This time of year can pose a real challenge to those of us who do Christmas or Holiday Baking!
We are often surrounded by tasty, tempting ingredients and recipes that we don’t normally face during the rest of the year… we are looking to make salted caramels, shortbread, molasses cookies, butter tarts, pecan and mincemeat pies…. and on and on. Every year it seems there are more and more calorie and sugar laden goodies to try… more recipes in our favorite magazines and blogs and it can all become quite overwhelming… and let’s be honest… fattening!
It would be easier to just refuse to do it… and for a brave few, that is often the solution.
But for those of us who want to make special things for beloved family members and friends, how do we go about producing these fabulous food gifts without piling on the pounds?
Some people would advise you to only make things that you don’t like to eat yourself. Others would say to bake when you are not hungry, or to put the baked goodies in the freezer right away so they are out of sight. Good tips, but not very realistic. Who hasn’t discovered that peanut butter cookies taste wonderful when they are frozen?
So what do you do when faced with raw cookie dough or chocolate cake batter? How do you keep from tasting or nibbling or licking the spoons or egg beaters while you are doing the actual baking? We all know that these little BLTs (bites, licks, tastes) can add up to hundreds of extra calories over a few hours… and if you do several baking sessions, you might be facing thousands of calories full of sugar and fat!
I think we should reward ourselves for all of this creative and love-driven work we are doing, by enjoying some of the goodies we are making. I think it is extremely unrealistic to expect that we won’t do a bit of sampling… but I would suggest that we decide, before we even get started, that we are going to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, or even a glass of wine, AFTER it is all done and enjoy ONE piece of our favorite confection…. one cookie, one piece of brownie, one thin sliver of pie.
Keep your eye on that prize, and keep the tasting to a minimum.
I have come up with a few ways to avoid the BLTs and have been given some tips by some of my friends over the years as well… I would love to share them with you.
- Brush your teeth before you get started. A fresh, clean mouth feels so good and you are less likely to start popping nuts or chocolate chips into your mouth when you have fresh sparkly clean teeth.
- Chew gum. It is very difficult to pop bits of cookie dough into your mouth while you are chewing gum. Let’s face it. We don’t need to taste the cookie dough because we are often using recipes that we have made over and over and over again… we already know that dough tastes good! I am not normally a gum chewer but I do find this tip really works for me.
- It does make sense to do your baking when you are not hungry. But you might want to have an appropriate snack at the ready, right out in front of you where it is easily accessible. Apple slices covered with peanut butter, or some cubes of cheddar cheese will help keep you going. Make it something a bit special that you really like, and something that can easily be popped into your mouth instead of a piece of cookie dough.
- Have lunch already prepared so you don’t nibble instead of eating a real meal. If your baking session will last for hours, especially over lunchtime, or involves a friend, it might be a good idea to have something ready in the fridge, that you can take to a table to sit down and eat while taking a break from the baking.
- If you do bake with a friend, challenge each other not to taste as you go along. Make a little game of it and charge each other a penalty for catching each other tasting, or have a non-food reward pre-determined for the one who does it the least.
- Wear your workout clothes and shoes while you bake. This is a really good idea for so many different reasons. It will remind you about why you don’t want to be nibbling while you are baking. And if you do get time for a quick break, you could get out for a little walk, or you can do some squats or pushups in the living room while the cookies are in the oven. Or you can crank up some holiday music and do a bit of dancing.
- Make up rules before you begin baking. I have a rule that I don’t eat while I am standing up. If I want to put something in my mouth I have to take it to the table to sit down first. It has happened where I have taken a brownie batter spoon to the table to sit down and lick it, but by the time I got there, I realized how silly it was and avoided the deed!
- Put the used bowls, mixer blades, spoons, spatulas, and other utensils into a sinkful of hot soapy water as soon as you are done with them, or at least rinse the batter off them so you won’t be tempted to lick if off.
- Imagine that someone is watching you in the kitchen. Behave the way you would if you were being recorded or if the neighbor or your husband was spying on you! Better yet, set up your video camera and make a vlog about it all. You will never lick your fingers.
- Focus on the end goal… to make something lovely for your family and friends to enjoy. The more you nibble now, the lessfinished product there will be when you are done! If you cannot control yourself while the cookies are cooling, get out of the kitchen. Have someone else put the finished and cooled baking into containers and then get them out of sight as soon as you can.
If you have any tips, I would love to have you share them with me.
And I would really like to know what you are cooking up for the holidays, too.