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Nutritional information for tight budgets

Dairy products:

These provide a cheap source of high quality protein. If you have a body which can digest milk protein (some bodies lose this ability after weaning, others around the age of 20-24--you can tell about yours by noticing whether milk seems to have a pronounced and rapid laxative effect, in which case your body is not using it properly), by all means use dairy products as a significant part of your diet. Some bodies which don't digest regular milk can digest cultured milk auch as yogurt, kefir, cultured buttermilk, because the lactose has been broken down by processing.

If you are milk-intolerant, or restricting your intake of carbohydrates, look for a full gram (1000 milligrams, the equivalent of one quart of milk) of calcium in your supplements EVERY SINGLE DAY. This is necessary to maintain the health of your bones, nervous system and the ability of your muscles to relax fully after use. Be aware that cheeses, while high in protein, contain few B vitamins and reduced calcium compared to liquid milk. 

In a very small number of cases, dairy use may be contraindicated for specific medical conditions. However, the body will take calcium out of the bones if it is not supplied in the diet, thus weakening them; and in the case of painful joints, a lack of dietary calcium can aggravate the condition by deteriorating the nervous system, and causing bone calcium (which apparently is more easily redeposited in the joints and other "wrong places") to be dumped into the system.  

Several things frequently interfere with the absorption of the calcium you actually do eat. A lack of vitamin C, a deficiency of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, (common after the age of  20), eating calcium in nonfat form (calcium must have some fat, either dairy, meat, or vegetable, in order to be absorbed in the gut), or eating it with concentrated carbohydrates (for example, in ice cream, milkshakes, heavily sweetened yogurt, with chocolate or a very starchy meal) will substantially reduce the amount of calcium which your body can absorb from what you eat.

Dairy products should be the freshest, highest quality you can find in your area. See notes in the section of food descriptions. Milk servings can count as part of your protein intake.

Milk--milk is Big Business in America. Many of us come from European ancestors who ate large amounts of dairy products as a staple part of their diets, and can therefore easily digest milk as a ready source of protein and minerals, especially calcium. 

However, not everybody is well-advised to use milk as a beverage. Many black and Oriental bodies cannot use it as adults. Milk is often tolerated in fermented forms such as yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk when it cannot be eaten plain because the lactose has been predigested. It can also sometimes be assimilated when used as an ingredient in baked goods, casserole dishes and desserts. 

Milk is low in iron. Supplements are usually recommended for babies on predominantly milk diets after the age of 4-6 months. While it is a high-quality food, it is not the perfect food, as advertisers would like you to believe.

Most fluid milk sold in the United States is pasteurized and homogenized, as is the milk used in virtually all commercial foods. Pasteurization kills certain disease-causing organisms which can occur when dairy herds are carelessly or incompetently maintained. It also lowers the quality of the milk protein slightly, and destroys the vitamin C normally found in whole, raw milk.

Homogenization of milk breaks down the fat into tiny particles which stay suspended throughout the milk, instead of rising to the top in the natural way to form a layer of cream. It also increases the shelf life (amount of time during which the milk can be sold before it spoils), saving the manufacturers some money. 

However, all milk contains an enzyme called zanthine oxidase or XO which will attack the heart and its arteries if it is released in to the bloodstream. The body effectively excretes all of this enzyme as it is present in un-homogenized, or raw, milk. It may absorbs the enzyme from the broken-apart fat particles in homogenized milk! The enzyme chemically scars the walls of the heart and arteries and the body attempts to compensate for the damage by raising the cholesterol level of the blood and depositing fat onto the scar tissue, which can result in hardening of the arteries. Many well-informed doctors are quick to take their heart patients off homogenized milk, switching them to non-fat.

Commercial pasteurization destroys about 30% of the XO present in homogenized milk. By bringing the milk to scalding temperature you can remove the remainder. However, it is probably preferable to use un-homogenized milk if you can get it. This is usually available as the raw form.

Much milk is sold in nonfat or lowfat forms, the cream being separated off for high-profit items such as whipping cream and ice cream. Your body must have fat with milk in order to absorb the calcium; therefore, if you use any skimmed milk products, have them with foods containing fats or oils. The same is true for babies and children, they generally need oil, fat, nuts, or nut butters with skimmed or lowfat milk.

Do not use reduced fat milk for children under 2 years of age. They need the fat to make hormones and brain tissue. 

Dried Milk powders--

The milk powder called for in my baking recipes is the powdery, floury type available at health food, stores, bakeries, dairies, and as surplus food from the USDA. It is difficult to mix for drinking or yogurt-making (you need a blender, or a whisk and lots of patience), but is easily mixed with the flour or other dry ingredients in baking recipes. It is about 2 to 3 times as concentrated as instant powdered milk, the grittier kind you are probably familiar with.  

All milk powder must be stored in an airtight container, and should be refrigerated if it is to be kept for more than a few weeks.

Instant powdered milk--

Instant is useful mostly for drinking and for adding to soups or cream sauces or other liquid bases. It can be used for making yogurt (mixed 14 C water plus 10 C ­milk powder plus 1 can evaporated whole milk). Dry milk makes a softer curd than whole, fresh milk. 

If you are using instant milk for drinking, a simple measure is ½ gallon water plus 3 C milk powder. Its taste can be improved by mixing at least 12 hours in advance, straining before storing, and chilling thoroughly before serving. If you can afford some fresh milk, mix it with the re-constituted milk to improve the flavor. Same storage conditions apply for both fresh and for reconstituted milk.

Custards and puddings made with nonfat or powdered milk do not thicken as completely as those with some milk fat in them, for example, they are too soft for pie fillings.

If you are using powdered milk as a beverage, get some that has been fortified with vitamins A&D, or noticably increase your selection of other food sources of these vitamins. This is very important.

A rule of thumb for figuring out how much milk is needed per person per day is that milk-tolerant teenagers and adults can use the liquid, powdered or concentrated equivalent from all sources of 1 quart of fluid milk per day. If that body is simply unwilling to "drink that much milk", most of it can be supplied in food and as cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. 

Wheat germ--

Wheat germ is wheat protein. It is high in protein, low in carbohydrate, contains the full B-vitamin complex, vitamin E, and unsaturated fats. Store it in the freezer rather than the refrigerator and use promptly.

Quality is a real issue with wheat germ. Its disadvantage is, at ordinary temperatures within one week of milling, raw wheat germ becomes rancid, stressing the body as it metabolizes more than it benefits. If you cannot get freshly milled, dated wheat germ (which is available in the Los Angeles area from Alta Health Food Distributors, and can sometimes be procured from local private mills throughout the USA), you can try a vacuum packed type.

Rancid wheat germ has a sour or bitter taste which you may have considered to be its normal taste. Fresh wheat germ has a definite sweet clean flavor. Even babies and small children usually like it.

Soy products and other beans--

Whole soy beans may be stored without refrigeration for months, since the bean provides some protection for the soy oil which it contains. All other soy products including soy flour, soy powder, grits, soy milk and cheese, and soy infant formulas should be refrigerated. In fact, try to find a store where they are sold from refrigeration; this indicates a manager who knows the storage demands of the food he handles and who is willing to go to the extra trouble and expense to do it right. 

All soy products must be cooked for at least twenty minutes to de-activate in enzyme which interfered with the human metabolism, whole soybeans need at least three hours cooking (they should no longer be crunchy). If you use soy powder in recipes or drinks, make sure it is the roasted type or roast it yourself.

Most other legumes contain similar enzymes or toxins which can be de-activated through cooking or spouting. Don't eat raw beans unless they are sprouted, and don't use bean flours in uncooked dishes. 

Full-fat soy products, which contain all the soy oil natural to the soybean and most of the lecithin, have more nutrients than lowfat types, from which the oil and lecithin have been removed for separate sale. 

Both regular and black soybeans also contain complete proteins.

Molasses, blackstrap--

Organic blackstrap molasses contains B-vitamins and 3-5 mgs. of iron per tablespoon. 5 mgs. is the recommended minimum for men. Women need at least three times as much, 15 grams, every day to offset menstrual losses. Iron is only absorbed in the presence of protein and absorption is increased by vitamin C. 

Blackstrap molasses is the third concentrate of cane syrup, so any pesticides on the sugar cane are triple concentrated. Organic is important here. The flavor of molasses is quite pronounced. One way to take it is mixed with nut butters. Another is to mix it with hot water or warm or cold milk to take as a morning coffee-substitute. 

By all means, use blackstrap molasses or other high iron foods (egg yolk, liver, food yeast, dark green vegetables) daily. The iron used in many supplements is in the form of iron salts which may be much less useful to the body than iron from food sources. 

Note: If you use vitamin E supplements, take it as long as possible either before or after iron-rich foods or iron supplements. A full twelve hours apart is reasonable to prevent the binding effect which these two substances have on each other. 

Food or nutritional yeast--

Probably the archetypal "health food", nutritional yeast has been the stumbling block of many aspiring health food cooks. It is an extremely powerful source of B-vitamins, protein/amino acids, and some scarce essential food elements. However, the food value varies from one type or brand to another, and so does the taste. Torula-type yeasts have the strongest flavors and only moderately balanced food value, and many of the food yeasts found in drugstores and supermarkets also have a very yeasty taste. Some, such as Kal Yeast, Plus brand Yeast #450 and "Super yeast", have a mild flavor, combine easily with other foods including liquids, and are mixed with calcium and magnesium so they can be most fully used by your body. 

Nutritional yeast should be introduced into foods in tiny amounts to allow the eaters to get used to the taste. Many pets and children take to it right away (cats have been known to forage for yeast tablets), and some adults like it at once. Most people can get used to it after a while. It takes well to grain foods, breads, and cereals. 

This is NOT the live yeast normally used for baking bread. Baker's yeast, if eaten live (raw) actually uses up some of the very vitamins you are trying to supply.

Nutritional yeast can be served in a shaker like coarse pepper. Home-brewed beer can also contains a fairly large amount of natural, usable food yeast; this is why it has been a part of monastic diets in Europe for centuries, and why beer had a good medical reputation until American brewers got hold of it. In fact, a glass of beer before bed used to be a prescription for insomnia! 

All yeasts need to be stored airtight, preferably refrigerated.

Animal or Vegetable Gelatin, and Pectin--

Until a few years ago, animal gelatin had an unblemished reputation as a high protein food. Now it seems that the type of protein available from gelatine is so unbalanced (due to an enormous excess of the amino acid lysine) eating much of it is very undesirable. It is somewhat less unbalancing in a strictly vegetarian diet than in a lacto-ovo vegetarian or omnivorous diet. 

A fine substitute, now more widely available, is kanten or agar-agar, a seaweed extract. It is available in flake or stick form. One stick thickens about 2 cups of liquid, and it is used by soaking in the liquid, then bringing to a boil and boiling about 20 minutes. Where available it can be found in Oriental groceries and food stores that carry health food or macrobiotic foods and supplies. 

Agar or kanten does not contain the wildly imbalanced protein of animal gelatin. It is available in three basic forms: a puffy stick, which usually comes with its own directions from macrobiotic suppliers; as a powder which can be used in place of regular powdered gelatin (use 1 T in place of 1 envelope to start, increase or decrease depending on you results); and as a flavored "Jello"-type dessert in the kosher section of your supermarket. This comes in all the usual type flavors, is clearly marked "Kosher" and has directions on the back of the box. The most widely available brand is Emes. 

Agar gelatin is particularly useful for summer meals, to make aspics, vegetable consomme, and desserts. It is derived from seaweed. 

Pectin, available in the canning department of your market in liquid or dry form, will also "set up" gelatin type foods, and is very healthful but the texture is more similar to jelly or jam, and experimentation is needed to figure out just how much is used with different foods. We hope to have recipes using pectin and vegetable gelatin available later this year. 


This is a bean which has a mild sweet taste tending toward chocolate. Roasted or processed carob powder has a more pronounced and sweeter flavor than plain. It is usually used to flavor drinks or can be substituted for cocoa (the non-instant type) in recipes such as cakes cookies and brownies. It can also be added in small amounts to breads, sauces and main dishes. 

Carob lacks the distinctive aroma of chocolate. Many carob candies, instant "chocolate" beverage bases, chips for cookies, etc. have been developed by manufacturers of health-type foods.

In selecting carob products watch out for the wide use of white or turbinado sugar in carob combinations. Over-use of chocolate substitutes may be physically less harmful than over-use of chocolate, but it does raise the question, why the heavy emphasis on sweet reward-type foods?

Carob will cake and taste stale unless stored in a moisture proof container, preferably under refrigeration.

Turbinado, Demarara, Kleenraw, Yellow D, and raw sugar*--

These are well known names for white sugar to which less than 2% molasses has been added back. The sugar is ground coarser, generally, than white sugar and is far more expensive. Other than that it is the same as white sugar.

Plain dark brown sugar contains more molasses and is cheaper than any of the above. If you cannot or will not cut out sugar entirely from your food budget, this is the type to buy. 

*Real raw sugar, an unattractive and generally unpalatable product, cannot legally be sold in the United States.

Sesame seeds, oil, milk, and butter (tahini)--

Sesame seed is about 18% protein and contains about 50% unsaturated fats. These contain lecithin, and there is more calcium in 4 ounces of pure sesame paste than in a quart of regular cow's milk. In fact, in Middle Eastern countries where milk is difficult to get or to keep fresh, sesame milk made by adding water to sesame paste has been used as a food for infants and adults. 

Sesame oil has been used in Oriental cooking for thousands of years to flavor peanut or other oil for cooking. It is to rich in anti-rancidity factors that it can be added to other fresh oils to help prevent rancidity, and will keep as seed, oil or paste for years, especially if vacuum-packed. 

Sesame butter is available in a white form called tahini which is made from the hulled seed, and as sesame butter which is a darker color and may be roasted, which is made from the whole or unhulled seed. Unhulled seeds have much higher calcium content. A mixture of half sesame butter and half peanut butter substantially improves the protein quality of both spreads and has a delicious flavor. 

When sesame seed is added to soup or foods for the purpose of improving protein quality, it should be partially ground or pulverized either in a blender or by hand, as the tiny seeds have such hard coats that they can otherwise pass through the entire system undigested. Sesame meal can also be added to or sprinkled on hot cereal, casseroles (especially good with creamed vegetable casseroles), and sandwiches. It should be refrigerated once it has been ground. 

Unhulled whole sesame seeds can be sprouted like alfalfa seeds. They should be harvested when the root is about the length of the seed, which takes three or four days. 


This most popular cereal grain is available in over 7000 types, which can be divided into three types according to the grain length and three types according to the milling or processing to which it has been subjected. Long grain rice, about 4 times as long as it is wide, cooks up into the fluffy separate grains which we are so familiar with. Medium and short grain rice are more typical of the Orient and make the compact rice which can be easily eaten with chopsticks. Some people find it a bit sticky.

Brown rice is available in long and short grain. It has only the bran removed in milling and therefore still contains the whole complement of vitamins and protein natural to this healthful food. It does not take hours to cook, but can be prepared just like white rice by bringing it to a boil and boiling five to eight minutes before turning down the heat, rather than turning it down immediately. Since this method softens the outer covering, the rice cooks in about 5-8 minutes longer than regular white rice. High quality brown rice has a bright, shiny color, few broken kernels and no dust. 

Converted or parboiled rice has been specially treated before milling to drive most of the nutrients into the white central kernel. If you must serve white rice, it is most nutritious kind to buy. The small extra cost per pound is offset by the fact that it makes almost one-third more for the same amount of rice as plain white rice. It takes extra water (2 ½ C per cup of rice) and must be allowed to sit covered off the heat about five minutes after the twenty minute cooking period in order to be dry and tender. 

Plain white rice is almost pure starch to which small amounts of synthetic vitamins have been added. It provides bulk and calories, and not much else. Rice and beans are a traditional combination which increases the protein availability of both; but use the best rice you can afford.