Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Muffin That Saved Me

My dog died last week. Tiny Bijou was a sweet, red-fawn colored greyhound that was retired from dog-racing after she had 5 lousy races at the age of 2.  She was an awesome dog. Loving, sweet, and loved stealing baked goods left on the counter. She was 8 years old when she died.  It was sudden, it was unexpected and it sucked.  I miss her terribly.  My house is incredibly empty during the day, despite the presence of my other greyhound, Flapjack.  I have been pouring over my recipes to keep busy.  My trainer put me on 2 weeks of (booooring) or pilates (yowza!) and walking (Gotta walk The Flap) only.  I'm losing my mind.  When I lost my mind in the past, I would turn to baking and eating as outlets.  After losing a bunch of weight, neither of those seems appealing.  I still love to bake, but after making a batch Rice Krispies treats for my kids yesterday and mowing down 3 in one sitting, I was forced to realize that I'm just too vulnerable to be making the 100 Grand Cake I was planning on baking this weekend.  Then my son Jasper asked me to make muffins.  AH HA!  THAT I could do...because the muffins he likes are my own safe recipe.  I need to keep busy, people and the precision of baking makes me feel in control of my out-of-control life.  I couldn't control Bijou's outcome, but I know how these muffins will turn out so I take some small comfort in that. 

If you think that a muffin you buy at Starbucks or any bakery for that matter, is a nutritious breakfast food, then you are most likely kidding yourself.  I'm not saying you shouldn't treat yourself to that crumb-topped blueberry beauty with your latte once in a while, I'm just saying that if you read a cake recipe and a muffin recipe side-by-side, you will realize they are the extremely similar...especially in the calorie department.  Same amounts of butter, white flour, eggs, sugar, etc.  Add a handful of blueberries and it magically makes it good for you?  Uhhhh NO.  You might as well just eat that leftover slice of birthday cake for breakfast.  The muffin "usually" isn't the better choice of breakfast breads. Sorry. 
I'll never forget when Trader Joe's tried to con us all with their "fiber muffins".  If you want to gag on one of THOSE fruity-cinnamon-fiber-bombs then you might as well eat one while sitting directly on the toilet.  Remember the Colon Blow skit from SNL?  Buyer beware.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  You'll also need a GIANT glass of water to wash that sucker down or you probably will choke. Uggh. 

Bottom line is, if you want a better muffin, you're going to have to bake it yourself.

When I became the overly-hyper mother of a picky toddler, I took a recipe I found online and modified it to better suit my child's nutritional needs.  He loves them.  There is one caveat:  the sugar.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not successfully cut the sugar.  I tried using Splenda, I tried using stevia (that was the grossest one yet). I tried using half sugar/half "sweetener". Oh well.  I'm over it.  Sugar wins this time. 
I did cut the amount of chocolate in HALF but switching to mini-chocolate chips because they distribute better in the batter so GO ME. Also, if you do use the applesauce instead of butter, they tend to stick to the cupcake paper a bit more than your average muffin, but my kids aren't opposed to scraping off those bits with their teeth. It's part of the experience really.

Without further ado, The Muffin Recipe that saved me this weekend:

Susanna's Hyper-Mom Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
(makes 12 regular OR 48 mini muffins...or 24 minimuffins & 6 regular...because I don't have more than one mini-muffin tin.  Go figure.)

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour (or white all-purpose works fine too, it's just less nutritious but whatevs)
1/3 cup Ground Flaxseed
1/3 cup Wheat Germ (store the jar in the fridge once you open it)
1/2 cup Evil White Sugar
1/2 cup Evil packed Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 Eggs (I use the ones with Omega 3's for added benefit)
1 tsp.Vanilla
1 c. canned Pumpkin (loaded with Vitamin A and fiber!)
1/2 c. unsweetened Applesauce (You can use 1 stick of melted butter instead - if you dare)
1/2 c. Mini-Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line your muffin tins with papers. 
Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs, pumpkin, applesauce & vanilla until blended.  Pour wet ingredients over the dry and fold them together until moistened.  Fold in chocolate chips.
Scoop evenly into paper-lines muffin tins. 

Mini-muffin bake for about 12 minutes.  Large muffins bake for 18-20minutes.  Use a toothpick and when it comes out clean, they are done.  DO NOT overbake.  Cool on a rack.  Enjoy!

As you can see, a few are missing.  My family couldn't wait for me to take the pic.

Friday, August 23, 2013

New and Improved! Now With 30% Less Fat and Excuses!

A year ago, I ventured out into the word of blogging.  Overweight, newly relocated, bored, trapped in the house during the brutal Houston weather of summer and fall (AND spring, apparently!) with 2 young kids, I started doing this.  Baking and writing about it.  It did me good at first, but then it got me thinking.  How am I going to get all this weight off and bake all this delicious stuff with few people to unload it on?  Good question. The answer was to start AFTER Christmas.  I wrote an intallation called "Oh Fuuuuuudge" during the Holidays and I never posted it (at least I don't think I did) because I hired a trainer at the YMCA and decided getting my shit together was more important than telling it on the mountain about fudge.  The LAST thing I needed to be thinking about was fudge.  So I let my blog go for a while. 
It's now the end of August of 2013 and what do I have to show for myself?  Well, I'm 30 lbs lighter for starters.  Diet, exercise, lifesyle changes. That's how I did it.  The old fashioned way:  I EARRRRRRRNED IT.  No shakes, no pills, powders or magical frozen foods.  I stuck to the basic Weight Watchers plan, which I find to be quite healthy and reasonable, allowing for dining out and splurges from time to time while keeping me grounded.  I've been waiting a long time to be back at my "wedding weight".  It took some work.  The food was the hardest part. 

I know this is a food blog, and we'll talk about that in the future...but right now I want to get something off my chest.  People often ask me how lost weight.  The answer is: I've done this before.  I know exactly what it takes to do it.  Is this time different from the other times? Yes. Was it harder? Yes. WHY??? 
Because I'm older, have a slower metabolism, I have kids now, I'm more busy, more stressed, more lonely, more vulnerable, more bored,  blah blah blah.  These are all excuses. Excuses why I COULDN'T but DID ANYWAYS. 
I want to rant about EXCUSES.  Everyone has one when it comes to losing weight...or more than one.  I once was the QUEEN of them! Here's a little insight into that.

Everytime you set foot into Starbucks (or the like) and ordered a sugary bullshit coffee drink, or a "skinny latte" that made it "ok" for you to go ahead and eat that cake pop with it, you probably made 100 excuses in your head to reach your outcome.  I've been there.  I've done that. 
I was fat because of it.
You might be fat because of it. 
Maybe you aren't.
You know who you are.
The point I want to make is that successful weightloss begins with banishing excuses. 
You had a bad day. 
You already blew it earlier in the week/day/hour/minute.
You're hungry.
You're thirsty.
Everyone else is having something.
That skinny person is eating ___, so I can have it too.
The list goes one and on. 
Want to know what I did?  I said things to myself.  Things like NO. NOPE. LOOK AWAY.  And then I took my own advice.  Every candy bar at the grocery store. Every cookie, every bag of chips. NO. NOPE. LOOK AWAY.
I cried to my friends (thank GOD for unlimited long distance!) and my husband when I wanted to eat something I wasn't supposed to. I screamed. I cried. I went to bed early.  I went to the gym. I went for a walk.
I STOPPED MAKING EXCUSES.  When I made a mistake, I OWNED it and moved on.
Even during the Holidays, I KNEW it would be I signed up with the trainer right after Thanksgiving, so I wouldn't go off the deep end at Christmas and gain MORE weight.  I vowed to maintain.  I didn't make an excuse, I made a PACT.  It worked.  It motivated me. 
Can't afford a trainer?  That's an excuse.  I've done this WITHOUT a trainer. I just wanted more accountability this time because I don't have the workout buddies I once had. 
For the record, 30 minutes once a week cost me THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY I was spending on Starbucks, lunches out, cockails, WINE, frozen sugar OOPS I mean, yogurt, and other "treats" that were ruining my body.  Do I still sometimes have treats?  Oh yeah.  But I'm smarter about it.  And I don't make an excuse for it.  I plan for it, have a little, enjoy it and move on.
The Holidays are coming.  I love to bake.  I'm planning on doing quite a bit of it. 
I don't enjoy "diet" baked goods.  Who does? Yuck!  It's all or nothing for me.  I'm just going to be smarter about it.
I'm going to plan for it, have a LITTLE, enjoy it and move on.
Today I threw out 2 slices of HOMEMADE poundcake that a neighbor made for me.  I had some, it was AMAZING but I didn't need more.  It bummed me out to toss it at first but now I feel great because those last 2 slices aren't pasted on my ass.  I celebrated by buying myself a pair of size 8 jeans. I used to be a 16.  I'm not afraid to throw stuff out.
That poundcake didn't taste as good as thin feels. 

Join me as I bake my way through the fall and winter months.  I've met some of my neighbors and they will be gifted reasonable portions of my goods.  My husband's office also takes kindly to my baking endeavors.  I'm taking suggestions for things to bake for my blog so comment away!

Plan for it.  Have a little and enjoy it. Move on.