Press Play: Sugar and spice and everything not so nice



Photo by Connie Swinney/The Highlander
Certainly there's nothing wrong with following up a salad with this delightful dessert, right?

Connie is a staff writer for The Highlander and Burnet Bulletin. She covers Marble Falls city and community news, the police beat and the 33rd/424th Judicial District Courts. You can read more of her columns in both publications. Send her a note at To subscribe call 830-693-4367.







By Connie Swinney

As a child, I could not understand how anyone could consider eating anything Rare, Raw, Marinated or Spicy.

A young palate might describe those “adult” cooking features as – Bloody, Bloodier, Slimy or Murder-mouth.

As an adult with a more mature palate, I find myself craving such foods, but all too often my tummy has determined the more exotic the meal the more I need to temper food portions.

During my youth, I was way too busy gorging on sweet treats to desire OPF (old people food).

Granted, I did have well-balanced public school breakfasts and lunches, however, the menu typically took a sinister turn during the summer time.

One of my most heinous self-inflicted, childhood food recipes involved opening a can of SPAM.

After I would lovingly scrape the gel off the top, I placed thinly sliced layers into a frying pan until blackened on both sides, followed by the placement of crisped fillets in between two mustard-infused slices of white bread.

Pre-packaged meat substances – which are made of cow lips I presume – ultimately sap up every ounce of hydration and squeeze the blood vessels into submission.

Now, if I saw a child eating such a thing today, I might furrow my eyebrows at the parent and perhaps mumble my disgust under my breath.

Another one of my favorite childhood indulgences involved an inordinate consumption of “candies” and carbonated, berry-flavored, sugar-laden concoctions.

As a child, I ate waxed-bottle candy, wax lips and Pop Rocks, while drinking an RC Cola stuffed with salted peanuts. That was lunch on a Saturday afternoon in the summer.

For dessert I might inhale a couple of Pixie Sticks, chew on two caramel cubes, while sucking down a milkshake chaser.

For after dining mints, I might consume a handful of Jolly Ranchers (watermelon and apple were my favorites).

Why I didn't live much of my childhood in a diabetic coma is beyond me.

Having children myself and noticing the eating habits of generations before and after mine, I believe the candy cycle has repeated itself through history but with ever-changing shapes and consistencies.

Taffy morphed into fruity roll ups. Lollipops transitioned into candied pacifier pops. Pop Rocks, well, I do believe Pop Rocks are still around.

Candy bars are currently engaged in a contest of frankenstonian proportions. Product makers are attempting to fuse the most items together to win the title of The Most Caramelian, Chocolified, Butterific example of solidified sugar slurry.

To help break this cycle, I hope to share a few of my recently-adopted more consistent eating habits to inspire those who might find themselves craving such childhood “comfort foods” to the demise of one's health.

I found I may even be getting better at it as I continue to mature.

Lately (I hope not too lately), I've made a conscious effort to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Once a person can pick up a regular habit of eating about three to four pieces of fresh fruit per day along with a few sprigs of veggies with each meal, one might find cravings turn towards an affinity for “nature's candy.”

One of my social media friends joked that she “wishes she was the person she thought she could be when she bought all this produce.” Just like her, I sometimes find myself lamenting the wilting spinach and wrinkled cherry tomatoes in the back of the fridge . . . while I suspiciously eyeball the blackening bananas and shrinking peaches on the counter.

I found that:

• If I can get a couple of those items in a bag, take them to work and set them out on my desk, I will eventually eat one or both.

• Blueberries and bananas work well on cereal (Please avoid sugared-cereal or that cancels that.)

• Cozy up to friends with gardens. They make the best salsas and offer you the most succulent, fragrant fruit.

• Try a few new recipes. I find that if the Spinach gets a little wilted, it can be sauteed with olive oil, garlic and black pepper for a tasty alternative. It's also fun to watch an entire family-sized serving magically appear to shrink to the size of a single-serving side dish.

• Dress up your salad with the works. That includes meat, fruits and nuts. Which ones? Well, all of them, of course.

When I try to practice a few of these things everyday, I find that I begin to crave good eating that's good for you, instead.

With regular practice, I suspect it might be okay to squeeze that occasional slice of lemon cream pie or honey-slathered sopapillas into one's diet.



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