Super snacks

Some healthful munchies to toss together for the big game

January 27, 1999|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Food Editor

The first big party of the new year is about to kick off this weekend. And once again Super Bowl Sunday promises to be a blowout -- at least when it comes to food and drink.

Sure, there's football being played. But somewhere between the first down and the final toss, the center of attention passes to the buffet table.

But the groaning board doesn't have to pack a caloric wallop. Columbia cookbook author Ruth Glick -- also known for her romance novels -- has put together "The Diabetes Snack, Munch, Nibble, Nosh Book" (American Diabetes Association, 1998), which features more than 150 low-calorie recipes.

While the soft-cover book was written with diabetics in mind, the healthful munchies are for everyone. During the big game, the assorted snacks promise to satisfy the party-goers' desire to graze while watching yard lines and waistlines.

"People love to snack," says Lee M. Romano, book-promotions manager for the American Diabetes Association. "This book provides a wide variety of tasty treats that are nutritious, easy-to-prepare and satisfying for people with or without diabetes."

According to Romano, the organization sought out Glick after reviewing two of her other books, "Skinny Italian Cooking" (Surrey, 1996), which she co-wrote with local food writer Nancy Baggett, and "Skinny One-Pot Meals" (Surrey, 1997).

"After looking at her books, we wanted her to do it," Romano says.

While there are no diabetics in her family, Glick, 56, who has written nine other cookbooks, always wanted to focus on low-fat snacks, she said. When the ADA approached her to do a book, she was ready.

The affable mother of two adult children and grandmother of a 9-month-old boy said writing the snack book involved the same kind of reduced-fat cooking she has been doing for her family for years.

"My quest is, 'Can I make it faster, easier?' I try a bunch of things and see what works best," says Glick, who worked with a registered dietitian to determine the recipes' nutritional analyses. "It's all stuff I like. It's what I snack on."

On a recent afternoon, Glick showed off the bright, spacious kitchen where she tests most of her recipes. She designed the expanded galley kitchen with honey maple cabinets, a blue-tiled center island and two of every appliance, except for the dishwasher, in the mocha-colored town house, where she and her husband, Norman Glick, have lived for 25 years.

The comfortable room -- with stacks of plates, measuring cups and bowls arranged on easy-to-reach shelves -- overlooks a wintry garden in the front of the house, where Glick feeds a squadron of squirrels. In the connecting dining room, a ceramic pig -- a whimsical gift from a book agent -- holds court with the apropos missive, "Eat!"

Glick, who has no formal culinary training, learned to cook simply because she liked it, she says. After she and her husband were married in 1963, she set out to prepare a different dinner every night and kept the momentum going for 40 days with only one setback -- a forgettable deviled shrimp.

She laughs now about how she tried to double up on the black pepper in place of the called-for cayenne in the recipe. "It was my only disaster," she says.

Glick -- who loves to entertain -- also has another life.

Under the name Rebecca York, she has written more than 60 romantic suspense novels and recently was nominated by Romantic Times magazine as storyteller of the year.

She currently is at work on her latest fiction, "Midnight Caller," due to be published this spring. And another cookbook, "Simply Italian" (Surrey, 1999), just hit the shelves.

Glick, who has dyslexia, once was afraid to write, she says. But a seminar she took at Howard Community College in the 1970s gave her the courage to try. The prolific author, who has a master's degree in American studies from the University of Maryland, College Park, has come a long way since she "cried a lot" writing her first free-lance newspaper article, which she sold for $10.

As she continues to produce cookbooks, Glick is trying to simplify recipes to help busy cooks. "People are in a hurry. They don't want to look at a long list of ingredients," she says. "Cooking is terribly hard work."

In the "Snack, Munch, Nibble, Nosh Book," Glick uses shortcuts such as frozen vegetables, prepared pizza sauce, shredded cheese, won-ton wrappers and ready-made tortillas. There is even a chapter with all-microwave recipes.

Besides grown-up food like Artichoke and Shrimp Spread, Middle-Eastern Style Chicken and Spanakopita Bake, the book also has a section with clever kid snacks, like Mr. and Mrs. Pear Head, Hawaiian Pizza and Egg Sailboats.

"Kids want to have things that are good to eat. It's difficult if you've got a diabetic kid," she says. "I tried to take stuff they could eat and make it fun."

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