I understand why people seem frustrated with resolutions, and why there’s a backlash against the exuberance of the fresh start and the clean slate that dominate the media the first two weeks of January. But I’m not with them. I get that the shitty part is the sense of disappointment in ourselves when we don’t live up to our own grand expectations and hopes. But I really like to make resolutions. I am totally in favor of setting intentions, resolutions, hopes, aspirations, and goals for the new year.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot because one thing that struck me recently is that resolutions don’t follow a straight line. A resolution is an act. It’s a verb, a doing. I resolve to do this. Which is to say, it’s ongoing, a process. Perhaps the best takeaway that I got from this is to not be so hard on myself if I don’t read 50 books this year, meditate every day, floss every night, walk daily, practice yoga regularly, and generally be a kinder, happier, gentler person to myself and those in my life. It’s a tall order!
When I take a longer look at the arc of my life, I see some pretty huge resolutions that took shape slowly, perhaps so slowly that it was hard to acknowledge the change, because it didn’t happen dramatically, but in increments. They didn’t start cleanly on the first of the year, or resolve in a straightforward, linear way. They took a long time, with a lot of setbacks.
The biggest of these is that I used to smoke cigarettes. Which is the hardest thing for me to talk about here, because on top of being totally embarrassed by that, there is nothing appetizing about that conversation in the context of food, and it doesn’t fit with my sense of who I am now, publicly or privately. But I did. Never a lot, but pretty much daily. It took two years of really challenging starts and stops before I finally, completely quit. (7 years ago!) So all of the frustration and setbacks were totally worth it, because now, I can’t even imagine going there. Now I can climb mountains and run farther than a few blocks without feeling winded, and breathe beautiful, deep, clear breaths that make me feel really happy about this whole being alive thing. But it was a struggle to stop. I mean, two years! Probably, truthfully, longer. Resolutions are slow, ungainly, awkward, inherently challenging. Let’s be easy on ourselves as we resolve. And remember that the going will be slower than we’d like, and sometimes hard. But totally worth it.
I think this is the middle ground, and it’s what I’m aiming for: neither too grand and unrealistic in my resolutions, nor totally hopeless in the complete giving up. Not seeing a setback as a failure. Because it’s not. Sometimes things take years.
Herbed Sweet Potato + Quinoa Muffins
adapted from At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen by Amy Chaplin
Yield: 10 muffins
I am in love with these. I am in love with Amy Chaplin’s beautiful book, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen. I love that the sweetness from the sweet potato lends a quiet, natural sweetness to these (without any added sugar) that is perfectly complimented by its savory, herbal elements. I made these three times. The first time was a resounding success, but one that came with a lot of off-the-cuff improvisation, based on me forgetting a few ingredients and being far away from a grocery store in the snowy woods, so I wanted to make them again. (This is perfect snow-day baking and eating, btw.) The second time, they kinda flopped. But that’s not the fault of the recipe, it’s the fault of a terrible, gummy, starchy gluten-free flour blend that I used. So I made them a third time, and they were winners again. Amy’s recipe isn’t gluten-free, but it is vegan (which I also swapped – because I believe in eggs), and I think it’s a delicate balance that needed a deliberate gluten-free modification. It needs a hearty blend of flours that absorb liquid. And a starchy, rice-based flour blend didn’t cut it. Keep that in mind if you make these gluten-free. (She used spelt flour.) I look forward to eating them all winter long.
1/4 cup rainbow quinoa (or black, or red, your call!)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 small onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh sage
2 teaspoons chopped, fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
1 /2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup almond flour (OR use 1 cup Bob’s 1-to-1 baking mix, plus 1/2 cup of oat or almond flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg, whisked
1 cup mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon tamari
In a small pot, heat the quinoa and 1/2 cup water over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Set aside 1/2 cup for the muffins and save the rest to sprinkle on the muffins.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 10 paper liners.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sage and thyme and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, measure out the rice, oat, and almond flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, sweet potato, water, sliced almonds, apple cider vinegar, tamari, and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Add flour mixture and mix thoroughly to combine. Fold in the 1/2 cup quinoa and the onions and herbs.=
Using a spoon, divide the batter among the lined muffin cups, filling them to the top. Garnish each with a bit of thyme and quinoa. Bake 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. (My experience with these is that they remain a little wet, even when ready.) Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Although they taste better warm, they’re best stored in the fridge.