The Edible Peace Project, Part 2: Savory Quinoa Cupcakes

There is one word that strikes fear into the hearts of every graduate student.

Thesis.

Say it with me, Thee-sis. Thesis. Sweet baby jesus, even the sound of it makes me shudder, shed a tear, and kind of want to light my arm hair on fire.

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Luckily, we have the option to forgo jumping through numerous IRB hoops to analyze data and instead basically compile a sh*t ton of research with resources other professionals can have full access to in a project. Anyone wanna help me out a little? By like, doing the whole thing for me? Eh?

Generous compensation will be provided (See recipe index in menu).

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I finally have my topic and it is……..probiotics and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

WOO. If this doesn’t send all of your nerves into instantaneous excitement, quite frankly I don’t know what will. But hey, there is actually so much interesting research out there right now being done on the microbiome (aka the trillions of bacteria living in our gut)– the basic premise is that there’s a connection between your gut bacteria, your immune system, your digestion, and even your cognitive functioning. In fact, I just started reading The Microbiome Solution by Dr. Robynne Chutkan, a renowned gastroenterologist doing fascinating things in digestive science right now.

That being said, when undergraduates ask how grad school is going I will never, ever recommend advancing their education…

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 One of the most potent probiotics (code for healthy bacteria) out there is a food you probably know and love– yogurt. Along with protein and calcium, yogurt contains billions of living bacteria that studies show may have serious healing effects. And not just on digestion & your intestines…probiotics seem to share some sort of a connection with brain health. Emerging research demonstrates Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus as the main species showing positive impacts on things like anxiety and depression. Another study shows elevations in mood after taking a probiotic supplement. Research is still in its very, very infantile stages (we’re talkin mostly studies using rodents here…although the second study mentioned did actually involve human subjects) but isn’t that cool? One more way in which what we eat affects how we feel, and subsequently how we behave. If a food like yogurt delivers protein, calcium, fats, AND eases my anxiety around midterms, all in one tasty cup, SIGN. ME. UP.

Forget speed dating, take 20 to sit down and meet your microbiome!

Gut Microbes

They’re kinda cute, huh? *Disclaimer: NOT an actual scanning electron micrograph image*

You know what else them gut bugs LOVE? Fiber. It’s their #1 pick when they get the munchies. These hearty “cupcakes” are so yummy on the inside– they offer plenty of flavorful fiber from the veggies, quinoa, and oats along with vitamin D in the egg yolks and vitamin B in the nutritional yeast. Slather them in a Greek yogurt frosting to reap all the benefits of probiotics in one tasty bite. Sayonara, Sprinkles, there be a new cupcake in town.

I have been doing my best to slurp down more probiotics– I’ll let you know how it’s going in a couple months. You know me, always experimenting on myself. Not only that, I sat down the other day and realized I hadn’t had any sort of mini-panic attack in several weeks– a record for me in the past year. I can’t say it’s due to excessive emptied Whole Milk Stoneyfield containers…but in fact in comes from something else. I have been setting aside 30 minutes every day for myself. 30 minutes, that’s all it takes. I set a timer on my phone, actually (and then I put my phone out of site for the next half hour). Nerd alert, I know, but I think about exactly what I want to do, and I do it. For only 30 minutes. Sometimes it’s working on a painting (even though I don’t get far) sometimes it’s downloading new, good music, sometimes it’s writing in my journal, sometimes it’s simply reading in the comfy lounge chair in my living room. Whatever it is, that time is mine. I am beginning to understand the uncomplicated truth that if I can’t find the time to nourish my soul for just half an hour every day, how in the hell do I expect to find the means to quiet my thoughts and take care of my mind? I am definitely learning.  And armed with a basket full of savory cupcakes, I will continue said learning.

Savory Quinoa Cupcakes

Makes 12 savory cupcakes

  • 1 eggplant, diced into rounds
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil + more for greasing muffin tin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned uncooked rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 2% plain unsweetened Greek yogurt, for frosting
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, place eggplant on foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 20 minutes, flipping over once. Remove, chop into small pieces, and let cool.
  2. Place tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 8-9 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  3. Turn heat down to 375 degrees and grease a muffin tin with a little bit o’ olive oil.
  4. Beat the eggs in a small bowl with a fork.
  5. In a food processor, pulse the oats 4 to 5 times until coarsely ground but not powdery.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add in the eggs, quinoa, herbs, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast.
  6. Fold in the garlic, tomatoes, and eggplant.
  7. Spoon into a muffin pan and bake for 28-30 minutes, until muffins are golden brown around the edges and fork comes out clean when pierced through the middle.
  8. Let cool for 30 minutes, then “frost” with Greek yogurt. Sprinkle with thyme if you want that foodie look. Y’all know what I mean 😉

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