This is the December 2005 issue of the Low Budget Vegetarian newsletter.

This issue has a single article:

- Convalescent Cooking


This issue is short and sweet, but hopefully useful.


Convalescent cooking.

For most of the past few months I have been helping my wife recover from a serious injury. I do all the cooking, so part of my task was to provide food that would assist in the healing process.

These are my thoughts about cooking for people who are dealing with recovering from injury or illness.

First of all, the food needs to be simple, and easy to digest. The body doesn't want to have added stress from digestion.

It needs to be nutritionally dense. Every bite of food needs to count.

It needs to give a balanced and peaceful feeling after eating. It is a lot easier to heal when you feel calm and peaceful, then when you feel irritated or inbalanced.

The food should be cleansing. In our case we were dealing with serious pain medication. In most healing situations the body is dealing with some self-cleansing process, either from drugs, or from the illness itself.

The food needs to taste good. Eating shouldn't be a chore. So, flat empty foods are out. Simple wholesome foods can taste very rich and satisfying.

And, finally, the food needs to be Alive. Those world cultures that still have living traditions of using food for healing, emphasize that food for convalescents should be freshly made if possible. Leftovers should be minimized. There is something about the living energy of freshly prepared, live whole food, that feeds a person far beyond simple nutrients and chemicals.

Here's what I came up with.

First of all, we started each day with miso soup, made with kelp or kombu. This is mineral and vitamin rich, nutritious and soothing, very easy to digest, and cleansing. It is the vegetarian answer to chicken soup.

For solid meals I stayed with whole grains and vegetables. Extra thick rolled oats with walnuts and raisins. Plain brown rice with a little butter, and some simple cooked vegetables on the side. I soaked the brown rice before cooking and used a bit more water, to make it softer and easier to digest. The rice does not get a light, fluffy texture that way, but it is warm, dense, soothing, and mildly sweet and rich in taste.

We went light on protein during this period. With some meals I made dal, which is the indian term for split pea or lentil soup. I used moong dal (split mung beans) or red lentils, both of which cook quickly and are easier to digest. I kept the spices simple, with just a bit of ginger, turmeric and coriander. Ginger and turmeric are both digestive aids, and used in traditional healing cooking.

For beverages, we stayed very simple also. Hot water with a touch of lemon. Non-caffeine herb teas. Warmed apple juice, maybe with a touch of cinnamon. We avoided ice-cold drinks, which are a shock to the system. Drinking a lot of water was especially important for dealing with serious pain medication.

So, for a bit over a month our diet was very simple and plain. It rejuvenated our sense of taste, and reminded us of the rich and subtle flavors in good, plain whole food. We've expanded our diet since then, but I find that I am still using less spices than before, and going for simpler, more subtle tastes, letting the taste of the grain or vegetable itself come through more.


- Coming up in the next issue

Coming up in January - I've been experimenting with some new spice patterns from Eritrean/East African cooking. I plan to have some ideas about that, and some new recipes.


And that is all for this month.

Happy and healthy eating to you, and best wishes for the New Year.

Charlie Obert


Low Budget Vegetarian Survival