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Home Vacation Does food taste better on vacation? – Happy Gourmand

Does food taste better on vacation? – Happy Gourmand

by Staff

Even though this winter has not been very cold, the shorter days can make a difference to many people.

There is plenty of scientific proof the lower levels of sunlight through the winter reduce levels of melatonin and serotonin in our bodies and these hormones affect not only our mood but also our sleep and eating habits.

That made me wonder, is it true then that food tastes better on vacation?

I know many people get away in the winter, but this week’s column is especially for those who aren’t packing a bag. I’m taking our tastebuds on a virtual trip of some of my favourite foodie memories.

• A warm crêpe from a street vendor in Paris on a cold March day, with a lemon juice and sugar filling that seemed decadent in its simplicity.

• Sampling hazelnut gelato on the streets of Rome, feeling like Audrey Hepburn – and then learning about affogato and feeling like I was in heaven.

• My first taste of fresh guava in Jamaica, an explosion of floral, honey and citrus tang. It was like tasting a Van Gogh painting in its complexity.

• A simple Marie biscuit and a cup of black tea was euphoric, sampled on the salt pans of Botswana while watching the sun set.

Now I’m thinking, if I need a dose of that in my living room this weekend – how do I get it?

I could turn the heat up and spread sand on the floor, but somehow, I think it’s more complicated than that. The experts say a light box will help reduce the symptoms of SAD (what a great acronym for Seasonal Affected Disorder). If you can’t get to someplace tropical, why not have your own personal ray of sunshine?

Personally, I find the carbohydrate fix is what works for me. It’s the other element that helps boost those levels and better your mood. That’s one of the reasons we crave chocolate and other goodies more in the winter.

Of course, there is a no-calorie method – you’ve likely heard that if you start to smile you will feel better after a short while, even if you didn’t feel like smiling when you started. So, pull out the photo album from your favourite holiday and reminisce about great times when days were longer.

If you’d like a treat to help boost your mood, here’s a recipe I created one winter when we didn’t go away. These cookies have dried fruit, chocolate and grains so they should cover all mood-improving possibilities.

Let yourself smile and turn your SAD into a new condition I’m calling HAPPY (hormone-affected, party-preparing, yahoo!). I know, it’s a bit corny, but I think a cookie or two could stave off the blues until spring officially arrives.

Tropical Delight Cookies (makes 20-30 cookies)

1-1/2 cups whole wheat all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 cup margarine or butter

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 large egg

2 tbsp orange juice

1 cup white chocolate chips (dark chocolate is okay too, if you prefer)

1 cup coarsely chopped pistachios

½ cup crystallized ginger, sliced OR dried cranberries (your choice)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two large heavy cookie trays or place silicone baking sheets on trays.

Blend butter and sugar in large bowl till fluffy. Add orange juice and egg and mix till well blended. Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing cup (saves dishes) Stir flour mixture into creamed butter and sugar mixture, then fold in nuts, fruit and chocolate.

Drop dough by the tablespoonful onto cookie trays. Bake till golden, about 15 minutes. Cool cookies on trays for five minutes, then move to wire cooling rack. Can be stored in airtight container for one week (if they make it that long.)

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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