I first tasted the delicious, gluten free grain known as teff shortly after my husband and I were married. We met after work at an Ethiopian restaurant that we’d been wanting to try for quite some time. My husband was born and lived his early years in Uganda, and he was eager to introduce me to some of the flavors of his home continent.
I was immediately enthralled and delighted by the basket of soft, spongy flatbread that was brought to our table to use as an edible utensil for our meat stew.
Never having experienced the light, slightly nutty flavor of teff before, I asked the waitress about the bread’s origins. She proudly explained that injera is a traditional fermented bread made from teff flour that is a staple in Ethiopia.
Those of us with grandparents born prior to World War II may well remember that they made a practice of soaking rolled oats in a pot of warm water overnight before cooking it up the next morning.
In fact, prior to the 1950’s, Quaker Oats used to include an overnight soak in the instructions printed on the box!
Somehow, this healthy, traditional practice was gradually abandoned as the popularity of convenience foods such as quick oats and microwave oatmeal packets gradually took hold with Baby Boomers and later generations.
The truth is that soaking oatmeal overnight before cooking it up in the morning makes it infinitely more digestible and nutritious as the practice helps to break down toxins and anti-nutrients like phytic acid. These anti-nutrients are present in all grains and very effectively block mineral absorption in the gut and can cause gastric distress or bloating in sensitive individuals. Oats contain the highest amount of phytic acid of any grain, so proper preparation is very important.
The thing I most enjoy about a bowl of soaked oatmeal in the morning is that it fills you up all the way until lunchtime, unlike those enticing and so incredibly convenient microwave oatmeal packets or a bowl of quick oats which (have you noticed?) leave you hungry and looking for a doughnut fix by about 10 am.
Salad dressings have gotten a bad rap in recent years due to confusion about fats, and this has led dieticians and nutritionists to frequently advise against them entirely – suggesting either lowfat dressings or lemon juice as alternatives.
The problem is that salads dressed only in lemon juice are tasteless and unappetizing!
Lowfat commercial dressings are loaded with neurotoxic MSG in the form of hydrolyzed vegetable protein or hidden away under the “natural flavors” label.
Regular versions of bottled, commercial dressings are made with cheap, low quality oils that have been made rancid with high temperature processing. Stabilizers, preservatives, artificial flavors, colors and belly-bulging corn syrup add further insult to injury.
Even organic healthfood store dressings made with canola oil should be avoided. Canola oil is high in brain boosting omega 3 fat, but is usually genetically modified (GMO) if not organic and goes rancid very easily, requiring manufacturers to deodorize the oil to hide the off smell.
If that isn’t bad enough, the deodorizing process required to manufacture canola oil forms a dangerous form of transfat, not listed on the label of these supposedly healthy dressings.
When I first got into Traditional Food nearly 14 years ago, I pretty much had to make anything and everything myself because there were few companies (and none in my local area) that made the type of food I was seeking – let alone understood what I was even talking about!
Nowhere was this paradigm disconnect more apparent than the art of breadmaking.
“Isn’t using yeast the proper way to get bread to rise? Isn’t this the way it’s always been done?” they would blankly ask.
“If the bread is organic, isn’t that good enough?”
Uh, no, no and no!
Yeast for breadmaking is relatively new in the grand scheme of human history. In fact, when baker’s yeast was first introduced as an alternative to true sourdough starter in France in the mid 1600’s, it was strongly rejected because the Renaissance scientists of the time knew that this quicker, more convenient approach to breadmaking would negatively affect public health.