This section is from the book "Mrs. Allen's Cook Book", by Mrs. Ida C. Bailey Allen. See also: The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat.
In the chapter on the Balanced Ration the importance of vegetables in the diet has been explained. Every family should use them freely, for they are vital for efficient nutrition and good health. To understand the possibilities of vegetables in the menu and diet, it is necessary mentally to classify them into six groups:
1. Meat Substitutes
2. Starchy Vegetables
3. Bulky Vegetables
4. Vegetables rich in Salts
5. Watery Vegetables
6. Esthetic Vegetables
The group of legumes belongs under the first heading and includes beans, peas and lentils. Whereas the dried seeds are a most valuable meat substitute and an all-year food, the fresh pods or dried fresh pods are no richer in protein than any other vegetable. Under "starchy vegetables" we find the cereals, the two most frequently used being corn and rice. Polished rice should never be used, as it is coated with talc. Both it and uncoated rice are almost entirely starch, containing only a small amount of protein, fat and mineral matter. For this reason it should serve as an accompaniment to meats or other proteins or as a cereal. Brown rice, on the other hand, contains all of the grain, and, like home-ground cornmeal, is a splendid food in itself. The potato should be mentioned here as a specific example of the starchy vegetable. The sweet potato is also included in this group.
Asparagus, carrots, spinach, salsify, cabbage, romaine, beets, swiss chard and dandelion greens and celery are all bulky vegetables, particularly suitable to use with a menu of concentrated foods like eggs, or cheese, for they afford the necessary bulk to help on the intestinal action, and consequently aid digestion.
This same list really includes the "vegetables rich in salts" and to it may be added radishes, lettuce, cress, endives, tomatoes, squash, egg plant and cucumbers, which contain more or less mineral salts and a large percentage of water. Because of these two properties this group is indispensable, as it affords direct salts to the blood and water to bathe the body tissues. Under esthetic vegetables may be grouped those which are essentially used as seasonings, a trace giving a dish the sparkle necessary to make it out of the ordinary. Radishes have this property, so have parsley and watercress, but it is most marked in the green or red pepper.