Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine's Day dinner

So, you know that I'm not that big a fan of the whole Hallmark-holiday quality of Valentine's Day. I mean don't get me wrong, there are very few red-blooded American girls who don't like flowers and chocolate, but a) the markup on flowers is so high around this time of year that I could wait and get three bouquets of flowers at different points in the year for the exact same price (and surprises are better anyway - hint, hint), and b) let's be honest here. Target and CVS have already had Easter candy out for a month, and that's WAY better than any Valentine's Day candy sold. Still, we do like to have a nice dinner at home - no gifts - that weekend, and that's what we'll be doing this weekend.

So what are we doing? Well, we decided to do the whole Melting-Pot thing at home and try a four course dinner made up of two different fondues and then dessert. Sounds good, right? We've got a bottle or two of sparkling wine left over from New Years so we'll be cracking that open to go along with everything.

First course: Garden salad, while the cheese fondue heats up.

Second course: A cheese fondue appetizer, using a modified (no wheat flour) version of this cheese fondue recipe or else this champagne-cheese fondue recipe (again, modified so there's no wheat flour). For dipping: gluten free bread, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots

Third course: I found this awesome-looking wine fondue recipe that I'm interested in trying. For dipping: shrimp, beef, portabella and white mushrooms, snow peas, and red peppers.

Dessert: Unfortunately, since the hubby doesn't like chocolate three courses of fondue are out. :-( HOWEVER, I just happened to get the CIA's gluten free baking book this week, as well as a brand new pizzelle press. Sooo... hopefully, that will work out and I can either make gluten free pizzelles or shape them into dessert cups to serve ice cream in... or roll them into a cannoli shape. If the pizzelles don't work out, then we might be playing it by ear.

Gosh, this is a lot of food. Thankfully my boot camp class is the next day to burn off some of these calories!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rant on Sugar as a Toxic Substance

I saw, and posted, this article earlier today on whether sugar should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco. A team of researchers from the University of California at San Francisco have decided that sugar is toxic and (slowly) killing us - therefore, it should be regulated along with other dangerous substances. Proposed age limits - no sugary drinks sold to children under the age of 17 - would supposedly curb sugar consumption in children, lessening childhood obesity and improving overall health.

This idea is, in theory, just about as sound as the "flat tax" theory. It sounds passable at first, until you start to think rationally. While I'll completely agree that sugar is addictive and too much sugar is bad for you (and I'll confess that I eat WAY too much sugar myself), are you going to tell me that all sugars are equal? There's sugar in bread - it's food for yeast. Carbs like white bread break down into - you guessed it - sugar! There's even sugar (fructose) in fruit! I'm all for downsizing the prominence of high fructose corn syrup in our daily lives, but demonizing all sugars in the process is patently ridiculous. If you show me a Type I diabetic, I'm sure they have some type of sugar stashed in their car or purse for blood sugar emergencies. If you show me an otherwise healthy, highly active kid who's on two or three sports teams, I'm willing to bet you that a Gatorade after practice isn't going to do any damage. And if you try to take my chocolate away during THAT WEEK, you'd better be wearing protective armor.

If we ban sales of sugar for kids, what's next? Am I going to get hit up by a 12 year old outside the supermarket with a fiver asking me to buy soda? Are parents going to be carted off to jail because they served birthday cake to a group of ten fourth-graders? Are schools and employers going to administer random blood glucose tests? Are we going to completely absolve ourselves of any personal or parental responsibility? Why don't we - as individuals and parents - say "Hey, that Coke should be enjoyed in moderation" and leave it at that?

There are better ways of attacking this problem than nanny-state legislation like age restrictions on sugar consumption and extra taxes on sugary drinks and snacks. How about we look at how much money is being poured into corn subsidies and the relationship of corn production to the amount of available, CHEAP high fructose corn syrup? How about we start funneling money into more local farming initiatives with the goal of making apples, carrots and other healthy foods the cheapest ingredients in our grocery stores? How about taxing corporations that do horrendous things to our food supply in the name of saving cents per pound, damn any potential negative health consequences for our public (pink slime, anyone?)

In the end, I don't think sugar will ever be regulated - I think there will be a horrendous backlash on any proposed legislation (if it ever got that far). That said, I think it's sad that we've gotten this far, to the point where we're so unwilling to take responsibilities for our own actions as individuals and parents.