This post is inspired by the novel Julia’s Child by Sarah Pinneo. Worried about what her kids eat, Julia Bailey starts a prepared organic toddler meals business. With names like Gentil Lentil, can Julia balance work and family and still save the world? Join From Left to Write on May 24 as we discussJulia’s Child. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
One of the products of the fictional business “Julia’s Child” is a muffet — a smaller-sized muffin, just right for toddlers. I remember when my nephew would eat nothing except corn dogs and apple juice. So, I can understand that, for toddlers, such a product might be exactly what is needed to get them through difficult eating years. But, as an adult, I’ve had to sever my relationship with muffins and it was not an easy separation.
I used to think that muffins were healthy. Bakers and recipes tout the wholesome ingredients — carrots or pumpkin or raisins. Sometimes they contain the healthier grains like whole wheat or bran or oatmeal. I loved muffins. They tasted good, were the equivalent of bread in exchange plans, and provided an alternative to the more decadent treats at bakeries.
I began to suspect something was amiss when I got my first bread machine and started watching my sodium intake at the same time. Muffins, like quick breads and cakes and cookies, get their leavening from some combination of salt, baking soda, and baking powder. All of those ingredients have sodium. I discovered fairly quickly that the bread I baked in my bread machine had considerably less sodium per serving than the muffins I baked in the oven.
I remained in denial for a long time about the other objectionable aspects of muffins. Compared to bread, they also tend toward more fat, sugar, and calories — considerably more if they come from a bakery or are pre-packaged.
It was a double chocolate chip muffin that finally forced me to confront the truth. They aren’t muffins; they’re cupcakes without icing. Even wholesome sounding ones like carrot muffins are just carrot cake made into cupcakes but without the cream cheese frosting. Muffins are great for an occasional treat, but a disaster if substituted for bread, especially if you’re like me and underestimate the number of carb servings to account for a muffin.
Fortunately, I found another love. Now, I bake breads in my bread machine that hit the same flavor points as the muffins and quick breads that I used to enjoy. See the chocolate chip bread I made for my birthday: Weekend Cooking: Chocolate Chip Bread. I make applesauce bread with cinnamon and maple syrup instead of morning glory muffins. In the autumn, pumpkin yeast bread takes the place of my mother’s pumpkin quick bread recipe.
It’s a persistent fantasy, that muffins are healthy, but I’m older now and not so easily fooled.
For those of you still dealing with finicky toddlers, I can give you some hope. That nephew graduated from college earlier this month. He’s a fine, strapping young man with an adventurous palate who even appreciates the finer points of a well-made salad.
So, From Left to Write book club folks, Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads. Any given week, the participating bloggers feature recipes, cookbook reviews, restaurant reports, food scenes from books, and other creative culinary adventures.
For Weekend Cooking folks, the From Left to Write book club offers review copies of books once or twice a month. Rather than reviews, the book club members write posts inspired by the book. Julia’s Child is the second foodie book we’ve been offered in recent months, both sponsored by Stonyfield. Here are details about how to join us: Join the Book Club.