and eat cake for breakfast! i'm only half kidding. on the one hand, i respect that the beginning of each new calendar year is as good a time as any to re-evaluate your habits, priorities and decision-making logic. sometimes we get in routines and ruts without hardly noticing, and a shocking amount of time can go by without pausing to wonder why. maybe jan 1 is an arbitrary time to stop and take stock, but for for some reason - either manufactured or natural - it is cemented in our culture as the time to do just that.on the other hand, the idea of a clean, refreshed slate is nice, especially after the holiday fetes and feasts that define december. and surely, setting new goals and tidying up one's physical and/or mental state is a healthy practice every now and again. but something about the way we even talk about "resolutions" seems to imply an inevitable tapering off of discipline and eventual failure. i've never been a fan of capital D diets or exercise fads, and the dawning of the new year spawns a nauseating number of both. seeing copious beautiful salad recipes and "7 Days of Juicing!" features gracing mainstream magazine covers is better than the ubiquitous glistening slab of protein, but i wish versions of these articles were written year round, not just during the be-a-better-you season.
thus, i appreciated this dose of sanity from our man mark bittman in the most recent issue of bon appetit, which seems to be a reaction to the extremism that dominates the resolution fervor. basically, he just proposes making small but meaningful changes in your diet and lifestyle, ones that you stick with consistently, and that over time, help you make lasting, sustainable progress. what sensible advice! everybody needs a level headed, Dad-like voice to talk them down from the ledge of carb-free crash diets and sugar-free sadness. mark bittman is The Dude of the food world (albeit, with a less bitchin head of hair), and i really admire him. in my dreams, we'll do a J together one day on a balcony overlooking new york city skyline.
an awesome, healthy diet doesn't have to be synonymous with an ascetic lifestyle that will be tempting to abandon every day. i'm pretty certain that both bittman and the dude would want you to take it easy, man. you can even have cake for breakfast! yeah, it's healthy and vegan, but cake is cake, dammit. and alongside a wedge of citrus and a cup of tea, this will kick the old metabolism into high gear. the gentle carbs and walnuts will keep you full until lunchtime, and the touch of whiskey will warm you for the morning commute through the frozen sludge.
Breakfast Cake with Boozy Currants
adapted from Sinfully Vegan by Lois Dieterly
~makes approx 12 slices of cake~
~takes 90 mins, largely unattended~
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon (or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground flax
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
3/4 cup of currants
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup (maybe a little less) whiskey, bourbon, or dark rum
- put the currants in a small bowl. pour in liquor almost to the top so that mostly all the currants can take a nice booze bath.
- preheat the oven to 350F. lightly coat a bundt pan with canola oil.
- in a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon (and ginger, if using), and salt.
- in another bowl, with an electric mixer, or briskly by hand, combine the oil and sugar until well mixed.
- in a separate bowl, combine the apple cider and flax powder. whisk with a fork until the flax is dissolved. add this mixture to the oil and sugar.
- beat the applesauce into the wet ingredients, and then work in the dry ingredients until just combined.
- fold in the currants with the liquor, and then the walnuts. stir to incorporate but do not overmix!
- pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for about 50 minutes. check the cake about 45 minutes in - gently stick a knife or a toothpick into the center part of the cake. if it comes out clean, it's done, and if there are little bits of batter stuck to it, it needs a few more minutes.
- cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. then, flip the bundt pan over and then gently shake to remove the cake from the pan and let cool more fully on a rack. sprinkle with powdered sugar for extra fancy points!