The last three months in Italy were positively wondrous. I tried all sorts of amazing things – from deep-fried sage leaves to braised fish fry with tomatoes and basil. What all that amazing food and wine left me with, however, was a rather unsightly ten or so additional pounds than when I had first arrived.
Let’s just say it was the worst souvenir ever.
So, upon my return home I decided that it was time to lose that ten pounds, along with the other five that had crept up on me since my husband’s last return from the sandbox. About 4 years ago I went through a very disciplined weight-loss regimen that helped me to lose nearly 40 pounds – and I’d kept most of it off until now.
Back then, however, I was mostly concerned with just dropping the weight. Rather embarrassingly, now that I look back upon it, I wasn’t terribly concerned with nutrition. All I wanted was to get back to my svelte self and fit into the size 2 jeans in the back of my closet. I managed that eventually, but I certainly didn’t do it in the most healthful way possible.
Yesterday I celebrated my 26th birthday by spending a few hours at the spa. While I was getting a pedicure two of the nail techs were discussing their eating habits and the methods they were taking for losing some weight themselves. I was a little appalled to be honest – they talked of fasting for days drinking only water and tea, not eating a meal until 7 or 8 o’clock at night, and a number of other incredibly unhealthy habits.
I remembered myself engaging in a few of them when I was younger, doing whatever possible to reach the all-important number I’d set for myself on my bathroom scale. And what an arbitrary number it was. Why on earth do I need to be 122 pounds or 125 pounds or whatever number feels right that day?
The answer? I don’t.
So right then I there I decided that I wasn’t going to lose those pesky pounds by any bizarre weight loss strategies or adhering to a specific number of calories every day regardless of their origin. Because 500 calories from a greasy cheeseburger and 500 calories from an amazing avocado salad are two entirely different kettles of fish, my friend. What matters is eating right, eating clean, and letting my body find the weight it deems appropriate (though the vain side of my personality hopes it’s around a size 4…).
So what’s a girl to do? Eat for health. Not for weight loss. Not on a diet. Not for any other reason than making my body as healthy as it can possibly be.
And how does one do such a thing? You look for whole, healthful foods and combine them in unique ways to benefit your body as much as possible. Why have some sugary cereal for breakfast when you can microwave some rolled oats, fat-free milk, frozen blueberries, honey, and cinnamon for breakfast? Now you’re not only getting fiber from the oats, calcium from the dairy, and a serving of fruit – you’re helping to lower your cholesterol with the oats, slowing the aging process and improving motor skills with the blueberries, increasing the good bacteria in your body with the honey, and regulating your insulin production with cinnamon. That my friend, is eating for health.
So what does this have to do with “seeded” bran muffins? A lot. Seeds are super-duper healthy. Chia seeds - yes, those used to grow “pets” a decade or two ago – are crazy good for you. They’re loaded with iron, folate, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fiber. They help to lower your levels of so-called “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and can stabilize blood sugar levels.
Hemp seeds are a complete protein – and no, they won’t get you high. They’ve got Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, reduce inflammation, and increase brain health. Flax seeds offer soluble fiber so feel fuller longer – and they also help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Add all of these wondrous seeds to the fiber powerhouse of bran, the potassium booster from the banana, and heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil and you’ve got a veritable super-muffin. It does not, however, come with a cape (though feel free to add one should you feel the need).
So, raise a muffin in toast to a life of healthier, happier, skinnier people who eat to be healthy – and not for any other reason.
Seeded Bran Muffins
Approximately 18 muffins
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon cinnamon
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 ½ cups fat-free milk
2 cups bran cereal
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted flax seeds
1 tablespoon hulled hemp seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Preheat oven to 400⁰ F
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl combine mashed banana, milk, bran cereal, egg, and oil. Let sit for two minutes or until the cereal softens. Stir the flour mixture into the bran mixture, also adding the flax, hemp, and chia seeds, until just combined. Scoop ¼ cupfuls into muffin liners and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with small crumbs. Let sit for ten minutes, then remove from pan.