Our foods are prepared with traditional culinary techniques that not only preserve nutrients but actually increase nutrient density and bio-availability. These techniques include culturing, fermenting, soaking, sprouting and slow dehydrating.
Living Cultured Organic Vegetables
Living kraut contains active enzymes that support digestion, making nutrients more available to the body. Cultured foods can be extremely effective at combating yeast infections and sugar cravings. Eating raw sauerkraut (ie:not cooked) is a great way to protect and promote the balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. You could be eating the best diet in the world and still only be doing harm to your body if you are not digesting your food. Digestion is improved with cultured foods by providing the necessary enzymes, supplying the beneficial intestinal bacteria, and pre-digesting the food you are consuming. Above all, fermentation enhances the nutrient content of the food and creates “Super-Food”.
For millennia every culture incorporated a traditional fermented food with meals to support their digestion. Familiar examples are sauerkraut, kimchee, miso, pickles, and kefir. Due to the modern diet of processed foods, excessive sugars, additives, preservatives, sprayed foods, and diminished soils our digestive system has become depleted of the necessary bacteria required for optimal digestion. Fermented foods populate the digestive system with natural probiotics, beneficial flora and bacteria. In addition, naturally fermented foods boost the immune system and help regulate weight and appetite by reducing cravings for sugar, soft drinks, bread, and pasta.
Research shows that the food we eat today contains dangerously low levels of vital nutrients. The food eaten by traditional peoples and by the New Zealand population just a century ago has been described as “nutrient-dense” because each mouthful of food was packed with more vitamins, minerals, and enzymes than the ‘empty’ factory-produced foods of today. This nutrient density comes from a variety of practices:
- Growing plants in fertile, mineral-rich soils. Processing foods following traditional practice and wisdom. This involves understanding and respecting the unique character and gifts of each type of food.
- Pasturing animals on biodiverse grasses and allowing them access to outdoors rather than feeding them grains in feedlots.
- Using traditional fats liberally.
Earthwise Gourmet uses coconut oil and other coconut products in all of their sweets because ofthe numerous health benefits of the coconut. The health benefits of coconut oil include maintenance of cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, hair and skin care, stress reduction, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer. Coconut oil is helpful for fighting against yeast, bacterial, fungi and parasites. Eating coconut oil increases energy and improves thyroid function. Coconut oil improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids absorbed directly from the small intestine for quick energy. Research has shown that coconut oil promotes normal brain development, contributes to strong bones and has anti-carcinogenic and anti-microbial effects.
We use no artificial or white sugar in our kitchen. The sweetness in our foods comes from unrefined sugars or dried fruit. Our favorite sources of sweeteners are those that have been used by traditional peoples for many generations. These include:
- Palm Sugar: The evaporated sap of palm trees, this traditional sweetener is used throughout Southeast Asia.
- Rapadura or Jaggery: The evaporated juice of sugar cane, which retains minerals lost in the process of white sugar refinement.
- Honey: Our honey is local and raw.
In healthy, traditional cultures, when an animal was slaughtered, all the parts were put to use, including the bones, to make mineral-rich broth. Our modern diet, having largely forgotten the use of broth as the basis of our cooking, is estimated to have less than half the mineral content of more traditional diets. This rich mineral content and the fact that soup broths greatly aid digestion are just two of the many reasons why everyone should make soup broth a part of their daily diet.
Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.
Soaking grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes
Grains, nuts and legumes require careful preparation because they contain a number of antinutrients that can put a real strain on the digestion. An anti-nutrient is a compound that interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Traditional peoples understood instinctively that nuts are best soaked, or partially sprouted, before being consumed. A diet high in improperly prepared whole grains, nuts, seeds or legumes may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone density depletion. Phosphorus in the bran of whole grains is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. Phytic acid chemically binds with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion. Traditional societies ‘processed’ their grains by soaking or fermenting them before eating. This simple task (and wisdom of generations) neutralized phytates and enzyme inhibitors. In effect, they predigested grains so that all their nutrients were more available.