Most people eat because they are hungry. Some do so because they are bored, put off, disappointed or otherwise upset. The grand majority knows little about the foods eaten, while an increasing minority wants to know more. But with the exception of nutrition experts, very few persons realize that it is not what you eat or even what you digest that counts, but only what you absorb. And this requires a lot of specialized knowledge, because what you absorb depends largely on your genetic code, blood group, ethnic origin, hereditary disposition, age, the condition of your internal organs and food composition. There is a very large difference between what various people absorb from the same foods. All that explains the need for this section. Eating is easy, provided you have some foods to eat. Eating healthily is not, even if you are amidst a sumptuous cornucopia.
Before the age of the chemical drugs, foods were also used for medicinal purposes. That is why even today, it is difficult to distinguish herbs from spices. The ancient Greeks based their preventive and curative medicine in large measure on foods, and the Hippocratic writings contain amazing relevant insights. Thus for example, when discussing legumes or pulses in Regimen in Acute Diseases, the ancient text reads: "And do not eat these [legumes] save together with bread."
More than a score of years ago, nutritionists would have smiled condescendingly at such a statement. As specialists, they knew that legumes and cereals have very similar basic nutrients, namely carbohydrates and proteins, differing only in relative amounts. Today we know that neither legumes nor cereals contain complete proteins, that is to say all the amino acids required to produce the array of proteins needed by the human organism. But taken together, they often do.
Only this is recent awareness. Amino acids imply knowledge down to the molecular level. The classical Greeks had no such knowledge. But they practiced the art of medicine with the consideration noted in the Hippocratic oath, of not causing the patient any harm. And foods are the best and safest medicines, as you can see under the section Healthy Foods.
Nutrition: The utilization of diet
The beneficial ingredients of foods is only one aspect of healthy eating. Foods have also some poisonous compounds, others that interfere with the absorption of some nutrients, and still others that can clog our arteries, worsen some diseases, and even cause the appearance of others. The starches and sugars of foods are absorbed at different rates, and this can affect the rise in blood glucose and the corresponding insulin response, matters of great concern to hypoglycemics and diabetics. Many of these items and a lot more are discussed in the section titled Nutrition Guide.
Then our distant ancestors ate their foods raw including meat. Marco Polo observed raw meat eating in 13th century China. Earlier in the 4th century B.C., the coast of the ichthiophagoi (fish eaters on the Persian Gulf coast) was inhabited by people who ate fish and other foods raw, as reported by Arrian the ancient historian in his Periplus of Nearchos. Eskimoes did the same well in the 20th century. But we eat m ost of our foods cooked, and this destroys part of their vitamins and minerals and all their enzymes. To get the most out of our foods, without going back to our ancestral raw eating ways, see the section Cooking Tips, abbreviated CT in the Healthy Foods text.
The last section of The Healthy Kitchen contains Recipes. These are from The Cookbook of over 500 recipes, composed explicitely for this web site. The recipes given here are representative rather than comprehensive. They are used to illustrate the principles of intelligent cooking. That is, cooking for taste, but also for maximum absorption, non-interfering food combinations, low fat, and low glycemic index. Many recipes are followed by a brief description explaining the whys and what-fors of the choices and substitutions made to sharpen your awareness.
When attempting to cook cabohydrate recipes that contain ingredients that are not suitablly combined you can use the following substitutions:
Egg - 1 tablespoon powdered flaxseed soaked in 3 tablespoons water
Bread crumps - ground oats
Fats for baking - applesauce or fruit puree
Milk - rice or oat milk
Wheat - combine millet, rice flour and potato starch