what’s good around the web + weekly meal plan

Tags

, , , ,

meal plan june 23 - 27 // the muffin myth

The wonky meal plans continue! I’ve got a really light day planned for Monday since we get back from Turkey laaaate Sunday night. I usually feel like I need a mini-cleanse after a weekend away, and I’m sure this will be no exception. I planned ahead and made a batch of my favourite freezer burritos before we went away (want the recipe?) so I can grab those for easy lunches this week. And the last two chipotle black bean burger patties in my freezer will be doing their thing in burger salads this week. Yum! I’ve also got a celebratory dinner out and the office summer shindig this coming week, so I’ve planned my breakfasts and lunches to be a little lighter on those days. On to the links!

MM_Web_Icon_FINAL1. Being happy with sugar. Long article, but worth reading to the very end.

2. Food for thought: saturated fat intake may influence expression of genetic obesity risk. 

3. Why diet and exercise are not the key to health. 

4. I’m not normally an emotional eater, but during the last week of writing my thesis I totally ate (and drank) my feelings. This is interesting: Emotional eating goes two ways. 

5. Great interview with Michael Pollan on cooking and eating.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

almond-pulp muffins with cherries and chia

Tags

, , , , , ,

almond pulp cherry chia muffins // the muffin myth

Remember when we made our own almond milk? Mmmmm, home made almond milk is sooooo good! That pulp though! What do we do with the leftover pulp?! I hate wasting food, so I was determined to come up with a recipe that not only used the almond pulp, but used the whole batch. 1 batch of almond milk = 1 batch of leftover pulp = 1 batch of something delicious. Are you with me?

almond pulp cherry chia muffins // the muffin myth

The texture of freshly squeezed almond pulp is not all that unlike the texture of ricotta, so I looked to my whole wheat ricotta muffins for inspiration. Like that muffin, this one uses whole wheat pastry flour, is naturally sweetened , and is simultaneously delicate and substantial. Chia seeds add a bit of crunch, and the pairing of sweet almonds with in-season cherries is pretty much perfect.

almond pulp cherry chia muffins // the muffin myth

It may seem like a lot of almond pulp – one packed cup of pulp goes into these muffins, which came from one cup of almonds we used to make the almond milk – but consider how often you’ve added a cup of chopped nuts to a muffin recipe. I add a cup of chopped walnuts to my no sugar banana bran muffins every time I make them! Regardless, these muffins fall into the weekend / occasional category in my books, as do most muffins.

The big question is, what if I don’t have almond pulp? Can I use almond flour or ground almonds instead? Maybe, but I haven’t tested this. Almond pulp will definitely be wetter than ground almonds, so you may have to add a bit of moisture to the recipe. I can’t say for sure if that would work out or not because I haven’t tested it, but if anyone does, please write in and let us know how it goes!

Note! Paul and I are in Istanbul for the weekend, so I may not be able to respond to questions and comments as quickly as normal. I promise I’ll get back to you ask quickly as I can! If you’d like you can follow our trip on Instagram.

almond milk muffins with cherries and chia // the muffin myth

Two years ago: Strained Yoghurt, Naturally Sweetened
Three years ago: Vij’s Spicy Cauliflower Steak

Almond Pulp Muffins with Cherries and Chia Recipe:

This recipe makes 12 standard-sized muffins. You can easily cut in in half, but do know that leftover muffins freeze well, so you can set them aside for future weekends if you’d like.

.

1 cup pitted and halved cherries (about 20 cherries)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup (packed) almond pulp leftover from one batch of almond milk
2 eggs
a scant 1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup plain yoghurt
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup slivered almonds

.

Preheat your oven to 180ºC / 350ºF. Line 12 standard muffin cups with muffin liners or squares of parchment paper.

Start by pitting the cherries. This can be messy business so keep a cleanup towel handy and don’t wear white! There are many cherry pitting methods (maybe you even have a cherry pitter?) but what I usually do is slice them around the middle with a sharp knife, twist to separate the two halves, and pick the pit out with my fingers. Place the cherry halves in a measuring cup and stop when you get to one heaping cup.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together melted butter, almond pulp, eggs, honey, vanilla, yoghurt, and chia seeds. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the dry mixture into the wet, careful to not over mix – it should still be a touch lumpy. Fold the cherry halves into the batter, and spoon into the prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops with slivered almonds.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until muffins are puffed and golden and toothpick inserted towards the center comes out clean. Let cool in the muffin tins for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

MM_Know_Icon_FINAL

Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats – this is a healthy fat when consumed in moderation, the same type as is found in olive oil. Almonds are also a good source of manganese, vitamin E (which has antioxidant properties) and magnesium.

Cherries are rich in antioxidants: anthocyanidins (which give them their intense colour) which help improve antioxidant defences, and quercetin, which may help regulate blood pressure. Cherries are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamins A and C.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

your nutrition questions – is popcorn healthy?

Tags

, , , ,

is popcorn healthy // the muffin myth

From time to time a reader emails me with a nutrition question, and up until now I’ve been answering most of them by email. I thought that I’d start answering some of these nutrition questions on the blog as y’all might be interested in the answer!

Is popcorn healthy? Well, yes. And no. Let’s break it down.

Popcorn is one of six types of corn cultivated around the world today. It’s scientific name is zea mays everta, and it is the only type of corn that will pop when heated. The ability to pop stems from the moisture content inside the kernel, which for popcorn is around 14%.

Popcorn is an intact whole grain, which means that the bran, the germ, and the endosperm are all intact within the kernel. Popcorn is high in fiber, particularly insoluble, which is kind of like a cleanup crew for your digestive tract. It’s also a good source of vitamin C, B3, and manganese.

In it’s purest form, air-popped popcorn is a healthy whole grain snack which per 1 cup has about 31 calories, 1 gram of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, and only trace amounts of fat.

The nutritional value of oil-popped popcorn varies depending on the type and quantity of oil used to pop the corn. Oils that have high smoke-points are preferred as they won’t break down or oxidize as readily during the popping as would oils with a low smoke-point. Canola or coconut oil are good choices. Olive oil has a low smoke-point and breaks down easily when heated so it is a poorer choice nutritionally. (Real talk: I pop my corn with olive oil all the dang time. I just like the flavour.)

A tablespoon of vegetable oil has about 115 calories and 15 grams of fat, so if you’re popping half a cup of popcorn kernels (which, according to popcorn.org, becomes about 16 cups of popped corn, although personal experience tells me it’s about half that) in 2 tablespoons of oil it works out to about 40 calories and 1 gram of fat per cup of popped corn.

But we still haven’t put anything on it! I like my popcorn with melted butter, nutritional yeast, and Old Bay seasoning on it. Yum! Say we melted ¼ cup of butter to drizzle on that 16 cups of popcorn. We’re adding about 400 calories and 45g of fat in all, so our popcorn is now 65 calories and 4 grams of fat per cup. That still doesn’t sound so bad, but I know that I can take down half of that batch of popcorn no problem, which means my snack has just added up to over 500 calories and 64 grams of fat. And we haven’t talked about sodium yet. It adds up quickly!

To be honest, I don’t really worry about this because in my house we usually only enjoy delicious buttery popcorn as a treat on the weekends. Plus, with the fiber and nutrients popcorn is bringing to the table, that buttery bowl of corn is still a better choice than opening up a bag of chips. Air-popped popcorn would make a great every day snack, as would oil-popped if you kept it bare naked. The buttery stuff should be a moderation situation.

But what about microwave popcorn? Wellll, this is where things start to fall apart. There are two main problems here: the bag, and the contents.

The bag that almost all microwave popcorn brands use is lined with perflurooctanoic acid (say that five times fast). This is the same toxin found in teflon non-stick pans. PFOA can stay in the environment and the human body for long periods of time. When heated, this chemical has been linked to infertility, cancer, and other diseases.

What’s in the bag isn’t much better. It changes from brand to brand, but a quick skim of ingredients lists from some of the major brands reveals a slew of added oil included hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats) salt, artificial flavour and colour, and preservatives.

Have you heard of popcorn lung? That artificial butter flavour is so toxic it has been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare, life-threatening, and irreversible obstructive lung disease. This was previously thought to only affect factory workers who were inhaling air-born diacetyl in that buttery flavour, but in 2007 a heavy consumer of microwave popcorn (2 bags a day) became the first public consumer to be diagnosed with popcorn lung.

This certainly isn’t to say that the occasional bag of microwave popcorn is going to kill you, but keep it as an infrequent treat and don’t inhale when you open the bag!

Does organic matter? Again, yes and no. If you’re worried about GMOs then there’s good news! According to GMO expert Jeffrey Smith (executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology), although almost 90% of the corn grown and eaten in the US is GMO corn, popcorn comes from a different seed and has not been genetically modified. Yet.

Buttt, if you want to ensure that your popcorn is free from pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, and other chemical residues, then organic is your best bet. The good news is that organic popcorn still works out to mere pennies when you pop it at home.

The bottom line? Popcorn is a healthy whole grain and can be a totally nutritious snack. How you pop it and how you top it will of course influence the overall nutritional value. Air-popped is the best choice but oil popped isn’t far behind. Be conservative with the butter or oil toppings, and avoid frequent consumption of microwave popcorn.

This is how I pop my corn.

Note! Paul and I are in Istanbul for the weekend, so I may not be able to respond to questions and comments as quickly as normal. I promise I’ll get back to you ask quickly as I can! If you’d like you can follow our trip on Instagram.

Resources:
popcorn.org
Why microwave popcorn is an absolute health nightmare
World’s healthiest foods – popcorn

 

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

 

no-noodle pad Thai stir-fry

Tags

, , , , ,

no-noodle pad thai stir-fry // the muffin myth

I keep getting asked what I’m doing with all my free time now that I’m done my degree. In a word: sleeping.

Some things are inevitable. Death, taxes, and an immune system crash the second you finish something important. And so it was. I defended my thesis last Thursday, flew to London on Friday for a weekend of fun and food, and by the time I got back on Sunday night I knew I was crashing.

no noodle pad thai stirfry // the muffin myth

I’m more or less over it now, but for the past week I did pretty much nothing but sleep, slurp down quick and spicy soup, and binge watch OITNB. I still feel deeply, deeply tired, but I suppose that may be a residual effect from juggling full time work and a full time MSc for the better part of a year.

As it happened (and probably luckily) my immune crash happened while Paul was traveling for work, and so I was stuck feeding myself (cue the violins). You’ve seen my meal plans. You know I barely cook during the week. If I’m going to cook on a weeknight, on a weeknight when I’m sick no less, it has to be something fast, easy, and tasty. This no-noodle pad Thai stir fry might look intimidating, but I assure you if I pulled it off on an under-the-weather Tuesday night, you can too.

no noodle pad thai stirfry // the muffin myth

I’ve been wanting to post a Pad Thai-ish dish for a while but I was struggling with what to do about the noodles. I wanted something more nutritious than the standard white rice noodles, but also something that would be easy for you to find. I contemplated brown rice noodles, buckwheat noodles, and kelp noodles when it struck me – SCREW THE NOODLES!

I replaced the noodles with ribbons of zucchini and carrot, and before you roll your eyes or click away, know that a) I did these ‘noodles’ with a regular vegetable peeler, and b) it took no more than 10 minutes. Although I do have a spiralizer, a mandoline with a julienne blade, and a julienne peeler, I wanted to use something I assume most of you already have on hand. The vegetable peeler worked just fine. So fine in fact that it further cemented the idea that I should biff my (top of the line and only used twice) spiralizer because it’s just taking up valuable space in my small kitchen.

no noodle pad Thai stirfry // the muffin myth

There is a fair amount of chopping to get out of the way, but all told prepping everything before starting to cook took 30 minutes (I set a timer) and the actual cooking time took no more than 10 minutes. That’s a total of 40 minutes to get a hot, tasty, and nutritious meal on the table. I believe you could do a good amount of the prep in advance to get this meal on the table even faster, although I have not tested this.

No-noodle Pad Thai stir fry is a great meal for this time of year because it’s nice and light, and there is something about eating spicy food when it’s hot out. It’s fast enough for a weeknight meal but tasty enough for a weekend dinner party, and I tell ya, it’s soul satisfying.

no noodle pad Thai stirfry // the muffin myth

Three years ago: Banana Hazelnut Pancakes

No-noodle Pad Thai Stir-fry Recipe:

You will likely end up with more sauce than you need for the recipe – I like to see how much moisture the vegetables release before I add it all in so the end result doesn’t become too soupy. Serve with extra sauce on the side. For a more substantial meal, serve over brown rice.

This stir fry is best served hot, but leftovers do also pack decently well for lunches. Makes 3-4 portions.

.

1 medium zucchini
3 large carrots
250g firm tofu, cubed
2 – 4 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1 cup sliced)
2 – 3 cups bean sprouts, well rinsed
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Thai red chile
4 Tbsp canola oil for frying

1/4 cup soy sauce or liquid aminos (I use Braggs)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup tomato paste
2Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp honey or other liquid sweetener
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 lime
1/4 cup chopped almonds or peanuts
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

.

Start by prepping all of the ingredients:

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise, then using a vegetable peeler, peel long ribbons down the length of the zucchini and onto a waiting plate. Stop peeling when you get to the seedy core in the middle as it will become too difficult to peel (toss it in the freezer for soups, save to add to a smoothie, or just eat it as a cook’s snack!). Peel the carrots and then continue peeling long ribbons of carrot onto a waiting plate. Stop peeling when you get to the core or when it becomes too difficult to continue (save the core! toss it in the freezer for soups, save to add to a smoothie, or just eat it as a cook’s snack!)

Dice the tofu into 1.5cm / 0.5 inch cubes.

Thinly slice the scallions and place into a bowl.

Rinse the bean sprouts thoroughly, drain, and set aside.

Rinse the sugar snap peas, trim the ends, cut in half, and place into a waiting bowl.

Crush the garlic (I use a garlic crusher), and finely mince the chile. Place these in a small dish and set aside.

Now you can get the sauce ready:

In a small bowl, whisk together soy, water, tomato paste, rice vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Now you’re ready to cook!

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp canola oil, and then the tofu cubes. Fry until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally. While they are frying, line a plate with paper towels. When the tofu is nice and golden, slide it out of the pan and onto the waiting plate.

Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil to the same pan. Add the garlic and chile and fry for about 1 minute, until the garlic starts to just slightly brown. Quickly add the scallions, bean sprouts, and snow peas. Fry for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the zucchini and carrot ribbons and stir / toss the mixture to combine well. At this point your pan may be very full, so stir carefully! Fry for about 2-3 minutes until the ribbons are just beginning to soften and wilt a bit. Now add the tofu and about half of the sauce. Stirring constantly, let the mixture cook about 2 minutes. more. At this point your vegetables should be just ever so slightly on the soft side, still with some crunch, and definitely not mushy. If your mixture is not very wet you may want to add a bit more sauce. It should be wet, but not swimming in sauce.

Spoon into individual bowls, garnish with cilantro, chopped almonds, and a wedge of lime. Serve immediately with with extra sauce on the side.

MM_Know_Icon_FINALWhat you’re eating here is a whole mess of vegetables! We can’t talk about them all so how about we focus on those bean sprouts? Mung bean sprouts are the nutty, crisp, edible sprout of the mung bean seed. They are rich in fiber, B-vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Mung bean sprouts are also a source of iron, and a cup of these sprouts contains about 15% of the recommended daily intake of folate. Note! Sprouts are known to carry bacteria so it is important they are well-washed before they are eaten. The heat in a recipe like this one will destroy the bacteria so they’re totally safe, but pregnant women, small children, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system should be wary of eating raw sprouts.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

what’s good around the web + weekly meal plan

Tags

, , , , ,

meal plan June 16-20 // the muffin  myth

Happy Father’s day to all the poppas out there!!! I hope you’re having fabulous days and are on the receiving end of some well deserved pampering.

This is another kind of funky week for the meal plan. It’s a short work week (only 3.5 days) and my thesis supervisor is taking me out for a celebratory lunch on Wednesday so I only need to pack 2 lunches. I’ve got an excessive amount of carrots in the fridge so I’m going to make this carrot and quinoa salad and pack it along side some hummus for protein. On Thursday we’re off to Istanbul for a long weekend!!! The airline we’re flying with doesn’t provide lunch (and who wants airplane food anyways?) so I’m going to make some travel wraps with leftover carrot salad and hummus. Yum! The rest of the week and the weekend will be all Turkish all the time! Woot!!!

MM_Web_Icon_FINAL1. What’s healthier, almond milk or soy milk? This infographic is a good comparison. (Pssst – have you tried making your own almond milk yet?)

2. What causes weight gain? This is a great great great piece by Mark Bittman. It’s like he’s speaking words out of my own mouth.

3. This is awesome! Food that magically regrows its self.

4. 12 surprising foods with more sugar than a Krispy Kreme donut.

5. Healthy diet? Why plants outgrow all other trends. Eat plants, yo!

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

how to make your own almond milk

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

how to make almond milk // the muffin mythWhen I first moved to Sweden I had a list of foodstuffs I needed to source out in order to ensure my happiness. Among other things, tofu, nutritional yeast, and soy milk were must haves. I’ve always been a soy milk girl when it comes to non-dairy milks, though I know that these days it isn’t particularly in vogue and people are slurping back almond milk like nobody’s business. I still treat myself to soy milk from time to time, but I don’t often buy it. My gripes with most store-bought nut milks are threefold. First, I find the protein : fat ratio is usually not what I’m looking for, second, there is usually a lot of added sugar, and third, most are loaded with all kinds of thickeners, stabilizers, and preservatives.

how to make your own almond milk // the muffin myth

I’ve come around to almond milk lately, especially when it’s home made. Soak, blend, strain, and boom! You’ve milked those almonds like a boss! The best part is how much better the almond milk is than the store bought stuff. Unless you water it down, home made almond milk is much creamier – in a good way – and it has a natural sweetness to it that the commercial version can’t rival. No preservatives, no thickeners, no added junk. It’s amazing!

how to make almond milk // the muffin myth

You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make your own almond milk; just a blender, and something to strain the almond pulp with. If you have a nut-milk bag a) you’re my hero, and b) you already know what you’re doing so pay no attention to this. My straining set-up is pretty basic: I put a mesh strainer in a large glass bowl, and line the strainer with an old triangular bandage leftover from my days as a first aid instructor (I also use it for making ricotta and paneer). Cheese cloth probably isn’t fine enough to strain out the almond meal, so if you’re thinking of using that, I’d double it up.

how to make your own almond milk // the muffin mythhow to make your own almond milk // the muffin myth

Bonus! You get leftover almond pulp! There are all kinds of things you can do with this stuff – I biffed mine into the freezer to save for baking, but you can also dry it out into almond meal, toss it in smoothies, or fertilize your garden. I’ve got an almond meal muffin coming at you asap, so hang onto it!

how to make your own almond milk // the muffin myth

Want it on the sweet side? Try tossing a couple of dates into the blender with the soaked almonds. A touch of honey or maple syrup would also work nicely. You could also add vanilla extract (hey, we’ve made that too!) to round out the flavour a bit. I often make savoury cottage cheese muffins with lefotver almond meal, so I left mine unsweetened and unflavoured. However you like it, I hope you give this a go. It’s easy, nutritious, and delicious. Home made almond milk for the win!

But listen, I don’t always buy my own almond milk, and making your own almond milk doesn’t make you a better person. The quality is definitely better when you make it yourself, but life happens and we don’t always have the foresight to soak almonds overnight or the time or motivation to deal with straining nut milk and dealing with the leftover pulp. Give yourself a break, and save tasks like making your own nut milk for a weekend affair if it doesn’t fit into your life during the week – it sure as heck doesn’t fit into mine. If you’re buying commercial nut milks, try to find one without added sugars and with as few ingredients as possible. I’ve found a brand that works for me in a pinch (and my local grocery store has also started carrying unsweetened cashew milk, hello!) and I’m sure you can too.

how to make homemade almond milk // the muffin myth

One year ago: Hello!
Two years ago: Soba Noodle Salad with Spinach and Cucumber Gin Mojitos and Quinoa Crusted Mini Quiches
Three years ago: Springtime Fried Wild Rice

Homemade Almond Milk Recipe:

Homemade almond milk has a shorter shelf life than the store bought stuff. I’ve read that it will last anywhere from 3-7 days, but in my experience 7 is pushing it (I had to dump out a foul tasting almond milk matcha latte at the 7 day mark – boo!) so I’d err on the side of caution and use it up within 3-5 days. Blanched almonds are totally not necessary, I just happened to have some on hand. There is a lot of valuable nutrition in almond skins, so I would have preferred them with their skins on.

Makes 3-4 cups of almond milk

.

1 cup whole almonds
3-4 cups cold water

.

Place the almonds in a jar or glass bowl and cover with water. Place in the fridge to soak overnight, or for at least 8 hours.

When you’re ready to milk your almonds, drain and rinse well. Prepare your straining setup by setting a mesh strainer into a large jug or bowl, and then lining with a double layer of cheese cloth, or with a nut milk bag if you’re fancy like that. Place into the jar of a blender with 3-4 cups of cold water. How much water you use depends on how creamy you want your almond milk, and the capacity of your blender (you can always add more water to the milk after straining if your blender is small). I prefer 4 cups of water.

Blend on high speed for 2 minutes, then carefully pour the mixture into the prepared strainer. Wait a minute for the liquid to pass through, then get down to business squeezing as much liquid as you can from the almond meal. Pour the liquid into a clean glass jar and store in the fridge. Reserve the almond pulp for later. Now you’ve made your own almond milk. Yay!

MM_Know_Icon_FINALAlmonds are high in monounsaturated fats – this is a healthy fat when consumed in moderation, the same type as is found in olive oil. Almonds are also a good source of manganese, vitamin E (which has antioxidant properties) and magnesium. Note! When we strain the pulp out of the almond milk, we’re straining away a lot of valuable nutrition. The milk won’t contain any fiber, and not much in the way of protein. It still has a good amount of vitamin E and calcium, however. Whole nuts are the way to go if you’re looking for a source of nutrients, but almond milk is a good alternative to dairy for those who can’t tolerate it or those who just like to mix it up.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

 

now what?

Tags

, ,

Now what // the muffin mythEarly on Sunday morning I woke up with a familiar lurch of anxiety. So much to do!!! Deadlines looming!!! And then slowly I realized that I had nothing to do. I wonder how long it will take for that to go away?

So now what?

(I think this is the question any recent graduate dreads the most)

When I started grad school I was in it for the long run. I wanted to go all the way, and so right from the start I was hustling, making contacts, and trying to arrange research opportunities and future fellowships. About half way through my thesis project, my supervisor offered me exactly the opportunity I had been looking for.

I turned it down.

I spent the last year living in a bubble that was all about artificial sweeteners. If anyone asked me a nutrition question outside of that world I felt overwhelmed. My knowledge and expertise became so narrow it was difficult to function outside of it. I’d get an email with a question about calcium and be like, “ummm, do you want to talk about artificial sweeteners?” or a question about a particular diet, “Does this diet include artificial sweeteners? Cause I know a ton about that”

I’m in the fortunate position to have a job I really like, so I didn’t finish this degree in a panic to find work. I consider myself to be very, very lucky in this respect. I also have a good idea of what I do want to do with my 9 years of nutrition education moving forward, and that makes me feel grounded.

For a long time my work as a writer and my life as a nutritionist felt like two totally different worlds, but I’ve realized they’re not. Now when people ask me what I do I tell them I’m a professional communicator with science-based expertise in food, nutrition, and health. I know it’s a mouthful, but there it is, that’s what I am. I want to spread the word, combining my background in writing and my nutrition knowledge in a meaningful way. I can speak science and I understand data, so I think a good part of this will revolve around translating nutrition research in to real-world language to help people make sense of a truly overwhelming subject.

I’d also like to do some nutrition consulting, so I’ve got work to do to figure out what that looks like, but this space will likely be the launching platform.

There are going to be some changes here at The Muffin Myth as well! Most importantly, I’ll be here a lot more often. All of the time I’ve been spending on my thesis I can now shift over here, which is where I would have preferred to be anyways! At times I seriously thought I should have written my thesis wearing an “I’d rather be blogging” t-shirt.

I’m also going to be moving The Muffin Myth to a new home later this month, and that will allow me more control over the blog.  I’ll finally be able to do things like add a widget that allows you to print just the recipe, a better search function, a recipe index, and so on. The move probably won’t affect you, but I’ll let you know just before it happens so if there are any necessary updates to RSS subscriptions you’ll know in advance. I’ve got a few more changes around the corner to do with how I filter content and categorize recipes, but I’ll save those for another time.

It’s going to be awesome going forwards, and I’m so glad you’re along for the ride!

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

what’s good around the web + weekly meal plan

Tags

, , , , ,

meal plan june 9-13 // the muffin myth

This week is all about eating down the freezer. I’ve been in London for the weekend visiting my sister and celebrating the end of my degree, so haven’t done my usual lunch packing to prepare for the week. I made some black bean and quinoa burrito filling before I left, which I plan to use for burrito bowls. There are still some veggie burger patties in the freezer for the burger salad, and the rest of the week is going to focus on veg veg veg. It’s been an indulgent weekend, to say the least. On to the links!

MM_Web_Icon_FINAL

1. Michelle Obama on attempts to roll back healthy reforms.

2. This article is depressing, but I don’t necessarily agree with it, and I firmly believe that prevention is the key moving forwards: Obesity research confirms long-term weight loss almost impossible. 

3. How to get your kids to like veggies? This study says start young and keep trying.

4. Study shows diet soda drinkers lose more weight? Consider the source. (ps – my research showed the opposite in a big way)

5. And here’s an interesting study on the efficacy of taxing sugary drinks.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

what’s good around the web + weekly meal plan

Tags

, , , , ,

meal plan june 2-6 // the muffin myth

This is a bit of a funny week for the meal plan. We’ve got a public holiday on Friday which means a 3.5 day work week. I’ve got a dinner out on Tuesday night (at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant, yum!), a post-defence (!!!) luncheon on Thursday, and I’m heading to London for the weekend on Friday. But most importantly, since the little pool near my office has closed for the season I’ve had to switch to swimming before work instead. So now instead of needing a breakfast that will fuel me all the way through a lunch time swim, I need a tiny bit of something in my stomach pre-swim and then something after that will take me through to lunch. I’m experimenting with adding beans or oats to my smoothies to make them more filling, and yes I’m aware how weird beans in smoothies sounds, but it’s actually pretty good. I’m working on a recipe to share.

In The Muffin Myth lunch box this week it’s this kale and quinoa salad, this bran muffin (aka branners), and I thought I’d try out this delish sounding variation on overnight oats. On to the links. Some good reads this week, enjoy!

MM_Web_Icon_FINAL1. Diet Lures and Diet Lies.

2. Michael Pollan on the benefits of home cooking.

3. Stressed? Try some dark chocolate. (I knew it!)

4. California wants to put warning labels on sugary drinks. (Cause warning labels have proven so effective on cigarettes, right?)

5. The FDA has just approved yet another artificial sweetener. Just what we don’t need.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

nouveau niçoise

Tags

, , , , , ,

nouveau nicoise // the muffin myth

Every morning for the last 9 months my iPhone alarm clock has gone off before 6am with THESIS!!! in big bold letters across the screen. I tried out a few other variations, like GET UP AND WORK ON YOUR THESIS!!! or GET OUT OF BED YOU’VE GOT WORK TO DO!!! but THESIS!!! seemed simple and effective, so it stayed.

On Wednesday I submitted my thesis. On Thursday I woke up without an alarm and, after a cup of tea, went for a leisurely swim with my husband. And when Paul got out of the pool I decided to stay behind and swim a while longer, because the sun was shining, and because the 50m outdoor pool was gloriously quiet, and just because I could.

What a feeling.

nouveau nicoise // the muffin myth

It’s not quite over – I still have a defense to get through next week – but it almost is. Yesterday I met with some of my classmates for an informal ‘we’re almost there’ celebration after the thesis deadline had rolled by. It was mostly rosé and pretzels, cause we’re all pretty much running on empty right now, but a lovely time was had even if the offerings were sparse.

Had I been a little more organized I would have brought something like this Nouveau Niçoise salad. Hopefully this fish-free version won’t offend the good people of Nice too deeply – my sincerest apologies if it does. I know that two decades of vegetarianism has probably biased me in this direction, but I think that the Nouveau Niçoise is a fine offering. It’s substantial yet light, fresh, and a lovely way to enjoy the season’s new potatoes.

The beauty of this simple salad is that each of the components, from the steamed potatoes and green beans to the not-quite-hard-boiled eggs and the punchy vinaigrette, can be prepared ahead of time. If you had everything washed, steamed, chopped, and whisked in advance, you could walk in the door on a weeknight and have your Nouveau Niçoise assembled in a matter of minutes.

I’d even go as far as to say that if you wanted to pack this for lunch a few days in a row as opposed to a one-stop chop kind of deal, you could divide the prepared ingredients between a few containers, tucking an un-shelled egg and a tiny container of vinaigrette alongside each one. However you enjoy it, I hope that you do, and let me know how it goes.

nouveau nicoise // the muffin myth

One year ago: Nope.
Two years ago: Stewed Rhubarb with Vanilla Bean
Three years ago: Nothing!

Nouveau Niçoise Recipe:

If you’re serving a crowd, double the recipe and arrange this salad on a big platter that people can serve themselves from. As I mentioned in the body of this post, it also packs well for lunches.

Recipe adapted from River Cottage Veg. Serves 4.

.

500g new potatoes
200g green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
4 large eggs, just shy of hard boiled
3 little gem lettuces, or about 4 cups of similar lettuce, washed and dried
1/2 cup mixed green and black olives (or whatever your favourite is)
12 large basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper

1 small clove garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp water (optional)

Wash the potatoes and chop them into bite sized pieces of roughly the same size. Place them into a medium pot, cover with cold water, and a pinch of salt, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes are just barely tender.

When the potatoes are just about done, toss the beans into the pot so they get a quick cook. Drain the potatoes and beans in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside to drain and cool.

While the potatoes are cooking you can hard boil your eggs. I like to use this technique. For this recipe I like the eggs just slightly under done, so I’d stop at the 8 minute mark rather than 10. Run the eggs under cold water to stop cooking, then peel and quarter them.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the crushed garlic, olive oil, cider vinegar, mustard, and sugar in a small jar and shake, shake, shake it up. If you find it to be on the thick side (I do) add 1-2 Tbsp of water to thin it out.

Arrange the lettuce, potatoes, beans, and eggs on a platter or on individual plates. Scatter some olives and torn basil leaves over the top. Drizzle the dressing over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

MM_Know_Icon_FINAL

Potato, poh-tah-toe! However you say it, potatoes are a great source of vitamin B6, which does all kinds of important things, like building new cells in your body. B6 is also needed for the creation of amines, like serotonin, melatonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine that help to regulate mood, sleep, and stress, respectively. Diets rich in vitamin B6 are attributed to lower rates of heart disease. Also, B6 is vital for the breakdown of gylcogen – the form in which sugar is stored in our body – into usable energy.

Potatoes are also a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorous, niacin, and dietary fiber. But! Most of the fiber content is in the skin of the potato, so leave the skin on for all of the important benefits of ingesting fiber. Good to know – potatoes are a member of the nightshade family (along with tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplants), which some people have adverse reactions to. It’s also worth noting that potatoes are on the ‘dirty dozen’ list of foods to buy organic whenever possible.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2014

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 730 other followers