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Healthy cooking with your 3d printer – Part 1

This title might seem provocative to some: how could a tool as technological as the 3d printer produce healthy cooking? In this article, we would like to explain how Cakewalk 3d works from a food perspective and offer simple tips for a kitchen that makes you and your body feel good.

This first part is dedicated to the operation of the extruder and the main principles for composing your meals with your 3d printer. In the second part, we explain some simple tips for cooking in a healthy environment.

How does Cakewalk 3d work?

Cakewalk 3d is a culinary extruder that fits on many models of FDM Cartesian 3d printers, instead of the plastic extruder. It allows you to simply convert it into a 3d food printer.

How Does Cakewalk 3D work

The extruder consists of an aluminum tube and inside a worm screw. This screw rotates thanks to a Nema 17 motor during the printing phase. By this rotating movement, it moves the preparation from the top to the bottom of the tube and the push through the nozzle.

Now, let’s think about the behavior of the material during this extrusion. It is a question of doing a little physics, but nothing complicated!

The rotation movement

What happens during this movement in the screw? Scientists speak of a shearing effect, because a rotational force is applied to the material to force it to move. This involves choosing materials with a certain viscosity and elasticity.

Indeed, the material needs to return to its initial state after displacement. Say like this, you tell yourself that this should limit the number of ingredients… Rest assured, the possibilities are numerous.

Simply put, you can’t print :

  • solid materials (like cold chocolate)
  • powders
  • gas
  • an iced or frozen preparation

Mashes, sauces, mousses, emulsions, melted chocolate, honey, ketchup… are liquid, viscous and elastic materials that are perfectly suitable!

The push

Then, the thrust is a phenomenon very close to what happens when you use a socket pocket. You probably have an idea of what happens to your recipe at that time.

Concretely, the food passes through a 1 mm or 2 mm nozzle. If the molecules in your preparation are large, they will have difficulty passing through the nozzle orifice. I’m sure you’ve already experienced a problem with cream containing almond powder or praline that gets stuck in your piping bag!

Keep in mind this rule: the orifice must be 10 times larger in diameter than the largest particle of your preparation for it to flow properly. Otherwise, you risk blocking or shifting the phase of your preparation.

In the case of Cakewalk 3d, this means that you must have particles of less than 100 microns… Here is a simple tip to avoid blockages: use a strainer to strain your preparation before inserting it into the Cakewalk 3d tube.

To conclude…

3d printers with a culinary extruder like Cakewalk 3d do not fundamentally change the structure of the food, they train and push your preparations. By choosing viscous and smooth preparations, you can easily make your dishes more appetizing and creative!

And there are no additives to add to make it work. The food on your plate is not transformed from what you put in the tube. So for healthy cooking with your 3d printer, just cook healthy recipes!

healthy cooking with fruits and vegetables

Choosing meals for healthy eating

Now that we know what’s going on with food, we can think about what to put into Cakewalk 3d for healthy cooking.

The goal is not at all to lecture or to think we are nutritionists. And you can find many information resources on the subject (books, documentaries, videos or podcasts).

However, it is important to me to talk to you about two subjects: sugar and leftovers! This is therefore a personal opinion and not a scientific or expert recommendation.

3d printed dessert

An healthy sweet cooking

A lot of ink is spilled on the misdeeds of sugar. So much so that we can ask ourselves the question: is eating a dessert harmful to our health? What a question for a pastry chef like me!

While taking the Stanford University course “An introduction to food and health“, I managed to find a statistic that I had been looking for for a long time. Desserts and sweets represent only 1/6 of the sugars consumed by an American consumer. The majority of sugars come from beverages and prepared foods.

Sources of added sugar
Source: Stanford University Introduction to food and health

A second number to keep in mind is the amount of sugar recommended by the World Health Organization. Sugar intake should represent 10% of the calories consumed during the day. For an adult, this represents about 50 g of sugar per day (fruit and milk sugars are excluded from the calculation).

When you cook the dessert yourself, you know exactly how much sugar has been added. And you can reduce it to below the 50 g limit.

If the recipe contains too much sugar, be aware that it won’t change the texture of your pasta or cream too much. For meringues, it’s difficult to make them stick by changing the ratio 2:1 (2 parts sugar to 1 part egg white). In this case, it’s better to play with the quantity per person.

Reducing the amount of sugar is a big trend in chefs’ baking. If you like French pastry recipe books, take the time to compare Gaston Lenôtre’s recipes from the 80s with books published in recent years. The difference is obvious!

food waste

Reducing food waste

If we look at food production from a global point of view, we realize that we produce practically enough food for all human beings. Yet nearly 800 million people are radically undernourished!

The FAO reports that about 33% of food production is wasted; during the production/transport and processing/conditioning process. But also by the households! In France, this represents 240 kg of food thrown away per person, of which 40 kg directly from our refrigerator.

Some of us have the possibility to compost these expired products. But if we think about the amount of energy we used to produce, transport, pack these foods that end up in our garbage cans, we quickly understand that we are walking on our heads.

There are lots of tasty ways to use ugly vegetables, stale bread, leftover meat. Soups, dumplings, croquettes, stewed fruit and purees are the most popular. With a blender and 3d food printing, you have an extra solution!

guacamole 3d printing

Finally, I share a very personal tip with you. One week a month, I don’t go shopping. I force myself to use only what’s left in my fridge and closets. It’s a good exercise in culinary creativity and it has helped me reduce the amount of expired food.

To go further

If you are interested in this topic and the links between agriculture and global warming, I recommend you to read the articles or to follow on social networks Bruno Parmentier, author of the blog Nourrir-Manger (in French).

Healthy cooking on a daily basis with your printer and Cakewalk 3d is an easy goal for all of us. After this first part dedicated to choosing the right recipes for your culinary extruder, we have created a second article dedicated to the environment of your 3d printer and a bonus to discover!

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