Milk & Cookies [How to Eat Dessert]
A well-placed dessert can totally make your day. A poorly-chosen or mindless dessert can ruin your day. You know what I’m talking about – one moment you’re sitting at your desk, and the next you’re zombie-walking into some random bakery and ordering the biggest, baddest thing in the case. You scarf it down on the less-than-two-block walk back to your office, and forget you even had it within 15 minutes of email bombardment.
By the time lunch roles around, you’re feeling super guilty and unsatisfied – your dessert “quota” is filled, but you barely remember devouring the thing, much less enjoying it.
Now let’s back track. What if you were sitting at your desk, sipping tea and calmly moving through your tasks. You decide you would love a little treat, and consciously put your coat on and blast your favorite song, walking to the coffee shop, letting the sun warm your eyelids and enjoying the warm breeze of a much-needed 60 degree day. You carefully select a gorgeous little treat – it’s your favorite thing – and grab your favorite coffee or tea as well. You sit down at the café, fully present, and slowly enjoy your moment of peace, taking small bites and chewing well.
The first situation is a cortisol bomb. As you may know by now, cortisol is the stress hormone released by the adrenals when you’re anxious or under stress. It causes you to store fat, especially around the middle of your body. When you’re stressed at work and you scarf down a huge brownie, your body doesn’t know what to do with the sudden hit of anxiety, guilt and sugar. You might feel a fleeting high from the sweet stuff, but you’ll quickly crash, leaving your blood sugar and mindset in a state of disarray.
The latter situation is a nugget of bliss. When you enjoy indulgences leisurely, consciously, and with gratitude, your brain tells your body that whatever you’re eating is “ok,” and you avoid that rush of cortisol. This makes you more likely to naturally process the treat, and less apt to hold onto it in the more of adipose tissue. When you enjoy that piece of chocolate slowly and thoroughly, your body produces serotonin, the happy hormone that lifts your mood and stabilizes your weight.
A few other key tips will allow you to enjoy dessert without guilt, and even integrate treats regularly:
- Indulge early. My mom has always had a bit of chocolate mid-morning, after breakfast. I love this approach, since it makes the morning feel special, whereas some reserve dessert only for fancy meals that may already involve a lot of indulgence. When dessert becomes so elusive, we’re more likely to gorge ourselves when the time finally comes around. Eating a treat early is fun, and you have the whole rest of the day to move your body, utilize those calories, and feed yourself stabilizing, nurturing food.
- Keep it classy. Choose small, high-quality desserts for the most enjoyment, pleasure and sanity. You should always indulge in things you truly love, and high-quality items are less likely to have blacklist ingredients like trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup.
- If it sucks, throw it out – or give it away. Yep, that’s right. If you bite into a perfect-looking cookie, and it actually tastes like cardboard, STOP! Put it down, walk away, and give it to someone who will love it. You do not have to eat everything, especially crap that doesn’t taste good. Save yourself for something that’s truly exquisite and 100% satisfying.
- Pair it with something alkaline. Sweets are acid-producing. When the body is too acidic, we are more prone to illness, digestive issues, weight retention, and even big-time conditions like cancer. To balance your sweet treat, knock back some green juice, a kombucha, or simply hot water with lemon.
- Share it. When you share an indulgence with someone, you bond with them and share pleasure, and automatically eat less. Making out is encouraged, if the person is cool enough.
Now that you know the right way to indulge, I hope you do so more often, and truly enjoy it!
Kitchen Sink Cookies
2 cups gluten-free flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill
2 T tapioca flour
1 ½ cups coconut palm sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1 cup melted butter or butter substitute, such as Earth Balance
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
½ cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup crushed potato chips
½ cup crushed peanuts
2 T coconut milk
1 ½ t vanilla extract
1 t baking soda
1 t sea salt
Combine flours, sugar, baking soda and sea salt in a large bowl. Melt butter or substitute and add to dry ingredients. Add maple syrup.
Beat egg and egg yolk in separate bowl, vigorously. Add to main bowl. Add coconut milk and vanilla extract. Stir. Fold in chocolate chips, potato chips and peanuts.
Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour, or until cold and firm.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Form dough into small balls and bake on parchment-lined baking sheet for 12 minutes, or until golden-brown. When done, transfer cookies to wire rack for complete cooling.
Photo: Jake Freeman