Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines Resolutions

So it's Valentine's Day and everyone is all about love and chocolate. I am personally dressed like a chocolate dipped strawberry, with a bubble gum pink shirt and a pair of chocolate brown slacks in honor of said holiday. Now chocolate is all well and good. In fact, I am all for chocolate, especially if it is dark and expensive and foreign. But this year, chocolate was almost my downfall.

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My new years resolution this year was to change my eating habits forever. I only eat the portions defined by the old USDA food pyramid. Unfortunately there is no chocolate on the pyramid. Now this has never been a problem in the past, because if I wasn't eating chocolate for dieting purposes, I would just drink more Diet Coke and call it good. Sadly, Diet Coke is also not on the food pyramid. Hmm.

This was fine the first month. All of January, I was all excited and motivated and sure the weight would fall right off. I would rival the Biggest Losers in fabulous physical changes wrought by hard work and excessive exercise and self control by the end of the year.

And then it was my birthday. In Punxsutawny. And there were these huge sandwiches filled with all kinds of things that the food pyramid was made to convince you never to eat, like fries and fried eggs and pastrami and sauerkraut all on one sandwich. And pie! We played "Pass the Pie" with six different flavors. How can you pass that up?

So by the time, I came home, it was hard again. And this time it wasn't new or exciting. Fortunately, reading the excellent book Body Intelligence by Edward Abramson reminded me that I am an emotional eater. I suspected this was the case, but was blown away by the score I got when I took the emotional eating quiz in the book. The only emotion that I didn't bust the record for was anger. Apparently I don't want to eat when I'm angry, only when I am nervous, sad, tired, bored, frustrated, happy, or experiencing any emotion besides anger. Surprisingly, my highest score (and this is a bad thing), was eating when I am happy. Happy? Well, yes. Food just adds to the general air of festivity at any occasion, don't you think? I am all about adding to the air of festivity. You might as well have even more stimulation, right?

What's a girl to do? I kept feeling limited when I would not eat when I was happy, and that made me less happy. How can this be a good thing? And I couldn't just pour Diet Coke on it to make things better. This was a first for me. So I thought about it. What could I replace all the treats with that would still keep me feeling festive and not denied? Shopping! Of course. But then I remembered that I already spent all my barn sale money and won't have any more until May. Boo. Back to the old mental drawing board.

I thought about this for almost a week and then realized that I had to think of something positive to replace the eating with, that didn't cost any thing, didn't involve food, and inspired daily exercise. A tall order, to be sure. And then, on the elliptical trainer, it hit me! Opportunity! I love new opportunities. I can't resist them. So I decided that every time I wanted to eat when I was happy, I would simply remind myself that I was trying to "give myself the opportunity to be a dancer and an athlete" and pass on the food in the name of trying something new. It was perfect!

Fast forward to yesterday, the day before Valentine's Day. So things had been working out great. I had a plan to surprise my kids with homemade treats as their Valentines. This is shocking as I only bake or make treats if I am in the mood for them. Most of their obligatory holiday treats come in bags from Target. So I pulled up Karianne of Thistlewood Farms' delicious looking recipe for "Red Hot Popcorn" and started cooking, with one minor change to the recipe. I swapped the red hots for Swedish Fish. There were two reasons for this: 1) I couldn't find red hots at the grocery store, and I went to two different ones. Maybe everyone just had the same idea I had and they bought them all for their sweeties. 2) My kids don't like hot-spicy. They have proven this to be true repeatedly by spitting things out that have any kind of heat to them and fanning there mouths furiously, begging for milk. So no red hots.

But Swedish Fish are red. And not hot. Done! Brilliant! Best idea ever.

Um, not so much. The recipe said the red hots would melt in 5 minutes. At 15, there were still largish chunks of Swedish Fish in the pan. At 20 minutes, still, chunks. Around the 25 minute mark, I just gave up and glumped it on the popcorn, as the chunks had gotten marginally smaller.  So much for homemade treats.

Then I saw my salvation!

I should have know that it would come out of a bag from Target.

I had bought two bags of Hershey's Raspberry Hugs for one of my kids to attach to their valentines.  I counted kisses just to be sure there were enough for both of us. And there were! So I slipped those little kisses out of their silver cladding and right into the microwave for 30 secs. Bam! Very drizzle-able white raspberry chocolate concoction. Saved. Totally. By a bag from Target.

After being flushed with my last minute success, I decided to continue with the rest of my "Home Made treats that I stole the idea from Karianne" plans. Next up were Strawberry Cheesecake Bites. I was more confident here. I do make stuff with strawberries regularly, and have been known to make a mean cheesecake or two from time to time.

My kids were home by now. And just to show you what a mean mommy I am, my oldest walked in, saw the recently salvaged popcorn and asked "Who is that for?" never for once thinking it might be for her personal consumption.

While we were waiting for the other two girls to get home, I washed and hollowed the strawberries as directed. Things went well until we pulled out the chocolate chips.  In honor of it being Valentine's Day, I pulled out the good stuff, the Ghiradelli 60% dark chocolate chips. Now remember, chocolate is not on the food pyramid and the only way I can have any is to give up a serving of milk. I was on my last milk serving and knew I would rather have ice cream later that night, so eating it was out. By this point, the 13 year old is shoving handfuls of chocolate into her mouth. nom, nom. Chips in hand,  I thought to myself, "Self, you want to give yourself the opportunity to be an athlete and a dancer." And it worked! I put down the chips! Well, I put them in a bowl to melt and then shoved them in the microwave.

I was fine until the smell of chocolate started wafting in the air. And then I started to weaken. It smelled so chocolaty...and tomorrow was Valentine's Day and I was having so much fun making these with my kids and ...and.. and. Suddenly the mental voice appeared,"Self! Get it together Self! Give yourself the opportunity to be an athlete and a dancer!" Oh! I almost slipped. I dropped the chocolate chips that had mysteriously appeared in my hand and put the bag up in the cupboard.

It was a blast watching my kids dip the strawberries and cover themselves with the drippy chocolate and graham cracker crumbs. I managed to only lick my fingers twice the whole time. And while the kids were madly eating up the rest of the excess chocolate with strawberries and graham cracker bits, I stoically ate my measured 1 cup of plain strawberries in the corner.

Next we started making the filling. This is a very sticky process as the filling is made of cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla. I added a bit of Cool Whip as life is too short to not eat Cool Whip whenever possible. The cream cheese got all gunked around the beaters, so I had to wipe it off with my fingers. Without even thinking, I licked them clean. Mistake. It was so delicious! I stuck my finger back in again and then had my kids all taste it. I was about to get a spoon and start chowing down when The Voice showed up, "Give yourself the opportunity to be an athlete and a dancer." The spoon went back in the drawer and and I got a rubber scraper to deal with the stickiness.

Once the filling was done, I put it in the zip lock bag and cut the tip off. I filled one strawberry to show the kids how it was done and then let them do 4 each. I highly recommend the zip lock bag method of frosting or piping with kids. It was so easy and virtually mess less. And I had one on hand.

Wanna see how they turned out?

Not quite as pretty as Karianne's, but not bad for a pack of girls and their chocolate deprived mother.

And the best thing is, I made it! I didn't eat any of them until today! And I had already planned for that, so I'm good. They were delicious, but now I think I'll go outside and go for a walk. I want to be sure to give myself the opportunity to be an athlete and a dancer, you know.

Happy Valentine's day Y'all!

PS. If you want to read the funniest New Year's Resolutions struggle post I have ever seen, 
check out Bliss Ranch here.


  1. You go girl! I am so proud of you! Why didn't I think of Swedish Fish....and Target chocolate. I loved this post! I laughed and laughed and laughed! Thanks for the best Valentine's post....ever!


  2. Sigh - right with you GIRL! Too FUNNY!