Five Steps to Indulgence

Psst. Okay, so before you read any further, pinky swear to me you won’t tell Misty. Yeah, you remember that post (here) she did on not out-exercising a bad diet. Well, I’m here to offer my perspective. *wink*

Please note that I’m not a family physician, nutritionist, or cardiologist. I don’t know your medical history and you should always consult a health professional before following anyone’s advice.

Diets. I hate that word. At heart, I’m a foodie. I love trying new foods, I love cooking and baking. My television only has two channels, The Food Network, and Treehouse (for the kiddies). And when the world embraced the no-carb diet, I was like, “Hell No.”.

Step One:

There’s a method to my madness, I promise. Step one is as simple as understanding this:

People who deny themselves sugar are cranky.

Remember the Brownie Contest scene in Notting Hill, where Julia Roberts is all like, “I’ve been on a diet since I was nineteen.”? Yeah, that’s so not me…

Here’s a clip to jar your memory: (gotta love this movie) 🙂

Step Two:

But life, *sigh*, is all about BALANCE. What goes in, must come out, or stay stuck on my thighs forever. So that’s why I’m also an adrenaline junkie.

Growing up, I sucked at sports. I mean, really sucked. Don’t ask me to catch a ball. You’ll regret it. My large-muscle coordination is horrendous. But when I was in university, we got a dog. This cute little girl, Kyra, who sadly passed away this year.Kyra

She became my running buddy. As a herding dog (a Shetland Sheltie to be specific) she needed a lot of exercise. We started out slow, running laps at the local park. Because, hey, I figured I could at least put my feet in front of each other without falling flat on my face.

On a side note, running with Kyra at the park is how I met my hubby. Ladies, nothing attracts a man like a dog. Yep, it’s a story as sweet as 101 Dalmatians. Except hubby stalked me and his dog (an adorable Golden Retriever) snapped up Kyra’s ball and broke it. The next day, he brought me a new one. The rest is history. 🙂

So running became my thing. I’ve run 3 marathons, and tons of half-marathons, 10ks and 5ks (that’s 26 miles, 13 miles, 6 miles, and 3 miles, give or take). And I’ve only ever fallen flat on my face once. Which leads into Step 3.

Step Three:

When you fall down, get back up. This piece of advice works for just about everything in life.

Of course, the one time in my life I fall while running, it has to be when someone’s watching. One morning, I was running along this sidewalk, listening to my iPod and not watching my feet, so I didn’t notice the grade difference between the sidewalk tiles. My toe caught on one and I went skidding onto the side grass (which thankfully was devoid of doggy doo-doo). A week later, I went running on the same path, only to find the sidewalk had been graded.

Yep, folks. Someone saw me fall, called the city, and made a major complaint about the klutzy runner who fell in front of his/her house. Gee, didn’t I feel special.

Even so, I’m grateful to my anonymous hero, and will continue to run on that–now safe–sidewalk.

Step Four:

Back to diets. This is where it gets complicated. I’m totally into this season’s The Biggest Loser, because, well, I love watching people transform their lives. My favorite part is the ending, where you get to see the evicted contestant at home and looking amazing.

BUT. Yep, that’s a big BUT. That’s not living. As with all things, moderation is the key. Something I’ve come to witness is:

Those who don’t indulge, binge.

How many times have you said, “I’m not going to eat a cookie. I’m not going to eat that cookie.” Then two days later, you can’t take it anymore, and you eat six? We’re human, people. Eating the foods you love is a part of enjoying life.

I say, there’s a right way to indulge, and a wrong way. First, don’t tell yourself “no”. The instant it becomes a “no” in your mind, your willpower turns into my three-year-old son. It smirks at you with a mischievous grin and when it thinks you’re not looking, reaches for the cookie jar.

Step Five:

Tell yourself “yes”. Allow yourself to indulge, in small amounts, in the RIGHT THINGS.

What are those right things, Rachael? Simple: Homemade. Yep, good ole’ home cooking. Don’t make fast-food joints your staple, don’t buy that processed junk. You’re just using up all of your “yummy” calories on fillers.

I’m here to help. I’m handing you two of my prized go-to recipes, where what you’ll buy is way worse for you than what you make at home.

This isn’t a diet or a trick to losing weight. This is how I indulge, in the less-unhealthy way.

First up, my Honey-garlic Chicken Wings. A family recipe that’s the first to go at every dinner party it’s ever been to. They’re that good.

Honey Garlic Wings
40 chicken wings
½ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ginger

Bake chicken wings (no deep-frying here) on greased baking sheet at 350ºF for 30 minutes, or until starting to brown. Transfer chicken wings to casserole dish. Combine sauce ingredients and pour over chicken wings. Stir. Bake for another 30 minutes, stirring every 5 min. (yep, baby those wings!) until sauce is thickened and bubbly.


Since I’m a baker, here’s a little old recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding I fell in love with when I visited Scotland. It’ll satisfy any sweet tooth with its caramely-goodness. Your kids will never know that awesomeness comes from fiber-rich dates.


Sticky Toffee Pudding
1 cup pitted chopped dates
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ¼ cups boiling water
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Toffee sauce:

½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup light, ½ cup dark brown sugar
pinch salt

For the pudding: place dates in bowl in baking soda and water. Let sit for at least 10min. (up to 30 min.). In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beat until blended. Combine flour and baking powder in separate bowl. Add to butter mixture. Fold the date mixture into the batter. Pour into a greased 10-inch round springform pan. Bake at 350ºF for 30-40 minutes, until tester comes out clean.

For the toffee sauce: combine butter, cream and sugars in a medium saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Continue to boil (while stirring) on low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 6-8 minutes). Poke holes (1cm apart) in pudding. Spoon 1/3 of sauce over top of pudding and stick under the broiler until bubbly (about 1-2 min.). Serve warm, drizzled with more sauce. For a less-unhealthy sauce, try reducing butter to ¼ cup and/or heavy cream to light cream.

So, that’s my take on balancing life, diet, and everything in between. How do you indulge? What’s your go-to craving-satisfying food item, and have you ever tried to make it yourself? If not, why not? If yes, care to share your recipe? 🙂



  1. Hahaha! Oh, Rach, you sneaky girl, that post was actually written by Jodi, our exercise guru! I’m totally with you about what happens when you deny yourself something. It’s almost funny when some of my kids’ friends come over and they see how much junk food we have. Their eyes almost glaze over, but what I’ve learned is that when something is easily accessible, it’s less distracting. Basically what you said, “those who don’t indulge, binge”

    Your recipes look amazing. Am totally gonna try the wings sometime soon. Lately I’ve been snacking on two things: celery with peanut butter and lightly salted almonds with Nutella. I’ve noticed both tend to keep me feeling full, plus I love the crunch.

    Great post, Rachael!

  2. Josie Matthews says:

    You go girl!!! Everything in moderation is the key! Being a nurse I have so many people popping in my office on a daily basis asking ‘How do I lose weight?’ ‘What do you think of xxx diet?’. ‘What’s wrong with me that the weight never comes off?’ …

    People…All these crazy diets work…as long as you follow them and STAY on them! And THATS where the problem lies!!! These diets are so tough to follow that a person could never stay on it for life without missing out on life!!! Hence…They lose…slowly wade back into their old habits…then gain the weight back. Everything in MODERATION! Portion control is the key…THAT’s where American sabotage themselves (me included!!) (Personally…I think Weight Watchers is the most realistic, user friendly diet to follow…real food + portion control = healthy person.)

    Move a little, Eat a little, Love yourself…. that’s my motto! (still trying to drill it into my head everyday!!!!)

    Love this post and can’t wait to try the wings!!! (Then I’ll go for a run! Or a walk…or garden…or vacuum…or have sex…):)

  3. Hmm, those wings look great. I’m definitely going to try them! The food that gets me in trouble is pastries. I love them. Can’t get enough of them. I bake them, buy them, and devour them. You know it’s bad when other family members ask where did all the cheese danishes go? And you point to the dog. Great article, I’ll let you know how the wings turn out.

  4. Samantha says:

    Less than six months ago, I discovered I have a condition called fructose malabsorption. I can’t eat more than 10g of sugar in a sitting (and to feel 100%, I have to eat far, far less), plus no more garlic and onions (and a boatload of other fruits & vegetables). It was so difficult at first, but after I started to feel great and not have stabbing pains in my gut after I ate, it became easy to stick to my diet.

    I was one of those yo-yo dieters ever since college. It’s so hard to be motivated by an intangible like “losing weight” or “being healthy.” But I have no problem staying away from desserts and sweets now that I know I won’t be doubled over in pain for the rest of the night. (Although garlic is my Achilles’ heel–I’ve managed to only indulge in it once so far and the pain it caused me made me not want to do that again.)

    Very little pre-packaged food is suitable for my diet, so now everything I eat is fresh. It’s more work, but totally worth it. I just don’t know if I could stick to this diet if I didn’t have physical consequences afterwards for straying from it.

    What is it about food that makes us lose all willpower??

    • HI Samantha. Thanks for sharing! I’m so sorry to hear about your diet restrictions, but it’s awesome that you’ve turned to fresh foods. Good for you! 🙂 My entire front yard is an edible garden and I just love that my kids feast off of it in the summertime.

      Also, great question about food and willpower. Anyone have an answer? 😉

    • Josie Matthews says:

      Samantha! Tough to eliminate those things from your diet but your health is totally worth it! I’ve been reading more and more on the downsides of sugar…its being linked to so many diseases now, but its so damn good! (Renee…im with you on the sweets…my sweet cravings are not as refined as yours, however, … I’m happy with a container of Marshmallow Fluff and a spoon!!!!!!)
      In repsonse to your willpower question…Im feeling that food/indulging is so cathartic for us when life hands us sooooo many stressors. I find the walk, the bubble bath, the nice chat with a friend, the affirmations….are NEVER as good as an old fashioned ice cream sundae or a boat load of pizza to soothe the savaged soul! I just find food comforting…that is until I get on the scale…and hence —the LOVE-HATE relationship.
      Food for many of us use it for emotional purposes is much like alcohol is to an alcoholic…It puts us in ‘happy place’ and chases away the clouds. It can be just as damaging as drugs and alcohol to othe body, but is definitely more socially acceptable. Interesting HUH? How many peoples lives are dibilitated by heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and all the other food-related illnesses just as alcohol and drugs affect addicts lives? Apples to apples people…
      Willpower is a choice. A fu#$%*^ hard choice when it comes to soothing the savage beast if you ask me.
      If we were eating just because we enjoy food…we’d never overeat.
      Food-Related-Emotional-Therapy is what makes us OVEReat. We feed our emotions (anger, stress, frustration, sadness, even happiness and celebration…)
      Hello, My name is Josie,,,and Im a food-a-holic.
      Love you guys!

      • Fantastic reply, Josie! Thanks.

      • Samantha says:

        Ah, pizza. Yes, that’s the one thing I miss. I also can’t eat wheat, unless it’s been fermented to remove the fructans, which means I can have beer (boo :/) or sourdough. Because my celiac brothers and sisters have paved the way for gluten-free everything, restaurants and stores carry pasta that I can have most of the time. But it’s just not the same! I miss Pizza Hut stuffed crust pepperoni lover’s. Ohhh, how I miss it.

        Before discovering that I had this condition, I thought about going sugar-free. I didn’t think I could do it. But the amazing thing is that when you go sugar-free, you don’t need things to be so sweet. I had a salad the other day and they didn’t have plain vinegar and oil, so I got a balsamic vinaigrette. I could taste the sugar in it, and I’m sure there was just a tiny bit. I find now that just a little bit of sweetness is all I need.

        But that’s the hard part–For me, it’s not that I crave the sweetness, it’s that stuff LOOKS so damn good. I still love pinterest and I carefully comb through my pins for stuff to add to my “Fructose Malabsorption” board. (Lots of potatoes and cheese, good thing I like cheese!) But when one of my friends goes on a dessert-pinning binge, that’s when it’s difficult. Everything is always so pretty!

        I also chuckle to myself (maybe in a mean way, I am human after all!) when people talk about eating fruit juices or honey to be healthier. Sorry, kids, but that has “white” sugar in it. It just got there naturally.

        • Totally, right? Experts tell us to “eat your juice”, (i.e. eat the fruit instead of drinking juice). My hubby is a huge honey fan, and while it has its good properties, I always remind him that it doesn’t count when you put copious amounts into you tea.

          Samantha, I know there are a lot of sugar replacements, and sugars derived from other sources. Have you found any of those that work for you?

          • Samantha says:

            I’ve never really liked the sugar replacements because they don’t sit well on my palate. Glucose/dextrose, which is the non-fructose half of sugar, is what I usually use, although I’m finding it hard to eat too much of that as well. It spikes my blood sugar and gives me insomnia, plus it’s “sharper” than sugar on the tongue. I have to eat it in moderation. (Fun fact: Pixie sticks and US smarties/Canadian rockets are made from glucose, not sugar.)

            Sugar alcohols are laxatives, so I avoid those as much as possible. There are differing opinions on coconut milk, which doesn’t have much fructose in it, but I’ve never tried it. Corn syrup is different than *high fructose corn syrup*. Corn syrup is actually a glucose suspension and has no sugar/fructose in it (if it’s true corn syrup), so we can have it.

            There’s a lot of misinformation about fructose malabsorption and the food composition, so basically I have to do a bunch of research and then finally just try things to see if I tolerate them. When it comes to sweeteners, I stick with glucose or only have a bite or two of sweet stuff.

        • I love this>>> “a dessert-pinning binge” LOL!!! I’ve never thought about it like that, but most of us do go on binges on Pinterest! Hahaha!

        • Josie Matthews says:

          You are so right Sam! Sugar is sugar is sugar…now matter how you spoon it!

  5. I think I gained 5 pounds just reading this article. Must. Run. Now!

  6. I so admire people who can cook. My idea of cooking is putting a frozen dinner in the oven.

  7. Moderation, hell, give me that damn donut box.
    I’ve given up fast food, cookies, potato chips, red meat, ice cream (dammit!!) and diet sodas. Am I a happy camper? Nope. Change in one’s lifestyle is very hard. Very. Experts say it takes 30 days to create a new habit and get over old ones. Experts lie. I crave the things I’ve given up AND things I haven’t eaten in years. I haven’t had a hoagie/submarine sandwich in 8 years and I still crave them. But I’m here to tell you I’m eating healthier. All bitching aside, I do indulge from time to time, usually on vacations or holidays. Great post. Thanks.

  8. Rach, you *must* write a contemp rom based on your hubby meetup story!!!

  9. Emily Allen says:

    Rach, great post. I too believe in moderation. I use to belong to a group called Lite-Life and the number one saying was you can have anything you want, as long as you do it in moderation. I love wings and I think I’ll be trying your wing.

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