Reading Ashley’s post today over at Not Without Salt, I breathed a little sigh of relief. Oh. It’s not just me. Other bloggers are taking some time off, too.
Granted, I do not have a gorgeous newborn book demanding every waking moment, but I understand the sentiment. In the thick of things I never fully realized it, but the last few months have been hard. Not for a specific, simply defined reason, but instead a long, toiling slog that saps your reserves and keeps you from rest.
Rest and recovery are the name of the game this season. I’m running more, reading more, saying ‘yes’ to friends, and letting the housekeeping go to pot. We’re still cooking, but it’s more like food assembly than creative, careful preparation. Simple foods rule the day: Roasted chicken and vegetables, tossed together with various rubs my sister sent us. Quesadillas, scrambled eggs. Yogurt and apples, handfuls of chocolate chips.
My husband often complains, in our adversarial moments, that it’s always about the food with me. I’m either planning my next meal, thinking how to improve on the last one, or actively eating. Would it kill me to live as he does? On coffee and cereal, pots of rice and slowly sipped bottles of beer? Actively focused on everything but food? The answer of course is no. It wouldn’t kill me, but life would be awfully dull.
Still, I’ve followed that path a little distance lately because I needed a change. Has it meant less time developing recipes, reading other blogs, photographing, and editing, and eating? Yes. But it’s also brought me back to a frame of mind where I can do all those things, not out of guilt or obligation but with enthusiasm.
So I’m back today, with muffins. What? Seriously? I know you’re detoxing. Stay with me.
We’ve tried all those “healthy” breakfasts–the infamous eggs baked in avocados, overnight oatmeal, green smoothies–and you know what? I still want a freaking muffin for breakfast. (And keep your stevia-sweetened, flour-free, no-fat, high-protein nonsense to yourself. I don’t know what that crap is, but it’s not a muffin.) The bottom line with all these energy-boosting, belly-blasting breakfasts is that they exist to break your relationship with food. Translation: they’re not actually enjoyable to cook or eat.
Perhaps that was a little forceful, but January always invites these exasperated outbursts. It’s cold, it’s dark, and I’ve been listening to nonstop jabber about juicing and gym memberships for a month. Muffins, please. Preferably in bed.
But to pacify your cravings for health, gentle (and by now, possibly offended) readers, I made two tweaks to my usual muffin formula:
First: a new flour mix. I pulled out the coffee grinder and milled some oats into a fine powder, then mixed it with coconut flour and a little tapioca starch. I’m not one for superlatives, so you know I mean this: best. muffin mix. yet.
Second: honey. A natural pairing with apples and oats, and the coconut flour sponges it up for a springy texture.
We’ve chowed through three batches of these this month and wholeheartedly encourage you to put down that cayenne and lemon drink and pick up a honey apple muffin. If anyone asks, you’re taking part in a ‘sane eating challenge’ you read about online and it’s totally life-changing.
- 1 large apple, diced (about 2 cups)
- 2 eggs
- 2.5 ounces (1/3 cup) oil
- 2.5 ounces (1/3 cup) brown sugar
- 4 ounces (1/3 cup) honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 2 ounces (2/3 cup) oat flour*
- 2 1/4 ounces (1/2 cup) coconut flour
- 3 ounces (2/3 cup) tapioca starch
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- Preheat oven to 350F and line 12 muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.
- Mix together egg, oil, sugar, honey, and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients, except apple, and stir thoroughly until no more flour lumps remain. Mix in all but a handful of the diced apple.
- Portion batter into muffin tins, and top each with a few of the reserved apple cubes. Bake 22-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of your muffin comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and cool a few minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to complete the cooling process.
- *I weigh out the oats and then grind them in my coffee grinder. Oats are gluten-free, but if you are especially sensitive, be sure to buy the certified gluten-free kind that hasn't been contaminated with wheat in processing.