Smiles, laughter and popcorn go together.

Fun food for National Let’s Laugh Day

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

Doom and gloom have been the headline for the past year, but this March 19 it is time to find your funny for National Let’s Laugh Day. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but the secret to my heart was laughter. On a cold Friday night in January a long, long time ago, Paul picked me up in a 1966 Blue Volkswagen Beetle, a car just a few months younger than me. I say there was no heat and a hole in the floorboard; but Paul says it was a fine operating machine. Unbeknownst to me, it was the first of many of Paul and Shelly’s excellent adventures. Movies such as Beverly Hills CopBreakfast Club and Cocoon filled our date book. I will never forget laughing until my belly hurt at the late show of The Gods Must Be Crazy. Low on money, we lived on laughter. Laughter continues to thrive in the Detwiler family.

    Do not scrap your healthy diet or regular exercise, but adding daily doses of laughter can improve your health. Although laughter research is hard to determine due to cause and effect, WebMD states a few small studies have shown improvements in blood glucose levels, immune fighting cells and blood flow due to laughter. Some say it can affect your body like a mini workout. Good belly laughs can increase your blood pressure, pulse, heart rate and burn calories. One Vanderbilt researcher found that 10 to 15 minutes of hearty laughter burns about 50 calories. Quick calculating tells me an hour comedy show, sitcom or podcast would burn close to 200 calories! This is not significant if you are working toward weight loss, but just some icing on the cake. Laffy Taffy, the candy that has jokes on every wrapper, surveyed 1,500 people and 95% agreed that laughter relieves their stress. So, even if the science for evidence-based laughter improved health is lacking, laughter is perceived to relieve stress and make for a more enjoyable, fun-filled life.  

   Believe it or not food even can enter the laughter arena. After school kids’ snacks can be made to look like trains, caterpillars, piglets and oodles of other little creatures. Fruits and veggies can be turned into Pac-man, crabs, butterflies and bugs. Cookies, cakes and candies can magically be turned into The Grinch, owls, acorns, ladybugs and other characters. Tik-tok and kitchen hacks have taken food and funny to a new level — from Skittle popcorn to rainbow grilled cheese to cutting cheese with a Ritz cracker! 

   That Laffy Taffy study found that 96% of Americans like to make other people laugh; 77% of Americans think they are funny and 39% like to make fun of themselves to make others laugh. Who makes us laugh the most? The study showed 86% of people laugh even when no one’s around but 64% say their friends and significant others make them laugh the most. I treasure the moments I have laughed with friends and significant others, having more fun than the law allows.

   The past of year of quarantining and non-socializing has kept laughter in check. March is National Nutrition Month, but I feel like it is more important to get back in the game of making laughter a regular part of our lives. (I have included a healthy recipe below). Take time to giggle, cackle, chuckle and simply good old-fashioned guffawing with some I love Lucy episodes, Rom-coms or your favorite kitty You-tube videos. Grab a friend or significant other and get some good belly laughs in. Find your funny and make laughing out loud great again. 

Eat Well and Healthy,

Shelly

Skittle Popcorn ribbonsandglue.com

  1. Separate 32 oz of Skittles into colors, about 1 cup of each color.
  2. Melt 4 oz of butter and 1/4 cup light corn syrup in a pan.
  3. Add in one Skittle flavor and stir constantly until Skittles are melted.
  4. Pour over 10-12 cups of popped Popcorn. If using microwave popcorn, that is one whole bag per color batch.
  5. Mix until popcorn is well covered.
  6. Pour out on to wax paper until cooled.

Hedgehog Cheeseball mycasualpantry.com

16 ounces cream cheese softened at room temperature

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded

6 slices bacon cooked and chopped

1 ounce ranch dressing mix (1 packet)

2 tablespoons chopped chives

Pecans, sliced, slivered or whole almonds for decorating

raisins and peppercorns for decorating

fresh dill for garnishing

   In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, shredded cheese, bacon, ranch dressing mix, and chives. Stir until well combined. (If using a stand mixer, fold the bacon and chives in by hand at the end).

   Transfer the cheese mixture to a piece of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to form the mixture into an oval shape with a slight point on one end. Wrap with the plastic and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour or overnight.

   Decorate the chilled cheeseball with the nuts to create the hedgehog’s spines. Add raisins for eyes and a peppercorn for the nose. Serve immediately. (Note 1)

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.

NOTES: Wait to decorate with the nuts until just before serving. They will turn soft and soggy if refrigerated in the cheeseball.

Cat Poop Cookies sweetdreamsandsugarhighs.com

¼ cup butter, softened

3 oz cream cheese, softened

1 egg       

1 package of chocolate cake mix* 

White Sparkle Gel Chopped 

peanuts and mini chocolate chips (optional) 

  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Blend together the butter, cream cheese and egg.  Add the cake mix and blend well. 

  Measure out about a tablespoon of dough. Roll the dough out into a log shape. Roll over peanuts and chocolate chips, if desired. 

  Form into a poop shape on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet in refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Bake in preheated oven for 7‐9 minutes. 

10. Cool completely on a cooling rack. Once cooled, brush sparkle gel all over cookies with a pastry brush.

Green Eggs and Ham eatingrichly.com

  1. Heat slices of ham in a microwave safe dish for 30 seconds. Keep covered.
  2. Crack 8 eggs into a blender and add 2 cups of baby spinach.
  3. Blend until the spinach is completely incorporated and it looks like a green smoothie.
  4. Pour eggs into large nonstick pan on medium-high heat.
  5. Use a silicone spatula to gently scrape up the eggs as they cook, pushing them to the outside of the pan, and letting the uncooked portions run toward the center.
  6. When most of the eggs are still just slightly wet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, give one more gentle scrape and stir of everything, then remove them from the pan.
  7. Serve a scoop of green eggs with a side of warm ham.

Poached Pears with Caramel Sauce eatright.org

It is National Nutrition Month, so I thought I should include a healthy recipe from Eatright.org

4 firm-ripe medium-sized pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup prepared caramel sauce or caramel topping

Before you begin: Wash your hands.

  1. Peel the pears, leaving the stems attached. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each pear so that the pear will stand.
  2. Place the pears in a saucepan large enough to fit 4 pears without the fruit toppling. Add the lemon juice and 4 cups water.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until pears are tender but not falling apart.
  4. Drain the liquid. Place the pears on a plate, cover and chill 3 hours or overnight.
  5. Arrange the pears on individual dessert dishes. Drizzle caramel sauce over the pears, making a small puddle of sauce on the plate.

Cooking Note: Instead of using lemon juice and 4 cups water, substitute 4 cups apple juice to cook the pears. If the pears are short on flavor, this will give them a boost.

Nutrition Information Serves 4; Serving size: 1 pear; Calories: 100; Total Fat 0.5g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 20mg; Total Carbohydrate: 24g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Protein: 1g.

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