Cooking with Batman - The DC Super Heroes Super Healthy Cookbook

Superheroes have been featured in and on a lot of products and causes over the years. Some of these make total sense and go naturally with comics, while others - soap, fruit pies, and asthma awareness - are a bit more of a stretch. In this latter category falls a very special book that I am fortunate enough to have in my possession thanks to the generosity of Mr. Menace - The DC Super Heroes Super Healthy Cookbook: Good food kids can make themselves. Granted, it's not a complete mismatch. If you assume that superheroes are supposed to be role models for kids, someone to look up to and emulate, why not have them promote good nutrition and the joys of home cooking?* It's a pretty reasonable idea. What makes this book a bit odd is the way the authors have attempted to integrate the heroes and the recipes, as you'll see.

In the plus column, the artwork in the book, by Ross Andru, Leo Duranona and Dick Giordano, is stunning. Check out this list of common cooking terms, rendered in sound effects fonts:

The cooking terms

Whether it's the directions for cracking an egg or Supergirl cooking chicken parts with her heat vision, the book looks great. However, by modern standards the recipes are a bit bizarre and really show their 1980's health food roots. There is an outright shocking amount of wheat germ worked into these: coating the aforementioned chicken, stirred into birthday cakes, and perhaps most oddly, rounding out Hawkman's creepy sculptural scrambled eggs.

Hawkie? To look into its soulless raisin eyes is to know despair.

This is where the uneasiness of the whole concept is most obvious. Hawkman's joke is so bad that even Hawkgirl won't put up with it, and in the quest to have a themed, healthy foodstuff, we've stopped right into the mouth of madness, recipe-wise, cooking up vaguely bird-shaped scrambled eggs with wheat germ and raisins in them. Raisins. In scrambled eggs. Okay, I get it, there are only two and it's just for the look of it, but I'm not sure that this way lies the path to culinary greatness for the tween set.

And what's up with Green Lantern's peanut butter obsession? There are three recipes devoted to it, culminating in...whatever this is. green lantern cookie 2 green lantern cookie 1 2 I guess they're cookies. If cookies were made with bananas and sadness.

Meanwhile, Green Arrow threatens to shoot anyone who's not interested in nutrition:

green arrow fruit

Obviously I needed to try one of the recipes for myself. I went with this one: french toast 1french toast 2

...for a few reasons: 1. I had pretty much all of the necessary ingredients to hand, although I did upgrade my whole grain bread. (I'm sorry, I didn't stock up on wheat germ.) 2. Mr. Menace really likes French toast. 3. That joke where Robin transposes "Batman" and "batter" is inadvertently hilarious and terrible.

The recipe is dead simple - it doesn't even include any milk. Just egg, banana, and some cinnamon, with whole-grain bread. I made a double batch because I have oodles of brown bananas in my freezer.




Well, it looked good. How did it taste? The banana was obscured by the cinnamon at first, but eventually came through. Was it the best French toast I'd ever had? Not really, but I think that might be due to the bread I chose, which had a slight sourdough tang - it would probably be far more delicious with the usual white bread. That's the mystery of the Super Healthy Cookbook, ultimately - did it have its intended effect? Did, as the foreword hoped, kids learn that "Healthier food is often tastier than unhealthy food, men too can cook, good nutrition isn't dull, and - above all, cooking can be a pleasure?" I fear not - I know far too many adults who still need to learn those messages. Then again, perhaps they weren't exposed to the magic of the Vegetable Robots:

robot v 1robot v 2

Take us to your eater, indeed.

Did you have this cookbook, or the Marvel one? Tell me all about it in the comments!

* The author of the book's foreword, Dr. Joan Gussow,  was an early proponent of local, "real food" nutrition and an inspiration to folks like Michael Pollan who are writing today. Sadly it seems that Superman didn't totally change our eating habits.