Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Sweet Recipe for Winter Blues

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet

Last week at Tahoe when the tourists landed like Stephen King's Langoliers, I turned into a bear-like human in hibernation. At first, it was okay but as the days passed without swimming (the pool was off limits for sanity's sake) I grew restless. Cabin fever? Oh yeah. One week without zero endless laps and a soothing hot bubbly tub was like a horror film. I survived but it wasn't my fave week of the year. Now I know how much regular exercise means to me. I missed those feel-good endolphins. (I think I was a mermaid in a past life.) And that's not all...
While the snow is almost nonexistent at lake level it still sits on yards and streets. Picture slushy, dirty white stuff. It's January--a month to feel fed up with shorter days, colder nights, and lack of sunshine and warmth. Even my kitty doesn't like the cold. The dogs? They are always upbeat if they get their romp. I'm sure folks in the Northeast and Florida are feeling out of whack, too with the big chill. Welcome to the world of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a name coined by Dr. Norman Rosenthal. (I interviewed him many times and when he first experienced it--it wasn't a picnic.) It is a real condition that cases low moods, and anxiety--especially in the winter months. But don't despair. Hot cocoa and salad come to the rescue.
What Chocolate Rx to Use: Try a cup of hot chocolate. I recommend the dark 70 percent cocoa content Amercian style or European (it's a thicker texture) with 1 to 2 percent low-fat calcium rich milk. If you can afford the calories, savor two cups a day. It doesn't stop there. Each day, for lunch or dinner, drizzle extra virgin olive oil--which contains good for you monounsaturated fat--and red wine vinegar on an Italian type dark, leafy green salad with plenty of vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, and crucifers) and chunks of tuna (in water). It will fill you up, and you'll be less likely to fill out. What's more people, like me, who may feel down can be lacking levels of serotonin have a sweet option. This mood enhancing compound is found in chocolate.
More Secrets to Help Cheer You Up
While most people with mild winter doldrums need not escape to a tropical island, a change of environment can certainly lift your mood. (That's probably one reason why I love going to the pool. It's open, airy, and exotic.) Try enhancing light levels at home or in your workplace by installing more lights on the ceiling or placing more lamps in the room. For some, warming up may help, too. Warmth strategies to try include turning up the thermostat, using electric blankets, drinking herbal teas, and layering on more clothing. And sometimes, ancient remedies are best. Live in rooms full of light; indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements; and listen to music.
One more thing. The New Moon on the 15th promises to bring happier days for the rest of this month. I don't know about you, but this Mecury Retrograde the astrologers warned us about (a time of confusion and delays) has indeed rocked my world. It's time for a steaming cup of hot cocoa. Cheers.


  1. Ok, the rest of the country is basically a frozen popsicle right now, but we Seattleites have our duck feathers spread. It was an absolute downpour almost all day today. Time to make a comforting fire for atmosphere, and then slip in to a warm, bubbly jacuzzi(complete with a chocolate martini in hand to savor). But, alas, that was merely my imagination working overtime because instead of that I've gone through two boxes of papers (the shredder always gets hungry before tax time). That might be dangerous during a Mercury Retrograde, but come what may. A plain cup of frothy hot chocolate sounds pretty divine right now! It would be ever so much more fun to have played in the snow beforehand, though...sledding or tobogganing or ice skating or sculpting snowmen. My imagination again...

  2. Imagination is good. The Big Island was my fantasy but someone told me the air quality isn't up to par. Volcanoes? That leads me to craving lava cake like I had last year at The Chocolate Bar in Reno. At Tahoe, it's been near the 50s but going to cool down, says NOAA. Fire, baking, vet, etc. on the agenda? Taxes? Where is the chocolate?