Tag Archives: candy

…But Liquor is Quicker

Anyone else remember the saying, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker”? The expression is a quote from American poet Ogden Nash’s 1931 poem, “Reflections on Ice Breaking”.  It also appeared in the 1971 movie, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”.

In honor of Halloween, I’m sharing the following.  My commentary below in red.

HOW TO QUIT CANDY AFTER HALLOWEEN

Weaning yourself off the good stuff once and for all.

By: Noah Lehava

There were tons of reasons Halloween was the best holiday as kids. One, you got to walk around all night in a ridiculous outfit, holding big bags that strangers would just throw full-sized candy bars into. Two, you’d have a cache of Starburst and Reese’s to last you weeks (or months, if you had a parent moderator). Three, your metabolism (and energy) and general lack of nutritional knowledge meant the guilt of stuffing your face with one last mini Snickers before bed didn’t exist. But alas, we’re adults now, which means we know that eating piles of candy isn’t actually all that good for us. That’s not to say we’re expecting you to avoid itty-bitty bags of sugary stuff all Halloween week long (that’s a thing, right?). But the struggle to quit sugar post-indulgence is real. Which is why we’ve come up with a few ways to wean yourself off the good stuff (in the palate sense).

GO FOR THE COMBO

This technique is what we like to call step one of the recovery process. When you really just want to pile M&Ms into your mouth until your stomach hurts, instead, eat or drink something healthy, like a green tea and vegetable-loaded salad for lunch, then finish it off with a bite of candy. You’ll be full from the nutrition-packed meal, but have just enough sugar-coated chocolate on your palate to satisfy a craving.

To go one step further, try drinking a combination of 1 part orange juice to 7 parts water.  There’s just enough sweetness to satisfy cravings, and the water fills you up. This is also great to have in the morning — often what we think is hunger is actually thirst, especially after fasting all night while we’re sleeping. You might not even crave those pancakes!

THE SWAP-OUT

We all know that the really bad stuff in candy is the added sugar (and, OK, there’s other stuff in there, but let’s not get too technical). But good sugar, fructose, by way of fruit, is an easy way to crush cravings, plus you’ll be filling up on the extra stuff in fruit like water, fiber, and, you know, actual nutrients.

Sugar is sugar. It’s generally better to avoid it, and satisfy the urge for sweetness with carrots, red or yellow peppers, etc. Experts suggest that it’s best to eat fruit with your meal rather than in-between.  And choose whole fruit, not juice.

SNACK

Not on candy! Waiting too long between meals and the impending hunger that comes with that will have you reaching into the plastic pumpkin every ten minutes. Eating regularly throughout the day keeps your blood sugar level stable—aka no crazy, irrational cravings.

Disagree! True hunger is actually a good thing — it tells you that your body needs sustenance. If you eat a satisfying meal (eg lunch) that includes lean protein, you should not be physically hungry for around 5 hours.  What we think of as mid-morning or mid-afternoon “hunger” is often anxiety, boredom, or another emotion.  Rather than eating, do something to distract yourself, such as taking a short walk. The brain can’t hold on to cravings for very long.

If it’s late afternoon, and you know you won’t be having dinner for a few hours and are starting to feel real hunger, try eating a handful of nuts (slowly) to help avoid temptation. But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t resist an occasional peanut butter cup.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, dear readers!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Possibly the World’s Best Caramels

Dear Readers, I’d like to introduce you all to my current obsession: the insanely delicious caramels made right here on the Oregon coast and sold online by a young couple with a passion for sweets. If you’ve ever shied away from eating caramels because you found them too sticky, too chewy or were afraid they’d pull out your dental work, I can promise you that these are a perfect, buttery smooth, melt-in-your-mouth consistency.

I asked Skott and Jodi, the creators of Botanical Sweets and Treats, to tell me more about their luscious candy.

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How did you get started? “Early on in our relationship, one of our favorite places to visit was Pike Place market in Seattle. We saw past the tourist side of it and enjoyed arriving early and watching the market come to life. We have always loved farmers’ markets and talked about selling at them one day.

We got started almost by accident.

We were visiting family in Idaho and we went to see Skott’s dear Aunt Hazel, the sister to his grandmother (who raised him and was like a mother to him). We told her about our lives on the coast and somehow the conversation turned to all the candy and taffy shops. We started talking about our favorite candy and Aunt Hazel said she loved caramels, but didn’t like chocolate. We asked her if she’d ever had a caramel with sea salt on it. She hadn’t and was very curious about the idea. We told her we would find some at a candy shop when we got home and mail them to her.

When we arrived back in Oregon, we searched everywhere and couldn’t find any salted caramels that weren’t coated in chocolate. I‘d (Jodi) grown up on a dairy and made caramels for many years in my youth. I decided I would dig out the old family recipe and give it a try. I quickly remembered how much I enjoyed making caramels: cooking that sugar until it seemed it was going to burn, then incorporating cream and smelling those wonderful aromas as the house filled with the sweet smell of caramel.

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We sent salted caramels to Aunt Hazel and brought the rest to work to share with our co-workers. Everyone loved them and wanted more.”

Who does what? “We make a good team. Skott is the creative recipe guy and I (Jodi) manage the business side.”

Your flavors are so unusual! Which are most popular? “We started making our own infusions/concentrates/extracts using dried botanicals such as hibiscus, Earl Grey tea, dried Oregon chai tea, rose petals, lavender buds, and the like. Sea Salt is by far our best seller. We have seasonal flavors that we rotate in and out as well.

Last summer’s best seasonal seller was Cherry w/Lime Salt and our best winter seasonal was Pumpkin Pecan Pie. All of our Christmas flavors sell really well: Candy Cane Crunch, Hot Buttered Rum, and Apple Cider. We introduced Irish Cream last year and that was a big hit, along with Cocoa-dusted Bourbon. Christmas is our busiest season, although we are getting more wedding orders this summer as well.”

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How long have you been in business? “We opened our Etsy shop in November 2013, and did our first show the following April 2014. We have a second Etsy shop (beachwalkerz) and now sell exclusively online.

The response we got at our first show was amazing. We quickly learned that people were not expecting caramels to come in such a variety of flavors, and got asked countless times “What is this, soap?” With the name “Botanical Sweets and Treats” and a green logo background, we quickly realized we needed a major rebranding overhaul. We hired a new logo designer and changed our packaging that first summer. Things went much better after that.FullSizeRender (3)

 

From day one, the markets were fantastic. We have always loved the energy found at a farmers’ market—the sounds, the smells, the patrons’ excitement as they wander the booths. Skott especially enjoyed talking to the regular customers, the other vendors, and the little kids who would save up their allowance to buy a bag of caramels (he always cut those kids a special deal). He met people from many countries who bought caramels to take back to their families. It’s very exciting to think of the places our caramels have traveled!

The biggest challenge to doing markets along the Oregon coast is the weather. Skott has quite a few memories of people huddled in the booth, waiting out the rain, everyone sampling caramels, laughing, talking, sharing experiences.”

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Did you ever try something that just didn’t work? “We tried melting dark chocolate into the caramels (versus dipping them in chocolate) and making flavors such as Cherry Chocolate and Mexican Spiced Cocoa. We loved them, our friends loved them, but they just didn’t sell well, especially online. A big challenge with online sales is that people can’t sample before they buy, so they are hesitant to purchase the unknown, funky flavors.

We found out (the hard way), that a beer-flavored caramel is NOT good :-). We tried reducing stout beer and adding it into a caramel. It produces a really sweet, beef-bouillon-flavored candy. Blech! We also tried doing some two-layered caramels like Rum & Cola, and Peanut Butter & Jelly. They were fun to make but very time consuming.

One of our Etsy customers requested a Peanut Butter and Banana flavored caramel. We used peanuts to make an extract, boiled banana in water and made an amazing Elvis-inspired caramel. It was actually quite delicious!”

What are your plans for the future as you become more successful? “We have worked very hard to get back and live at the coast that we love so dearly (we relocated here from Wisconsin five years ago) and we don’t want to leave the area. This poses many challenges from a business standpoint, the main ones being commercial kitchen availability and distribution.

Last year we really maxed out on production capabilities. We cook in small batches. We cut, wrap, and bag all by hand. Our online sales have continued to grow, to the point that we’ve stopped attending the markets.

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After meeting with a local investment group we’ve decided that we want to keep control of our company, even if that means keeping it smaller at this point. Caramels are best when fresh; they don’t have a super long shelf life. Even though they never really “go bad”, they lose their brightness after 3-4 months. And we don’t want to start adding a bunch of chemicals to increase shelf life!

So in a nutshell, our plans are to continue to grow our online sales via Etsy and maintain our handcrafted quality rather than becoming automated. We have a lot of fun making caramels together!”

Special Offer Just for OFH Readers! I promise you’ll have at least as much fun eating these caramels as Skott and Jodi have making them. They’ve generously offered us a special discount coupon to use when you shop online. Enter BLOG10  at checkout to save 10% on your order.

My personal recommendations are Original, Sea Salt, and whichever coffee flavor is available. But honestly, they are all wonderful!! (And, by the way, this is not a sponsored post; I’m just a fan!)