Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Low-cal recipes that will make mom slowly lose her mind

Are you ready for some temptation? You know, something delicious yet healthy-ish enough to counterbalance those piles of Christmas cookies you've been putting away?

Tempting Low-Calorie Recipes (Melanie de Proft, 1956) promises temptation right in the title, but the plate full of green gelatin on the cover suggests this is exactly the low-cal cookbook you think it is.

Some recipes do look surprisingly edible, though. This platter full of bacon-topped meat and whipped potatoes doesn't look to diet-foody:

There's a reason for that.

Dieters are permitted "just one onion, one tomato half, and no potatoes with [their] serving of meat." Mom may look happy now, but her smile will fade when she realizes she's not allowed to eat everything she made. She can't even have a whole tomato, and it's just a non-starchy vegetable!

Cook for everyone, but you don't get what everyone else gets is a pretty common tactic in this book.

The book concedes that dieters might eat the stuffing in Special Stuffed Fish, listing the calories for a whole serving. However, the writers will clearly be disappointed in the weight-watchers' lack of commitment if they go crazy and eat the few tablespoons of bread crumbs stuffed into the fish. After all, "The calorie-watchers need not eat the stuffing," and leaving it out will save 86 calories. (Maybe they're calories best saved, though. Why waste them on bread crumbs steeped in fish juice and minced sweet pickle?)

Of course, there are plenty of recipes that don't require holding back. One recipe offers a whole luncheon platter, for example. Six dieting friends would need to share it, but they'd have full access to the bountiful platter. Let's take a look:

Wait. Is the platter just a bunch of hard-cooked eggs and cottage cheese paired with a godawful aspic?

Yep! Eat up! Everybody gets their own jiggly mold of tomato juice with celery leaves and onion floating in it, PLUS half a hard-cooked egg and a half-cup of cottage cheese. Oh boy.

If you think the creativity slips a few notches for the fully diet-friendly recipes, you are quite right. Take a look at this appetizer:

The Chilled Melon Appetizer is a chilled melon half topped with... a few melon balls. They're not even melon balls of a contrasting type of melon-- just cantaloupe on cantaloupe. If you're super-lucky, maybe the balls are brushed with a nearly imperceptible trace of Cointreau.

Even if the recipes are a bust, I love C. C. Cooper's illustrations in this book. The opening pages offer a tableau that I could not quite figure out:

Why is mom mending Junior's shorts while he's still wearing them? That can't be easy! Is she not concerned that she will accidentally stab him or sew his underwear to his shorts? And why are brother and sister standing there watching this whole thing with an air of quiet alarm? Why is brother leaning over as if he wants a better view? It looks as if mom has become deranged from eating too much aspic and cottage cheese while everyone else gets mashed potatoes, and she's taking it out on the family. Rip your shorts? Well, mom might just sew them directly to your butt, while your siblings watch, lips tightly pursed to avoid letting slip a protest that might turn her wrath in their direction.

But don't worry; mom's not a monster. She'll let you all go with some cookies moments later.

Yes, pretend this is all perfectly normal, and run away with the cookies before mom realizes that she's stuck with prune whip for her own dessert again....


  1. Mending the seat of the pants while they are being worn is clearly a punishment of some sort. I'm not sure for whom because I certainly wouldn't want to be that close to a kid's butt. On the other hand, it may be the only way to get that kid to hold still and be quiet for a few minutes. Clearly mom needs to live in an alternate universe that lets her eat, and have some free time away from the family.

    1. Well, clearly she doesn't live in that wonderland...

  2. I love how they made Mom a bit plumper, you can see her double chin in the cookie illustration

    1. She thought about eating one of the cookies she was handing out, and it went straight to her chin!

    2. Now you're making me wonder why the kids have football shaped heads. Well, except for one kid getting a cookie. There must be something up with them.

    3. And big sister has 2 cookies! Mom is trying to make her fat

    4. Perpetuating the cycle! How very passive-aggressive...