Recipe 6: Culinary Arts Institute’s Sunshine Slaw (1956)

I will admit it…I am a sucker for resolutions.

I really am that person that gets excited every January 1 and decides that “this year will be different” and “I will get so much done” and has a huge list of “achievable, measurable goals” to “make sure that I do things right” this year. I’m SURE 2020 will be the year I succeed in all of my resolutions.

In keeping with the resolution theme of the New Year I decided to pick a recipe that would fit with one of the most common resolutions made. I selected a recipe designed for weight loss. About a month ago, I ordered a lot of cookbooks published in 1956 from the Culinary Arts Institute, each of which has a certain theme (Sunday Night Suppers, The Creole Cookbook, The Ground Meat Cookbook, and so on). In my lot I received a book called Tempting Low-Calorie Recipes which intrigued me for several reasons:

  • I do try to stay in shape
  • The recipes on the cover look, ahem, interesting
  • 1950s weight loss tips are very different from modern ideas

I had more fun reading the cookbook with this experiment than I did actually making and eating the food.

Inside the book the introduction stresses that it is very easy to put on extra pounds over time and that there is really a “very small difference between the amount and kind of food that will reduce your weight, the food that will maintain it, and the food that will slowly but surely increase it” (page 3). I am a big believer in moderation, so this sounds reasonable to me.

The recommendations for which foods you need for “reducing” would make modern Paleo-enthusiasts cringe…

Milk? Potatoes? Enriched Bread? The Horror!

…and some of the “exercise” illustrations are questionable…

…but many of the recipes (minus the ones involving gelatin) seemed edible. I decided to select one that seemed very easy and not too labor-intensive. I went with Sunshine Slaw.

A quick internet search indicates that there is a commercially available Sunshine Slaw mix from Green Giant and that Sunshine Slaw typically is a combination of cabbage and carrots (or some other orange fruit or vegetable). Sunshine Salad also appears to be a commonly prepared dish that is similar in composition. I did not find any evidence that Sunshine Slaw from the Culinary Arts Institute has been prepared online so I felt safe doing it here.

The recipe is as follows:

  • Wash, finely shred or chop, and put into a large bowl 3/4 lb cabbage (about 3 cups, shredded)
  • Wash, shred, and toss with the cabbage 1/2 lb carrots, pared or scraped (about 1 and 3/4 cups, shredded
  • Put into a bowl ¼ cup undiluted evaporated milk and add gradually, stirring constantly 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon grated onion
  • Stir in 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon monosodium glutamate, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Pour over cabbage mixture and toss to coat cabbage and carrot well. Chill in the refrigerator.

As I sit here typing this, I have no idea why I assumed at the cabbage above was red cabbage, but I did. I think I saw this picture on the back cover of the book

and assumed THAT was Sunshine Slaw. It isn’t. It’s something called “Red n’ Green Slaw” that is basically the above recipe using red cabbage instead of carrots and adding pineapple tidbits. Oops.

I’ve come too far and am not remaking this. Ever. This is now “Recipe Replay’s Sunshine Slaw” from 1956.

The first step to the recipe is shredding the cabbage.

I made the mistake of using a grater to shred the cabbage. As a result, the cabbage flew all over the floor. My advice to the novice cook is to find another way to shred the cabbage. Not even the robot vacuum could handle the mess I made.

The second step is to shred the carrots. This went a little better and made less of a mess. To peel the carrots, I used this handy-dandy new peeler my mother-in-law got me for Christmas.

It worked like a charm but the shredding part was still a bit messy.

The next step is to toss the cabbage and carrots together in a bowl and set them two the side.

To make the dressing, measure 1/4 cup of undiluted evaporated milk and gradually add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon grated onion.

Following that, stir in 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon monosodium glutamate, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

I hesitated to try this recipe because the monosodium glutamate is controversial in modern times. It is an additive that enhances the savory flavor of foods and is known for being found in certain stews, bullions, snacks, and Chinese foods. The FDA says that it is generally recognized as safe. However, it is considered by some to be an “excitotoxin” that causes neurological issues and there are those today try to avoid it. I do know that this was found in almost every recipe that was not a dessert in Tempting Low-Calorie Recipes and must have been very popular in the 1950s.

Note the cabbage mess still on the counter in the background!

I combined all of the above ingredients in a bowl. This was how it looked:

I sampled this alone and it has a unique and distinct tart flavor that tastes unlike any dressings that I have had before.

The final step is to combine the dressing with the cabbage and carrots and let it chill. This is the end result:

This had a mild spicy and tart flavor and I think that the red cabbage mistake did not drastically hurt the recipe. The spiciness of the red cabbage actually enhanced the dressing in my opinion. Red cabbage tends to be more flavorful and I think that in small portions this would be a nice side dish. The key words here are small portions because if you have a sensitive stomach this is NOT the recipe for you. Perhaps the recipe made with green cabbage would be a bit easier to tolerate.

Time Travel Experience: This recipe provided an interesting perspective on weight loss ideas from 1956. The cookbook is full of amusing illustrations and vintage photographs. The recipe is colorful and the cabbage and carrots have lots of filling fiber and vitamins. I understand why this would be considered a “diet food” in 1956. I had fun traveling to the 1950s but will likely select a different recipe the next time.

Overall Verdict: 5/10 (me) , N/A (husband). My husband would not even touch this, and I don’t blame him. I think if I had made it correctly with green cabbage it might have been a bit easier to handle. I would tell anyone attempting this recipe to heed my warning that those with sensitive stomachs and digestive tracts not try this. I think it promotes weight loss by leaving the eater with an uncomfortable feeling of fullness for days after eating. Ugh. I’m still recovering.

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