baking/ gluten free/ morning tea + afternoon tea/ this is life

Chunky Monkey Muffins + little things to feel good

Little moments make the day brighter. Chunky Monkey muffins for morning tea.

Nothing like a pandemic to bring on an existential crisis… our town is back in lockdown and from all reports (my own included) lockdown 2.0 is no easier than it was the first time around – it seems to be much the same but with less adrenaline to spur you along; lockdown 2.0 is just a slightly wearier version of the original.

When your world changes it can be hard to find your footing, find your sense of purpose, or just find the energy to get out of your pyjamas. It’s normal to feel perplexed about what it all means, and what to do, when your usual rhythms and anchors in life – like going to work or actually having work to do, spending quality time alone or even just chatting to other people as part of the day – have disappeared.

It’s hard to know where we should be headed when our usual way of getting there no longer exists.

I have found myself wondering what is really important in this precious life; what we should do with it? Where should we focus our energy? How are we going to live well even while facing challenges, and find a way get ourselves wherever it is we want to be?

After pondering these questions a lot, I have found a few answers that seem to be helpful to me, maybe they can be helpful to you too.

If there is something I have been avoiding, that’s probably the thing I need to do the most – until I get to it, or get past it, it will likely just get in the way of pretty much everything else (whether I want to admit it or not) and keep me from feeling in any way at ease.

Little things can be just as good as big things when it comes to the daily living of life. Big things create grand and wonderful memories to look back on, but it’s the little things that really get us through the ‘every’ day. Feel thankful for the little things, they’re actually great too.

And, I guess, in order to find some good times amongst the bad, we need to remind ourselves that we can make our own good times (even if they are just small snippets) amidst what is going on around us. This last one isn’t easy – even just remembering this can be hard let alone knowing how to find find our way through – but if we know that we can create any number of versions of our life at any given moment by what we focus on, what we choose to repeat and from who we are on the inside, we can make today our best version of right now.


There are a lot of things going on out there that I would love to fix and I can’t. That can be frustrating, and overwhelming, and leave you feeling helpless. So, right now I’m just in search of feeling happy and the best version of fulfilled I can, today. 


The things that make me happy, when I don’t know what to do, are the simple things; maybe they are for you too. I’m not in search of being or ‘keeping’ busy – I’m in search of feeling content, hopeful and purposeful. There are stacks of things in life that I would love to fix that have no easy or straightforward solution, and there always will be. But I can notice what I have control over that makes me feel good and use that feeling to help me figure out what my greater path should be and what I can do to help make things better, because when I feel good it’s easier to do more good things (albeit, from inside my home). Taking good, baby steps in the hope they can help me build a little momentum.

It’s completely normal to feel ‘all at sea’ when your way of life has changed; that is just a starting point for change. That feeling is my reminder to look for anchors, solace and rhythm in the daily ‘little’ things, the things I can change, and to remember to notice the things make me feel good when I do them and do more of them. Keep those good little things, for they are gold. It’s also a reminder to notice the little things that have the power to change the day in a bad way, and try to no longer include these little moments that don’t serve me well, as best you can at least.

Bake your own healthy Chunky Monkey muffins, like banana bread but better.

For simple little moments, I am knitting and crocheting for all the babies I know about to be born; relearning and remembering old skills from long ago to create something to welcome the new. Life is not standing still, it continues to grow. I also seem to have trained the cat not to steal the wool (one of his many fetishes) which is quite the victory in itself. He still mercilessly steals the yoga mat at every opportunity, but we’ll call that one a work in progress. 

I’m drinking coffee in the sunshine (when it’s there) with my kids every morning, and appreciating the extra opportunities to be with them that I don’t get when they are at school. School from home can feel like a lot, but I feel lucky that we get to live so much of our lives together right now. I can only imagine that this time of challenge and figuring all the little things out (like how to live close together for a very long time) will serve us well in the future. This close family time is definitely my favourite ‘upside’ of this year.

I’m listening to good news, and trying not to listen to too much of the bad; not to avoid what is really going on in the world, but because it makes me feel mad and sad, and then I am no good to anyone. I would rather try and focus on the things I can do to help better it, and the amazing things others are doing to help better the world too. This is just me, and maybe you are different; people can use good and bad news in many different ways. I am full of wonder that even with all the bad stuff going on, people are thinking creatively and coming up with ideas on how to make the world a better place. It’s so cool when people make lemonade out of lemons and turn hard times into diamonds, and are able to use challenge as a way of getting inspired to create something better.

Chunky Monkey Muffins with a morning cup of coffee

Here are a few more of my favourite little things that have been helping me feel good, reminding me of who I am and what I can do; and have been helping me take good little steps to find momentum again and figure out whatever it is that I can do right here, right now, in this time. 

Do good, feel good

I’ve signed up to Global Citizen – an easy way to petition governments and organisations around the world, to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. You can learn more about the causes you feel passionately about, and add your name to help make a difference – all from home, anytime you like. 

Move your body, feel better

My favourite, favourite, favourite ever yoga teacher Duncan has just started his own online studio and it is THE BEST. A new class is released each day, alternating between Vinyasa yoga (good for just about everything – body, mind, breathing) and body conditioning classes which come complete with their own cute playlist and Duncan cheering you on. There is a weekly talk on the philosophy of yoga which I had so been missing from my life, a stretch class and a meditation to help find a few extra ways to relax and gain a little perspective. I am so grateful to have Duncan back in my daily life, not only for his approach to yoga, which has helped my body and mind no end, but also for his inspiring insight into the purpose of life and fun and positive energy – he always makes me have a really good laugh, which is so rare in yoga! I need that laughter so badly right now, and I always get it with Duncan; it’s even better that I get it while doing something good for my body too. It’s my favourite daily pick-me-up, and always makes me feel a million times better. 

Cool people doing cool things

A little while back we started watching OK GO music videos on YouTube – they are the absolute best! Each and every one is a wild ride of creativity and fun, I totally recommend checking them out to be inspired by the sheer scope of their ideas, and as a reminder that people can dream up the coolest things. 

Eat well, feel cosy

Everyone loves banana bread (along with sourdough, as we have all seen) and now that we’re at home making our own, you can make it even better – full of good ingredients and all the things you like. Below you will find the recipe for some Chunky Monkey Muffins, based on a classic, healthy, banana bread base but quicker and easier to make and bake, and topped with all my favourite extras to make them even more delicious. They are a ‘little thing’ that helps me remember a ‘bigger thing’, and fill me with nostalgia. Do yourself a favour and make double the walnuts while you’re at it, just roast the extras on a little tray in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes – you’ll want more to snack on, for sure.

Times may have changed so the ways we seek to find happiness and fulfilment might have to, too. Or maybe we just have to remember that the simple little things we choose every day are what makes up a life, so choose the little things that serve you well. Do away with the ones that don’t, as best you can. Find your own happiness wherever you may be… (you’ll find me at home, eating muffins).

Chunky Monkey muffin ingredients

Chunky Monkey Muffins

These muffins remind me of a bigger moment; travelling round the world with small children and finding a little ice-cream cart on a beach on a hot summer’s afternoon in Vancouver. It was then that we tried our first Chunky Monkey ice-cream, and we’ve never looked back. Funnily enough, an ice-cream scoop is the perfect way to measure out the muffin mixture…


Makes 12 

2 ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/2 cup (120ml) olive oil
3/4 cup (90g) almond meal
3/4 cup (105g) buckwheat flour
1/2 cup (100g) xylitol
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
pinch of fine salt

50 – 75g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

3/4 cup (75g) chopped walnuts
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt flakes


Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6 (or 180°C / 350°F if your oven is fan forced). Line a muffin tray with muffin papers. 

Roughly mash the bananas in a medium sized bowl with the back of a fork – it’s okay to leave a few chunks, they’ll put the chunky into the muffins! Add in the eggs, vanilla paste and olive oil and whisk with the fork until well combined.

Stir through in the almond meal, buckwheat flour, xylitol, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well combined.

Fold through the chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.

In a small bowl stir together the walnuts, extra cinnamon, maple syrup and salt flakes until the walnuts are well coated.

Divide the muffin mixture between the muffin papers, and pop a heaped teaspoon of the walnut mixture on the top of each muffin. Any extra walnuts can go on a little tray in the oven alongside the muffins for snacks later.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 16 – 18 minutes (check on your extra walnuts after 10 – 15 to make sure they don’t burn), or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

If you can, eat these while they’re still warm from the oven; everything tastes better that way.

Chunky Monkey Muffins

Print Recipe
Serves: 12 Cooking Time: 20 - 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (90g) almond meal
  • 3/4 cup (105g) buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (100g) xylitol
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of fine salt
  • 50 - 75g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup (75g) chopped walnuts
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt flakes

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6 (or 180°C / 350°F if your oven is fan forced). Line a muffin tray with muffin papers.

2

Roughly mash the bananas in a medium sized bowl with the back of a fork – it’s okay to leave a few chunks, they’ll put the chunky into the muffins! Add in the eggs, vanilla paste and olive oil and whisk with the fork until well combined.

3

Stir through in the almond meal, buckwheat flour, xylitol, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well combined.

4

Fold through the chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.

5

In a small bowl stir together the walnuts, extra cinnamon, maple syrup and salt flakes until the walnuts are well coated.

6

Divide the muffin mixture between the muffin papers, and pop a heaped teaspoon of the walnut mixture on the top of each muffin. Any extra walnuts can go on a little tray in the oven alongside the muffins for snacks later.

7

Bake in the centre of the oven for 16 – 18 minutes (check on your extra walnuts after 10 – 15 to make sure they don’t burn), or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Notes

• Gluten free • Dairy free •