May 12, 2005
One of my guests emailed me after the celebration: "Barbara, loved the food last night. kudos to you and the chef...One question: For those of us with somewhat delicate kishkes, I have learned that eating lettuce with beans is supposed to help reduce their gasacious power. I have not done an empirical study. I looked around the table last night for lettuce and saw none...was wondering if you know whether other veggies have the same tamping down the bean power. The ful was...delicious, but I did not eat too much of it. I know you are catering to many special food needs but why not just throw a few green leaves onto the table near a bean dish. Thanks."
So far as I know, lettuce will not do the trick. Here is what I wrote back:
"Thanks! You were reading my mind. I always have greens on the table, but not this time. Never heard about lettuce or greens having that effect--some greens can create gas. But, greens on the table. Absolutely!" Beans are not the only culprit. High fibre foods, especially if you are not used to them, can cause gas. What I do know is that:
- asfoetida, which is used in Indian cooking, is supposed to reduce gas.
- Also, soaking and throwing off the water.
- And, Mexicans use epazote.
- Another trick: Try cooking beans with a washed, unpeeled, whole orange. Add the orange to the pot with the beans, cook the beans, and remove and discard the orange when the beans have finished cooking.
- Or, do a gas-free soak: Place 1 pound of beans in 10 or more cups of boiling water; boil for 2-3 minutes, cover and set aside overnight. The next day approximately 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible sugars will have dissolved into the soaking water. Drain, and then rinse the beans thoroughly before cooking them.
- Palliatives include cumin, caraway, ajwain, turmeric, and konbu.
October 23, 2004
There's a chill in the air. The light is silver. Somehow it seems time for megafood. Spirulina and other seaweeds (I still cannot get myself to call them "sea vegetables"), flax (whole seeds, ground, and oil), walnuts and walnut oil, blackberries (with their seeds), sesame seeds, my own sprouts, lots of leafy greens (so much surface--a blotter for pesticides--which is why organic is so important), steel cut oats, lots of whole grains, pumpkin, and canola, grapeseed, flaxseed, walnut, and olive oils (rich in omega 3), also foods rich in pectin like quince and apple.
October 22, 2004
Berries, walnuts, and oats
Definitely believe in the whole foods approach, rather than vitamin pills, nutritional supplements, nutriceuticals, and special diets. That said, looking for ways to address our specific health issues, I'm finding the basics of a tailored diet in berries (blackberries), walnuts, oats, soy, whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Fish too, but I worry about the pollutants. So, a vegetarian even vegan approach, especially a truly whole grain diet, would be best. At home, that is the way I cook and what I truly love best, but outside, it is restrictive. Tantamount to being condemned to boring food with few if any choices and in quarantine in so many dining situations, a few of them divine.
September 04, 2004
Max is hypoglycemic and I want steady energy so I've been exploring the glycemic index. We eat hot breakfast cereal, usually oats, and it turns out that slow- cooking steel-cut oats are better than rolled oats and way better than very rolled (quick-cooking) oats, because the body works harder to digest them and they are digested more slowly. In other words, the glycemic index takes into account not only the food proper, but also how it is processed and digested. I buy organic steel-cut oats from the 4th Street Food Co-op. It's cheap at about 70 cents a pound.
Here is the scoop:
"Steel-Cut Oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only two or three pieces. They are golden in colour and resemble mini rice particles. How are they different from Rolled Oats? Rolled oats are flake oats that have been steamed, rolled, re-steamed and toasted. Due to all of this additional processing they have lost some of their natural taste, goodness and texture. What makes Steel-cut Oats so special? Grains are essential to a healthy lifestyle and form the foundation of the food pyramid. Steel-cut oats are inherently full of nutritional value and are high in B-Vitamins, calcium, protein and fiber while low in salt and unsaturated fat. One cup of steel-cut oatmeal contains more fiber than a bran muffin and twice as much fibre as Cream of Wheat." McCann's Irish Oatmeal (Steel Cut Oats)
They are also known as: "steel-cut oats = Irish oats = Scotch oats = pinhead oats = coarse-cut oats = steel-cut oatmeal = Irish oatmeal = Scotch oatmeal = pinhead oatmeal = coarse-cut oatmeal = porridge oats = porridge oatmeal." The Cook's Thesaurus
This morning, for the first time, I made steel cut oats in the rice cooker, using the porridge setting. Soak the oats overnight in the cooker. Set it for when you want breakfast. Perfect!
My most recent big discovery is gaba rice. Gaba stands for Gamma Aminobutyric Acid, which is released when brown rice is germinated. Here's the story:
"GBR [germinated brown rice] is rice, which has been soaked in 32 degree centrigrade water for up to a day, and will have a germ approximately 1mm long. During the process of germination, saccharification softens the endosperm, and dormant enzymes are activated, which increase the amount of digestible vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc." The Pioneer of Germinated Brown Rice, Domer Inc.
"During the process of being germinated, nutrients in the brown rice change drastically. Various types of analyses on germinated brown rice have been conducted in Japan. Those major nutrients that increase in content in the GBR are γ-amirobutyric acid (GABA), dietary fiber, inositols, ferulic acid, phytic acid, tocotrienols, magnesium, potassium, zinc, γ-oryzanol, and prolylendopeptidase inhibitor (Kayahara and Tukahara, 2000). Kayahara and Tsukahara indicate that volume of nutrients contained in GBR relative to milled rice are 10 times for GABA, nearly 4 times for dietary fiber, vitamin E, niacine and lysine, and about 3 times for vitamin B1 and B6, and Magnesium (Fig. 1). Accordingly, they conclude that continuous intake of GBR is good for accelerating metabolism of brain, preventing headache, relieving constipation, preventing cancer of colon, regulating blood sugar level, preventing heart disease, lowering blood pressure as well as preventing Alzheimer’s disease." FAO Rice Conference 2004
Turns out that soaking grains, beans, pulses, and seeds increases their nutritional value, especially if they are allowed to germinate. The many cookbooks that recommend soaking strictly as a way of speeding up the cooking time--and, by pouring off the soaking water, making beans less gassy--miss the big point, namely, how soaking and specifically germination/sprouting improves the nutritional value. And, that includes, a better glycemic index.
So, now, with all grains and beans, I'm soaking and germinating and that includes hot breakfast cereals.
Korean festive rice
In my quest to understand my intelligent rice cooker and use it to the full, I dropped by one of my favorite vegan buffets, Temple in the Village (74 W. 3rd Street at La Guardia/Thompson, 212-475-5670), to check out their seven-grain rice, which they make in a rice cooker. Turns out this is a Korean festive rice, part of Korean royal cuisine, and it is wonderful. Five Grain Sura: "Boiled rice with five grains is made by mixing non-glutinous rice, glutinous rice, glutinous millet, beans, and red [aduki] beans. It is eaten on the 15th of January together with stale [dried and rehydrated wild] greens."
Basically, it is a mixture, in various proportions of some combination of the following: brown rice, brown glutinous rice, millet, aduki beans, black soy beans, white soy beans, barley, and sea salt. I use organic whole grains: unhulled barley, unhulled millet. Soak everything separately. Best of all, try to get the grains to start germinating. Then, into the rice cooker. The luxury version of this mix includes jujubes (Chinese red dates--watch out for the little hard pits or use pitted ones to be safe), soaked dried chestnuts, and/or pine nuts.
Try the variations and use brown rice or brown glutinous rice or a combination instead of white rice: O Kok (5-grain rice); Pat Baap (traditional red [aduki] beans and rice); Bam Baap (chestnut rice).