Yup, it's true - I am still on holidays. I am writing about my experiences - honest! - but I have sent in this reprint for you to enjoy as the internet is a bit iffy in the tropical heat. See you next week with a Jamaican recipe!
They say that February is the toughest month of the year to get through, what with winter blues and the lack of holidays to create so much as a long weekend. Apparently there is some scientific proof now that the lower levels of sunlight through the winter do reduce the levels of melatonin and serotonin in our systems, and these hormones affect not only our mood but also our sleep and our eating habits. That pretty much covers everything you do, don’t you think? No wonder so many people head off to Mexico this time of year!
Since we don’t have a flight booked I thought maybe some reminiscing of past travels might help… I spent some time surfing the web tonight watching the National Geographic “animal cam” in Africa and remembering my time on safari; the vibrant colours made me think of the beautiful costumes in Venice the year was there at Carnival time. With my mind wandering through these old memories my tastebuds decided to tag along and tastes came flooding back of wonderful meals in exotic places. Even a simple biscuit and a cup of tea still lingers as a euphoric food memory, because it was sampled on the salt pans of Botswana while watching the sun set. 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 that a light box will help reduce the symptoms of SAD (what a great acronym – “seasonal affected disorder” sounds a bit wussy, but SAD sums it up nicely!) 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; the other element that helps boost those –tonin levels and better your mood are complex carbs. (That’s why we crave chocolate and other goodies more in the winter – or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) Seriously, more fruits and grains, people!
Of course there is the old standby method – if you start to smile you will feel better after a short while even if you didn’t feel like smiling when you started. If we can’t have the special new association that turns a mundane meal into an exotic experience, let’s bring back an old one. So, pull out the photo album from your favourite holiday, and try this recipe I invented another time I was thwarted from escaping those nasty winter blues. These cookies have dried fruit, chocolate and grains so they should cover all mood-improving possibilities. Let yourself smile and turn your SAD into HAPPY (hormone-affected, party-preparing, yahoo!) Corny it might be, but I think it could just stave off the blues till spring has officially arrived.
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 2 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 tablespoonfuls onto cookie trays. Bake till golden, about 15 min. Cool cookies on trays for 5 min, then move to wire cooling rack. Can be stored in airtight container for 1 week (if they make it that long!)