30 Sep Anti-Inflammatory Food on the Go
Moist, healthy, and easy to pack. These are winners.
There are different blocks we needs to check for different athletes, but across the board, we want foods that are made from whole, real ingredients. I fielded a lot of questions about breakfast at my last Performance Nutrition workshop, so I spent this morning in the lab, also known as my kitchen. My goal was to create a food that is easy to eat, gluten-free, customizable, packable, can be frozen, and includes functional foods that support performance and recovery. Oh, and it needs to taste good.
This recipe was inspired not just by the young dancers at Mid-Columbia Ballet, but a retired one: me. The other day I was walking down the stairs and I felt a twinge in my knee. It’s nothing new, the result of a high school injury, but I have managed to keep it at bay with lifestyle strategies. One of those strategies is keeping my diet as anti-inflammatory as possible. I like to add functional foods whenever I can, including sources of omega-3 fatty acids (hemp and flax seed) and anti-inflammatory herbs and spices like cinnamon and ginger. Another is adding collagen to the mix. Except I really don’t like drinking the collagen cocktails of sticky powder mostly-mixed into a juice. So I decided to try to work collagen into a different vehicle: muffins.
The recipe you see is what I came up with. It is a muffin, not a glorified cupcake, so if you are looking for a sugary, crumbly bit of baked breakfast, this ain’t it. Instead, this is a gluten-free source of goodness. The texture is moist and a bit dense. These are easy to eat and very satisfying. Don’t let the small size fool you, just one may keep hunger pangs away until lunch.
The eggs provide much of the structure, protein, choline, and a some omega-3s (if you use eggs from hens that eat an omega-3 rich diet). Squash is in season and I have gads of it in my garden, so it came in as a nice source of fiber, vitamin C, and magnesium. I used acorn squash, but use what is locally available. There is an anti-inflammatory boost from the cinnamon, ginger and tart cherries. I use double or triple the spices in this recipe for my use for the taste and the health benefits; feel free to do the same. The chocolate chips are optional, but I find adding a sweet treat makes new foods more appealing and accepted.
This is a recipe that’s easy to customize. Can’t get enough pumpkin? Use it rather than squash.You can make it dairy free by swapping the butter/ghee with coconut oil. Add nuts, seeds, or other stir ins for more texture and to up the nutritional profile. If you don’t have collagen or want to make these vegetarian, leave it out or swap with a vegetarian protein powder. For a sweeter taste, try using almond extract rather than vanilla. The spice mix can be consolidated by simply using pumpkin pie spice. These should last up to 5 days in a sealed container in the fridge, or freeze them for longer storage. They lasted overnight here.
A customization I do not recommend with this recipe is trying to bake it in a loaf pan as a bread, rather than as muffins. I played with the ingredients and then tried to bake it as a bread, and it just wasn’t very good. The greater baking area provided by the muffin tin serves this little tasty well. Here it is, give it a whirl, share your results on Instagram with the hashtag #eatwellpros.
Performance Collagen Muffins
These gluten-free gems are loaded with anti-inflammatory goodness, as well as protein, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. If you like the benefits of collagen, but don’t like drinking it, these are a tasty delivery method.
(Makes 16 muffins, 25 minutes to prep, 25 minutes to bake, 50 minutes total time)
Preheat the oven to 375 and line muffin tin with parchment paper liners.
- 6 eggs
- 1c. roasted squash
- 1 med. sized banana, mashed
- 2T. maple syrup (optional)
- 1/4 c. melted grass-fed butter, (or ghee)
- 2T. coconut oil, melted
- 1T. vanilla
- 1c. gluten free flour
- 2T. coconut flour
- 1T. flax seeds, ground
- 1T. shelled hemp seeds, ground
- 2T collagen
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1/2 T cinnamon
- 1/2 t. powdered ginger
- 1/4 t. cloves
- 1/4 t. nutmeg
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1T. vanilla
- 1 c. dried, tart cherries
- 1 c. 70% (or greater) cocoa chocolate chips (optional)
- Gently beat the eggs, then stir in the butter, coconut oil, maple syrupand vanilla.
- Mash the banana and squash, then stir into the egg mixture.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.
- Combine wet and dry ingredient, stirring until well-blended.
- Fill the muffin wells ~3/4 full.
- Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool and serve.
Does the lengthy ingredient list scare you? Use a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice instead.
No squash? Substitute with zucchini or pumpkin.
No collagen? No problem, you can leave it out.
Want to spice it up? Go for it! More is more when it comes to spices and your health.
Looking for other stir in options? Try chopped apple, toasted walnuts, or raisins.