Creating Joy, Nothing is Certain Don’t Skip Sweets

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I live in the present, I truly believe that nothing is guaranteed so we must live like we don’t know if tomorrow will come so appreciate each day and have some fun.

This post is a bit different from what I usually write about because I don’t typically recommend a specific lifestyle practice. But, one morning I was enjoying a glass of iced tea with a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie I made, I relished the deliciousness and I enjoyed the break. I thought what a simple, versatile practice and anyone can enjoy it, so I decided to put it to “paper”.

Cultivating our own happiness is how we become more resilient and self-reliant. No, we don’t walk around with a smile on our face all of the time, but rather than expecting happiness to come from a person, situation or an event, make yourself happy. Happiness is an inside job that evolves by creating practices that bring joy, a smile and a feeling of pleasure, a sweet or two a day should be one way to celebrate yourself and the day and there are benefits.

About Desserts: from Szandra Szabó, Model, Pastry Chef and Business Woman

They elevate your mood
Have you ever wondered why your mood goes from drab to fab the moment you sink your teeth into a gooey chocolate cake or a chimney cake straight out of the oven? This is because desserts, specifically the sugar in the desserts, causes your brain to release endorphins such as serotonin. These hormones are responsible for making you feel happy, cheerful and calm.

Sugar reduces stress
Sugar is a great stress reliever. So, if you sometimes feel like life, work or school is bogging you down, eating a dessert can surely help you manage some of the stress. How does that happen, you may ask? Well, it has been found that sugar brings down cortisol levels to a certain degree (cortisol is the stress hormone). Although eating desserts or sugar is not a long-term solution for stress, it can give you some momentary respite.

They are a great pick-me-up.
A lot of people eat desserts when they want to reward themselves. Sweet treats offer a great pick-me-up. So, if you choose to eat a dessert after a particularly stressful week, it will instantly make you experience a sense of contentment and satisfaction.

Confections are a part of my daily routine, they are satisfying and enjoyable and prompt pleasant memories of childhood. To assure that I have the best experience, all of my sweets are homemade, with the exception of ice cream, because I use healthier ingredients and adjust the sugar. Irrespective if I eat sweets with a meal or sometime during the day, it’s an enjoyable experience that I savor, whether I have something simple like fresh fruit, breakfast sweets, a piece of chocolate or a baked good.

While your brain only accounts for 2 percent of your body weight, it uses 50 percent of the sugar energy in your body. Your brain loves sugar! Why does it love sugar? Because sugar releases dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, the part of your brain linked to reward, novelty and motivation. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that plays a key role in controlling emotional responses. In fact, not only does it help us visualize the rewards, but it also enables us to take the action we need to achieve the reward. In addition to releasing dopamine in the brain, sugar also releases endogenous opioids. These are responsible for the wonderful surge of pleasure you feel when you eat a piece of candy. Warrell Creations

Eat Dessert First: Why It’s a Good Idea from David and Carla Hays/Mary’s Fine Dining

Whether it’s cheesecake or coconut pie, most desserts have a fair amount of fat. Too much fat isn’t good for you, but a little fat with a meal serves a useful purpose – it helps you absorb fat-soluble vitamin and nutrients better. Fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin A, D, E, and K, can’t do their jobs if they aren’t adequately absorbed from the digestive tract. Other nutrients such as the carotenoids in green, leafy vegetables and sweet potatoes also need fat for best absorption.

That’s where eating dessert first comes in. Taking a few bites of dessert before eating your vegetables helps you absorb vitamins and nutrients better – and that’s a good thing when it comes to your health.

I thought I’d share a recipe from one of my mom’s old cookbooks that I’ve enjoyed for years, it can be eaten anytime of the day.

Finnish Pancake: (4-6 servings)

Image Courtesy of JoCooks

This is a delightful custardy, souffle-like baked pancake that melts in your mouth, topped with honey or confectioners sugar and fresh fruit, it is delicious. Make sure when you remove it from the oven, you eat it immediately as it falls as it cools. (NOTE: If making for yourself, cut the ingredients in half, but must be eaten immediately)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk or half and half
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tablespoons of butter

Preheat oven to 425o. Put an oven-proof 10-12 inch high sided frying pan in the oven for about 10 minutes to preheat. Combine the flour with milk, whisk until smooth, add eggs, honey and salt, whisk all together. Remove the pan from the oven, put the butter in the pan, when its melted, carefully pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Thank you for stopping by.

Your purpose isn’t what you do, but who you become, while doing it. ~ Matt Kahn

Will You Join Me – Home Cooking, a Benefit of Pandemic Coping

“At a scale not seen in over 50 years, America is cooking, a healthy move in the middle of a pandemic.” Hans Taparia/New York Times

The kitchen is my second favorite room in the house. I consider it a place where my creativity and love of delicious food unite to create a combination of ingredients to nourish myself and share great tasting food. Cooking and being in the kitchen gives me comfort and peace in such a strange and difficult time. My mother who created wonderful meals led the way for me, she was my teacher in the process of making food with love. While my mom passed away in 2013 she’s never left my side, whenever I cook she’s right there with me. I cannot imagine a more soul satisfying way to spend days at home then enjoying the process of making delicious, healthy meals that satisfy my intention to eat mindfully.

While there have been many negatives with COVID-19, there are a few benefits, one most prominent is the return to the core of family and cooking and serving real meals at home. Cooking at home isn’t only a means of satisfying our appetites, it is a cultural pillar of socialization that stems from the love of family, friends and the essential human bond of togetherness. This terrible situation has forced people to return to family closeness and better health.

When I was growing up, going out to eat was uncommon, our togetherness and the terrific food were matchless. Did you know that since the inception of the pandemic over 100,000 restaurants have closed, not just independently owned, but many major chains have had to close either some or all of their restaurants? My personal opinion is that eating out has become too common, as ordinary as filling a car with fuel. I see this pandemic as an opportunity for people who treat food as necessary to discover homemade food as a personal link to the care of their body as well as a fun and creative way to enjoy food.

A simple but lovely prayer that I found:

May this food that you provide
and that I prepare
bring nourishment to our bodies
and renewal to our souls.
Amen (Simon Carey Holt)

Cooking at home is a primary element to good health. A few people who have tried to promote the benefits of cooking at home made far less impact then COVID-19. A turn of events that has the potential to improve the overall health of many Americans who had previously relied on take out and restaurants in place of cooking at home. Around 30.3 million people in the US have type 2 diabetes and 84.1 million are prediabetic. making this pandemic a perfect storm to take the time to learn to cook and find ways to improve our health through fresh and healthy ingredients.

The need to home cook has never been higher, since the coronavirus has been most threatening to people with food-related chronic diseases. About 90 percent of those who become seriously ill due to the virus have an underlying condition — hypertension and diabetes being the most common. New York Times

Above and beyond the nutritional and health benefits is the connection with the ingredients that feed your body. We are evolving away from institutional, commercial food to fresh food. A better environment is created when meals are made and enjoyed at home and mental health benefits are considerable. We pay more attention to what goes in our meals and the way we feel when we eat. For instance, I’ve been slowly reducing the amount of sodium in my food to adding no salt recently. So, I’m ramping up the herbs and spices to make healthier food that is full of flavor and it’s a big success. I consider myself a home chef because I am able to create many meals without the use of a recipe, so I followed the chef standard of adding salt to everything, even sweets so this was a big change for me, but one that is driving a new creative path and a new relationship with the ingredients.

I recently watched a show where a group of people, a historian and archaeologists left the 21st century to immerse themselves in the simple and hard life on a farm in the Victorian era for a year. If you think cooking is a challenge now, just consider the life of someone who cooked using a charcoal fueled stove and oven, preparing food from scratch that they gathered from their garden where animals were butchered that they’d hand raised. That is the true spirit of home cooking embodied in a life lived naturally and self-sufficiently.

The act of cooking should be a spiritual practice that fuels the soul. Create a kitchen that is not only peaceful and beautiful but a sacred space. Here are some methods to connect the kitchen and preparation of food to the earth and all of life.

  • Declutter your kitchen, keep it clean
  • Keep in mind that this is a space where everyone will participate in the important rituals of treating their body and heart with special care
  • Make the meal cooking process an event, whether you’re cooking with someone or you’re on your own
  • Turn off and remove any electronic communication devices to increase your consciousness around the food you’re preparing
  • Be respectful of the room, of the food that is created and what the room represents, your loving care will be predominate
  • Organize the counters and cupboards for beauty and ease of use. What I had duplicates of or didn’t need, I donated. Whatever changes you make do it so you feel inspired such as adding candles, pots of herbs or flowers
  • Cook mindfully and with love paying attention to all of the dishes that you’re making. Always keep in mind that your energy effects everything around you including meal preparation

Finally, think about how you show up in the kitchen, just as you do in your relationships with people, be thoughtful and mindful of your relationship with the room and the process of preparing food. Fall into step with nature and the beauty of creating meals whether simple or complex. Enjoy and celebrate the food that you make. Let your imagination soar, with access to millions of recipes on the internet, anything is possible in the kitchen.