The Jacksons, Week 14: Food - Vital for Life and Good for a Laugh or Two

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

food scented candles picture

One of my guilt-free pleasures: my collection of mouth-watering, food-scented candles that smell of sweet sugar cookies and pumpkin-spice pies. Credit: Deidra Jackson

I've learned this week that food can be funny. Wacky, even.

A few episodes involving chow had my son, Jackson, and me rolling with laughter, and for me, it was a welcome respite from fretting over all that good holiday food I had consumed in the days prior.

One big laugh came while I was flipping through a cookbook I think is terrific, Three & Four Ingredients: 400 Recipes by Jenny White and Joanna Farrow. Jackson heard me say, "One of these days I'm going to get a whole bunch of muscles and ..." His eyes got big and he looked at me like I had turned into a giant squid that was leading a line dance.

What did I say? And what's wrong with him?

Oh, I said mussels, Jack, not muscles!

Visions of champion bodybuilder Lenda Murray came to my mind as relief gradually spread over my son's face. No, his mom would not be developing big guns in her upper torso.

I used to admire Murray's fitness regimen back in the day. (There's some red meat for some of my Healthy Families Challenge blog commentators who apparently believe I'm lacking traditional feminine qualities.)

But back to the seafood. The book's mussels in white wine recipe (page 152) looked healthy, delicious and uncomplicated, three traits I'm drawn to when it comes to cooking. A big bowl of steaming mussels cooked in dry white wine and butter, and seasoned with salt, ground black pepper and parsley, sounds delicious to me. The recipes in that book are as appealing as the ones in the Weight Watchers book I've already praised a lot: Eat! Move! Play!

Another blog commentator had remarked that the recipes in that book use a lot of artificial ingredients, but I want to set the record straight. This recipe book stresses the use of whole fruits and vegetables and healthy whole-grain products like brown rice. It even has a handful of meal ideas that contain ingredients like tofu, tempeh (another soy food) and wheat germ, as healthier alternatives. The more than 75 kid-friendly recipes are partly aimed at giving overweight children better food options.

Another moment of levity came with my father's New Year's Day brunch choice -- sardines and oatmeal. I think you'd have to be from his home state of South Carolina to understand that food craving. He'd been talking about having the canned fish and porridge earlier in the week, and recalling his youthful days when eating sardines was part of his daily routine. While the rest of us enjoyed a traditional Southern holiday meal of turkey, dressing with gravy, greens and black-eyed peas, he enthusiastically dug into his oatmeal with diced sardines. On his own free will, even.

He asked us if we wanted some, and to that, of course, Jack and I both said double yuck, and probably would have laughed if it were not for the flash of nausea we briefly felt. Jack says he thinks his grandfather, whom he calls "Poppy," put on a blindfold, rifled through the pantry and threw together a meal with the random items he chose.

In yet more food lightheartedness, I laugh at my love for what I call "home-cooked candles." You know, those candles that fill your house with the delightful aromas of fruits, cookies, cakes and pies. Another reason I welcome the holidays is that these candles are more readily available in the fall and winter than at other times of the year. My faves are pumpkin spice, sugar cookie, birthday cake and apple pie.

As I write this, I've got a delectable sugar cookie candle fired up. I may not be an expert baker like my HFC comrade Amy Hatch, but once a candle's sweet-smelling aroma begins floating through my house, I can pretend to be.

Best of all, literally inhaling these mouth-watering scents is calorie- and guilt-free.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.