What Does “Guilt Free” Really Mean?

Disclaimer:  I am writing about the inherent morality, or lack thereof, in food choices.  I am not talking about food choices that are more nutritionally dense than others, or talking about medical reasons for eating or not eating certain foods.

Trigger Warning:  This post has to do with food and lists a few different foods, including candy.  Please do not read if that will cause issues with any recovery you may be in.

I have been slowly building a candy business.  I make the candy with the best ingredients I can:  local honey, good quality chocolates, whole milk, cream, butter.  I use no artificial ingredients.  If something is flavored, it either has that thing in it, or it has an oil or extract of that ingredient.  No “artificial flavorings” allowed.

One of the types of candies I make is caramel.  Besides the regular caramel, I’ve been making different flavors.  In season, I offer a strawberry made with strawberry syrup I make myself from fresh strawberries.  I perfected a maple caramel using maple syrup (and it took a while to figure the chemistry involved for the caramel to not crystalize).  Now, I’m working on a chocolate caramel.

(Stick with me, we’ll get to the Fat Activist part of this, honest!)

In developing my flavors, I don’t just rely upon my and my husband’s tastes.  I have a group of people who are willing to be testers, so I can have a well balanced idea of what may or may not need to be changed in my recipes.  Yesterday on Facebook, I was informing people that there will be two chocolate caramels to taste with subtle differences.  Of course, my tasters don’t taste for free, and while I can’t afford to pay money, I do give some of the established candy as payment.

A friend responded and said the candy was “guilt free” because my tasters were working for it.  I responded that none of my candy came with added guilt.

That started me thinking (ah, now we’re getting to it).  Just what does “guilt free” really mean?

Dictionary.com defines guilt as:

noun

1.  the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime,violation, or wrong, especially
against moral or penal law;culpability: He admitted his guilt.
2.  a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime,wrong, etc.,
 whether real or imagined.
3.  conduct involving the commission of such crimes, wrongs,etc.: to live a life of guilt.
verb (used with object) Informal .

4.  to cause to feel guilty  (often followed by out  or into ): She totally guilted me out, dude.

 He guilted me into picking upthe tab. See also guilt-trip.

If you listen to the diet industry, guilt free means fat free, sugar free, carb free, calorie free, and maybe even food (ie, nutrition) free.  The candy I make is not anything like that.

The idea that is being sold to us, and we are buying, is that the only way we are allowed to enjoy something is if it has nothing enjoyable in it.  If it is unrepentantly full of fat or sugar or carbs or whatever, then it is “naughty”, “evil”, or “bad”.   If a person is seen eating such a thing, they generally have to justify it.  “Oh, it’s only a small piece to celebrate!”  “I know, it’s bad for me, but it was just too tempting!”  “I’ll just work out extra hard at the gym to make up for it!”

So, what does “guilt free” mean?  With the dictionary definitions above, it would mean that there is nothing wrong, legally or morally, with it.

And that’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it?  We live in a world where food, especially certain kinds of food, are considered to be moral.  Anything with fat, sugar, eggs (for the cholesterol value) is judged to be morally inferior, and the people who presumably eat a lot of it are also judged to be morally inferior.

And, except in a legal sense, guilt (which walks hand in hand with shame) are used by people to control other people.  How dare you have that sandwich with full-fat mayonnaise on it?  How dare you go back for seconds?  Or have dessert?  Don’t you know how bad you are being for eating that?  If you really must have that treat, how are you going to work it off?

All of those questions are designed to make people feel guilty for enjoying whatever they were eating, and ashamed for the supposed outcome.  “Well!  No wonder you are so fat!”

“Guilt Free” means just that.  There is no moral deficiency for enjoying food, whether it’s freshly picked tomatoes, a loaded baked potato, a steak cooked to your desired doneness, chocolate cake, or any of the other wonderful foods that are out there.

Food is not immoral.  It never was.  And nobody is immoral for eating food.

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People are getting it

Conall and I moved into our own place (an apartment) about a month and a half ago.  Near our new place is a gas station that sells a lot of milk products.  I know, it seems weird to me, but it works for them.

I’ve never thought to go to them for milk, because I get my milk from the grocery store, and I have a store care which gives me .03 off each gallon of fuel if I use the gas stations the grocery store has affiliated with.  At the $2.50+ per gallon prices these days, I’m willing to go to the station that gives me .03 off.

However, about 3 weeks ago, the milk and gas station had somebody drive around the apartment complex, giving out free milk if people wanted it.  Okay, I’ll try it.  After all, it’s free, right?  As the lady was asking me what kind I wanted, she was pointing out that their milk has a higher fat content than in the grocery stores, so I might want to have the 2% (this after I told her I wanted the full fat milk).  I repeated I wanted the full fat milk, and she went to the truck and got that kind for me.

Conall and I haven’t bought milk at the grocery store since.

Last night we had to stop at the gas station to get some more milk, and talked for a bit with the woman behind the counter.   Conall and I told her how we’re just drinking more milk, because it tastes so much better.  That led into talking about fat content and how the low fat products add sugar and other things to make the product taste better (because when you take the fat out of a product, it doesn’t taste as good and it doesn’t satisfy you as well).

And that led into her talking about her growing 16 year old son.  The one where, the night before last, she bought two large pizzas for dinner (for 3 people, herself, her 5 year old son, and her 16 year old) and how he ate one and a half pizzas by himself.  She also told of how he was in a growth spurt and very active in sports in his school.  Her complaint about him eating one and a half large pizzas by himself wasn’t the “omg!  he’s going to get FAT!” that we hear so much lately, but the “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to keep enough food in the house until he’s done growing!” complaint.

She gets it.  It was so nice to talk to somebody who did not express any morality about her son eating so much.  It was nice to hear the complaints you used to be able to hear from parents back in the 70’s and 80’s.  You know, the “my child is a growing teenager and I just can’t keep enough food in the house”, complaint.  It was really nice to be able to talk to a mother of a 5 year old who is hitting a growth spurt.  She told a story of how they went to a McDonalds Restaurant recently, and she asked her 5 year old what he wanted to eat.  He wanted a hamburger meal AND an order of chicken nuggets.  She didn’t think he’d be able to eat all that, but she purchased it for him, thinking they could take the chicken home and reheat it in the microwave later on.

He ate it all.

And her concern wasn’t that he was going to be fat for eating all that.  It wasn’t that he was going to be part of “the obesity epidemic”, and die young of diabetes or heart attack or whatever.  No.  Her concern was, if he’s eating that much food at 5 years old and going through a growth spurt, just think of what was going to happen when he was in his teenage years!

The other thing that we talked about was how she’s given up dieting.  (I swear I did NOT come on all fat activist and tell her dieting is teh ebil either!  She brought it up.)  She said she got frustrated with diets where they’d say, “If you have a craving for x (whatever wasn’t on the diet like cookies or cake or whatever), don’t eat that, eat an apple instead.”  The reason she was so frustrated was because, she’d eat the apple, not feel satisfied, so eat another apple, still not feel satisfied, so eat another apple.  By that time she’d eaten 4x the amount of calories that was in that one cookie she would have eaten had she just, you know, eaten the cookie she was craving.  And if she’d just eaten the cookie in the first place, she wouldn’t feel so bloated because she would have stopped at one.

People are starting to get that food isn’t the enemy.  That real food is better than low calorie/low fat stuff that has tons of additives to make it taste better (but which doesn’t satisfy what the body is wanting or needing).  People are getting that moderation is the key, and that, as adults, we really do have the choice to eat a cookie.  Or an apple.  Or a piece of cake.  If that’s what we really want.

And people are starting to get that the diet industry doesn’t so much care about their clients health as much as how much money they get in a year.

I’m very glad we had the chance to talk last night.  It was a very nice to have a stranger talk about these things and not try to make me into an evil witch for daring to drink full fat milk, or eat a cookie when I want one.

Seems like eggs aren’t bad after all.

You know how we’ve been hearing about how bad eggs are for you?  The nasty cholesterol in them can raise your cholesterol.  They can cause heart attacks.  Really, you shouldn’t eat many of them.  And if you do, make sure you don’t eat the yolk.

Yeah, well, Jonny Bowden is saying that’s all bunk.

The idea that eating eggs is bad for your heart is a myth. No study has linked egg eating to greater risk of heart disease. In fact, quite the opposite. According to an article from Harvard Health (a publication of Harvard Medical School), “The only large study to look at the impact of egg consumption on heart disease … found no connection between the two.”

Note:  That site may be a trigger as it is focused on diet and exercise to lose weight.

However, this is a good case of the “stuff we’ve always known” myth.  You know, like we’ve always known that fat people get more heart attacks/strokes/diabetes/whatever.

Conall showed me this today, and after reading the article, I started to say, “Wonder how long…”

He finished with, “It’ll be til they come up with the all egg diet?”

Busy, busy, busy

This weekend has been extremely busy.  The whole week was, actually.

First, I made 5 batches of cookies, the recipe of which supposedly came from the 16th century, for a themed party at a local business on Thursday night.  That took up most of my week there.  Then, of course, there was going to the party Thursday night. 

Friday night was a birthday party for Conall’s Aunt. 

And then Saturday I started making hamburgers and french fries for dessert for a party I threw today.  Yes, I said dessert.

Bakerella made a post detailing how to do it a week ago (including giving a .pdf for the box, fry bag, and liner patterns).  Since the party today was going to be a cook out, I decided I had to do it.

Of course, me being me, I couldn’t do it with box mixes, so I made my family recipe pound cake as the cupcake buns, and then found a really good recipe for brownies here, and so made that for the meat filling.  I also decided to thinly slice some strawberries and use them as “tomatoes”.  The “fries” were made from a family recipe short bread cookie.  The only thing I used that was store bought was vanilla icing.  I’ve not really made icing yet, so didn’t want to push my luck too much.  After all, the brownies were the first time I ever made brownies from scratch.

Do you want fries with that?

Do you want fries with that?

 

This is how it ended up.  I think it turned out well, what do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

One more view, showing the catsup

One more view, showing the catsup

Easy stove top cooking?

Yesterday, while making meatloaf and potatoes, the oven decided it needed to retire.  It just stopped working.  Luckily, even though the meat had been in the oven  for 45 minutes, it was barely warm, and I was able to make “hamburger meatloaf” for dinner by turning the barely warm meatloaf into patties and frying them on the stove (which still works).  The potatoes I put in the microwave, and while they didn’t come out crisp like I like them, they were at least done and edible by the time the hamburger meatloaf was done.

After a lot of talking about it, and MiL talking to three different people (including me), it was decided to take the element to an appliance repair shop and see if it was the heating element.  We did that today, and the element was good.  So, the only other thing it could be was the controller or thermostat.  MiL had the original book from the oven (which amazes me, the oven is 16 years old), and the woman at the appliance repair shop looked it up.  Of course, this is a part they no longer make.

So, we have to buy a new oven.  Not a big deal, but as we live in MiL’s house, this is going to be something that’s going to take a while to buy (because MiL has to go to every single store which sells ovens and look at all the ovens to find the one she wants).  So, I’m looking at trying to create healthy dinners using only a microwave, stove top, and crock pot, without getting burned out on the same thing (ie, chicken in frying pan, pork chops in frying pan, steak in frying pan). 

I have a lot of food blogs I go to, and I’m  registered at the Food Network and find recipes there all the time, but was wondering what types of recipes you all have that taste good, aren’t too spicy (because MiL has acid reflux/some sort of unidentifiable achy stomach problem and spicy foods make her stomach hurt worse)?  We are all omnivores here, and MiL’s idea of a veggie is that it always has to be dressed (no naked veggies!), and they are a side dish only, and fish is out because MiL has a severe fish allergy.

Yeah, trying to find variety with those limitations is difficult, that’s why I’m asking you all for suggestions! 🙂

Speaking of food, tonight I made this awesome hot chocolate recipe.  I made a half a batch, as it was only for my husband and me, and used Ghiridelli 60% bittersweet chocolate.  It was SO good and SO rich.  I couldn’t finish my cup of chocolate, so Conall finished it for me.  If you like chocolate, you might want to try this.  My hot chocolate didn’t come out as thick as the picture on that blog did, but it was absolutely the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

Super Bowl Sunday

I’m not one for watching the Super Bowl.  Not even when I was living in the Chicago area and the Bears made (and won!) the Super Bowl.  Football (and well, any sport really) just isn’t my thing for watching.

But one thing I love is seeing all the yummy snacks people come up with for Super Bowl Sunday.

If I were watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, I’d want to make this, because it looks so yummy.  And because I love the Pioneer Woman and how she writes. 

These also look good, but I think I’d be the only one to eat them.  The husband isn’t very much into spicy foods which shouldn’t be spicy, and MiL is not able to eat spicy foods at all anymore.

And while this isn’t something I’d serve at a Super Bowl party, it looks like something that was a traditional Christmas breakfast when I was living with the parents.   I really want to make it.  Since I’m not watching the Super Bowl, Sunday might be the time to try this out and see if it’s close to the same recipe, or what I remember of the taste.  Of course, the last time I had that pie was almost 30 years ago, so how will I know if it tastes the same or not?

Are you watching the Super Bowl?  If so, what snackages do you have planned for the day?  Anything special?

Saturday Fluff – Holiday Baking

The holidays always bring about a big burst of baking from me.  In my experience, there are more likely to be people just dropping over unannounced during the holidays than any other time of the year, and I like to have things for people to nibble on while they are here. 

So I usually start baking and candy making at the beginning of December, and continue all the way up until the day before Christmas Eve.  Part of the reason is that I end up giving a lot of my baked goods away, so they have to be replaced.  My MIL has gotten used to me making “Mice” and she takes a bunch of them to her social club’s Christmas party.  Then there’s the tradition Conall started a long time ago at his work of bringing a big plate of home made cookies to work either on or right before Christmas so the people working that day don’t feel quite so forgotten.   (He works in a position that has to be staffed 24/7/365 no matter what, even on holidays.)

I love baking.  It’s one of the things I used to do with my mother that wasn’t stress filled.  I can remember making homemade bread with my mother one year.  Once a month on Saturdays we would make about eight batches of bread, enough to keep the family in bread for a month.  The annual making Christmas cookies day was a lot of fun.  We’d play Christmas music and fill the house with the smells of at least a dozen different kinds of cookies.

My grandma wouldn’t make so much cookies, but she’d make a bunch of fruit cakes before Christmas, and give a few away as Christmas presents.  Yes, I know a lot of people don’t like fruit cake, but I was raised on them and love them, or at least, I love our family’s recipe.  For a while after I grew up and left home, Grandma would send me a fruitcake for Christmas every year.  When I’d get it in the mail, Conall would joke about if Grandma lived long enough, we could build our own home out of all the bricks we get from her …

Every year I bake four or five “traditional” things, and then I generally add one or two different types of cookies and see how everybody likes them.  This year, I will be making seven different types of cookies, at least two or three batches of each.

Traditional:
Chocolate Chip cookies:  These are the “Toll House” cookies, with a twist — I use Ghiredelli chocolate morsels instead of Nestle’s.  The first time I did that was because I was wrist deep into cookie dough, and realized I didn’t have any Nestle’s semi-sweet morsels.  I had some Ghiredelli from some candy I’d made earlier, and substituted them.  Everybody went crazy over it, and now I can’t go back to Nestle’s.

Ciambellettes:  These are supposedly from a very old recipe created by Bartolomeo Scappi and served on the table of Pope Pius V.  Unfortunately, I’ve only found one reference to these cookies and that not in the cook book Scappi wrote (that book was written in 1570, and I’ve not found any hint of an existing copy, other than the title of the book and when it was written).  However, these cookies (if they are authentic) would have been one of the first thumbprint style cookies.  The cookie is very time consuming to make, being part boiled and then baked, but it is so worth the effort. 

Candy Cane Cookies:  These cookies are a staple of my childhood.  Both Grandma and Mom made these every Christmas, and so do I.  The candy cane cookies are basically a shortbread cookie, with the dough divided in half.  One half is colored red, the other allowed to remain natural.  A small piece of each color is rolled into a strip and the strips are twined around each other and one end formed into a crook. 

Mice:  A few years ago, in a local newspaper around the holidays, there was a recipe for “Mexican Mice”.  Basically, it’s just a pecan sandy, rolled into a rounded cone, with almond ears, M&M Minis ™ eyes and noses, and a fried chinese noodle for a tail.  After it’s taken out of the oven, powder sugar is sprinkled on top to give it a ‘lab mouse’ look.  This year, I’m thinking about doing a few tail-less chocolate dipped mice and see how they turn out.  The mice are a big hit everywhere, everybody just oohs and ahs over them.  

Although they cause us to get some strange looks when we are talking about what ingredients we need.  Many a conversation between Conall and I in the grocery store has gone like this:
Him: Do we have everything for the mice?
Me:  No, we still need ears and eyes.

It’s surprising how quickly people will move away from us upon hearing a snippet of conversation like that.  But I digress.

Kolackies:  These aren’t the type of kolackies that my adopted father made when I was a kid.  These are easier to make, and taste really good.  The dough is just made with flour, butter, and cream cheese.  Roll the dough out, cut it into squares, fill it with preserves, and bake.  Simple, easy, and oh so good.

Peanut Butter Blossom:  This was something that was a tradition for Conall, but never in my house.  He asked me one year to make them, and it’s been on the list since then.  Some years (like this one) I’ll switch it up a bit with some of the new flavors of Hershey’s Kisses ™ that are out there.  This year will be dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and the Hugs.  We’ll see what other flavors Kisses I might decide to use.

New or extra cookies:
Pecan Sandy:  This year I found a different recipe for a pecan sandy that is drizzled with caramel and chocolate on the top.  It looks really good, and I’m going to have to try it out.

Bite Sized Cheesecakes:  I found a recipe for this two years ago, and decided to try it.  It was very close to my recipe for cheesecake, but was made in cupcake tins for a two or three bite cheesecake.  This year I think I will make some chocolate dipped as well.

Chocolate dipped shortbread cookies:  Self-explanatory.

Oh, did I forget to mention I got a chocolate melting pot this year?  It’ll make keeping the chocolate at the correct consistency so much easier than the double boiler did!

And besides all that, two years ago I started making truffles.  This year I’m planning on making dark chocolate, white chocolate (I have a friend who’s allergic to chocolate), and some flavored middles:  chai tea flavored, orange flavored, raspberry flavored, and maybe pumpkin pie flavored.

That’s a lot of baking, but I still have a couple weeks to do it all in. 

What kind of things do you like to make for the holiday season, any holiday season?  Do you make a bunch of things like I do, or only a few?  If you are diabetic and can’t have lots of sugar, how have you changed your recipes to keep the taste you love but yet not endanger your health?

Well, it’s noon, and I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me today.  At least one batch of truffles, and maybe the peanut butter blossom cookies to make.  Or maybe the mice.