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Chocolate and Beetroot Muffins with Roasted Plums + Learning Along the Way

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Recently, I started university. And then I stopped. Whoops, sorry everyone! You know how I told you I was studying this year? Well, I changed my mind! I just thought I should update you, incase you blinked and missed it.

What happened?! Well, things happened, real life happened, and I got to re-evaluate my life and what is really important to me at high speed. Sometimes decisions like this can take ages to be made, but I made mine within a fortnight. And you might think that that sounds very fast, and it was; lovely people tried to talk me out of it and questioned if my decision was right. All I can tell you is that sometimes when you know, you just know.

In truth I had been having niggling doubts for a while, even before I started. But for one reason or another I had convinced myself that this was the right decision, the right time in my life to do this. Ironically I thought that going to uni would make me more of a grown up, even though I was going back to school and starting anew. And so I pushed any doubts aside and put them down to nerves. It may not have felt quite right but maybe that was just the way of it and I should push through anyway.

And then some real life happened, some proper grown up stuff that we all have to deal with from time to time. Those unexpected things that turn life a bit topsy-turvy. Reality check! It didn’t just come from one direction, but it came from a bunch of angles all at once. All I could do was just do my best to go with the flow.

That was okay, I held it together pretty well. I became very much in the now, dealing with each thing as it was presented to me. It actually felt a bit strange, and I even had a laugh about how present I felt in the face of all that was going on around me. But then I started to question what it would feel like to live like this all the time, how would I feel about that? Was living in this way what I really wanted and was it making me feel the way I wanted to feel?

I imagine life is like this for many of us quite a lot of the time, what with the juggling of careers, children, family and more – the modern idea that we should have it all and do it all and that we must keep going because that is just what we are supposed to do. It also made me question that old saying ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’. What if we know in our hearts that something isn’t right, but because of one reason or another we decide that we must persist, we must keep going, we must keep trying again?

I’m not saying don’t stick at things or work hard to achieve something, not at all! Not everything in life is easy and instantaneous (if only it were so). All I’m saying is listen to your heart, trust yourself, and choose carefully the things you pour your energy in to. If something doesn’t feel right, then maybe it isn’t, and choosing to try something else is totally okay! Don’t worry too much about what other people may think, people may surprise you! When you start sharing your stories, others start sharing theirs and you will realise that you are not alone and that most people probably have a similar experience from their lives that they are happy to share. I spent a week thinking ‘How am I going to tell everyone that I don’t think this is right? What will everybody think?’ – what I found out was that most people were very supportive when they knew that I was following my heart, and had stopped making excuses and decided to follow my dreams.

I am fortunate to have the kind of support around me that allows me to listen to my heart, or my gut, or my spirit – whichever way you prefer to think of it, and to go with what feels right. And always when I go with what feels right it ends up being the right decision. Living through the tricky life stuff can be a way to help you re-evaluate what is really important to you, it can be a good lesson that life is short and that you only have so many hours in each day – choose wisely how you spend them and make sure that you are doing enough things that bring you joy or that make your life feel better. Don’t just do things because you think you should; there are heaps of occurrences that happen in life that you can’t choose, but you can choose how you respond to them.

I realised that day to day living was just as important to me as what I wanted to do with my life. In fact for me the living and the doing are kind of the same thing. I have goals, but I will only achieve them if I stop getting in my own way. I want to have the time to be creative, and to make things. I want to actually get around to making them, and not just thinking about them. I want to cultivate a sense of the richness of living in my children, so that when they are adults they can feel free to follow their hearts too. I know that change can be good and that going with the flow and truly listening to yourself is important, and I want to keep listening to all those lessons along the way.

I hope you can follow your heart even if the decision seems hard. I hope that you feel able to listen to yourself and trust yourself and your actions. I hope that you can feel unencumbered by what is considered right or normal by others, I hope you can work towards your dreams and make a start today. Take some time to think about what it is you really want to do with your life, and how you want to go about it.

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While I was studying I found that I was hungry all the time! Brains that are working hard use up a lot of energy. Studying nutrition I obviously wasn’t going to visit the vending machine or resort to any ‘food like substances’ as Michael Pollan so beautifully puts it. I needed real food that kept my brain working well.

These muffins are just the ticket for keeping a hungry brain working at it’s best. They are full of protein, free from gluten or grains and even have a hidden vegetable. There are no refined sugars so they won’t cause any nasty blood sugar spikes (being a type 1 diabetic I can tell you this for sure as I tested my blood glucose levels before and after eating them), and they have lovely antioxidants from the cacao.

I like darkness from my chocolate, rather than sweetness, and with the addition of beetroot these muffins are earthy and quite grown up. Having said that, my kids happily ate them for afternoon tea as a quick refuel after a long day at school. They are sticky and moist, and not at all like your usual sugar filled cafe muffin. If you do like things on the sweeter side then you can add some extra xylitol or maple syrup, and substitute the chocolate for one that is a little sweeter than the 85% cacao I used. Of course the end flavour of your muffins also depends on how sweet your beetroot is so choose firm, small beetroots if you can as they are likely to be the sweetest.

And please go out of your way to add the plums on top. They add a delicious sweet yet fresh contrast to the dark cacao base; I just seem to be addicted to jammy roasted plums right now! But if you try any other combinations of fruit on top I would love to hear about it!

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Chocolate and Beetroot Muffins with Roasted Plums

Makes 12
Inspired by Sarah Wilson’s Beetroot Red Velvet Cupcakes from I Quit Sugar for Life
Gluten Free • Grain Free • Refined Sugar Free • Brain Food

You will need: a 12 hole muffin tin, muffin papers and a food processor or blender

3 small firm beetroots, washed and grated
2 large, free range eggs
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup xylitol
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
+
80g dark chocolate (I used 85%) chopped into little chunks
6 blood plums, washed and halved with stones removed

Preheat your oven to 170°C fan forced (190° C conventional)/340 °F/Gas Mark 5. Line the muffin tin with papers.

Into your blender or food processor place all of the ingredients except for the dark chocolate chunks and plums – keep these two ingredients aside for later. Blend the mixture until the batter is smooth and there are no visible chunks of beetroot. Stir through the chocolate chunks, and spoon the batter into the muffin papers.

Place a halved plum on top of each batter filled muffin paper, and place into the oven to bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the batter (not the plum!) comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before eating. The plums will be sticky and jammy and very hot, so don’t burn your tongue! Enjoy xx

Chocolate and Beetroot Muffins with Roasted Plums

Print Recipe
Serves: 12 Cooking Time: 45 - 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 small firm beetroots, washed and grated
  • 2 large, free range eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup xylitol
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • +
  • 80g dark chocolate (I used 85%) chopped into little chunks
  • 6 blood plums, washed and halved with stones removed

Instructions

1

Preheat your oven to 170°C fan forced (190° C conventional)/340 °F/Gas Mark 5. Line the muffin tin with papers.

2

Into your blender or food processor place all of the ingredients except for the dark chocolate chunks and plums - keep these two ingredients aside for later. Blend the mixture until the batter is smooth and there are no visible chunks of beetroot. Stir through the chocolate chunks, and spoon the batter into the muffin papers.

3

Place a halved plum on top of each batter filled muffin paper, and place into the oven to bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the batter (not the plum!) comes out clean.

4

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before eating. The plums will be sticky and jammy and very hot, so don’t burn your tongue! Enjoy xx

Notes

• gluten free • grain free • refined sugar free
You will need: a 12 hole muffin tin, muffin papers and a food processor or blender

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