Thursday, March 1, 2012

In Search of Sweetness and Thank You

Before I go into my post for this week, I would like to say “thank you” to T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of The China Study. Last night, my husband, Denny Waxman and I were invited to attend a lecture at The University of Pennsylvania given by Dr. Campbell on the topic of dietary intervention as a treatment for degenerative illness and how diet can also be used in preventative medicine. The lecture was  informative and engaging, and even better, offered the scientific research supporting plant-based nutrition as a way to obtain and maintain good health. I respect and appreciate Dr. Campbell's work, as it is in line with our mission and our work at The Strengthening Health Institute, where we offer educational seminars to teach people how to maintain or recover their health through a plant-based diet and lifestyle changes. I feel that education and awareness are the keys to preventative medicine and that plant-based diet advocates need to work together to win the race for the cure! So, bravo, well done, and thank you to everyone who made this lecture possible.

And now, back to sweets
Last week I discussed the arrival of early Spring, and gave some quick tips for changing your diet to align with the changing season. This week I am going to focus on finding and getting good-quality sweets. Getting good-quality sweets is important all year long, but they are especially important during the changing of the season, such as in the Spring and in the Fall.

So, what are good quality sweets and how do you get them? First of all, sweet is the most balanced and the most-craved of all the tastes. I define a “good quality” sweet as one that is unprocessed and derived from a natural, organic source. Good quality sweets should be included on a daily basis, because we all need some sweetness in our lives. They can be in the form of a grain dish, a vegetable dish, a soup, a beverage, or a dessert.
Susan's Caramel Rice Pudding, a delicious dessert made from grains!

Sweetness from Grains
The least refined type of sweet is the natural sweetness that comes from properly cooked whole grains and vegetables. When chewed thoroughly, most whole grains have a mild sweet taste. The sweetness you get from grain is very subtle in comparison to sugar or even maple syrup, but try chewing your grain more thoroughly and you will see what I mean. The first step in the digestive process of whole grains takes place in the mouth. As you chew grains, they begin to release juices that mix with your saliva, which allows them to be digested and absorbed more easily. When you chew whole grains, you can actually feel a lightness in your head, almost as though your eyes are opening more wide. Sometimes it is as though a pressure has lifted. If you chew long enough and well enough, you will realize that you are experiencing a natural high (!).

Here are some examples of good quality grain sweets:
  • Well-cooked and well-chewed grain 
  • Brown rice syrup 
  • Barley Malt 
  • Amasake (a thick, fermented rice beverage) 
  • Cooked chestnuts or a puree of chestnuts (not exactly a grain but a close cousin) 
  • Desserts made from grains and grain sweeteners 

Barley Malt Kuzu
This is a fantastic grain-quality sweet drink that is perfect for springtime, thanks to its liver- and gall bladder-relaxing qualities. It can also be used as a home remedy to relieve cramps, constipation, and keep blood sugar levels stable.

1 rounded teaspoon of wild kuzu (you can find this at a health food store or Whole Foods, where the Eden Brand is readily available)
1 cup of water (either spring water or filtered water)
1-2 tablespoons of Barley Malt (again, readily available at Whole Foods or the health food store)
one wedge of fresh lemon, optional, for a nice sweet-and-sour effect
Sample Ingredients

Dissolve the kuzu in the cold water. You can use either a wooden utensil or your fingers to break up the lumps in the kuzu.
Place the liquid with the dissolved kuzu in a sauce pan, and turn on the flame.
Gently heat the mixture while stirring constantly to avoid clumping.
When the mixture begins to turn translucent, add the barley malt and mix well.
When the liquid begins to boil, lower the flame (keep on stirring!) and let simmer for another minute.
Turn off the flame, add a nice squeeze of fresh lemon, and stir well to blend the lemon. Pour into a mug and enjoy!

Stay tuned for next week when I talk about the sweetness of vegetables. Until then, be sweet!

No comments:

Post a Comment