At the risk of sounding like I’m a Dalai Lama impersonator or something, can we all agree that a balanced life is the best life? I’m always happiest when I’m living in a state of mind and stomach where there’s room for everything. Tall, icy glasses of fresh water living happily alongside venti Pinot Grigios. A lunch that involves a green salad the size of my head, and a dessert of frosted cake (preferably with a side of latte and gossip, if we’re being specific). That sort of living.
The thing is, I don’t want to trap myself into a dark corner where things are off-limits. That attitude was for my 20s, you hear? I am trying my best to live free and easy and balanced these (read: most) days. For much of the week, I aim for meals that are full of fresh, health-giving foods, so that when the time comes for a big honking brownie (or, uh, two), I’m not having to break emergency glass to get at it. And Lord knows there are certain times of a lady’s life when you will most definitely break glass to get at a big honking brownie. It’s SCIENCE.
The way I see it, there are few “bleh” situations in life that can’t be remedied, or at least vastly improved, with a solid supply of snacks. Long wait at the doctor’s office? Snack. Jury duty? Snack. The kind of horrifying, red-faced toddler tantrum that has said child doing some sort of exotic backbend in the shopping cart that would impress even the most accomplished cast member of Cirque de Soleil? Snack, preferably in cookie form. Especially in cases like that, snacks are the currency of my life. (Holler if you hear me.)
And let’s not forget the most snack-necessary situation of all: the summer road trip. Yes, even the most desolate stretch of highway (or long-haul flight) can seem a little less daunting when there’s some good munchies in your chariot. I’m not even that big fan of road trips, but my enthusiasm can be bought with a box of Cheez-Its, some Twizzlers, and a diet Coke. After a few hours of that menu, though, I’m bound to want something a little more virtuous. And is it just me, or do the crazy-making effects of junk food on an airplane seem to multiply even faster?
At any rate, lately I’ve been trying to plan ahead a little better and have some healthier options in my bag for traveling, to balance out some of the inevitable treat foods (when hour three of a cross-country flight hits, you will pry these Pringles from my cold, dead hands). This could be as simple as a protein bar, some nuts or string cheese and a piece of fruit, or it could be as crafty and Pinterest Mom as making my own travel snacks. I swear, this actually does happen! In fact, it happened just the other day. I’m SERIOUS.
When it comes to putting a healthier spin on baking and sweet treat making, I think we know by now that I’m not really an all-or-nothing type of person. As is evident by the recipes and philosophy in the pages of Real Sweet, I’d sooner jump off the roof than try to pretend that a brownie made with black beans makes life worth living. Of course, there is something lovely and virtuous about wanting to live a healthier lifestyle, and still find a way to treat ourselves, but I think there’s a way we can get there without resorting to trickery or deprivation masquerading as comfort food.
We’re pretty much all in the thick of summer fun right now, so I’ll get right to the point. Sometimes I have a recipe making and eating experience so transcendant, it haunts me for weeks. These Dream Bars from Mindy Segal’s Cookie Love fall into the category of Insanely Haunting Recipe. Like, say, even after two solid weeks where I ran off to my hometown of Chicago and chewed-and-sighed through the world’s best hot dogs and Italian beef, new-to-me bakery visits, beer and pizza and a burger so smack-the-table good that it probably ruined every burger experience for the rest of my life, I was still thinking about these cookie bars.
I used to be the queen of multitasking. Before children, I had the awesome ability to keep all kinds of balls in the air–thoughts, plans, chores, jobs, appointments, workouts, clicking off items on my to-do list with relative ease. (Never mind that I always thought OMG I’M SOOOO BUSY AND EXHAUSTED. Heh, heh, little Shauna. Weren’t you so sweet and naive in your perceived level of craziness? You had no idea what was coming, love. Why don’t you and your tiny jeans go and spend three hours getting a haircut and highlights without having to find a babysitter and try and wrap your brain around it. You can’t even.)
Quick note: Hi! If you’re visiting my site after having watched The Kitchen, thank you and welcome! How awesome to have you here. I’m thrilled and crazed to discover that Amazon is actually out of stock for Real Sweet! We are on the case and more copies will be available through Amazon within days–they are gloriously quick about resolving stock issues. You can still place an order now and it will go out to you within the week. You can also check these other lovely online book sellers, or support your local brick-and-mortar bookstore and get a copy of the book in your hot little hands immediately. Thank you again for stopping by! And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post….
Oh, helllooo. I’m just sitting here, still basking in the glow of last week, which was decidedly more exciting and glamorous than my regular life. By that I mean I kissed my babies goodbye, and got on a plane to New York for a series of media hits for the new book with nothing but a bunch of carefully curated outfits and a book I’d been trying to read for months. Not a packet of Goldfish or juice box in sight. It was an event, I’m telling you. However, any time I embark on a trip out of town without my kids, I figure that it takes a solid 18 hours to wind down from the grind of motherhood and realize that I am actually, truly on my own. For example:
• On the plane ride there, I nearly offered the guy next to me a snack, tissue, hand wipe, etc. at least half a dozen times.
• Upon landing, I got into a taxi, fully expecting to have to sweatily install a carseat, then suddenly realized I didn’t have to. Gave myself a mental high five.
• After settling into my hotel room and taking a shower without someone else in the bathroom with me for THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE SHOWER, I ordered room service and took to a cushy, clean bed to horf a hamburger and two chilled glasses of Sauv Blanc while watching non-animated television, and I’m pretty sure my guttural sighing became a little much for whoever was on the other side of the wall.
• I had been anticipating a delicious solo night’s sleep for weeks, which, sadly, never came–between the time change from west coast to east, and the constant startling to ghost toddler wailing, my wake-up call came cruelly early. Upside: multiple cups of coffee the next morning, sipped leisurely with no spillage, due to lack of small people unexpectedly pulling on various parts of my body. Good enough for me.
Once I got into the groove, though, it was a terrific trip. Busy, but super productive. I had a few great Business Lady Meetings, and hit up Wake Up with Al before sunrise to make some Homemade Fruit Leather. Professional hair and makeup before 6:00 a.m.–now that’s living.
And then! There was one of the more fantastical moments in my book tour history. This weekend, on June 13th and 14th, you can catch me making a cheesecake and sharing embarrassing college photos on Food Network’s awesomely fun show The Kitchen. It was Oprah-level greatness, guys.
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