Earlier this month I had a birthday and as always, I made a cake. If you’ve ever made a cake from scratch (note: I’m NOT talking about a Betty Crocker box mix) you know and understand what makes cake and frosting taste so good: lots of sugar and obscene amounts of butter.
Over the years I’ve tried to adopt Michael Pollan’s Food Rule #45: Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself. Prior to adopting this rule, I never really thought about what goes into those little box mixes. When I started making cakes from scratch and saw just how much sugar and butter was required to carry out the recipe, a few things crossed my mind:
1. How do they fit all these ingredients in a little pouch that calls for water, oil, and egg?
2. How many chemicals and preservatives are added to make it as simple as just adding a few ingredients?
3. Wow, I’m saving cake for special occasions because this is a lot of butter and sugar. A lot.
When junk food is available in its most convenient form – think “just add water” baked goods or “heat and eat” frozen meals, you are more likely to eat without thinking about the nutrient value or ingredients that went into making it so convenient. This is a form of mindless eating. When you start making food from scratch, not only does it raise awareness, it takes time! And the bottom line is that I don’t have time to consistently make baked goods from scratch. So if I abide by the rule of eating all the junk food I want as long as I’m making it, I won’t be making a lot of junk food which equates to eating less junk food.
So what exactly is junk food? I’m sure everyone’s opinion varies but the foods I apply to this rule include any kind of sweet treats – cookies, cakes, brownies, etc. I also apply this rule it to pizza, popsicles, and popcorn. All of those things can be really healthy when made on your own and are in control of the ingredients.
Another big way I have implemented this particular type of discipline includes turning away from any store-bought treats that are at pot lucks or in break rooms. Because when you think about it, if you’re going to have a treat, it might as well be worth the extra time you need to spend at the gym or the sugar crash and burn you’ll feel afterwards. It’s rarely worth it when it’s something from a package! Bottom line: make your treats worth it!
So let’s get down to business with my birthday cake. It was so delicious! A special thanks to The Crepes of Wrath for providing me with such a fun and festive birthday cake recipe. Note: I used half as many sprinkles as were called for and my cake was still fantastic! Every bite was worth it plus I shared with some friends along the way so I didn’t eat the entire cake. It also satisfied my sweet tooth for quite a while. When you’re thinking about indulging make it something you truly enjoy and I encourage you to make it from scratch!