Valentine’s Day is often a time when it is easy to overindulge as well as overeat. After Halloween, Americans spend more money for chocolate and candy on Feb. 14. This Hallmark holiday is one where people feel compelled to buy cards, roses and candy. This is a holiday that can make or break a florist or chocolate store. I enjoy a holiday as much as anyone and I have been known to make a decadent dinner for my beloved. Flourless chocolate cakes with raspberries from the garden come to mind.
I’d like to introduce you to a healthy eating habit that can be practiced with ANY food; without any special tools and without anyone noticing your practice. E-A-T S-L-O-W-L-Y! Slow down when you eat. Take your time.
So here is the scenario: you have just been gifted a beautiful box or bar of chocolates. (If you do not like chocolate, substitute a favorite treat.) Do you normally eat it in one sitting or maybe you eat all of your favorites right away before anyone else gets them. I invite you to SAVOR. Pick out a perfect piece and spend at least 10 minutes eating it. Smell it. Look at it. Then take a small bite and close your eyes. (This is an exercise that is usually down with a single raisin, but I thought it would be fun to do it with a piece of chocolate!) What does the chocolate feel like in your mouth? How long can you enjoy the taste before you swallow the small bite? Take another bite and chew it slowly. How does it change in your mouth. Do you still enjoy the taste or maybe you’ve realized that you don’t really like the selection you have chosen. Seriously, can you take 10 minutes to eat this one piece of chocolate? It will become a meditation involving one of your favorite foods.
Now think about how you eat your meals on a daily basis. When you have the time to sit down and eat your meal, I want you to try to slow down. It takes at least 20 minutes for your stomach to register that you are full. It’s easy for me to fill up before that 20 minutes if I am not eating slowly–especially if the meal is one of my favorite foods. This is not about denying yourself the foods that you enjoy, but rather about enjoying the foods that you have chosen. Whether it’s a homemade meal in your own home or a fast food on-the-go lunch….take a bite, and put down your food/fork. Chew. Take another bite and so it continues. You might find that you don’t even finish what you put on your plate.
Remember this is a practice. You will probably fail multiple times. Come back to the plate and simply practice.
Here’s a fun dessert recipe to practice slow eating on Valentine’s Day.
Simple Chocolate Fondue
-Cut up oranges, apples, bananas, strawberries, raspberries and pineapple into bite-size pieces.
-Over low heat, slowly heat up a cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 cup of your choice of one of these: milk, -cream, half and half, water, almond milk or coconut milk.
-Let these ingredients melt together as you gently stir.
-DO NOT BOIL.
-Serve the chocolate ganache with the cut-up fruit.
Savor every last bite very S-L-O-W-L-Y!
– By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder lives in South Snohomish County with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share here experiments with her family. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and currently chef assists at PCC Cooks and NuCulinary Cooking School. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.