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Stress-Busting Breakfast

This isn't a recipe so much as a formula for invincibility.  Maybe not quite though.  I won't wax poetic about the power of healthy fats; I won't demonize quick carbohydrates.  I'll simply say that I have way more energy and pep in my step when I eat a morning meal of eggs and healthy fat than one of grains or sweet bready things.  When my breakfast consists mainly protein and fat, my brain just seems to work better and the hunger gremlin (or is it ghrelin?) doesn't start begging for lunch quite so early. 

Hear this: a recent study gave a group of overweight teenage boys one of three breakfast meals: eggs, steel cut oats, or instant oatmeal.  Unlike the egg and steel cut oat eating groups, the instant oatmeal group saw not only sharp rises in blood sugar, but also spikes in norepinephrine (a stress hormone!) following the glucose spike.

On the weekdays, we GO GO GO. We may even skip breakfast (gasp!). The pace of life can wear us down and this kind of intense, sustained stress leaves us craving sugar, refined carbs, and empty calorie snack foods. These foods give us “instant comfort,” but are the very ones that lead to surges and crashes in hormones and blood sugar, leaving us more susceptible to new stresses and usually feeling worse than before. It’s a vicious cycle.  So start the day with a breakfast modeled after the one below and perhaps when the proverbial shit hits the fan, you won't hit the vending machine...

 
stress-busting breakfast | funkybeetsblog.com
 

Stress-busting breakfast: Eggs + Greens + Healthy Fat

Eggs (hard-boiled, scrambled, poached, fried, etc.) – satiating protein staves off hunger and keeps hormone levels more stable; eggs also provide many essential amino acids our bodies need to function at their best.  Eggs provide one of the highest biological value protein sources, meaning our bodies have an easy time turning it into muscle or using it for tissue repair.

Greens (kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, arugula, etc.) – Dark greens gives us a wonderful cornucopia of vitamins and minerals.  They're tasty, nutrient dense, and support top-notch brain function.

Healthy Fat (pumpkin seeds, olive oil, avocado, whole milk yogurt, grass-fed butter, etc.) – Like protein, fat is satiating; of the macronutrients, it takes the longest to digest so hunger won’t strike as quickly and blood sugar levels will stay at an even keel.  Our brains are nearly 60% fat and we know that fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine our brain's integrity and ability to perform.

BONUS: Omega-3s (smoked salmon, tuna, walnuts, hemp or flax seeds) - These amazing fats fight inflammation, helping our bodies to more efficiently manage stressors and making the body’s stress response system more flexible and resilient.  Omega-3s help cells in the brain communicate better and protect neurons against the damage caused by high levels of stress hormones over a long period of time. 

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins with Gooey Peanut Butter Filling (Gluten Free!)

With visions of maple glazed ham, warm cheesy dips, sparkly cutout cookies, and bourbon-spiked eggnog dancing in our heads, now for something completely different... 

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I've been cooking a lot lately, mostly things to give as gifts, and dreaming of posting about all of it: my beloved granola with dried cranberries and dark chocolate chunks, cute hot chocolate stir sticks replete with mini candy canes, infused booze of several shades and flavors, walnut-studded rum balls, and hearty mason-jarred beef and barley chili. 

But what finally drove me to sit down and write a post were these humble little muffins that emerged from my oven today as a result of some crazy ripe bananas wafting their sweet boozy potpourri cloud through the kitchen. I wanted to bake something to enjoy after a rich holiday meal or with Christmas morning coffee: a not-too-sweet almond flour pillow chock full of the good stuff: chocolate, banana and peanut butter. Obviously I had to test one to make sure they weren't poison, and it was love at first bite: the perfect balance of roasty banana and rich chocolate, with a background of vanilla and almond and a gooey peanut butter center to steal the show. Almond flour's texture is unbeatable when it comes to hearty baked goods like muffins and breads, I completely prefer it over wheat flour. The dense, moist crumb on these babies cries out for a glass of milk... and a second muffin. 

chocolate  banana muffins with peanut butter filling (GF)

Merry Christmas Eve Eve everyone. I hope you have the most wonderfilled and joyful holiday season. Remember to look around and breathe deeply. Say "mmm" as you savor all those special holiday dishes and "ahh" when you see the glow of Christmas lights. As we steep ourselves in family time and food, let's be grateful for and awed by LOVE and all of the ways it manifests itself in our lives - at Christmas and every day after.

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins with Gooey Peanut Butter Filling (Gluten Free)

Recipe adapted from Comfy Belly Blog
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (or melted coconut oil, butter, etc.)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour or almond meal (I used unblanched)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Mix honey, oil, eggs, vanilla and banana together in a bowl until well blended.
  3. Mix baking soda, salt, flour, and cocoa in a separate bowl and add to the wet ingredients and mix well again. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour batter evenly into lined muffin tins. Using a spoon, plop 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter into the center of each muffin.
  5. Bake muffins for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.
  6. Store at room temperature for up to three days or in the fridge for a few weeks, or freeze for safekeeping. Enjoy at least one while still warm.
chocolate  banana muffins with peanut butter filling (GF)