Balance | Lemon Poppy Zucchini Bread
Balance is one of those words that’s become overused and overmarketed to the point of virtual meaninglessness. Much like natural. I bet there’s a magazine, probably holding court in the Whole Foods checkout line, called Natural Balance. (Actually, that’s a brand of pet food.) Balance is something we know we want, but what exactly is it, and how do we know when we attain it? In yoga, we feel balance while holding an asana and not falling over. But eventually, no matter how much we feel that balance is ours, muscles get tired, and falling over is inevitable. Does that mean we can no longer claim to have balance?
Yesterday morning, descending the stairs from my bedroom, I lost my balance, dropped my water glass, and landed with what felt like all of my body weight on my forearm. Starting my day with this momentary physical loss of balance threw me off for the rest of it. I dropped an egg yolk into the grate of my stove (and later found my cat licking up the bits I failed to clean). I watched Eat Pray Love, a bad and looong Julia Roberts movie whose only saving grace was an Eddie Vedder song during the credits (oh, and Javier Bardem), and cried. Something was obviously wrong. (Although, for the record, I enjoyed the book.) While trying to fall asleep, I found my mind racing through what I’ve come to identify as its Worry Inventory. What tasks are awaiting me at work the next day? What else did I fail to clean up off the kitchen counters that the cats will get into while I’m sleeping? How can I patch up relationships that have soured? Is home-brewed kombucha safe? Trust me when I tell you that these questions do not pave the path toward restful slumber.
Food, though, is an aspect of life where I’ve got balance pretty well down. I’m no nutrition expert, but I let my body and my intuition guide my diet. If I have a craving, I indulge it, because a craving is my body’s way of signaling to me that it needs something. Sure, sometimes my body wants ice cream, and sometimes that’s what I give it, but I might indulge it with yogurt instead. Really, it probably needed dairy for some reason, so there are no complaints. If a meal is not colorful or is missing protein, carbs, or fat, the missing components are added. Variety is also an important component of balance. Over the past few weeks, though, this aspect has been challenged.
How does one eat a balanced diet full of variety with ten pounds each of cucumbers and zucchini crowding out any vegetable that doesn’t belong to their clique of the green and oblong? I have made jars and jars of pickles. Squash is sautéed near daily for lunch. But, of course, I’m not the first to find myself surrounded by stacks and stacks of zucchini clubs, and someone long ago came up with the elegant solution of grating them into moist breads. I have found that the typical spiced or chocolate varieties of zucchini breads may be initially enjoyed but soon find themselves stacked on counters alongside their origins or pressed into the protesting hands of anyone without a garden of their own. In order to prevent my zucchini bread suffering the same fate as the burdensome zucchini themselves (i.e. the compost bin), I had to make one I actually wanted to eat. This version is a subtly sweet take on lemon poppy seed bread. While you may want to eat it at every meal, I suggest going for a bit more balance. Luckily, the loaves freeze well and can be defrosted in winter when you finally find yourself wanting zucchini around again.
Lemon Poppy Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Yield: 2 loaves
2 cups AP flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon zest
3 cups zucchini, grated
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly butter two loaf pans.
Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Beat the eggs until foamy. Beat in the sugar, butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well combined. Stir in the olive oil, poppy seeds, and zucchini.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until just combined.
Pour half the batter into each of the prepared loaf pans. Bake at 350˚F for 40–50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.