05 November 2010

Coquo ergo sum

A couple of weeks ago, we had a discussion in one of my classes about the evolution of the human brain in relation to the gut, and its effect on our diet.

See, humans evolved to have such huge, fuel-hungry brains, but managed it without significantly increasing our metabolic rates. We didn't even have to evolve a correspondingly large gut to provide all the fuel demanded by the brain -- in fact, the human gut shrank as the brain got bigger, which conserved on fuel by not needing quite so much energy to digest.

Okay, but wait. Doesn't that actually complicate things, since now it's even harder to digest food?

Here's the secret: cooking.

Yeah, that big brain's gotta earn its keep somehow. By cooking, humans are able to eat more easily digestible and calorically efficient foods, like meat. (As opposed to, say, grass, which requires a cow an entire day of chewing cud, plus four stomachs, just to get enough fuel to get through a day. Doesn't leave much time or energy for rocket science, does it?) A diet of easily digestible foods allows for more efficient metabolism, and, consequently, the reduction of gut size.

Totally brill.

Now me, I love meat: it's delicious. And I gotta hand it to our ancestors, they came up with some ingenious ways to cook meat. Plus, you know. Fire!

But a hunk of meat can never look as pretty as a perfectly ripe lemon.

This, my friends, was a beautiful lemon, perfectly yellow and oh! so fragrant. It added a great tanginess to these zucchini muffins.

Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from Allrecipes.

I had three zucchini, which came out to about 3 c. grated (and tamped down), so I three-halved(?) the original recipe, which is linked above. What follows is the recipe I used, which made 30 muffins plus a bundt (I don't have any loaf pans).

4 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
a pinch of salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla
3 c. grated zucchini (three medium-large zucchini)
1 lemon (zest and juice)

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line 30 muffin tins with muffin paper, and grease and flour a bundt pan. (Alternately, grease and flour three 8" x 4" loaf pans.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Add in the flour mixture, then the grated zucchini, lemon zest, and lemon juice, mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling them 2/3 full, then pour the rest of the batter into the prepared bundt (or loaf) pan(s).

Bake until done, 25-30 min. for muffins and 40-50 min. for loaves. Cool on rack.

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