Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wheat - Mother Earth’s Gift to Mankind

Grass is the most plentiful source of food on our Planet for humans and animals. Of various grasses, some are excellent food sources for humans. Both wheat and rice are varieties of grass. The seeds can be dried and stored for long. Because of its abundance, wheat is one of the cheapest sources of food for humans. A few humans are allergic to gluten in wheat and in that case rice or corn is an alternative.

Humans have a tendency to develop food fads for a few decades at a time such as cholesterol free, caffeine free, gluten free etc. Natural food eaters avoid all such fad foods that are unnatural – something free foods - because they are not natural. Those components are essential to the food they are a part of. But since individual chemistry of each individual is unique some may be allergic to individual food components. Some times a food component may not be good for some individuals. In that case just avoid that entire food rather than go for an unnatural version of it. Others may go ahead and enjoy it. Majority of humans have enjoyed wheat with gluten with it for thousands of years and led healthy lives. Mother Earth has put gluten in there for a reason. Its helps to hold bread together.

In different parts of the world wheat is used for different kinds of preparations such as leavened and unleavened bread, Pasta etc. What needs to be noted is that if bread or pasta is prepared at home starting from wheat flour, it is much cheaper than bread from the market. It is also healthier by far. Processed foods including breads contain chemicals that are harmful. For example Potassium Bromate is used commonly in preparation of bread. Many countries have banned its use while in others it may still be causing cancer. It seems it is banned in Europe and Canada but not in US.

Savior of the Poor

Whenever and wherever, poverty strikes a family, the proper knowledge and use of wheat can be a savior. Here is a plan for a person trying to pull through hard economic times. Purchase around 10 kilograms per adult (half as much for children) of a mix of four forms of wheat. These four forms are,

  1. Whole wheat flour
  2. Refined wheat flour
  3. Cracked wheat
  4. Semolina

How much of each kind to purchase depends on food habits and recipes. Depending on what else one can afford with bread, the use of wheat may be less or more but if some is left over, one may use it the following month. It stores well if kept in tight sealed containers. Generally it has been noticed that as a family becomes wealthier the accompaniments increase and the bread component of meals decreases. In middle classes, the use of wheat is less than five kilograms per person.

While preparation of wheat such as bread is excellent, it is bland by itself. It needs something along with it to make it palatable. You would notice how bland a toast is but how delicious it becomes when hot and crisp with just a little butter on it. Therefore, while preparations of wheat need something to accompany it, it need not be much. Poor communities in South Asia have survived hard times by eating bread with a little jaggery, a fruit, pickle, a chutney made form some spices and herbs picked from the field, an onion, a soup made from the cheapest seasonal vegetables and spices etc.

Quite often in poor Indian villages, butter milk is available free from a neighbor. The reason is that most homes keep a cow or more and at times when a cow is producing milk, butter milk is produced as a by product of making clarified butter. It is usually much in excess of what a single family can use and is therefore given away free to homes that do not have it, in return for a similar favor later. In such cases butter milk or some of its preparations are an excellent protein source and accompaniment to bread.

There is a good reason why mother earth has made wheat bland. It is to prompt inclusion of other foods. While a human may appease hunger primarily with bread, to avert malnutrition, one also needs fats, fruits, vegetables and protein rich food. Therefore, along with the wheat, every human needs about a kilogram or two of  good cooking oil or fat a month as well as vegetables and protein sources such as eggs, fish, milk products, lentils etc. Dried beans of various kinds are a protein source that store well like wheat. Along with a few spices and herbs, the ingredients suggested here can provide a family with healthy, nutritious meals daily, just as long as one knows the right recipes. Those who are obese need to take care not to eat an excessive amount of carbohydrates such as wheat, oils and sugar but rather increase protein and vegetable content in their meals.

Some of the recipes of wheat are really quick and easy for anyone to make. For example semolina roasted in a pan followed by adding about four times the water stiffens up after some cooking into a delicious paste. It is a popular preparation of West Africa called Fu-fu.  It may then be consumed with pasta sauce, a curried dish, or any other dish that is eaten with steamed rice.

It is also easy to make fresh pasta (pasta fresco) at home with an equal mix of semolina and refined wheat flower. Just knead into dough, roll, cut into strips and boil in salted water for about ten minutes.

A paste of wheat flour can be used to make pancake like bread by anyone in a hurry. The detailed recipes are not shared here but nowadays with help of google search anyone can search out a huge number of recipes. The link to just one is given below. With a little trial and error, settle down with those you like most.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cold Drinks for Long Life and Good Health


In the northern Hemisphere, summer has started in some places and in others it is knocking on the door. During such times the human body thirsts for cold drinks and there are very many popular ones in the market. The trouble is that the popular ones are not good for health and moves are afoot to ban them in parts of the world.

The source of ill health from cold drinks is the use of chemicals in their preparation including sugar which too is a chemical. However with a little innovation cold drinks can be a source of good health, a health tonic rather than harmful. All that is required is to use extracts of natural healthy herbs in place of chemicals. Then they can be carbonated and marketed similarly. Here are some suggestions for an enterprising manufacturer out there as to what can be used

Sweetener: Stevia leaves
Acidity: Natural sources of citric and ascorbic acid such as dried lemons and/or the myroblan amala
Stimulant: green or black tea

For more suggestions an interested manufacturer can search through this blog on herbs and flowers for drinks or contact this blogger, initially as a comment here.

In the meantime there are numerous healthy drinks you can make easily at home on your own. Check out this older post for that: