Diet for Health By Natural Methods
Compiled by Leah Press-Lovell with recipes sent into the Lovell's LA Times Column "The Care of The Body"
Los Angeles, 1928 (4th edition)
Think almond milk, meat substitutes, and “no bake,” gluten-free dessert are contemporary LA phenomenons? Check out the recipes in Diet for Health by Natural Methods, compiled by Dr Philip M. Lovell and his wife Leah Press Lovell in 1928. A few of the photos here show the book in front of the couple’s Los Feliz home, designed by renowned LA architect Richard Neutra and built at the same time as this recipe book’s publication.
By the 1920s, Dr. Lovell was a well-known, naturopathic doctor in Los Angeles. The second half of Diet for Health is filled with community-sourced, vegetarian recipes submitted by readers of his popular LA Times column “Care of the Body”.
Coinciding with the printing of Diets for Health, the “Lovell Health House” in Los Feliz was conceived as a demonstration home for exercise, healthy living, and vegetarian cooking. The house is still standing today and is often considered a turning point in architect Richard Neutra’s career. Both the Lovells and the Neutras ran in the same bohemian circle in LA. Indeed, progressive philosophy around food and lifestyle often went hand and hand with new thinking on design. Leah Lovell was a kindergarten teacher alongside Pauline Schindler (wife of modern architect Rudolph Schindler) in an experimental school located on the grounds of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Aline Barndall estate, now Barnsdall Park.
Long before he moved to LA and reinvented himself as “Philip,” Dr. Lovell was was born Morris Saperstein in a Russian-Jewish immigrant family in Manhattan, For more on the Lovells’ fascinating story, see Lyra Kilston’s book Sun Seekers: The Cure of California
I’ve made several dishes from this book, including a recipe for “Raisin-Cocoanut Balls” and also the aforementioned almond milk. Almond milk has existed in various forms for centuries. The recipe in this book calls for mixing almond butter and honey with water - likely because domestically available blenders weren’t powerful enough to blend almonds directly at home.