I adore Andie. After finding her blog years ago, I fell in love with her heartfelt, funny, eloquent, deep and empathetic writings about food, a 135-pound weight loss, love, life and balance; it’s one of the blogs that I’ve always returned to over the years. Then she did a Ted Talk (#obsessed) and came out with a memoir (this has a permanent spot on my nightstand partly because I need to clean my room but mostly because I’m #obsessed), and followed up her memoir with a cookbook that is, no lie, utterly gorgeous. Even though email exchanges, it’s clear that she is one of the loveliest, most warm and open humans I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. If you don’t know her, you should.
Andie’s thing is all about finding balance with food and happiness. In both her memoir and cookbook, she talks about not only the struggle of losing weight, but the fear that came in the weight loss aftermath: how to maintain the weight, deal with temptation, stray from the dieting life in a non-destructive way—how to live in moderation. I often find her writing heartbreakingly relatable—though I’ve never been at an unhealthy BMI, I grew up with a bit of a fat image complex. Never as thin as I would like, I’ve waffled up and down a range of 15 or so pounds since college and it’s led to bouts of destructive eating and exercise patterns. In the world of food blogging, I worry that this is a more common behind-the-scenes trend that appears on the surface.
“But you can find a way to live your life where you’re not constantly battling food and your body. You can learn to practice balance every day.”
Andie was one of the sources that helped me really connect the dots around the fact that food and diet and body image isn’t just about the food—it’s so much more about emotions and my mental state than I ever realized. Forgiveness, resilience, self-love.
What I love about Andie, and Andie’s books, is that she’s found a place of moderation that works for her, and it’s a place that I’ve slowly come to discover over the years. I alluded earlier this year to the fact that I’m not as interested in baking low-fat, low-calorie desserts because I finally, finally figured out that half a piece of the real thing always satisfies me far more than five half-assed “healthy” cupcakes. Skipping meals only wrecks my metabolism and throws off my hunger signals in the long-run. Over-exercising also throws me into a monstrously hungry spiral that outdoes any benefits from working out in the first place. I can skip a workout, eat a cupcake, have a beer without undoing the progress from months of workouts and healthy eating.
Essentially, Andie is a rock star and inspiration and if you’ve ever struggled or are struggling with your weight or body image, go immerse yourself in her writing. She is empathetic, kind and wise. She understands us. She’s been to the five-cupcake binge and back and is standing tall with a beautiful mindset and a stunning cookbook to show for it.
My favorite part of her cookbook—aside from recipes that span chocolate raspberry breakfast chia puddings and a super-fast, cabbage-based pad thai to a three-cheese baked gnocchi and chocolate hazelnut bread pudding with salted peanut butter sauce (OMG)—is the interlude within each recipe section, where Andie talks about the transformation of her breakfasts over time and how it affects her entire way of eating, using vegetables as a delicious vehicle to becoming full, and anecdotes about throwing over-the-top dinner parties in New York and realizing mindfulness.
The first recipe I chose out of her book was her lemon poppy seed cupcakes, inspired by mini lemon poppy muffins her aunt Maureen used to buy. I’ve made some truly disappointing lemon poppyseed creations back in the day, so I hold a good recipe in high esteem. Andie’s does not disappoint. These cupcakes have a fine, tender crumb—they’re lush with butter and dense and moist from sour cream. I opted to drizzle mine in a lemony glaze instead of the vanilla cream cheese frosting, only because I’m less of a cream cheese fan and more of a puckery, lemony glaze person. They’re hefty in the hand: a solid, unmistakable announcement of celebration, a reminder of decadence and a beautiful representation of the decadent side of moderation.
Yields 1 dozen cupcakes
- For the cupcakes:
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons butter (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup 2% Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1-3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard cupcake tin with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter and sugar on medium high until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and poppy seeds.
- Mix in the flour mixture on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Be careful not to overmix. The batter will be thick. Spoon it evenly into the prepared tin.
- Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from tin and let cool completely.
- To make the glaze, stir one tablespoon of lemon juice into the powdered sugar. Add additional lemon juice until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over cooled cupcakes. Cupcakes will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 days.