We all eat it.
We should enjoy it.
Posted: 29 Jul 2011 09:17 AM PDT
If your mom was anything like mine, there were always lots of rules when it came to meal times. One of the biggest no-nos in our house was ‘playing with your food’.
While I get where my mom was coming from in terms of waste, mess and that we should be respecting our food, now that I’m all grown up, I’ve realized there are times when playing with your food may actually be beneficial.
Food can be one of life’s great pleasure. But there can also be a lot of anxiety around healthy eating, not to mention the guilt that comes from over-indulging in crap. And given that we must eat every day, if we aren’t careful, it can become a chore. Another task that must be checked off.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Maybe your mom was wrong? Here are 7 good reasons you should play with your food.
- Play encourages mindful eating.
If we play with our food, our attention will be in the moment giving us a chance to appreciate what we’re eating rather than mindlessly munching away. This mean we will be more likely to really enjoy and find pleasure in our food. How many times are do you find yourself with a bag of chips and in front of the TV? Handful after handful you devour these things simply because your attention is elsewhere.
- Play makes mealtime fun.
Taking a more light-hearted approach to food can make a real difference to how much fun you have at dinner. And it doesn’t mean you need to toy with your food on the plate.
For example, try coming up with more creative names for dishes to bring a little sunshine and fun into meal times. In our house we have ‘mermaid pie’, rather than boring old fish pie. And this brings out the story of my friend’s grandma.
When she was a child, she told her dad that the fishermen in her village had been filling her head with tales of mermaids. Her dad’s response was ‘Yes, they would see plenty of mermaids through the bottom of a whiskey glass’. This prompted her to head down to the sea shore with a glass in hand in search of illusive creatures. Too cute.
- Play helps us connect with our loved ones.
It can be difficult to reach out and nurture our closest relationships if we are stressed and uptight around the dinner table. Some shared laughter and a bit of silliness with broccoli or broad beans can really bring the family together.
- Play encourages creativity and exploration.
By making the decision to introduce some fun into meal times, we are opening ourselves up to more creativity and an exploration of the wonderful world of food.
It can be easy to fall into a rut with our food. There’s nothing like eating the same old thing every week to give us food boredom. A little playfulness will encourage us to eat a wider variety of foods, which can only be a good thing both nutritionally and psychologically.
- Play helps us relax.
After a long day at the office, we can all benefit from a bit of play both preparing and enjoying our evening meal. No only does it give us a chance to unwind from the day, it prepares us for a well earned, rejuvenating sleep.
- Play reduces over-eating.
By playing with our food we become completely engaged with what we’re eating. This makes it much easier to recognize when we are full and stop eating when we should, rather than mindlessly gorging and ending up overstuffed again.
- Playing with your food gives you an excuse to bake!
Slurping on noodles can bring hours, OK minutes of joy. Letting the juice from a perfectly ripe watermelon run down your arms is fun even without the wonderful sweet taste. But baking in general, and making cookies in particular, is where playing with your food really comes into its own.
Creaming butter and sugar, folding in flour, bashing chocolate into submission so you have the perfect chunks, forming your dough into cute cookie shapes. And all that before we even think of getting to the eating part.
So when I’m finding myself in need of a little more play, I know its time to bake. These salted chocolate chip cookies are my current go-to treat. In fact, here is the recipe so you can get started! Be warned, they’re dangerously good fun.
At the risk of being kicked out of the dark chocolate lovers club, these cookies are actually better with a lower cocoa content chocolate. I used a bittersweet or 58% cocoa chocolate and they were just right.
The mixture will keep in the fridge or freezer, so no need to bake them all in one go.
- 150g (5oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 250g (9oz) light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 225g (8oz) plain (all-purpose flour)
- 225-285g (8-10oz) dark chocolate
- Whizz butter and sugar in a food processor or stand mixer until light and creamy. Add egg and mix until well combined.
- Add 3/4 teaspoon baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon bicarb soda to the flour and mix to combine.
- Fold butter mixture into the flour until only just combined.
- Chop chocolate into chunks and add to the dough. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes but no longer than 72 hours.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line 2 baking sheets or trays with baking paper.
- Scoop ⅓ cup balls of dough and place on the prepared trays. Allowing room for them to spread. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt flakes.
- Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until cookies are golden. The bottom tray may need a little longer. Cool on the tray.
|Written on 7/29/2011 by Jules Clancy. Jules Clancy is a qualified Food Scientist and the creator of The Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School. She blogs about simple 5 ingredients recipes that can mostly be prepared in 10 minutes over at Stonesoup.||Photo Credit: valentin.d|