I miss the taste of the sweet treats of the season. I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in May of this year, so this is the first Christmas season without sugar. Sigh.
I’m lucky though, I can control the disease with diet and exercise and Metformin. I don’t have to do the daily blood tests.
I’ve learned to stop and appreciate the beauty of the treats under glass in bakeries, to breathe in and delight in the memories and emotions that rich scents of cinnamon, almond, clove, fruit evokes. This lack has made me appreciate the real treats when I find them. It is almost like a game. I ask myself, ” If I could freely eat a few, select sweet treats, would this be one of them?”
To my surprise, I find myself usually answering, “No.”
If the tempting item is in a bag, I remind myself it is not fresh. And fresh, straight from the oven, still gooey and steaming is the only way to eat most treats such as cookies. I walked down the isle in overstock and remainder grocery I go to at least once a month, a store that saves my budget and me from despair, with all the baking goods to get a great deal on cans of evaporated milk, and walked right past the boxes of brownie and cake mixes with their ingredient lists of over 15 items including preservatives and fillers and multiple forms of second class sweeteners. No problem. If I were to indulge, it would and indulgence with something homemade with love and real true ingredients. In the grocery near my home, I walk in and the sweet smell is overpowering. It is cloying in its overabundance, and there is something missing. The scent of spices, butter, nutmeats and simmering fruit is absent. There is just the smell of white flour and sugar. This, too, I can forgo.
The piles of candy everywhere brighten with red, white, and gold wrappings. But I can decorate with strings of popcorn and cranberries and shiny baubles; I don’t need gold boxes of chocolates, and bowls of red and green candies.
I am pretty sure I can figure out how to make a fruit cake that is filled with the heady richness of freshly ground spices, healthy fruit and nuts and a tiny bit of honey and just enough Stevia to add some sweetness without bitterness so as delight guests and allow my own indulgence once or twice. I am sorting through my recipes and looking for recipes I can modify so as to be able to make plates of treats to give away without exposing myself to dangerous temptation. Many recipes I remember from my childhood were simple ones that I can adapt to use a sweetener that is natural, and with a lower glycemic index than the “white death” soaked cookies we too often think of as “Christmas cookies.” Chocolate (dyed green) and white (dyed red) cookie doughs rolled into flat sheets then layered and rolled and sliced to make pinwheel cookies were always on my mother’s Christmas sideboard. She also made almond flavored butter cookies shaped into tiny crescents with a clove stuck in each one. Regular plain and simple cookies can be decorated with chopped fruits, nuts such as almonds that can be tinted into festive colors. I will include clementines on the trays, and nuts, just like they did in the days of the Nutcracker.
I will make Christmas trays of goodies for family and friends, and if so moved to do so, I may sample one bite from each type on different days, and I will allow myself to roll the tastes around, over my tongue, savor the real, true sweetness of home made delicacies without artificial anything while sharing the Holidays with the real, true sweet things in life: my family and friends.