Garden for Nutrition Index
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Organic Health Food Recipes

This site is meant to supplement any of the many thousands of full blown recipe books available. It contains tips you seldom find in other recipe books on using the most nutritious crops fresh from the garden / farm. Only a few full recipes are included. Use these tips to help work the most nutritious of foods into your favorite recipes and gradually improve the diet without upsetting your comfort level. Learning to eat a wider variety of foods, especially the most disease resistant varieties, is actually the key to increasing organic sustainable agriculture. The challenge is in making these crops taste good when prepared.

Fermentation has a prominent role to play in food preparation because that is the best way to make foods easier to digest as one gets older. Let the bacteria and fungus do the work for you. And most E.Coli cannot survive acidic fermentation, so it also adds some extra safety.

Fermentation Overview
Grain Fermentation
Legume Fermentation
Nut and Seed Fermentation
Dough Fermentation
Soaking  
Sprouting  

Breakfast
Pancakes    Smoothy

Winter Squash Soup

Vegetables
Greens    Legumes    Okra    Beets    Rutabaga

Drinks
Winter Squash Drink    Sweet Potato Drink

Sunflower Emulsifier

Meats
Eggs    Brains    Cooking tough Meats

Flavors
Butter Substitute    Tartness

Rice

Fruit Processing

Healthy Cooking
Food Drying and Fumigation
Cooking Links
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Fermentation Overview

Art of Fermentation

This book is a great beginning point to learn fermentation. Most research is focused on laboratory fermentation. But this book brings it back into the kitchen and establishes the historical context of fermentation across many cultures.

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Journal of Applied Microbiology

Garlic can be used to suppress undesirable microbes during fermentation through lowering of the PH and release of sulfur compounds. It will encourage certain strains of Lactobacillus which are capable of fermenting the inulin in garlic. Garlic works great if vinegar is not available. Pressed and fermented garlic is also easier to digest and eliminates odor. Press or slice garlic and allow exposure to air for 10-30 minutes to fully activate.

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National Institue of Health - Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Bifidobacteria produces acetic acid

Garlic can be used to encourage Bifidobacteria. Bifidobacteria will also suppress undesirable microbes through acetic acid.

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American Society for Microbiology

Bifidobacteria produce phytases that reduce phytates. Effectiveness is determined by PH and temperature. After a fermentation is finished, heat the ferment to 120 F for 1-2 hours to maximize enzyme effectivity.

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FAO - Fermenting Cereals 
FAO - Fermented Legumes, Seeds and Nuts
World Fermented Foods

General references. The advantage of using Lactobacillus fermentation is that it does not produce protease, which would break down proteins which we want to keep intact.

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Phytates in Cereals and Legumes 

Phytates are lowest in lentil, green pea, chickpea, and small white bean. These are good choices for fermentation. They are also low in oligosaccharides so they will be easier to prepare for disgestion. Soybeans and other legumes with higher anti-nutrient factors can also be successfully fermented with Lactobacillus, but it may require longer periods.

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Fermentation reduced oxalate levels by 38.5%

Fermentation may also reduce oxalates.

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National Center for Biotechnology Information - fermentation to detoxify gluten
Azelias Kitchen - wild sourdough starter

Fermentation may also reduce gluten.

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Soak and drain
Weston A. Price - soak and drain

Soaking and draining off the water after only 24 hours will remove approximately half or more of the phytates. If you don't need to completely remove phytates, cooking and consumption can occur at this point. You can restart the fermentation, but oxygen exposure must be kept to a bare minimum or fermentation will be set back.

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Instant Pot - ideal for submerged grain fermentation

When used for fermentation, remove the sealing ring. It becomes a source of contamination. Be sure to release the carbon dioxide by occasionally slightly agitating the pot.

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ViscoDisc

Ideal device for keeping fermenting foods from being exposed to oxygen. Or make your own discs using plastic water or milk jugs.

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Hydrion PH strips

Hydrion 1-6 PH strips are ideal for monitoring submerged fermentation where the ideal PH is usually between 4 and 4.5.

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Salt Institute
Ohio State - meat fermentation, 5-6% salt
Salt Ratio
Calculating Salt Ratio

Salt reduces mycotoxins during fermentation.

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Homemade vinegar
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Grain Fermentation

Kitchen Stewardship - rice fermentation

Phytates can be reduced almost completely with wild bacterial fermentation. An electronic fermentor which can keep the seed fermentation at 85-95 F will greatly improve consistency. Rice is the easiest to digest grain and so requires the least amount of fermentation time but most other grains work well too. Place 8 heaping cups of grain into a pot. Mix 4 quarts of non-chlorinated water with 2 tablespoons of vinegar per quart and pour into the pot over the grain and allow fermentation to begin. Ferment for 3-7 days depending on phytate levels desired. Stir at least 2-3 times per day to release the carbon dioxide. If carbon dioxide is allowed to build up it will adversely affect the fermentation and cause it to produce undesirable secondary compounds. Test the PH several times per day. Add vinegar or water as required to keep the PH between 4-5. Do not try to lower the PH too quickly since fermentation will naturally lower the PH during the early stages of fermentation.

Do not use salt since Bifidobacteria are not very salt tolerant. A starter can be used from a previous fermentation to reduce ferment time and lower the PH. If the ferment is not frothy and stops bubbling too soon, it means you used too much garlic or vinegar and the PH is too low. If the ferment smells very bad, it means you used too little garlic or vinegar. After the fermentation is finished, heat the ferment to 120 F for 1-2 hours to maximize enzyme effectivity. Then drain and rinse the grain to remove the remaining off flavors. Lastly, cook the grain in fresh water for only about 25 minutes. Fermented grains cook quickly.

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Legume Fermentation

Some legumes become hardened during storage due to a buildup of phenolic acid. These legumes will become hardened if soaked immediately in an acidic solution. They will not absorb as much water or become softened enough to thoroughly ferment. Instead, refridgerate these legumes to break down the phenolic acid before soaking.

Vinegar toughens beans

Then place 5 heaping cups of legumes into a pot and cover with 4 quarts of non-chlorinated water with 2 tablespoons of vinegar per quart and ferment at 85-95 F for 3-7 days depending on phytate levels desired. Legumes will expand to about 3 times their original size into about 21 cups. They will froth heavily so scoop the foam off everyday. Lentils and garbanzo legumes are low enough in phytates that they only need about 3-5 days to remove phytates, enzyme inhibitors, and oligosaccharides. Stir the pot 2-3 times per day. Test the PH several times per day. Add vinegar or water as required to keep the PH between 4-5. Do not try to lower the PH too quickly since fermentation will naturally lower the PH during the early stages of fermentation. After the fermentation is finished, heat the ferment to 120 F for 1-2 hours to maximize enzyme effectivity.

Do not use salt since Bifidobacteria are not very salt tolerant. After the fermentation is finished, drain and rinse the legumes to remove the off flavors. Lastly, cook the legumes with just enough water to cover them. When legumes are fermented with bacteria, they have a tendency to become chewy. Freezing them and then recooking them slightly will soften them up a little. This is not much of a problem for most legumes since they tend to become too mushy anyway. Cooked fermented legumes have a wonderful fragrance.

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Nut and Seed Fermentation

Most nuts and seeds are extremely high in phytates. Put 2 cups of nuts or seeds into a quart jar. Pour in a non-chlorinated water to the top of the jar. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Push the seeds down with a ViscoDisc or a home made disc. Ferment at 85-95 F.

Optionally, after 24-48 hours, the water can be drained off and discarded to remove the majority of phytates. Pour in a fresh water vinegar solution. This short exposure to oxygen does not seem to affect this fermentation much since the seeds are not removed from the jar and the exchange can be very quick. Most of the remaining phytates can be removed with wild bacterial fermentation. Ferment for 4+ more days at 85-95 F. Add vinegar as required to lower the PH and prevent spoilage. Gently agitate the jar everyday to release the carbon dioxide bubbles.

Some nuts are so high in phytates they may need to be fermented for several weeks; such as almonds. These long fermentations may start to experience growth of white yeast. This is probably Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is the sour dough yeast. Just scrap it off daily to prevent mold growth on top of it. Some seeds may float to the top from time to time and will need to be scooped off.

Do not use salt since Bifidobacteria are not very salt tolerant. Do not worry if you add garlic and it turns green; it is only absorbing copper from the nuts or seeds. After the fermentation is finished, add more vinegar and place the jar in the refridgerator with the ViscoDisc in place. Eat raw.

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Dough Fermentation

Weston Price - grain fermentation

Rye has a high level of phytase enzyme which can be used to reduce phytates in other grains.

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Soaking

Grains, seeds, legumes, and nuts should also be soaked 8-24 hours before feeding to animals. If given the chance, all on their own, animals will put their feed into water to soak before eating it. It speeds up the digestion process. Soaking any longer than 8-24 hours, depending on the seed type, starts to turn carbohydrates into sugars that undesirable fungus can grow on if exposed to oxygen. Cooking is essential to reduce enzyme inhibitors in legumes for digestability.


Iowa State - phytate and phytase levels
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Sprouting

Sprouting is a very useful source of vitamins if you are on a long voyage and cannot stop to procure fresh fruits and vegetables. It is even useful if there is a severe failure of fruit and vegetable crops. But most of the time, seeds can be used to produce much more food when used to grow crops to full maturity. The main use of sprouting is the conversion of carbohydrates into sugars for alcoholic beverage production.

Egli et al., (2002) - Sprouting has little effect on phytates

Sprouting has little effect on phytate levels until after many days of sprouting. By then, the protein profile will be less favorable. With sprouting, essential complex proteins are often broken down into simpler less valuable proteins.

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Breakfast:

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Pancakes:

Soak the whole grain berries of spelt, kamut, wheat, oat, rice, buckwheat, corn, flax, etc. for 24 hours. Drain and rinse. Boil the berries until fully cooked. Grind in blender with a sweet fruit. Ferment for at least several hours with a sourdough starter. Blend with egg yolk. Whip and fold in egg whites. Pour onto hot pan or griddle to cook.

The advantage of this method is that the grain is already thoroughly cooked. Most quick breads do not thoroughly cook the grain so they are difficult to digest.

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Breakfast Smoothy:

Use soaked, possibly fermented, and cooked wheat berries, kamut, or spelt and possibly a small amount of cooked sweet potato with the skin for flavor. 1 hard boiled egg Cool Blend until smooth with: Fruit peelings Fennel, coriander, anise, cardamom Almond, peanut, walnut, pecan, and/or sunflower.
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Winter Squash Soup:

Cook winter squash with the skin Cool Blend until smooth with: Fruit peelings Fennel, coriander, anise, cardamom Almond, peanut, walnut, pecan, and/or sunflower.
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Vegetables:

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Greens:

Most high calcium greens have a bitter taste. A certain amount of bitterness is healthy in that it stimulates the digestive system.

The best way to mask this bitterness is to mix greens with foods that are naturally high in proteins or oils. If mixed thoroughly, the proteins and oils will temporarily bond with the calcium and tannin to mask the bitterness. Give it at least 30 minutes of slow cooking after mixing for the bonding to complete.

Greens will taste better if they are boiled. Use as little water as possible. If greens are boiled, and there is excess water, the cooking water will contain calcium, so you can drink it or use it to cook something else.

Unfortunately, the calcium in the water will curdle egg, milk, legume milk, etc. It may not be appropriate in every recipe. Or you can can just toss the water since too much bitter tannins will reduce digestion.

After boiling, greens are excellant for casseroles, meatloaf, chili, soup, lentils, stuffings, pies, etc.

It is a great way to sneak healthy food into children's diets. Healthy kids don't need much to make a difference and it is invaluable to start training the palette and acceptance early.

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Legumes:

Soak chickpea, small white bean, or peas for 24 hours, then bake for a very nutty flavor. Grinding legumes and mixing them with meat dishes such as meat loaf, soup, chilli, etc. is a good way to obscure the flavor. This is useful for getting children to eat their vegetables.
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Okra:

Raw okra is not slimy. But the okra must be very fresh since it does not store well. Do not eat the base of the pod because there a barbs on it.

If you do not want to eat okra raw, then it is often best to cook it whole. Do not overcook or it will become slimy. Cooked whole okra is not anywhere near as slimy as cut okra.

Cutting the okra before cooking makes it especially slimy. Of course, okra can be intentionally cut open to help thicken soups like gumbo. Add okra toward the end of cooking as it requires very little cooking. Cooking for more than a short time will dissipate the flavor. The cooking water of okra is also very soothing to the throat since it is mucilaginous and high in calcium.

For drying and storage, remove the seeds and dry the pods. Unfortunately, the seeds are the most nutritious part.

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Beets:

Leave on the roots and then soak in water overnight to reduce bitterness. Peel and decore the center which usually has a white streak and is often very bitter. Do not store roots with their green tops. The plant will actually draw nutrients from the root to try to keep the tops alive. This will reduce the nutritional content of the roots.

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Rutabaga:

Rutabaga really does not store well. It is best served freshly harvested and freshly cooked.

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Drinks:

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Winter Squash Drink:

When removing the seeds from winter squash, leave as much as possible of the loose tissue around the seeds. It is extremely high in nutrients and very flavorful. Use a fork to tease the seeds out of the surrounding tissue. The cooking water from winter squash and this loose flesh makes a delicious sweet beverage. Serve cold or hot.

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Sweet Potato Drink:

Cook sweet potato with skin. Drain off cooking water and allow to cool. Makes a sweet soothing drink.

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Sunflower Emulsifier:

Soak for 8 hours to reduce the enzyme inhibitors. Sunflowers contain a compound that acts as an emulsifier. Blend a little with soup stock and then stir back into the pot. It will break up oils and fats and spread them evenly, providing consistency of flavor.

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Meats:

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Eggs:

The key to easily peeling hard boiled eggs is to cook them quickly and then peel them as soon as possible after cooking while they are still warm. This prevents the membrane from bonding to the egg. Cooking eggs off the pan bottom in a steamer allows for even cooking, but the eggs can be covered with water for quicker cooking. Steaming is not necessary. Put them in very cold water immediately after cooking so they get cool rapidly for peeling. Peel the top off all the eggs in the pot first so the membrane is broken and water can start to seep between the egg and the membrane. When you peel, concentrate on peeling the membrane, not the shell.

Fresh Eggs Daily 
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Brains:

Brains are consumed by cultures all over the world. There are many dozens of recipes available on the Internet. But if we look at brains from a nutritional viewpoint, brains are best used like a highly perishable type of butter substitute or oil (since it is so high in DHA). From this perspective it is better to clean brains (and eyes), grind or cut them up, and then freeze them in a way that allows you to break off small pieces to be used every day to thicken soups and sauces. Small amounts of DHA on a daily basis is the best way to meet ones daily needs for DHA. Make sure the animal is from a herd that has a long history of being raised organically to avoid mad cow disease.


Phosphatidylserine - very healthy for the brain
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Cooking Tough Meats:

Cooking meats and selling them directly to the public is one of the best ways to add value to your farm products and maximize your profits. Pounding meat with a tenderizing mallet and then slicing is a good beginning. Then marinate for several hours. In a temperate climate, the best local grown sources of protein enzymes for marinating are fig and honeydew melon. The best sources of acids are vinegar, wine, acidic fruit, etc. Many claim the best marinate is yogurt or buttermilk due to the low level of acid and the calcium having a chemical effect. To avoid the use of dairy, the same can be acheived using cooked greens, radishes, celery leaves, etc. as a calcium source. The tannins in greens will also help tenderize. An acidic fruit such as grape is effective. All of the above ingredients can be cooked to sterilize. Fresh fig adds a special flavor and a little enzyme if used raw. Since raw fresh fig or melon is rarely available, electrocution may be the most reliably available method. Some herbs that go well with this combination are: rosemary, thyme, marjoram, garlic, mustard, fennel, mint, or coriander. Then cook very slowly using a wet method.

Fine Cooking
Understanding Food

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Flavors:

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Butter Substitute:

Mix pureed winter squash with cooked rice

Squash is a good butter substitute if you give the palette time to adjust. It is importsnt not to add any kind of seperated oil to the diet. The major source of cholesterol comes from when the liver converts excess oils and fats into cholesterol.

Yellow summer squash seeds - if yellow summer squash is allowed to ripen more fully than can be found in most grocery stores and yet not so much as to become tough, the seeds will develope a wonderfully buttery flavor.

Also see Brains
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Tartness:

Tartness is a wonderfull flavor which is very appealing for sauces. Good sources of tart flavor are some of the more wild fruits sold by One Green World and St. Lawrence Nursery.

Also, hibiscus.
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Rice:

To cook rice: Soak rice for 24 hours, then drain the water and rinse. Cook at a medium boil for at least 30 minutes once boiling begins. Whole rice becomes sticky when the outer shell cracks and the inside is exposed. Completely turn off the heat and drain all remaining water to stop cooking the rice as soon as the outer shell cracks and swells open no more than half way. If it opens too much, it will become sticky. Keep heat at a medium boil the entire time to prevent the starch from being activated and becoming sticky. Use the excess water to cook other foods since it will be high in vitamins and minerals. Reducing the heat too soon will prevent the rice from becoming fully cooked. Under cooking rice to keep it from becoming sticky makes it very indigestable. But if you need to freeze the rice, preventing the kernals from expanding beyond the initial cracking point, will help to resist the tendency to become sticky when frozen. Cooking the rice to unfreeze and reheat it can complete the expansion process.
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Fruit Processing:

To process grapes: 1. Use a roller mill to crush the grapes and squeeze the seeds out. Grape and grain rollers 2. Lightly boil the crushed grapes for about 30 minutes or more depending on grape variety. This should cause the pulp and seeds to seperate with the seeds floating mostly to the bottom. 3. The skins will float to the top. Skim these off and put them through a wet grain grinder to release their antioxidents. C.S. Bell Co. - wet grain grinders Lehman's - wet grain grinder 4. Pour off as much of the pulp as possible while leaving the seeds behind. 5. Use a food mill to strain out the remaining seeds from the pulp. Food Mill 6. Combine the pulp and juice from the skins. 7. Dry as fruit leather or make jelly / jam. 8. Discard the seeds since they cannot be used for animal feed. ***** To process cherries and plums: Pass fruit through a stoner before drying. ****** To process apples: Use a thin apple slicer corer before drying. The tool allows a single motion to core and cut to drying sizes. The peeling should be kept since that is where many of the nutrients are. Apple corer thin slicer ****** To process peaches and apricots: These fruits are often too soft to put through a stoner. They may need to be cut in half to remove the stone. This is especially true if they are not freestone. Then they can be dried as halves.
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Healthy Cooking:

NOTE: One of the most important points to remember about cooking healthy, is to use low heat; just barely enough heat to destroy the inhibitors or sterilize if required. Never use high heat to cook food as this can denature proteins. And never use microwaves. Water boils at 212 F at sea level. Most enzyme inhibitors will be neutralized at that temperature over time. Most bacteria will also be destroyed at that temperature. Most antioxidants are stable enough to survive short periods of low temperature boiling. Be sure to include the cooking water in the meal. Some foods are better cooked quickly at low heat and some are more nutritious when eaten raw:

Rutgers - Cooking methods have different effects
University of Michigan - pyramid
Cooking Affects Onions
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Food Drying and fumigation:

Drying has a tendency to intensify flavor. If crops are not irrigated for about 2 weeks before harvest, the flavors will also be intensified. Harvesting in the evening is another way to intensify flavor.

Unfortunately, drying with heat can reduce nutrients by up to 50%. Freeze drying will preserve most nutrients and even the original texture. It freezes so fast that crystals do not have time to form and damage cell walls. But the technology is way too expensive for home drying. One alterantive is to mimic the sublimation by using a common frost-free freezer. Blanch foods and then place spread out inside a frost-free freezer. Sublimation will dry them with less nutrient loss than heat drying. It will take longer; 1-2 weeks. And the original textures will be lost due to the blanching and slow freezing. Store at room temperature in vacuum sealed bags.


Purdue - dehydrofreezing
Drying with a freezer
Univ of Minnesota - freezing
Journal of Food Science
FAO - off flavors from oxidation and volatilization
Organic fumigation with CO2

How to Dry Foods by Deanna Delong Gardenmaster Dehydrator - Territorial
Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech

Clemson University

Clemson University

Utah State

Utah State

Farm Gal

Farm Gal

Innotech - tunnel dryer

Low cost high tech food drying.

Practical Action Consulting

Solar Food Drying

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Cooking Links:

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