Nutrition - Vegetables
( Originally Published 1954 )
The vegetables that will be discussed in this chapter are the fresh vegetables—the root vegetables and those that ripen above the ground.
All of the vegetables are rich in carbohydrates (sugar and starch), minerals and vitamins. Some of them contain a considerable amount of protein, some only a small percentage of protein.
The White Potato
The white potato is widely used all over the world, in some countries more than in others. This vegetable is highly nutritive. One ounce of potato is equivalent to three ounces of bread (Kellogg). The potato is rich in all the vitamins. It contains important minerals; it contains more potassium salts than calcium salts.
The potato is best when cooked or baked in the skin. Most of its minerals and vitamins are in its external cellular layers.
The reader can make a simple experiment as follows: Cut a potato in half or split it into slices. Dip it in iodine solution. The center of it will look blue, because iodine gives starch a blue qualitative reaction. The external area looks brownish.
When potatoes are peeled before cooking, most of their minerals, vitamins, and proteins (about 4 per cent) would be discarded as garbage. Potato cooked in the skin without much water retains its nutriments. Baked potatoes are easier to digest than boiled potatoes.
Sweet potato is equally nourishing. It does, however, contain a higher amount of carbohydrates, in a form of sugar similar to table sugar (sucrose) . Sucrose is not so easily digested as other types of sugars, maltose, dextrose and fructose. People with poor digestion, and symptoms such as pain and pressure, should not eat any sweet potatoes.
Beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and German parsley roots are in common use but are not always properly prepared. These vegetables can be used raw in the making of vegetable juices in addition to leafy greens.
Carrots and beets have excellent flavor when properly prepared in salads. All these vegetables are easily digested in cooked form. Car-rots and beets, cooked as part of a dinner plate, should not be over-cooked or cooked in swimming water mixtures.
The parsnip is rather strong in taste and its flavor is not as popular as that of carrots. Parsnips are, however, richer in iron than are beets and carrots. Turnips are very tasty when grated together with other vegetables for a salad. Grated turnips with chopped raw parsley and grated carrots make a very palatable salad mixture. Cooked turnips are also valuable, though their flavor is not usually as acceptable as the flavor of beets and carrots.
All of the root vegetables contain minerals and vitamins that are essential to bodily health.
Vegetables That Ripen Above the Ground
Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, string beans, celery, kale, green squash, yellow squash and artichokes, are all excellent foods because they contain chlorophyll. All the vegetables that ripen above ground are rich in all the vitamins. The yellow vegetables, such as yellow squash and other varieties of squash, are particularly rich in vitamin content (particularly riboflavin—see chapter on vitamins). The chlorophyll of the fresh green and yellow vegetables is particularly valuable for promoting good health and well-being- It is superior to chlorophyll in capsule or pill preparations.
Cabbage and celery are particularly tasty in raw salads. These vegetables are all rich in lime and also in iron-
Some of the greens are richer in lime than others. Following is a list of a few popular greens, showing their lime and iron content:
Lime Content Iron Content Grains per oz. Grains per oz.
Cabbage 0.65 Cabbage 0.008
Dandelion 0.64 Dandelions 0.012
Swiss chard 0.92 Swiss chard 0.010
Endive 0.99 Endive 0-018
Turnip tops 1.05 Turnip tops 0.010
Watercress 1.15 Watercress 0.008
Romaine 2.76 Romaine 0.053
Lettuce 0.26 Lettuce 0.003
Among the root vegetables that are not so commonly used is oyster plant or salsify. This vegetable is particularly rich in a vegetable carbohydrate known as insulin which is valuable for the body economy- It is supposed to be "good for the heart."
Kohlrabi (turnip-cabbage) is high in alkaline content. Its flavor is delightful, either raw or properly cooked.
Jerusalem artichoke is another food which is not very popular.
It can be prepared by steaming, as in the case of carrots, beets, oyster plant or kohlrabi. Like the oyster plant, it is rich in insulin.
There is another green, called celery root or celeriac, which makes a fine addition to soup. It gives soup a sweet and dainty flavor.
Radish and Horseradish
Horseradish is definitely a condiment. It is similar to mustard root. A small amount of it, grated raw, mixed together with grated cooked beets and then chilled, makes a fine "relish" in addition to a salad or dinnerplate. Lemon juice, not vinegar, should be added to season this relish. Too much horseradish may aggravate the condition of an inflamed stomach or intestine or both. Those who have any symptoms of disease of the digestive organs should not take any sharp foods or food accessories, such as horseradish or pickled cucumbers. (Ordinary fresh cucumbers, by the way, when they are real young or small, are excellent additions for raw salad plates.)
There are a number of varieties of radish. There are young white radishes, red radishes, and also black radishes that can be stored in a cool cellar for out-of-season use- Radishes, like other vegetables, are rich in vitamins and minerals. One element, chlorine, is found in radishes in a particularly high percentage.
Corn on the cob, when it is really fresh and not too old, is a delicious food. It contains enough protein to provide a balanced requirement for the adult body. It contains enough carbohydrates to supply energy. It contains vitamins and minerals and it is easily digested.
It should be well masticated and—this is very important—it should not be cooked in a swimming mixture. A potful of corn can be cooked with only one glass of water when it is prepared in a tightly covered pot.
The pressure cooker is excellent for corn as well as the root vegetables. The vegetables that ripen above the ground-except the podded ones, such as peas and lima beans-are also excellent when prepared in a pressure cooker. The fresh leafy green vegetables are better when cooked by ordinary steaming in very little water. Eight to ten minutes is the maximum time for cooking asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, green squash, yellow squash, fresh or frozen peas, or cauliflower.
The tomato is classed as a garden fruit. It is richer in iron, lime and potash than are apples, pears, grapes, melons or cucumbers. It is also rich in vitamins. The tomato tastes best when ripened on the vine rather than on the window sill.
The tomato is used very widely in soups, sauces, and stews. There is no objection to it if it is not used very often as part of a cooked dish. It is more valuable when eaten raw.
Cucumbers as salad greens are tabooed by some because of the misconception that they are "hard to digest." In some countries, the cucumber is used even as a food for infants and young children.
In Egypt, for example, the cucumber is fed to infants. The famous American ballerina, Isadora Duncan, mentioned in her autobiography that "the people of Egypt subsist on a very simple fare. They live almost exclusively on lentils, lettuce and other greens, yet their bodies are beautiful."
Other Garden Fruits and Vegetables
Watermelons and other kinds of melons belong in this category. These delectable foodstuffs are rich in sugar, vitamins and minerals and the purest distilled water. They make nice appetizers and desserts. When the New Knowledge of Nutrition becomes widespread, the melons will be used, instead of candy and pastry, at mealtime as well as between meals.
Melons are sometimes prescribed for the cure of disease. No one food can cure anything. A knowledge of all foods-when to use them, when to leave them alone-is the best basis for intelligent eating.
Melons are also rich in cellulose fiber. People who have poor or delicate digestive power should not swallow all of the pulp. They should masticate the melon thoroughly and discard the pulp, or as much of it as they can.
This is in the category of vegetable-fruits. It is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins, and particularly rich in iodine and iron. It is sometimes called "vegetable marrow." Sometimes it is very bitter. When eggplant has grown too old, it contains a characteristic irritating substance which makes its fleshy substance unpalatable. Its seeds are also large and objectionable. Eggplant should therefore be lightweight, young and small when picked; and when an eggplant is bitter, it is best to discard it.
The preparation of eggplants depends on the locality where they are used. The Italians fry them in oil together with green peppers, onions, garlic, etc. Frying anything in fat makes an indigestible mess of food. The Rumanians use a more wholesome way of preparing egg-plant. They bake it, then peel it, chop it together with raw greens, and mix it with a little oil; chill it, and serve it on lettuce with tomatoes and other salad greens. It tastes quite nice in this form.
Another way to prepare eggplant scientifically is to steam it together with sliced onions, sliced green peppers and sliced tomatoes, in the pressure cooker. Season with butter or melted cheese just before serving. People with delicate digestion should not add any cheese or butter to steamed eggplant. It is easily digestible without any protein or fat seasoning.