In Greece two of the most popular desserts that are made during the holiday season are kourabiedes and melomakarona. Kourabiedes are known outside of Greece as a cookie, but they are almost too substantial to be called a cookie. They are a shortbread type of sweet, made of flour, sugar, butter and almonds and covered with powdered sugar, which make them look like a snowball. When you eat them, the literally melt in your mouth along with all that powdered sugar.
Nutritionally, what you see is what you get: sugar, flour and butter. On the other hand you don’t eat a handful of these like you would cookies, but rather just one as a dessert. Greeks typically make a big batch of these sweets and they last through the whole holiday season, so there is no pressure to eat all of them in a week! I remember my grandma used to hide them (I think she actually locked them) in a cabinet in her dining room for weeks and would only serve them when guests visited.
In the past, for Greeks, sweets, particularly those made with butter were a luxury item (butter and sugar was expensive) and were not to be eaten everyday. But my grandma’s practice of hiding them is also a great strategy to avoid overeating all these holiday treats. The rule “out of sight-out of mind” really applies here: what you don’t see, you don’t eat. Studies have actually showed that we eat more when the food is in front of us than when it is hiding in a cabinet. When you’re done making these, leave them on a nice platter for a few days, but after that store them in containers; they will last longer and you won’t be tempted all the time.
Photo Credit: DCGreekChurch for flickr