cheezysticks and stress eating

I don’t really have that much to do for the holidays. I don’t live near family and I do not travel at these peak times. I don’t decorate my home—most years I don’t even bother getting my tree (a silver number which is to be covered in naught but Star Wars ornaments) out of storage. But for whatever reason, the end of the year seems to have this stressy spin to it.

Also, for whatever reason, this year has been an intense one. Misfortune of all shapes and sizes hitting friends and families, extra little scares here and there, and everyone working extra hard to find or keep steady income, these are not just single happenings but waves that radiate out. You’re bombarded with these waves all day and you can’t help but be worn down from it.

Well aware of the importance of taking extra care of your physical being while your emotional one is being taxed, I still tend to skip those sit-ups before bed, forget my OJ in the morning, and eat crappy comfort food. Even when I have the time to prepare a fabulous meal of, say, baked seitan, roasted vegetables, and wild rice I will—in these fried-brain-and-soul times—use that two hours to instead create the $2 take-out special I used to live on during finals oh so many years ago: cheesesticks. When writing a paper at 2:00 a.m. or cramming “important” Russian literature quotes into my head, nothing could beat a cardboard box with these unnatural finger foods and a Coke.

No longer a dairy eater, I went without, until Daiya came along. Love it or just “don’t totally hate it, but…” Daiya is perfect for this. It melts without being oozy. It’s got that salty taste. It wants you to close your eyes and eat your cares away, if only for a minute. (Eating disorder alert!)

Make (or buy, I suppose) a regular ol’ pizza crust. Leave it juuuust a little thicker than you would for pizza. Spread it with a thin layer of garlic spread, then top with Diaya. Bake on a very slightly olive-oiled cookie sheet at 450° until gorgeous. Do be careful with how much oil you’re introducing to this thing—you don’t want it running off the cookie sheet and smoking up your oven and setting off your fire alarm. Serve with extra garlic spread and marinara. If you wanted to be a fancy foo, it would also be amazing with pesto.

For the garlic spread, I use equal parts original Earth Balance in the tub and olive oil. Don’t bother melting the EB, just mix it together and it’ll be all creamy and perfect. To it I add minced garlic, crushed red pepper, basil, oregano, and enough nutritional yeast to just thicken and tart it up a bit. Don’t you dare look at the fat content of this. It’s a special treat for when you’re stressed, not an everyday snack. You can eat celery sticks tomorrow.

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