Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A "diet" recipe with more calories than the real thing!

If nothing else, this blog shows me again and again how lucky people with specialized diets are to live now, and not several decades ago.

Today's exhibit from the promotional pamphlet "Golden Good Cooking with Betty Crocker's Saff-o-life Safflower Oil: Recipes for Special Diets Using Oil" (1966) shows a bit more balance than some of the others. I'll start with something that looks luscious for a change:


It's pretty hard to hate crunchy-topped, cinnamony coffee cake or muffins sparkling with bright-red jelly (even if the caption specifies that the jelly is "dietetic"). The recipes don't sound terrible, even if they do substitute oil for butter and egg whites for whole eggs:

Then one's eye stops at "Saff-o-spread."

(I will pause here and allow you to spend a moment giggling about and/or enjoying any images that come to mind based on the name alone.)

This homemade substitute for butter is basically vegetable oil pumped full of nonfat dry milk and water, emulsified with a bit of cornstarch. It sounds like a lot of work and expense for a spread (with basically the same number of calories per tablespoon as butter) that will be at least as disappointing as the cheap and ready-to-use butter substitutes stocking the supermarket today.

The substitute would likely have significantly less saturated fat than butter, though, so that's something in its favor. An even less helpful recipe appears on an earlier page:

The end proudly notes mock sour cream has only 36 calories per tablespoon, which might have sounded like a good savings in the days before mandatory calorie labeling. However, real sour cream only has about 30 calories per tablespoon. This recipe may save a bit of saturated fat, but considering that it's based on (whole milk) cottage cheese and sour cream has only about 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon (compared to 7 for butter), this is a lot of work for a presumably disappointing product that will give diners more calories and little, if any, saving in saturated fat.

Betty is pushing hard for home cooks to consider her oil to be the "Saff-o-life" (Har!) for those who need low-cal or low-animal-fat diets, but I call bullshit.

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