Most of the time, I like to write about good-for-you, real-food recipes, but let’s face it: there are some some damn-good foods out there that do absolutely nothing for you—and that’s just fine.

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned over the years is how to have your cake and eat it too without feeling guilty or stressed out. It’s all about knowing how to leave a little room for what the USDA so cutely refers to as “discretionary calories.” For example, someone who needs 2,000 calories a day can get around 250 of those from “fun” foods that offer little nutritional benefit, so long as the bulk of your diet is real, whole foods that provide the important nutrients.  You can have those “fun” calories all in one sitting or in small amounts throughout the day.

It’s all about knowing what works for you—I, for example, get cranky and tired if I eat sugary stuff during the day, especially if I’m out and running around a lot. That’s why I usually wait to have sweet treats until the end of the day, after I’ve covered all my nutritional bases. Even then, I often reach for cereal or toast with almond butter, because I want to make sure I’m well-fueled for a morning workout or too hungry to have something that will leave my stomach growling an hour later.

Sometimes, though, you just have to go all the way all the way (sorry—totally borrowing a line from Bukowski). While Chris was studying tonight, I finally got out the red velvet cupcake mix that’s due to expire soon and got to work. Whoever it was that gave me this for Christmas whichever year—sorry I let it sit so long!

I’m not a baker at all—even mixes intimidate me. However, these came together quite nicely. While I’m not a fan of things containing food dye (it takes the fun mad-scientist aspect out of the equation), once in a great while, it’s not going to hurt you. Ditto butter and sugar. True, I did sub egg whites for whole eggs in the batter (to make these more Chris-friendly) and light cream cheese for regular in the frosting, but that’s just between us, k?

When they were finally done, we each enjoyed a cupcake with a scoop of chocolate ice cream. This totally killed the ravenous hunger beast I’d been trying to make peace with all day. When I’m extra active and busy and so wrapped up in getting from one place to the next, it takes more to keep me going. Though I try to always have snacks in my purse, occasionally there are days where it’s still not enough and I have to wait until I get home.

But then I do, and it’s all good.

Hope your week busy or not, is off to a good start!

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