No one really knows when humans started cooking their food, but one thing is sure: every culture did it. For over a million years we have been learning the magic of food and fire. It doesn’t matter if you live in the frozen north or the jungles of the tropics, human beings cook their foods.
Our ancestors discovered that cooking makes food easier to digest, brings out hidden flavours and kills off harmful bacteria. It is a basic life skill and is now more important than ever. As food processing becomes more industrialised, the use of chemicals in the growing, transport and processing has increased. Food has lost much of its nutritional value and is laced with mystery ingredients. It’s time to reclaim the kitchen and know what we’re eating. Making our own food in our own kitchen is creative, empowering, and heathy.
I can assure you that the recipes I create not only please the senses but are designed to improve personal and planetary health. There is no reason why the foods that are proven to contribute most profoundly to our health cannot be prepared to provide delicious meals. We should expect it.
When nutritionists attend our MACROVegan Health Coach programme, they tell us that we have opened a huge window of opportunity for them. Instead of merely offering their clients supplements, they start to teach them how to cook. That’s what makes me excited. Getting people back into their kitchens.
Recipe from Marlene’s Ecological Kitchen:
Cornbread, Greens and Beans
‘Soup beans’ is a term common in the southern United States. This is my version of the American classic. Soup beans are usually served with cornbread and greens (such as boiled cabbage, cauliflower, or sauerkraut). Soup beans are considered a main course, but also serve as a side dish. In rural areas, where food was scarce during the winter, these dried beans were a staple food. I always cook up way more than I need when pressure-cooking beans, to have cooked beans in the freezer. I simply take them out the night before I need them, and suggest you get into the habit of doing this too.
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup soy milk
½ cup plain flour, gluten free if preferred
½ cup ground almonds (almond flour)
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), gas 4. Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients. Mix both together (do not overmix). Pour into an 8 × 8 inch baking dish and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Greens, rich in chlorophyll and minerals like calcium, strengthen the bones, help the blood to absorb oxygen and bring energy upward in the body, leaving you feeling light and refreshed. Because greens have absorbed so much light, they are like ‘eating sunshine’.
1 large bunch fresh spring greens, kale or collards
Wash the greens and separate the green leaf from the tough stem by slicing carefully along each side of the stem. Slice or tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a steamer basket. Bring a small amount of filtered water to a boil. Add the steamer basket with the greens, cover and steam for 4–5 minutes. The greens will go from their raw colour to a very brilliant green, then a deeper green. Drizzle with a little balsamic glaze before serving.
To pressure-cook the beans
1 cup dried pinto beans
Small piece kombu
Add the pinto beans and kombu to a large bowl and cover with filtered water. Soak overnight. Drain the water and place the beans and kombu in a pressure cooker. Add the water to about 2 inches (5 cm) above the beans. Bring to full pressure then reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to come down naturally.
To make the bean mixture
3 cups cooked pinto beans
1 onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
Pinch sea salt
¼ to ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 umami instant stock sachet dissolved in 2 cups warm filtered water
¼ tsp each of cumin, garlic granules, oregano, coriander, paprika, ground cinnamon
1 tbsp tamari or shoyu
½ cup fresh coriander, chopped
In a large pot, warm a splash or two of filtered water over a medium heat. Add the diced onion, garlic, and pinch of sea salt. Sauté for 3–4 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the cooked beans, tomatoes, umami stock and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the tamari and fresh coriander. Serve with some cornbread and greens, a hefty dollop of sour cream, and a slice of fresh lime, and if desired some apple sauce on the side. Makes 4–6 servings.