Denaturing natural foods… from Nature!

Despite the fact that I first started this blog to focus on technological things that interest me, I have seldom written about my technological interests. I have definitely never discussed such things directly. I’ve tip-toed around such topics, opting to discuss the impact they have on us and how we tend to misuse them.

Simple matter of fact, the average person gives in too easily to being lazy, which in turn allows for misuse.

One of the greatest advancements in technology in the last 70 years has been the Microwave Oven.

Yes, the microwave oven.

One of the greatest pieces of technology we have come to misuse or even ABUSE, has been the microwave oven. I say this because when something needs to be heated quickly, we throw place it in a microwave, tap in the time and then let the science of the atomic age scramble the molecules within the food substance we wish to consume.

The magic of the microwave comes from the unique technology bombarding the water molecules within the food substance. The higher the water content of a given food substance, the more effective the heating will be — at least, that’s what I’ve been told. This of course, doesn’t explain how dry rice in a sock works when you need a heat pack for an injury. Nor does it explain why microwaving a cup of water is a bad idea.

The reasons why it is a bad idea are rather interesting. A schoolchild years ago conducted an experiment where they microwaved water before giving it to plants – the plants did not like it. Another reason why not to do it, is that whole “superheating” thing, where it doesn’t boil and can explode in your face.

But such dangers are directly related to water and not to foods containing water or other liquids for that matter.

A breakfast staple for millions of homes each winter is Oatmeal (or Porridge). Thanks to the people at Quaker, millions of people enjoy their oatmeal by way of convenient pre-flavoured packets [These things are the devil as far as I’m concerned] prepared by pouring their contents and water into a bowl and heating for 30seconds to a minute.  Hot breakfast… at its laziest!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT…

I make my oatmeal by filling my electric kettle and letting it get close to boiling – as there is no actual need for it to boil for oatmeal.
While the kettle does its thing, I pour about a cup or so, worth of oatmeal into a bowl. Powder it lightly with cinammon and pumpkin spice; sometimes dropping a pinch of chili powder. I then sprinkle raisins and dried blueberries. By this point, the water is at a temp I like and I pour it in. Stir, stir, stir and then get ready to enjoy.

However, I like to do the cold porridge thing, which means putting the oats and water (or lactose-free milk) into a container, letting it sit in the fridge over night. This preserves the proteins in the mixture because they aren’t denatured by the heating process. L-F Milk contains 11grams of protein and depending on the brand of oats, they can contain anywhere from 4-8grams. That’s a good healthy breaky with 15-19grams of protein!

Given that oatmeal is somewhat of a superfood, I would not be surprised if there are other benefits to it beyond fibre and protein. It is well-known for being good at lowering cholesterol levels and stabilizing blood sugar levels, but it has other benefits that I would say aren’t as well known. Letting oats sit in boiling water is no doubt a recipe for healthing-eating-disaster. The high heat likely reduces the amount of many other wonderful things within it (like antioxidants and anti-cancer compounds.)

Denaturing natural foods

Oatmeal, as a basic food substance, is not alone in the regard of being easily damaged by heating. I must confess, this next one was a huge surprise to me.

HONEY

Bee Puke… Liquid Inverted Sugar. Pretty basic food item as most pantry items go, right? And it is a rather basic food item, but truth is, there’s a lot more to honey than it just being a by-product of highly industrious insects.

A few years ago, I learned about Manuka Honey, which is produced by Bees in Australia and New Zealand. The production of Manuka is interesting  because the bees that make it, rely mostly on one particular flower. However, Manuka has some very interesting properties to it. It apparently has anti-bacterial properties among many of its benefits.

As a little bit of research would reveal, Manuka is not alone in being anti-bacterial. In fact, pretty much all naturally made honey contains anti-bacterial properties. WOW! In fact, honey can contain up to 200 different anti-bacterial compounds. This explains why it helps fight colds and flus.

Unfortunately, when you raise the temperature of honey to above 37ºC, you destroy most of those compounds. You in fact, denature what nature intended you to have, naturally.

If you have a bottle of honey that crystallizes, the best thing you can do is just deal with it. If you’re going to attempt heating it, it probably would be best to do so indirectly – that is, by warming water in a pot to below 37ºC and placing the honey container in it, allowing it to sit for awhile before using. What you want to do, effectively, is treat it as if it was Sake or a wine you’re intending to mull.

These are a few things to think about the next time you push the button on your microwave to open it. Reach for the kettle the next time you want oatmeal or need honey for a cup of tea. You’ll be healthier for it.

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