desserts

Feeling worn out? Tired? Overwrought? Or, maybe just stressed in general?

I just got a dose of stress, writing “2023” for the first time of the year. In fact, with temperatures still hovering in the sub-frigid zone on this morning of computer work, it feels like stress is still lingering on from the holidays. No matter how much one plans ahead, works in advance and prepares, major holidays and highly anticipated events still generate a certain amount of stress to get it all done. We strive for storybook perfection for long-time-planned special activities, knowing full well that the proverbial Murphy’s law (anything that can go wrong ... will) may well kick in.

The Murphy’s law of the just-past holiday season arrived with the non-threatening name of Elliot, a “bomb cyclone” weather system that dumped a heaping helping of Arctic cold on our doorsteps. Extreme weather events can raise stress levels significantly, especially when the stability of the electrical power on which we are so dependent is at risk. Combine heavy rain with relentless winds and toss in temperatures dropping to single digits for a nasty concoction of potential trouble. Falling limbs and trees, icy wires and dangerous highway conditions will result.

The arrival of Elliot equated to a stretch of concern, worry and stress for millions across the nation.

Isn’t it interesting that “stressed” spelled backwards gives us the word “desserts?” How appropriate is that? We’ve frequently been told by medical professionals that there’s a tendency among us, under stress, to turn to certain foods that comfort us.

And why not turn to comforting desserts to counter stress? Maybe our bodies — as well as our emotions — need that extra jolt of sugar-high to get through the work of combating stress.

But what desserts work best to counter stress?

Chocolate has gotta’ be right up there for many of us. And, chocolate and holidays are a traditionally popular pair. One recent survey reported by our local television news is that the favorite dessert over the winter holidays is cheesecake — rich, creamy, decadent and calorie-intense. Another survey that popped up on my Facebook feed a few days later claimed that cherry pie is the favorite dessert.

Sometimes we do a combination of those, topping homemade cheesecake with cherry pie filling. And we can’t forget ice cream, which is the hands down favorite of many. You could combine all the above if you’re really stressed and need a super-caloric lift. Most of us can probably do without that, though, just coming off the winter feasting-season tendency to overindulge.

Here, we often enjoy fruit of some sort, fresh or sometimes canned, for dessert, a more desirable end to meals, due to the nutritional and health benefits. But, for occasions of celebration and festivity, pineapple or oranges are likely to be ignored and the cookies, cakes and pies are the more favored desserts of choice.

With the Pennsylvania Farm Show getting underway, desserts will be taking center stage in the food court as folks line up for sweet favorites like milkshakes and potato doughnuts. They may not necessarily counter stress, but will surely add a boost of energy after hours of strolling straw-strewn aisles and eyeballing all sorts of educational and entertaining displays.

As the holidays wound down here last week, a host of sweet treats — some homemade and a number of gifted goodies — were stashed in the chilly stairwell to our third floor. One visitor who spotted the cache suggested that she might just hang out for a while behind the closed stairwell door and feast on sweets.

Cookies, fudge, chocolate-covered pretzels and the like might not do much for one’s nutritional intake.

But if some sweets indulgence lowers seasonal stress disorders and eases the winter-wearies, we’ll work on making a convincing argument that we’re simply getting our just desserts.

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This article originally ran on lancasterfarming.com.