Delicious Can Be Good For You
With more and more people getting vaccinated, the closer we are getting to being able to gather again with family and friends, which also means that pretty soon we will once again be able to participate in one of life’s simple pleasures…potlucks!
What a wonderful opportunity to celebrate being in community, share our stories, and show our love for one another through what we bring to the potluck.
As I recently found myself musing about the “return of potlucks” and reflecting on some of my earliest potluck memories, the first thing that popped into my mind was potato chip cookies!
Oh, how I loved them, and what a treat they were to have.
Those buttery, sugary cookies with crunchy pieces of salted potato chips mixed in made for the most amazing contrast of flavors in my young mind and mouth.
Truth be told, they were such a special treat that I had them on only a handful of occasions.
It has probably been more than 35 years since I last ate a potato chip cookie, but I have never forgotten the image and the taste!
This got me thinking about the person who brought them.
All I could recall was that she was an older lady in the congregation of the church I attended when I was growing up.
What was the story behind her cookies, which had been such a special treat in my life?
Thankfully, I was able to ask my Dad who the person was, but I’ll likely never know the story about her recipe, since she died at least 15 years ago.
As it turns out, according to foodtimeline.org, the earliest reference to potato chip cookies was in 1946.
By the 1960’s, not only did multiple variations of the recipe proliferate, but so did the subtle nuances of how you were to prepare potato chips, not only for the potato chip cookies, but also for the many other potato chip-based recipes that were popping up.
These variations ran from “crumbled” through “crushed” to “finely crushed” – helpfully elaborated, of course, by a popular chip company.
The other thing that entered my mind, which I have done a fair of reflecting on over the years, was how I use to stand in line at a potluck with my plate in hand, strategizing as to which items I was going to get, since there were so many options and, yet, only so much room on my plate and in my stomach.
BBQ ribs? Definitely!
KFC biscuit? Absolutely!
Fried chicken? Maybe.
Tuna noodle casserole? Skip… my mom made that all the time.
Salad? If it were potato or macaroni based!
Vegetables and/or fruit? Well… as long as there was still room on my plate for dessert (especially potato chip cookies)!
As I mentioned previously, potlucks can be a wonderful time for celebrating and sharing our love with others through what we bring.
However, I think one of the things that is often overlooked when it comes to potlucks is that, if there were a greater effort towards bringing healthier dishes to our potluck gatherings, we could significantly improve the overall health and wellbeing of us as individuals, our communities, and God’s creation.
Right now, many people are facing a variety of health concerns and, as a result, many are trying to make healthier food choices.
One of the ways we can love our neighbor is to bring dishes that are both tasty and healthier than some of the dishes we have brought in the past.
And, healthier means not only carrot sticks and sliced apples, which are both good, but also includes:
- Increasing the number of nutrient-rich dishes (vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits, etc.) at our gatherings.
- Lightening up some of our richer potluck favorites so they can be enjoyed in moderation.
- Rearranging the serving table(s) so that people start with serving up dishes that are nutrient-rich followed by the dishes that are higher in calories, fat, and sugar, and tend to be less nutritious.
- Encouraging participants to bring their own plates, cups, and utensils so as to lessen the amount of waste created at our gatherings.
Shifting our potluck culture is not as hard as it may seem. In fact, based on my experience of participating in and working with congregations over the years, it only takes a few people committed to bringing healthier dishes to start bringing about a change in potluck culture.
Here are two “healthier” recipes that I would like to share. The first one I recently created and the second one is definitely a crowd pleaser.
Note: These recipes are suitable for (or substitutes are given for) those who seek to avoid gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, nuts, and sugar. Also, please note: these dishes are “healthier,” but both are still calorically dense and, therefore, still need to be eaten in moderation. 😊
- Karen’s “Potato Chip Cookies” in memory of Olive Weller, who first introduced me to potato chip cookies. It has been fun working on this recipe over the last several weeks.
- Karen’s “Spinach Dip” – a Webster family tradition.
Healthy Seminarians-Healthy Church is dedicated to empowering discipleship within the church through strengthening the connection between body, mind, and spirit in communion with God, neighbor, and self.
To do this, we offer workshops, small groups, and cooking demonstrations, among other activities!
If you would like to learn about our programs and/or want more tips, strategies, and recipes that can be used at your next potluck (church gathering, close friends, book club, etc.), please feel free to contact us!
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good” – Psalm 34:8
Rev. Dr. Karen Webster is co-founder and executive director of the Healthy Seminarians-Healthy Church Initiative, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organized (housed at Columbia Theological Seminary) and validated ministry of Trinity Presbytery (SC). In addition to being an ordained PC(USA) pastor, Karen is certified as an Exercise Physiologist, Nutrition Specialist, and Health and Wellness Coach