Berry-Banana Muffins (Inspired by tUnE-yArDs + my food issues)

THE DISH
Banana muffins with strawberries, raspberries and lemon (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
I have a problem with sweets. It’s something that’s tormented me my whole life, and even though I now have more control over my health than I ever have, and I feel comfortable in my body and confident in who I am as a whole (yep, it took 23 years to make that happen), I don’t think my sweet tooth is going away anytime soon. I struggle the most when my lack of self-control gets the best of me and I eat, say, four cookies, and then I instantly feel totally disgusting — not just physically, like there’s a huge bomb hanging out in my stomach, but I’m also emotionally disgusted with myself for not having the control to just tell myself no, and then I feel gross and embarrassed.

tUnE-yArDs’ mind-blowing new record, w h o k i l l, brought some of this up for me: In the song “Es-so,” the band’s mastermind Merrill Garbus mentions a piece of cake and says in a sort-of Valley girl tone, “I gotta do right if my body is tight, right?” In the next verse she talks about sticking “a fucking fork in” and then speaks in total disgust, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” It reminds me of my relationship with food and the types of excuses I make to myself for why it’s OK to eat more than I really need to: I’m hungry when I’m really not; I was “good” earlier in the day; I’m stressed; I’m sad because my boyfriend broke up with me, etc. etc. I’m sure I’m not the only woman who relates to that song, which is why I’m so glad it’s there.

Other tracks on w h o k i l l have really been hitting home for me lately, too. The whole record is pure power: The music is confrontational, fearless, adventurous and loud, but it’s also melodic, influenced by African music (the percussion is especially great), and built up with layers of looping. Garbus’s lyrics are strong and she delivers them with intensity (watch the video below). On the album’s last track, “Killa,” she sing-raps, “I’m a new kind of woman, I’m a new kind of woman, I’m a ‘don’t take shit from you’ kind of woman” and then melodically sings, “So buckle up, ’cause we’re gonna move fast/ Drivin’ through things that you gotta get past.” (Seriously, ladies, if you need a post-breakup pick-me-up, however amicable the split, you should probably listen to this record.)

Yourstru.ly Presents: tUnE-yArDs “You Yes You” from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

But back to the food… Even though my self-control now is the best it’s ever been, I’m still in a constant battle with it. But the truth is that I ultimately can still be healthy (and even lose weight, which I’ve done thanks to changing my eating and exercise habits — not dieting) without completely cutting out sugar. Part of how I do that is that I very rarely buy sweets to keep in my apartment, because they definitely will not stay there for long. I’m much more likely to make them instead because that way I know exactly what’s in whatever I’m eating, which cuts down on the fake and processed foods, even if it doesn’t always cut down on the calories. But I often do try to make sweets that are at least a little bit on the healthy side, so even if I am indulging, it’s not always as bad as it could be. (As you can see from plenty of recipes on here, that is not always the case — and that’s OK too.)

As for this recipe: The texture of these muffins didn’t come out quite the way I hoped they would — they’re super, super moist and don’t puff up a whole lot. I think I got a little too creative when modifying the recipe — but they are still tasty. The fruit is because Tune-Yards’ music is colorful, and it has a tropical feel to it (she also mentions the jungle in “Es-so”).
tUnE-yArDs on MySpace

THE RECIPE
Make about 22-24 muffins (Modified — maybe a bit too modified — from Former Chef)
[NOTE: Like I mentioned above, the texture of these wasn't totally what I was going for, but I highly recommend checking out my amazing friend Ryanne's tips in the comments because that might fix it!]

Ingredients:
About 2 1/2 c wheat flour
2/3 c demerara sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 c lemon juice

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
4 oz canola oil (the original recipe uses grape seed oil but I didn’t have any)
6 oz skim milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup whole flax seeds, toasted
1 c raspberries
1 c strawberries

Directions:

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray two muffin tins with cooking spray.

• In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder

• In another large bowl, combine the mashed banana, oil, milk, eggs and vanilla.

• Stir the flax seeds and berries into the wet mixture. Add the dry ingredients (all at once) and stir until just combined.

• Pour the batter into the muffin tins and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into a muffin comes out clean.

12 thoughts on “Berry-Banana Muffins (Inspired by tUnE-yArDs + my food issues)

    • Heyo! I agree that it’s about moderation, even though that’s usually what my biggest problem is. I’m learning, though, and what I eat outside of sugary things is usually very healthy. I love “eat food, not too much and mostly plants.” Wise words to live by :)

    • Thanks, Amanda! Yes, listen, and if you like it, mark your calendar for July 14 — she is playing a free show at Pier 54 (and it’s my birthday).

  1. Love this post. You are amazing. And not to get all baker-nerd on you, but this is my theory on why they might have turned out super moist and not risen properly:
    In banana recipes, eggs are generally superfluous – bananas are a great binder(hence their ubiquity in vegan baking) so two eggs and 3 bananas could definitely keep a recipe from rising and make it super, super moist. Especially since the original recipe called for 1/3 cup of cocoa, which is actually ridiculously good at absorbing moisture, and adding lemon juice, which would thin the batter and, if overmixed or left out too long, would react very quickly with the baking powder and possibly make all the bubbly goodness happen before they got in the oven (that can cause that middle-sinking problem). Though I assuming that the lemon juice is going in with the rest of the wet stuff? It does not get mentioned in the directions.

    So, the short version of my suggestions would be:
    Lose an egg (or two), increase flour by 1/4-1/3 of a cup, and possibly add the lemon juice to the milk before adding it to the other wet ingredients, so it reacts with the milk and not the baking powder.

    I swear I am incapable of writing less than a novel whenever I write to you.

    • You are amazing too! Thank you so much for the tips — I should probably learn all this baking-nerd business, eh? I did add more flour than the original recipe to replace the cocoa, but taking out egg(s) sounds like it would help, and the lemon juice + milk too! I put a note at the top of the recipe to tell people to read what you said because you are so smart :) Miss you, lady!!!

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