Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Taste a health food store!

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.


  1. You are so right! I have a bunch of these 70s cookbooks, too and since I'm mostly vegetarian (and have 2 vegetarian teens) I want to like the recipes, but...oy, honestly. Have you seen the Kripalu Kitchen one? Lovely people wrote it, but the recipes (esp. desserts) are quite leaden and bizarre.

    On another note, thank you so much for visiting and commenting on Kitchen Retro! I am going to put Grannie Pantries (such a great name!) on my Links page - I adore old cookbooks and originally KR was just going to be about my collection. I got distracted by my love of old ads, though ;)

    1. I haven't seen the Kripalu Kitchen one yet. I'll have to keep an eye out for it!

      Thank you for adding me to the links page. I am just getting started and figuring out what to do with a blog, so I'm happy for any attention.

      As for old ads, I love them too! There is a good possibility some may end up here too....

  2. Hi Poppy!

    I can't tell you how delighted I am that you found me! Thank you! And you found Lidian too! You are going to love her blog! And, I'm in heaven to have found yours.

    From what I can tell from your archive label, it seems you may be new to the blogging world. If so, just let me know if there is anything I can help you with. I'm going to put your link in my sidebar so I can keep track of your posts. (I can't follow you on google+ because I'm not on it:)

    As for that Rodale book, I have that book somewhere around here. From the looks of things, I should probably drag it out if for no other reason a few chuckles. I can't say I have seen it through your eyes but I must admit, it does sound rather absurdly obscure, lol...

    Thank you so much for sharing, Louise

    P.S. As for that tagline...I will eventually be crushed to death by my own cookbooks. I LOVE it!

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I am indeed just starting out and trying to figure blogging out as I go along. If you have any constructive criticism, it is welcome.

    2. HI Poppy!

      I don't have any constructive criticism to add at all, I enjoy your blog just as it is.

      I just thought if there were any problems or questions, perhaps I could help.

      Thanks again, now I'm off to check out your latest post:)

  3. I really love reading and following your post as I find them extremely informative and interesting. Thanks...........
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