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Thinking Globally, Cooking Locally

by Montse Bradford(more info)

listed in food, originally published in issue 111 - May 2005

The mass media is now so often reporting to us how unhealthy our society is becoming, with problems of an alarming rise in obesity and many other serious illnesses. These health problems are affecting us at all ages, even very sadly our children. Our future generations' health is threatened by our current society's unhealthy approach to food and lifestyle.

People need to know about good nutrition: what essential food groups we need in our diet and what foods to avoid. Many of us are already aware of the benefits of a healthy natural diet and what constitutes this. However, just as essentially, people need to know how to make a positive diet/lifestyle change as well as how to cook healthily, in a simple, practical way.

Many of the current healthy TV programmes, books and guides recommend eating more natural ingredients, more salads, fruits and juices etc, to help cleanse and detoxify the body. This can help compensate for an over-consumption of saturated fats, fried foods, high-calorie desserts and other toxins. However, while quick-fix cleansing and weight-loss has its place, long-term it can lead to depletion, or lacking in essential nutrients for our bodies demanding needs. We also need to learn how to have a more balanced and sustainable, healthy diet. People cannot live long-term on salad alone!

So how can you learn to cook healthily, understand your body's needs better, meet these needs and create health, vitality and well-being in your life?

A couple of good ways are:
• You could buy a good, healthy cookbook and learn some healthy recipes;
• Or, and perhaps the best way is, to have hands-on practice – some healthy cooking lessons to make it come alive for you.

One food group which many people don't know how to cook properly are the vegetarian proteins (an alternative to heavy saturated fats: beans, tofu, tempeh or seitan.

Beans (or Pulses) are not only an excellent source of protein but also fibre, B-vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fats. Combined with grains they can provide a complete balance of all the essential amino acids that our bodies need. Thorough cooking of beans is essential to make them fully digestible. Cooking with sea vegetables will make them softer and more nutritious.

Tofu is made from fresh soya milk which has been 'set' with a natural coagulant to produce a milky white curd, whose subtle flavour lends it to a wide range of savoury dishes. It is essential to cook fresh tofu properly, before consumption.

Tempeh is a traditional vegetarian soya food, cultured to form a solid firm block, with enhanced digestibility. Its firm texture and pleasing flavour lend it to a variety of uses. It also needs to be cooked with sea vegetables for at least 15-20 minutes.

Seitan is a natural wheat protein, another traditional food that is becoming increasingly popular in the west. It is a highly nourishing and versatile vegetarian alternative to meat.

Here is a great vegetarian protein recipe to try…

Spring Salad with Pan-Fried Tempeh and Mint Sauce (serves 4)

• 1 block tempeh
• 1 strip kombu sea vegetable
• 1 cup water
• 1 pack mixed salad
• 1 carrot (cut into fine matchsticks)
• a few radishes (finely sliced)
• 1/3 cucumber (finely sliced)
• a few gherkins (cut into fine matchsticks)
• Olive oil, soya sauce
• 2 Tbsp apple juice concentrate
• 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
• malt sweetener (to taste)
• fresh mint (finely chopped)
• 1 dessertspoon arrowroot

Place the tempeh, kombu and water in a pot. Add one tablespoon soya sauce, cover and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Keep the remaining cooking juice.

Cut the tempeh into medium pieces and pan fry in oil until golden brown, adding a few drops of soya sauce.

Heat the remaining cooking juice and add the apple juice concentrate, vinegar and malt to taste. Dilute the arrowroot with a small amount of cold water, add to the sauce and mix well until translucent and thicker consistency. Add the fresh mint.

Place the salad ingredients and tempeh together in a dish and serve the sauce on the side.


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About Montse Bradford

Montse Bradford, originally from Barcelona, Spain, has lived in England since 1978. She is a professionally qualified healer member of the two leading healing organizations in the UK and a certified transpersonal psychology counsellor. Montse has been studying natural approaches to healthy eating and cooking since 1978 and has directed several cooking schools as well as a residential centre in Sussex. She now directs and teaches at her own cooking schools in Barcelona and Bath. Montse is the author of several books, Cooking with Sea Vegetables, which has been translated into five languages, and four titles in her popular Healthy Wholefood Cooking Series: Healthy Eating /Simple Cooking; Cooking with Vegetarian Protein; Vegetarian Classics; and Cooking with Sea Vegetables. Two more books, in Spanish are now being published, The Alchemy of Cooking and In Our Lives and Cooking with Vegetarian Proteins. She can be contacted at The Natural Cookery School & Life Energetics, Tel: 01963 240 641;;

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