Grim's Grub: Doctors don't want you to try this killer diet....literally

The sinister story behind an early American fad diet.

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

Dieting is a huge industry. If you boil it down, weight loss is an equation of calories in, calories out, however, lots of companies and individuals have made a healthy living off complicating it. In one case, the scheme was more sinister than most fad diets

A town called Olalla near Seattle was home to Hazzard's Institute of Natural Therapeutics, owned by foreshadowing incarnate, Linda Hazzard. Hazzard was licensed in the state as a fasting specialist. She marketed treatments at her facility as the miracle cure for virtually all ailments. To her, the source of all ailments is food, supposedly “overeating,” read, eating at all.

But this couldn't be done at home, no, you would travel to her facility and move in. There patients would attempt to recover from their wordly ails under her supervision and regimented meals, mostly made up of two cups of watery tomato broth per day. Actual tomato soup only has 74 calories per cup, this was even less.

Sisters Dorothea and Claire Williamson came from England to receive her treatment for such ailments as rheumatic pains, swollen glands and a “dropped uterus.” They joined Hazzard's program in February of 1911. It didn't take long before Claire died. Hazzard said she was killed by medicine she had been given as a child, for some mysterious reason, Hazzard paid the local mortician to switch out her body with a much healthier looking one.

After the family nurse visited and found Dorothea at the facility, weighing around 50 pounds, the pair's uncle was summoned to free the surviving sister who still believed in the treatment and had signed over all her wealth and power of attorney to the Hazzards. The uncle was forced to pay out the nose to get her out of the clinic. This triggered an investigation revealing more victims who signed over everything and died. Hazzard was connected to at least 12 starvation deaths.


She was only arrested for the death of Claire Williamson, for which she was found guilty of manslaughter and sent to serve two years in prison. During the trial, many alternative health practitioners spoke in her favor, saying her practice was perfectly safe. Author Upton Sinclair even felt inspired and wrote "The Fasting Cure" as a how-to for health through fasting.

Hazzard seemed to continue to believe it as well. Years after her release, Hazzard became ill. To prove her naysayers wrong once and for all, she began her own fast. If one could survive on smugness alone then Hazzard would have grown fat indeed, but instead she very quickly starved to death.

Clear tomato soup, aka consomme (adapted from

  • 4 cups water
  • 700 grams meatless, red pasta sauce
  • 9 ounces ripe and chopped tomatoes
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Stir together the water and tomato sauce in a large soup pot, then in a food processor, blend the chopped tomatoes and basil leaves. Add egg whites and sugar and blend again until all ingredients are mixed.

Combine the tomato and egg mixture to the tomato and water mixture and, while whisking constantly, bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes and allow it to simmer undisturbed as the egg white rise to the top and form a crust (called a raft) until all the whites appear to have risen.

Strain this soup mixture through a fine cloth filter, reserving the clear liquid that strains through. Discard the egg raft. Serve soup hot. If reheating, do not re-boil.

Grilled cheese tips and tricks

  • Instead of butter, try mayo on your grilled cheese.
  • Regardless of which spread is used, make sure it covers the entire grilled surface.
  • Consider buttering the inside of the grilled cheese as well. Some even suggest lightly grilling the inside as well.
  • The melting quality of American cheese is unmatched.
  • Add a more robust flavor and stretch to your grilled cheese by adding a very small layer of shredded parmesan between your slices of cheese, other options may include sharp cheddar or other aged cheeses that melt well.
  • Add an Italian twist by buttering the crust of your bread, and adding a light coating of garlic powder or salt to all buttered surfaces before grilling.
  • If you want a grilled cheese but only have bread heels, turn the heels crust-side in and nobody will ever know.
  • Bagels, croissants, hoagies and even donuts may be made into grilled cheese bread by buttering the cut side and grilling them crust-side in.
  • An old fashioned treat once involved spreading grape jelly on the top of a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Don't be tempted to turn up the heat too high. The best grilled cheese has fully melted cheese, and a toasted crust that is more than skin deep, which requires time and patience.
  • If adding fillings other than cheese, try to make them pair with your cheese. oily, fatty fillings might blend with the cheese and buttery bread and get lost. The sharpness of a pickle might stick out.
  • Consider a little horseradish on the inside of your sandwich. Horseradish tends to turn sweet when heated and develops complex flavors in a grilled cheese.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
What To Read Next
Get Local


Must Reads