How do enzymes/Nuzymes work?
Why are enzymes important? Well, if my goal is to discover cheap healthy meals, maximizing the nutritional value of the food I do eat plays an important role. Well may you ask, “what do enzymes do?” as they are the essential catalyst in all biological functions.
Because they play a key role in digesting what we eat, they are not just critical in planning inexpensive healthy meals, they are essential to good health no matter what we eat! The problem is, they are all, unfortunately, destroyed when we cook food.
Sure, our pancreases can produce the necessary enzymes to replace what we have destroyed by cooking. But they have better things to do than to babysit our poor eating habits by producing enzymes to aid in digestion.
Don’t get me wrong, our pancreases will bend over backward, beg, borrow or stealing whatever they need from other parts of our body. The dilemma lies in the fact that responding to our food enzyme deficiencies takes their attention away from all of their other metabolic responsibilities.
This includes the mechanics that every cell and organ need to carry out their work. No wonder there is so much degenerative disease in our day. Wild animals, which only eat raw food know nothing of these.
Interestingly, the same cannot be said about domesticated and lab animals, which are often fed food manufactured like that found on our grocery shelves. Studies conducted on lab animals versus their wild cousins show a much higher morbidity rate in the former. They also show that they have significantly larger pancreases.
Reverting to the ever more popular raw diet is too “over the top” for me. I have grown quite accustomed to cooked food, thank you. This motivated me to find some inexpensive means of filling in the gap, so to speak.
Unfortunately, adding a salad to the main course, although very healthy, just doesn’t cut it. Nature appears to have provided enzymes in food roughly proportional to the calories. Hence, the vegetables in a salad will retain their abundant enzyme content, but only sufficient to aid in digesting their own weight.
A study of food traditions prior to the industrial revolution and still prevalent in many cultures illustrate a number of means of adding sides to cheap healthy meals to circumvent this problem. One of the most prevalent and natural ways in days gone by was raw milk products.
Now, at least where I live, there are strange laws with severe repercussions that insist all of the enzymes in milk must be destroyed by heat before it can be sold! Hence, more creative solutions are called for.
Fortunately, even dead milk can be called back to life through culturing and fermentation. This process produces abundant enzymes as well as significantly enhancing the enzyme content of vegetables and even raw meat.
This is, no doubt, why literally all cultures prior to industrialization had traditions of including things like sauerkraut, pickled dishes made from carrot, beets or cucumbers or Asian entrees like natto and miso to their main courses. Many meals were garnished with condiments that, back then, were actually fermented products such as mustard, ketchup and relish.
Most of the commercially produced replicas are just about devoid of any beneficial nutrients, let alone enzymes. In order to insure that I am making truly cheap healthy meals I make these sorts of thing for myself.
Then I can rest assured of the quality of the components and that nothing has been pasteurized or had the enzymes tampered with through the additions of commercial food additives. This also keeps the price down.
For example, where I used to add cream or cream cheese I have significant savings by producing my own from kefir. People often get the kefir grains for free from friends, as they multiply while culturing milk. Not knowing anyone to obtain some from, I purchased mine.
Yet, after an insignificant outlay of capital I am able to transform everyday, pasteurized milk into tasty, healthy, enzyme rich milk products. It is very easy to do. Now that I have a culture going I just strain out the kefir and add more fresh milk each day.
To make a smooth, tasty, nutritious cream cheese I just further stain the kefir and use the whey for making sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables. I plan to add raw and fermented meat to my diet, both of which have been a part of many culinary traditions.
Raw liver pate is simply prepared by processing some pasture fed beef liver with onions. A tasty entree can be made by simply fermenting some slices of salmon. I can prepare the traditional French style Steak Tartare with the same pasture fed ground beef I use in many dishes.
These types of raw meat entrees are made with items like salmon and pasture fed beef, which definitely are more expensive. But added in small servings as entrees they still are great aids to making inexpensive healthy meals.
A couple of great resource, which I find indispensable are Nourishing Traditions and Wild Fermentation.