My family and I just got back from a lovely week at the cottage. We had it all — balmy weather, a sandy beach, cool lakewater. And, of course, there was the food.
There’s something about a cottage in the summertime that seems to encourage eating. And I’m not talking about regular food — cottage food is something different altogether. There’s the traditional campfire foods like s’mores and (veggie) hot dogs. There’s the junk food, like potato chips and pop. There’s the late-night warm-up of hot cocoa. And then there’s the ultimate cottage country indulgence — the butter tart.
For those of you who don’t know what a butter tart is, it’s a truly Canadian treat, traditionally made with brown sugar and butter (and sometimes raisins). It’s got flaky pastry and a ridiculously sweet and gooey center. And it’s pretty much the holy grail of yumminess for me.
As you might suspect from the subject matter of this post, I overindulged at the cottage. No, I did not have a butter tart or s’mores (although I wanted to), but yes, I ate chips and pop and scandalously creamy hot chocolate. I also ate fresh corn on the cob, grilled trout, veggie-packed spinach salads and plenty of fresh fruit. But still, my cottage sojourn got me wondering: Is there a way to eat my favorite cottage-friendly fare without sacrificing my diet?
The answer if yes — but you have to have a little imagination and be flexible.
S’mores: As much as the idea of this melty-chocolate-sweet-crunchy treat appeals to me in theory, in all honesty I’m not too keen on ever eating a marshmallow again. There’s something so synthetic-feeling about a big white puff of processed sugar. I’ve heard talk of some delicious vegan marshmallows, which might change my mind.
Potato Chips: I’m not generally a big chip eater (I crave the sweets, as you well know), but once in a while I’m looking for that crunchy, salty snack, particularly when it’s movie night. I didn’t have far to go to look for healthier alternatives: That’s Fit’s own Joy McCarthy has come up with some great recipes to fulfill your savoury needs without the hydrogenated oil. First, there’s the ultimate movie treat, Joy’s perfect bowl of popcorn. And secondly, her kale chips, which I’ve been meaning to try for quite some time.
Hot Cocoa: When the air gets a little nippy or your beach party gets rained out, there’s nothing like a mug of steamy, creamy, hot chocolate to warm you up. But the processed, powdered crap in a packet isn’t going to do anything for you except fill you up with preservatives. I actually found quite a few recipes for healthier hot chocolate online, perhaps because everyone’s looking for a heart-healthy chocolate kick these days. Here’s one that includes a surprising ingredient — coconut butter — from food blog Healthy Tasty Cheap.
Butter Tarts: There’s no way any butter tart can be considered health food. And if it isn’t sweet and delicious, then what’s the point? But if you’re clever in the kitchen, you could whip up a batch of these healthier vegan butter tarts from the very cool website Diet, Dessert and Dogs. The recipe looks a bit complex for a kitchen rookie, but if you have a friend, mom, husband or nest friend who’s a whiz in the kitchen, convince him or her to give it a go. Then pack some up next time you’re hitting the cottage and everyone will win (especially you!). Everything in moderation, right?