When I looked up the meaning of craving, I came upon words I’d expect to find in a romance novel: consuming desire, longing, urgent need. Food cravings embody all those overheated descriptions, notoriously defying good sense. I respect my mysterious cravings for cheese, chocolate, fried and creamy foods and indulge them as often as possible without compromising my well-being.
I also have cravings for mushrooms---not the mind-altering specie that gives a trip of visual hallucinations, causes a lot of laughter, and an intense trip to never-never-land. I crave for mushrooms my grandmother used to gather at the banana grove after a stormy night. My grandmother said that mushrooms grow where lightning had hit the ground. For a long time, I believed that indeed mushrooms are food from aliens brought to earth by lightning, like manna from heaven (ha-ha). Aside from that, mushrooms are also rich in protein, fiber, vitamins B and C as well as calcium. Researchers believe that maitake, shiitake and reishi have phenomenal healing potential. These mushrooms have shown to lower the risk of cancer, ward off viruses, reduce infection, combat allergies, boost heart health, and help balance blood sugar levels. I love grilled fresh mushrooms like my grandmother’s---toss with a little oil, a pinch of salt then wrap mushrooms in banana leaf and place it over the grill. Dried and fresh mushrooms are also great ingredient in pasta dishes, sotanghon (vermicelli) guisado, mixed veggies, beef and oyster sauce, or just sautéed in butter.
“Death by Chocolate” would probably the headline in the tabloids after I was found dead from consuming too much of this dark concoction. Chocolate is one of my comfort foods. And who can blame me? Chocolate has captured the taste of people throughout the ages. The Aztecs and Maya associated chocolate with the goddess of fertility and had been drinking chocolate since 400 AD. Aside from being reputed as an aphrodisiac, dark chocolates are believed to have anticancer benefits. A study reported by the BBC indicated that melting chocolate in one’s mouth produced an increase in brain activity and heart rate that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing, and also lasted four times as long after the activity had ended. But as we all know, too much of a good thing can do you harm. Every now and then, I still indulge in dark chocolates but with almonds---because almonds are lower in calories, high in vitamin E, protein and fiber, and they can also protect the heart. Dieticians recommend eliminating something bad in our diet and replacing it with almonds.
Of course, one way to surrender to cravings and still feel virtuous is to exercise---the “I ate French fries, therefore I will not use the elevator today” approach. Problem is I simply hate to exercise. Honestly, I am perplexed at people who make time to exercise every day. I’ve read all the benefits of exercise, and I do try…I go to the gym even when my “flesh” is weak and my “spirit” struggles and drags its feet. I have pep-talks with myself before playing badminton because visions of a couch and a good book beckon. Hayyy naku...Next time I have a food craving, I’d probably try a “Fear Factor Diet”! Ha-Ha