Unfortunately, like so many domestic arts, cooking tends to be neglected nowadays and some women are positively proud that they can't so much as boil an egg. As usual, this caused a somewhat extreme reaction, and as a result we got an abundance of magazines and TV programs which promote rather unrealistic standards as an average busy wife and mother in all probability, won't be able to cook at a 5 star restaurant level.
The truth is that meals don't have to be too complicated in order to be nutritious and taste well. An important thing is to know which ingredients to choose and to be aware of the basics of healthy eating. I thought it's interesting to compare the 1950s guidelines for proper meals with the modern ones.
According to one 1950s manual, an adequate breakfast should consist of fruit, cereal + milk and bread and butter. A full breakfast will add egg or meat. An adequate lunch will feature a main dish, vegetables, bread and butter + fruit, while a full lunch will also have cake, cookies or pudding. As for dinner, an adequate dinner is one consisting of meat and potatoes, green or yellow vegetables, salad (raw vegetables), bread and butter and fruit. Now a full dinner adds to this an appetizer or soup and finishes the meal with pie or cake for dessert.
It seems rather excessive to me, though I suppose they ate smaller portions. On the other hand, it's interesting to know that you were expected to eat warm at least twice a day, as opposed to the modern system of relying on sandwiches and snacks and having only one warm meal a day. I also noticed that you were supposed to eat a lot of bread. Nowadays there is a discussion going on about gluten-free products as some people have severe allergy to gluten.
Wheat which is commonly used for making commercial sorts of bread is high in gluten content and I have personally read articles which stated that even if you are not allergic to it, it's probably not all that good for you. While I'm not sure if I agree with this claims, I did some research into the alternative to commercial wheat sorts, called spelt.
Spelt or dinkel wheat is an ancient wheat species mentioned in the Bible which was widely cultivated from the Bronze Age to medieval times. It's still used in Germany to make Dinkelbrot. Spelt flour contains less gluten but has a higher overall protein content. It is quite expensive, but can be used in combination with "normal" wheat flour. Spelt bread has a dark colour and nutty flavour (read more about spelt over here). Here is an article on health benefits of spelt flour.
Another product I'd like to talk about today is molasses, a by-product of sugar-refining process, featured in the picture above. Molasses, or blackstrap molasses is a good substitute for refined sugar. It has a rather peculiar taste and is less sweet, but that is something you get accustomed to. On the positive side, molasses has proven health benefits and supposedly is a good remedy against many health problems, including cancer.
As homemakers, we should always strive to do the best for our families, which includes (but is not limited to) learning about the latest discoveries in the field of nutrition as our own health and that of our family depends on it!