I love to review our readers’ letters. It knocks my socks off at how hard our readers work to help themselves, their families and friends with their special dietary needs. Living Without tries to provide a good balance of allergy-friendly menu options—recipes that feature healthy vegetables and fruits, in addition to all the desserts, breads, pastas, etc. But frankly, we’ve never had anyone write in and ask for more asparagus or zucchini recipes. Requests repeatedly are for “a special cake for my daughter,” “cookies for my son’s class,” “dairy-free ice cream” or biscuits “like Grandma used to make.”
These are favorite foods we all love and enjoy. They are our comfort foods and celebration foods. Yes, they can be prepared gluten-free and without most common allergens—but they are not low-calorie items! Can they still be a part of a healthy special diet? Yes, in my opinion, but a small part.
Sure…in certain baking recipes, you can substitute no-calorie stevia for a bit of the refined sugar or unsweetened applesauce for some of the oil, but honestly, it all comes down to portion size.
Hungry teenage boys might get 8 big slices out of a cake (or 4 slices if nobody’s watching) but food industry standards say a cake should be cut into “wedding cake-sized servings.” That’s 1½ x 2 inches in size, according to Wilton Industries, makers of cake pans, baking tools, etc. We’re talking 20 servings per 8-inch two-layer cake here. This agrees with the “norm” published in most cookbooks back in the 1950s and 1960s, before we began “supersizing” everything, including our waistlines and hips. This isn’t the serving size most modern-day cake lovers are used to cutting for themselves!
If you’re watching your calories—and who isn’t these days?—here’s my advice. The next time you see a dessert recipe in Living Without and you feel its calorie count is way too high for you, do one of two things. Turn to other recipes in the magazine (believe me, there are plenty of other delicious options) or cut yourself a smaller serving—and enjoy!