Blueberry Muffins

As hard as it is to admit, stress contributes tenfold to disease, and the conversation has never been more relevant than right now to find time to clear our minds, especially with the current political and social climate in our society. With all of the positive advancements in technology aimed at increasing efficiencies, so too comes the negativity, cruelty, and difficult people who flood social media with angry words that provoke our children to say and do things we never could have imagined. Gone are the days when tweens and teens would come home from school and leave all the anger and emotion at school. Now they continue the conversation at all hours of the day and night. Recent research from Friedrich Schiller University in Germany suggests that exposure to strong negative emotions causes your brain to have a massive stress response, and in turn, that stress causes long-term or even permanent changes in the emotional, physiological, and behavioral responses that influence
susceptibility to all kinds of disease.

Here are a few tips I reinforce with my tween daughter to help neutralize difficult people:
1. Set limits. People often feel pressure to give in to rude, callous people because lending a sympathetic ear is easy to do. Keep negative people focused on an amicable solution so you don’t get suckered in to being the intermediary.
2. Stay aware of your emotions. Awareness is the key to finding a way forward when presented with a negative or difficult situation.
3. Rise above. Don’t feel the need to beat someone at their own game. Distance yourself emotionally and if irrational people keep driving you crazy, just remove yourself from the situation and don’t get caught in the mix. I had to do just this about 2 years ago and I couldn’t be happier that I left it all behind and walked away.

One last piece of advice for helping to keep a stress-free mind and a healthy body is to take control of screen time. Don’t waste time worrying about what others are doing or saying on social media, mute notifications on your phone, and disconnect for a while to do something that evokes both good feelings and good memories. Exercise and meditation of course top the list as well, but planning definitive time to do something with your children, such as baking together, not only promotes positive learning and attention, the scent will become a memory that stays with them for a lifetime. The smell of my mom’s kitchen can still evoke emotion in me, decades later. Perhaps we can all do a small part to keep all those negative emotions in check by trading the screen time (and the package of instant gratification and artificial ingredients) for the time and desire to bake from scratch. My daughter’s favorite “from scratch” treat, blueberry muffins.

2 1/2 cups white wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 stick melted butter
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (extra 1/2 cup for jumbos)

crumb topping:
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups (or 6 jumbo muffin cups) with paper liners, or spray with cooking spray. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together. In a small bowl, whisk together butter, egg, and milk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until combined. Gently fold in blueberries and fill about 2/3 full. Combine ingredients to make the crumble and sprinkle over the top of the muffins. Bake 20 minutes for regular muffins and about 25 for jumbo.

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