As many of you know, I spent 2012 writing about the power of simple changes. I posted about the subject extensively here on my blog; I also wrote a book (tentatively titled One Simple Change) that will be published by Chronicle Books sometime in the fall.

Despite being an “evangelist” for the pursuit of optimal health via lifestyle tweaks, I am not really a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. While I certainly appreciate the sentiment behind resolutions (the determination/desire to make a change), I believe resolutions are often doomed to failure. Why? Because most people don’t make resolutions that are realistic, nor do they create a practical plan for how to achieve them.

The one I dislike the most is probably the most popular resolution of all: the resolution to go on a diet. I hate the “go on a diet” resolution for slightly different reasons than I mentioned above: I hate it because I don’t think restricting your food intake is healthy for your body or your mind. In addition, I really and truly believe going on a diet is a waste of time because most diets don’t work. In fact, the first chapter in my forthcoming book is all about why you should not diet.

So…if you started a diet in the last day or two (or if you plan to start one soon), I invite you to reconsider. Instead of dieting (and therefore depriving yourself/counting calories and fat grams/worrying constantly about what you think you’re not supposed to be eating), you’ll be much better off if you make it your goal to spend your precious time and energy nourishing your body with real, whole foods. I also recommend putting effort into figuring out which foods really work for your body and which ones don’t. Your health will most definitely improve if you do these things, and you might just lose weight, too.

Now, you might be surprised to see a recipe for cinnamon rolls on a healthy recipe blog at the beginning of January, but these are not your typical cinnamon rolls. These are wholesome, yet really delicious, gluten- (and grain-) free cinnamon rolls.

Over the holiday break, I deep cleaned my pantry and found a big bag of buckwheat flour; I don’t use buckwheat flour very often so I was excited to try it in this recipe. Buckwheat has a lot going for it: it is technically an herb, not a grain, and it’s high in B vitamins along with the minerals iron and potassium. Buckwheat also contains a notable amount of protein (one cup has 16 grams). If you don’t have buckwheat flour on hand you can try this recipe with a different gluten free flour or blend (though I can’t guarantee the results); if you don’t need the recipe to be gluten-free, you could make these with organic all-purpose flour, or better yet, try Organic Einkorn Flour (healthier than modern wheat because it hasn’t been hybridized and contains less gluten).

These Buckwheat Cinnamon Rolls are not made with yeast (nor other chemical leavening agents) so they don’t really rise: rather, the dough possesses some heft and character, in much the same way that sourdough breads do. Incorporating yogurt and then allowing the dough to rest overnight helps to negate some of the phytic acid (an “anti-nutrient” that binds up minerals and is naturally present in seeds, grains and also buckwheat), rendering these more digestible and nutritious than if they were made right away. You see, good things really do come to those who wait.

Though these don’t necessarily look or taste exactly like the cinnamon rolls you may be used to, they are quite delicious in their own right, and they won’t make you feel yucky and bloated or like you have to take a nap right after you eat one. I shared a batch with my gluten-free brother, sister-in-law and their 2 small kids over the holidays: they were quickly gobbled up.

These contain less sugar than a typical cinnamon roll, but they are still quite sweet so I wouldn’t eat more than one (okay, maybe two if you make them small) at a time. As I mention quite frequently on my blog, I don’t recommend eating foods that are high in carbohydrates (and sugar) alone…it’s best to eat them with some protein so that your blood sugar doesn’t get wacky. So if you make the dough at night, then bake the cinnamon rolls for breakfast, I’d have an egg or two along with one of these warm from the oven. The other option (and not a bad one at all) is to treat these like a dessert and have one after a meal. They are perfectly yummy at room temperature and keep well in an air-tight container for a couple of days after baking (or for longer in the refrigerator); they also freeze beautifully.

The icing can certainly be omitted for a less decadent treat, but I found these somewhat lacking without it…just saying.

Recipe for Buckwheat Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: about 10 cinnamon rolls

Prep Time: 10 minutes (plus overnight for resting the dough)

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes (plus overnight for resting the dough)

Ingredients:

For the rolls:

*2 cups buckwheat flour (I used Acadian light buckwheat flour from Bouchard Family Farm)
*3 tablespoons cold butter, preferably organic/pastured
*3/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
*2 eggs, preferably organic/pastured
*2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

For the filling:

*1/2 cup organic brown sugar
*2 tablespoons cold butter, preferably organic/pastured
*1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
*1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon (optional)

For the icing:

*4 tablespoons organic powdered sugar
*2 tablespoons heavy cream, preferably organic/raw

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, cut butter into flour using a pastry blender or your fingers, then mix in the yogurt, eggs, and the maple syrup with a wooden spoon. Use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Wrap dough in plastic, and store in the refrigerator overnight.

2. Remove dough from the refrigerator and heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, make the filling by mixing the brown sugar with the butter, cinnamon and cardamom until crumbly.

3. Lightly flour your surface (use additional buckwheat flour or brown rice flour) and roll the dough out into a rectangle measuring approximately 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the filling all over the dough. Roll up starting at the long end closest to you, then slice the dough into 10-12 equal pieces.

4. Place cinnamon rolls on a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet (or use a large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet to bake them, like I did).

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool slightly before using a spoon to drizzle on the icing.

Inspired by the recipe for No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls from Recipe Girl as well as the recipe for Cream Cheese Breakfast Pastries that appears in Nourishing Traditions.

Even though I don’t love all New Year’s resolutions, I do think the beginning of a new year is a perfectly great time to set some new goals. One of my goals for 2013 is to make an effort to write for (online and/or print) publications outside of my blog so I am working on a plan of action for how to make that happen. If you’ve set one or more goals and you have outlined the steps for reaching them, feel free to share in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you are reaching for in the year to come :)

More wholesome cinnamon rolls:

Buckwheat Cinnamon Rolls from Nourishing Meals
Molasses Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls from Nourished Kitchen
Vegan Cinnamon Rolls from Healthy Green Kitchen