Some people use drugs to activate their dopamine reward system.
Cocaine. Heroin. Morphine.
And the way it works is that they sneak into the ventral tegmental area of your brain. Setting off axons left and right.
Whispering. Provocatively. Go.
And the VTA, unable to fight back against their undeniable prowess. Well. It listens.
It spews forth dopamine so fast that it completely overwhelms your nucleus accumbens, propelling it and you into a state of euphoria. Really cementing that resulting positive reinforcement, causing your limbic system to say this. This is what I want. All day. Every day. Ever. And anon.
And there you have it. Addiction.
The hallucinogenic drugs – LSD, PCP, acid. They don’t activate your dopamine system. Instead, they work on your serotinin receptors to alter your perception of reality.
And honestly, when your reality is such that you have three exams in one week. There’s very little you can do to alter your perception in any positive way.
Besides. No dopamine. No addiction. No reward.
And really, where’s the fun in that?
So you need to find other ways to get your fix. To set your VTA atwitter and your nucleus accumbens on fire.
For me, that way is nut butters.
There’s something about the high fat content that sends dopamine coursing through my veins, activating every reward circuit in my body. Such that after one spoonful, I feel high as a kite. Euphoric. Psychedelic. Satiated. Incandescent.
And so I keep going back. Jar after jar. Bowl after bowl of this Asian noodle salad with cashew dressing. What can I say? A girl’s gotta get a hit somehow. And it doesn’t hurt that this pasta, which is rife with ginger and garlic and all things good in this world. It will have you begging for more.
Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing
Serves 4, adapted from Living in the Kitchen With Puppies
1/2 inch fresh ginger, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup cashew butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup water
hot sauce to taste
1/2 lb thin rice noodles
1 tbsp olive oil
1 box tofu, pressed and sliced
2 small/medium zucchini, sliced into half moons
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup scallions, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
lime wedges (optional)
1. Combine ginger, garlic, cashew butter, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and water in a food processor and process until completely blended and smooth. Adjust consistency by adding more water or cashew butter (thinner v. thicker, respectively). Taste and add your favorite hot sauce, if desired. Makes about 1 1/2 cups dressing.
2. Set a pot of water to boil for the noodles.
3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat one tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu strips and saute until lightly brown, turning 2-3 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and zucchini to the pan. Saute for about 7 minutes or until the veggies are cooked to desired degree of doneness.
4. When the water is boiling, add the rice noodles to it and cook for 2 minutes. Strain. In a large bowl, combine the noodles, veggies, cashew dressing, scallions and basil. Mix well. Add salt to taste. Serve with a lime wedge and squeeze over the pasta before eating, if desired.
I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this week by Helen of Fuss Free Flavors, the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, and also to Souper Sundays, which is hosted over at Kahakai Kitchen.