Holiday Desserts Worth the CaloriesThe NWC Principle Explained
By Sidney Carlisle
The holidays are the perfect time of year for those of us who like to bake and for people who love sweets. It's the season to ignore cholesterol counts and bathroom scales, and to happily enjoy treats that appear once a year. It's also an opportunity to use special recipes, perhaps handed down from friends or family who are no longer with us. Food is an integral part of the season and important to any celebration.
Sadly, there's a trend in the culinary world to serve lean, mean and low-fat all year, including the holidays. Well-meant articles appear in the fall with instructions on how to cut fat and calories, essentially changing the taste of our favorite foods. While I understand that some people are medically unable to eat everything they want, most of us can fudge a little (bad choice of words) for a holiday dinner.
For most of the year, I'm a proponent of trying to eat what's reasonably healthy and not eating what I shouldn't. About twenty years ago, someone passed along to me a theory called NWC -- Not Worth the Calories -- and it has been a great help to me. It means that if you're served a piece of cherry pie and it isn't very good, don't eat it. It's not worth the calories. Wait until you get the world's best piece of cherry pie, and then eat every bite of it. Don't eat things that leave you wishing you hadn't. Everyone does it. We eat an entire serving of something that's not wonderful, or worse, we eat it because it's right in front of us. Remember NWC and quit eating. Even though your mama told you to clean up your plate, it really is okay to leave something on it.
One more thing. If you're going to knock yourself out cooking wonderful old family recipes, do yourself a couple of culinary favors. First, use butter -- not margarine -- unless a recipe specifies margarine. Butter adds flavor and margarine doesn't. They're both fat, so you might as well use a fat that tastes good. The second favor is to serve real whipped cream to garnish holiday desserts, and avoid using non-dairy whipped topping. It's the same principle. Sweetened whipped cream has a marvelous flavor and can mean the difference between good pie and great pie. Non-dairy whipped topping is fluffy white poof with absolutely no flavor. It's fine when used as an ingredient in a recipe, but as a topping, it's NWC.
If the NWC approach is applied most of the year, chances are we'll be able to indulge ourselves in November and December. And even though I may be shunned by all the culinary experts in Texas for this article, I suspect that some feel as I do about low-fat holiday foods.
As I share recipes collected over the years, I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year and hope you enjoy cooking, serving and eating your favorite holiday foods.
Coconut Date BallsThese may be served like cookies and are nice to pack in tins to give as gifts.
Bake about 25 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Sidney Carlisle lives on a ranch in Meridian, Texas.
If you have questions about this article or the recipes, contact us at moc.gnikoocsaxet@nibrof_solkim.
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