Two simple ways to make foods you're already feeding your kids more nutritious

Sep 22, 2009 by


Do you ever wonder how recipes and food processes were first developed? Take pickling, for example. Did one prehistoric day someone discover a stray cucumber that had fallen unperceived months before into some casual vat of brine or vinegar and say, “Say, this thing has been in here since the last harvest was brought in! It actually smells good! It seems crispy! Say, this tastes good!” Or what?

How did people first discover how to make dough rise? Or how to make cheese and some of the more surprising variations thereof? And how about those real-life dramas we’ll never hear about how early peoples figured out what was poisonous or not?

Fictionalized accounts of these accidental or ingenious food discoveries would fascinate me. Maybe that’s where my buried fictional talent lies: the untold imagined stories of food-related inventions and discoveries!

Healthy Processed Food

I’m equally intrigued with little facts about nutrition that can be mined from these long lost tales—better understood today—that I can use to make my family’s diet healthier. Especially if it requires basically no additional effort or expense on my part.

Industrial processing to death of foods is what’s gotten us into the nutritional mess we find ourselves in today. But traditional home processes, many forgotten today, developed who knows how, are now known to have rendered not-so-optimal food options, including grains and dairy, vastly more digestible and nutritious.

Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, looks at a multitude of traditional food cultures and their beneficial food processing methods, such as soaking grains.

Unlike me, Fallon declines to “speculate on the mysterious instructive spirit that taught our ancestors to soak and ferment their grains before eating them; the important thing to realize is that these practices accord very well with what modern science has discovered about grains.”

Eating a lot of unfermented whole grains, which contain substances that actually block the absorption of minerals, can directly cause bone loss and mineral deficiencies, Fallon warns.

Because unlike animals that naturally eat a lot of grains, we don’t have the several stomachs to digest them, soaking and fermenting does some of the work of those missing stomachs for us, Fallon notes.

Following are Fallon’s couldn’t-be-easier recipes for cooking rice and oatmeal that maximize their nutritional potential.

Brown Rice:

While wheat has gluten, which means it shouldn’t be eaten without soaking or fermenting, rice just needs to be cooked gently for two hours, intead of the usual 35 minutes.

Fallon prescribes cooking it in gelatinous broth (homemade broth, with a tablespoon of unflavored gelatin), which helps knock out some of the harmful elements and make it easier to digest while adding minerals. I tried cooking it in water for two hours, and it was fine. I added extra water, and didn’t bring it to a full boil, but turned it down low and kept my eye on it a little. Softer than we’re used to, but just as good. I plan to try the broth and gelatin method next.


A simple overnight soak with a little fermented milk greatly increases the nutrition of oatmeal.

Mix in a bowl:

2 C oats (rolled or cracked)

2 C warm water

4 T whey, yogurt, kefir or buttermilk

Leave covered in a warm place overnight or as long as 24 hours.

In the morning, bring 2 C water to boil with 1 t sea salt. Add soaked oats and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for a few minutes.

Good additions are a little ground flax seed, soaked raisins, honey, maple syrup. The fat in cream or butter will also enhance absorption of minerals.

My daughter, who isn’t usually a big fan of oatmeal, said it was the yummiest oatmeal she’s ever had.

Serves four adults.

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 22 September 2009 / All rights reserved

This post was featured on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday on Feb. 19, 2010:ttp://


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