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Chewing your food
Chewing your food has a number of benefits. Firstly, the amylase in saliva starts to break down carbohydrates as part of the digestion process, and triggers the release of further digestive enzymes in your stomach.
Chewing also triggers peristalsis, which is the gentle muscle contractions in your intestines that keeps things moving.
Finally, chewing ensures we fully experience all the tastes, textures and sensations of each mouthful, which is important on a number of levels, not least giving us maximum pleasure from our food. And the happier we are, the healthier our bowel flora and digestive processes, which means we get more from our food.
We also use our sense of taste to make sure weíre getting a complete spectrum of food types and qualities in our diet, and to help us avoid things that are not beneficial.
Our sense of smell is also highly involved in all of these processes, and the longer we spend eating, the longer we are exposed to the aroma of our food.
Chopping and slicing
Thinly sliced vegetables cook faster and make the nutrients and enzymes more available Ė and therefore easier to lose in cooking as well as easier to digest.
More thickly sliced vegetables are therefore more appropriate to stews and bakes that spend a lot of time cooking.
When chopping and slicing vegetables, be intuitive as to the direction each vegetable actually wants to be chopped in, so as not to chop ďagainst the grainĒ. Green leaves may prefer to be torn rather than chopped. The least stress added to food during the preparation process, the better they will taste and the more health-giving they will be. This applies also to your state of mind Ė be mindful of the energy you are putting into your food. You will be putting this food, and therefore this energy, back into you and your friends/family when you eat it, so please cook with love
Local, seasonal, organic!
There are good reasons why cucumbers donít naturally grow in winter Ė while perfect midsummer to help cool us down, in colder weather we need to be eating more warming root veg and stews. Our bodies are set up to adapt to the seasons and to the environment, and the more closely we can match our foods to this, the more we will get out of our food and the less stressful digestion will be.
There is enough literature out there on the harmful effects of pesticides and other sprays, and how much more nutrient-rich, tastier and alive organic produce can be.
It costs a little more, but the benefits to us and to the planet are so worth it. (If we all spent as much money on our bodies as many of us do on our carsÖ)
Soaking nuts and seeds overnight not only rehydrate them, but also open them up slightly to make the proteins, enzymes and other nutrients more available and therefore easier to absorb. Most legumes need soaking overnight before we can cook them (lentils being a handy exception for when we havenít planned ahead), and dried fruits also need to be soaked over night to rehydrate them and make them tastier. Soak in good quality water (filtered at least).
Sprouting is an excellent way to transform pulses, grains and seeds to make them gentler to digest and to make the nutrients and enzymes more available. Sprouts are raw, living, hydrated food. Any pulses, grains or seeds except oats and kidney beans can be sprouted:
Drain and put in sprouter
Water twice a day
You can use when they first start to sprout, or wait a couple of days longer when the shoots are an inch or so long. Use raw in salads, or add to stir fries and other cooked meals right at the end of the cooking process.
Tempeh and tofu are perfect for marinating as they soak up flavours so well. Even if they are just marinating for the time it takes you to chop the vegetables, itís worth making the tiny effort. A typical marinade might include:
Water, chopped fresh ginger, chopped fresh or dried chilli, chopped fresh garlic, lime or lemon juice, tamari, black pepper.
You can then use the marinade to flavour a sauce or stir fry.
Making sauces is an exercise in patience! All sauces require constant stirring try figure-of-eight stirring, or even whisking, to avoid lumps. Sauces also need to be heated very gently, and fluids added splash by splash.
Adding flavour to sauces is also an art form. Like blending aromatic oils, itís useful to think in terms of layering top, middle and base notes. Tamari can provide an excellent basenote, but if you want to be completely salt-free, then maybe go for subtler, more aromatic flavours with gentle measures of citrus, herbs and spices
Saying grace/blessing your food
Masaru Emoto has photographed the effect that the intention of words, whether written or spoken, has on the structure of water. The beauty of water crystals influenced by words such as "love & gratitude" and "compassion" are breathtaking. Especially when compared to the lack of structure and focus of water crystals influenced by negative attitudes.
When we consider the proportion of water in our bodies, our food and our planet, Emotoís research is a powerful confirmation of the meaningfulness of many traditions, including saying blessing our food.
In fact around 40 years ago, the Rev. Franklin Loehr and the Religious Research Foundation of America were carrying out experiments on the effects of blessing and cursing plants. In one such experiment with corn kernels, the patch that was blessed yielded 16 plants, while the cursed patch yielded only 1, which subsequently died.
Masaru Emoto found a remarkably powerful combination in the words love and gratitude. A blessing that expresses love and gratitude is not only beneficial to the food we are about to eat, but also prepares us to receive the food with openness and acceptance. And in turn, the energy we then receive and accept will also be of love and gratitude. What a perfect way to start a meal.
Ironically, I donít use a lot of recipes. Iím a big fan of getting inspired by whatís in the cupboard and being creative in the kitchen. So please feel free to play with the recipes on this site. Use the foods that are in season and that you have in your cupboard, and adapt the recipes to suit. Iíve learnt a lot through my mistakes from this approach, but Iíve also discovered some real treats. Please be inspired by these recipes, not controlled by them.