Lite Week kicks off with a BEEP BEEP BEEP

First off, a correction to last week's post: I indicated that there were no previous recipes from Louisiana's Butter Cooking Secrets in the archives, but I was mistaken. I did in fact make Smothered Boneless Porkchops with Lentils a couple of years ago and joked about the austerity of the thing. So, you know. Pretty much the internal consistency you have come to expect from this beacon of journalistic integrity.

Anyway, after a week containing Mardi Gras AND Valentine's Day excesses, we probably should have spent the weekend eating kale or bran or smothered boneless porkchops with lentils or something, but no! We had a wedding weekend in San Antonio before us, so instead of quiet recovery, it was gut-check time. (Fortunately, my gut is increasingly visible and therefore easy to check on.) (Yep, there it is!)

Just look at this giant marble slab of goodness. And it was only one of the options during the cocktail hour before dinner.


And for dinner, steak AND shrimp AND risotto. I know I don't like shrimp, but I sometimes just appreciate its presence.

Classin' things up.

And I suppose we could have used the next day to get things back in line, but say (hypothetically) that one were attempting to soak up about a bottle of tequila, one is probably more inclined to seek out table-side guacamole from Boudro's.


But now it's time to buckle down and lighten up and let me tell you, Cookbook #21: Southern But Lite (Avis and Ward Nutrition Associates, 1989) is bringing the pain. Provenance: Mom (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! Um, thank you for the thoughtful gift!) Previous recipes on this blog: Oh, I think you would remember.

You have no idea the gothic horrors that lurk inside.
So let me first point out that 1989 was a different time than our own. Most nutrition experts weren't so much into "Cut out processed foods" as "Better living through chemistry! Processed foods are your only hope, fatty!" Let me also point out that this book has a five star rating on Goodreads and I pretty clearly don't know what I'm talking about. I mean, one of the first pages contains signatures from multiple cardiologists and the mayor of West Monroe, LA. It is heartily endorsed!

But I started to feel a twinge of concern when I flipped through and could hardly find anything that didn't call for margarine. Or sometimes "diet margarine." Or, in one very special case...well, take a look.

That might be the most distressing combination of three words I've ever seen.
There were other ingredients I had never heard of--something called "liteline American cheese" makes several appearances, as does "oil-free Italian dressing," which I assume is just...dried herbs floating in vinegar? But I did track down a recipe for Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Rolls that contained all recognizable actual-food items and I was sold.

And then I actually read through the directions.

And the entire thing is cooked in the microwave.

Honey! Dinner's ready!
The good news is, I had so thoroughly tamped down my expectations for this meal that the fact that these turned out not only edible but not even disgusting was pretty thrilling. It tasted like chicken and spinach and radiation!

This is one of my greatest triumphs.
Verdict: I have to say, this is the first time I'm going to go ahead and commit to never cooking out of something again. However, this is also the first time that a cookbook has made me gasp in horror, and overall it was my favorite thing to read through so far. As much as I would like to photograph every single page for you because it is a jewel, seriously, I'm just going to leave you with this authentic recipe for Russian Tea.

Seems legit.
Being out of town all weekend, I barely saw the kids. I assume this is what Anna looked like the entire time.

And actually, now that I think about it, I haven't see Ivy in like a week.

I bet wherever she is, she's fighting the power.