Sunrise Over the Blues + Whole Food Plant Based Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Whole Food Plant Based Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Last week, I took my coffee and a fresh-out-of-the-oven whole food plant based lemon poppyseed muffin out to the deck so I could watch the sunrise over our lovely Blue Ridge Mountains. Soon, all the trees will leaf out, and our majestic winter view will be gone.

The mornings are still chilly here in Asheville, NC, but the promise of spring is everywhere. From the newly opened, creamy yellow daffodils that blanket one hilly area of my property to the deep purple and white crocus scattered all along the garden walls.  

Last year, I planted what I called my “Quarantine Garden.” 

With nothing to do outside of work and Zoom (Hello? Can you hear me? I can’t hear you. You’re frozen! Hello!?!), I decided to get my hands and mind into the dirt.

I felt I had to, because life had suddenly turned into something unrecognizable

The deadly virus had found its way to my corner of the globe, and there was nothing to be done except to stay home. I wallowed around in sadness and angsty existential dread as the world descended into a 24/7 news cycle of death, darkness, and despair.

I swear to fuck, it was like living in a 1990s Morgan Freeman sci-fi movie.

As a collective (and very privileged) group of humans, we Americans were horrified and perplexed to be unable to get a haircut, brow wax, manicure, or pedicure. 

I was astonished by just how quickly my unibrow met up with my menopausal mustache.  

The simple chore of going to the grocery store became some sort of otherworldly experience with everyone hell-bent on gathering up as much toilet paper as possible. 

Water? Food? Medicine? No thanks, but I’ll take 20 pounds of your softest Charmin!!

Most of us were decked out in homemade hazmat suits, masks, and gloves. We shuffled around, dazed and confused, dousing ourselves in hand sanitizer, trying hard to be good citizens and follow bewildering, directional arrows now taped in the aisles. 

So, you’re saying I have to go four aisles up, turn around, and come back the other way for one thing?

It was a crazy situation of life imitating art. Were we in Breaking Bad, Star Wars, or Looney Tunes? Seriously, we all looked like Walter White, sounded like Darth Vader, became as blind as Mr. Magoo, and used hand signals like we were YMCA-ing with The Village People.

Because apparently, none of us can see or hear when we’re wearing a mask. Who knew?   

There was the overwhelming feeling that we were on an out-of-control, never ending rollercoaster that we didn’t sign up for! 

What day was it? What time? Who was in charge? Do we get dressed? Was a bra really necessary? What exactly were the rules? It was nuts. 

And, then. 

My people and their people started getting sick. And some of them died. 

It was horrifying, unexpected, and heartbreaking. I felt helpless, isolated, closed off, and shut down. 

So, I did what I’ve always done when life gets to be too much for me to handle. 

I went outside, and I dug in the dirt. 

I did all the outside things that I had always been “meaning to do.” I cleaned out flower beds, raked, chopped, transplanted, built, repaired, weeded, labeled, hauled, gathered, mulched, moved rocks, constructed new borders, planted hundreds of spring bulbs and, according to my wife, single-handedly kept my local plant nursery in business. 

It was a rough year for humanity, no doubt about it. But now, as I sit here looking out over the beginnings of new life, I realized that I didn’t plant a garden at all. 

I planted hope.

I didn’t know it at the time, but every bulb was a small spark for future joy, every seed was a tiny glimpse of what can be, every weed pulled was an opportunity for new growth, and every divided and transplanted perennial made room for possibility. 

It dawned on me that every bead of sweat, every tear cried, every scratch and drop of blood shed, was a courageous, if unintentional, investment in the future. Our future. A future where we can all come together again and celebrate love, difference, and human connection. A future so bright and so beautiful that it’s now impossible to look away.

A favorite quote from Anaïs Nin comes to mind: 

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Life right now is still hard for most of us, and certainly far from what we think of as normal, but as I looked out on my Quarantine Garden last week, I realized that for me, it’s time to start gently releasing the painful heartache, quietly moving away from fear, and begin to open. Just like the riotous daffodils and about-to-pop tulips.

It’s time to stand up, stand tall, soften my heart, and start again.
It’s time to see myself and others as the flawed, complicated beings that we are.
It’s time to extend forgiveness, compassion, empathy, and so much grace.  
It’s time to treat my neighbors like I want to be treated.
It’s time to work hard and play harder.
It’s time to laugh freely and love well.
It’s time to live.

As I watched the sunrise crest the mountains and the cotton candy pinks melt into indigo blues, and then soften into a yellowy orange that ushered in a glorious spring day, I felt hope wash over me so fast and so furious that it brought tears to my eyes.  

I took a deep breath and felt the shackles of the last year fall away. 
I opened my eyes and saw the beauty of being here, being alive, being part of this world.  
I listened to the birds and smelled the crisp, mountain air. 
I savored the tart lemon tang from my whole food plant based lemon poppyseed muffin.
I touched my tender arm from my recent vaccine.
I felt my heart open wide.

And, I smiled. 


Whole Food Plant Based Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Whole Food Plant Based Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Makes 12 muffins
Author: Molly Patrick


  • 4 large dates, pitted and soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes
  • tablespoons lemon zest
  • cup unsweetened, non-dairy milk (155ml)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • cups regular rolled oats (250g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cup unsweetened applesauce (175g)
  • ¼ cup 100% pure maple syrup (60ml)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds


  • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and line your muffin tin with liners.
  • Zest your lemon and set aside for now. Add the non-dairy milk and lemon juice to a small bowl. Mix and set aside for now.  
  • Place the oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in your blender and blend into a powder, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Drain and discard the date water and transfer the dates to your blender, along with the non-dairy milk / lemon mixture, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
  • Transfer the blended liquid mixture to the large mixing bowl with the dry ingredients. Add the lemon zest and poppy seeds and gently mix (don’t over mix).
  • Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin liners.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes and cool before munching! 


To make these muffins gluten-free, be sure to purchase oats that specify gluten-free processing.

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with whole food plant based Lemon Poppyseed muffins and hope.


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Our Sweary Saturday Love Letters are written by our ex-boozer, ex-smoker, plant-loving co-founder, Molly Patrick.


  1. Tracey Grove on April 10, 2021 at 9:55 am

    5 stars
    These Lemon Poppy seed muffins look amazing (like all your delicious recipes) but Lindsay’s words of hope were just what I needed to hear. Succinctly nailing our collective quagmire of pandemic despair, her words managed to become seeds of hope in my heart for a better world. Mahalo!

    • Lyndsey Hafer-Williams on April 10, 2021 at 10:04 am

      Hi Tracey!

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad we’ve got one another and the sweet seeds of hope.


  2. LindaLee on April 10, 2021 at 10:18 am

    You do know how to make me cry! Hugs and Hope!

    • Lyndsey Hafer-Williams on April 10, 2021 at 11:34 am

      Sending big hugs right back to you!


  3. Debra on April 10, 2021 at 11:35 am

    My husband is Chinese and he has been experiencing hate even before the pandemic. He would often have business trips to the south like South Carolina and restaurants would refuse to seat him, he would have his charge card thrown back at him when paying for his hotel room etc. I feel so badly for the Asian community, and I hope everyone helps to stop this deplorable attitude. The recipe looks amazing, thanks for a wonderful weekly blog, something I look forward to every week ?❤️ Hugs Luanne, happy you are in Hawaii.

    • Lyndsey Hafer-Williams on April 10, 2021 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Debra,

      Thank you for your kind words.

      I’m so sorry that your husband (and you) have endured such hurtful actions. May we all stand strong together, as loving human beings, in the face of hate.

      Luanne will see this and I know she can feel your love.

      Sending you a big hug,


    • Inka on April 10, 2021 at 1:04 pm

      5 stars
      Hi Debra. I am so sorry your husband was subjected to such despicable behaviour. I feel so badly for all Asians who are having to deal with horrible acts of violence and bullying. It’s as if Covid has adversely affected the minds of too many. I hope the world can find its way back to compassion. Hugs to you all!

  4. Amber Christine on April 10, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    Oh Lyndsey, I love this piece you wrote so much!!! Thank you for being with us on this crazy journey and inspiring and spreading seeds of hope wherever you go! Big hugs! <3

    • Lyndsey Hafer-Williams on April 10, 2021 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment. It means the world to me.

      I’m glad we’re all in this life together!



  5. Glenette Banks on April 10, 2021 at 11:16 pm

    Lyndsey, you have such a wonderful way with words. While here in South Australia we never ever experienced the pandemic as you have, and are, the sense of isolation was real. Your descriptive writing of your Garden of Love is beautiful – as are you – and has also made me so very grateful for the good things in my life.
    All is well, as my 1st Covid jab yesterday gets to work. Bless you,

    • Lyndsey on April 11, 2021 at 9:16 am

      Hi Glenette!

      Thank you for your sweet words. I’m so happy to hear that all is well (or getting there!) in your corner of the globe.

      Sending you much love and big hugs!



  6. Dawn on April 11, 2021 at 7:54 am

    Thank you Lyndsey and all the Dirties for such inspiring thoughts ❤️. As I read this, I started too, to think about how we all coped with what was happening in our own way. Planting, cleaning, purging our houses in hopes of becoming minimalists, playing, going on socially distanced adventures, making lists of all the things we wanted to do, making changes and doing things we would have never given a second thought to if we had continued on our “normal” path of existence. It was amazing to me how much we started really paying attention to all the little things we didn’t have time to notice or appreciate pre-pandemic. (Sometimes silly things like, “is there usually this many moths in the Spring?” and when it snowed here in late April, “let’s go outside and catch those giant snowflakes in our mouths!”–2 grown adults with coffee mugs in hand and a 10 year old, all aimlessly running around the back yard with mouths open). So, thank you again Lyndsey. That is one POWERFUL lemon poppyseed muffin!!

    • Lyndsey on April 11, 2021 at 9:19 am

      Oh my goodness, Dawn!

      You made me tear up and chuckle and shake my head in agreement with your lovely comment.

      Thank you for that,

  7. Teri Williams on April 13, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    Lyndsey, thank you for putting words to what I’ve been feeling. I have always gardened but not like I did this past year. Like your wife said about you keeping the local nursery in business, I have probably spent more on gardening supplies than I save on groceries. But the peace I find, the hope I have, and the joy of seeing a seed sprout is worth every penny.

    Molly, thank you for the recipe. It looks easy peasy and refreshing. I can’t wait to try it. Most of all, thank you for following your goals and putting this group together.
    You dirties rock!

    • Lyndsey Hafer-Williams on April 15, 2021 at 5:55 am

      Hi Teri,

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

      Sending so much love your way!


  8. Denise on April 14, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    5 stars
    These are SO delicious AND nutritious! I added a drizzle of lemon glaze by mixing organic powdered sugar and some leftover lemon juice. They were so fun and easy to make and are a perfect mid-morning weekday snack. Thank you! xo

    • Lyndsey Hafer-Williams on April 15, 2021 at 5:58 am

      Oh, Denise!

      That sounds absolutely delightful! Thank you for sharing.


  9. Peggy on April 30, 2021 at 5:14 am

    I am wondering if you have the nutrition information on your recipes? I’m trying to keep track of my macros, so Looking for the calorie count, protein, fat, and carbs.

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Karen on April 30, 2021 at 10:06 am

      Hi Peggy – At this time we do not calculate the nutrition information of our recipes. Check out this post for some background on why the CFDG Meal Plans have, so far, stayed away from calculating nutrition information. If you are motivated to do so, the best way to know this info would be to enter the ingredients of a particular recipe into a freely available nutrient tracker. ~Karen

  10. Andrea Henderson on January 11, 2022 at 5:37 pm

    5 stars
    I make these over and over and they never disappoint! They taste “healthy” but in the best way. They are simply delicious. I have five teenagers and they all love them too. I took them to book club at one point and my book club members were wary of them…and then ended up polishing off the whole batch. If you’re considering whether or not to make them – make them!

    • Stephanie from Team Dirty on January 12, 2022 at 9:53 am

      Aw, Andrea, we’re blushing!

      bashful the drawf blushing

      Thanks so much for the love. We think these muffins are brilliant, too!

      Stephanie + Team Dirty

  11. Nellie Goodman on January 12, 2022 at 7:52 am

    These are ridiculously good, thank you! I may add more lemon zest the next time for a more lemony flavor, but they are pretty close to perfection. I also made sure not to over bake them so they stayed moist and wow is my mouth happy!

  12. Ellen on April 24, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    5 stars
    Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I made them and am so happy to have a healthy version of my favorite muffin!

  13. Lauren on June 1, 2022 at 11:17 am

    4 stars
    I enjoyed these! I doubled recipe to have plenty to share. My friend thought was alittle dry and needed stronger lemon taste. She might be used to things with oil (the dry comment; she also tried it a few days after they were made).

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