Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D., Compiled by Rachel Tsang
Chinese pastries (bing) is a typical feature in breakfast. The Chinese eat baked wheat cake (shao bing), flaky green onion pancake (dachong bing) and twisted cruller (you-tiao). Indians eat idli and dosa, the French eat crepes, Americans eat pancakes and Mexicans eat tortillas. Modern bread, made mainly from white flour, has lost its traditional flavour and nutrition. The methods provided here emphasise nutrition and easy digestion, and also use ingredients which are slightly alkaline-forming.
Potato Cauliflower Pancake for 2
1 large potato or 2 small potatoes
Equal amount of cauliflower
- Julienne all ingredients or use a blender to chop into small pieces.
- Add 1 teaspoon brine.
- Add chopped onions according to personal preference.
- Divide the ingredients into 2 – 4 portions and place on heated pan which has been greased with coconut oil. Flatten the mixture and fry one side (7-10 minutes) on low heat.
- Turn the mixture over and fry for 2 minutes. It is ready for consumption.
Cauliflower can be replaced with sweet potatoes or turnip. Fresh corn kernels can be added too.
Dosa and Idli
The staple food of South India is dosa and idli which are made from rice and beans. Generally the kind of rice used is either long grain rice or fragrant rice and the bean used is uradal which has black skin and look like mung beans. Lentils, black beans, mung beans or navy beans can be used too. The proportion is two parts rice to one part beans.
For Making Dosa:
- Soak rice and beans separately for 8 hours and then sprout for at least 1 day. If there is not enough time, just sprout slightly.
- Blend rice and beans into paste separately with a little water (one cup of dry rice to one cup of water or a little less than a cup). A little fenugreek can be added.
- Mix both rice and bean paste thoroughly and put into a large bowl. Cover with a plate for eight hours and leave the mixture to ferment.
- Before frying, add a little oil and brine to the mixture. Pour three to four tablespoons of the batter into the hot pan.
- Smooth the batter in the fry pan with the back of a spoon.
- Turn it over after a few minutes and then continue frying till cooked.
The most common way of eating is wrapping with curry potatoes but it can be eaten with other vegetables or on its own.
If making idli, pour dosa batter into idli moulds and steam in pressure cooker for six to seven minutes. If using electric pot, steam for ten to fifteen minutes.
In an elementary school in Michigan, USA, I ate pancake for the first time in the home of a classmate when I went there to play. The mother of the classmate prepared this snack, topped with maple syrup. Although this is a breakfast food, it is also a good after-school snack. The most commonly used ingredient of the pancake is flour and buckwheat flour. But other grains or beans can be used. The famous French crepe is also a kind of pancake. In the province of Brittany in Northern France, buckwheat pancake is the staple food for all three meals. The Netherlands also has similar, smaller, thick bread which generally has baking soda or egg in it. Natural fermentation is the traditional and the most nutritious way.
Sprouted Wheat and Buckwheat Pancakes
1 cup sprouted wheat
2 tablespoons rejuvelac
1 tablespoon flaxseed powder
1 cup buckwheat flour
2/3 cup water
- Blend sprouted wheat and rejuvelac and water in a blender.
- Add flaxseed powder and buckwheat flour. Mix well.
- Pour into a big bowl and cover with a plate and leave overnight.
- Next morning, heat a flat pan, smear with a little oil and fry one side till cooked.
- Flip the pancake and fry for 2 minutes.
Buckwheat flour can be substituted with cornflour. Sprouted wheat can also be substituted with other grains or millet or amaranth.
The Mexican Tortilla
The main staple of traditional Mexican food in the villages is tortilla which is eaten three meals a day, accompanied with beans. The corn used is processed and turned into flour which can be used to make tortilla if it is available for sale (can be substituted with cornflour and buckwheat flour in ratio of 1:1).
2 cups cornflour (masa harina)
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon rejuvelac
3/4 cup water
- Combine water, rejuvelac, cornflour and grounded flaxseed.
- Knead till dough no longer sticks to fingers. Add a little cornflour or water if necessary.
- Cover in a bowl and leave for 8 hours. If need to shorten time, add 1 – 2 teaspoon of coconut oil just before frying.
- To make traditional tortilla, divide dough into 8 balls. Flatten the ball and roll it between 2 waxed papers till 1/8 inch (0.3 cm) thickness.
- Fry in medium heat until slightly golden in colour.
The dough can also be used to wrap filling like a bun and steamed over high heat for 15 minutes. It can also be steamed without filling like a “mantou”. Serve with dhal or coconut sauce or ginger sauce.
Mung Bean Rice Cakes
1/4 cup mung beans
1 cup of rice (fragrant rice or long grain rice)
1 tablespoon flaxseed (grind into powder)
1 tablespoon fenugreek
- Soak mung beans and rice separately and leave to sprout.
- Blend with water, flaxseed powder and fenugreek.
- Pour into a bowl and cover with plate and allow it to ferment naturally for 8 hours. It then can be used to make into pancakes or steamed cake.
Black beans, white beans and lentils can be used to substitute mung beans.
Two years ago, Dr Lai handed this article “The Acid-Alkaline Balance Diet” to me. Initially, I wanted to try them before sharing with the readers. However, because my experiments for the breakfast dishes were not good enough, I postponed publishing this article. However, I have ignored the fact that many mothers are better at cooking than me. I have also forgotten that this article could set new trends in the food and beverage industry benefitting many busy office workers. I hope the readers will forgive us for being too cautious. In fact, I have already seen cookbooks that emphasise the basic concepts of alkaline recipes but it is rare to have such comprehensive and thoroughness as Dr Lai’s. The external environmental pollution and our hectic pace of life are enough to cause our bodies to acidify. No wonder cancer is so common nowadays. For those who are already sick, on top of actively avoiding all forms of pollution, a natural lifestyle is much needed and it is best to also practise qigong to nurture our energy. Daily meals require highly alkaline foods for a balance. Hopefully, this reminder to have an acid-alkaline balanced diet is not only a concept but a practical way to incorporate into our daily life. If you have a breakfast recipe which is alkaline-forming, we hope that you can share it with us by emailing it to [email protected]. Thank you!
The original Chinese article is published in the May 2009 issue of Lapis magazine and is accessible online at: http://www.lapislazuli.org/tw/index.php?p=20090503.html