Cooking food does change it. Some nutrients and vitamins naturally occurring in the food are lost by heat. Therefore, clean eating means avoiding foods that are cooked for extremely long times. There are exceptions.
The process of making stock requires extended low-temperature cooking of bones and some vegetables. This is necessary in order to extract all the nutrients from the bones. Dried legumes require extended cooking time to rehydrate and break down fibers so that your body can absorb the nutrients. They also contain poisonous toxins that are removed by the cooking process. Many mushrooms (for example, shitake, button, and Portobello varieties) contain carcinogens and other toxins that are only removed by heating. Of course, meat relies on heat to kill deadly bacteria. Sushi notwithstanding, most of us prefer to eat our meat cooked, and this fits in with clean eating.
Some foods must be heated if we want to take advantage of all of their nutrients. Corn should be cooked to release its cancer-fighting capacities. Likewise, tomatoes contain antioxidants that are only released when they are cooked. Steaming vegetables will alter their physical structures so they are more easily digested and the nutrients are more readily accessed. The trick is cooking them at a relatively low temperature, at or below the boiling point of water (212 degrees, Fahrenheit).
High heat exposure can destroy nutrients, so you’ll want to avoid most deep-fried foods. However, stir frying is a good way to prepare clean foods. This preserves the integrity of the food‘s nutrients while altering their physical structure to make them more digestible.
Clean eating avoids additives like processed sugars. You’ll want to stick to natural salt, like sea salt and herbs for flavoring. Herbs and spices can minimize the need for salt or sugar in your cooking. Fresh herbs are always preferred, but the dried versions can be even more concentrated in flavor.
Be cautious in your use of packaged foods. While some manufacturers are starting to market foods that are more cleanly prepared, you’ll need to examine them on a case-by-case basis. Carefully inspect ingredient labels and don’t just take the marketing on the cover for granted.
What follows are a host of recipes that use minimally processed foods. You’ll find plenty of both cooked and uncooked foods, all of them geared for clean eating. Chapter 9 gives you foundational items like ketchup, mayonnaise, tomato paste, meat stocks, and other items that are easily made using clean ingredients and methods. Many of them are even tastier than their commercially prepared counterparts.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in and discover all the goodness of delicious clean eating.