Leek Potato Soup or Leek-Rutabaga Soup

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This soup was a staple in our house when I grew up - served particularly for special gatherings or parties. A creamy, rich soup, that was served with sour cream and freshly baked baguette - everybody loved it. Substituting tofu sour cream for the regular sour cream can turn this soup into a delicious vegan alternative.

1 leek, finely sliced

2 large potatoes or an equal amount of rutabaga, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 - 3 cups of water (or unsweetened almond milk)

Sea Salt to taste

Minced scallions for garnish

Optional: oregano, basil and/or thyme to taste

Tofu sour cream (scroll down for recipe)

  1. Sauté the sliced leeks in the olive oil and a pinch of salt until the leeks are wilted, then add potato or rutabaga cubes and sauté for another 2 - 3 minutes. If you are adding herbs, add them at this time. 

  2. Add water (or almond milk) and simmer until all the vegetables are soft (approximately 20 - 25 minutes). 

  3. Blend the ingredients in a blender. 

  4. Serve with scallion garnish and optional tofu sour cream topping.

Tofu Sour Cream Topping

½ lb tofu

1/8 to 1/4 cup pickling juice from natural cucumber dill pickles (like ‘Bubbies’ brand) or Kalamata olive pickling brine

1/2 teaspoon of mustard

1 - 2 teaspoons of sesame oil or olive oil

1 teaspoons ume vinegar (optional)

1 scallion, minced

Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. This dressing can be kept for several days in the refrigerator. 

Late Summer Cooking

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad

Late summer means a true bounty of fresh vegetables, fruits and other produce at your fingertips. The produce is generally peak-ripe, delicious and bursting with flavor.

This time of year is a magic time of year to visit Farmer’s Markets - early mornings are the best times to go; no crowds, freshly picked produce, with little bits of dirt hanging in places here and there. You never know what you will come across that looks exceptionally gorgeous and ripe on any particular morning. Food looks and tastes amazing when you use ingredients at their peak! So, choose the best looking produce and that means less coaxing to make it good - meaning you don’t have to use strong seasonings or dressings or cooking methods like roasting to make it flavorful.

Noodles with Basil Pesto

Noodles with Basil Pesto

In my opinion, one of the most important things about shopping at the farmers market is to have fun: it involves all your senses: sight, smell, touching and tasting.

Talk to the farmers and find out what they are excited about. Or ask any chefs picking up their produce at the market what they are going to do with it. Allow yourself to get creative and inspired and perhaps pick an item you have never used before.

And if you are not sure what to do with a particularly good looking specimen - ask the farmer - they in most instances can point you in the right direction in terms of what preparation works well to bring out the intrinsic characteristics of a particular food - to let the flavor shine forth from within.

How to begin healing from Asthma

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Asthma, a disease that affects the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs, makes the airways very sensitive because the inside walls of the airways become inflamed and swollen. The inflammation causes the tissues to react strongly to various triggers - causing allergic and irritation reactions. These triggers may be physiological, psychological, body internal or external. When the airways react, they get narrower and less air flows through to the lung tissues. This causes symptoms like wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and general trouble breathing.

In an asthma attack, muscles around the airways tighten up, making the airway openings even narrower and less air will flow through. The cells in the airways also create more mucus than usual. This causes more difficulty to breathe. In a severe asthma attack, the airways can close so drastically that not enough oxygen gets to vital organs. In this case it is essential to seek medical help immediately.

According to oriental systems the large intestine and the lung function are a complementary opposite pair of organs, both are part of the excretory function. If the septic system (the large intestine) is not working properly, lung function is often negatively impacted, as well.

A long history of constipation, diarrhea and/or other digestive issues is often preceding lung function problems. Constipation is allowing toxins destined for expulsion to be reabsorbed into the body tissues. This process weakens the whole body. Diarrhea is preventing the necessary nutrients from being absorbed into the body, also weakening the whole body. Other conditions, such as inflammation in the intestines will cause severe disruption, as well.

Thus any preventative or healing measures would do well to address improving our septic system  - primarily the large intestine – along with addressing the lung condition.

One of the easiest ways to begin to improve our digestive system is by chewing well. Digestion begins in the mouth –neither stomach nor intestines are lined with teeth. Chewing breaks down the physical structure of the food. This results in better nutrient absorption into our body and adding beneficial enzymes from our saliva to our food. The various kinds of enzymes in our saliva break down complex carbohydrates, fats and proteins, as well as alkalizing the foods we chew and in turn alkalizing our blood quality. Diseases thrive in an acidic environment, and they disappear when our system becomes slightly more alkaline. 

Choosing our foods wisely: choosing good quality, unrefined, whole foods with lots of fiber will also benefit our digestive system and our body as a whole.

Digestive trouble may be apparent through tight shoulders, as well as skin troubles, like pimples or acne or melanoma. In terms of asthma the main contributing cause for inflammation are regular and excess consumption of foods that have an expansive and mucus producing effect in the intestines and the airways - like fried potatoes, tomatoes, ice-cream, all dairy, sodas, yoghurts, sweets, excess fruits, lack of fiber, refined flour products, sweet baked flour products, fatty and greasy foods, chocolate, fruit juices, heavy animal food consumption, along with constant snacking and late night eating.

Foods that are particularly helpful for lung and large intestine function are brown rice, daikon radish, cauliflower, lotus root, lotus seeds, plenty of short cooked leafy greens, kuzu, naturally fermented foods like miso and sauerkraut, hijiki (sea vegetable), white beans, azuki beans and sesame seeds among others. All of these foods taken in balanced proportion on a regular basis, will reduce inflammation and mucus in the airways.

Lungs are twin organs. Metaphysically twin organs indicate the aspect of dialogue of oneself with the outside world. The lungs, governing our throat and voice box, are all about speaking our truth and communication between the inside and outside world. Being mindful of our communication with others  - or the lack thereof - as well as our internal ‘dialogue’ can be the first step in changing towards a healthier relationship with our body.

Stress is a known trigger to bring on asthma attacks. What is stress? Stress is experienced as strain, pressure, nervous tension, trouble, anxiety, and difficulty. It is a state of mental, emotional or physical tension resulting from (seemingly) adverse circumstances. 

And stress can be described physiologically as a link between hormones, nervous system and inflammation anywhere in the body. 

Foods like sugar, sweets, chocolate, strong spices and greasy, oily foods, animal foods, and others tend to create more inflammation in an already weakened digestive system. And as inflammation spreads quickly in the body from the digestive system via the highway called the vagus nerve upwards in the body, inflammatory substances spread throughout the body, causing damage to the cells of the lungs and other systems. In the brain inflammation favors the production of anxiety provoking chemicals, which may become the trigger for an asthma attack and a variety of other symptoms like lethargy, depression, sleep disturbance, decreased learning ability, etc. 

Changing one’s diet towards a balanced plant based diet including whole grains, vegetables, beans, bean products, sea vegetables, seeds and other natural, supplemental foods will create more stable mental and emotional states along with a strong, healthy body.

Examining ourselves to assess where we may wish to change our perspective on life for allowing more joy and healing into our life is also very beneficial. 

As every person is an individual, it will be most effective for the healing journey to monitor the condition with your physician and seek advice from an experienced counselor to adjust your diet and lifestyle properly.


Ramp filled Pierogi (Dumplings)

Basic Pierogi Dough

1 cup of whole wheat bread flour, sifted

1 cup of unbleached white flour

¾ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup of cold water

Sesame or sunflower seed oil for frying the stuffed pierogies (optional)

Place the flour and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Slowly pour in the water and form into a spongy dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until the dough has the consistency of an earlobe. Let it stand for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Then roll the dough, stretching it a little more with each roll until it is almost paper-thin.

Cut out square or round pieces and add filling into the center of each square or circle, fold the dough around the filling and firmly seal the dough. Then steam or boil the pierogi for 5 – 7 minutes. Serve immediately or fry the steamed/boiled pierogi in a small amount of oil until golden brown and serve warm. 

Ramp Filling 

4 cups ramps, finely sliced

1 lb seitan, minced (or: minced tempeh marinated in soysauce/tamari, raw onions, shiitake and water)

1 cup napa cabbage, finely shredded

½ cup mushrooms, diced (optional)

3 - 4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 

pinch of sea salt

soy sauce or tamari to taste (optional)

2 - 3 teaspoons ginger, finely minced (optional)

Sautee the ramps, Napa cabbage and mushrooms in a small amount of oil with a pinch of salt. Simmer until soft, then mix the seitan in. Depending on how well or strong the seitan is seasoned, you may or may not wish to add soy sauce or tamari and ginger juice towards the end of cooking. 

If the pierogi are served with a dipping sauce or in broth, the filling may be mild to moderate in taste.

Noodles with Pesto for Spring

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Noodles with Pesto

4 servings



·       8 - 10 oz. jovial brown rice pasta (spiral noodles)

·       water

·       sea salt


·       1 cup basil leaves, tightly packed or ½ cup basil leaves and ½ cup parsley or watercress

·       2 tablespoons raw cashews, lightly roasted (or 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds, or 2 tablespoons pecans and 2 teaspoons sesame seeds)

·       1 small clove garlic

·       ¼ teaspoon sea salt or to taste

·       6 tablespoons olive oil

·       water if needed



Boil the noodles with plenty of water and sea salt until ‘al dente’. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Blend all ingredients of pesto until creamy, add water if needed.

Mix the pasta with the pesto and serve.

Permission to be who you truly are

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The approaching equinox is an excellent time to re-assess and realign for more harmonious balance: give yourself permission to be who you truly are - to express your truth. All of us have experienced at some point in our lives how freeing and simultaneously impactful it can be to be yourself and not hide behind a mask.

In our world where we are surrounded by images of unattainable perfection of body, material goods, wealth, etc. it may seem at times the best solution to present a personae to the world that fits this ‘standard’. This mask usually hides our less secure parts and would try to make others believe we are more perfect, more powerful, more in control, more interesting etc. than we truly feel we are. Unfortunately this usually backfires on us: in an attempt to impersonate something we are not, we often come across as aloof, unapproachable, even arrogant. It is then that we loose our sense of belonging, connection and feeling like we have a place in the world.

This also ties in with the recent school shootings: expression to be real is denied to the point where the only expression left is resorting to extreme measures: trying to break out of the self created mask of protection, which other people reinforce unfortunately. The mask becomes a tight fitting armor that can seemingly only be moved beyond via explosive behavior – in some cases resorting to shooting.

In my own life I remember a time when my father wished me to continue playing tennis as a teenager, which I hated. Tennis was considered a status symbol and I was expected to continue playing tennis to keep up our family status in the community. I threw a tantrum to finally make my father understand that tennis didn’t fit my idea of fun, enjoyment and that I didn’t care about status. I took up Judo instead, which I pursued for many years: I had fun and made wonderful friends.

Every time we are true to ourselves we are at ease, relaxed, we can easily get inspired, be spontaneous, have fun, even laugh at our own shortcomings. When we allow ourselves to be real, we give others permission to let go of the masquerade as well.

Allow the harmonious energy of the equinox (equal measure of day and night) to carry you to new expressions of truth and honesty – if not outwardly, then at least acknowledging truth within self.


Natural Optimism: Forget about your problems and they will disappear?

Winter in the Berkshires

This sounds like the rambling of a child or an idiot, like a pipe-dream fantasy or romanticism—this is definitely not a method for the intelligent and sophisticated of our society according to our regular standards.

We have the impression that worrying about the world and our personal problems can lead to a logical solution and perhaps save our planet and resolve personal crises—or so it seems.

Not worrying about the world is considered uncaring and insensitive, whereas worrying is an acceptable way of showing concern and empathy for private and public matters.

Consensus holds that it is unreasonable to assume that the world can take care of itself, or even sort out whatever damage it seems man has done to it. 

It is generally accepted that worrying will take us somewhere and lead us further. And it does: it provides the thrust to make things happen: MORE PROBLEMS. Ooops….

Ironically, the best thing you can do for yourself, or your loved ones, or the world, is to stop worrying, and let go of all of the negative thoughts. Thoughts have an electromagnetic viability and will attract more of the same. Hence worry will attract more worry, and similarly joy will attract more joy. 

Imagine that the problem at hand no longer exists, or pretend that it will disappear, because it is not as bad as it could possibly be.

It always helps to focus our attention on something joyful. And when we are looking for the positive events and joys in our everyday life, they will certainly come to our attention as they are always present.

And while this mindset seems child-like, it will not turn us back into children (unless we have never grown up—but that is another story). Rather, it helps to utilize the biologically innate natural optimism that is ingrained in our natural make up. This positive force—the natural optimism—is an impetus that allows for unanticipated, wonderful surprises, to come our way, and it gives rise to unexpected solutions and joyful circumstances and events.

Sharing a life with someone who always expects the worst outcome and is always worrying can become exhausting.

In my experience, people who employ worry as their modus operandi are motivating themselves from incessant fear. They find this way of acting and being more thrilling and exciting than having peace, joy, and happiness in their lives.

So, unburden yourself of your problems and a whole new set of possibilities can come into focus in your life! As the song goes, “Let it be.”


LemonCream Curd - Happy New Year!


This is a special holiday or birthday dessert - too rich and too cooling for regular use in the winter time in the NorthEast of the US. However, it it is cheery and very delicious dessert or topping for other baked goods.


•   5.4 oz can coconut cream (unsweetened, organic coconut cream from Native Forest)

•   ½ - ¾ cup organic unsweetened soymilk or almond milk

•   1 Tablespoon lemon zest

•   3 – 4 Tablespoons lemon juice

•   2 - 3 Tablespoons kuzu (diluted in 3 – 4 Tablespoons cold water)

•   1-4 Tablespoons organic maple syrup



Place coconut cream and lemon zest in a small saucepan and whisk to combine while heating on medium heat.

Add maple syrup (starting with 1 Tablespoon) and whisk again until well combined. Add more if desired, according to your taste.

Add diluted kuzu to coconut cream mixture and keep stirring until the mixture has come to a boil and has begun to thicken to desired consistency.

Lastly, add lemon juice and lemon zest.

Remove from heat and taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lemon zest for acidity/brightness, or maple syrup for sweetness.

Fill into individual dessert cups and let cool to set for at least 30 minutes to several hours.

It may be served as is, or with berry topping or roasted nuts or seeds and it makes a delicious topping for waffles, mocha, pancakes and other baked goods.

Matcha Green Tea Star Cookies

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  • 2 1/2 cups organic unbleached white flour or 1 cup whole spelt flour and 1 1/2 unbleached white flour or 2 1/2 cups of your favorite gluten free flour mix
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp matcha green tea
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl and mix all wet ingredients together in another bowl. Combine dry and wet ingredients, and mix thoroughly.

Place parchment paper on 2 cookie sheets. Roll out cookie dough to approximately 1/8 inch thickness and use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out the shape of your choice. Place the cookies on the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

Optional: you may wish to sprinkle a little shredded coconut or cocoa powder or ginger powder on top of the cookies. Or sprinkle a little match green tea powder on the cookies after baking.

Bake 8 to 15 minutes. Remove immediately and allow to cool. 

Brown Rice, Bright Brain

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Brain Synergy and Brown Rice

Written by Bettina Zumdick

The masculine or left-focused-brain is enjoying the Sunday football game on TV, the status quo, with all familiar rituals, while the feminine or right-focused-brain is seeking to stretch the invisible muscles of consciousness with yoga and mind altering practices, seeking some unknowable ‘something more’.
This gross simplification is meant to demonstrate the differences of the two brain hemispheres.

Attaining synergy of the right and left hemispheres of the brain allows us to experience the two ends of a paradox while we rise to a greater perspective, integrating the different aspects of consciousness and thus achieving inner peace and wellbeing. Brain synergy has also been labeled the ability to attain enlightenment. Eating well-prepared Brown Rice and other whole foods may well be the foundation to allow higher brain function to occur.

Brain Synergy allows us to step beyond the masculine/feminine stereotypes, beyond black or white or any dualistic thinking process. These days, many people’s brain function stops short of even reaching the frontal hemispheres of the brain. Stress, environmental and internal toxins, free radicals, poor nutrition, deficient oxygen levels in the blood, hypoglycemia and other contributing factors result in a short circuit or vicious circle in the brain, leaving us in a paradigm of fear, competition and survival of the fittest.

75 percent of a person’s health and longevity is determined by lifestyle factors such as what we eat, how much we exercise, how we love and are loved, whether we deem our life as meaningful and purposeful, whether we meditate, etc. Only 25 percent of a person’s health and longevity is dictated by our genes, according to recent studies[1].
MRI scans have clearly shown how the activation of prefrontal cortex (left and right side) results in being able to remain calm and stress-free, live in peace and experience joy. Prefrontal cortex activity also indicates that the whole body is generally healthy.

In order to understand how to set the stage in the body to attain prefrontal cortex activation or better yet synergy of the brain, we need to look at some of the other, deeper brain areas, as they are fundamental factors in whether we succeed or fail in the achieving of brain synergy.

Let us begin with examining the deep inner brain: part of the limbic brain, in particular the hippocampus and amygdala.

The hippocampus can be compared to a distribution center, compiling information received from the outside via the senses and then directing appropriate responses towards processing to either the amygdala or the cerebral cortex. When the hippocampus perceives something as dangerous, the information is routed to the amygdala. The amygdala’s function is one of ‘fight or flight’ – a more instinctual, older program in the brain of our species. On the other hand, when more sophisticated responses such as solution oriented thinking or perceiving a challenge as an opportunity is called for, the hippocampus routes information to the cerebral cortex.

The hippocampus is a very delicate part of the brain, which can easily break down under the influence of physical and emotional stress and its accompanying hormones (cortisol and adrenaline in particular).  Free radical and chemical damage from toxins in foods, medications or the environment also play roles in wreaking havoc on the sensitive hippocampus.

When our brain, in particular our hippocampus is damaged by hormones, toxins or too many free radicals from various sources, it can no longer serve as a discerning distribution center. The results are most undesirable, as default mechanism sets in and creates a vicious cycle. The default mechanism works by channeling all incoming information through the amygdala. While the hippocampus send all information to the amygdala, a person is stuck in this vicious cycle, perceiving everything, even the most harmless circumstances, as a source of danger. In response to the perception of danger, the amygdala activates the adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenalin – the stress hormones, further damaging the hippocampus and the vicious circle is complete.

Many people today are living with constant high stress levels - living in a paradigm of competition and survival of the fittest. This mode of being has become the norm among a vast percentage of people living in the US.

In terms of weight, the brain only represents 2.5 percent of the total human body weight. However, it is well known that the brain consumes 20 percent of the energy calories, when the body is at rest.

The energy factories of our body cells, including our brain cells, called mitochondria, use carbohydrates as fuel. Depending on what kind of carbohydrate we are choosing to consume and which – if any - other micro-nutrients are provided along with the carbohydrate of choice, this can make all the difference between breaking the vicious cycle or keeping it going.

While white sugar or other simple sugars, are carbohydrates, brain function and overall function of the body is weakened by this particular expression of a carbohydrate. White sugar is highly processed, and thus devoid of all other micronutrients, such as antioxidants, that act like mitigating factors in the health of the body and brain cells.

Simple sugars as in white sugar, fruit sugar, etc. burn quickly and raise the blood-sugar level dramatically for a short period of time, and then blood-sugar level drops just as dramatically (unless we keep taking sugar non-stop). When abundant antioxidants and other micronutrients are accompanying the sugars you are eating, the damage is not as extensive to the cells of the body, nor the hippocampus cells in particular. However if that is not the case, a vicious cycle is launched: a severe drop in blood-sugar level usually makes us reach for something else to eat, typically a doughnut, candy, soda, etc., in other words processed foods which further damage the hippocampus cells and thus compromise higher brain function.

In the event that we can’t raise our blood-sugar level quickly and hypoglycemia (low-blood-sugar level) sets in, this activates the adrenal glands to release the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. If a person is experiencing hypoglycemia on a daily or weekly basis, even mild forms of hypoglycemia, then the hippocampus cells are harmed and poof - there goes our ability to attain brain synergy and in many cases our ability to use logic and reason, or to use creative learning.

Complex carbohydrates, as in brown rice are essential, as they allow the brain and body to be nourished evenly for a long period of time.

Brown Rice, properly prepared and consumed daily, will provide a much more even level of energy and nourishment, preventing and alleviating hypoglycemia, and thus preventing further damage to brain and other organs of the body.

Furthermore, Brown Rice contains many antioxidants (more than 70) to prevent free radical damage, and in particular one very significant antioxidant: Glutathione, which is the basis for the enzyme glutathione S-transferase. This enzyme is extremely valuable in the detoxification process of cells, repair of DNA, immune enhancement, activation of other enzymes and more. It is deemed a master antioxidant in human physiology.

Glutathione along with another important antioxidant (also found in Brown Rice) called Super Oxidase Dismutase or SOD are able to turn on a genetic switch in our mitochondria, which allow the mitochondria to produce a vast range of antioxidants within the cell that protect the mitochondria and the cells from free radical damage, which is important for our body, brain and especially our sensitive hippocampus. Only when our hippocampus can function, again, will we be able to step out of the paradigm of competition and survival of the fittest.

Brown Rice is one of the whole foods containing Glutathione. It is stored within the Whole Brown Rice Grain in such a way that it does not deteriorate before it gets to the table, unless the grain is broken or moldy. Glutathione stored in many other more rapidly perishable foods loose their Glutathione content quickly – long before it gets to the table. However it is crucial to soak your Brown Rice 12 – 24 hours before cooking it, in order to get the benefit of Glutathione as well as the vast array of other antioxidants[2] (for further information, please read pages 22 – 23 in Authentic Foods by Bettina Zumdick). Phytic Acid and other enzyme inhibitors prevent us from getting the benefits in Brown Rice if eaten without soaking. At the same time, these enzyme inhibitors also ensure the continued availability of these nutrients, which would otherwise decompose.

The complexity of nutrients in Brown Rice work in our favor, in fact they are much more effective than isolated vitamins or other isolated micro-nutrients and supplements, which are not easy to absorb through our digestive system, as they lack the intricacy and networking of their accompanying nutrients.

Other factors, such as daily physical exercise in fresh air, specific substances like sulforaphane, found in the cabbage family vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, collards, etc.), omega 3 fatty acids, and DHA or docosahexaenoic acid producing brown sea vegetables like nori, also help repair damage to the brain and specifically the hippocampus.

And while I have diligently tried to highlight specifics about brain function and micronutrients in this article, I also believe the following, as stated in my book Authentic Foods (p.26): “Scientific studies try to analyze their objects of interest by dissecting them. Unfortunately, this mosaic separation and isolation into specific nutrients looses the greater perspective of the harmoniously orchestrated composition of phytonutrients working together.”

Brown Rice along with the before mentioned factors turn on a genetic dormant switch in the body that allows us to step into a paradigm of compassion, connection and perceiving safety and opportunity rather than fear and danger. This is the basic foundation for attaining brain synergy and stretching the invisible muscles of our consciousness further in logical and creative ways to become the solution oriented people and society that I believe we truly are.


[1] Hum. Genetics 1996, Mar; 97(3):319-23.

The heritability of human longevity: a population-based study of 2872 Danish twin pairs born 1870 – 1900.

Centre for Health and Social Policy, Institute of Community Health, Odense University, Denmark


[2] Before cooking whole grains it is important to soak them for 12 - 24 hours or overnight prior to the cooking process. Dry whole grains contain enzyme inhibitors, such as phytic acid, which allow the grains to remain intact in a dormant state for a very long time, until the outer conditions are suitable for developing into a new plant again. These enzyme inhibitors unfortunately have a suppressing effect on our digestive enzymatic process. We can only partially digest non-soaked grains, with most of the valuable phyto-nutrients being un-available. Soaking will deactivate the enzyme inhibitors resulting in much greater nutritional value and digestibility when eating the soaked and cooked rice.

Brown Rice growing in Amherst, MA

Brown Rice growing in Amherst, MA