My Thoughts on Resolutions, NOT Dieting, and Buckwheat Cinnamon Rolls

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.

gluten 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.

buckwheat cinnamon rolls

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buckwheat flour cinnamon rolls

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

buckwheat cinnamon rolls
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Recipe for Buckwheat Cinnamon Rolls

Cook Time25 mins


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


  • 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.

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54 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Resolutions, NOT Dieting, and Buckwheat Cinnamon Rolls”

  1. Pingback: Fun Five Friday
  2. Yes, I did make them and they were good. I used whole grain, dark buckwheat flour so they were dark probably heavier than if I’d used light flour, but still good. Very hearty! I’ll make them again and probably use some lighter flour along with the buckwheat.

  3. Made these this morning. I have never made cinnamon rolls before and these were so good. I use all different types of flours and had some buckwheat flour on hand. My 2 boys age 2 and 3 did not care for them too much but they have never had cinnamon rolls before. I placed the rest in the freezer as I could have eaten all of them. At least I had a boiled egg and strawberries with it. Thanks.

    • Thanks so much for letting me know you liked them! I am sorry your boys didn’t but that’s more for you, right?!

  4. So nice to see a gluten-free recipe that doesn’t use a special gluten-free flour, potato starch, corn starch, or the “gums!” I don’t like using all that starchy stuff. I just want real flour, or grain in this case. I usually use regular recipes and substitute one of my many gluten-free flours rather than use the “gluten-free” recipes. Plan to make these tonight for Sunday morning breakfast! Thanks!!!

  5. hi! these look great and i’m always looking for new ways to use buckwheat flour… do you know if there might be any good substitution for the yogurt if i want to be dairy free? thanks!

    • Hmmm…you are the second person who has asked that question ;) The reason I used yogurt is because the acid in the yogurt plus resting the dough helps to cut down on the phytic acid content. If you don’t want to use yogurt/dairy, I’d consider using a milk alternative to which you added a little lemon juice. Keep in mind I haven’t tried this, though!

    • Depends on if you are trying to avoid dairy…are you? If not, I’d try milk or buttermilk; if you do need them to be dairy-free, I’d try a milk alternative to which you’ve added a little lemon juice and maybe cut back on the amount…hope this helps!

  6. Pingback: Buckwheat Makes Cinnamon Rolls Healthier | All Gluten-Free Desserts...All the Time
  7. I am so glad that you highlighted the mental stress that new year’s dieting can cause. The very idea of a way of life based on deprivation of any kind hints at failure from the outset.

    Stating the obvious: I cannot wait for your book to come out, Winnie. Happy new year to you!

  8. I couldn’t agree more about dieting and all-out resolutions in general. Though, I guess if one were to see their resolution like one of your one-simple-changes it may actually stick. These cinnamon rolls look great. I recently made a batch (adapted from the tassajara) and thought to myself, I bet I could make a pretty healthy version. Looks like you beat me to the punch! I’d be curious how much protein these have. A lot probably. Pinned and saved:)

    • Hi there,
      My quick mental calculations tell me they have a bit over 60 grams in the total recipe, so each one has at least 6 grams of protein. Not a ton, but it’s something :)

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  10. I’m not big on New Year resolutions either – they never seem to last very long. Long-term lifestyle changes are my goal and hoping to instill this in my kids. Congrats on the shout-out in the NY Times! Your cinnamon rolls look great! Happy New Year!

  11. This recipe sounds and looks delicious! I was wondering why you do not use any leavening agent to make them fluffy, such as yeast or Baking powder?

    • Hi Michelle,
      I was really looking for something different than the typical cinnamon roll, so I didn’t want them to be “fluffy”, plus some people digest their foods better when they don’t contain chemical leavening agents.

  12. I love buckwheat and feel I need to try these fairly soon (and use buckwheat more in 2013). Yay for the NYT shoutout – well deserved. I applaud your goals for writing in 2013 (mine are similar) and I cannot wait to see what this year bring you! Much love and many hugs for a successful 2013!!

    • Thank you thank you Mardi! I hope your vacation was fantastic…I loved seeing your photos and can’t wait to hear more. As for the writing, good luck to us both!

  13. Congrats on the shout out in NYTimes! Yippee. I am with you on the no dieting and minimal resolutions. I put enough pressure on myself all year. But I did just post today about some new adventures this year – one that you and I already talked about – so my goal is to put myself out there and try new things – not to miss opportunities because I am afraid to try. So good luck to us all! And Happy New Year!

  14. Hi Winnie! I just popped over here from Foodgawker….these look delicious! I love that you have no other starchy flours or gums in the base, as I don’t do well with them. I will definitely be bookmarking, pinning, and trying this recipe! :-)

  15. I have made Lori’s no yeast cinnamon rolls more times than I can count. I can’t wait to try your healthier buckwheat version, they look amazing.

  16. Hi Winnie,

    These cinnamon rolls look fabulous and I’d love to try them. I’ve never baked with buckwheat flour before, but it’s something that I’ve wanted to try for a while now. I like the idea of enjoying a decadent treat that still has some healthy oomph too! I also really appreciate this post and your beliefs on dieting, as I share those same beliefs. Everything in moderation, with some healthy physical activity too. I am so looking forward to your book!

    Happy new year,

  17. Bravo, Winnie! I just adore this post for so many reasons. Your thoughts were all on point with great suggestions. And, what a great way to start off the year than with a healthy baked treat. Thank you for sharing.

    As for resolutions, hubby and I have had two successful years making them. But, as you mentioned, the goals should be attainable in order to be succesful. Two years ago, we decided to “live in the moment”. (So important faith-wise, too.) It worked so well, that last year’s resolution was to keep going with the first and add “be true to ourselves”. Since both worked so well last year, we decided to make especially simple ones to add on for 2013…to “have fun” and “learn more”, LOL! Cannot get more simple than that.

    Also, I love the fact that you brought up einkorn flour and provided a link. Winnie, you are just going to LOVE baking with it! It smells great, looks beautiful (due to the healthy lutein creating a golden hue), feels like silk in your hands and is even tasty straight from your finger. (I swear!) Today, for brunch, we enjoyed the best dang einkorn & buttermilk waffles ever created by man, LOL! I hope you’ve already ordered the Jovial Foods Einkorn Flour from Amazon. They offer free shipping, too, which is quite awesome. Once you bake with it, you will soon be doing the happy dance! Guaranteed.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR, Winnie! And…sending lots o’ love to you, your fam & Leo! xoxo ~Stacy

    • I love your resolutions Stacy…Happy New Year! And I just have to get that Einkorn flour…keep dragging my feet but off to do it now :)

  18. I love everything about this post and agree with what you wrote about resolutions and dieting. I also think these cinnamon buns look fantastic, and like how they’re a slight, heartier twist on the classic. I’ll definitely bookmark them to try!

  19. Hi Winnie!

    Love your blog. Will try these buns; I am totally grain free so am very interested in trying these.

    Good luck with your writing goals. If there is anything I might do to help, please let me know!


  20. Buckwheat is one of my favourite flours to use and these sound like a perfectly delicious treat to start the year with. Happy 2013 to you Winnie, I’m sure there are lots of good things in store for you : )

  21. These look wonderful. Unfortunately, I am allergic to buckwheat – any ideas for a substitute? I probably have outgrown the allergy but steer away from bw when I can. Thanks!

    • Hmmm….are you gf these days, Liz? If not, I’d try these with white whole wheat flour or spelt flour. If you are gf, then I’d try them with your favorite gf flour blend (if you have one)…

  22. Great advice that I wholeheartedly agree with, as usual! Now I just have to go get some buckwheat flour… I had no idea it wasn’t a grain! I am excited to play around with it and also give these rolls a try!

  23. I’m right there with you, Winnie… not a fan of resolutions (or diets). I think you’re just setting yourself up for failure. I think that we should all have goals, but that these should be lifelong goals… not just something we say we need to do this year.

    Speaking of things I need to do… I need to make these cinnamon rolls. Unfortunately, no buckwheat flour in this house, but I am sure I can work around it.