Time for Dessert!

Time for DessertFor even the most disciplined traveller to Italy, it is hard to say no to all the delicious temptations that await you. It seems that every bar-caffè or pasticceria has an endless display of cookies, chocolates or some other enticement. Italian desserts range in flavor from slightly bitter to sweet but usually not overwhelmingly sweet and are often best served with a wine. However you’ll find that most Italians generally avoid sugary pastries in favour of “Dulci per Adulti” or “Sweets for Adults”. When an espresso and some fruit isn’t enough to suffice, Italians reach for something both savoury and sweet. Traditionally, dulci per adulti consists of a pairing of cheese and sweet lipids and most visitors to Italy will experience the tradition as a cheese plate stacked with thin slices of aged pecorino – parmesan’s salty cousin – drizzled with honey. The two flavors are profoundly complimentary. The taste of the mild, nutty cheese and the taste of the honey melt into each other quickly, unifying on the palate into something extraordinarily delicate.

But dulci per adulti isn’t limited to one blockbuster combo. Gorgonzola cheese, spread across a thin slice of bread and drizzled with honey is a memorable after dinner treat that leaves a wonderful taste in the mouth and compliments a full-bodied red wine. A more toothy option comes from dipping chunks of crumbled parmesan into aged balsamic vinegar, drizzling lightly with honey, and consuming (typically, with relish). For those that cheese and honey won’t suffice, there are countless choices such as tiramisu, gelato, cannoli, biscotti… the list goes on and on. So for today, to end Italian week, I’ve given you two dessert recipes; one a little heavier than the other, depending on your mood (and your diet). The tiramisu is great for a crowd, and the biscotti are perfect for a quiet night, or curled up with a cup of espresso. No matter what you choose to finish your meal, it will be a dolce notte!

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Stress Relief Needed?

Stressed

So did you know that stressed spelled backwards is desserts? Ergo, to solve stress, one must eat dessert! I’m sure my logic is faulty somewhere in there, but right now, I’m thinking of the warm, creamy rice pudding that I have as today’s recipe. It is filled with great fall flavours, like cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and cardamom. These warm flavours actually do physically warm you up! Here are some of the health benefits that the spices in today’s recipe promote:

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) is a member of the Lauraceae (Laurel) Family. It helps dry dampness in the body and warms people that are always cold and suffering from poor circulation. Cinnamon is antiseptic and an excellent digestive tonic. Chewing cinnamon flavoured gum or just smelling the sweet spice has been found to improve brain activity. Cinnamon enhances cognitive processing and was found to improve test subjects scores related to attention, memory and visual-motor speed when working at a computer.

Nutmeg (Myristica Fragrans) is a member of the Myristicaceae Family. During ancient times, Roman and Greek civilizations used nutmeg as a type of brain tonic. This is because nutmeg can effectively stimulate your brain. As a result, it can help eliminate fatigue and stress. If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, nutmeg may also be a good remedy. Nutmeg can also improve your concentration so you can become more efficient and focused at work or at school.

Vanilla (Vanilla Planifolia) is a member of the  Orchidaceae (Orchid) Family. Vanilla is rich in antioxidants which prevent and reverse skin damage caused by free radicals. It helps to slow down signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. Certain neurological studies have proved that vanilla extract can have a positive effect on those suffering from depression and anxiety disorders.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), a member of the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) Family, is an expectorant, thus helping to open the respiratory passages. Cardamom oils can be added to baths as a form of aromatherapy that fights depression and reduces stress. Ground Cardamom seeds can be made into a tea for similar benefits.

So there you have it, straight from the doctors, you NEED to eat rice pudding! It’s for your health!