Balance doesn’t really come naturally to me, in any area of my life. I’m more of an ‘all or nothing’ kind of person. When it comes to food, this manifests itself in either wanting to eat everything in sight or nothing at all. Neither of which is particularly good for you nor do they promote any kind of pleasure or enjoyment in what you are eating.
We’ve been somewhat remiss recently at eating anything that resembles a balanced diet.
It’s a mixture of an extended post-holiday hangover, not helped by the number of birthdays and celebrations that seem to crop up in late August/early September, and an unexpectedly busy few weeks at work for both of us. As a result, there always seems to be an open bottle of wine the fridge or something sweet to nibble on after, or instead of, dinner. And whilst I have no regrets about the giant chocolate salted caramel cup that I ate at Hawksmoor one Sunday, that kind of thing probably should be the occasional indulgence rather than a staple of my diet.
I find it all too easy to rationalise eating (I’ve had a bad day/good day/average day etc) or non-eating (too busy, too tired, too stressed, too whatever) so that eating sensibly ends up becoming a choice that is much harder to make than it should be.
I don’t want to suggest that, even in our best moments, our diets are perfect. We certainly have good intentions – we try, for example, to ensure that we don’t get pizza for dinner every night and that there’s always something resembling a vegetable on our plates – but more often than I’d like at the moment, that’s about as far as it goes.
These muffins, therefore, were an attempt to get back on track. I am totally realistic about our eating habits and I know that we need a little something sweet either at the start (in my case) or end (in my boyfriend’s case) of the day.
They are lightly adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s most recent offering, It’s All Good, a book that is somewhat more balanced than you might expect considering the press that it received at the time of publication. Admittedly, I added back the gluten, in the form of kamut flour, and diary, in the form of yoghurt, to these gluten free and vegan muffins and then I went and threw in some dark chocolate (purely for the health benefits of course) but still, they are about 98% better for you than most of the stuff we’ve been snacking on recently.
Even more pleasingly, I was slightly taken aback by how good they were to eat. The muffin themselves are fluffy and light and there’s a pretty powerful (in a good way) punch of ginger that really brings them to life. Plus there’s a scattering of chocolate chips in every bite which is totally the way to my heart.
Sweet potato, ginger and chocolate chip muffins
Adapted from the sweet potato and five spice muffins in Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good
Yield: 6 muffins
I cut the recipe down to make six muffins; there’s only two of us and I find that muffins generally don’t last long enough for us to get through more than that before becoming too stale to be enjoyable. I find the buttery kamut flour works really well here but the original recipe called for a gluten free flour blend which you can use if needed.
- 1 small sweet potato, roasted until soft and cooled
- 60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 60ml (1/4 cup) plain yoghurt
- 80ml (1/3 cup) honey
- 135g (1 cup) kamut flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- Between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons ginger depending on your tastes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 50g (2 oz) chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F (fan) and line a 6-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
Peel the cold roasted sweet potato and mash it together with the olive oil, yoghurt and honey until smooth and lump-free. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ginger salt into a separate bowl and then fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Finally add the chocolate chips and fold until they are evenly spread through the batter.
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cases and bake for a little over 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown and firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Store lightly covered at room temperature for a couple of days.