I am a creature of routine, embracing my daily schedules as if they were written in stone. Routine builds structure in my life, surrounding me in the familiar. Routine provides a way to form good habits and to keep them. Routine eases the burden of making decisions, something I find paralyzing on the most difficult of days. While I love (and need) routine, the schedule has grown stifling in the last year. My weekdays blur together in a stream of repetitiveness—I eat the same breakfast each morning; I settle in front of the television at the same time each evening; I fill my fridge with the same foods week after week. Lather, rinse, repeat.
In the past year, I have been working towards building spontaneity into the routine (the irony in this arrangement is certainly not lost on me. By definition, spontaneity fits in no schedule). My routine is filled with so many self-imposed rules (no going out on school nights, no eating past 8 pm, no staying up late on the weekend) that I feel like I'm smothering myself with monotony. I know the rules are there to benefit me, but some days I wonder how I've written myself to a single script. On a given day, the players may be interchanged, the infections of voice may be different, but the words fail to change.
It's the spirit behind spontaneity that interests me, the freedom to break from routine and do something unanticipated. Last year I separated from routine only a handful of times. Once, while signing up for a six week woodworking course (of which I have two handsome Adirondack chairs to show for my efforts), and another when booking last minute plane tickets to Montana. It was exhilarating to "break the rules," to allow myself the power to leave the familiar, if only for a few hours at a time.
With a new year upon us, I am trying to set myself up for a year where routines have more room to bend without fear of breaking. I signed up for a month long community education pottery class to bring me joy (even if I am terrible when it comes to clay), I attend yoga class twice a week to clear my head, and I have plans to see a movie on a Tuesday, when seats are cheap and I have school the next day.
The new year feels like permission to start over—to leave the past in the past and start with the slate clean. My intention this year is to be open, open towards new ideas, unexpected plans, and a break in the daily routine. What are your intentions for the new year?
Dark spotted, fragrant bananas are ideal for baking, adding bold flavor to banana muffins, banana bread, and banana cake. The problem with banana desserts is that when the desire to bake with bananas arrives, the bananas are not the right ripeness. Instead of waiting a few more days for the bananas to ripen, the bananas can be roasted in the oven to bring out the bright, familiar flavor. With extra vanilla extract and a sprinkling of chopped chocolate, these Roasted Banana Muffins are a simple treat for breakfast or afternoon snack.
One Year Ago: Coconut Matcha Chia Pudding
Two Years Ago: Coconut Almond Quinoa
Three Years Ago: Almond Date Banana Smoothie
Four Years Ago: Chocolate (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream, Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal, & Raspberry White Chocolate Scones
Five Years Ago: Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Green Tea Coconut Ice Cream, & Chocolate Lavender Cupcakes
Six Years Ago: Banana Cinnamon Muffins, Vanilla Pear Milk, Cranberry Chocolate Muffins, & Salted Caramels
Roasted Banana Muffins
Yields 6 large or 12 standard muffins
3 medium-large bananas
2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (80 mL) vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) milk
2 ounces (60 grams) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Banana slices, for garnish
Chocolate shavings, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place unpeeled bananas on a foil covered baking pan and roast for 20-25 minutes, depending on ripeness of the bananas. Remove the banana from the peels and mash. Set aside and let cool for several minutes.
Keep the oven running. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar and oil. Whisk in the egg, vanilla, and mashed bananas until combined. Slowly add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until smooth. Stir in the milk and chopped chocolate.
Fill muffin liners 3/4 full. If desired, place two thin banana slices on top of the muffin batter and sprinkle with chocolate shavings for garnish. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.