Sunday, April 3, 2011

How possibilities can change ...

It has been over a year since I've updated this blog, but I think about it regularly. It's hard to find time to post, yes, and even harder to find adequate time to take good photos of the things I cook (even when there is time to cook). But, I invented a recipe this morning that I'd like to share, and I have some thoughts, in any case.

When I began this blog, nearly four years ago, it was my assumption that my body type was pretty much set for life, whatever changes I might make in my habits. But last summer, I decided I wasn't happy enough with my habits and needed to make more lasting changes.

I was exercising too little, eating too much, too frequently, too unhealthily. I had lost the habit of going a few days between servings of sweets, and of cooking up good food that I could grab for a meal when I was in a hurry. I needed better motivation. So, I decided to try Wii Fit.

It was a significant initial investment, so I saved my money by quitting my YMCA membership and using my second-hand exercise bike for exercise for a few months until I had enough money for the Wii and the Wii Fit. I quickly discovered that I don't like the Wii Fit's reliance on the BMI as the only measure of the user's health, and the fat-shaming it gives you if you're outside the "normal" range. And was I outside the "normal" range? Oh yeah, I was "obese." Which is just a lovely thing to be told every morning.

But, I did like the activities themselves, and found it cathartic to yell at the Wii when it called me "obese" or "unbalanced." After all, it is a gaming system, so I made it a game. I decided to stick with it, did different combinations of exercises every day that added up to 30 minutes, and built up my will power to skip desserts and bring my portion sizes back down.

And, lo and behold, and really at least somewhat to my surprise, I actually did start to lose weight. And kept losing it. And losing it. I went from a BMI of something like 32.25 to my current 24.75. That's nearly 40 lbs, on my 5'2" frame, and puts me within the "normal" range for the first time in over half my life. More importantly, I have more energy than ever, and I can actually run. I'm planning to participate in a 5K race in June.

Today is the fourth Sunday in Lent, and I have started observing Lent much more, well, observantly in the past few years. I've decided that my health is a gift, and I should show my thanks by adhering strictly to my healthiest habits during Lent: 30 min aerobic exercise every day; meals made up of small portions of healthy foods like plain, nonfat yogurt, whole grains, vegetables, beans, and the occasional natural peanut butter and unsweetened jelly; no coffee or tea (except herbal); no alcohol; no sweets at all; no snacks. I also give up shopping for anything I could live without until Easter, so I end up doing a lot of creative cooking and rummaging through my pantry and freezer. I've eaten a LOT of various kinds of beans with brown rice.

And today, I made up a muffin recipe, thanks to the mashed roasted peaches I found in the freezer. (Note: I totally don't remember how I roasted the peaches and am too lazy this evening to find that recipe. If you don't want to try faking it, you can probably get the same effect by buying a can of peaches packed in juice without sugar and mashing them up with a potato masher.) This recipe is actually vegan! And decently tasty, although the muffins break pretty easily. But they contain no fat other than flaxseeds, are sweetened with brown rice syrup (Lundberg Farms is GF), and probably have at least a little protein in them.

I used Annalise Roberts's Gluten-Free Baking Classics as a guide for some of the quantities.


Dry ingredients:
3/4 c. ground flaxseed meal
1 c. millet flour
1 c. garfava flour
3/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Wet ingredients:
5/6 c. brown rice syrup
3/4 c. mashed, cooked peaches, in liquid
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, whisking to combine thoroughly.

In a smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients and stir well. The syrup is heavy, so you will need to stir thoroughly.

[The above steps can be done the night before, if you want to be able to make fresh muffins quickly in the morning—although, I actually was able to do this whole process pretty fast. Just close each container well and store in the fridge.]

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 12 muffin cups with olive oil (I use a set of silicone baking cups arranged on a cookie sheet; if using a metal muffin tin, I'd suggest lining with paper).

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well incorporated, then spoon into muffin cups, distributing evenly. The batter will not quite fill the cups.

Bake about 22 minutes, or until firm and slightly golden on top. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool. The first one was tasty when cooled just slightly.

I've frozen the rest for future breakfasts. Hoping they reheat well!