About a week ago a friend lent me her 1968 copy of Ten Talents, a Seventh-Day Adventist cookbook which you can find used. She thought I would be interested in the extensive use of coconut oil in a book from the 1960's. Although I am very intrigued by the recipes in Ten Talents, what fascinates me even more is the instructions on nutrition—how to eat to be healthy—and how good nutrition is Christian.
I got into cooking (or rather uncooking) six years ago when I thought the raw food movement was first happening. I lived in Maryland then. My teachers (my naturopath, nutritionist and good friend) were going to raw classes and teaching me about raw food—how to make it, and why it's good for you. We got books like Raw Food, Real World: 100 Recipes to Get the Glow , and Raw: The Uncook Book. The most fun though, was taking the concepts we found, and creating our own recipes.
Now I'm borrowing this Seventh-Day Adventist cookbook from a friend here in Colorado and I see that everything I thought was new about raw food was already published in 1968. And where do the authors of this cookbook get their information about nutrition? From Ellen G. White, a visionary of the Seventh-Day Adventist church from... are you ready for this? The late 1800's. The late 1800's?! People have been promoting my beliefs on good nutrition for over a hundred years?
But wait, there's more! Ellen G. White believed that good nutrition is biblical. This cookbook preaches that eating healthy is not only good for you, but is what God wants. Ten Talents cites the bible for their instructions on what foods we should eat. That would make the concept of eating healthy not only as old as Ellen G. White, but thousands of years old.
As someone who has struggled to defend our reasons for eating healthy (well, mostly on the East Coast, not in Colorado), this is really exciting to me. I realize now that I'm not doing anything new, I'm just doing what most Americans nowadays don't. I feel so refreshed :-)
So what nutritional practices does this cookbook teach exactly? This book is very anti-refined sugar, calling it poison (as I often do).
They recommend honey, dates, and fruit to sweeten. Here is one of my favorite sketches in the book, where they call for "abstaining from white sugar products."
Several places also call for drinking water—6 to 8 glasses a day—between meals, because water with food dilutes the enzymes our bodies need to digest food. Drinking lots of water is one of their "Seven Keys to Health."
Ten Talents tells us to eat as much raw food as possible, how to conserve food, not to overcook food, how to use herbs for healing, how to use juice for therapy, how to combine foods, and more.
Some passages that spoke to me:
I am crazy about this book, and I would love to see some of the updated editions (how the book may have changed with time), as well as some of the books written by Ellen G. White. I've already ordered a used copy of Councils on Diets and Foods on Amazon. Can't wait.
I must warn you, while Ten Talents is well-known as one of the best vegetarian cookbooks of all time, this cookbook is NOT gluten-free. But that doesn't mean that you can't find tons of great recipes, information and inspiration in it. Here is a photo of two of the recipes I've already made: Healthy Candy (I left out the carob) and Fruity Chews (p. 122 and 123), both raw. They were a little too moist after being refrigerated, so I put them in the dehydrator over night, and now they're perfect. Totally yummy. I'm going to make a bigger batch of them to freeze for my maternity leave :-)