Nut

the head, in pugilistic slang. Used as an exclamation at a fight, it means to strike on the head. In tossing it is a direction to hide the head; to be “off one's nut ,” to be crazed or idiotic.

Nuts

Nuts as heat producers

The true nut is the seed of trees and shrubs which stores the greater proportion of food material for nourishing the seedling in the form of vegetable oil. The nut is very largely a fuel food or heat producer, therefore among the primitive races, along the warmer belts of the earth's surface, the nut was not of so much importance, but in the northern or colder countries, where the body-heat meets with such powerful resistance from climatic environment, the nut is of equal, if not of more importance than fruits.

There are a few miscellaneous articles of food that are classed as nuts, which do not belong primarily to this group.

In the following discussion I will take up the several varieties of nuts in the order of their general value as articles of human nutrition:

Pine nuts
Composition of the pine nut
The nitrogen factor in nuts

There are several species of pine seeds from many varieties of trees, and from many different countries. The Italian pine seed or nut, called in Italy "Pignon," and in this country "Pignolia," is the refined or cleansed nut, called by the writer "protoid" nut. This is a coined word given to it because it contains the highest percentage of protein of any other food that has yet been analyzed. The "protoid" nut contains 34 per cent protein, 47 per cent oil, 9 per cent carbohydrates, 4 per cent ash, and 6 per cent water. The relative proportion of nitrogen to energy is not so great as in some other food products, such as eggs, or skimmed milk. These contain a large per cent of water, so that the protoid nut, while containing pound for pound more nitrogen than any other known food, has a lower nitrogen factor than foods which do not contain so large a percentage of fat. This same rule will apply to all nuts. They are rich in protein, but because of the large amount of fat which supplies energy in its most condensed form, the nitrogen factor, which is the relation between nitrogen and energy, is often lower in many nuts than in grain. The chief advantage of protoid nuts over other varieties is in their softness, consequently they are more digestible, and more assimilable than any other specimen of the nut family.

The pine nuts which grow prodigally in the western part of the United States are not so rich in protein as the protoid nuts, but in other respects are very excellent food. The annual crop of these is about one million pounds, but is variable, a full crop being produced only about every third year. They are harvested in a very crude way, chiefly by Indians, from the remote districts of New Mexico, Utah and California.

Almonds

The almond is a most desirable food. It contains 17 per cent nitrogen, and 54 per cent fat. The flavor is very agreeable, and the nuts, in digestibility, rank next to protoid nuts. They may be substituted for each other in many dietaries.

Pecans

The pecan, which is a species of hickory-nut, contains 13 per cent protein, and 70 per cent fat. It is a very delicious article of food, though somewhat inferior to pine nuts and almonds, in digestibility, and as a source of nitrogen.

Brazil-nuts

Brazil-nuts contain 18 per cent protein and 66 per cent fat, and rank high as an article of body-heat and energy.

White walnuts

Soft-shelled or white walnuts are commonly known as "English walnuts," though they are chiefly grown in France and in California. These nuts contain 24 per cent protein, 63 per cent fat, and form one of the staple nut foods of both Europe and America.

Hazelnuts

Filberts or hazelnuts contain 15 per cent protein, and 65 per cent fat. They differ widely from the varieties hitherto named, and are less digestible. They should be masticated exceedingly fine, and should not be taken by one whose digestion is particularly weak.

Butternuts

Butternuts are a species of walnut. They contain 27 per cent protein, 61 per cent fat, and rank in the dietary along with English walnuts and Brazil-nuts.

Beechnuts

Beechnuts contain 22 per cent protein and 57 per cent fat. Owing to the difficulty of gathering or harvesting, these nuts have never become popular as an article of human food. They are in the grain class, therefore rank high as an energy-producing material.

Cocoanuts

The cocoanut is a product of the palm tree, and, while quite distinct from our nuts of the temperate climate, is a very valuable and abundant food, deserving more extended use. Cocoanut is about one-half fat, contains 6 per cent protein and 28 per cent carbohydrates. The milk of the cocoanut is an excellent article of food, and used by the natives in the tropics in many remedial and medicinal ways.

Nuts

  ====================================================================
                                 Pro- Carbohy- Calories
                       Water tein Fat drates Ash per lb.
  ——————————————————————————————————
  Acorns 4.1 8.1 37.4 48.0 2.4 2718
  Almonds 4.8 21.0 54.9 17.3 2.0 3030
  Brazil nuts 5.3 17.0 66.8 7.0 3.9 3329
  Filberts 3.7 15.6 65.3 13.0 2.4 3432
  Hickory nuts 3.7 15.4 67.4 11.4 2.1 3495
  Pecans 3.0 11.0 71.2 13.3 1.5 3633
  English walnuts 2.8 16.7 64.4 14.8 1.3 3305
  Chestnuts, dried 5.9 10.7 7.0 74.2 2.2 1875
  Butternuts 4.5 27.9 61.2 3.4 3.0 3371
  Cocoanuts 14.1 5.7 50.6 27.9 1.7 2986
  Pistachio nuts 4.2 22.6 54.5 15.6 3.1 3010
  Peanuts, roasted 1.6 30.5 49.2 16.2 2.5 3177
  ——————————————————————————————————

Nuts vary a great deal in composition. They are generally the seeds of trees, enclosed in shells, but other substances are also called nuts. The representative nuts are rich in fat and protein, containing some carbohydrate (sugar or starch.)

A few nuts, such as the acorn, cocoanut and chestnut, are very rich in starch, and these should be classified as starchy foods. Very few foods contain as high per cent of starch as the dry chestnut. In southern Europe chestnuts are made into flour, and this is made into bread or cakes. An inferior bread is also made of acorn flour. Chestnuts may be boiled or roasted. They are very nutritious.

The more representative nuts are pecans, filberts, Brazil nuts and walnuts. These may be used in place of flesh foods, for they furnish both protein and fats. If the kernel is surrounded by a tough membrane, as is the case in walnuts and almonds, it should be blanched, which consists in putting the kernel in very hot water for a little while and then removing this membrane. The pecan, though it does not contain very much protein, is one of the best nuts, one which can be eaten often without producing dislike.

Nuts have the reputation of being hard to digest. If they are not well masticated they are very hard to digest indeed, but when they are well masticated they digest almost as completely as do flesh foods and they produce no digestive troubles.

One reason that nuts have obtained a bad reputation is that they are often eaten at the end of a heavy meal, when perhaps two or three times too much food has already been ingested. The result is indigestion and the sufferer swears off on nuts. If he had sense enough to reduce his intake of bread, potatoes, meat, pudding and coffee, the benefit would be very great. The tendency is for the sufferer from indigestion to pick out a certain food and blame all the trouble on that, when in truth the combinations and the quantity of food are to blame.

Some vegetarians make nuts one of their principal foods. We can easily get along without flesh, for we can obtain all the protein needed from milk, eggs, nuts and legumes. However, people who are used to flesh are able to digest it when they can take hardly anything else. The foods which we prefer are taken largely because we have become accustomed to them and have formed a liking for them, not because they are the very best from which to select.

Cooking

Nut butter : Take the nut meats, clean away all the skins and grind fine in a nut mill. Then form into a pasty substance with or without the addition of oil or water, to suit the individual taste. Most nut butters are very agreeable in flavor. Sometimes the nuts are roasted and sometimes they are not. Almond butter is very good. The nut butters soon spoil if left exposed to the air, for the oils they contain turn rancid.

Peanut butter can be made by taking clean kernels of freshly roasted peanuts and grinding fine. Some are very fond of this butter. Cocoanut and cocoa butters are not made in this way. They are purified fats, the former from cocoanuts, the latter from the cocoa bean.

Nut milk : Take nut butter and mix with water until it is of the desired consistency. Cocoanuts contain a sweet liquid which is called cocoanut milk. However, the artificial cocoanut milk is made by pouring a pint of boiling water over the flesh of a freshly grated cocoanut. Let it stand until cold and strain. If it is allowed to stand some hours the fat will rise to the top and form cream. This milk is used by some who object to the use of animal products.

Various meals are made from nuts and made into food for the sick. This does no harm, nor does it do any special good. These meals contain more or less starch and the action of starches is much the same, no matter what the source. Please remember that there are no health foods.

Combinations

Nuts are especially fine in combination with fruits. Fresh pecan meats and mild apples make a meal fit for the gods. Nuts may be used in any combination in which flesh is used, that is, they take the place of flesh foods. The starchy nuts take the place of starchy foods.

A good meal is made of a fruit salad, consisting of two or three kinds of fresh fruits and nuts.

Nuts or nut butter with toast also make a good meal.

Nuts have such fine flavor that cooks should think twice before spoiling them. It is very difficult to use them in cookery and get a product that is as finely flavored as the original nuts. The vegetarians use them in compounding what they call roasts, cutlets, steaks, etc. My experience with these imitation products has not been of the best, for though my digestive organs are strong, they do not take kindly to these mixtures. Some of my friends report the same results, in spite of thorough mastication and moderation. These imitation roasts and cutlets usually contain much starch and there is no reason to believe that it is better to cook nut oils into starchy foods than it is to use any other form of fat for this purpose. Those who like starch and nuts can make a splendid meal of nut meats and whole wheat biscuits or zwieback.

In eating nuts, always remember that the mastication must be thorough. It takes grinding to break up the solid nut meats and the stomach and bowels have no teeth. Those who can not chew well should use the nuts in the form of butter.

Ordinarily two ounces of nut meats, or less, are sufficient for a meal.

At present prices, nuts are not expensive, as compared with meat. Meat is mostly water. Lean meat produces from five to seven hundred calories to the pound. Nut meats produce from twenty-seven to thirty-three hundred calories per pound. In other words, a pound of nut meats has the same fuel value as about five pounds of lean meat, but not as great protein value.

Those who are not used to nuts have a tendency to overeat, but this is largely overcome as soon as people become accustomed to them.

Chapter XII

Legumes

  ====================================================================
                                 Pro- Carbohy- Calories
                       Water tein Fat drates Ash per lb.
  ——————————————————————————————————
  Fresh Legumes :
  String beans ……… 89.2 2.3 0.3 7.4 0.8 195
  Shelled limas …….. 68.5 7.1 0.7 22.0 1.7 570
  Shelled peas ……… 74.6 7.0 0.5 16.9 1.0 465

Dried Legumes :

  Lima beans ……….. 10.4 18.1 1.5 65.9 4.1 1625
  Navy beans ……….. 12.6 22.5 1.8 59.6 3.5 1605
  Lentils ………….. 8.4 25.7 1.0 59.2 5.7 1620
  Dried peas ……….. 9.5 24.6 1.0 62.0 2.9 1655
  Soy beans ………… 10.8 34.0 16.8 33.7 4.7 1970
  Peanuts ………….. 9.2 25.8 38.6 24.4 2.0 2560
  ——————————————————————————————————-

Analyses of all foods are approximate. The food value varies with the conditions under which the foods are grown and is not always even approximately the same.

The fresh young legumes may be classed with the succulent vegetables. The matured, dried legumes are to be classed both as starchy and proteid foods. They are very easily raised and consequently cheap. They are the cheapest source of protein that we have. Peas and beans are very important foods in Europe. In this country we consume enormous quantities of beans. In Mexico they use a great deal of frijoles, the poor people having this bean at nearly every meal. In China they make the soy beans into various dishes. The lentil is much used in Europe and is gaining favor here, as it should, for it is splendid food, with a flavor of its own. Peanuts, which are really not nuts, but leguminous plants growing their seeds under the ground, are used extensively as food for man and beast.

These foods are much alike in composition, the soy bean being exceptionally rich in protein.

These foods have the undeserved reputation of being indigestible and of producing flatulence. They are a little more difficult to digest than some other foods, but they cause no trouble if they are taken in simple combinations and in moderation, provided they have been properly prepared.

It is necessary to masticate these foods very well, and avoid overeating. They are generally so soft that they are swallowed without proper mouth preparation. The result is that too much is taken of these rich foods, after which there is indigestion accompanied by gas production.

One rather peculiar food belonging to the legumes is the locust bean or St. John's bread, which we can sometimes obtain at the candy stores. It grows near the Mediterranean and is used in places for cattle feed. It is so sweet that it is eaten as a confection. Its name is due to the fact that they say St. John lived on this bean and wild honey. If he did he must have had a sweet tooth. Others say that the saint really devoured grasshoppers. It is not easy to decide, but I prefer to believe that he was a vegetarian.

Cooking

The fresh young legumes are to be considered in the same class as succulent vegetables, which are dealt with in the next chapter.

Ripe peas, beans and lentils may be cooked alike.

In cooking ripe legumes, try to get as soft water as possible. Hard water contains salts of lime and magnesia and these prevent the softening of the legumes.

Bean soup : Clean the beans and wash them. Let them soak over night. Cook them in the same water in which they have been soaked, until tender. They are to be cooked in plain water without any seasoning and with the addition of neither fats, starches nor other vegetables. When the beans are done, meat stock and other vegetables may be added, if desired. Pea soup is made in the same way.

The reason for not draining away the water in which the beans are soaked is that it takes up some of the valuable salts, the phosphates for instance. The addition of seasoning or fat while they are cooking makes the beans indigestible.

Baked beans : Clean and wash well. Soak them over night. Let them boil about three and one-half to four hours, using the water in which they were soaked. Then put them into the oven to bake. They are to be cooked plain and no fat or seasoning is to be added while they are baking. After they are done you may add some form of fatty dressing, such as bacon, which has been stewed in a separate dish, or you may dress them with butter and salt when they are served. Cooked this way they digest much more easily than when cooked in the ordinary way with tomatoes and grease. Some prefer to add either sugar or molasses to the beans when they are put into the oven. Avoid too much sweetening. Lentils may be baked in the same way.

Boiled beans : The same as bean soup, except that less water is used. Dressing may be the same as for baked beans. Lentils and peas may be treated in the same way.

Beans and corn may be cooked together.

Combinations

The legumes are so very rich that they should be eaten in very simple combinations. It is best to take them with some of the raw salad vegetables and nothing else, or with the raw salad vegetables and one of the stewed succulent vegetables. The legumes contain all the protein and all the force food the body needs, so it is useless to add meat, bread and potatoes. Tomatoes and other acid foods should not be used in the same meal, yet beans and tomatoes or beans and catsup are very common combinations.

A plate of bean soup makes a good lunch. Bean soup or baked or boiled beans with succulent vegetables, raw and cooked, give all the nourishment needed in a dinner.

Pea and bean flours can be purchased on the market. These flours can not be made into dough, but they may be used for thickening. They contain more protein than ordinary flour.

Both peas and beans may be roasted, but they are rather difficult to masticate. Roasted peas have a fine flavor. Roasted peanuts are a nutritious food, and may be taken in place of peas or beans.

More legumes and less flesh foods will help to reduce the cost of living. Taken in moderation and well masticated, the legumes are excellent foods.