Tough Question & Easter Muffins

muffinsIt’s a common question and one that bereaved parents fear. How many children do you have? Pretty normal conversation in most social situations, but no easy answer if you are the one who has lost a child. How does one respond when someone asks, “how many children do you have?” How does one communicate about the loss of a child? How much information does one share and with who? Do I tell my story or strip it down?

"I have a daughter and a son"

“I have a daughter and a son”

When we moved to our new neighborhood I wasn’t prepared for this distressing question. Totally caught off guard, it hit me like a ton of bricks triggering tears and then apologies. It forced me to confront William’s death. It brought an upsurge in my grief. I felt embarrassed in front of new acquaintances and I felt sorry for the people who asked. As much as I wanted my privacy it felt wrong not to tell them about William. I needed to validate him no matter how painful the conversation.100_1937

With time the tough questions get easier to handle. I am prepared and comfortable with the answer, “I have a daughter and a son”. If I don’t want to share anything more I quickly change the topic. It works for me. How do you answer the tough question?

I highly recommend these no-fade baking cups

I highly recommend these no-fade baking cups

When it comes to baking I always have a lot of questions. Baking is a science after all. For instance, what the heck is white whole wheat flour? I have been baking with it for years, but never gave it much thought until creating this muffin recipe. Is it really whole grain flour or a refined mix of some kind? Turns out it is a whole grain flour made from white wheat as opposed to red wheat. It is simply lighter in color, milder in flavor and softer in texture. All of the good nutrition that one comes to expect from whole grains is in there. None of it has been stripped away.

white whole wheat flour

white whole wheat flour

Your Easter bunnies will love these muffins filled with dried fruits, carrots, coconut and whole grains. They are best served warm. If you don’t eat them all on day 1 then just refresh them with a 15 second nuke in the microwave.muffins

Be Fruitful Whole Grain Muffins

1-cup all-purpose flour

½ cup white whole wheat flour

1-cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

¾ cup flax seed meal

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1-teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup chopped dried apples

½ cup golden raisins or chopped apricots

¾ cup milk

2 eggs

1-teaspoon coconut extract

Heat oven 350F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. In large bowl, whisk flours, coconut sugar, flax seed meal, coconut, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, until blended. Toss in carrots, apples and raisins or apricots. In another bowl, whisk milk, eggs and coconut extract; add to dry ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Don’t over mix. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (about 2/3 full). Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Nothing Will Ever Be the Same & French Toast Muffins

French Toast Muffins

French Toast Muffins

 

It goes without saying that when one loses someone they love nothing will ever be the same. Life takes an unexpected detour and certainly does not turn out as planned. The grief journey is filled with painful twists and turns and ups and downs. There are road blocks and hurdles around every corner. The challenges are incredibly difficult, but also surmountable. Just keep telling yourself, “I am stronger than I think” and “I am never alone”.

forever in my heart

forever in my heart

Change comes slowly. Open the door and let it happen. Reinvent yourself. At some point the pain is manageable. You no longer feel exhausted and the anger is gone. Recovery doesn’t mean you forget; it means you continue to live a healthy life with good amounts of holding on and letting go. And in the end, moving forward is the best that we can hope for. Just remember, as you change, you are taking the best parts of your loved one with you.

People often ask me, “What is your favorite thing to cook or bake?” and I usually reply, “Nothing is ever the same” or “I almost never cook the same thing twice.” I am constantly re-inventing my recipes. Take these French Toast Muffins for example. My original recipe won an award from a most prestigious group of judges at betterrecipes.com. So, why would I change a winning recipe? —because change is good—-and in this case, surprisingly good!! If you compare the two recipes you will see I have eliminated lots of the fat (not all but lots), but without sacrificing flavor or texture.  Enjoy one of these sweet treats and still look good in your bathing suit.

French Toast Muffins---A Baker's Dozen

¼ cup skim milk

3 eggs, divided

8 slices cinnamon swirl bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch cubes

2 cups all purpose flour

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

3/4-cup buttermilk

1-teaspoon maple extract

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Heat oven 400F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin with no-stick baking spray or line with paper cups. Use a small ramekin for the 13th muffin. In medium bowl, whisk milk and 1 egg until blended. Add bread; stir to coat (this is the French toast topping). In medium bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined. In another bowl, whisk remaining 2 eggs for 30 seconds. Add buttermilk, maple extract and melted butter; whisk well. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry; blend just until the dry ingredients are moistened (do not over mix). Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon the French toast topping evenly over the batter; pressing down slightly. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert the muffins onto a wire rack, turn them upright; cool 5 minutes. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush maple syrup over muffins; sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar. Serve warm. Makes 13 muffins.

Here is the original recipe that won the contest.

French Toast Muffins

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Milk

3 Eggs, divided

8 slices Cinnamon Swirl Bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2″ cubes

2 cups All Purpose Flour

3/4 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Salt

1 cup Sour Cream

1 tsp Maple Extract

1 stick Plus 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted and divided

1/4 cup Sugar

1 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:

Heat oven 400 degrees. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick baking spray or line with paper cups. In a medium bowl, whisk milk and 1 egg until blended. Add bread, then stir to coat, for the French toast topping. In a medium bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined. In another bowl, whisk remaining eggs for 30 seconds. Add sour cream, maple extract and 1/2 cup of the melted butter, then whisk well. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, then blend just until the dry ingredients are moistened, but do not over mix. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon the French toast topping evenly over the batter, pressing down slightly. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert the muffins onto a wire rack, turn them upright and cool 5 minutes. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush remaining melted butter over muffins and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve warm.