At the start of a new year, many of us are inspired to think about changes in our lifestyles - what we often glibly label as new year resolutions. Getting fit, spending less and eating less are usually pretty high on the list for most people.
Sadly, just as quickly as the resolution is made, it goes out the window.
When it comes to making diet changes, many of us decide on sweeping reforms - give up this, do without that - in desperate attempts to become slimmer or healthier.
While it sounds great in principle, it is seldom followed through, because cutting out what one really likes can also make life miserable. I also do not think it is a wise dieting plan.
So, a resolution that might be easier to keep is: Instead of making major changes to what we eat, we simply modify the quantity.
MAKE IT YOURSELF: MINI CUPCAKES
You will need a mini cupcake baking pan and at least 24 paper cupcake holders.
INGREDIENTS FOR BASIC MIX
80g softened butter
1 egg, beaten
180g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 200ml of milk
50g cooking chocolate (below) and 2Tbs chocolate chips
50g fresh raspberries (bottom)
1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl.
3. Stir in the beaten egg.
4. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl, then add slowly to the creamed mixture along with the milk and baking soda. Stir until just mixed - try not to overmix.
5. Divide the basic mixture into three separate bowls. For plain cupcakes, use contents of one bowl without additions.
6. For the chocolate variation, melt the cooking chocolate over low heat until just melted. Stir into the mixture in one of the bowls, then stir in the chocolate chips.
7. For the raspberry variation, stir the raspberries into one of the bowls of the basic mix. Keep a few raspberries to add one each to the top of the cupcakes.
8. Spoon the cupcake mixtures into a lightly greased cupcake pan or line the pan with mini paper cupcake holders. Bake at 180 deg C for about 20 minutes.
Icing is optional. If using, add multi-coloured sprinkles on top.
Many other flavour variations are possible, for example:mashed banana and cinnamon;white chocolate and macadamia nut;mixed dried fruit;and cheese.
Makes 24 mini cupcakes
My theory is helped by observing children. One large sweet treat is great, but the same treat reduced in size or having several favourites in smaller quantities can be just as enjoyable.
For adults, a selection of small bites can be more satisfying than one huge meal.
So my resolution this year - which will affect the family members and friends for whom I cook - is to deliver all the flavours, but less of the volume.
Take cupcakes or muffins, for instance: They are a standard item in cafeterias and, to me, they seem to be getting bigger in size.
I tested out my theory by making mini cupcakes. If we are looking for more enjoyment from fewer bites, all that is needed is a basic recipe and each batch can be made using a particular flavour.
The result is a selection of bite-sized cupcakes offering a range of flavours. Of course, you can make them all in one flavour if you prefer.
Sweet or savoury, mini cupcakes can also be a hit at children's birthdays and special occasions - you can dress them up with icing, sprinkles and chocolate chips.
Their small size also lowers the calorie count, provided you don't eat more than your share.