I'm a fairly healthy eater. I eat my share of vegetables and fruits, and because I'm a vegetarian, I get my protein from beans, nut butters, and moderate amounts of dairy and eggs.
But I have a sweet tooth.
In fact, my sweet tooth is probably responsible for my most unhealthy habit, which is that I eat too much sugar. I follow nutrition research fairly casually, but the general trends seem to indicate that we should be eating very little or no refined sugar. And contrary to what some hippie cooks might have you believe, I do not believe that a honey-sweetened dessert is healthier than its white sugar-sweetened counterpart. But I refuse to give up my cookies, brownies, muffins, peanut butter granola (look for that recipe in a future post!), and the occasional waffle cone on the premise that I am not willing to live without the pleasure of dessert. Just like I'm not willing to forgo the pleasure of a good-night kiss after a good first date just for the sake of being coy!
A box of JELL-O Instant Pistashio Pudding Mix had been sitting in my pantry for over a year. By the time I decided to make it, it was rancid! Gross. However, now I was in the mood for green pudding and so I bought myself a new box. This behavior is fairly unusual on my part for several reasons. First and most importantly, I try to avoid foods with excessive amounts of strange food colorings with names like Yellow 5 and Blue 1. What exactly IS Yellow 5? Do I even really want to know? Second, I am a fairly dedicated from-scratch baker. I make very few desserts that use boxed mixes as the starting point. It would be more characteristic of me to make a pudding from scratch than from a mix, but when I was much, much younger, I had some misadventures while making pudding and haven't attempted it since.
That brings us back to my box of pistashio pudding. These JELL-O mixes are the easiest thing in the world to make: you add milk, whisk for a few minutes, pour into cute serving dishes, refrigerate for 5 minutes, and TA-DA! Pudding in less than ten minutes total, including the time it takes you to clean up your tiny mess. But I was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, to see the color this pudding becomes when you add the milk. The mix goes from a pale green powder to BRIGHT GREEN! I only wish I had a picture to share with you for this transformation; it was amazing and not just a little alarming. And how does our innocent pudding mix accomplish such feats? Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6, and "artificial color." I'm not sure what that last one is! Are the first three not artificial colors?
Despite my concern over what exactly I was eating, the pudding was tasty and very sweet. It took me back to my childhood for a few minutes because this pudding was one of my brother John's favorite things to whip up for us at a moment's notice, and it was always such a nice gesture. He's still doing nice things for others just to make the world a little sweeter.
Perhaps that's the real meaning behind dessert: it makes the world just a little sweeter. It's worth the fuss of making desserts from scratch, but sometimes all you need is a box of pistashio pudding mix and some cold milk.