables. Eating a serving of these every day will give you tons of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and very little fat - making it extremely healthy for your heart, cholesterol levels, liver, and colon.
Enjoy these humble, healing gems and reap the benefits!
When I ventured into vegetarianism over a decade ago I only had Ener-G egg replacement powder, which was a special blend of potato starch, corn starch, and other ingredients to help thicken up a recipe. I'm thankful they existed, but as I became more conscious about my food I no longer wanted to use inorganic potato and corn starch as a "healthy" egg replacement. Without any other options, I simply stopped baking all together!
Fast forward to last Spring: a friend of ours, and genius baker, Tess Beatrice turned me on to what she called a "flax egg". You simply mix water and flax meal together and use it instead of eggs in any recipe. Unfortunately, you cannot scramble, fry, or make omelettes out of them - YET! You can, however, make moist, delicious, omega-3 rich recipes that come out even better than the old recipe that called for eggs.
So, why don't we want to use eggs?
Eggs get all their nutrients from the chicken's body. It's common sense that they also get all the toxins from the chicken's body as well. Stress hormones, GMOs, antibiotics, and pesticides are just a few examples of what one can find in the common egg. All of that is being deposited in your liver and making it harder for your blood to be clean and healthy.
Inflammation from Omega-6
Omega-6 fatty acids are the ones in charge for the massive amounts of inflammation that people are experiencing. This comes from vegetable oils and grain fed animal products. Chickens fed corn, soy, and other grains are experiencing a high amount of omega-6 versus omega-3. This only adds to your inflammatory load.
Cage-Free Means Nothing
Cage-free eggs are good in theory, but most often they mean nothing. The chickens are still housed in filthy conditions, treated poorly, given antibiotics, and fed GMO corn and soy feed. Happy chickens create healthy eggs and the above scenario leads to neither.
The ideal egg comes from the ideal chickens, which are free roaming, grub eating, weed pulling, flax fed, chickens. Keep your own chickens and feeding them an organic chicken feed, plenty of organic greens, and having ample space to roam in a beautiful, peaceful setting will produce the best egg. It is nearly impossible to buy organic, "humanely raised" eggs that are mass produced. Call the companies for yourself, or visit the farms as I have. It's shocking how horrible the chickens are treated and how filthy their environments are.
Use flax eggs instead. Simply add 1 tbsp. of ground flax meal (brown or golden) to 3 tbsp. of warm water. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes and you have the equivalent of 1 egg for any recipe. Flax eggs are stable, longer lasting, full of fiber, detoxifying, rich in omega-3s, and healthy lignans that can help rid the body of excess estrogen - a precursor of cancer.
If you're lucky enough to live in Ulster county, stop in at Lucky's Chocolates in Saugerties, NY where the owner Rae Stang makes a plethora of gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, and organic cookies, scones, and pies from almond flour and flax eggs. If you're not as lucky to live up here, try adding them to your favorite recipe.
Congee, or rice water, is a thin porridge traditionally eaten as a breakfast food throughout Asia. It is made by boiling a handful of rice in 6-8 cups of water for several hours on low heat. It is said to be easily digested, nourishing, and strengthening to the blood. Congee can be made with just rice and water, or can be made with vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, and herbs. When adding other foods, congee is transformed from a thin porridge into a light soup - the base still consisting of grains.
Though it is known to be an Asian tradition, one can argue that variations of Congee can be found throughout the world amongst all plant-based cultures. Asians use rice, Africans use corn, Indians use cracked wheat, and most Europeans use oats. Still, the thinness of the porridge is what really makes it Congee - as well as using rice.
I recently came down with food poisoning and, after a Yarrow fast, I nourished my digestion and body back to health by eating nothing but Congee for two days, along with some dry toast and jam or baked apples when I was in need of more calories. Though my recipe for Congee differs from the Asian tradition, it bears close resemblance in its intentions, properties, and healing powers. The secret is in the grain and how long you boil it. The longer it is boiled, the stronger its properties become.
When a small amount of grain boils in a large amount of water, the grain breaks open and is transformed into the water. It changes the water into a thick, milky broth that is rich in minerals and nutrients. You can change the grain based on what properties you require. Below is a list of grains, along with their properties, that I've compiled with the help of Paul Pitchford's brilliant book "Healing With Whole Foods".
Amaranth: high protein/amino complex, high in calcium, cooling, dries dampness (yeasts and fungus).
Barley: cooling, strengthens spleen-pancreas, builds the blood and moistens dryness (constipation).
Buckwheat: neutral thermal nature, cleans intestines, strengthens capillaries and blood vessels due to high Rutin content.
Corn: neutral thermal nature, diuretic, improves appetite, tonifies kidneys.
Millet: cooling, diuretic, moistens dryness, alkalizing, balances acidity, high amino acid profile, high in silicon (collagen generator - good for growing skin, hair, nails, and bones).
Oats: warming, restores nervous and reproductive system, removes cholesterol from digestive tract and arteries.
Rice: neural thermal nature, soothes the stomach, expels toxins, concentrated source of B vitamins (restores nervous system), depression relief, helpful in nausea.
As you can see, each grain comes with a very special healing property that one can benefit from. Here is my recipe that nourished me back to life:
A small handful of millet
A small handful of rolled oats
8 cups water
3 bunches of kale, hand torn into desirable sizes (compost the stems, do not include)
3 shiitake mushrooms, cut into small pieces
1 carrot, cut into thin medalions
1 foot of burdock root, cut into thin medallions
1 inch of ginger, cut into thin medallions
1 sheet of kelp, torn into pieces
1 pinch of freshly ground Hawaiian black salt/grey sea salt/himalayan pink salt (optional)
1) Throw grains, water, and kelp into a pot and bring to a boil.
Millet and oatmeal boiling with kelp.
2) Skim off any foam, then reduce to a low simmer and cook for 1-4 hours. The longer you cook this, the stronger it will be. I cooked mine for, about, 2 hours.
3) After cooking the grains, add carrots, burdock, and ginger. Cook for another 20 minutes.
4) Add mushrooms and salt, cook for another 15 minutes.
5) Finally, turn off the heat and add kale and allow to sit covered for 10-15 minutes.
6) Makes 4-6 servings, depending on size.
7) Sip off the hot liquid first, until it there is mostly solid material at the bottom of your bowl, then eat the rest with a spoon or chopsticks.
8) Chew well and feel nourishing energy entering your body.
I find it works best when eaten in nature, beneath the morning, or early afternoon Sun. If it is too cold, sit by a window and look out into the land. If you live in the city look out into the sky, nearby mountains, rivers, or houseplants. Feasting on a bowl of Earth works best when looking at the Earth itself. Understanding the connectivity of the two are at the very foundations of a healing diet. We eat ours on our back porch with the cats, before the magical Plattekill Creek (now full and rushing from a day's worth of rain).
I'm always being asked how to make grains more exciting. Most of us on whole food diets get sick of plain brown rice and turn to processed foods when we're craving more fat and salt. One day I was making millet on the stove and I decided to add in some coconut butter and thyme - what a difference it made! It transformed the simple, but still delicious, millet into a creamy pilaf. I then tried it with brown rice and felt that I had stumbled upon something truly revolutionary. Not to mention nutritious.
Coconut butter is loaded with anti-virals, lauric and caprylic acid, and easy-to-digest fats. Unlike coconut oil, coconut butter is a whole food that is less processed and contains natural fiber, enzymes, proteins, vitamins, and healthy fats. The anti-viral properties of coconut butter will help preven most viruses and colds. The lauric and caprylic acids found in coconut butter convert into fatty acids within the body that digest yeast and help rid the body of excess candida.
So make this delicious pilaf and serve it with black beans, steamed vegetables, or a salad for a complete meal that will nourish the body and help build your immune system. This goes very well with sauerkraut and sesame seeds sprinkled over it. The sauerkraut will actually increase your digestive abilities, as well as work with the anti-candida properties of the coconut butter.
Coconut and Thyme Brown Rice
1C organic brown rice
1 tablespoon of coconut butter
1 tablespoon of thyme (or spice of choice)
1 pinch* of sea salt (if desired)
*A pinch = 1/4 teaspoon.
1) Cover brown rice and water and bring to a boil.
2) Reduce to a simmer and let cook until rice is tender and the water has soaked up - usually 25 minutes or so.
3) When done, uncover and mix in coconut butter, spices, and salt.
4) Stir well until the coconut butter is evenly distributed and the rice is creamy.
5) Serve with beans, steamed vegetables, and a salad.