Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breakfast of Champions

A facebook post from Bon Appetit magazine recently gave a shout out to local musician/photographer Jon Huck whose Breakfast Project is getting some major attention. Huck chronicled the eating habits of more than 100 of his friends and neighbors by photographing their faces along with the first meal of their day.

Comments flooded in, with Bon Appetit fans confessing what they had for breakfast that morning. I was impressed with the healthy delicacies fellow foodies are getting into their mouths for the so-called most important meal. Breakfast is what can often make me motivate myself from the bed. These days the thought of a smoothie from Naturewell on Sunset gets me up and going. The better I start out, as in the healthier, the less guilty I feel if I bend in a not so healthy direction later in the day. Eggs, oatmeal, high protein and high fiber are a sure fire way to keep things rolling (no pun intended). Grapefruit and avocados are winners. And forget cold boxed cereals. They will put me to sleep an hour later on my mid-morning commute. Plain Greek yogurt with sliced almonds and pumpkin seeds and a squeeze of agave is my favorite thing right now. For breakfast and dessert.

Some mornings though, I am defiantly in the mood for baked goods and old fashioned coffee. Fresh, just out of the oven, baked goods. And baking first thing in the morning is a lovely way to sort through the sleepiness and start a quick science project in your kitchen with a (hopefully) tasty result.

Despite my deep love of the act of baking, I am admittedly pretty bad at it. Due to lack of practice and my experimental tendencies in the kitchen I can understand why.
I once attempted to improvise a pan of brownies with a gorgeous block of Valrhona chocolate only to serve up an embarrassing goopy layer of something resembling hardened chocolate flavored mud. I would not be surprised if I enrolled in some pastry program in the near future and tried to tackle the art and intricacies of baking although my belly asks me firmly not to even consider it.

One recipe I tend to not screw up too royally is the muffin. Muffins are easy, quick and very adaptable to be incredibly chock full of fiber, texture and good morning ingredients. One can easily substitute the standard ingredients of butter and eggs with oil, yogurt and applesauce, use honey, maple syrup or agave instead of sugar, and whole-wheat flour, oats and flax meal can take over for the white stuff. And that makes spreading real butter on a hot muffin right out of the oven that much more pleasurable.

I have adapted and played with a few recipes over time to come up with this ramshackle but dependable recipe. I prefer a muffin that is hearty yet does not sit in the gut and one that is not too sweet so I can rub preserves all over it.

*Mind you, I know blueberries are presently out of season, so you can easily sub frozen blueberries or bananas. Yum.

Breakfast (or anytime) Blueberry muffins

(Makes about a dozen muffins)

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
(pastry flour is best but all-purpose also works great)
1/2 cup ground flax or quick rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp dried ginger (or 1 Tbsp fresh grated)
2 eggs
1/4 -1/2 cup agave, honey or maple syrup (depending on you, sweetie)
1 1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Sift if you have a sieve. If not, no worries.

In separate bowl mix wet ingredients. Stir into dry ingredients. Please do not over mix.

Spoon batter in greased muffin tins to about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes until a gorgeous brown on top and your knife pulls out dry.

Slather with butter and homemade jam.
They keep well for a few days and are even better toasted the next morning.