New year, new you, right? I’ll admit, there can be something magical about Winter (when it cooperates). Snow softly falling, twinkle lights wrapped around bare trees, and the idea that we can start fresh. For years I’d be all in when it came to resolutions, promising myself that THIS year would be the year. I’d be healthier, learn to draw / play the guitar / master this skill or that, and in general just be a better / cooler version of myself. And of course, EVERY year, I’d break that promise to myself. I’m sure many of you have had very similar experiences. So I started taking a different approach.
As you guys may have noticed, I’m trying to put what’s really on my mind into my posts these days. This is part of a personal initiative to just be more reflective, and stay true to my inner self. It’s so easy to get caught up in our privilege and petty complaints that we forget to be grateful for what we DO have. Though it’s been a pretty mild winter in Minnesota, it’s still winter and pretty damn cold out. There are so many people that go without shelter, coats, food, and basics during this time. If you take nothing else away from this post, please take this. Every time you pull on your warm down jacket, or turn the heat on in your car, or breathe that sigh of relief with a warm cup of coffee or tea, think about how not everyone has access to this. Just take a few minutes, and think about how what we consider basics are luxuries for so many others.
Then, if you can, do something about it. The best, and probably easiest for you, is to donate. Your favorite shelter, food bank, a large organization, whatever it is… take a few minutes and just donate online. Next time you are on Facebook, or browsing Google News, or flipping through Instagram, take that extra 4-5 minutes and donate to something you believe in through their website. And if you want to go beyond this, volunteer. You may think you are doing something for someone else, but it’s you who will benefit. Your heart softens, your soul changes, and you come out feeling exhausted but elated.
Now I know I said that I’m not making resolutions, but there is one thing I want to try to work on this year. As I try to soften my heart, I also need to take care of my physical self. I can only do as much as my body will let me and if I’m tired and sluggish all the time, I’m not doing anyone any good. I guess that’s where these muffins come in. I had the pleasure of taking a Pinch of Yum photography workshop a few weeks ago, and during that time Lindsey talked about how they had been reducing sugar in their daily diets. In case you hadn’t noticed, sugar and chocolate are two of my biggest vices. During the rest of the day I can survive, but breakfast is the hardest for me. I get up well before dawn, get myself ready, get the baby ready, rush to drop her off to daycare, get to work, get sucked into meetings and emails, and next you know it’s 10am and I still haven’t eaten. Default is coffee and either a donut or a pastry.
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and sets the whole tone. Though I’m a long ways from where I want to be, these muffins helped me out quite a bit for a week. I baked a batch over the weekend and kept them on hand for the workweek. The olive oil taste was a little strong for me so I may make some adjustments in the future, but the rest was surprisingly quite tasty! Barely sweet, light, and still a feel of substance. I see myself making these part of the morning rotation. If you’ve been meaning to try to bake something healthy, this is a great place to start.
- 2 whole zucchinis, grated (for me this was a little over 2 cups)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup olive oil (this flavor is very strong so stick with a mild tasting one)
- 2/3 cup real maple syrup
- 1/3 cup good honey
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a bowl, combine the zucchini, eggs, vanilla, olive oil, maple syrup, and honey. Stir gently until mixed and set aside. The mixture will seem a little slimy.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine and make a well in the middle. Pour the wet zucchini mixture into the well and stir just a few times until barely combined. Overmixing makes the muffins tough and hard, so I limited myself to about 16-18 big stirs. Lindsey suggests a max of 15.
- Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray, or with cupcake liners, and divide batter evenly. I got 8-9 muffins. Lindsey suggest 6-8 large muffins, or 15 smaller muffins.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and the tops spring back when you press on them.