“Another 46 days without dessert?” I thought. “Piece of (rice) cake!”
I really thought that I’d be fine for this go-around. I’d voluntarily given up desserts for two weeks in September and then purged them again for another week in early February. It hadn’t been particularly hard on either occasion – seemingly because I’d already primed the pump for sugar deprivation during my first dessert-free Lent last year.
The first few days of Lent were actually okay this time – I wasn’t having headaches like last February, and was feeling half-way normal (ie. not having dreams about gorging on frosting). But after the first week had passed, things started to get a little more hairy. At a media dinner at LA Market last Tuesday, I had to stand away from the table while my dining companions attacked a giant dessert platter of sno-balls, cotton candy, caramel popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and rice krispies treats made of fruit loops. It was equally hard this past Monday when I finished lunch and realized that, yet again, I wasn’t able to “cleanse my palate” with dark chocolate.
While I’ve been trying to get through Lent this year without resorting to any of the pinch-hitters I relied on last year – flavored Greek yogurt loaded with dried cranberries and frozen blueberries, super sweet dates that taste like caramel, etc. – my tongue started to get a little itchy over the weekend. First I latched on to some unsweetened dried peaches from a stand at the Farmer’s Market at Third and Fairfax, and then, on a whim, I threw a bag of Trader Joe’s Just Mango Slices into my grocery basket on Saturday.
I hadn’t expected much from the thin, jerky-like slabs of unsweetened, dehydrated mango. They looked a bit sad all clumped together in the clear packaging – hardly even worth the effort to extract a couple pieces from the mango mass.
But when I sat down to watch last night’s “Top Chef” with them, armed, as usual, with a cup of peach rooibos tea, I was arrested by their chewy texture and subtly sweet mango flavor.
“It’s like a fruit roll-up that’s actually made of fruit!” I thought with giddy pleasure as I reached for a second piece.
While Trader Joe’s Just Mango Slices is not an item I’m planning to gorge on during those dark moments of sugar-crazed weakness (4 thin pieces contains 120 calories), I think I’ve found my new best friend for the next 31 days.
Not counting God, of course. (He’s got that almighty, whole-world-in-His-hands thing going on.)