The first unit in our home economics course, Your Home and You, is titled – Food is More Than Flavor. This unit begins with an introduction to “Food, a Valuable Friend” and then the first of 15 chapters, “Inviting Breakfasts”.
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Food is More Than Flavor
Intro: Food, a Valuable Friend
The unit begins with an overview of the correlation between good nutrition and “good looks”. It describes an experiment done in which two groups of children in the same school were selected. One group received a glass of milk mid-morning while the other did not.
Records were made at the beginning of the school year including:
- the condition of the pupil’s heart, lungs and other internal organs
- facial expression
At the end of the school year the students were examined again and the “great majority” of those receiving the extra cup of milk showed improvement while those not receiving the milk did not.
The claim is made that proper food is “a real beauty aid” contributing to:
- clear and healthy-looking skin
- red lips
- sweet breath
- abundant and glossy hair
- sound teeth
- erect posture
- a bright and alert facial expression
There is a chart of essential foods to eat each day based upon recommendations by the Committee on Foods and Nutrition, National Research Council:
- Milk – Adults 1 pint; children 1 1/2 pints to 1 quart.
- Eggs – 1 daily or at least 3 or 4 a week
- Meat – 1 serving (1 ounce at 1 year, up to 3 ounces for adults).
- Vegetables – 2 servings. One leafy, green, or yellow.
- Fruits – 2 servings. One citrus or tomato, and one other, as apples, prunes, etc.
- Potato – One or more servings.
- Bread and Cereal – Most or preferably all, whole grain or “enriched”.
- Butter – Or oleomargarine fortified with Vitamin A.
- Sugar and Fat – (To supply sufficient calories.) For use in preparation of food.
There is then a brief discussion of nutritional diseases such as night blindness, pellagra, beri-beri, scurvy and rickets.
Inviting Breakfasts. The Flavorous Foods – Fruits
Take Time to Eat Breakfast.
- The body needs fuel, much like an automobile
- There is a long time between the evening meal and breakfast. The body needs food after the long fast.
- Headaches, irritability, etc. may arise from skipping breakfast
What and How Much Shall You Eat For Breakfast?
Food for breakfasts should be nourishing, easily digested, and not very sweet. Fruit is recommended as a first food of the day followed by hot or dry cereal topped with milk or toast with butter. A nourishing drink such as whole milk or cocoa is suggested.
An egg and/or bacon might be added to the meal, especially for those requiring extra calories. It is also recommended that at least one hot item be included during breakfast.
Making Breakfast Menus.
There are two sample patterns for breakfasts offered.
Simple Breakfast – fruit, breakfast cereal with top milk or cream, buttered toast, beverage
Heavier Breakfast – fruit, breakfast cereal with top milk or cream, eggs, bacon or other cured meat, bread/rolls/muffins/toast, beverage
A sample menu for each is suggested.
Simple Menu – cooked dried apricots, rolled oats with top milk, milk or cocoa (coffee, tea or cocoa for adults)
Heavier Menu – orange or tomato juice, Wheatena with raisins and top milk, poached egg on toast, corn bread and butter, milk or cocoa (coffee, tea or cocoa for adults)
Note: “Top milk” refers to the upper layer of milk enriched by cream that has risen to the top. I would guess this was roughly equivalent to today’s whole milk.
Foods from Which to Choose Breakfast Menus.
This section contains a list of “suitable” foods for breakfasts in the following categories:
- Fruits – fresh, fruit juices, cooked and canned
- Cereals – cooked, ready-to-serve
- Breads – yeast or raised, quick breads
- Waffles, French Toast, Pan-Fried Corn-Meal Mush
- Eggs – cooked in shell, poached or baked, used in omelets, plain or combined with meats, fish, vegetables, or fruits
- Meats and Fish – bacon, sausage, ham and fish (plain or creamed)
Contrasts in the Foods of a Menu.
It is recommended that in a well-planned menu there are foods that contrast in:
- Dryness and moistness
- Size or shape
Serving the Breakfast Fruit.
This section contains fairly detailed instructions regarding methods and recipes for preparing fruit juices, fresh tomato juice, applesauce, baked fruits, and dried fruits.
Cooking in a Covered or Uncovered Pan.
General guidelines and rules about cooking or baking fruit including whether to cover the pan or leave it uncovered.
Using a Pressure Saucepan.
Guidelines and rules about using a pressure saucepan.
Cooking Dried Fruits Quickly.
This section includes a table for pressure cooking dried fruits including how much water and sugar to add per pound of fruit as well as how long to cook.
What do Fresh Fruits Contain?
Especially valuable substances found in fruits include:
- Cellulose (or roughage)
What Vitamins Do in the Body.
- Keep the body well and resist infections.
- Make us grow.
- Give us an appetite.
- Make the stomach and intestines function as they should.
- Keep the nerves and glands functioning normally.
- Develop and maintain good teeth and bones,
- Keep the eyes in good condition.
- Prolong your prime of life.
- Clot the blood and prevent hemorrhage.
- Keep the skin and mucous membranes healthy.
- Make certain glands function normally.
What Minerals Do in the Body.
Our blood must have iron. Our bones, teeth and other parts of the body must have calcium and phosphorus. Additional minerals help carry out many bodily functions. Minerals come from our foods and it’s important to select foods that provide needed minerals. Calcium and iron are two minerals needed in quantities that may be difficult to obtain if foods are not carefully chosen.
Minerals and Vitamins in Fruit.
Yellow fruits such as apricots and yellow peaches are valued for their vitamin A content. Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Most fruits don’t contain much calcium except figs. Most dried fruits and a few fresh fruits are good sources of iron.
The Value of Cellulose in Fruits.
Cellulose (what we now refer to as fiber) sweeps through the intestines stimulating their action and helping to eliminate waste materials.
What Do Dried and Canned Fruits Contain?
Dried fruits lose some vitamins during drying, and vitamin C is largely destroyed.
Vitamin C may also be destroyed during cooking or canning although less so when kept covered.
Points To Investigate and Consider
Experiment – What is the action of water on sugar?
Stir a teaspoonful of sugar in half a glass of water. There are then several observations made.
There are several assignments such as planning low-cost breakfasts or making a list of foods eaten the day before and comparing it to recommended guidelines.
My Take on “Inviting Breakfasts”…
To be perfectly honest, I have never enjoyed breakfast. I’m perfectly happy with a cup of hot tea and maybe…occasionally…a piece of toast. I lean more toward the French Style Breakfast. Lately I have been at least trying to have a couple of ounces of orange juice and maybe a little oatmeal or yogurt, though.
For the most part (and despite my personal distaste for breakfast) I think the information in this chapter is worthwhile and still applicable to modern life. I do find it interesting how food charts have changed over time. This book was written during the era of the Basic Seven, in effect from 1943-1956. This was a wartime effort to keep the populace healthy and strong.
In 1956 the USDA switched to the simplified Basic Four which is what I grew up with. I assume this model was adopted because it was easier to follow but there’s certainly something to be said for the specificity of the Basic Seven, particularly in terms of fruits, vegetables and potatoes. Lumping all fruits and vegetables together might lead some to believe all are equal while in fact, there are vastly different vitamin and mineral profiles in various types of produce.
For more specifics about the Basic Seven and the rationale behind it:
A history of the nutrition guides in the United States from the Basic Seven to the current My Plate guide.
This blog series is based on the 1949 edition of Your Home and You by Carlotta C. Greer.