Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins with Almonds and Cooking for Love, Not for Money.

I'm obsessed with these Pumpkin Muffins with Almonds (or cashews, or pecans, or walnuts - whatever you have!), and I'm not the only one.

But I'll get back to them in a second. 

As an update, my health is in tip top shape right now. I'm eating what my body needs and I'm exercising regularly. And just as importantly, I'm not working like a crazy person.

Let me fill you in on a little secret: I love to work. It's embarrassing, really. When I was at one of my worst moments this year, in terms of my physical health, I also technically had three jobs: high school English literature and language teacher, after school SAT prep class teacher, and I started a tiny side business selling gluten free goodies, aptly named La Buena Fe.

I started selling the Peanut Butter Cookies by accident. One day, I brought a few batches of these bad boys in to school as Thank You's to a couple of fellow teachers. These ladies passed the cookies around the teacher's lounge, and by the end of the next day, my business cards were made and the orders were flowing in. As you can see, when I sense an opportunity, I run as fast as I f'ing can with it. After about a month, I was making 100 cookies a night. Plus teaching during the day. And teaching SAT prep in the afternoon. I also was not eating dinner, exercising, or doing anything else, including cooking and writing. 

I was exhausted! Burnt out! After a couple of weeks, I hated those f'ing cookies! And I had to shake myself - hadn't I been here before? Really, Lizzy, how did you let this happen? 

Looking back over the course of my life, I realize that I've always bitten off more than I can chew, I've maintained a stress level that normally equals to exhaustion, and just because I tend to pull off everything in the end doesn't mean it's good for me. Or for you, for that matter. Does this sound familiar? Or do I just sound neurotic?

It's important to have goals and push yourself blahdy blahdy blah, etc. etc. etc., but we put too much pressure on ourselves to make our life based around climbing invisible ladders. 

I'm lucky -  I love my job, the first one, teaching high school. I work very hard at it, I'm learning everyday, and it's nothing short of satisfying. But life is not work. Shouldn't there be time to enjoy our friends, family, and food? And isn't there some reflecting that's supposed to go on in there? Shouldn't we have time to develop personal interests? When did these important parts of our lives become so low on our list of priorities? 

I quit selling the cookies, and the SAT class ended. I'm exercising and reading and cooking and napping in the afternoons instead. It's liberating and it feels like I'm in control of my own life. We all know how special that feeling is. Am I right or am I right?

And finally, one last philosophical bite: F cooking for money (for the time being)! One day I would love to have a bed and breakfast or a small café, but right now, I want to make amazing food out of love. I'm trying recipes for gluten- and lactose-free baked goods for my friends and for the fiancé's friends and for whoever gets lucky enough to be here when I'm making a batch of heaven and honey (I'm trying to cut out sugar). A lot more edible Thank You's and Just Because's have been given out. It feels good. It feels better.

These Pumpkin Muffins have been shared with many, and everyone raves about them. The fiancé and I have coffee and muffin time just about every afternoon, and for 3 weeks, these have been the stars.  I can't take all the credit though, because this recipe comes from the Gluten Free Goddess website. Schedule a couple of afternoons just to flip through the Gluten Free Goddess's recipes - there are tons! And all that I have tried so far have been outstanding. 

The flour mix I'm using is based on the ratio from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. The article attached again here perfectly explains why it's important to weigh your gluten free flours instead of measuring them by cups. It's the best article I've found on gluten free baking. 

Buy these flours, weigh them according to the list below, and mix them together. You will be tapping into the individual bags of flour very little. It seems expensive, but one batch of this all purpose mix lasted for about 4-5 batches of muffins. 

It's worth it! Trust me. These muffins do not taste gluten free in the slightest, and you can use this mix any other time your recipe calls for a gluten free all purpose flour mix. And you can proudly say you made it yourself! Congratulations!

200 grams superfine brown rice flour
150 grams sorghum flour
50 grams potato flour
250 grams sweet rice flour
150 grams potato starch
100 grams arrowroot powder
100 grams cornstarch

Pay this post forward and make these muffins for someone you love! Cheers to finding time for you!

2 1/3 cups of the gluten free all purpose flour mix above OR if you cannot or do not want to make your own flour, King Arthur's Gluten Free All Purpose Flour mix is the best I have found so far!
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger 
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Add in: 
1 and 1/3 cups packed coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree 
1/3 cup light olive oil
2 eggs, beaten, or Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 1/4 cup warm water for vegan
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract

Then add in:
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk or coconut milk

Beat the batter to incorporate the ingredients. If it needs a little more liquid, add up to 1/4 cup almond or coconut milk until it is a smooth consistency.

Stir in by hand:
1/2 cup almonds, pecans, walnuts, or cashews.

Spoon the batter into twelve muffin cups, filling them close to the top. Top the muffins with whatever nut you chose as a filler: almonds, cashews, walnuts, or pecans.

Bake in a preheated oven, 350 degrees, for about 22-25 minutes, or until golden and firm, yet springy. Test them with a toothpick to be sure that they are done.

Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes and then remove them from the pan to prevent the bottoms from getting soggy.

The Gluten Free Goddess website says that these muffins freeze well, but I haven't tried it yet. If you do try it and like the results, let me know!

Makes around 12 muffins!

a buen tiempo!