From the February 2004 Idaho Observer:
It's Cool to Eat Gruel!
by Delamer Duverus
Gruel. Just the sound of that word makes the ordinary person think of a tasteless, thin, gray cereal doled out from a huge caldron to feed inmates, orphans or the poor. Well, we have come to change that thinking and put new life into-gruel eating with our project, It's Cool To Eat Gruel!
Our goal is to get good food in the children every day, and we want them to start with a breakfast rich in nutrients, especially the nutrients children need to develop and keep their mental and physical health. Although gruel is our focus, we would also like the bacon-and-egg breakfast with whole-grain toast or muffins served more often as well, both breakfasts adding to the health rather than subtracting from it as most boxed cereals, highly refined carbohydrate pancakes, waffles and pastries and other popular foods do.
Just as plants fail to thrive in poor soil, so do children on less than adequate diets. Dr. Weston A. Price showed this many times over on his world tour of peoples, examining their teeth, health and diet. What he proved was, when a people ate whole foods with as little processing and additives as possible, they lived without dental cavities, orthodontic deformities, delinquency, degenerative diseases and birth deformities. It was only on the modern diets of highly refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar and processed foods such as canned milk, that they began experiencing all manner of ill health. Please see www.westonaprice.org for more information on his work.
It is important that we understand that good health and good genetic character depend on good nutrition, despite what our medical establishment and pseudo scientists want us to believe.
To change a person's diet is not an easy matter, unless there is a crisis situation. We think that the increase in diabetes in children, the obesity in children, the lack of immunity, the increase of mental instability and the need for drugs such as Ritalin, Prozac, etc, and the increase of drug and alcohol abuse constitutes a crisis situation.
Below is a brief explanation of the two breakfast meals, how they are to be prepared and why, estimated costs of ingredients, and possible ways to encourage the children to accept the meals.
The other side of this equation is the understanding that refined sugars and carbohydrates need to be removed from the diet for good health. The dangers of sugar extends to sodas, bottled juices, and even juices from fruit concentrates. Homogenized milk is another hurdle to cross, but that is one we leave for the future. The best changes are gradual changes.
We use the name gruel because it connotes something unappetizing. Once the children tried it, they found it very delicious and looked forward to it. Now the name has become a joke in our family and the children prefer the slogan, We growl for gruel. But perhaps other, more appetizing names could be used to encourage your children to try it.
Equal parts of the following whole grains/legumes:
Basmati Brown Rice
Green or Red Lentils
Whey or yogurt or just water
Salt to taste
Raisins, apples or other fruits, nuts and seeds
Take equal parts of the whole grains and lentils and mix together. Coarsely grind the mixture. For a family of four we use two cups of the ground mix and soak it in four cups water, to which we have added whey from yogurt (the liquid that settles out of the yogurt) or just yogurt. This helps break down the phytates in the grain and releases the nutrients, making the calcium and other minerals more available to the body.
Water can also be used, but the slightly acidic whey or yogurt does more in releasing the nutrients.
Phytates are enzyme inhibitors that protect the seeds during dry storage. The soaking process neutralizes the phytates. We begin the soaking process 24 hours before we plan to serve the gruel. It can ferment for 48 hours and it is even better, but the taste is somewhat sour and a liking for it is usually acquired, rather than natural, especially for children who are use to the sweetness of the refined carbohydrate foods of today.
The next morning we put it to cook in the water in which it was soaked, stirring often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Because the grains have soaked, cooking time is quite reduced. Do not use a pressure cooker. High heat destroys the B vitamins and oils in the grains. At the same time that the gruel is cooking, we saute' sausage to add to the gruel. For a family a four we use 1 to 2 pounds of sausage, crumbling it as it cooks, but we do not brown it. We add the sausage and the fat cooked from the sausage to the gruel when it is finished cooking.
Before serving we add ground flax seed, using 1/3 cup for our meal of four, salt and honey to taste. The children may add raisins, apples or banana pieces. We have also added chopped nuts.
For a family of four the cost of everything is $1.60, or 40 cents per person. We bought the grains, lentils, flax seed in bulk from the health food store, but the remainder was purchased from a regular grocery store. We did not buy organic, but would if we could afford to do so.
So much of our foods are grown on devitalized soils that are never re-enriched with trace minerals. Organic farming usually does a better job and their produce is richer in vitamins and minerals.
In regard to the foods and reasons for the foods we include the following for your understanding. However, it is only a brief explanation.
Millet is rich in protein, phosphorus, B Vitamins, silica (for building healthy bones) and iron. Millet is free of gluten and therefore not suitable for breads, but good for those sensitive to gluten. Many cultures that eat millet ferment it, making beverages as well as gruels.
Brown Basmati Rice is our choice for rice because of the aromatic flavor and is a good source of B complex vitamins, vitamin E and minerals. Rice is the most balanced of the grains as long as the hull is not removed, as in polished rice. That is the white rice we see in stores. Over half of the nutrition is lost when the bran is removed.
Oat Groats are considered a cleansing grain as they aid in clearing the intestinal tract. Oats contain the essential amino acid lysine and are also high in antioxidants like vitamin E. Oats also contain more essential fatty acids than other grains and this means they help lower cholesterol by getting it from the blood into the body. They are mineral rich as well.
Spelt is a wheat-like grain, but it is significantly higher in protein, B complex vitamins and fiber. Those sensitive to wheat usually tolerate spelt well despite the fact that gluten is still present. It is the only grain that contains mucopolysaccharides that have been shown to increase the important antioxidant, glutathione.
Glutathione regenerates immune cells and is involved in DNA synthesis and repair. Spelt also has all the essential amino acids that are needed to insure proper cell maintenance.
We should consciously avoid wheat products, especially those made from non-organic wheat and white flour. White flour products are a non-food and take more from the body than they give in the way of nutrition, but-today so much of our wheat grain is filthy that foreign markets will often not accept it. Some wheat has been genetically modified and some of it treated with methyl-mercury chlorine gases. Much wheat is grown in poor soil amended with chemical fertilizers that contain only the big three minerals -- leaving the wheat deficient in trace minerals. Some species of hybrid wheat do not have the ability to take up trace minerals from the soil even if they were present.
If you buy wheat, buy organic, but if you can find spelt, buy it. Buying organic is best.
Lentils are protein rich, have abundance of minerals including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and potassium. It is also very rich in folic acid. The fiber in lentils also decreases insulin requirements for people with diabetes.
Flax is high in fiber and the anti-inflammatory Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acid (EFA). It is called essential because the body cannot make it and must depend upon the foods we take in to have it. The importance of flax oil in the diet cannot be stressed enough. It has been used successfully for weight loss; eczema, psoriasis and dry eye syndrome which are inflammatory conditions; immune system support because it is needed to get cholesterol from the blood into the body so that cholesterol can do its amazing things; the lignans in flax help stabilize estrogens in the body; all cell membranes are made using EFAs. The list goes on. It is well worth reading about this wonderful food. One scientist cured many ailments for her patients by combining flax oil and unprocessed natural cheese.
Pork Sausage! And, the Fat from Pork Sausage! Contrary to the mainstream media, our bodies need fats and cholesterol and studies have shown that all the low-fat and non-fat foods are killing us, making us immune deficient while destroying the structural integrity of our cells, damaging our liver, etc. The fats help us absorb nutrients from our foods. If you do not want to use pork sausage, unpasteurized or un homogenized cream or lots of butter would be a substitute. It is worth a look-see to check out the Weston A. Price website about fats and oils.
Honey has food value and this is why we use it to sweeten our gruel. Sometimes we might splurge and buy maple syrup, but we avoid white sugar because it is devoid of nutrients. We only use a teaspoon of honey per person.
Salt is an essential mineral. We use Utah's Redmond Real Salt, but any sea salt with iodine in the form of kelp is fine. Sea salt contains trace minerals. Many salts go through chemical processes leaving them harmful to the body. Read up on this, too.
Children like to interact with their food before they eat it; at least we have found this to be true with our boys. On the bottom of the bowl we put the sausage and fat, the honey, and the ground flax seed. Then we add the gruel. They seem to enjoy turning it up and stirring to mix it all. They can also add raisins or other fruit and nuts or seeds. In the beginning we used maple syrup, which was a real treat and this encouraged them.
Our youngest likes to help us grind the grain mix after he has measured the five different ingredients and mixed them. In the beginning we explained the different grains, why they are good for us, why they are different than boxed cereals and better for us.
Giving them the understanding of why they eat something is very important, especially later on when they live on their own. We also talked a lot about the dangers of sugar and highly refined sugar products and about what Dr. Price discovered on his tour. His pictures in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, tell it all.
This is an extremely cost effective way to feed a family and the health benefits are enormous.
We do buy our grains in bulk, presently non-organic, and the remainder was bought In a regular grocery store. We use pork sausage without MSG because MSG has been shown to be a neurotoxin much like the artificial sweetener aspartame. Look at labels; your children's health depends upon it.
The only hurdle in regard to this gruel is having the grain grinder to grind the grain and a coffee bean grinder to grind the flax seed. The flax seed is oily and should not be ground in the grain grinder. When you look at the nutrition involved, it is really a small price to pay for good health for your children. Our Champion juicer has a grain grinder attachment. With the juicer we can juice, puree, and shred carrots and cabbage finely for slaws and salads.
Note: Duverus is committed to getting children hooked on good food and is willing to help parents get things started. He is offering a sample packet of four cups ground gruel mix and flax seed (two meals for a family of four). Duverus can be contacted at (801) 399-0606 or email@example.com.