ATHENS, Ohio (TDB) -- While Cleveland's City Council is frittering around with efforts to battle obesity by warning against foods soaked in trans-fats, researchers at this campus in Appalachian Ohio have been on another path: Convincing people to cook with indigenous pawpaws to stay slim.
Until this week, few paid much attention to the pawpaw, a fruit that tastes like a cross between a banana and mango, according to people who have the moxie to sample one. Humans in the Midwest have pretty much left the pawpaw crop to possums and raccoons since Johnny Appleseed's day in the early 1800s. But the Ohio General Assembly became infatuated this week during its lame duck session and voted to declare the pawpaw the Buckeye State's native fruit.
Well, some scientists think the legislators might be on to something. Nutritionists at Ohio University say pawpaws could make low-fat baked goods that are palatable to health conscious consumers. In a 2001 study, O.U. ran a taste test and found people rated muffins made with pawpaws as highly as those made with lots of high-fat vegetable oil, and even better than muffins made with applesauce.
''A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Consumers might choose a l0w-fat diet if they think it tastes as good as the full-fat product,'' Melani Duffrin, an assistant professor at Ohio University said in a school news release. Her scientific report about the benefits of pawpaws was published in Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal. Here's the muffin recipe:
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. double-acting baking powder
1/2 ts. salt
1 cup 2% mil
2 egg whites
1 ts. imitation vanilla
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 cup pawpaw
Where do you find pawpaws for the muffins? Good question. Why don't you ask your state representative.