Thursday, September 27, 2012

Zucchini Hazelnut Bread!

Today I made a loaf of bread. This is a big deal.

I'm gluten-intolerant and lactose intolerant, and I have a lazy intestine. That mother doesn't want to work. I shouldn't eat meat, peanut butter, chocolate, and other hard-to-digest-but-delicious-foods. At the end of the previous school year, I wrote what I consider to have been a very inspirational blogpost about the matter: "I'm taking control of my digestive system!" and "Nothing will get me down, by golly!" were the highlights, in case you were unlucky enough to miss it.Well, that attitude was fairly easy to keep up with this summer while I was at home in High Point, on vacation, straight chillin'. I had nothing to do but eat well, exercise, and hang out with my friends and family, and my mind and body loved me for it!

I came back to the DR, so happy to be with the fiancé and my friends here, but to be honest, going back to work has been a complete bitch. Being in the classroom is so gratifying and fun for me that it's like free therapy - I leave at the end of the class more relaxed and more in tune with myself than when I began. But the grading! And the new classes! My workload feels like it's doubled and I've been completely exhausted, stressed out, and contemplating quitting my job and working in retail. I mean, whatever. Any mindless job will do.

My day-to-day life has consisted of school, napping, boiling some tubers, and going back to bed. The days that vary are the days that I get so sick of this routine that I freak out about how every day is the same and the fiancĂ© and I go to a movie or go out to dinner. And then I set my alarm to begin again.

Y'all, this is ugly. On top of feeling way overworked, I've been neglecting exercise and my strict eating routine. In the past few weeks, I feel like I reversed so much of what I worked so hard to improve in the last few months. I know it's a vicious cycle - eating poorly and not exercising also zaps energy, but being a work zombie has given me a tunnelvision that directs me straight to my bed.

But then I went away last weekend to Puerto Plata, and I connected with my inner voice again. Friends. The beach. The sun. An absorbing book. It's amazing what rest and silence and laughter will do for the soul.

I reminded myself that I really am in control. I am the only one that can bring life back into my life! Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk that has gringo-fied many Buddhist teachings (Thanks Thich! ;) We're on a first name basis now), said something that connects with my weekend away: "The greatest miracle is that you are alive. And one breath can show you that." We are alive! Living! Breathing! Swimming! Laughing! Sharing! Listening! Shit that's good!

I'm embarrassed that I've been letting work, stress, and the proverbial "man" keep me down, but I'm feeling reenergized to start fighting back! For the millionth time, I want to be better today, and tomorrow, and the next day. Because, "Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.' (Mary Anne Rodmacher)

So I tried again today.

And I worked efficiently at school (check), I exercised (check!!!), and I made an incredible loaf of Zucchini Hazelnut Bread (check check check!!!!!).

Wow! My first loaf of bread! It's moist, spongy, and the flavors are so perfect together! Really, it's exactly how I remember gluten-full bread to taste like! It was love at first sight/taste/smell. I wouldn't change a thing. (But if you want to, walnuts is a good substitution for the hazelnuts.)

Yogurt-Zucchini Bread with Hazelnuts

1 cup hazelnut halves (about 4 oz.)
2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt**
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini (from about 1 medium zucchini)

**I am very sensitive to any and all lactose products, but I tolerate Greek yogurt. It has less lactose than normal dairy products, and it's full of probiotics. Some of you lactose intolerants may not tolerate Greek yogurt at all, and in that case, you could substitute the yogurt for applesauce in this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil and flour a 9-by-4 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. 

Chop the hazelnuts in half. Then spread the hazelnut halves in a pan and toast them for about 8 minutes, until you can smell them. Take them off the heat and reserve them for later.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the eggs, vegetable oil and fat-free greek yogurt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, along with the grated zucchini and toasted hazelnuts.  Stir until the batter is evenly moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the loaf is risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the loaf cool on a rack for 30 minutes before unmolding and serving.

a buen tiempo!

1 comment: