Cooking For Health
( Originally Published 1927 )
It is not usual to take space in a book of this kind for the subject of cooking. But good cooking is one of the fundamentals of health, for it is the preparation of the material basis of life. Ask a builder if his bricks and mortar should be well made. Then ask yourself if the ingredients that make up your body ought to be well prepared.
Everybody, men and women, ought to know how to prepare and dress their foods, and this is as true of those who never prepare a meal as of those who cook three meals a day. Fried foods, greasy dishes, health-destroying dressings, and the devitalized preparations that the average individual eats almost every day shorten life.
The art of cooking can be made an aid to health and long life—an aid in our endeavor to outwit old age. To accomplish this desirable end, foods must be cooked for the sake of digestibility, and they must be so prepared that the valuable mineral salts are retained.
Cooking as here recommended results in greater enjoyment of food, for natural foods have a better flavor, after the palate becomes normal, than the complex and highly seasoned mixtures that are so popular.
Cooking is the application of heat to foods. Spices, sauces and various modes of mixing cause overeating, for they overstimulate the palate. The plainer the cooking, the better for the consumer's health, and the more it will be relished in the long run. Foods that are properly prepared are appetizing, but not abnormally stimulating.
We lack the power to digest all of our foods raw. Our energy is used up in work and dissipation. Raw grains and many raw vegetables are difficult to digest. The cooking, when rightly performed, breaks up the tough cellulose (a fibrous substance) that covers the starch cells and this allows the digestive juices to penetrate the whole mass of food.
The muscle fibers of the flesh have a covering of tough connective tissue. Cooking softens this tissue, giving free juices.
Digestive power varies with circumstances. During a tramp in the woods, with its abundance of exercise and fresh air, and lack of worry, digestion is improved. Serenity increases digestive power, while such emotions as anger, worry and jealousy decrease it.
Plain cooking is by far the best.