Golden Sunrise Muffins
Turmeric and blueberries come together for a delicious nutrient-packed start to your day
These yellow-hued and blueberry-topped muffins remind me of a spectacular sunrise over the Atlantic ocean - bright blue skies with bursts of golden sun rays reflecting on the clouds and waves. I took the picture below a couple Christmases ago, and these muffins really do remind me of how incredible the sky looked that morning.
However, bright and cheerful mornings can perhaps feel like distant memories during a pandemic. For many of us, the monotony of changing from nighttime pajamas to our daytime loungewear yet again creates a rather dull start to the day. Even as many states, Arizona included, start to navigate reopening, the ongoing emotional challenges from these past few months are certainly still present for many. I've heard from many patients recently that finding motivation to maintain any semblance of their prior routine requires significant effort.
One part of everyone's day that is still essential however, is eating. Based on the continued shortage of flour and other staples at the grocery store, it seems that more and more people are preparing meals at home. Personally, I have found baking to be a rather meditative escape from the outside world. The fragrances, colors, textures, and tastes of whatever I'm preparing keep my senses and mind in the present instead of worrying about the latest news update that just popped up on my phone. There are a plethora of tempting dessert recipes floating around social media these days. However, I've been gravitating towards experimenting with more nutrient-dense recipes. Food really can be medicine, and these muffins might be just the jumpstart you're looking for before your next Zoom meeting. Packed full of antioxidants, plant-proteins, and healthy fats, they are a delicious guilt-free treat to support your body and mind.
These delicious little berries are an excellent source of flavonoids. Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant that have been shown to have a positive effect on mood [1, 2] and cognition . Happiness and improved memory are certainly qualities many of us can benefit from right now.
Turmeric is becoming more and more trendy; it seems to be everywhere - from cosmetics and skincare, to nutritional supplements and superfood products. Most people know turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties. In Ayurvedic medicine, it's been used for centuries for a variety of additional health benefits and modern research supports these historical uses.  Curcumin, an antioxidant found in turmeric, has even been found to reduce feelings of fatigue and promote calmness when used long-term. 
Contrary to what the name suggests, buckwheat is not a type of wheat. In fact, it's naturally gluten-free. It was first cultivated in Southeast Asia, and later became popular in Eastern Europe. It has regained popularity in the US recently as an ancient grain known for its nutrient benefits. This grain is packed with more fiber and protein than standard wheat flour. In baking, it provides a rich, nutty flavor.
Walnuts are an excellent food to incorporate in your diet if you don't have a nut allergy. They contain higher amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) than other nuts. ALA is a type of plant-based omega 3 fatty acid that gets converted to EPA and DHA in the body. These essential fatty acids provide many functions in the body, including brain health  and immune modulation .
This recipe is adapted from Green Kitchen Stories' Turmeric Breakfast Muffins, which can be found here.
1 cup walnuts
1 cup rolled oats
90g (approximately 2/3 cup) buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons Gaia's Golden Milk powder* (or 2 tablespoons organic turmeric powder, 2 teaspoons ground cardamom, and a large pinch of black pepper)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup buttermilk or unsweetened yogurt (plant-based works well too if vegan)
1/3 cup melted grass-fed butter or extra virgin olive oil
3 extra ripe bananas
5 fresh dates, pitted
3 large eggs (or 3 tablespoons chia seeds mixed with 9 tablespoons water if vegan)
1/3 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1 1/2 cups organic blueberries, fresh or frozen
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease the pan well.
Add the walnuts and rolled oats to a food processor, blender, or mortar and mix into a fine powder. Avoid over-mixing as it can start to turn to more of a walnut-butter quickly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and mix together with the rest of the dry ingredients. Set aside.
Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, mixing well. Add the rest of the wet ingredients to a blender and mix until smooth. Stir into eggs, and then add to the dry ingredients. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry mixture until combined.
In a small frying pan, toast the oats over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat and add to a small bowl. Mix together the toasted rolled oats, oil, and sweetener for the topping.
Divide the batter evenly into the muffins tins. Gently press several blueberries into the top of each muffin, pushing down into the batter slightly. Add the topping mixture to each muffin. Bake for about 18-22 minutes, until an inserted toothpick can be removed clean.
Let cool and remove from the muffin tin. Serve with yogurt or a smear of almond butter. Enjoy!
*This is not a sponsored post; I do not receive any compensation from Gaia for suggesting this product. I simply love this product and have kept it in my house since having the pleasure of staying at the Gaia farm for an educational week one summer during my residency program. It's an excellent all-in-one replacement for the turmeric and other spices listed in the inspired recipe.
 Khalid S, Barfoot KL, May G, Lamport DJ, Reynolds SA, Williams CM. Effects of Acute Blueberry Flavonoids on Mood in Children and Young Adults. Nutrients. 2017;9(2):158. Published 2017 Feb 20. doi:10.3390/nu9020158
 Chang SC, Cassidy A, Willett WC, Rimm EB, O'Reilly EJ, Okereke OI. Dietary flavonoid intake and risk of incident depression in midlife and older women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;104(3):704‐714. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.124545
 Devore EE, Kang JH, Breteler MM, Grodstein F. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Ann Neurol. 2012;72(1):135‐143. doi:10.1002/ana.23594
 Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: A Review of Its' Effects on Human Health.Foods. 2017;6(10):92. Published 2017 Oct 22. doi:10.3390/foods6100092
 Cox KH, Pipingas A, Scholey AB. Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population.J Psychopharmacol. 2015;29(5):642‐651. doi:10.1177/0269881114552744
 Packer L, Tritschler HJ, Wessel K. Neuroprotection by the metabolic antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid.Free Radic Biol Med. 1997;22(1-2):359‐378. doi:10.1016/s0891-5849(96)00269-9
 Gutiérrez S, Svahn SL, Johansson ME. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells.Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(20):5028. Published 2019 Oct 11. doi:10.3390/ijms20205028