What do I do when it seems our country is spiraling toward tyranny, I feel as if I’ve accomplished nothing during my time on earth, and it’s 4 pm on Sunday?

I reassert some control over my life.

I bake muffins.

I don’t consider myself a baker. Baking requires a level of precision that I find constraining. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to dabble. Quick breads are by far the best thing for a non-baker to experiment with. They require no rolling pins or punching of dough. And most quick bread recipes are pretty forgiving. Retain the proper ratios of flour, leavening and liquids and you can play around with the rest.

I happened to be in possession of a giant butternut squash. Part of it went into another recipe, and the rest I roasted whole, in its skin and then whipped into a puree in my food processor. A blender also does the trick. In either case, make sure the squash has cooled a bit first.

If you’re not feeling as motivated, you can use canned pumpkin or squash, cooked sweet potato, applesauce or even mashed ripe banana. The addition of a fruit or vegetable puree helps with the moisture factor here. Feel free to use different nuts or none at all, dried cranberries or cherries instead of raisins, a different assortment of spices, grated carrot instead of parsnip…you get the picture. I used a variety of flours here, because that’s what I had. You can use only all-purpose flour, or whole wheat flour, but keep gluten-free flours (oat, almond, etc.) to a quarter cup.

The following recipe is distantly related to Samantha Seneviratne’s Morning Glory Muffins.

While I can’t say these muffins will make your morning glorious, they may make it tolerable.

The muffins will stay fresh stored in an airtight container for two days. Or better yet, freeze them, and defrost at room temperature for an hour or so (or over night).


Better Morning Muffins

Servings 12


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • ¼ cup oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts see note below
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper baking cups.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a separate, large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add parsnip, coconut, walnuts and raisins, then stir in the melted coconut oil.
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Stop mixing as soon as all the flour is incorporated! Over stirring results in a tougher muffin. No one likes a tough muffin.
  • Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them three-quarters of the way.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, and the muffins spring back when touched, about 20 minutes.
  • Place muffin tin on a rack to cool. After 5-10 minutes, remove muffins from tin and let cool completely on the rack.
  • The muffins will stay fresh stored in an airtight container for two days. Or better yet, freeze them, and defrost at room temperature for an hour or so (or over night).


It’s worth it to toast your nuts, not just for this recipe but for life in general. It deepens the flavor, enhances texture, and your kitchen will smell great as you’re doing it!
Get toasting:
Heat your oven to 350 degrees, and spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Check on them after 5 minutes. Move them around a bit to make sure they’re all getting nice and toasty. It can take up to 10 minutes but check frequently, and stir around a bit to prevent scorching. You’ll never eat a raw nut again!

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