Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thanks, But No Thanks Thursday - An Old Friend Returns

For this weeks TBNT Thursday feature, I have decided to revisit a previous post. Just in case you missed it, I am re-posting one of my all-time favorite Retro WW dietetic disasters.

I was horrified by this recipe when I first laid eyes on it back in March, and I have continued to be horrified by this dish every day since. Sometimes I even wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat dreaming about it.

Without further delay. Here it is. Soak it in. Let its awesomeness wash over you.

Mackerel-Cantaloupe Salad

This recipe (from The Best of Weight Watchers Magazine, 1974) truly embodies all things Retro WW... fish balls nestled inside a cantaloupe topped with sliced gherkins and generously sprinkled with dehydrated onion flakes.

Here's the thing: All of the components of this dish served separately would be fine. A little mackerel, some cantaloupe, a few problem.

But, when you put them all together in one big scary salad? Thanks, but No Thanks!

Something Moldy...

It's been a very busy week, and truth be told - I haven't been feeling the WW love lately. But that's all going to change on Friday!

I have decided to stop fighting the urge to MOLD, and get back in the kitchen where I belong! I have selected the perfect Retro WW recipe for my Fourth of July weekend. The name of the dish is a secret, but here's a hint: It's cheesy and freezy. Brrrrrr. Stay tuned for the big reveal later this week - fireworks and all!

In the meantime, I will leave you with a lovely photo from the 1977 Weight Watchers International Cookbook. This cookbook features figure-friendly recipes from over 25 countries around the world, and each recipe is more puzzling than the last.

Ladies and gentlemen, please do enjoy this Trifecta of gelatine molds; a "Hat Trick", if you will, from the great country of Canada.

Behold the Three-Layer Molded Apple Custard, the Rosy Rhuberry Mold, and the ever popular Spinach-Cheese Ring. Such a dramatic presentation! And you know they are genuine Canadian recipes because of the Maple Leaf garnish in the background.


Have a Happy Canada Day (tomorrow) to all my Canadian readers & followers - and I'll see ya back here for TBNT Thursday! Don't miss it!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Coffy Toffy - FAIL

"We might think we can't help gaining weight because we're cravers. We crave food, but if we give ourselves a chance we'll find that we crave other things too; food is just the easiest target. I found that I also craved being able to give. I craved being active, doing something I loved. I craved beautiful clothes I looked good in..." -Jean Nidetch

Sorry Jean. Today, I craved candy. It was just one of those days.

So I've been hearing about this fab-tastic Retro WW treat from some very reliable retro WW alums and really wanted to give it a whirl. They tell me if you're craving candy, this is a surefire satisfying substitute. It sounded so simple, and I had all of the ingredients, so why not?

The Coffy Toffy

1 1/2 tsp instant coffee
2/3 cup non-fat dry milk
1 tbsp artificial sweetener
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp water

Combine dry ingredients, then sprinkle with extract and water. Stir until mixture forms dry paste that just holds together, and shape into 1" balls. Chill in freezer.

My first two attempts went straight into the disposal. Apparently, if you stir it too long the mixture will not be pasty "enough", and in fact - it turns into a runny liquid. Sadly, you cannot shape a runny liquid into a 1" ball no matter how hard you may try. On my third attempt, I was able to achieve a paste-like consistency, but still not pasty enough to form into balls. It was more like gooey clumps.

The whole process was sloppy, sticky and thoroughly aggravating. At one point, I think I was swearing at the bowl of Coffee Toffy, and yelling "I hate you!" It didn't help that I had a band-aid on my finger and forgot to remove it before sticking my hands into that mess. Looking back, I really should have thought that through a little better. My bad.

Anyway, on a positive note, I am no longer craving candy. I'm too annoyed to even think about it. The Coffy Toffy is in the freezer, and I think I'll go shopping or take a walk to clear my head.

Well whataya know. I guess Jean was right!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thanks, But No Thanks Thursday - International!

This week's TBNT Thursday Recipe is an exotic Filipino Feast from the August 1973 issue of Weight Watchers Magazine. It was featured as part of the centerfold with an entire Filipino Cooking spread. Actually, most of the dishes looked quite appealing to me, but one of them definitely stood out from the rest, because it had that special TBNT quality.

Try not to be confused by the overly complicated and unusual international name if this dish:

Fish with Scallions

Is it just me, or does anyone else think this particular fish looks like it was picked out of someone's garbage, covered with some chopped scallions, lemons and soy sauce and then slapped onto a platter?

Thanks, but No Thanks!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

To Jean, With Love...

Sometimes, I wonder what Jean Nidetch (the founder of WW and author of the 1972 WW Program Cookbook) would think if she ever read my blog.

I can only hope for a few things:
  1. She has a really good sense of humor;
  2. She understands that this blog is meant to be a tribute - not a parody; and
  3. She would suddenly have the urge to meet me in person.
Yes--I have said it before. I know it is pitiful, but one of my main goals in life is to meet Jean Nidetch. Although my admiration for her may seem a bit stalker-ish, I swear I am not obsessed.

OK--well maybe just a little.

Often, when I catch myself daydreaming, I imagine Jean and I hanging out together - sipping our dietetic beverages and discussing the history of Weight Watchers. I would have so many questions for her. Like, "How have you managed to keep your weight off for over 40 years?", and "What is it like to be the founder of an organization that has impacted the lives of millions of people?" and, "Are frankfurters really a diet food??"

Occasionally, I sort through my Retro WW Recipe File and try to select the perfect dish for Jean and I to prepare together if we ever get the chance to hang out in the kitchen. Of course, it would have to be a mold. Maybe this one:

The Rosy Perfection Salad

Just the name of this dish makes me happy. So upbeat and positive. It's Rosy! It's Perfection! Yes--I think I will definitely be saving this one for me & Jean.

Upon reading this post back to myself, I guess it does sound a little bit crazy, doesn't it? Chances are, Jean will never read this blog, and we will never meet, and I'll never get to unmold the Rosy Perfection Salad with her. But I guess if there is one thing I wish I could tell her in person, it would simply be: THANKS. Ten years ago, Weight Watchers changed my life in so many fantastic ways, and I wouldn't be the person I am today without it.

But, one thing Weight Watchers has taught me is to never give up. So if there is still even a slight chance I could one day meet Jean, I'll need to figure out what to wear. Any suggestions?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gelatine Delights!

After much consideration, I have decided to lay off the Gelatine Molds for a while. Recently, I realized that my obsession with molds had become a bit of an unhealthy addiction, and I needed to detox from the Knox, baby.

However, this morning I started to twitch and itch. I really needed a tiny dose of know, just to take the edge off.

I found the perfect fix in my 1972 WW Program Cookbook:

The Gelatine Pick-Me-Up

Combine 1 envelope unflavored gelatine, 3/4 cup tomato juice (hot) and dash aromatic bitters in a blender; run blender for 30 seconds. Serve at once.


Perfect. Now I'm all better. It was strangely refreshing and a bit unsettling at the same time.

Now if someone could just explain to me how this concoction is supposed to help me lose weight, that would be great. On the 1972 Retro WW Plan, three packets of Knox Gelatine are permitted daily. Seriously?

Anyone have any theories on this?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

This One's for the Boys

You may have noticed that I write a lot about my mom in this blog, because as you all know by now, she actually followed the Retro WW Plan back in 1972. But what you may not know is that my dad has been a "Weight Watcher by Association" for years.

As far back as I can remember, my mom and dad would often decide to "go on a diet together"...and Dad could always drop weight like a champ.

So, in honor of Father's Day--I am cooking up a very manly Retro WW Feast that I know dad will love:

The Frankfurter Pie

Line a pie pan with 4 slices of enriched white bread; cut in half and flatten with a rolling pin.

After that--pile on 4 cups sauerkraut, 1 chopped dill pickle, 1/4 cup chopped green pepper, 1/4 cup mustard and ONE POUND BROILED & SLICED FRANKFURTERS. (that's right, I said one pound) Then bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

It tastes just like a day at the ballpark! Makes 4 servings. But, what the heck--be a man! Eat the whole pie!

Have a Franktacular Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thanks, But No Thanks Thursday - Have a Heart!

This week's TBNT Thursday recipe is a special one. In fact, it was a cover-girl back in the Spring of 1973 for the "Dollar Stretching" issue of Weight Watchers magazine. It's name? "Warriors Stew"

The cover shot looks innocent enough. It's just your basic stew, with some celery and mushrooms thrown in there. Lots of seasoning and some bouillon, of course. Even a little lemon juice for good measure. But can you guess the secret main ingredient in Warrior's Stew? Go ahead, take a guess...


I can't help but wonder: how many chickens must a warrior slay in order to produce an entire pound of hearts? Quite a few I would imagine. Oh--And apparently chicken hearts go really well with a nice baked apple on the side (see photo).

Thanks, but No Thanks!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Don't Mess With a Classic

Guess what sassy casserole I made today? I'll give you a hint. Here are the ingredients, straight outta the pantry...

I've always been a fan of the Tuna Noodle Casserole. I mean, what's not to like? It's an American icon, for Pete's sake. It's creamy, comforting, and easy on the wallet. What's more, it can be prepared in one dish - without using a single fresh ingredient. Now that's what I call convenience.

The 1972 Retro WW version of this recipe was easy to make, and sounded pretty tasty. However, it seemed to be lacking some critical components. Take a look:

6 oz. canned tuna
2/3 cup cooked macaroni
4 oz. peas
1/2 cup canned mushrooms
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
1/2 tsp Worcestershire
dash paprika

What?!? No Cream of Mushroom soup?! No crunchy potato chip topping? No gooey cheese or French fried onions? It almost seemed pointless, but with a heavy sigh, I layered the boring ingredients in my "attractive casserole" (as instructed) and baked until "piping hot & brown" (also as instructed).

Um. I hate to complain, but it's a tad bit dry. And bland doesn't even begin to describe it. This recipe makes one giant serving--so at least I don't have to share it.

Unfortunately, this also means I am expected to eat the entire thing. Maybe my cat is hungry? Here kitty, kitty....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Retro WW Patio Party

It was such a perfect Summer Saturday, so the hubby and I decided to throw some chicken and veggies on the grill and hang out on the patio last evening. Great music on the radio, great food on the grill, and some really great conversation.

But what to sip on? Hmmm.

Conditions were perfect for a fancy, fruity, frozen cocktail. But we all know that Daiquiris and Margaritas are a BIG no-no on the Retro WW Plan.

The alternative? Trick yourself with a sweet little no-calorie "mocktail" called the "Cherry-O"!

Here's how it's done:
Make ice cubes from 1 cup cherry-flavored dietetic carbonated beverage and 1 cup dietetic ginger ale. Crush cubes (can be done in blender) and serve in champagne glasses with a short straw for sipping. Makes 2 servings.
I actually put my Cherry-O in a giant Margarita glass and drank the whole darn thing. It's so refreshing, they even wrote a song about it! Well... not really--but this boozy, breezy reggae tune sorta makes up for the lack of alcohol in the drinkies. In fact, you might catch a contact buzz just listening to it.

Here's my favorite version by the Rolling Stones. Happy Summer!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thanks, But No Thanks Thursday - Fluffy Edition

There are only three words needed to describe this weeks TBNT Thursday recipe:


Can someone please explain what is happening here? I am so horrified by the idea of this dish, I am going to need some time alone to contemplate life and where I fit in the universe. This recipe has shaken me to the core. Nothing makes sense anymore.

Fluffy? Mackerel? Pudding? Why God, Why???

Say it with me, people: Thanks, but No Thanks!

Divide Evenly, Then Suck it Up!

Every so often, I catch myself complaining about how hard it is to lose weight. And then I remember it is 2010, and not 1972. Then I bite my tongue.

You see, those ladies back in the Retro WW days had it pretty rough. There were no shortcuts, no ready-made substitutions, no 100-calorie packs, and definitely no excuses. They ate their weekly liver and they didn't question it.

Take, for instance, portion control. Yes, weighing and measuring are extremely important parts of the modern day WW program. But back in 1972, it was hardcore, baby.

Here is an excerpt from the 1972 Revised WW Program Cookbook on the topic of portion control:
Because of the importance of measuring and weighing on our Program, always follow these rules for recipes for more than one serving: Mix ingredients well, and divide the mixture evenly so every portion has an equal amount of each ingredient. Also, in recipes where the liquid as well as the solid part has to be divided evenly, as in soups:
1) drain the liquid and set aside
2) divide solid ingredients evenly, and
3) add equal amounts of the liquid to each portion.

Seriously? Did they really think this barbaric level of scrutiny was necessary? If so, I think I would just skip the soup.

And if you think you were going to get any sympathy from Jean Nidetch. Think again.

Here's another excerpt from that same chapter:
Recipe directions may sometimes look as if they're taking the long way around, but remember, they're all shortcuts to your goal weight! Never try to "get away with" using one pan when we call for two (you may have one less pot to wash, but you'll still have the pot around your middle). Think of the little extra care as "indulging yourself" a new slim figure and a happier life.
Oh Jean! You know I love you, but what kind of shenanigans are you trying to pull with that little statement? Let's be honest here. We follow your rules. But we don't have to like it!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Almost A Snicker

The thing I love most about Weight Watchers members is our resourcefulness and creativity. When we want to eat something, and it is not "diet-friendly", we will ALWAYS find a way to reinvent it in a lighter way. With a very MacGyver-like approach, we will find a solution to almost any eating dilemma using practical and inventive ingredients.

Take, for example, the Retro WW Recipes I recently acquired from an elderly friend at my Weight Watchers meeting. Right away, I could tell that these "rogue" recipes are not officially sanctioned by WW. Rather, they were surreptitiously created and then hand-typed on some sort of carbon paper by a few brave ladies trying to buck the system. I don't know what year these recipes came from, so I can't be certain if they are 1972 "Legal", but I still had to try one.

And I knew which one it had to be: The "Almost A Snicker" Bar.

Here are the exact ingredients & instructions as they appear on the recipe:

1/2 medium banana
3/4 ounce nugget-like cereal
1 pkg. chocolate flavored Alba
1 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix. Shape. Wrap in wax paper. Eat and enjoy!!

Due to the ambiguous nature of this recipe, I admit that I had to take some liberties, and I also made a few assumptions:
  1. I used Kix cereal, because that was the closest thing I had to "nugget-like";
  2. I used a WW Smoothie Mix, because I would've had to drive 20 miles to the closest grocery store that still sells Alba. Yea-I'm not ashamed to admit that I used the Alba locator on their company website;
  3. I assumed that all of the ingredients were supposed to go in the blender, since the instructions didn't specify. I also assumed I was supposed to put this thing in the freezer to harden it. I think I assumed correctly?
I expected this recipe to be a total flop. I really did. But can I tell you something? It was YUMMY! And filling, too. I double dare you to try it!

So this was what those brilliant, old school WW ladies came up with - because they didn't have a healthy alternative to candy bars back in the day. This was obviously long before the birth of the high-fiber/high protein cereal bar - the likes of Kashi, Special K and Fiber One.

Almost a Snicker? If it didn't look like something I scooped out of my cat's litterbox this morning, it would be almost perfect, baby!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Revenge of the Skinny Jeans

The people in this retro Jordache Ad really have "the look". They are downright giddy about wearing their skinny jeans. Just look at them. It's embarrassing how slap-happy they are with their flat little fannies. It's almost as if they are mocking me.

My skinny jeans are still hanging in the closet. Waiting to be tried on. What am I so afraid of? I have no idea.

I am feeling great. On program (for the most part). Presumably down a few pounds (although I try not to rely on the scale very much for feedback).

OK. Give me a few more weeks, and I promise I will try them on. And hopefully even choreograph a flashy little dance number, too.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thanks, But No Thanks Thursday - Offal Edition

Guess what day it is? That's right! And It's time for this week's TBNT Thursday feature. The dish so horrid... so putrid...even I would not eat it.

There's something about the 1972 Retro WW Program and flabby organ meats that just go together like milk & cookies! Kidneys, hearts, livers, gizzards and many other types of animal entrails are "legal" and are actually encouraged to be eaten on a weekly basis.

Simply Elegant Sweetbreads

Sweetbreads are the ultimate organ meat. They are the thymus gland or pancreas of a young animal, especially a calf or lamb. Considered a delicacy to some, it is very important that you do not confuse your "Sweetbreads" with your "Sweet Bread".

Very. Big. Difference.

My friends: There are not many things on this Earth that I will not eat. But baby animal glands? That just ain't gonna happen. Thanks, But No Thanks!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hot Celery Mess

Summer is here, and the temps have been in the upper 80's here in Pittsburgh. So I really wanted to make a cool, refreshing Retro WW feast to accompany the season.

As I flipped through my 1974 Weight Watchers Recipe Cards, I was drawn to a very unusual salad. It was a salad unlike any other I have ever seen in my life. And believe me, I have seen a lot of salads. Just the name itself was intriguing to me: Chilled Celery Log.

Oh Yea, you know I couldn't resist this one.

It starts with 10 oz cooked and mashed cauliflower, mixed with a diced green pepper, chopped pimento, parsley, and spices. This mixture alone was yummy enough to eat.

But wait! There's more! Next, you take a bunch of celery, separate the stalks, and simmer them in chicken bouillon for 10 minutes. Drain. (NOTE: Your house will smell like boiled celery for 3 days.)

Next comes the fun part, and it's going to get messy. You're going to stuff those hot, slippery celery stalks with the cauliflower mixture then arrange them back together in the form of the original bunch formation. Tie it all up with string (I used dental floss) and chill for 45 minutes.

To serve, slice into 1-inch pieces. Makes 6 servings.

The Chilled Celery Log salad would be ideal for a causal poolside bash or a fancy ladies brunch or even an uptight office party. The possibilities are endless. Just strap it all together and you're good to go. In fact, you may want to bring an extra log, just in case things get crazy...