A side of guilt with that?

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday…. Where does it end? Why do we have to be reminded constantly about what we should be doing?

With the American Thanksgiving weekend now upon us, the holiday season has officially begun — whether you like it or not.

For as long as I can remember, it has been a season of indulgence; we eat more, we drink more, we party more, and we spend more on gifts and decorations.

The word “indulge” is Latin in origin, meaning “to give free rein to” or “to allow someone to enjoy a desired pleasure."

This is not as straightforward as you might think; there is often a side of guilt on the plate that serves up those pleasures.

I propose this year we work on a bit of balance to help us enjoy the indulgences fully. If we aren’t going to believe in moderation for the next six weeks, then we can at least enjoy both extremes.

Go ahead and shop yourself silly on Black Friday – then do something substantial to pay it forward on Giving Tuesday (remember, time is money, too.)

Eat that cheese-stuffed, bacon-studded, deep-fried breaded jalapeno – and have a salad for dinner the next day. Party like it’s 1999 and have an extra drink at the party, then schedule a walk with the dog or a friend to help reset your system.

The advertising industry has trained us to believe that we deserve to be indulgent, not simply for the pleasure of it, but because we are too busy to do things the old-fashioned “regular” way (cook a meal from scratch, for example). We see ads all the time that ask us:

  • Wouldn’t it be nice to feel better?
  • Wouldn’t you like to have time to spend with your family?
  • What if the world were a more romantic place?

It’s as if there isn’t much of a chance of that happening. We can justify spoiling ourselves to make up for missing out on something else we must really want. I say bah humbug!

Let’s break free of all that programming and rejoice in whatever we want, hold the guilt. (If we feel guilty about something, let’s get out there and make amends so we can get on with life.)

I’ll be short and sweet this week. Think about how you want to indulge yourself. Likely it involves other people; misery might like company, but indulgence loves a party.

Plan to properly give rein to your desires, even if it’s potluck style. Since food is my bailiwick, might I suggest a holiday dessert? I am partial to butter tarts, an indulgence that can be enjoyed quietly on one’s own, but they also love the companionship of a generous scoop of ice cream if you have a friend nearby.

My recipe makes about 20 tarts, enough to pass around at the office or Sunday dinner.


Pastry for tarts (unbaked premade shells are fine)

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts (optional, but really tasty)
  • 2/3 cup currants (raisins will do but I would recommend reducing to ½ cup so they don’t overtake all the space)
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated if possible

Preheat oven to 450F. Beat eggs just until blended. Beat in sugar, and add vinegar and vanilla and blend well. Stir in the melted butter and then stir in dried fruit and nuts.

Line muffin tins with pastry if you made your own (not too thick or you won’t have room for a good proportion of filling.)  Pour in filling to 2/3 full.

Bake at 450F for 8 minutes, then turn oven down to 350F and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until filling is firm. (It’s like pecan pie, sort of a custard consistency should be your result.)

Store in a tin. Tarts can be gently reheated in a toaster oven for a few minutes if you wish.

Lick your lips. Savour every delicious, decadent mouthful. Have your tart with your favourite tea or coffee, or even a brandy. You can balance out your decadence with a bit of practicality after by having a good walk with a friend, or maybe taking a yoga class or going skiing.

If you feel guilty, before or after your indulgence, just pause. Take a breath and remind yourself that balance comes by going out on a limb, coming back to the middle and then going out on another limb.

Share your happiness. Use your positive energy to do something nice for another person.

And be proud of yourself for indulging so you can keep your holiday spirit alive.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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