Gluten Free Muffins and Face Yoga

 A batch of gluten-free blueberry muffins that I baked from a mix. Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

Blueberry muffin treats, in my house, have the power to transform my entire family into butter knife-wielding animals that make crumbs of defenseless baked goods. The primal sounds of “More butter!  MMMM” have alerted the neighbors more than once.  Some think we are watching a horror movie at full volume. Others think we are truly possessed.  However, this morning, I awoke to find a tidy plastic baggie of blueberry muffin treats just sitting on the counter, in the exact spot where I left them the day before.  Yep, they just sit there still.  When I wave the bag around and ask, “Anyone want a muffin?”  Nate and Alex stand there, awkwardly and say, “It’s not snack time yet.”  Telling them, “It’s snack time somewhere” doesn’t make them tear into the bag and grab the butter.

What gives then?  Why aren’t Nate and Alex eating these muffins?

There may be many reasons.  Eliminating the possibility of raging “feeling full disease,” leaves me with the following theory:  They are too polite to tell me that they really don’t want to eat these muffins.  And, I know why they don’t want to eat them:  They don’t exactly taste that great. Here’s why:

I went crazy in the health foods section and grabbed the first box of “gluten-free blueberry muffin mix” I could find.  Lots of people that Nate, Alex, and I know need to eat gluten free, so I figured I should start learning about gluten free foods by buying a box of gluten-free blueberry muffin mix. I’m sure there are plenty of great gluten free recipes and mixes to try, but I threw caution to the wind and did absolutely no research before spending nearly $6 on a box of muffin mix.

I happily brought the mix home and followed the recipe.  The muffins looked and smelled “normal” enough, but when I took a bite, I noticed a very bitter aftertaste.  Nate and Alex had already started eating their muffins in a wolf-like manner, but they suddenly slowed down.

“Does anyone taste something bitter in the batter?” I asked.

“It’s just the blueberries,” Nate said.

That’s nice that he blamed the blueberries and not my cooking—or the mix, but actions speak louder than words.  If, by Christmas, those muffins are still on the counter, I’ll know that I bought a bitter batch of gluten-free muffin mix.

On the positive side, though:  The bitter taste in my mouth led me to make such a face that I could feel my neck stretch and strengthen in a way that, well, if I did this every day, I might be able to maintain a youthful appearance, without plastic surgery.  A quick search on the Internet led me to discover “face yoga,” which is not new to most people, but it is to me.  In fact, I found many positive articles about face yoga, but I wanted to check it out with my brother, who is a very, very good facial plastic surgeon who gets wonderful reviews from patients. (He’s also an incredibly funny guy.) Specifically, I wanted to know the answers to the following questions—which I texted to him:

–Does face yoga work to reduce aging?

–Is it safe to do?  Will your face freeze in an unattractive way “forever?”

–Has there ever been a case where a plastic surgeon has had to repair a face that was severely damaged by face yoga?

My brother texted back, “LOL! I’m actually not sure.” He also said that he has not personally had to help anyone damaged by face yoga—not yet.

Well, if there’s anything I can do to help my brother be the first one to study the hazards of face yoga, I’ll do it.  I’ll be that first case that he can write about in medical journals.

After just a little more research though, here’s what I’ve discovered:

–The Cleveland Clinic website mentions a small study of highly motivated women who did face yoga for 20-30 minutes a day, six days a week.  According to the article, “Can Doing Facial Exercises Help you Look Younger?” “good” results require dedication. However, some exercises can result in making people look older.  Repeatedly furrowing the brow or contracting the muscles of the upper forehead can result in lines.

–There are lots of facial yoga exercise programs out there.  Here’s a YouTube video by Marie Claire UK, which I tried.  It shows six “basic moves.” The first exercise is for the eyes and I found it just too creepy to do. You’re supposed to feel your eyelids shaking back and forth—and they do! They really do! And it’s awful.

Here are the exercises that I do like from this video though: “The Giraffe,” stroking the forehead, and the needle-less “self-acupuncture” series of exercises near the end.

–I was not used to some of these exercises, so I was afraid I would get a face cramp.  As with all exercise programs then, you should probably check with a doctor first and go slow.  If you were to ask me, I’d say a warm-up with a bitter, gluten-free blueberry muffin is just what the doctor would order.


In Other News: I have two new short stories out:  1)  “The Disgusting Food Museum” is on the Macabre Museum’s online “gallery.”  You need a password to enter:  abyss.  This one was lots of fun to write—don’t read it while eating baked goods—or anything really.  2)  “The Barracuda in the Pool” is on the Flash Fiction Magazine website.  Feel free to leave a comment on the website, after the story, if you are so inclined.

Your Turn:  Do you follow a gluten free diet? What are some of your favorite gluten-free things to eat? Or: what is your favorite thing to make from a box/mix?


35 thoughts on “Gluten Free Muffins and Face Yoga

  1. Hi – again your humor is splashed in perfectly – never heard of the face yoga and would love to learn more (thanks for sharing your research and exploring) –
    also – just my humble opinion – the problem is that anything in a box should be avoided.
    you should try making your own muffins from scratch using almond flour and maybe coconut flour – no need for artificial crap that is often jam packed intros boxes for shelf life – and earlier this year a lady was eating a two pack of store bought muffins and there were not even real blueberries in there. what?
    anyhow, I am not one for wanting to bake or even cool really – but clean eating is easy with “kept friendly” recipes – check out Bulletproof blog for ideas that will help everyone thrive inside and out – and the best book I read this year was by Kelly Brogan – a health guru that has so many ideas for gluten free and more…. just LOVE her stuff…

    and how fun that your family member does plastic surgery – Kelly Brogan had a section in her book on how gargling helps the GI health – and well – I wonder what exercises your family member does suggest – hm and again – thanks for making us smile with your writing

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My best friend has celiac disease (and years ago had part of her bowel removed because no one really understood what was wrong), so I learned gluten-free baking. I never found the mixes to be very good so I started learning the scratch method and it took some practise before things turned out.

    One thing my friend gets annoyed by is the number of people claiming gluten sensitivity when it’s not actually an issue for them. This can lead to others not taking her condition seriously, and in her case, that’s a real problem.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend–and to learn that others aren’t taking her condition seriously. I’m learning that there are lots of ingredients and foods that are naturally gluten free that can accommodate lots of different palates at a party, for instance. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I just jumped into the baking gluten free pool recently too. I do not ever bake this way, but one of my husband’s co-workers has a gluten allergy and he asked me to bake something she could eat. I started by looking on the gluten free isle of the store and refused to pay that much for a box mix. So I went hunting the www. I realized that I’ve baked a batch of gluten free cookies in the past, but didn’t do it to be gluten free. I did pin another gluten free recipe to try. There is just something about the concept of baking gluten free that scares me/or makes me fear that it won’t taste the way I expect. Hey at least you won’t have to bake again for a while since the muffins will still be around for a while?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I can totally relate to the gluten free/“healthy” muffins being rejected. Made me chuckle. We avoided visiting the folks at mealtime after they went vegan. Breakfasts and desserts were the worst!

    It is a tiny percentage of people who are gluten intolerant yet an entire section of the supermarket is devoted to gluten free foods and restaurants prominently list them on menus. I’m happy that these items are readily available for those who really need them but am nonplussed at the number of people who are needlessly subjecting themselves to a restrictive diet just because some people need to. Imagine the absurdity of crutches and wheelchairs become popular because some people need them. They make some really cool ones now!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I heard that someone entered a boxed cake mix at a baking competition at county fair–and won the whole thing–without telling anyone it was a boxed mix–yikes!!! I do prefer to bake from scratch, but every once in a while there’s a good mix out there that I stumble upon, which can save a little time in a pinch. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. New here. 🙂 Love this so much. Made me laugh several times. Someone recently told me about face yoga and I was thinking it must be a joke, ha ha.

    I’m one of those folks with ‘free’ attached to many things food wise: gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, etc…cooking is quite an adventure. I haven’t found any baking mixes that match my can have list yet, but I have sound some gf flour mixes that work. Daiya has a frozen GF DF cheesecake that is delicious (to me, others may disagree. I haven’t had real cream cheese in forever.) I’d love to find some yummy recipes.

    Love this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! Glad you had a good laugh! That cheesecake sounds tempting–I’ll have to check it out–and I’ll definitely have to try to find some gluten free recipes to test out. Cheers!


  6. I gobble up gluten whenever possible. Gluten-free muffins would be totally depressing to me.

    Gluten-intolerance is kind of a fad at the moment, which is really boosting gluten-free products, but only a tiny percentage of the population has an actual adverse reaction to gluten (others just think they do). I have a friend who claims to be gluten-intolerant — but she also claims to be allergic to dairy, beef, sugar, certain vegetables, and God knows what else (no medical testing involved though, she just knows her body). My other friend’s son does have celiacs disease, which is a bummer as it has caused him numerous issues. I have known people allergic to wheat and dairy (not lactose intolerant, but actually allergic), so these issues are out there.

    Face yoga! Who knew that was a thing?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, these turned out a little bitter, but I’m receiving lots of great suggestions for other boxed mixes–and for other ingredients/ideas that don’t come from a box:) Thanks for stopping by!


  7. I am in love with the products made by Simple Mills, which has box mixes for “artisan bread” which we Paleo eaters find pretty acceptable with the almond butter and jam we long to put on some kind of bread. There are good GF and even grain free “baking mixes” for things like waffles and pancakes– not bitter at all.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. As you know, I can’t eat gluten because it severely aggravates my arthritis. Since I took it out of my diet, I’ve improved 95%. But even though I don’t normally use most of those pre-mixed things, I don’t know why it would taste bitter. Most GF mixes are rice flour or things like that. Betty Crocker has really good GF brownie mixes and chocolate chip cookie ones–try those on the boys!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s awesome that one change could make so much of a difference! As for the bitter taste in the muffin mix: I’ll bet there was cornmeal in that muffin mix. That might have given it a slightly bitter taste. I’ll have to try the Betty Crocker suggestions you mention here. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My mom actually does face yoga, but she’s 68, so I’m hoping I’ll wait until then to think about that (I’m pretty sure I’ll be more interested in this in 32 mere years lol) But maybe I should start doing something so that I can say I did something? Hmmm… I have to go to the store and find some bitter muffin mix!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Also, I have your short stories tagged to read soon! I read one you shared a while ago (my memory is terrible, but I think it was yours!) and really liked it!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s