Thursday, April 28, 2011


Easter desserts.

Easter at my mother's house: beautiful surroundings, beloved company, a good, healthy meal, and, as is typically the case with holidays and social gatherings that center around food, too much dessert.

Easter dinner offerings: butternut squash and asparagus.

I know a few people who can sit in front of a table loaded with temptation and make relaxed and rational choices, but there are so many of us who can't. Sweet and fatty treats are fun, but so is humor, a nice cup of tea, a bowl of raspberries.

How did we get to the point where anything short of excess seems meager? 

I would like to change this dynamic. I'm not anti-treat. It's just that I would like everything I offer my loved ones to be supportive of their health.

Macaroons. My sister-in-law made these, and a special plate just for me of the chocolate ones, gluten- and sugar-free.

As for myself, with so little that I can control about my health these days, the little that I can control feels supremely important. I am hyper-aware of the connection between cancer and diet, and between estrogen, the primary hormone driving my particular cancer, and excess body fat. I'm concerned about the international obesity epidemic and how this plays out in my own family. And I'm especially attuned to my own struggle to strike a balance between eating just enough of the treats on offer so as not to feel deprived but not so much that I regret it after.

It feels like a sinister game of limbo. Temptations multiply while the out-of-bounds regret line moves steadily closer to "not one bite." Wherever I set the line, once I've crossed it, and I almost always do, I feel a quiet, underground panic as I feel my resolve and sense of control slipping away. I can't be the only one. Why do we do this to each other?

In order to escape doing harm to my body I find myself pressed up against the emotional mirage of deprivation. It is most definitely a mirage. I know this. I am well and plenty fed. The only real lack is of the relaxed and pleasant conversation (or not so relaxed but all the more essential sharing) that might fill a gathering not so centered around food.

On Easter Sunday, I failed as usual to find the (forgive the pun) sweet spot between indulgence and regret, but I had my camera along and managed to push away from my plate in search of photogenic distractions.

Thanks to mother nature and my own mother's talent for beauty, I managed to find plenty.


A neighbor.

Eying the bird feeder.

A kitchen window.

Avocado pits, poised for sprouting.

My mother's china cabinet.

Holiday dinner aftermath.

Out the back door.


Back home, trying something new: horned melon. Bright orange outside, jewel-green inside.
Grassy tasting, mildly sweet, a bit like honeydew only slimier and seedier.
Okay, I admit it. Not my favorite.

A treat at my house: cashew cream (in the food-processor: tofu, cashew butter, lemon juice, agave nectar, vanilla, nutmeg) served with fresh passion fruit.


Melisa said...


What's your opinion on tofu and the estrogen connection? Just curious, because I can't seem to get a straight answer from my oncologist and the research is confusing.
Have a great weekend.
Lisa P., NC

Amy said...

Hi Lisa, there is a good discussion on this in a previous post's comments, check it out here:

The bottom line is, the reason you don't get a straight answer is that no one really knows. There was a study that showed that suggested soy was preventative (because Asians got less breast cancer and ate a lot of soy) and then people started taking concentrated soy isolates as supplements, and then studies showed that that actually made things worse. There is nothing definitive about actual soy foods.

For me, I eat less tofu and other soy products than I would have if this wasn't controversial, but as you can see, I don't avoid it entirely.

SN said...

How do I get myself invited to your house for dinner Amy?


Have you tried more exotic fruits like mangoes, guavas, letchis?

They're yummy!

Anonymous said...

OK, for tofu, did you use silky or firm? And what is your tofu to cashew ratio (approximately)?

Amy said...

:) Shafeenaaz, consider yourself invited.

I used firm, and the texture is, ultimately, firm, but you could use silken - it'll be softer. Both would work, both have the potential to be delicious. As for ratio: about 2 to 1, twice as much tofu as cashew. The rest is a matter of taste and adjust, maybe one day I'll nail down the exact right proportions, but sometimes concocting outside the recipe lines is part of the fun.

SN said...

Thank you :)

Ally said...

Hi Amy!

I agree with Shafeenaaz. I want to come over too! Haha.

Anonymous said...

Everything looks so delicious! Any chance of getting the recipe for the sugarfree gluten free macaroons? I can't find a decent replacement version for my original recipe now that I have a restricted diet and these look fabulous

Amy said...

Hi Brenda,

A while back, my sister-in-law (the one who created the macaroons) and I made a little cookbook called "Special Treats for Special People on Special Occasions." They were tiny, with just ten little recipes, I produced several by hand. We gave them as Christmas gifts.

I think her macaroons are in there. I will have to check.