Book Review: American Heart Association Low Fat Low Cholesterol Cookbook

A Fair Trade Book

Title: American Heart Association Low-Fat Low-Cholesterol Cookbook

Author: Scott M. Grundy

Date: 1989

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 0-812-91982-3

Length: 328 pages with index

Illustrations: drawings of foods and utensils by Regina Scudellari

Quote: “Since most cases of high blood cholesterol are caused by diet, it stands to reason that most cases can be reversed by diet. Most of the time, that logic holds true.”

First, you need to know that a new edition of this book is available. I’ve not seen the new edition. It might be better than the old one. This review is about the 1989 edition.

The recipes in this book were planned not to seduce people away from the whole idea of greasy, high-carb, meat-based cuisine, but to offer those people substitutes that resemble that kind of food. It follows from this observation that a lot of the recipes are for things I personally don’t like…but possibly you do.

I usually flavor split pea soup with savory vegetables, herbs, and salt, not salt pork, so I don’t care for a version of split pea soup flavored with ham.

I usually dress cucumbers with a dash of salt, so I see no reason to bury them in a mixture of cottage cheese,yogurt, and sugar.

I’ve been known to add ground flaxseed or sesame seed to salads, or top them with nuts or cooked meat, and I don’t really mind adding lemon juice, but I’ve never seen any reason at all to drown a perfectly good salad in oil and vinegar. (Note to cooks: if you want children to eat more salad, try chopping and tossing the solid ingredients of your salads and putting the “dressings” on the table in separate dishes. Nearly all children will leave the oil and vinegar alone, but eat the healthy stuff and like it.)

I don’t usually bother with desserts, but when I do I like the real thing. Fresh blackberries don’t need any sugar; frozen blackberries ground up with a teaspoon of frozen orange juice are not my idea of a sherbet, or even a sorbet.

I could happily get through the rest of my life without adding whipped cream or “whipped topping” to anything, so the point of mixing powdered nonfat milk with gelatin and oil to produce “mock whipped cream” is lost on me.

So, when cooking for people with cardiovascular concerns—whose ranks I expect to join, some time in the next ten years, because after age fifty women are as vulnerable as men—I like the Sinatra Program recipes or the ones in the McDougall cookbook series. Their recipes don’t pretend to substitute for the creamy, cheesy, buttery foods with processed veg and elementary chemistry projects. They celebrate healthy food the way it is.

Some of the recipes in the A.H.A. Low-Fat Low-Cholesterol Cookbook also celebrate healthy food the way it is. The hummus recipe revels in garbanzo-ness, the potato salad is a delicious mix of vegetables that don’t need any dressing, the allegedly Chinese chicken stir-fry may never have been made in China before but it probably will be, the shepherd’s pie is gluten-free and vegetable-rich, the vegetable-beef burgers are moist and lean, the chili bean soup would probably be enjoyed even in Texas if you didn’t confuse it with Real Chili, the “vegetarian sauce” for pasta is nice for rice too…but on the whole, this book was written for people whose tastes are different from mine.

If reduced-fat pork, cheese, cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, pasta, and pastry interest you, then you are the person for whom this book was written. Recommended.

Dr. Grundy is still alive and teaching, so this is a Fair Trade Book. $5 per book + $5 per package = $10, out of which we’ll send 10%, or $1, to Grundy or a charity of his choice for each book ordered from either address at the lower left-hand corner of the screen.

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