The latest offering from America's brand-name home cook, Betty Crocker, has something for everyone, from traditional cooks to vegetarians. "Betty Crocker's Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cooking" (Prentice Hall 1991, $17.95, 221 pp. hardcover) has the pot roast and lemon meringue cake you would expect from the long-running General Mills cookbook series. Speaking to current international tastes, there are also recipes for Asian noodles, Southwestern black beans and Indian chicken.
The cookbook editors are undogmatic. You can eat cheese, as long as it's Neufchatel and not cream cheese, and lean beef. Canned and frozen vegetables that save time are thrown into salads with fresh vegetables and herbs. These recipes work for the average person who wants to eat better, not someone on a medically restricted diet or who is a complete vegetarian.
Chapters span meat-based main dishes to meatless meals, vegetable accompaniments and desserts. Each recipe provides FTC a nutrition chart revealing calories, protein, carbohydrates, sodium, unsaturated and saturated fat, and cholesterol. There are also appendixes on reading nutrition labels, choosing sources of soluble and insoluble fiber, egg white substitutions and a general guide to heart-healthy foods.
A new book without recipes -- but lots of practical eating advice -- is "Safe Food, Eating Wisely in a Risky World," by Michael F. Jacobson, with Lisa Y. Lefferts and Anne Witte Garland (Living Planet Press 1991, $9.95, 234 pp. paperback). It is shocking that a reported 9,000 Americans die each year from food poisoning, with 80 million cases of intestinal illness attributed to bacterial contamination of food.
"Safe Food" leads the consumer through the quicksand of dangerous foods, harmful methods of food packaging, and unsafe cooking techniques. There is particularly strong guidance on taking food safety into your own hands.
The book, written by staff of The Center for Science in the Public Interest, does have a political slant. There are examples of letters one can write to government officials urging reduction of pesticides and better food safety regulations.
Also, it remains debatable if every chemical or food container mentioned as dangerous in the book will pose a risk to the eater's health. However, following any of the book's advice is likely to cut down on the number of gastrointestinal upsets that commonly plague people.
Black Bean Salad
Chili dressing (recipe below)
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 cup diced jicama*
3/4 cup chopped, seeded tomato (about 1 medium)
2 green onions (with tops), sliced
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 potato, peeled and diced
Toss all ingredients, including dressing, in a large glass or plastic bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours,, stirring occasionally.
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Mix all ingredients.
-- "Betty Crocker's Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cooking"
4 uncooked lasagne noodles
1 jar (16 ounces) spaghetti sauce
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper sauce*
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook noodles as directed on package; drain. Cover noodles with cold water. Pour one cup of the spaghetti sauce into ungreased square baking dish, 8x8x2-inches. Mix remaining ingredients. Drain noodles. Spread about three-quarters cup of the cheese mixture to edges of each noodle. Roll up noodles. Place seam sides down on spaghetti sauce. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over roll-ups. Cover and bake about 35 minutes or until sauce is hot and bubbly.