Monday, December 19, 2011

Emotional Eating During the Holidays is Not ALL Bad - Grandma's Nanaimo Bars

Last week our Weight Watchers leader gave us a great tip for holiday treats.  Keep a mental list of all the foods you have an emotional connection with, and as you go through the holiday season enjoy the foods you love - once - then check them off your mental list.  For instance, if Grandma's Pumpkin Pie is your absolute favorite and she always makes it for St. Nicholas Day, you can look forward to having it then and easily say "no, thank you very much" to an offer of a lesser version at a different time.  It may also mean saying "no, thank you very much" to foods not already on the list.

When I allow myself one (or two) indulgences at a time, I enjoy the experience of the food and better remember it later.  Since I mindfully try to eat only what my body needs for nourishment, I want to really mark those times I choose to eat a treat because I really do enjoy eating.  On Christmas Eve I will have an opportunity to eat several of the treats on my list and believe me I will savor them.

One of those treats are the Nanaimo Bars my Grandma is finishing up today.  These are a staple on our family dessert table at Christmas and for a very long time I thought they were unique unto my Grandmother.  The bars are not unique to our family but they do come from a small town on Vancouver Island, Canada and that is pretty close to where we live and local, after all, is almost as good a family.  There is a fun little article on Wikipedia if you'd like to read the history of Nanaimo Bars.

These bars are chocolatey-creamy-ooey-gooey-sticky-yummy goodness and I absolutely have an emotional association with eating them.  The great thing is I can have a warm fuzzy feeling with just a few bites then I am good for another year.  It is completely normal and okay to have nostalgic happy feelings tied to food, especially foods that only come out at certain times during the year.  I simply make these foods part of my plan and practice moderation.

If we shutter ourselves away from tempting foods we may miss out on wonderful opportunities to enjoy our family and friends.  As you go through this week of celebrations be present in each moment.  Choose what you will enjoy and enjoy what you choose!

Naniamo Bars on the lower half of the tray,
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars and Frosting Dipped Pretzels on top.
from Our Lady of Second Helpings' Grandma's Recipe Card

Base Layer:
½ C. Butter  - Softened
¼ C. White Sugar    
5 TBSP Cocoa
1 TSP. Vanilla          
1 Egg
2 C. Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 C. Coconut
½ Chopped Walnuts

Place softened butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and egg into a bowl over a sauce pan of boiling water.
Stir well until butter is melted and mixture looks like a custard.
In a large bowl -Combine crumbs, nuts, and coconut.
Add cooked ingredients to crumb mixture folding together until blended.
Press combined ingredients into a 9” pan
Chill 15 minutes to overnight.

Middle Layer
¼ C. Butter
3 TBSP Milk
2 TSP Vanilla Instant Pudding
2 C. Powdered Sugar

Mix together first three ingredients and fold in powdered sugar until completely blended.
Spread over chilled base and chill an additional 15 to 30 minutes.

Top Layer:
When first two layers are chilled: Melt 4 squares of Semi-Sweet (or Unsweetened) Baking Chocolate with 1 TB Butter.

Spread melted chocolate over the chilled layers.
Fully chill completed bars before cutting into squares.
Keep the bars cool until ready to serve.

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