Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Dieting with the home ec teachers

I hope you're not sick of wacky diet recipes. If you are-- too bad! I'm not. Today's diet recipes are from one of my favorite sources-- home ec teachers:

Dieting to Stay Fit (1978) covers a whole spectrum of concerns. There's a chapter on low-calorie recipes, of course, but there is also one for weight gain recipes. Some chapters seem a bit dated (low-cholesterol recipes), while others match current diet trends (high protein, natural foods).

I'm a little bit confused about how the recipes were categorized, though. For example, the next two recipes are from two different chapters: one from the low-cal chapter and one from the weight gain chapter. Which one is which?

Given that I just told you I was confused about how the home-ec teachers decided which recipes should go in which chapters, I hope you guessed correctly. That's right: the Hawaiian Cool-It, full of sugary Hawaiian Punch, ginger ale, and fruit juices, is the low-cal recipe. It doesn't even use diet ginger ale! Maybe the fact that it doesn't call for a hearty pour of straight-up corn syrup and/or heavy cream makes it diet?

The recipe for lean chicken breasts stir-fried in minimal oil with non-starchy vegetables is billed as a weight gain formula. It even has a reasonable serving size, dividing the two chicken breasts among four people! Maybe Susie Devoll forgot to add that the whole thing is supposed to be served on top of an enormous mound of fried noodles and/or rice?

Not all of the categorizations defy logic, though. I'll bet you can guess what chapter this recipe comes from:

Yep, "Hip Padder Bars" are from the weight gain chapter. I'm not sure how caramels, German chocolate cake mix, margarine, and chocolate chips will help with the "fit" lifestyle the title suggests, but they are pretty certain to add some padding!

I may have been most fascinated with the high protein chapter because that's a current diet trend and I always wonder how people will cram extra protein anywhere they can find a space. Here's an idea that I still see in "new" recipes:

Turn the carby pizza crust into something else. I see chicken breasts as the go-to option today, but Meat-zza Pie uses meatloaf as the "crust." (I think I would have minded meat loaf a lot less as a kid if my mom had topped it like a pizza!)

Other high-protein recipes, however, seem largely abandoned:

Nutritious Lemonade, anyone? Or even better, to reflect the egginess of this recipe, "Lemon Nog"?

No matter the name, I think I'll pass.

Happy Wednesday, and you have my permission to work on padding those hips!


  1. First, I have to tell you Poppy, your Welsh Rabbit story was hilarious!!! Really gave me a chuckle for the day:)

    As for these recipes, oh my, where to begin? Those Home-Ec Cookbooks have always confused me. I have a meat book which brings meat to a whole new level! It seems this diet book isn't far.

    I keep telling myself it was the sign of the times to have recipes such as these but surely, were we really that bad???

    I would have to say, the "Lemon Nog" is most definitely the worst!

    Thanks for sharing, Poppy and thanks for the chuckle:)

    1. I'm glad you liked the story! I forgot all about making Welsh Rabbit until I saw your post.

      I think home ec teachers were just so desperate to show off how clever they could be that they sometimes got a little crazy. I had a home ec teacher who made our class make a "salad" out of cold French fries and mayonnaise. You can imagine how thrilled I was about that. Disgusting and no redeeming nutritional value one might expect from a salad...

    2. And if I remember correctly, your not too fond of mayo either, lol...

  2. You just know the hip padders are ridiculously good.

    1. They're definitely one of the best-sounding recipes I've ever featured!