NanoWriMo: Day 2
“Hello everyone! I had the most amazing meal this weekend at Pah-ner-ah. Have any of you been there?” The room nods and murmurs of yes fill the room as Maria doesn’t hesitate to keep right on telling her story: “Well, I had the most deeeeeelicious meal there. With little tiny chickens, and a wonderful low-fat broth. And the hole thing was only 5 points! All I did was ask the woman for their nutritional information, and she pulled out a big binder full of the fat, fiber, proteins and carbs. It was everything I needed to calculate the points right there! Have any of you done this before?”
A handful of hands shot into the air. After a few months of attending classes on a weekly basis and listening diligently to the meeting topic, I was having a hard time staying on track with ones as simple as this. At this point in time, all restaurants were required to have nutritional information either in stores or online for patrons to access. I’d used Panera’s big binder once or twice before (and at that time I found out that if I continued to eat the Loaded Baked Potato soup? I’d have to eat cucumbers the rest of the day to make up for it….oops). This wasn’t news.
What WAS news, though, was the fact that people in the classes were truly unaware of how silly they were when they picked food. It’s like all common sense flew out the window, as evidenced by the next woman Maria called on.
“Um, I went to Panera the other day. I took my daughter there to get a sandwich and I decided to just do some work. So I ordered a coffee and decided to get something from the pastry section. I mean… I picked the smallest thing… it was a muffin top. And I’ve always loved those, and had always gotten them before because it’s a muffin. And everyone knows they’re healthy.”
At this point, Maria and a few other members started shaking their heads. This story got my attention….Muffins? Healthy? Yesssss, keep going please?
“Well, after I ate it, I went to the front counter to calculate the points. And do you know what? That muffin top? WAS 11 POINTS! HALF MY DAILY ALLOWANCE ON JUST A MUFFIN! I was blown away! I mean…muffins are supposed to be healthy!” she said with a huff, visibly upset by retelling her story of uncovering the deceit and immoral business practices of the muffin top industry.
Maria cleared her throat and turned to the entire room again. “See. Now some muffins are healthy, but not all of them, which is why it’s important to calculate the points before you eat it. Does anyone have advice for her?”
From the back of the room, the lone male attendee’s hand slowly raised. He stared straight ahead, and with a steady voice said, “It’s CAKE. No matter what word you use to describe it…. brownie. Cookie. Muffin top. Muffin. IT’S ALL CAKE. It’s not good for you. IT’S A DESSERT. And you’re getting tricked by bakery marketing. It’s confectionery 101. Just DON’T EAT ANYTHING THAT IS CAKE.”
Snickering filled the room, and the woman turned beat red. He did speak truth. But if it were as easy as “not eating cake,” then the world wouldn’t have a ton of overweight people. I think we can still eat cake and lose weight. The problem here is the fact that people are walking around, trying to lose weight, and believing that cake is a healthy alternative to other foods!
It was ridiculous. The woman could have eaten a bag of chips and reaped more nutritional benefits from it. She needed a dose of some common sense.
“This! Right here! Is a healthy muffin top!” Maria said, commanding the room again with a crisp Italian accent. She swung a little plastic bag in the air, filled with a small, frozen biscuit top.
“Vitatops! Have you guys ever tried these? They are SO yummy and delicious! And are only two points!”
“What are they called?”
“Where do you buy them?”
“Are they delicious?!”
“I’ve never heard of those! Tell me more!”
Everyone started to speak at once. Maria passed along the sample, letting everyone scribble down their own notes as she continued to talk. I looked at the muffin as it came to me, sipping my water bottle as I listened.
“I get them in the frozen section of the Market. I think a box of 12 was $15. They are SO worth the investment!”
I choked. An investment? On a fake bakery product? A quick inspection of the ingredients resulted in a few words I couldn’t pronounce and a ton of fake fiber. Were they worth it? For $15? It was definitely for the convenience.
After the meeting, I ordered a box, and tried them.
They tasted like cardboard.
Why the hell would you eat something that tasted like crap, just for the sake of losing weight? No wonder so many people ended their attempts at weight loss…. if they were eating cardboard, they weren’t being shown, or taught, that food can actually taste good AND be healthy, without all the added unnatural elements. It just wasn’t right.
And I wasn’t the only one to think so. “What other healthy dessert recipes do you have? How can we make cake better for us?” Maria’s voice carried above my thoughts.
Boxed low-fat cake mix.
Boxed low-fat no-sugar ice cream.
Boxed low-fat no-sugar gluten-free Little Debbie Snacks.
Here we go again.
I raised my hand and suggested baking something. From scratch. With healthy alternatives–like applesauce, egg whites, whole wheat flour.
I think I actually heard someone gasp and say, “Who has time for that?”
Apparently no one in this room who is trying to lose weight….
Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins
(Adapted from Baking Bites)
2 c. whole wheat flour
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 brown sugar
1 large egg
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1-1/4 cups mashed banana (2-3 large bananas)
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans and/or walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
- In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and egg until well combined. Whisk in vegetable oil, mashed banana, milk and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir until batter just comes together and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Gently fold in chopped nuts. Do not overmix.
- Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Turn muffins out onto wire rack to cool completely.