The Health Cookery Book
Phiroz Mehta wrote four chapters of The Health Cookery Book, probably in the early years after the Second World War. He seemed to have intended it for publication, but it does not appear ever to have been printed
Food is the most powerful physical influence which will keep you healthy and happy, or make you sick. This book is written in answer to the demand for a cookery book which tells you how to cook your food scientifically so that you preserve all the goodness in it, and how to arrange balanced meals so that you can enjoy vigorous health.
To promote good health, all meals should be:
- scientifically balanced and correctly cooked.
- wholesome, and simple (i.e. easily and quickly prepared).
- attractive to look at, and delicious in taste.
- thoroughly enjoyable, and inexpensive.
The usual argument which you hear is this: “Of course I give my children and husband good food. I give them the best fresh eggs and butter and cheese, meat and fish and potatoes, and vegetables and fruits and nuts.” Quite true, you do. So does everyone, more or less. But in spite of the best intentions, and of honest hard work on your part, there are many little ways in which errors creep in to spoil your splendid effort. It is no fault of yours, because you have not been given a chance to avoid these errors.
Perhaps you feel doubtful about these statements. Well, let us look deeper into the matter. How many colds, headaches, attacks of ‘flu, twinges of rheumatism, gout, and sciatica, how much constipation (the supreme enemy of health), insomnia and lack of appetite, and how much irritability, low spirits, painful periods, bad temper and bad teeth do we see everywhere? Why should we have our “usual colds and indispositions” when the weather changes? A change in weather does not mean we should fall ill. I don’t, you don’t, and our healthy friends don’t, but thousands of people do.
Consider again bad nerves — the modern scourge! Just think how many million aspirins, cough and cold tablets, ‘flu mixtures and other drugs and medicines are constantly taken! Look at the number of people, especially the young, who have spotty faces, lacklustre eyes, and bad skins! Look at the vast expense over beauty preparations and health restoratives! If we were really healthy we would naturally have lovely skins, bright eyes, sweet breath and attractive personalities. Even amongst those who live in the country, and those who work in the open air, there are constant complaints of rheumatism, deafness, swollen and stiff joints, etc.
You may say “But what has all this got to do with food?” It has everything to do with food! The old statement that “Man digs his grave with his teeth” is true. Wrong food is not the only cause, admittedly, of sickness and misery. There are other important causes, i.e. unhappiness, insufficient exercise and sleep, wrong posture of the body when at work or at rest, and lack of sunshine and of pure fresh air. But of all these, food is the most important physical cause; for when you take the right food you will find your ills disappearing, and your health and good spirits returning. The proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Let us take only two examples of how we are affected by wrong food:
White flour, and all its products
When the miller removes the bran, middlings, and germ of wheat, and gives us only white flour, he removes the most valuable part — generally given to our livestock as food! He takes away the mineral salts, the vitamins (especially vitamin B.1.), and the protein (or the “meaty”) part of the wheat. The white flour is merely starch — the stuff out of which the paste in the nice white bottle on the office table is made! And when this stuff goes into your and your family’s tummies, the tendency is to make a hard sticky paste inside. This leads to sluggish liver, constipation and many catarrhal ailments.
Our second example is boiled food, especially boiled vegetables. Usually, and particularly in large scale catering as in big hotels, restaurants, and ocean liners, the water in which the vegetables have been boiled is thrown down the sink. This water contains most of the mineral salts — Sodium, Potassium, Calcium (Lime), Magnesium, Iron, etc. These salts are indispensable to the body, and when they are lost various ailments set in. For now an excess of acidic waste-matter is formed. Part of it does not get eliminated in time, but is re-absorbed into the blood stream and thus poisons the system. The normal alkalinity of the blood is not maintained and the electro-chemical actions inside our bodies are upset. Look at a doctor’s prescription, or the formulae of various patent medicines, You will find that they contain the same mineral salts which Mother Nature prepared with such perfection and economy inside our tomatoes, carrots and cabbages! So why get ill and then waste money on medicines when all you have to do is to pay attention to your daily food? Remember this: The body is a snob! It much prefers to have the mineral salts introduced in the right way, by Mother Nature, and not via laboratory manufactured products. Only the wise know this fact. The remainder pay the price of ignorance or prejudice.
So when you boil vegetables — though we hope you will mostly bake them, or cook them conservatively, or eat them raw — you will use the absolute minimum quantity of water necessary, not add soda to make greens look green (for soda destroys vitamins, and it is vitamins you want to eat and not green colour!), and you will then drink every drop of that water which is now rich in mineral salts, with enjoyment.
Whilst scientific facts must be well borne in mind, all fads and fancies, speaking generally, are best avoided. But sometimes, they must be indulged. For if you are not happy when you eat, you cannot extract the full value out of even the most scientifically prepared food. All rules must be generally followed, and occasionally broken — with discretion — in order to get the best out of life.
All foods are good foods, and you can eat whatever you like, provided you will observe certain principles first, and take your liberties — in moderation — afterwards.
First, remember the two main purposes of food:
- To nourish you.
- To keep the whole system internally clean.
The first is a question of assimilation; the second, of elimination. It is the problem of elimination which is sadly neglected, whereas you will find everyone over-anxious about nourishment. Most of us are over-nourished; we eat too much food and that of the nourishing kind rather than the cleansing kind. When we take too much food, it is the food which eats us up rather than we who eat the food! That is why so many people have quite the wrong appearance, instead of being strong and full of vitality.
Nature has made ample provision to nourish us. It is our duty to attend to the cleaning job by choosing the right foods.
We have to balance the nourishing and elimination foods. Here is a list of each kind for general purposes:
- Nourishing: Meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts, wheat, oats, beans, peas, lentils.
- Eliminating: Fruits and vegetables (especially greens), wheat, oats, butter, olive oil.
You will notice that foods like wheat and oats perform both functions fairly equally, because of the “roughage” they contain. This roughage acts like a broom sweeping the intestines clean.
Here is an important classification which you should always follow carefully:
- Eat most liberally all green vegetables (raw as well as cooked), tomatoes, wholemeal bread (or other simple wholewheat product), carrots, onions, and vegetable marrow.
- Eat less liberally most fruits (by themselves or with raw green salads principally), cereals like rice, porridge made from coarse oats, potatoes, butter, milk, nuts, peas and beans (soya, haricots, etc.)
- Eat least liberally lentils, cream, and fats other than butter, eggs, cheese, meat, fish, all spices, fruits of the “-berry” group, rhubarb, and pure honey.
- Whilst the about classification holds good for the adult, a difference must be observed for growing children. Let them:
- Eat most liberally all ripe sweet fruits (especially apples, oranges, figs and dates, and grapes), tomatoes, all green vegetables (especially raw), carrots (raw) and carrot juice, and milk.
- Eat less liberally wholemeal bread and wholewheat products, porridge from course oats, eggs, butter, pure olive oil, green peas, nuts, and pure honey.
- Eat least liberally meat and fish (preferably avoided until 5 years of age at least), beans, lentils, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and starchy cereals, oils, cream, and all fats other than butter, artichokes, and rhubarb.
Under normal circumstances, children should not be given any artificial preparations, patent bodybuilding foods, and certainly no tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, sweets and candies, or any preserves, - in short any foods which are deprived of their natural vitamins and mineral salts, or tampered with and spoilt by man. For infants, no food equals mother’s milk. Not only physically, but also psychologically, it is essential for the infant to have its own mother’s milk till weaned. If it does not, it always suffers from some disability or defect in body and character when grown up to adult age. The mother of course must take good care that she is quite healthy and eats correctly, from well before pregnancy, onwards through all her remaining years. Only when she is unhealthy does it become necessary, unfortunately, to substitute foods other than mother’s milk for the infant.
It is wise to observe the following points when choosing foodstuffs, and when preparing them:
- The natural produce of a country is the best food for that country.
- The natural produce during a particular season is the best food during that season.
- All food that has had the full benefit of the sun is superior in every way to any that is gathered prematurely.
- Clean culture produce is superior to all excessively manured produce.
- All foods must be pure and not demineralised and denatured.
- All patent foods and manufactured foods are best avoided. They may be taken only under compulsion when natural foods are absolutely unavailable.
- Most canned foods are better avoided, with the exception of a few, such as tomatoes, pineapples, asparagus which are canned by the most modern processes, and are as free as possible from chemical preservatives.
- Plain wholesome food, simply and quickly prepared, is superior to all “rich” and “savoury” food containing condiments, essences or extracts, and which takes a long time to cook.
- Uncooked, baked, and conservatively cooked foods are best.
- Steamed and boiled foods are second best.
- Simple savouries, and foods stewed in any oil or fat are next in goodness.
- Rich and fried foods are bad.
- Very rich, highly spiced, highly stimulating, highly putrefying (like some cheeses), long over-cooked, over elaborate, and very stale foods are worst, leading to disease, decay, and death.
In connection with point (e) above, you should use:
- Whole wheat flour and bread, not white flour.
- Whole brown rice, not “polished” white rice.
- Eggs fresh laid, not egg substitutes.
- Fruit drinks obtained by squeezing fresh ripe oranges, lemons, limes, etc., not bottled drinks called lemon or orange squash etc.
- Pure water, or water from natural springs, not alcohol, or “mineral” waters.
- Pure brown sugar (like Barbados, refined once only), not white sugar and all its derivative sweets and candies, saccharine, glucose, etc.
As far as possible, do not eat the products entirely deficient in vitamins — “polished” rice, soda crackers, tapioca, starch, refined sugar, hydrogenated oils.
Also avoid milk heated twice, green vegetables cooked with soda, fruit or vegetables cooked for a long time, white flour, and egg substitutes.
The flesh formers, and repairers of tissue lost through muscular activity are the protein containing foods — principally eggs, cheese, meat, fish, beans, peas, and lentils. Man’s tendency through the centuries has been to overeat the proteins. The excess amount decomposes in the intestines, and gives rise to various ailments and diseases of a serious nature. The actual amount of protein necessary for the average adult is only about two or three ounces of the dry weight of the daily food — say roughly one-eighth of his total daily food. Instead of this, the usual amount, even today, in spite of great improvement in this direction, is nearly three times in excess — before the Great War it used to be seven times in excess of what it should be. Consequently there is an excess of uric acid in the system, and we have the high degree of prevalence of rheumatism and kindred complaints.
Meat or fish once a day, taken in moderate amounts is quite sufficient. Lean meat, cod and herring, and plain white fish are best. Of the meats, mutton, lamb, rabbit, veal, and reliable beef are best; of poultry, chicken is best. If you want to enjoy good health always, definitely avoid all high game, fish of the oyster and lobster variety, and all the meat dishes of the paté de fois gras and jugged hare type, and also the whole host of manufactured meat drinks. Take them if you like them — but remember you have to pay the price in terms of money and health. It is preferable also to avoid all forms of pig food, and all the insides of an animal: liver, kidneys, etc. Naturally, you may ask why? Well, the liver, like the kidneys, is a “filth filter” of the animal system. One of the functions of the liver is to extract out of the circulating blood, and store up, all the unwanted matter present. Some of this matter is poisonous, and if allowed to circulate in the blood would kill the creature. Organs like the liver save life by acting like a filter, and holding these poisonous substances within them. If the liver continously does this and never gets a chance of being cleaned out itself, we get the various liver diseases — and they are rather terrible — and finally death. So why eat these filth filters which are sources of disease to ourselves? But on the other hand, in strict moderation, you can enjoy liver and kidneys and be lucky enough to suffer no consequences.
To enjoy good health, it is most important to have a clean blood-stream. A pure blood-stream has a certain degree of alkalinity. When acid forming foods are consumed in excess, and the acid waste products are not eliminated fast enough, they enter into the blood-stream, and the purity of the blood, as measured by its alkalinity, diminishes. Here is a useful table telling you which foods promote alkalinity and which promote acidity:
- Alkalinity: Most fresh fruits and unsulphured dry fruits, green leaf and root vegetables, potatoes (baked), milk in its natural state (as it comes from the animal and not after it is boiled), and buttermilk.
- Acidity: All flesh foods and fish, eggs and cheese, cereals and cereal products (i.e. wheat, rice, oats, cornflakes, rice-krispies, etc.), nuts, legumes (i.e. beans, lentils, peas), heavily sulphured fruits and fruits preserved in syrup, prunes, cranberries and rhubarb, refined sugar, candy and confectionery, butter, margarine, lard, cream and other fats, tea, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, artificial mineral waters (sweetened and coloured), and all alcoholic beverages.
It is necessary to eat all kinds of foods, and for good health we must balance the alkaline and acid foods by taking them in the right proportions.
About ¾ of the total food should consist of the alkaline foods, and ¼ of the acid foods.
Another important point to remember is that we should have as much variety as possible. This means that during the course of each week — and a week is chosen because it is the most convenient unit to use — you should have all the available fruits, vegetables etc. compatible with the season and your own needs. But whilst the variety is observed during the course of the week, do not have too much variety at any single meal.
We will give you one more list of the minimum essential foods, each of which you should include in some meal or other during the week, in proper proportion. This will ensure your “safety margin” for good health.
- Proteins (flesh formers and muscle builders) — Light helpings of pure fresh lean meat, fresh fish (cod, herring, plain white fish), 3 or 4 fresh eggs (each week), nuts, and beans (especially soya beans).
- Cereals — Wholemeal bread (preferably use stone—ground flour), oats.
- Fats & Oils — Butter, olive oil; and for cooking, pure margarine or nut oil.
- Milk and a little honey.
- Vegetables — Spinach, tomatoes (mostly uncooked), carrots (cooked and uncooked), lettuce , potatoes, cabbage (part raw, part cooked), onions.
- Fruits — Oranges, lemons (or limes), apples (most beneficial fruit of all, especially for children), figs, dates, prunes.
We mentioned before that fads and fancies should be avoided, and it will be well to mention a few here:
The vitamin fad
Whilst it is entirely true that vitamins are of such paramount importance that without them we get diseased and die in a comparatively short time, we must bear in mind all the other factors — the balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats; simple and wholesome preparation so as not to lose the mineral salts; the comparative indigestibility of fried foods — when preparing our meals. So do not think of food entirely in terms of vitamins, and become so vitamin crazy that you will even take vitamin tablets. Man can never manufacture food in his laboratory as Nature creates in hers because man’s proportions, combinations, and complexity of structure of the different elements in each food are nowhere near the perfection which Nature achieves. Help Nature, as a true doctor would say, by being clean personally, by careful clean food cultivation, and by good clean rearing of livestock.
The fruitarian fad
Fruitarians are unicorns! When you do meet a person who calls himself a fruitarian, you find that his “fruit” diet includes many things — nuts and vegetables (green leaf vegetables particularly), and maybe even milk — which we do not usually call “fruit”. Such a diet, where fruits are highly in excess of all other foods, may suit some people. The average man and woman must beware of excess of fruit. It may not do obvious harm, but you will find that in our present conditions excess of fruit will not help us to get the best out of life. Such a diet may be possible for generations in the distant future.
The no-starch fad
Here again, some people may find it suitable to cut out bread, porridge, potatoes, etc. But most of us need our right share of starch which we get by eating wholemeal bread, potatoes with their skins, porridge made from coarse oats, etc. It is wise however not to eat too much starch, even via wholemeal bread and whole potatoes, because the excess of starch is a cause of catarrhal complaints, as excess of protein (meat, fish, eggs, lentils, etc.) is of the uric acid family of complaints.
The uncooked food fad
Very few people can live successfully on uncooked food only. We should have a balance between cooked and uncooked food.
There should be at least four raw vegetable salads during the course of a week. If your digestion is not very strong, this is a normal amount to take. If it is really weak, you must get yourself fit by a carefully worked out course of dieting, balanced for your particular condition. If your digestion is naturally quite strong, you can take salads once every day.
In hot weather, and in warm or hot climates, take more juicy fruits and fruit salads (without cream for most of them), and lessen the amount of cooked foods.
Above all, never overcook or twice cook any food, though you may quickly re-heat (but only once) food that is cold. The reason why you should avoid re-heating is that the vitamin value is thereby diminished — sometimes even destroyed. Overcooking deprives food of its real value, makes it too soft (which is not good for your teeth), and makes it too easily digestible (which ruins the natural capacity of your intestines to do their normal work).
The slimming diet fad
Beware of all slimming diets which do not observe a scientific balance — and unfortunately, most of them certainly do not. When you lose weight rapidly in a few days, you do something quite unnatural. Later on, when you go back to your “ordinary” food, there is a heavy price to pay.
“But I weigh far too much — I must get these rolls of fat off me — I look terrible if I don’t truss myself up with corsets…” Yes, we can cure you of all that, in the right way, so that you don’t look like a bale of cotton, or a dustbin, for the rest of your life.
First, the mind: Throw out your fear of fatness. Get the idea of real beauty, which is not indiscriminately getting slim, but attaining the right proportions for your particular build of body. If you lead a healthy life — right food and exercise, proper sleep, and a generally sensible life — you will undoubtedly be as beautiful as is possible for you, and have as much strength as you are capable of developing. So let your mind be at rest.
Second, the body: The two most important factors are (1) Activity and Rest, and (2) Food and Drink. Ordinary household work, or your occupation, or games or set exercises, or gardening etc., are usually sufficient. But if housework or your official duties do not give you enough activity, then you must play games, or do exercises, or anything similar to them. To balance your daily activity you must have sufficient rest, otherwise the waste products generated by activity cannot be cleared out of the body in time. Above all, do not be over-active. Too strenuous exercise or work can make you muscle-bound (and ugly) or too thin. Where you take up a system of exercises, choose one where you are taught Relaxation, Breathing, and Rhythmic Movements.
As regards food and drink: All excess substance means that we are carrying so much useless or waste material with us which ought to be eliminated. If we adopt a drastic remedy, and lose weight quickly, we more often than not lose good healthy tissue too. Also, we upset the normal functioning of the body. And in the majority of cases we include a wrong psychological state, for unconsciously we are now longing to throw off these restraints and “eat, drink, and be — fat again!” But with a balanced diet — which you will find in the specimen menus — you will inevitably attain your correct bodily proportions without indecent hurry and without any evil effects during or after.
The best drink at all times is water. Fruit juices — orange, lemon, grapefruit — assist in loosening up and removing waste products. But do not overdo it. Do not drink at meals, but only between meals; and take no drink between the half hour before and the full hour after any meal. Above all, remember that the combination of drinks like beer, with bread (especially white), and protein food (especially fat meat or fish, and cheese), is the royal road to a barrel-shaped body.
The worst and most dangerous fad…
“This food (say lean meat, for it is a good source of suitable proteins and of vitamin B2) is good for me, therefore 10 times the usual amount of lean meat will be 10 times as good for me.” Nothing could be more fallacious! Any food substance is valuable to its full extent only when taken in the right amount. All amounts beyond that optimum amount are harmful. Similarly, it is unwise to take manufactured food products which claim to give you so much more of this vitamin or that mineral salt than the amount Nature gives you.
A note on vegetarianism
If you do not wish to eat meat and fish, leave it alone. You can thrive perfectly without meat and fish in any country in the world which is sufficiently organized to supply a reasonable variety of fruits and vegetables. The idea that one cannot live without meat and fish is a foolish fad.
Vegetarianism has its advantages as well as disadvantages. If by vegetarianism you mean living on stodgy, tasteless and sloppy food, wrongly cooked and wrongly combined, then please go back to meat and fish. But if you are scientifically vegetarian, then, generally speaking, you will find that:
- You are more resistant to falling a victim to any epidemic, or to getting ill at any time.
- If you do get ill, you recover more quickly.
- You have more nervous vitality (averagely speaking) but less brute force (again averagely) than when you eat meat.
- You have calmer and more equable nerves than when you eat meat.
- You become more sensitive physically and mentally than when you eat meat. This may often be disadvantageous, for if you become too sensitive you may find yourself unable to cape with the strain set up in our present social order with its competition, its noise and turmoil, and other unpleasant factors.
Your best guide is your own inner feeling and conviction. In warm weather and in hot countries avoid flesh foods. This will only benefit you, and do you no harm. Flesh food (protein from animal sources) has a highly “exciting” effect as compared with vegetable proteins, and it makes you less controlled where your nerves are concerned. It also putrefies much faster than vegetable proteins do and these products of putrefaction need more efficient elimination than those derived from vegetable proteins.
You must also take into account your heredity and your psychological reactions. In a country like England, meat and fish have been main articles of food for centuries. If moreover you have a natural desire for meat, it is likely to be a disadvantage to you if you force yourself to give it up. At the same time, do not be a slave to any unhealthy craving (for it is not a natural appetite), but follow a sensible middle path.
Prepare all your dishes as simply as possible and in the shortest time necessary for cooking, for the more complicated your cookery, and the longer the time you heat the food, the less valuable is the dish for your health. It takes a little longer to cook a larger amount of the same dish, but you can reduce the time by applying a stronger heat.
Most people believe that simple wholesome dishes are unappetizing. The contrary is true, through generations of mistaken feeding, our sense of taste has become vitiated, because our stomachs and digestive systems have become unclean. A simple proof of this is the fact that most people have foul breath. They may disguise it by drugs, which however do not clean the internal organs. The real test of internal cleanliness is having sweet-smelling breath when we wake up in the morning, clear eyes (instead of what they usually are), and a tongue that is not heavily furred. We reach nearer this condition by proper feeding. It is almost needless to add that husbands and wives will find themselves much more attractive to each other, and children, instead of being repelled by the foul breath and somewhat disreputable looks of the parents when they kiss them good-morning, will experience nothing to disturb their confidence in their parents’ perfections. Especially strong is the influence of the mother’s state on the infant.
When we achieve internal cleanliness our palette becomes clean and our sense of taste true. Then we discover that a raw carrot, a simple salad with pure olive oil and lemon, ripe fruits, good wholemeal bread and butter, etc., taste delicious, whilst all elaborately prepared dishes, heavily spiced, or with spoonfuls of salt or pepper or mustard, or flooded with manufactured sauces, as distinct from, say, apple sauce made at home, are distasteful.
So, the sense of taste of the inwardly clean person alone — i.e. the healthy person — is reliable. This certainly does not mean that you should never take spices and herbs. They are in fact valuable, in very small amounts — e.g. two or three cloves added to apples, and a thin slice or two of lemon (with the skin) when stewing prunes, or a stick or two of cinnamon when cooking rice. The first care should be given to the selection of food. Only the best available should be bought. It is false economy to stint where the quality of the food is concerned, for the money you spend on medicines in consequence of eating food of poor or bad quality is many times greater than the money you save on the foodstuffs. In addition, you lose time through illness. Please note that you cannot ‘cook away’ food that is ‘going off’. The pernicious habit of ‘cooking up’ tomatoes, apples, pears, etc., which are just going bad, or using up very stale food, is responsible for much illness. Food which is ‘going off’ is decomposing, and cooking does nothing but disguise the toxins which you are swallowing .
Wherever possible, grow your own food or buy it and prepare it yourself for the family. What is made by loving hands is of superior value. Professional cooks and chefs are very rarely your friends where health is concerned. In fact, the “cleverer” the chef, the more is your digestion, health, and family happiness ruined. No one is a better cook than mother for most of the millions of families in the world.
Food should always be kept in a clean sanitary place, safe from flies, dust, and insects.
Fruits, lettuce, endive, etc., should be carefully washed and where necessary, dried thoroughly and kept in a cool place. Similarly with butter and cheese, which ought to be discarded when they turn rancid — because toxins are now forming in them.
The kitchen should always be kept perfectly clean. It should, preferably, be spacious, and have as much light, sun, and air as possible. All shelves, pots, pans, stoves, and cookers should be spotlessly clean and dry. Wash all pans carefully with hot water before cooking anything in them; this gets rid of dust and any tiny creatures which may have settled in the pans. The sink should be carefully cleaned every day. Observe every sanitary rule and hygienic principle in the management of the kitchen.
Eat all fruits and vegetables, with necessary exceptions, with their skins. Only when the digestive system is really weak must the skins be removed, until it is restored to normal strength through careful dieting.
Fruit-bearing and green vegetables need to be well washed in two or three waters. Spinach should first be put into hot water, left for just about 3 minutes, drained off, then washed in the ordinary way. This is supposed to get rid of most, it not all, of the superficial oxalic acid present in the leaf. It does not get rid of the slightly acrid taste of spinach not treated in this manner before being conservatively cooked. Tubers and underground vegetables should be scrubbed with a good stiff brush in warm water, and rinsed out in a second and a third water. It is simplest to wash under an open tap, placing the foods in a colander when clean. If turnips and parsnips have tough thick skins, remove them skilfully if the vegetables are to be cooked, but not when they are to be grated raw for a salad.
Raw or uncooked food
This means that the food has not been subjected to heat but is taken in its natural state. It is possible to eat most foods in their raw state, provided that the person is robust and enjoying true health. Raw foods, as compared with cooked foods:
- Are more vital and nutritious.
- Contain more vitamins and mineral salts.
- Retain all their chemical elements intact.
- Produce a rich blood stream.
- Impart strength and tonicity to the tissues.
It is essential for each individual to strike a fair balance between raw foods and cooked foods in his daily diet, without going to either of the extremes of a diet consisting wholly of raw food or wholly of cooked food.
Raw foods are very valuable in cases of obesity, rheumatism, etc. Raw food comprises:
- Raw vegetable salads.
- Fruit salads.
- Mixed fruit and vegetable salads.
- Sandwiches containing raw tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, grated raw cabbage, carrots, lettuce, cress, etc.
Modes of cooking
- Softens the food so that it can be chewed more easily.
- Makes starchy foods more digestible.
- Destroys living creatures which may be in the food.
- Makes the food palatable and attractive.
Cooking should be done consonant with:
Then only is it possible to devise the fullest benefit for the body. Fireless cooking is considered the best and most wholesome way of cooking. An electric fireless cooker is used. Little or no water is required in the process. As soon as the food reaches the boiling point, the heat is automatically shut off, the cooking being completed in an airtight compartment. Thus, practically none of the nutrient qualities of the food is lost.
Of the usual methods of cooking, the best is baking. This is most to be recommended for weak stomachs since baked food is the easiest to digest, has lost the least amount of vitamins and mineral salts, and is of fine flavour.
Roasting is the quickest way of cooking and one in which the most intense heat is applied. It brings out the special flavour of any food, and there is little loss of vitamins, etc.
In conservative cooking the food is placed in the least possible quantity of water, quickly brought to the boil, the flame then turned down as low as possible so that it is just sufficient to keep up the boiling process, and the lid is kept on tight. With leafy green vegetables, water can be altogether dispensed with. The food stews in its own juices; and cooked in this manner it has a delicious and distinctive flavour.
Another method is to steam in a double boiler. Here the food is placed in a vessel, tightly covered, and the whole inserted in the larger vessel containing constantly boiling water.
In conservative cooking, the foods may be stewed in a small quality of cooking fat or oil.
Boiling in the ordinary way is a poor method of cooking. The vitamins are destroyed, especially if the food is brought to the boil slowly. The damage done is minimised by bringing to the boil as quickly as possible, and then continuing on the low flame, keeping the lid tightly shut if possible. The dissolved oxygen in water attacks the vitamins. Boiling expels this dissolved oxygen — the quicker the better — and then, the low flame brings out the flavours much better than a quick flame. The usual result of boiling is overcooked ‘dead’ food — witness the potatoes and cabbage, and especially spinach of most restaurants! Such food loads the body with more waste-matter than it can easily eliminate and thus wears the body out.
Fried foods are the most indigestible and the least to be recommended. Should they form part of the menu, they should be thoroughly masticated and well mixed with the saliva before swallowing.
Use simple herbs for flavouring all savouries, bearing in mind that is an error to make ‘tasty’ dishes by introducing extraneous appetizers, because the true flavour of the food itself is thereby disguised.
As far as cooked meals are concerned, prefer to bake or conservatively cook your dishes. Avoid long menus consisting of many courses, for then it is almost impossible to avoid making unscientific mixtures.
- Take a light helping of a protein dish — meat or fish or egg dish or cheese savoury or nut dish, with a liberal helping of one or two green vegetable dishes, and one of potatoes or carrots, or turnips etc., with wholemeal bread and butter.
- Follow this with a simple custard, or pudding containing dates, or raisins, or sultanas, or figs, or bananas. But do not follow with acid fruit tarts or trifles — pineapple, lemon, apple, orange, cherries, or any of the berries.
If you have a sufficiency of (a), you need not have a sweet to follow. In fact, it is preferable to have (a) alone as it is a complete meal.
Remember the proportions in (a):
- Least of protein — meat or fish etc.
- Little more of starches — potatoes or carrots etc.
- Most of green vegetables.
- Fairly liberal amount of bread with a little butter.
Do not use fats or oils in the cooking except in minimum amounts. Avoid combining acid fruits with cooked meals, for then there is a tendency to fermentation and indigestion. Again, here are some compatibles:
- Any simple soup. Any raw vegetable salads with wholemeal bread and butter. Any fruit, cooked or uncooked — rhubarb and cooked berries in small quantities only — or any sweet.
- Nuts, well chewed before swallowing, and any fruits, cooked or uncooked.
- No soup. A thin slice of cold meat or chicken, or a bit of fish, or egg, or cheese, or nuts, with a green salad and bread and butter, and a light helping of any fruits, or pudding, or custard.
The above suggestions are intended to give you broad principles for turning out wholesome meals.
You must of course, according to your discretion, circumstances, and artistic sense, make reasonable variations, and sometimes do go ‘on the bust’ and forget all our health admonitions — very healthy to do so!
Here are a few peculiarly compatible combinations of food. It is well to have them with moderate regularity, either as breakfasts or as lunches, for they have a powerful influence in keeping you fit.
- Porridge (made with course oats, and not the cooked-in-five-minutes variety), with a little cold milk and no sugar, eaten with bread and butter.
- A large apple or two.
- A cup of cocoa made with unsweetened milk.
- One or two oranges, or stewed prunes or figs
- One or two eggs (soft boiled or poached only) with bread and butter.
- A cup of cocoa.
- Ripe raw apples.
- A large cup of cold milk (or slightly warmed in very cold weather) sipped slowly.
- A liberal helping of lightly cooked tomatoes with bread (in this case toasted if you like), and a little butter.
- A small handful of mixed nuts (especially brazils and almonds) with raisins, to be chewed very thoroughly before swallowing.
- A small cup of cocoa if desired.
- A large tablespoon of grated raw carrot (or turnip) and sliced tomatoes, with bread and butter.
- A large baked apple with a little cream and honey — or instead of apple take stewed prunes.
We will now give you examples of mistakes which you will see very often:
- Porridge with milk and white sugar, and cream sometimes.
- Bacon and eggs.
- White bread or white toast and butter, and marmalade or jam.
Here all the food is acid producing, with nothing alkaline to neutralize it.
- Mince, and poached egg on white toast.
- White bread and butter and marmalade.
Here there is an excess of proteins. Result: acidity and disease.
- Soup (of meat stock, or beans or lentils).
- Fish, and/or meat, with roast or chip potatoes and boiled greens (with the water thrown down the drain!).
- Apple tart, or strawberries and cream.
Again, a very bad mixture. Also, being typical of an average lunch or dinner, it exemplifies the difference between a simple meal and a complicated one.
The worst types of meals are:
- Hors d’oeuvres.
- Fish, and meat, and two vegetables.
- Cheese and biscuits.
- Fried nuts.
- Coffee and chocolate and candies.
- In India (amongst those who can — or have to — afford it), one or two sherries, or vermouths, or cocktails, etc. Then you walk into the dining room with your first whisky and soda in hand. Then:
- Hors d’oeuvres.
- Fish, or meat, and vegetables.
- Chicken and vegetables.
- Rich pulse (a rice dish) and curry (chicken or meat).
- Some special Indian dish, probably.
- English sweet dish.
- Indian sweets or sweet dish.
- Ice cream possibly.
- Fried nuts, chocolates, other sweets.
- At least three or four whiskies and sodas in between.
- Begin dinner around 9:00–9:30 pm and end around 11:00–11:30 pm. After which regime for several years — admittedly not perpetuated every day, but far too often each month — our retired civil servants talk about health sacrificed in service…
The necessity for beauty
Beauty has a healthful energizing influence. Always spread your table with an eye to beauty. A clean tablecloth and serviettes, clean crockery and cutlery and plate, clean hands and faces and clothes both of the servers and diners, and a few flowers (sweet scented fresh flowers from the garden, not glass or paper ones from the shop), are essentials for a cheerful happy meal. Each person should contribute his or her share to the atmosphere of love and beauty and enjoyment at table. Make an art of eating. Be gracious and cheerful, considerate and kindly towards others as well as towards oneself. Leave all business concerns, all “matters of importance” on the office table, or, if necessary, in the waste paper basket. For at table one is concerned with one of the greatest necessities for continuing one’s existence.
Primarily important is it that husband and wife shall never quarrel at table; that neither of them (especially the husband who is the usual offender here) shall be adversely critical of what the wife has taken pains to prepare herself or to have supervised in preparation; and that the children shall never witness discord between the parents, possibly even violence and tears. Enjoying a meal is probably the keenest enjoyment a child can experience. On no account should it be poisoned by unthinking and absurdly behaved parents. Laughter and jokes, an equal opportunity for all present to talk and be listened to attentively, a sense of sharing proportionately whatever food and drink there is without grumbling or undue apologising to the guests should something run short or not be a “success”,
are all part and parcel of the meal and constitute the art of eating.
Let all the dishes be deliciously prepared and daintily served. Deliciousness does not mean using spices, condiments, sauces, extracts, or any of the multitudinous “so-good-for-you’s”, indiscriminately. Prepare all the food simply ad naturally so that its wholesomeness and its own distinctive flavours are not lost.
Do not have a blaring band ravaging peace and harmony at meal times. Good music, yes — something pleasant and tuneful.
Poverty has very little to do, if anything at all, with the question of beauty. If there is no garden, and no money to buy flowers, a few leaves artlessly placed on the table will invite the spirit of beauty. No money is necessary to pluck a few leaves off that tree! Nor has money anything to do with clean hands and faces at least, if not clean clothes also! Nor does the lack of money prevent the washing of utensils, plate, and cutlery.
Love beauty and do all that is possible to associate it with the meal. It is regrettable that in our modern “hurry and bustle” life the beautiful custom of saying grace before and after meals is disappearing almost everywhere. The custom has been prevalent at some period or other in all nations all over the world. Where the custom still prevails however, the manner of saying grace has degenerated. The reason is that the significance underlying saying grace is no longer understood. Saying grace was a expression of man’s understanding of the living relationship between himself and his food (which is a part of the “body” of mother Nature). Man owes a duty to food. Not only must he till the soil, and tend the plant, but when mother earth gives freely and unmurmurigly of her produce unto him, it is only courteous and healthful to be graciously mindful of Life’s bounty to him.
Lay your table artistically, and make your dishes look and smell as attractive as possible. This will stimulate a better flow of the digestive juices — all the better for the enjoyment of your meal. Consider a salad for example: A nest of lettuce leaves with alternate groups of water cress, grated carrot, and grated beetroot, an inner ring of cucumber slices or celery hearts, and a centre of grated turnip or parsnip or a mound of red radishes, with a ring of luscious ripe tomatoes to fringe the whole dish — how do you like the picture?
A note on expensive meals
The best meals are the inexpensive meals. Paying five times or twenty five times the normal price merely to buy young green peas or new potatoes a few weeks before they are in season is not only stupid snobbery but is harmful to health, because the extremely young plant has not had time to extract sufficient mineral salts from the soil or fully develop its vitamin content.
Forget the pernicious habit of peeling — usually the peelings are about 10–13% of the total amount of food — all the skins from potatoes, apples, etc. If you do not peel skins or extravagantly scrub off surface layers wherever possible, you will have enough extra food available for one other person in every nine or ten. Also consider the saving effected by cutting down, or preferably cutting out, salt, pepper, sugar, and a multitude of useless and even harmful little knick-knacks. How much easier, healthier, and tastier to use a little mint and parsley picked from the garden, or nasturtium leaves or sage or thyme, all of which are beneficial to health. Raw salads effect a saving of money on fuel, and of time for preparation.
The technique of eating
A few more simple hints, the most important of which concerns the balance of the quantity at meals.
Take either a light breakfast, moderate lunch and moderate dinner, or a moderate breakfast, light lunch and moderate dinner, or a moderate breakfast, moderate lunch and light dinner.
A heavy meal at any time is harmful — but do not forget to break even this rule at Christmas!
Never eat to repletion. When you leave the table you should feel you could still eat another light course without discomfort — in other words, satisfy about two thirds or three quarters of your hunger at the actual meal. Learn to distinguish false hunger from true hunger. Wrong feeding produces false craving and deprives you of your sense of judging whether you are really hungry, and how much. For example, eating only cooked food always leads you on to overeat; so does an excess of starches (especially white flour products, polished rice, and other foods similar to them); so do sloppy foods, which you tend to swallow at once, depriving them of being mixed with the saliva which is absolutely essential for their proper digestion; and so does an excess of proteins (meat, fish, etc.). Wrong feeding produces an itch for stimulating drinks which in their turn produce a false appetite. Thus the vicious circle goes on, and if you are not sensible in time, you pay the price in money, disease, misery, and death. What a gloomy horror!
No one in the world has ever hurt himself by a little judicious fasting. On the contrary he has always benefited himself. Fasting is a voluntary cessation from taking food (but not from drinking as much fresh cool water as you like), or giving the internal organs a holiday — don’t you need one yourself regularly? — resulting in improved health. Starvation is the harmful forcible deprivation of food necessary for existence, leading to debility, and finally death.
Carefully note the difference between fasting and starvation. Chew every morsel, especially nuts, very thoroughly before swallowing. But do not go to the extreme of reducing everything (except nuts, or else you may suffer from biliousness) to a liquid condition; for it you do, you may suffer from atrophy of the bowel. Do not chew with short sharp jabs of your jaws, like so many young boys do, for that will wear all the enamel off your teeth, and sooner or later ruin them; but chew with a gentle firm action — somewhat like the cows do! — and you will enjoy your food better, and save your teeth and digestion.
Eat slowly — your speed can never break the record of the London-Edinburgh express.
Don’t argue that you are so busy that you have no time to observe these counsels of perfection. If you are so busy, either:
- Omit the meal.
- Be ill, because you must gobble your food since you are busy.
- Realize you are not a good organiser of your time and therefore not really a thorough business man.
- Take the hints offered here!
Do not read newspapers, or an exciting or heavy book at meals. If you have no companionship at meals and only the blank wall of the restaurant to stare at, then read something pleasant or humorous.
Discuss food and food-values and physiological chemistry and all the rest of it at any time except meal times. Avoid all argumentative or strenuous conversation at meals.
Forget your anxieties and worries when you eat.
Sit comfortably and erect, but not stiffly, in your chair, and lean back and breathe easily as you chew. This hint ought to be observed as a definite rule if you want the best out of your meal. If you do not, crouch over it with your neck stiff, shoulders hunched, chest cramped, and stomach and intestines compressed.
Allow at least 20 minutes of peace and quiet before, and 30 minutes after each meal.
How to serve a salad
- Serve up all the ingredients separately — lettuce leaves arranged in a circle with the hearts in the middle: water-cress in little bunches, or loose: grated carrot in a heap: beetroot sliced thin: cucumber either sliced thin or grated (with the skin): little red radishes in a heap: tomatoes, whole, or cut into halves or quarters only, not sliced: celery in long stalks, the hearts sliced lengthwise into as many parts as there are people to serve. Except the green leaf ingredients and tomatoes, all the others may be grated and placed in separate little heaps on a single large plate, or in separate little bowls. These bowls may be arranged in a pretty symmetrical pattern round the central glass bowl of the green stuffs.
- Serve in a single large flat dish — a nest of large and small lettuce leaves alternately placed round the dish: three or four bunches of water-cress at the corners: celery stalks between them pointing towards the centre: two heaps of grated carrot at right angles to two heaps of beetroot (the four forming a square): a pile of red radishes in the middle with a circle of sliced cucumber: and whole tomatoes fringing the edge of the dish.
- Serve in a large glass bowl all mixed together — break the lettuce up with your hands (avoid using a knife), mix up with grated cabbage, water-cress, and celery cut fine, slice up tomatoes, cucumber, and radishes, grate the carrot, add the desired amount of oil and lemon, or any special salad dressing, put in a bit of mint and parsley, and mix thoroughly. Prepare about 15 minutes before serving.
- Egg mayonnaise — nest of lettuce leaves with a little water-cress, chopped celery, grated carrot and beetroot, sliced tomatoes and sliced hard-boiled eggs. Place the carrot and beetroot in two heaps and ring them round with alternate slices of tomatoes and eggs. Pour the mayonnaise over them. Asparagus, cooked green peas of French beans or mushrooms taste well in an egg mayonnaise.
How often should salads be taken?
The average person should take four large salads, and three or four small ones (taken with an entrée for instance) during the course of the week. They may be taken at lunch or dinner, as desired.
If the digestion is very weak, or if you are suffering from duodenal or gastric ulcers, or other similar severe complaint, you should consult a dietician after you have consulted your doctor, and know exactly what is wrong with you. The dietician will give you proper advice regarding your food. As you improve and the organs become normal again, they will be able to deal adequately with the normal amount of salads.
The objection to salads in cases of duodenal or gastric ulcers, etc., is that the raw vegetables are too highly irritant.
It must also be remembered that raw vegetable and fruit salads are without exception the most powerful influence in maintaining health and vitality, for helping towards curing you of most diseases (with very few exceptions), and keeping you fit in body and clear in brain (for these salads are the purifiers of the whole system, immeasurably superior to any drugs or medicines or mechanical means).
So, under conditions of certain illnesses, you must lessen, or for a few weeks even avoid salads. For other illnesses (except of course where all food must be avoided and a strict fast observed), you should increase salads to one good salad meal a day.
Also, if your digestion is quite strong, and your natural inclinations are in favour of it, take a large salad meal every day, i.e. a raw vegetable salad or a mixed fruit and vegetable salad every day.
Mixed cooked and raw vegetable salads, and all salads containing flesh foods of any sort should be taken sparingly only.
Grow your own vegetables
Whenever possible, grow your own vegetables. The difference between home grown vegetables freshly picked, and those bought in a shop is great, the former producing superior results, and having the more delicious taste. If you have the opportunity to grow your own vegetables, pay attention to the right culture of the soil. The main principle to remember here is that you should return to the soil as much as you possibly can of decaying vegetable matter, and avoid all excess of animal or artificial manure.