Grabbing the New Year by the muffins…

It’s always interesting to start anew, reconvene with yourself, reset, resolve. I’m not the biggest fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I think new year goals should definitely be in order. I couldn’t tell you the difference between goals and resolutions except one sits on a pedestal and the other doesn’t.

Of course, there’s the usual get back on a regimented eating and exercise plan to offset the holiday delights and adult beverages, be more organized, be more clean, be a nicer person, be more patient, take up an odd hobby that you’ve been meaning to try, drink less caffeine, save money, the list goes on and on…but I feel most of these resolutions, or goals if you will, are things that people are constantly working on and/or trying to do all year long. Perhaps it’s the start of a new day that you tell yourself, ‘I’m going to watch my temper today and not be so impatient’. Perhaps it’s the start of a new week that you tell yourself, ‘I’m only going to have one cup of coffee per day this week’. Or perhaps it’s the start of a new month that you tell yourself, ‘I’m going to sign myself up for that pottery class I’ve been meaning to try’.

Whether it’s a new day or new year, we should always be working toward (or ‘thinking about’ for those particular challenging days where ‘working toward’ something isn’t an option) being a different version of self. Different doesn’t necessarily mean better or good. We can’t always be thinking in terms of morality, good versus bad, ‘being a better person’, a better human; sometimes different is all that our mind can handle, different can be the only change we can make for a particular day, week, month, year, and that’s ok, we’re only humans and it’s only 2016…

Here’s how I’m seeking to be different this year:

1. Take more yoga. I used to practice yoga a few times a week, especially when I first started working as a trainer. Classes were free, I hadn’t quite found my groove yet in a gym setting, and barbells were slightly intimidating. Downward dogs and crow pose were my jam. As I began to dance less, train differently, and focused more on my strength…I forgot how indulgent triangle pose can feel after a slew of warriors.

Sure I’d like to address some hip and ankle mobility in practicing yoga a bit more, but the physical perks are secondary to how wonderful I find it for my mind, add the right teacher, and the deal gets even sweeter. If you live around Prospect Park in Brooklyn and jonesin’ for a great yoga class, check out Jaya Yoga Center. They have two locations, Park Slope and Windsor Terrace. Check it!

2. Train less, again. This was on my list for 2015 as well, I vowed to take my 2-3 hour workouts down to an hour and a half-ish. Well, I’m making another chop. One year older, one year wiser, and an ever-growing list of things I’d like to get done in my life, I realize that a solid hour of training is really all I need, not to mention more intelligent & efficient. Any additional time should be spent on recovery: foam rolling, massage, stretching, etc.

3. Learn how to drive & get a license. Yup, you read that. Not only do I not have a license, I haven’t the slightest clue of how to operate a car. The more I put this task off, the harder it becomes to wrap my head around the idea of me driving, but sometimes fears need to be conquered. Not exactly sure how to put it into words, but I have some serious mental and emotional fears over driving, and am in need of as much support as I can get over the next few months while I learn. In an effort to have the most support throughout this challenege, I’ve summoned and cried to most of my friends and family about it, along with signing up for a slew of driving classes and workshops at The Drive Rite Academy in Flatbush. (Hopefully their driving instruction is better than their spelling…)

4. Not drink…for a month. Phew, you gasped when you read that right? I gasped as I typed it. During 2015, I toned down my drinking to Saturday and Sunday’s only, but this month Dustin convinced me to take a bigger plunge, try a month without any of the stuff. Oy.

I’m a firm believer of ‘everything in moderation, including moderation‘ and I really held true to that belief during the last two weeks of 2015. My wine consumption wasn’t moderated whatsoever and unfortunately my palate started to fizzle after days and days of drinking (I have a really sophisticated and robust palate for wine, btw…).

I’m almost to two weeks alcohol free, and I feel good. Weekends are a bit more boring, but I’m spending the quiet time writing, doing yoga, drinking a lot of tea, thinking, relaxing with a book, and binge watching Nurse Jackie on Netflix. Edie Falco in scrubs is getting me through this time in my life.

5. Be humble, quiet, calm, & brave. A lot of changes are in order for this year (more to come on that in a bit) and change is scary, stressful, exciting, frustrating, etc. As I slowly tackle all the shifts that will be made, I’m going to try my damnedest to keep calm, quiet, humble, and brave. Have courage when I’m scared, and find comfort in being uncomfortable.

Speaking of humble, these muffins. The bran muffin, such a humble muffin. It asks nothing of you except regularity (ha!)…You know those certain foods in your head that you just automatically assume healthy, despite knowing what their actual nutritional properties are…cottage cheese, things with spirulina drizzled on them, nutritional yeast flakes…There’s something about a bran muffin that makes me feel crunchy, and granola-y. With first bite, my mind feels a bit more at ease, I want to don a pair of Birkenstocks, and go write a poem or something. (Yes, I realized I just made a huge generalization regarding people that eat bran muffins, eat granola, wear Birkenstocks, and write poetry)

As I enter this new year, differences and changes will be welcomed, sought after, and sometimes feared. But I will strive to remain calm in spirit, accepting of the new, patient with the old, and at ease…thanks to these bran muffins.


Note: This recipe comes from Heidi Swanson’s first cookbook Super Natural Everyday. I deem her one of thee queens of whole and health conscious food eating/blogging. She paved the way! If you don’t have this staple cookbook in your collection, go get it. Also check out her newer cookbook, Near & Far, released this past fall. She’s just divine, and so are her recipes.

This recipe yields 12 muffins.

Bran Muffins
-2 large eggs, lightly beaten
-1 C. buttermilk or plain yogurt
-1/2 C. unsalted butter, barely melted
-1/4 C. maple syrup
-1/2 C. unprocessed wheat bran or oat bran
-1 1/2 C. plain, unsweetened bran cereal (I used Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain cereal with almonds, a recommendation from Swanson)
-1 C. whole wheat pastry flour
-1/4 C. natural cane sugar (muscovado sugar would make a nice substitute here)
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
-1 tsp. fine-grain sea salt

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the middle of the oven. Generously butter (I used coconut oil) a standard 12-cup muffin pan.
-In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and maple syrup.
-Sprinkle the bran and cereal across the top, stir, and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
-In the meantime, in a seperate small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
-Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the top of the wet and stir until just combined. Immediately fill each muffin cup three-quarters full (about 1/4 C. of batter per muffin cup).
-Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until the edges of the muffins begin to brown and the tops have set. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn the muffins out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

These muffins are delicious on their own or slathered with a bit of salted butter or perhaps a yummy jam. Also note, the lovely MacKenzie-Childs colander that my muffins are resting in; a Christmas gift from my adorable mother and yes, it is indeed sitting on my unmade bed in the picture above.


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