I am mostly vegetarian, and nothing reminds me just how glad I am to be mostly vegetarian now rather than, say 40 years ago, like an old "healthy" and/or vegetarian cookbook. The Rodale Cookbook (copyright 1973, but mine is the eleventh printing from 1977) makes a great example.
The start of the chapter on desserts sounds just as unpromising as one can imagine. The recipe writers had to deal "with the challenge of providing tempting desserts that are totally free from refined sugar, chocolate, white flour, and similarly undesirable ingredients, most of which are synonymous with dessert." The writers go on to say that "The discoveries we've made in meeting this challenge have broadened our ideas of what a dessert can be." I think that may be a bit of an understatement. Here is one promising recipe:
The title alone is enough to make me run. Naming a grain and a legume and tacking on the word "dessert" to clarify what the dish is supposed to be is not an inviting start. Reading the actual recipe doesn't help. Like many of the desserts in the book, this is loaded with skim milk powder. (Yum!) Adding whole wheat and soy flours, a handful of raisins, an egg, and a dab of honey makes me imagine that the "dessert" will smell like the inside of a health food store, and I have never wanted to eat a health food store.
I'm also amused by the ways our ideas of "healthy" foods change over the years. This is considered healthy at least in part because it has whole wheat and soy in it. They're given prime real estate in the title! Now, many health foodists avoid wheat and soy. (Gluten! Phytoestrogens!)
Another recipe to suggest the gap between health food then and health food now:
Yes, the brown rice and spinach are still "healthy," but it would be hard to get away with labeling this health food now with all the cheese and eggs.
The casserole doesn't sound terrible, but I imagine it as a bit leaden and oily, as seventies "healthy" recipes usually are. If I had to pick between this and the inside-of-the-health-food-store "dessert," though, I think I'd go with the casserole.