OG MASTA BLASTA IN DA KITCHEN

tomatobarLearn to love REAL food while mastering your creative culinary experience. It’s as easy as “Prep and Play!” Sourcing fresh food options, while omitting processed picks, helps stock your kitchen with solutions to the dreaded question, “what’s to eat?”

Treat your fresh food picks with the gourmet goodness recognition they deserve. The faster you prep, the more options you will have jump out at you when surfing for snack, or entrée options. Below are a few quick tips to help guide you to becoming an OG Master Blaster.

  • Stay away from whole grains that are not sprouted (even if it says “organic”). Wheat is especially unhealthy, so try gluten free options including brown rice, organic corn and/or almond and coconut flour based eatable options.
  • The animal products (beef, lamb, game, organ meats, poultry and eggs) that you consume should come from free-range, pasture-fed animals. Buying locally ensures sure you are getting naturally raised, grass fed products from local businesses (farmers) whose livelihood depends on producing quality results for. If these are unavailable, try to buy organic products at the store.
  • Look for wild caught seafood. Eating wild caught fish and shellfish from unpolluted waters, especially high fat fish like wild caught salmon, is healthier for humans AND the environment. (Avoid farm raised if at all possible.) Wild salmon have higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids than farm raised salmon. Farm raised fish and shrimp are fed diets of genetically engineered grain products, foods that are not normal and increase the omega-6 fatty acids in the final product. Increasing your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids offsets the high levels of Omega 6 fats in the standard American diet.

Chop Tips

  • Save time by prep cooking weekday meals on the weekend. Boil eggs, cook brown rice, grill, slow cook, or roast meats and roots (including potatoes, beets, yams). These will make tasty meal components that will be easy to build satisfying sandwiches, soups, salads, snacks and entrees during the week. If you don’t have time on the weekend either, spend an evening prepping the basics ready for quick evening meals and healthy snacks (instead of reaching for cheap and easy chips, etc.) chop fruits and veggies into bite-sizes, simmer or broil “happy” meats (free-range, organically fed).
  • Cook in stainless steel, cast iron, glass, stoneware, or good quality enamel. Cooking acidic foods in aluminum will result in a metallic taste in the food, and could result in heavy metal poisoning, which affects the kidneys. In addition, Teflon should not be heated to more than 500 degrees as it emits toxic gases at higher temps.
  • Although steaming or sautéing foods is healthy, roasting is the BOMB! Delicious and nutritious, roasting veggies means more flavor and nutrients since there is leaching by steam or boiling water, and whatever you roast becomes instantly delicious as the cellular walls soften and release that full sweet essence of veggie sweetness…especially when smothered with a quality oil.
  • If you use a microwave, make sure you cook the food in a glass container. Transfer any food stored in plastic to a glass or ceramic container first.
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MASTERING YOUR CREATIVE CUCCINA

Five Salt MealWhat’s the secret to creating nutritious and delicious weekday meals? Flavor…and working with fresh farm-to-fork quality basics. Say “bye-bye” to recipe cards and over glorified (and processed) “gourmet” boxed food. This season’s hottest movement is REAL – welcome to the delectable world of creative cuccina.

Imagine that your kitchen is a blank canvas, utensils are your tools, and every single item you bring into your pantry or icebox is a beautiful bright paint color waiting to blend effortlessly together. Just like painting with a blank canvas (versus paint by numbers) the sky is the limit and your imagination is the catalyst. Removing restrictions (i.e. recipes) and working with what you have allows for a new approach in the kitchen – fun and flavorful – especially with local seasonal produce.

Just DO IT!

eatAt the end of the day no one is more accountable and responsible than you for how you act and feel. Nutrient-dense, mineral-intense foods are the fuel we need to stay energized, brain fog-free, and overall feeling great. The catch is that in order to stay on top of our game (AND treat our bodies as the sacred temple that they are), processed foods need to be kicked to the curb and replaced with the OG (organic goodness) that can only be found in nature – not from a manufacturing plant.

It’s true that boxed convenience tastes great and supplies our hungry bellies with substance to keep going, but at what cost? Is cheaper really better? Do you really understand what the usual suspects found on food labels are and how they will affect you down the line? Without going in-depth of the truthful phrase “eat to live…live to eat” (also a conversation to be had with a Holistic Practioner), I proudly announce that the creative cuccina approach will keep your taste buds happy while almost completely eliminating that dreadful question “what’s for dinner”.

The Creative Approach

Creative cuccina is simple approach that includes a prepping regiment that is most effective when paired with quality ingredients found at your local COOP, farmers market or local natural foods grocer. This approach also supports the lost art of self-sufficiency that is engrained in the Farm-to-Fork movement. Self-sufficiency brings out the creative genius while learning how to master new tasks…including becoming an impressive force in the kitchen.

ecoinactionThe secret to implementing creative cuccina is to become your own personal prep chef. You don’t have to have culinary experience to make this happen, just 4-5 hours, a few kitchen appliances, and a great attitude (libations can sometimes help!). If possible, the best time to make this happen is after a trip to the market to ensure that you’ll never have to scrape wilted greens off the bottom of your fridge again. When prepping your food after purchasing you can quickly and effortlessly chop, boil, bake your way to a fridge filled with options to whip together meals all week long. The key is to keep it simple when assembling so that the natural OG flavors come alive in less than 30 minutes. That’s right, one afternoon of prepping means easy peas-y gourmet meals that will impress even your worst critic (you, of course!)

DIG THAT DEHYDRATION

TSISG00ZFood Dehydration is the oldest form of food preservation, but is slated to be the hottest trend of tomorrow. Forget fighting zombies for savaged scraps of Twinkies and Wonder bread — knowing how to dehydrate food will save your cheeky behind.

Food dehydration is safe because water is removed from the food, and is an excellent DIY basic for the future while saving money in the meantime. Dehydration is a passive activity that on average takes vegetables 6-16 hours (fruit 12-48 hours) to dry. Food dehydration is also an excellent skill to know when rations are low  and beasts and looters are plentiful – not to mention you’ll have more friends to watch your back when you entertain them with a dried fruit salad and squirrel jerky!

DEHYDRATION METHODS:

Sun Drying: You will need three to four sunny days of at least 100 degrees in a row. And if you surviving in a sunny coastal climate – Mamacita says “you are a smart one,” and “be sure to use vinegar and lemon juice to clean off your simmering rock.”

Oven Drying: Of course you can try this option fairly easily today, but natural gas may not be around tomorrow. So no matter if you’re using a conventional oven, or you’ve designed a Dutch oven for the fire pit – keep the temp (at the minimum) 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and leave ventilation for constant air flow.

Prepping Produce
All vegetables except onions and peppers, and mushrooms should be washed, sliced, and blanched. Dry vegetables in single layers on trays. Depending of drying conditions, drying times make take longer. Dry vegetables at 130-degrees Fahrenheit.

* Beans, green: Stem and break beans into 1-inch pieces. Blanch. Dry 6-12 hours until brittle.
* Beets: Cook and peel beets. Cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Dry 3-10 hours until leathery.
* Broccoli: Cut and dry 4-10 hours.
* Carrots: Peel, slice or shred. Dry 6-12 hours until almost brittle.
* Cauliflower: Cut and dry 6-14 hours.
* Corn: Cut corn off cob after blanching and dry 6-12 hours until brittle.
* Mushrooms: Brush off, don’t wash. Dry at 90 degrees for 3 hours, and then 125 degrees for the remaining drying time. Dry 4-10 hours until brittle.
* Onions: Slice 1/4-inch thick. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
* Peas: Dry 5-14 hours until brittle.
* Peppers, sweet: Remove seeds and chop. Dry 5-12 hours until leathery.
* Potatoes: Slice 1/8-inch thick. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
* Tomatoes: Dip in boiling water to loosen skins, peel, slice or quarter. Dry 6-12 hours until crisp.
* Zucchini: Slice 1/8-inch thick and dry 5-10 hours until brittle.

The Drying Process – Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and veggies should be dehydrated between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin drying your food at higher temperatures, and then turn the temperature down after the first hour or so (toaster ovens are the easiest and most efficient appliance). The last hour or so of drying time should be turned down on a lower setting. If using a conventional oven, turn to lowest setting (usually 250 degrees Fahrenheit), crack open door and place fan on side to keep temp low and breeze dry. Turn the food and rotate the trays while the food is drying (this includes in the sun).

When drying food, its best not to keep temperatures too low or too high. Temperatures too low may result in the growth of bacteria on the food. Temperatures too high will result in the food being cooked instead of dried. Food that is under-dried will spoil, and food that is over-dried will lose its flavor and nutritive value.

You will know your food is dried when you touch it, and it is leathery with no pockets of moisture. You can test fruit by tearing a piece in half. If you see moisture beads along the tear, it is not dry enough. Meat should be tough, but shouldn’t snap apart. Vegetables should also be tough but can also be crisp.

The Drying Process – Meats

Meats should be dried at 145-150 degrees Fahrenheit. Jerky should dry between 6-20 hours until pliable, but not brittle. Wipe fat off of the jerky while it is drying. Jerky does not store as long as fruits and vegetables.

To aid in the curing of jerky, meat must be marinated in salt and spices. The “OG” pioneers used 1 1/2 cups pickling salt to 1 gallon of water and soaked the meat strips in this for a couple of days. As an alternative to soaking, they also rubbed the meat with salt and spices (like garlic and pepper) before drying. The following is a quick and easy marinade:

1 C. fresh tomato puree
1/2 C. vinegar
1/4 C. brown sugar
3 T. Bragg’s Amino Acids
2 t. dry mustard
1 t. natural salt
1/2 t. pepper

Storing the Stash
Remember this key tip when storing your substances: moisture should not be allowed to enter the container. Dried food absorbs moisture from the air, so the storage container must be airtight. Jars and reseal able glass containers are the safest bet. If storing fruit leather, wrap in wax paper and store in another airtight container. Containers of dried food need to be stored in a cool, dark, dry place (60 degrees Fahrenheit – cellar conditions).

Learning to dehydrate food is also a great way to stay on a budget, maximize usage of seasonal organic produce, and ensure you always have the fresh flavors you love packed away in the pantry. Enjoy!

GETTING REAL WITH FOOD

REAL GoodModern diets consist of over-processed, lifeless foods that produce little enzyme activity and contain little or no fibrous material.  Simply put, we are eating devitalized foods that are not fresh, with fewer nutrients. Substituting processed foods for REAL food options is quickly becoming the link to physical AND mental dehabilitating diseases and chronic conditions such as obesity, lowered IQ and sexual dysfunction – just to name a few of the obvious side effects. Without the nutrition-dense, mineral-intense fuel that the body craves, we collectively drop the bar in life. Have you noticed the uptick in society’s downtrodden nature the past decade or so?

The current average American diet consists of eating lots of chemicals like coloring agents, artificial flavors and preservatives that can make the food appear more attractive and taste fresher.  Even non-processed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, whole grains and meats often contain chemical residues from pesticides, herbicides, hormones and other products used to make them grow.  All of these substances reduce the amount of Vitamin E available for biochemical and physiological processes.

There are forty nutrients that cannot be made in the body.  They are essential fatty acid, 15 vitamins, 14 minerals, and 10 amino acids.  Collectively these forty nutrients are spoken of as the body’s requirements. From these our bodies synthesized an estimated 10,000 different compounds essential to the maintenance of health.  All the forty nutrients work together. Therefore, the lack of any one might result in the underproduction of hundreds of these essential compounds.

Ergo the Enzyme

Food that has been processed lacks major enzymes.  Every metabolic function in our body and every chemical reaction that keeps us healthy are helped by enzymes.

Without enzymes there is no life.   Enzymes run the body.  Every day your body burns enzymes to run our organs like the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, as well as the trillions of individual cells that carry on life.  Those enzymes need to be replaced as the body uses them up.

An enzyme acts as a catalyst, which makes something work more efficiently. For example, the oil in your automobile engine is a catalyst. Although your engine runs on gasoline, how efficient would it run without oil?

Your body re-supplies enzymes by manufacturing them or by receiving them from an outside source.  They come from raw foods – vegetables, fruits, and even meat.  They can be converted for bodily needs. When there aren’t enough enzymes available on a daily basis, your body begins to cut back from various bodily functions.  For instance, hair may become dry, nails may crack and skin may become dry – giving the appearance of an older person.   Then more critical, the liver will not be able to handle the excretion of waste products.

Fifty percent of all enzymes burned by the body are used in digesting our food.  When insufficient enzymes are available for the digestion process the body steals energy (enzymes) from other bodily functions.  Without these enzymes, due to the lack of them in the food we eat, the average person only digests about 30 to 70% of what they eat.

Processing takes a lot of nutrients out of the nutrient rich foods.

Processed food is made from REAL food that has been put through devitalizing chemical processes and then is infused with chemicals and preservatives. Beef jerky, canned tea, jam, hot dogs, and low-fat yogurt with sugar or aspartame are a few examples of processed food.

Processed foods are also fortified with synthetics. Most of the pantothenic acid, folic acid, biotin, cholin, inositol, vitamins B6 and E are discarded in the milling of breads and the refining of flour for cereals. To make up for the loss of nutrients during processing, synthetic vitamins and minerals are added.  Although helpful, these synthetics are not as healthy as their natural counterparts.  The amounts of vitamins returned in “enriched” flour are far less than the quantity that naturally occurs.

All the natural fiber, such as grain peels, are also removed in the refining stages. Because of this the diet ends up poor in fiber, digestion is slow and the waste materials stay in the body longer.  This sets up the perfect condition for toxic materials to form.

Processed foods and most all packaged foods also do not contain live enzymes. When any food is heated over 112 degrees Fahrenheit, the live enzyme activity is destroyed. Missing nutrients, discarded in processing and refining foods, allow illnesses to develop.  Research shows that disease produced by a combination of deficiencies can be corrected when all nutrients are supplied.

The bottom line is that when we put foods that are void of adequate nutrition and void of any enzymes into our body, we eventually run down. The destruction of live enzymes does not permit our food to be thoroughly digested. Then our immune system becomes weakened, and we develop degenerative diseases.

Nutrition and Output – What’s Your ROI?

Non-foods have one thing in common; it costs your body a great deal more to digest, absorb, and eliminate them than they offer your body in nutritional value – an extremely poor return on your investment that leaves your body sluggish and depleted.

Our ancestors preserved foods naturally, using salt, fermentation, and sun drying. Food processing has evolved away from these simple practices into more complicated and dubious methods. Today, nearly six thousand additives and chemicals are used by food companies to process our food. Many of them can have a devastating effect on our health. But there is one simple answer to avoiding these tainted treats at all time – shop mindfully. Organic, whole foods can be readily found at local farmers markets, natural food stores, COOP’s, and even your neighbor’s backyard. There’s no reason to fret over GMO’s when you are sourcing places of good intent while grabbing your weekly goods. Not only are there specific rules and regulations to being a vendor, or having a retail product at these markets, but these are also customer quality backed establishments. A savvy [and very saucy] crew of customers frequent these locations, so if there is any “whole foods, half truths” going on, these locally supported businesses will often lose the heart of their business – knowledgeable and caring customers.

So the next time you tell yourself “I’m just having a few chips,” or “this is the last time I buy this frozen cheesecake,” remember to ask your body what it thinks. Your taste buds may be easily manipulated by synthesized flavors, but your body will always crave what’s best for it. That’s called evolution my friends!