2. Preparation Of Cooked Foods
2.1 Cooking at High Temperatures
The general rule is: the higher the temperature, the greater the destruction of nutrients. However, cooking a long time at low heat causes more damage to food than quick-cooking by bringing water to the boiling point, then reducing the heat and steaming for ten minutes or so.
Pressure cooking, involving the highest temperatures, is the most destructive of nutrients, and should never be used.
2.2 Microwave Cooking
Microwave cooking is a threat to humans because of leakage of the microwaves. People with pacemakers are warned to stay away from these appliances when they are in operation. This warning is necessary because of the danger of leakage.
Besides, it is not really known whether the microwave produces destructive changes in the food. And what’s the rush? Most vegetables steam to a tasty, crisp-cooked state in ten minutes or less. Don’t use microwave ovens.
A person who worked in a restaurant kitchen several years ago told me that someone came in one day to monitor the microwave ovens with a device that detected leakage and found one of them to be “leaking like a sieve” (as he put it). Of course no one knew how long it had been leaking like this, exposing the kitchen workers!
2.3 Charcoal Broiling
A 1978 report from Dr. Arthur Upton, director of the National Cancer Institute, confirmed warnings against charcoal broiling. He cautioned that this may be a source of cancer-producing substances; charring of the surface of the food produces a tar fraction like the tar in cigarette smoke, and another dangerous substance is formed by breakdown of amino acids.
Dr. David Kriebel, research associate at Washington University in St. Louis, also warned against charcoal broiling in 1978. He said that heat applied from underneath and fat dripping into the coals result in the formation of a known carcinogen—benzopyrine—which rises onto the surface of the meat.
The advantage of stir-frying in a heavy skillet or wok is that the food is cooked only three to five minutes until crisp and tender. Usually this method works best for vegetables.
The disadvantage is that the oil is heated, and, while the oil is not maintained at the high temperatures used for French frying, it is still highly inadvisable to use heated fats.
I have sometimes successfully stir-fried some vegetables using water only, but it is tricky.
2.5 Steaming vs. Baking
Steaming vegetables in as little water as possible only until tender-crisp (about five to ten minutes) preserves nutrients better than baking. Root vegetables can be steamed until the starch is dextrinized and the flesh is palatable, and will require longer cooking time (about 20 to 30 minutes).
Baked root vegetables require higher temperatures and longer cooking times, resulting in greater destruction of nutrients.
2.6 Cooking Fruit
There is almost no excuse or reason for cooking fruit. I almost omitted the word “almost”. There may be some exceptions—I can think of one. Plantains (similar to bananas) are fruits, and do require cooking, if you use them. They are ripe when very dark, and may be steamed or baked until the starch is dextrinized.
As for baked apples and cooked applesauce, it is a shame to cook good, organically grown apples. Commercial apples, however, are not much good raw or cooked. But it is possible that some extremely debilitated people may temporarily be unable to tolerate the raw fruit and therefore resort to cooked fruit.
Some people think they must cook dried fruit—not so! Buy untreated dried fruit and soak overnight or longer—it will be tender and palatable.
Dates, moist figs, dried bananas and dried apples require no soaking—they are much better and tastier without soaking. Dried raisins, prunes or cherries may be used either way. Dried apricots, peaches, pears and hard, dry figs should be soaked.
Saturating fruits with sugar and baking them into pies is a sacrilege.
Nuts should be eaten without any roasting, frying or other cooking. Cashews (not really nuts, and not really raw) may sometimes be used as a topping for casseroles. (See Eggplant Casserole recipe.)
Chestnuts (starchy protein) may be eaten raw, if not bitter, but are delicious roasted. If you prefer them that way, prepare them as follows: wash and discard those that float. With a sharp knife, make a slash along the flat side in each chestnut. Put in boiling water, boil five or six minutes. Bake in a covered dish for about 20 minutes at 375 to 400 degrees (or until skins are slightly browned). Both skins (the outside shell and the inside skin) can then be removed together, either by hand pressure, or by using a knife, usually leaving the nut whole and unbroken. Chestnuts may also be cooked or steamed until tender—this takes less time than roasting (baking)— perhaps about ten minutes.
2.8 Eat as Much Raw Food as Possible
Cooking at any temperature destroys all the enzymes—they are inactivated by a temperature only a few degrees above body temperature.
Dr. Paul Kouchakoff, a Swiss researcher, found that a largely raw food diet offsets the adverse effects of cooked food, so as not to cause leukocytosis (an excessive number of white corpuscles in the blood). Most people can tolerate a diet of 80% raw food with 2OKo cooked food, as a transition diet (with the goal of eventually progressing to an all-raw food diet, or, at least, to less, and less cooked food). The critical temperatures at which most cooked foods become subject to production of this “pathological” reaction (leukocytosis) is 191 to 206 degrees.
2.9 “Cooking” at Low Temperatures
There is a way to “cook” food and dextrinize starch without heating the food to these critical temperatures. Many years ago, before I knew about Natural Hygiene and the “no-breakfast plan” (or fruit only for breakfast), I used to prepare my breakfast the night before by putting wheat or rye berries, or wild rice kernels, in a wide-mouthed thermos, pouring boiling water over it, and quickly capping the thermos.
It is my understanding that this method produces a temperature of perhaps 150 degrees in the food, although it was always soft and fluffy and ready to eat the next morning. This method of preparation also neutralizes the phytic acid in the wheat and rye. (Phytic acid is antagonistic to calcium and other minerals, as pointed out previously.)
An article in The Health Crusader revived my memory of this practice. The article stated that this method could be used for brown rice by soaking it overnight, draining in the morning, then putting it in a wide-mouthed thermos, pouring boiling water (distilled), over it, and quickly capping the thermos. The rice will be soft and fluffy in time for the evening meal. Potatoes or yams or other vegetables can also be “cooked” in this same manner. Experimentation will determine the length of time necessary to tenderize the various vegetables.
The next best way to cook food is steaming. Most vegetables may be steamed unprepared, whole and uncut. Very large carrots may be cut in two or more pieces, rutabaga may be cut into medium-sized pieces.
I previously used a steam marvel (a stainless steel perforated platform inside the pot), but discontinued the practice for the same reason that I discontinued the use of all metal cookware. I use Corning ware for some purposes, but I prefer my tight-lidded, porcelain-enameled “Show pans”.
The stainless steel steam marvel darkened the steaming water, so it was obvious that there was some leaching of tiny metal fractions.
Steam vegetables in a very small amount of water a very short time. This requires care and watchfulness, but the vegetables are not drenched with contaminated steam.
Dr. Vetrano agrees on this point. She says she does not use the steam marvel, or any rack, for several reasons. It tempts you to add more water than necessary, the water becomes steam, condenses on the lid and flows down over the vegetables anyway. Without the rack and all that water, the cooking juice tastes better and the vegetables taste better.
She suggests the use of three layers of the discarded outer leaves of lettuce to protect the vegetables from burning, in which case very little water will be necessary.
Steam just long enough to slightly tenderize without losing shape or color. (See Dr. Vetrano’s article in this lesson.)
2.11 Other Cooking Methods
Other types of cooking, at higher temperatures, and for longer periods of time, are progressively more destructive and less advisable. However, some recipes will be included in this lesson for casseroles and other combinations that require such less advisable cooking methods, and are intended to serve only as replacements for even worse cooking practices, since many people will not be weaned away from conventional meals immediately, and require recipes other than those for simply prepared, lightly steamed vegetables.
In all cases, the least destructive method of preparation will be recommended, consistent with the preparation of tasty vegetarian meals which will be acceptable for transition meals, reluctant families, children, or entertaining.
2.12 Cooking Vessels
Many years ago I discarded my aluminum “waterless cooking” pans, having been convinced that the leaching of aluminum fractions into the food was harmful. About eight years ago, I stopped using my stainless steel cook ware, having seen evidence that even stainless steel cookware leached metal fractions (as previously described in the use of a stainless steel steam marvel, and also confirmed by other reports).
I used Corning ware for a long time, finding it less than satisfactory, because the lids are riot tight enough. Now I am using “Show pans,” a good quality of heavily enameled ware, with tight covers. These utensils spread heat quickly and evenly and hold the heat. Very little water is required, and a vapor seal forms between the edges of the pot and the cover. The oxidation is thus minimal and the vegetables are tenderized in a short time. Flavor is retained, and loss of vitamins and minerals is minimal.
It is my understanding that no leaching occurs in the use of glass, Corning ware, or enameled cookware. If enameled cookware is chipped, it should be discarded. Good quality enameled cookware is highly chip-resistant.
2.13 General Information About Cooking
Leafy vegetables (or any vegetables) should never be cooked so long that they change color. Cook as short a time as possible, and serve immediately.
The practice of adding bicarbonate of soda to vegetables to preserve their green color destroys their food value and taste, impairs their digestibility, and is certainly not necessary.
Butter, cream or oil should never be added to vegetables while cooking—fats should never be cooked. If you must use them, add when serving. A small amount of butter is preferable, to oil. Better yet—try using a piece of avocado instead—it is tastier, and far superior nutritionally. Eggplant is an excellent and tasty vegetable, but requires extra care in preparation (see recipes). If very young and sweet, eggplant may be used raw. Use slices as a sandwich for tomatoes; sprouts, lettuce, or any other raw food.
If soups are used occasionally, they should be thick, not watery.
Potatoes, yams, salsify, rutabaga, kohlrabi, beets, carrots and parsnips may be steamed or baked. Steam whenever possible. Steaming is faster and preferable nutritionally, Steamed potatoes and other root vegetables retain more nutrients—because of lower heat and shorter cooking time. Scrub clean and steam in skins. The red color of steamed beets seeps into the steaming water unless cooked whole, with skin intact.
Baking sometimes produces a tastier product—my husband and I love baked potatoes and sometimes indulge ourselves. Baked carrots, parsnips and beets are also delicious, and may be indulged in occasionally.
Carrots, parsnips and beets sometimes spatter the oven, so a covered dish should be used. This also shortens the baking time. Select beets about two inches in diameter, or cut in half. These three vegetables will all bake in about thirty minutes or less, and are a delicious combination when used together. They have a special sweetness when baked.
For greater nutritional value, steam these vegetables, or eat carrots and beets raw (or grated, which some people find necessary, into salads. Any grating should be done immediately before eating). Young garden parsnips may also be eaten raw. If you like these vegetables baked, use occasionally as a special treat.
Potatoes may be, baked in an open pan. Pierce white potatoes with a fork before baking. Bake without foil or any coating. Scrub well, and bake in open pan in 400 degree oven. Small potatoes take about 45 minutes, large ones one hour or longer. Baking time may be reduced by cutting potatoes in half.
Another “trick” for reducing baking time of white potatoes is to plunge them into very hot water for two or three minutes before baking. Bring water to boiling point and remove from heat before inserting potatoes. I would suggest reserving this method for use in emergencies only, when time is limited. If you need the potatoes sooner than they can be baked, it would be better to steam them instead.
Always preheat the oven to the desired temperature before inserting the vegetables which are to be baked.
New potatoes (little, round, red or small white potatoes) are high in sugar and low in starch and cook very quickly. They steam in about 10 minutes, and bake in 15 or 20 minutes, depending on size. If you eat raw white potatoes, new potatoes are preferable. However, white potatoes shouldn’t be eaten raw.
Fresh green lima beans (or other fresh, podded beans or peas): Buy in the pod, shell them, and steam until tender. Fresh green peas are delicious raw.
Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Butternut or Acorn or Hubbard Squash: These may be steamed or baked. Squash may be halved, quartered, or cut up for steaming. For baking, bake sweet potatoes or yams whole. Cut squash in half (or, in the case of very large squash, cut up in serving size pieces); remove seeds if you wish. Bake squash cut side up to conserve juices. Bake squash in covered pan as it may spatter the oven. Whole sweet potatoes or yams in an open pan will not spatter the oven if you don’t leave them in too long. Sweet potatoes, yams and winter squash take about thirty minutes to bake, depending on size.
Globe Artichokes: These may be baked in the oven in a covered casserole—no added water is necessary. Just wash and put in casserole wet. Bake at 375 to 400 degrees until just barely tender. Length of time depends on size—45 minutes average. Or steam in as little water as possible; it will take more water than most other vegetables, and will take 15 or 20 minutes, depending on size. The usual way of cooking artichokes, covering with boiling water, is faster, but much more wasteful of nutrients.
To eat artichokes, pull off the leaves, one at a time, and scrape off the tender edible flesh at the base with your teeth. The larger outer leaves are not as tender as the inner leaves. When you reach the “heart,” scrape out the fuzz called the “choke” and eat the remaining heart, which is the most delicious part.
Tasty steamed vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, yellow crookneck or zucchini squash, Brussels sprouts, etc.—add parsley, diced celery and celery leaves and/or sweet bell pepper to any vegetable, if desired. Steam in a small amount of water until just barely tender—still crisp, and color unchanged. Do not overcook. This is worth repeating and re-emphasizing. If not overcooked, no seasoning should be necessary (even if no parsley, celery or sweet pepper have been added).
Overcooked Brussels sprouts are actually repulsive. Overcooked cauliflower is almost as bad. Don’t cook cabbage at all. Cooked cabbage takes a long time to digest, and I can’t think of any reason to cook it. Cooking certainly doesn’t improve the taste (nor the digestibility or nutritional value). If overcooked, it is quite unpalatable. If steamed slightly and still crisp and green, it is barely acceptable.
When vegetables of the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage) are overcooked, they are not only unpleasant to the taste (and smell), they also cause digestive distress.
Corn on the cob: Green corn freshly picked is delicious eaten raw, if not too mature. Several hours after picking, it is no longer a green vegetable. The sugar has turned to starch, which should be dextrinized by heating. If reasonably young and fresh, it is dextrinized and tender in only a few minutes (two to five minutes). If more mature, it may be necessary to steam as long as ten minutes. Usually, steaming longer than ten minutes actually makes mature corn tougher.
Asparagus: Raw asparagus tips are delicious. Snap off the white ends with your hands; they break easily near the edible part. To cook, place in pan at an angle so the tips are not in the water. The tough, discarded ends can be used to prop up the tips. Steam two or three minutes, till barely tender.
Greens: Kale, turnip, dandelion, collard, and broccoli leaves. For greatest nutritional value, eat young tender greens raw. Larger, more mature greens may be steamed in a very small amount of water until just tender. Add diced turnips to turnip greens. Very small turnips are usually mild and sweet enough to be eaten raw. Diced celery and/or sweet pepper may be added when steaming greens. No seasoning is necessary.
Do not use cooked mustard or spinach greens. Mustard greens have a characteristically sharp taste, since they contain mustard oil, an irritant. Spinach, beet greens and Swiss chard are too high in oxalic acid, a calcium antagonist. Small, immature spinach leaves (or mustard or beet greens) may be used raw occasionally in salads. Swiss chard, which is extremely high in oxalic acid, should never be used.
Kale is an excellent green, especially when young and immature, and eaten raw. Broccoli leaves are also greens of high nutritional value. Eat as many as possible raw. Very large broccoli leaves may be steamed.
Jerusalem artichokes, chayotes, kohlrabi: Eat them raw! They have a pleasant taste when steamed slightly, but have a much better taste when uncooked.
Use cooked celery only to season other cooked vegetables—otherwise eat it raw. Strong celery tops may be slightly steamed as an individual vegetable.
Tender celery cabbage should be eaten raw—if tough and stringy, steam it slightly.
Okra: Sometimes palatable raw, if immature. Usually cooked with other foods (soups, casseroles, as a thickener). Tomatoes tend to reduce or neutralize the “sliminess”. If you don’t like okra, forget it! Foods which have properties that require “neutralizing” are best avoided anyhow.
Use cooked tomatoes seldom, if ever. Cooking tomatoes accentuates their acidic properties.
Salsify (oyster plant): Steam until just tender.
Don’t ever cook fresh, raw water chestnuts. I can’t think of any possible reason or excuse for cooking this delicious food. It is so excellent and succulent raw, and cooking would really rob it of most of its exceptional qualities. Just compare fresh water chestnuts with canned water chestnuts. The canned variety does, surprisingly, retain its crispness, but the sweet, juicy flavor is gone.
Lettuce is sometimes steamed or “wilted.” Very tough blemished outer leaves might be used as a steamed vegetable, but raw dark green lettuce leaves are of great value and should be a staple of the daily diet.
The purpose of “wilting” lettuce with water, heating or vinegar is somewhat nebulous. It completely destroys its delightful crispness, and the use of vinegar adds a toxic ingredient. The enjoyment of wilted lettuce appears to be either a habit, a perverted taste, or a concession to dental or digestive impairment, though it would seem to cause more problems than it ameliorates.
If lettuce must be broken down for temporary adaptation to dental or digestive problems, a less destructive method would be the use of the blender. Even though oxidation would occur, at least no vinegar or water would be added, and destructive heat would not be applied.
If chicory, endive or escarole are too tough or unpalatable to be used raw, they may be slightly steamed
and used as a cooked green vegetable.
Raw, crisp, juicy cucumbers are an excellent addition to salads—even people with impaired digestions can tolerate them if they avoid overmature ones with large seeds and tough skins. Cooking would destroy their palatability and most of their value.
All seasonings are unhygienic. Raw foods require no seasoning. Lightly steamed or baked individual vegetables should require no seasoning.
When several foods are cut up and combined into a casserole, stew or soup, we are getting farther away from the simplicity of Hygienic food preparation and the pleasant, natural, individual flavors of foods. It is then that we are confronted with “seasoning” problems.
Many people request recipes for such casseroles, stews or soups, for use during the transitional period to Natural Hygiene, to meet the demands of their families, for variety, and for special occasions. Such recipes are therefore included in this lesson, with the admonition that they be used infrequently, and not as a regular part of the diet.
These dishes may be “seasoned” with parsley, celery tops, sweet bell peppers. Tomatoes may be used, sparingly, as seasoning for dishes which do not contain any starches or starchy proteins. Garlic and onions may be used as seasonings, if desired, if care is taken to precook them for twenty minutes; this eliminates the irritation of the mustard oil they contain. Do not use garlic or onions as seasoning if they cause subsequent distress or aftertaste, which they sometimes do. If you do season with garlic or onions, use very sparingly.
Dr. Esser says that occasional, limited use of garlic as a flavoring in the preparation of a cooked food, or rubbing it over a salad bowl, is harmless and inconsequential.
Vogue Vegebase is available in health food stores. It is mostly dried powdered vegetables, and, if you must use a prepared seasoning, Vegebase is preferable to the use of salt, pepper, or other preparations. The sooner you can get away from the use of all such preparations (including Vegebase), the greater will be your progress toward the ideal. All seasonings, even the mildest, are irritants to some extent.
It is also important to remember that most of the senses have a role in digestion. Seeing, smelling, touching and tasting the food all help in sending the proper signals for the secretion of the digestive juices, and their adaptation to the character of the food. Complicated mixtures of foods interfere with this process and make it less efficient as well as digestive problems.
When we compound the problem by adding seasonings (perhaps required for “fancy” recipes or because of jaded appetites), the true taste of individual foods is further disguised. It thus becomes extremely difficult for the digestive system to supply secretions that can adequately cope with these meals, and digestion becomes inhibited and impaired.
If Vegebase (or any seasoning) is used, it should be added just before serving. Cooking with seasoning tends to toughen the food.
- 1. Cooked Foods
- 2. Preparation Of Cooked Foods
- 3. Miscellaneous Recipes
- 4. Recipe Conversions
- 5. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Your Probing Mind By Virginia Vetrano, B.S., D.C.
- Article #2: Hygienic Considerations In The Selection of Foods By Ralph C. Cinque, D. C.
- Article #3: How To Get More Food Value for Your Money By Marti Fry