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I’m Andrea. I like to cook and bake and take photographs and write about life. Welcome to Bella Eats, where I share these passions of mine with you. I’m glad you’re here.

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Monday
May032010

the fallen plate

Hello friends. Things have been a little bare around here lately, haven’t they? I am having a hard time believing that April slipped by with only two posts on Bella Eats. Two posts? How did that happen? We’ve been cooking and eating, I assure you, and I have a long list of recipes that I was planning to share last month. The photographs are all edited, and most are even loaded into drafts in my Wordpress dashboard. So what, you ask, is the deal?

I’ll spare you the list of excuses because really, what it comes down to, is that life is just plain busy. I’ve tried my best to become a very good juggler, to keep all of the plates soaring high above my head with a flick of my wrist and the occasional impressive behind-the-back catch but, alas, one of those plates fell.

The Bella Eats plate is a tough one to keep in the air when time is running short at the end of the day, mostly because of the words that accompany each meal that I share here. My time for writing comes after work, after running and yoga, after dinner and dishes, after free-lance photography edits and marketing projects. Lately when that time is upon me, the time to sit behind my computer and let the words seep from the well in my brain, down my arms and out through my finger tips...I find myself with an empty well.

And so I go to bed. I cuddle in next to Brian with the sheets wrapped around my shoulders and two dogs crowding my feet. The ceiling fan whirs overhead and I attempt to match my breath to its subtle rhythm, incorporating techniques from my yoga practice in an effort to fall asleep as quickly as possible. But my mind, the mind that failed me for an entire hour prior to my giving in and coming to bed is now racing. There are 'to do' lists and emails to write and recipes and workout plans swirling around on their own paths, making a terrible knot of jumbled thoughts that only the clarity of morning will untangle.

When sleep finally overtakes my body it is not without its own side effects. Suddenly my mind, not deterred by slumber, has all kinds of ideas about writing and work and life, weaving intricate stories through my dreams that are exciting and fascinating and inspiring.  The scenes are so vivid that I find myself waking up multiple times in the night, tossing and turning as characters new and familiar wind their way in and out of predicaments that oh-so-loosely resemble my waking hours. I find myself hitting 'snooze' on the alarm multiple times each morning, trying to catch the tail-end of these thoughts before they fizzle out and leave me with only a hazy shadow of something that I think, maybe, if I could just remember, might have been good. It seems that this is the only time I have for creative wandering, the only time not bogged down by obligations and responsibility. I relish in it, until I realize the time and jump from bed in a panic, beginning the daily process all over again.

These extended 'snooze' sessions have caused me to rely heavily on grab-and-go breakfasts. The kind that, after hastily rising from bed and jumping in the shower, darting around the house looking for this shirt or that shoe, feeding dogs and packing a lunch allow me to simply reach into the freezer or pantry for a single item to stash in my bag and eat at the office. Gone are the mornings of leisurely breakfasts that involve turning on the oven and dirtying a pot, bowl and spoon. These days I am simply happy that I thought to freeze the leftover Carrot and Pineapple muffins I made weeks ago, and hopeful that soon, very very soon, my schedule will slow down to its normal pace. I am ready for that Bella Eats plate to soar again, to form high arcs above my head as words flow from my fingertips into this little space on the 'net.

Until then, thanks for being here.  I am so happy you're reading.

These muffins are incredibly moist, even after a 3-week stay in the freezer. They have a hearty crumb fortified by the whole wheat flour, and a subtle sweetness provided by the pineapple and the agave nectar. I find them quite filling when paired with a piece of fruit or a cup of yogurt for breakfast.

Carrot Pineapple Muffins
makes 12 whole grain, no added fat, naturally-sweetened muffins
adapted from Sweet and Natural Baking, by Mani Niall

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tbsp oat bran
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (I will bump this up to 1/2 tsp next time)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup light agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1-1/3 cups grated carrots (I peeled the carrots into long ribbons first, then chopped them finely)
  • 3/4 cup diced pineapple (I used canned, but will definitely use fresh next time)
  • 12 chunks of fresh or canned pineapple, about 1 x 1 x 1/2 inch in size

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350*.  Lightly spray a standard 12-cup muffin pan with vegetable oil spray.

  2. Sift together the flour, bran, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt into a medium bowl and make a well in the center.

  3. In another medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer set at high speed, beat the egg whites with all the agave nectar until soft peaks form.  Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the milk.  Pour into the flour well and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined.  Stir in the carrots and the diced pineapple.

  4. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling about 3/4 of the way full.  Top each muffin with a pineapple chunk.  Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean and the tops spring back when pressed with a finger, 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool for 2 minutes, run a knife around the inside of the cups to release the muffins, and remove from the cups. Serve the muffins warm or at room temperature.

To freeze, wrap each muffin individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.  Place the muffins in a Ziplock bag in the freezer. They should keep for up to 3 months.

« it's better this way | Main | to satisfy all cravings »

Reader Comments (21)

Dude, your photography just gets better and better.

And don't worry, we love you and will always read. I know how blogging can sometimes take a dip when life gets busy.

05.3.2010 | Unregistered CommenterWiggs

Exactly as Wiggs said - we're happy to read whatever you think to jot down whenever you're able to jot it down! Plus, when you pop by to gift us with such a deliciously spicy-sweet-nourishing recipe as this... it makes all the waiting worth it :)

05.4.2010 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

Lovely muffins and gorgeous photos!

05.4.2010 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

naturally sweetened! now we're talking (:

these look great!

I've been thinking about this a lot lately too...we all crave balance in our lives, but we expect "balance" to mean contributing to all our projects and relationships equally at once. Really, though, there's nothing wrong with the ebb and flow of attention and concentration on certain areas, as sanity demands. Good luck dealing with the busy-ness!

05.4.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaddie

those muffins look SOOO delicious!

hope youre taking the very best care <3

05.4.2010 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca lustig

Aw, sorry you're so busy! I hate that feeling - wanting to write but being so drained (creatively, mentally an physically) that I'm unable to. Of course being busy has its merits, but still...

I hope you get a chance to slow down soon, too!

05.4.2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaitlin

These could not be more adorable. The bow? The little piece of pineapple on top? Swoon.

What a great, healthy recipe! I sure can relate to the a.m. being the only time to be inspired. I think that maybe in the past, all the time spent accomplishing mundane tasts was actually really productive in terms of working through and planning things. I need to try to make time like that, hard to do with the tv on:)

05.4.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

They look lovely! And I love that you used Agave instead of sugar as a sweetener. You could try to sweeten it with dates and bananas as well, we've tried it on one of our own muffins recipes and it turns out really tasty.
Your blog is beautiful!

05.4.2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

No need to apologize for a living a life, fully. And to come bearing darling muffins, to boot!

05.5.2010 | Unregistered Commentermolly

just came across your blog today via taste spotting. i'm ALWAYS on the hunt for delicious and nutritious muffins. i took one look at your photo and went straight to the store. they're delicious!!! thank you for the inspiration. hopefully you won't mind if i share the recipe on my blog and link it back to here.

i'm adding you to my favorites :)

05.5.2010 | Unregistered Commenteremily

Fun to see this! It was nice to meet you again at lunch yesterday, and I'm definitely looking forward to reading through your archives here. The photographs are beautiful. I so want a muffin now! Hallie

05.6.2010 | Unregistered CommenterHallie

Life is exactly the way you describe it- a big juggling game that sooner or later, something will fall short, and with too many things to juggle, we aren't able to pick it up and throw it back into the mix. I know exactly how you feel- My poor little blog seems to get neglected a time or two. Your blog is just too cute! Love the sound of these yummy muffins :)

what pretty, petite lil' muffins - & they look delish to boot. your pics are absolutely gorgeous.

LOVE the photos and the twine around each one!

05.10.2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecka @Studio222

The flavors here all sound amazing! Can't wait to make these for myself.

05.12.2010 | Unregistered CommenterEliana

The description of your daily routine sounds exactly like mine. I can't seem to write at night but the second I get in bed, my mind starts racing...then there is the snoozing in the morning.
These muffins look fantastic! I love the little bows you tied to. Just so elegant and angel-like.

05.14.2010 | Unregistered CommenterElina

I love reading all your posts Andrea - its like a mini short story, with gorgeous food to boot!

I actually switched my blog routine to the morning. I wake up before anyone else, I've programmed the coffee so that's the first smell that hits me when I exit our bedroom. It's "my" time and I love it - the best part is it doesn't interfere with my family time!

Happy Monday!

05.17.2010 | Unregistered Commenterbiz319

yuuuum.....

I'll be here whenever you post...love your blog:)

05.18.2010 | Unregistered Commentersheena

These look heavenly!

05.19.2010 | Unregistered CommenterHinna

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