Revisiting Recipe Memories from Whole Foods for the Whole Family

9780912500096-us-300Kendra Atkins-Boyce, Portland, Oregon

A long time ago, there existed a book full of magic. This book held the secrets of feeding one’s family a diet filled with whole foods and devoid of processed ingredients. It housed the wisdom of hundreds of mothers from across the land, from Kingston, New York, to Vancouver, Washington, and many places in between. The mothers shared recipes their families loved.

This book was called Whole Foods for the Whole Family. Published by La Leche League International in 1981 and edited by Roberta Bishop Johnson, this cookbook featured prominently in my mother’s meal planning when I was a girl. Recently, I wondered what had happened to that magical book. I asked my mother to find it for me. She brought it with her on her most recent trip to the West Coast. The book is worn from use; some pages are stained or stuck together (the sign of a good cookbook, in my opinion), but the recipes are timeless.

I enjoy revisiting memories as I return to favorite recipes. I’ll share a few of those childhood favorites now. I will share more when I have a chance to use them.

Image by Shutterstock
Image by Shutterstock

Zucchini Boats: These fun little boats are full of vegetables. When we were growing up, they were my younger brother’s favorite. The cottage cheese adds extra protein. They taste enough like pizza to appeal to the most discerning young eaters. A nice bonus: they are a great way to use zucchini that often proliferates in the summer garden.

Zucchini Boats Yield: 12 servings

  • 6 small zucchini
  • 2 T. oil
  • ½ t. each rosemary and basil
  • 1 t. oregano
  • ½ t. (or less) salt
  • 1 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 C. chopped onion
  • ½ C. chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ C. sliced celery
  • ¼ to ½ lb. fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 to 5 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 C. cottage cheese
  • 2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 C. bread crumbs

Cut zucchini into halves lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving sturdy shells intact. Reserve pulp and shells. Heat oil in heavy skillet. Add rosemary, basil, oregano, salt, parsley, garlic, onion, pepper, celery, and mushrooms. Saute´ for two minutes. Add reserved zucchini pulp and tomatoes. Cook until zucchini is tender; remove from heat. Add cottage cheese, stirring until melted. Place zucchini shells in greased baking dish. Spoon 1 ½ T. cheddar cheese in each shell; top with vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and remaining cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. These are invariably popular with children, perhaps because of their shape and pizza-like flavor!

Image by Shutterstock
Image by Shutterstock

Marinated Tofu: My mother was raised in Southeast Asia, so we always had tofu on hand. To this day, tofu is my go-to vegetable protein: it absorbs all sorts of flavors. If I remember to plan ahead, I can leave the tofu marinating for the recommended four hours. If I’m in a rush, I speed up the process by putting the marinade and the tofu in a plastic bag and shake it vigorously for a minute or two. The flavors in this liquid blend nicely, and I can round out the meal with some steamed vegetables and brown rice.

Marinated Tofu Yield: 4 servings

  • ¼ C. tamari soy sauce
  • ¼ C. water
  • ¼ C. sherry
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 t. ground ginger
  • 1 lb. tofu, thinly sliced
  • 1 C. sliced mushrooms

Combine first five ingredients in bowl; mix well. Add tofu. Marinate for four hours or longer. Combine with mushrooms in skillet. Simmer until done to taste. Drain tofu, if preferred, and broil until golden brown or brown in hot oil in skillet; reserve marinade to reuse with tofu, meat, or poultry.

Image by Shutterstock
Image by Shutterstock

GORP: We often made GORP (Good Old-Fashioned Raisins and Peanuts) before hikes and other outings. Even when we were very young, my mother let us help add ingredients to the bowl. We had to keep our hands out of the GORP bag; otherwise, it would be gone before we made it out the door. I sometimes leave out peanuts and dates and use a few chocolate candies instead of carob chips. It’s a nice protein-packed snack for after school or days when you are out and about.

GORP Yield: 16 servings

  • 1 C. dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 C. raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 C. raisins
  • 1 C. chopped dates
  • 1 C. unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1 C. carob chips
  • 1 C. roasted soy nuts
  • 1 C. pumpkin seeds

Combine all ingredients in large bowl; mix well. Vary ingredients according to supply and tastes. A great trail snack—a nutritious alternative to “empty calorie” snacks. Keeps well.

Image by Shutterstock
Image by Shutterstock

[Milkless], Eggless, Sugarless Carrot Cake: My mother substituted margarine in this recipe in order to make it dairy-free as well as eggless and sugarless.  This cake was featured at numerous birthday parties, and we never even missed the left-out ingredients. Without the butter (you could also use coconut oil or applesauce instead of margarine), the recipe is vegan.

Funny enough, I find that some of my fallback recipes (the things I can make without thinking or looking anything up) can be found in this book. I must have internalized them over years when I helped my mother in the kitchen. I look forward to creating the same kind of memories with my little girl. I’m so glad to have this beautiful, magical book as part of my meal planning.

[Milkless], Eggless, Sugarless Carrot Cake Yield: 8 servings

  • ½ C. grated carrot
  • 1 ¼ C. chopped dates
  • 1 1/3 C. water
  • 1 C. raisins
  • ¼ C. butter
  • 1 t. each cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg
  • 2 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • ¼ t. salt
  • ½ C. chopped walnuts

Combine carrot, dates, water, raisins, butter, and spices in saucepan. Bring gradually to a boil and simmer for five minutes; cool. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Add to carrot mixture with walnuts; mix well. Spoon into greased and floured 9-inch ring mold. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Double recipe to bake in bundt pan. May substitute other nuts for walnuts.

Editor’s Note: Whole Foods for the Whole Family is just one of several cookbooks available through La Leche League International. Feed Yourself, Feed Your Family is the most recent LLLI nutrition book and was published in 2012.