Ahh, January is coming. Diet season. Despite a deep aversion to cleanses, Whole30™, smoothie bowls, and paleo anything, I had some really healthy intentions for these double chocolate cherry muffins.
Today’s recipe was intended to be vegan: made with a flax egg…whole-grain teff flour…dark unrefined coconut sugar. The first batch was edible, as long as you focused on the virtue they represented rather than the taste. In other words, no thank you.
I threw in the towel, added eggs and good ol’ white sugar, and the result was exactly what I wanted: basically a naked breakfast cupcake. Remember this in a month or so: giving up is delicious.
I’m all for good healthy breakfasts, by the way. Most mornings I try to eat some protein and fat (eggs, peanut butter, avocado), and there is always a midmorning piece of fruit to get me to lunch. Gluten-free eating puts you at risk of nutrient deficiencies if you aren’t somewhat intentional about your diet, and I’m not the only one who is inexplicably hungry all the time on this regime. Starting off sensibly at least theoretically sets the stage for more good choices later in the day.
Speaking of protein for breakfast and sensible choices, I’ve been reading some interesting books and articles on “ideal” diets lately. This NYT op-ed floats yet another theory about certain foods’ connection to longevity, and Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day reinforces what the average American knows to be “true” by now: “natural” sweeteners and colorful organic produce are good; sauteeing with olive oil is a no-no. (Or is it?)
My beef with health writers is that as soon as you eschew saturated fat, coconut oil and ghee come back into vogue. One day kale is the messiah, and the next it gives you kidney stones. And even though our caveman ancestors thrived on meat and coconut products, Adam and Eve were definitely vegetarians…right? Amidst an avalanche of conflicting information, it’s hard to know what to eat. A recent ‘aha’ for me is that our diets are more akin to a belief system than an evidence-based science. And for the record, I believe that double chocolate cherry muffins are delicious.
Pushing aside the rhetoric, here are some common threads: portion size is important, exercise makes you happy, and slowing down and cooking from scratch is more crucial than any particular dietary regime. Good wine and good company are a must. At its core, cooking and eating is enjoyable. It’s only a chore because we’ve made it so.
And yes, of course there will be days where you want chocolate, or cake, or maybe even chocolate cake for breakfast. Some days you try to make it vegan, gluten-free, naturally-sweetened, and whole grain, and some days you just embrace it for what it is.
- 110g teff flour
- 85g potato or tapioca starch
- 55g (1/2 cup) almond meal
- 30g cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 100g (1/2 cup) sugar
- 2 eggs
- 65g (1/3 cup) oil
- 3/4 cup nondairy milk
- 1 cup frozen cherries, roughly chopped
- 100g (1/2 cup) chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners and set aside.
- Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in wet ingredients, and mix well.
- Add chocolate chips and chopped cherries, and stir briefly to combine.
- Dollop batter into prepared muffin cups and bake 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, and then remove to a cooling rack to finish.