Last month, I took a quick break from baking. I was feeling a little burnt out from the busy fall season. As a result, I decided to scrap most of my holiday baking plans. I decided to take it easy. Instead of publishing the 4 to 6 recipes I initially had planned, I scaled it down to just the two that interested me the most (they’re linked below, if you want to take a look).

The break was more rejuvenating than I expected it to be. Clearing out my calendar gave me more time to daydream about new recipe ideas and themes. And I’m excited to be rolling out one of those themes this month:

Brownie Bake-Off Month on Hummingbird High

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to focus on all things chocolate. SPECIFICALLY, I wanted to focus on one of my favorite baked goods, ever: brownies.

I’ll be sharing my favorite all-time fudge brownie recipe. It’s basically a smaller batch version of the Better-Than-Supernatural Fudge Brownie recipe in my cookbook, Weeknight Baking). I’ll be comparing it to the brownie recipes of some of my favorite bakers. I plan on baking brownies from Claire Saffitz, Stella Parks, and Sarah Kieffer. I can’t wait to see how our brownies all compare to each other!

So definitely stay tuned to see how the bake-off turns out. I’m so excited to eat ALL the brownies.

Other January Revelations

I’m especially excited to eat all the brownies because taking time off from baking allowed me to finally get serious about losing the 20 pounds that I’d gained during quarantine. Food bloggers don’t talk about this often enough, but it can be a serious struggle to keep off weight in our profession. So let me warn you now: if you’re triggered by conversations about weight loss, you may want to skip the next few paragraphs.

In any case, I’d never been concerned about my quarantine weight because, in years past, I was able to lose the weight pretty easily. In 2017 and 2018, I also gained something like 20 pounds while writing my cookbook. Thankfully, I lost the weight pretty quickly after a month and a half of Whole30. A big part of it is that, even despite all the sweets, I maintain a pretty active lifestyle. I go to the gym five times a week, and average something like 13,000 steps daily. I was able to maintain that lighter weight for years until the pandemic hit.

At first I thought it was because I’m getting older. I’m no longer at the age where I can just rely on exercise to stave off the excess calories from recipe development. Especially since I did another Whole30 diet this month, and found that it took twice as long to lose the weight as it did in previous years. But I also found that I was a lot more miserable during it. Because in addition to baking for Hummingbird High, I had spent the better part of the last two years eating away my depression and anxiety. It was hard to wean myself away from the emotional comfort that all the extra food bought me.

I don’t really have anything to say other than the whole thing was a bummer. I’m glad I’m no longer dieting. I like the Whole30 diet because, of all the diets out there, it doesn’t treat all sweet stuff as the devil. You can still eat fruit (though you can’t eat a lot of other things, some of which are ridiculous). But quite frankly, I don’t know if it’s sustainable to do in the long run. In fact, I know it’s not.

Because one of the most inspiring things from my past year was talking to the dietitians during the Sugar Farm Tour I attended in New Orleans this past December. Many of them don’t advocate any of the fad diets like Whole30, Keto, and whatever else. Instead, they just teach their clients how to maintain balance in their everyday lives. Which is a lot easier said than done, sure. But still—I follow many of them on Instagram and TikTok now, and always appreciate their gentle reminders. Definitely check them out if you’re into that kind of thing: @streetsmart.rd (in particular, I love Cara’s TikTok), @beautifuleatsandthings, @diet.culture.rebel, and @binge.nutrionist.

Finally, I apologize if the conversation about weight loss is not what you want to see on a baking blog. I get it, I really do. But I also think it’s important to have transparency around this issue. One of the things I struggle with the most is seeing a conventionally beautiful recipe developer eating gigantic plates of food. I often wonder how they are able to do that while maintaining their figure. I’ve been around the block long enough to know that many of them adhere to strict diets outside the frame. Some even go so far as to spit the food out once the camera stop rolling. And I’d rather people be upfront about their struggles and diets than maintain the toxic appearance of having it all.

In Case You Missed It: New Recipes and Posts on Hummingbird High

And in case you missed it, I published the following new recipes and posts on Hummingbird High. Here’s a round-up of everything new:

Below are pictures of the two most popular recipes from the month—Pon De Ring Mochi Donuts and Gluten Free Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies—to inspire you:

This is a photo of the Pon De Ring Mochi Donut Recipe on Hummingbird High.
This is a photo of the Gluten Free Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe on Hummingbird High.

Food For Thought

This past month, I also spent a LOT of time thinking and reading about food beyond the baking recipes you see on this blog. Here are the ideas and issues that resonated with me:

Recipes and Resources To Save

Finally, On A Lighthearted Note

I’ve been spending a lot of time on TikTok (are you following my baby TikTok account yet?). While I don’t spend a ton of time on Food TikTok (instead, I watch a lot of animal rescue, anticapitalism, and super feminist TikToks—it’s a lot more fun than it sounds, I promise, lollll), I did enjoy the following videos:

That’s all for now, folks. I hope you all are staying safe and healthy! Please let me know how you’re doing in the comments below, and feel free to share the ideas and issues that are floating around in your heads, too.