Mood Foods

Christmas bread

Christmas bread smells like good times

Study Guide for Cook Up A Story


This is the last in my series on study guides for the print version of Cook Up A Story. Chapter 6 is about how our moods affect our food choices. We’re wired that way. The part of the brain that stores memory and feelings detects smells, too.

Our last story, Melting Moments, shows how cheery memories are braided together with smells, sounds and tastes. That’s why when we’re blue, we crave foods that remind us of good times. When a small boy finds himself missing his grandmother at Christmas, he takes comfort in his family and its holiday traditions.

Here are a few multiple-choice questions you can ask your kids as you read Vinny’s story together. It’s an interactive way to help your family get the most from the tale. Then enjoy a chocolate-cookie recipe full of protein, fiber, and vitamins and low on bad fats and added sugar… the ideal treat to make for Santa, in a book on good eating. It’s all about the l.o.v.e!

Note: This study guide is useful to people who have Vinny’s book or expect to get it for their family. Readers can click into this post whenever they want by going to the page in the main menu titled “Study Guide.”

Melting moments: Understanding the story

Why does Eddy feel so grumpy at Christmas time?
1. He hates listening to Christmas music at the mall
2. He misses his Gramma, who has recently passed away
3. He doesn’t like going out in the cold


Darren says: Let’s get cookin’!

What does Darren suggest they do for a little fun?
1. Make Eddy’s favorite Christmas cookies
2. Go looking for a Christmas tree
3. Write a letter to Santa

How do the boys get ready for Christmas?
1. They get out a Christmas tree skirt Gramma had made
2. They rock in Gramma’s chair and retell one of her favorite Christmas stories
3. They put out some melting moments for Santa
—All of these

Will.  Christmas, 2020

Eddy says: Santa’s been!

What is Eddy’s favorite present on Christmas morning?
1. Dino kit
2. Gramma’s book bag filled with books from Mommy and Dad
3. A fire engine that works
—All of these

How does Eddy feel when Darren reads to him from one of his new books?
1. Eddy remembers why he liked Christmas
2. Eddy feels loved
3. Eddy feels close to Gramma in his heart
—All of these and more

Recipe links

  • Make Gramma’s cookies, the ones filed under E for “Eddy’s favorite”. Read:
    • Melting moments
  • Our brains are made up of about 60% fat. It’s not surprising our moods tell us to put a little fat on our plates.  Hamburgers are a popular food that provide us with just the fat we sometimes crave. Make a healthy burger at home and get the fat and salt content just right. To find out how, read:
    • Basic Burgers…

Nutrition links

  • Foods featured in Eddy’s favorite cookies:
    • prunes and whole-grain flour (fiber)
    • low-fat cream cheese (protein)
    • chocolate-nut spread (antioxidants, vitamins, protein, fiber)
    • Less fat and sugar than in other cookies.

    DSC_0040 (Large) (2)_edited

    Santa can have as many as he likes

  • Foods featured in Vinny’s burgers
    • lean ground meat (protein with less saturated fat)
    • whole-grain buns and  oat bran (fiber)
    • fresh veggies (vitamins and minerals).
  • What is the one seasoning most doctors hate? Read:
    • Sugar or spice
  • Hooked on sugar? For tips on how to break a sugar habit, read:
    • End your sugar habit…
  • To make desserts leaner, read:
    • Cut the fat…
  • Which fats should we buddy up to and which should we shun? Read:
    • Boo fat, fat go away
    • Smart chef
  • Why is omega-3 fatty acid so special? Read:
    • Load up on brain food
  • How can we make sure we get a balanced diet? Read:
    • Eating by the book
    • Read more… and link to Canada’s food guide and the US’s Choose my plate

Food facts    

  • How does your mind trick your stomach into eating when you aren’t hungry? Read:
    • Memories are braided into smells and tastes

Related link

  • Medchemistry has the science behind Vinny’s latest post on the link between smells and memory. Food chemistry is amazing!

Order your copy of Cook Up A Story today.

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. paulettemotzko
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 22:16:41

    Reblogged this on Cooking Up a Storm With Miss Polly and commented:
    I know it is after Christmas but I couldn’t resist sharing this wonderful post from “Cooking Up a Story”. I hope it makes you smile as much as it did me.

    Polly Motzko


  2. paulettemotzko
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 22:13:23

    I really love your blog, the stories on it and your writing style! Here is a chef’s cap off to you from Polly Motzko creator of “Cooking Up a Storm All Over The World!” I created it 4 years ago on It is a site where you can make new friends, join one of the 72 cooking groups, add photos of your latest culinary creation to The Culinary Slide Show and more!
    I hope we can work together on something. It would be awesome!

    Polly Motzko


    • Vinny Grette
      Dec 30, 2013 @ 15:05:56

      Oh wow. That’s amazing, Polly. I see you even have a kids’ section :). Well done! And thanks for your kind words. If you have time, maybe you could send me an email (see my contact page) with your ideas for collaboration? All the best for 2014!


      • paulettemotzko
        Dec 30, 2013 @ 15:21:04

        How nice to hear from you Vinny. I envision having a Food Correspondent from every state in the nation in a few years. Where are you located?
        I am in expensive southern CA.
        A Food Correspondent goes around and tells whats good in produce, what products and places are interesting etc.
        Someone would video you doing it.
        I am going to ask my friend Nick to film me soon.
        Would you be interested in something like that?

        Polly Motzko


        • Vinny Grette
          Jan 03, 2014 @ 12:38:49

          Sounds fun. Will have to think about it, though. Not sure you’d be interested in a Canadian correspondent, even if the location was Canada’s capital. Nice idea, though 🙂


          • paulettemotzko
            Jan 03, 2014 @ 12:43:00

            I am American but my ancestors are French, French Canadian, Italian and Blackfoot Indian. My maiden name is Le Pore. Motzko is a parting gift from the Polish rocket scientist I was married to for 15 years!

          • paulettemotzko
            Jan 03, 2014 @ 12:59:03

            Hello Vinny…
            I just optimized my Android MyTouch Smart Phone, took Facebook off of it, which will help with my concentration on more important things through the day. I added the app for Android from Google Play (free) that allows document creation and collaboration with only the people I select -or you select. When i saw it a year ago, I immediately saw the world of possibilities.

            Pretty cool.

            I know we just met, and you don’t know me very well yet, but we will over time.

            I am working on a cook book now and another book involving digital photography that ties in with Totally Inspired Mind: Where Positive Minds Congregate.


            Keep cookin’ those stories up and I will look forward to reading em!

            Polly Motzko

      • paulettemotzko
        Jan 03, 2014 @ 12:22:27

        You are a guy, right? With the name “Vinny”…just assuming. 😉


        • Vinny Grette
          Jan 03, 2014 @ 12:26:07

          Haha – check out my about page. This blog has a split personality, you might say.


          • paulettemotzko
            Jan 03, 2014 @ 12:27:26

            I like to establish basics anyhow….I am who I say I am….a lady who lives in southern CA who has been cooking since I was a kid……

          • Vinny Grette
            Jan 03, 2014 @ 12:34:59

            Vinny’s the lead character in my book “Cook Up A Story”. This is his blog. Vinny and I have similar interests, but as I’ve been around longer than he has, my tastes in food are sometimes a bit more sophisticated than his. I try to keep the blog focused on Vinny, though, as I write for kids and their families. All that is clear (I think) on my about page. Nice to meet you! I’d have to think about collaboration, as I don’t have scads of spare time, especially now with our little family growing again. May have to take a hiatus in the new year until things settle back into a routine.

  3. Lail | With A Spin
    Dec 20, 2013 @ 23:59:47

    Smell is a very strong experience, indeed.


  4. Rörschåch
    Dec 18, 2013 @ 12:28:53

    Vinny–This is great. Well done. I just did a sensory experience with a group of people utilizing scent. It’s amazing how much smell is deeply associated with our oldest memories.


    • Vinny Grette
      Dec 18, 2013 @ 21:37:44

      It’s certainly true for me… and science says there is a basis for it. It’s only a small step from there to mood foods and food cravings. Interesting!


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