Baking Quick Breads (by ratio) & Orange-Saffron Muffins [Gluten-Free]

17 Fri, 2011 § 10 Comments

Early mornings are meant for the kitchen.  Flours dust the counter tops as the sun slowly reaches its way across bowls & bamboo mixing spoons.  Sometimes, 4am (or even 5am) feels too early to be awake & baking breads; but often, I relish this unique perspective of our home as the house fills with light & sweet aromas.

While I enjoy this intimate time with myself, it’s not purely selfish.  Dave doesn’t seem to mind waking to smells of freshly baked millet muffins or Summer-infused quick breads.  I look forward to sending him to work with a scone, a fresh slice of sweet bread or a muffin.

I have taken to creating more baked goods rather than buying bread from the store, especially as I am delving into gluten-free varieties.  Baking my own is less expensive, but more than that, it’s rewarding & sparks creativity.  Experimenting with gluten-free flours is becoming more interesting than sticking to whole wheat, though I still rotate in batches made with kamut.  There is much more variance & diversity of flavors & textures when you explore what lies beyond all-purpose & wheat flour.  Corn. Oat. Rice. Buckwheat. Amaranth. Almond.  Each is distinct in its nuances & offers something different to your baking.

I am becoming very partial to the combination of almond & oat.

Orange & saffron as well.

I have just started baking with a scale & following weight ratios rather than measuring by volume (ie measuring cups), which immediately amped up my confidence in creating rather than simply following recipes.  Baked goods each have a ratio of flours to liquids to eggs to fats.  What makes bread different from pancakes — & these different from pizza dough or a croissant — is not just the ingredients, but how those ingredients work in proportion to each other.  Of course, there are still many recipes out there I have fallen in love with which need little to no adapting; but baking by ratio gives me the freedom to make these recipes my own by more easily swapping flours or the type of liquid or fat I use.

Try it.  My kitchen scale set us back only $20 & is more than worth it.

To ease you into this, I did translate my recipe back into approximate volume measurements.  These will only be useful if you use the exact ingredients I did though, because each flour, oil, etc has its own specific weight.  I’m a newby just playing around, having fun & certainly no expert.  This is a great post if you are interested in learning more about cooking with ratios.

The ratio for baking quick bread is 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg: 1 part fat.  To fill a 9 x 5 loaf pan, you would need 227 grams of flours, 227 grams of liquid of any kind, 113 grams egg (2 of them) or egg substitute & 113 grams of fats.   This ratio also works for making muffins.

Almond Meal Muffins with Orange Zest & Saffron

makes 12 muffins

or slightly fewer if you want a higher muffin top

  • 110 g almond flour (~heaping 3/4 cup)
  • 117 g oat flour (~heaping 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 131 g orange blossom honey (~1/2 cup)
  • 63 g coconut milk (~1/4 cup)
  • 34 g fresh orange juice (4T) & zest from one orange
  • 2 eggs (113 g)
  • 113 g coconut oil, melted (~1/2 cup)
  • tiny pinch of saffron, seriously only a few strands

Preheat oven to 350*F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Combine wet ingredients separately.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients & mix.  Fold in zest & saffron.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling to the rim. Bake for 13 – 15 minutes until muffin tops are lightly golden & a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These are crumby & moist, best eaten with a fork, fresh & warm from the oven.


Do you bake using ratios?

p.s. The first bread is my vegan variation of Marla’s Strawberry Snack Cakes.

Millet Muffins

2 Mon, 2011 § 8 Comments

Make these.

Heidi’s Millet Muffins.

They are slightly crunchy, still fluffy & smooth on the inside, not overly sweet & have the perfect kiss of lemon.  They are reminiscent of poppy seed muffins, which are my absolute favorite.  Next time, I just might toss in a few poppy seeds for fun.

I adapted her recipe slightly to create a vegan version but left the major components untouched; & though they might not be as pretty as hers, I would wager they are just as delicious.  We also made the Tinto de Verano from her recipe sampler over the weekend…& plan to enjoy her Avocado with Mustard Seeds later this week.  Yes, I really want her new cookbook.  I will be swinging by B&N very soon to take a closer peek.

Millet Muffins

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day

makes 12 muffins

Preheat oven to 400*F.  Prep a muffin pan with oil or butter or line with paper liners.  I like my silicone baking cups, which I place on a regular baking sheet.

  • 2 & 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup raw millet (Heidi’s recipe calls for 1/3 cup, but I like the extra crunch from the millet)
  • 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup yogurt (I used dairy-free coconut Amande yogurt made with cultured almond milk)
  • 2 flax “eggs” (whisk together 2 T freshly ground flaxseeds with 6 T warm water & let thicken ~10 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, softened
  • 1/2 cup agave or honey
  • grated zest from 1 lemon & 2 T juice from half the lemon

Combine flour, millet, baking powder, baking soda & salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, flax”eggs”, butter, agave, zest & lemon juice until smooth.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients & mix until flour is just incorporated.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling just to the rim.

Bake for 15 minutes until muffin tops are golden brown & just beginning to crack.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Have you ever baked with millet?  What do you think of Amande yogurt?

Sprouted Quinoa, Pear & Molasses Granola

26 Tue, 2011 § 2 Comments

Did you miss us?  No?  Did you even notice we had left?  No? 😛  Tricky aren’t we?

I eluded to our camping trip, which we thoroughly enjoyed…last Tuesday through Sunday.  I prepped a couple posts, hit schedule, unplugged & lost myself in the desert for 5 days.


(even despite the rain.)


Are we really back?

We are, but now I can reminisce over our adventures with you.

We should always start with food though; don’t you agree?

I love quinoa granola & have found its perfect match: molasses.  Try it.  You’ll never look back.

Molasses is a rich source of iron & calcium — important for those following a plant-based diet — as well as magnesium & potassium, providing 20% of the daily recommended value for each of these nutrients.

Sprouted Quinoa & Pear Granola with Molasses & Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 250*F.

  • 1 pear, diced
  • 1 C quinoa, sprouted
  • 1/2 C almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 C ground flaxseeds
  • 1/2 C black sesame seeds
  • 1/4 C sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 C pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 C buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 C hemp protein powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • cinnamon, optional
  • 1/4 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 C molasses
  • 2 T apple juice

Stir together dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients separately.  Stir wet ingredients into the quinoa mixture & mix together.  Spread granola onto a parchment-lined baking sheet & bake ~1 hour.  Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces & storing in an airtight container.

Homemade granola — especially quinoa granola — is great for camping, backpacking or hiking.  It is the perfect way to cram a lot of nutrients into a light-weight, easy-to-pack & store snack.  Along with pieces of banana, this was delicious, light fuel in the mornings.  Dave enjoyed it so much, I’ll be sure to make enough to share next time.  😉


Do you cook with molasses?

Braised Collards with Currants, Chickpeas & Cashew Cheese

18 Mon, 2011 § 3 Comments

Meet one of the random dishes that triggers a good amount of teasing.

Did I mention it is breakfast?

Dave — & most people — find it bizarre I can eat greens in the morning.

I feel completely nourished & balanced when I start the day with something like this though.

Immediately after a good swim & moderate bike ride, I had a recovery drink of coconut water, maca, blue berries, half a banana, a tablespoon of hemp protein, ground flax & carob powder.  About an hour later, braised collard greens tasted perfect.

Cashew cheese complemented the collards & is a quick & simple condiment to make.  I have found the ratio I like for a small batch using 1/4 C raw cashews : 2 T nutritional yeast : 1/2 T flax oil.  I use the “chopping” attachment of my magic bullet to first grind the cashews to powder, then add the nutritional yeast & process to mix.  Add the oil & combine till slightly moist & crumbly.  This lasts 2 – 3 servings for me.  You can make a larger batch:  simply use half the amount of nutritional yeast as cashews & a quarter the amount of oil compared to the nutritional yeast.  I am going to try it using sunflower seeds next time.


Prepare the collard greens by slicing the leaves from the stems; discard stems (or give to your dog to munch on).  Roll each leave in on itself & slice thinly into ribbons.  Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a medium pan on medium to medium-high heat; add the collard ribbons & toss using tongs.  Cook until the leaves are lightly braised (seared), tossing occasionally.  Splash with balsamic vinegar & toss again.  Cover & reduce heat to low.  Cook until leaves wilt; add currants & chickpeas.  Cover & continue to cook, tossing so it wilts & braises evenly, until collards are soft.  Serve in a wide bowl & top with hemp seeds & cashew cheese.  A mochi waffle on the side provided a nice, contrasting crunch.

I felt fueled for our day of climbing — our first trip to the Pit!


Do you ever like greens in the morning?

Kamut Berry Salad

12 Tue, 2011 § 3 Comments

Have you ever had kamut berries?  I am in love.  They are much bigger than wheat or spelt berries & have a nutty flavor with nice, “pop” texture.

Sometimes I do not plan or prep my workweek meals very well & end up hungry mid-day, stranded without sufficient calories.  My blood sugar drops, my mood turns c.r.a.z.y & I “nearly ruin the night” — or so I have been told. 😉  Harsh?  I certainly hope so.  He assured me “once you get food, everything is kosher again.”  I am definitely one of those eat-something-small-every-couple-hours kind of girl…otherwise Hyde emerges.

A big batch of grain salad made over the weekend is perfect to last throughout the week & gives me one more snacking option to keep my blood sugar level.  I was determined to plan my work meals better this week; so when I saw kamut berries at the store on Sunday, I knew what was going in the pot that afternoon.  This salad has been my mid-morning or early afternoon snack.

It is pretty simple & basic, but like I said, I’m in love.

Kamut Berry Salad with Cranberry Beans, Raisins & Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Rinse ~1.5 cups kamut berries & add to 4 cups boiling water [I like my grains a bit chewier, so I use less water than the 4.5 cups recommended but check on them to make sure they don’t run out of water].  Simmer 1.5 – 2 hours until water is absorbed & kamut is cooked.  Allow to sit covered ~10 minutes, then fluff.

Mix with cooked cranberry beans [I soaked & cooked ~3/4 cup dry beans], 1/4 cup raisins & 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds.

You can stir in a dressing or leave it “naked” like I did.  This way I can customize each serving so I don’t get tired of one strong flavor throughout the week.  I like it with champagne-tarragon vinaigrette, simply a little flax oil & sea salt or maybe a splash of white balsamic; & sometimes, I just leave it as is [“naked”].  I also have artichoke hearts & citrus-stuffed olives on hand I can add on a whim.  You can always play with other herbs, like basil, or reheat it with a bit of milk, cinnamon & maple for an alternate to the usual oatmeal breakfast.

I highly recommend making big batches of meals that stay fresh or develop flavor before your busy week starts.

It is only Tuesday, but so far, we’ve only seen Jekyll. 😉  [I think — I don’t know, ask Dave.]


Have you tried kamut berries?

Do you plan or prep any week-day meals during the weekend?

Strawberry Smiles

7 Thu, 2011 § 5 Comments

By 7AM, Dave & I had both dropped the F-bomb.

Mine slipped out because Eisley was sick this morning.  She tried to make it outside but only got as far as the door: my fault for not realizing.  If only more of it had ended up on the linoleum instead of the carpet, maybe I would have kept my cool.  I try not to act mad at her; it’s not her fault…but it’s really really gross cleaning up dog…well, you know…first thing in the morning.  So I guess I thought I would feel better if I tried to push blame onto Dave:

“Why didn’t you tell me she was sick last night?”

“Uh, because she wasn’t sick last night.”


Even after my immature blame-shifting, he still made me a morning smoothie.  He often spoils me with a protein shake & this was one of the best!  F-bomb-dropping worthy in fact.  Dave does not use the word often & never out of anger (something that is slooowly rubbing off onto me); so when he says “ready to have your world f*- in’ rocked?”, I know I am. 🙂

Dave’s Strawberry Smoothie

Strawberries can only make me happy, especially when served by the man I love.

He combined coconut water, banana, maca powder, strawberries, hemp protein powder & topped it off with about 1/4 cup vanilla soy milk before blending it to smooth & creamy perfection.

Strawberries are finally coming in season, so do yourself & someone you love a favor by brightening your day with the simple, fresh treat of these precious berries.

Thanks for brightening my morning, Dave.  You did, even if it was delayed onset. 😉



30 Wed, 2011 § 6 Comments

My diet has not been balanced this week.  My mouth & tummy are seeing primarily carbs.carbs.carbs.  Ridiculous because heavy carbs are not even what I am really craving.  All I actually want is to dine on fruit & vegetables.  I wasn’t staying hydrated either — & that was before I started bike commuting again — now I’m really feeling the thirst.  When I am dehydrated, I crave fruit & juice.  Does anyone else experience this?  I don’t have a juicer, & we try to eat seasonally, which limits fruit right now.  On hand, we have apples, lemons & oranges [citrus is in season here — well, in Phoenix which is only a couple hours away].  Are melons in season yet? 😦  I really want a cantaloupe.

Since I’m actually craving light fruit & veggies, I decided this Wednesday was going to be all about planning & prepping to better fuel & cleanse myself for the rest of the week [& on].  After all, Wednesdays are about me.  😉  I try not to be an “on Monday, I’ll start…”-kind-of-gal.  If I want & need to make a change, I should do it now. It’s easy to put it off but resist!

Natalie reminded me of one of my favorite salad toppings; then Angela went one step further & inspired me to make it my salad.  Tonight I threw together a big serving of her Spring Clean Raw Beet, Carrot & Apple Salad with extra beet. I also added extra lemon juice, so my chopped apples will survive until tomorrow [plus, I like lemon].  In the future, I will make this with white balsamic vinegar to keep it looking fresher.  Dark balsamic made everything slightly brown: not so pretty.  I think white will complement the flavors a bit more as well; champagne vinegar would be good too — oh with tarragon!  Looks like I’ll be making more of this soon.  I plan to top it with hemp seeds & maybe even some toasted almonds.

Some days I miss the shredder/grater attachment on my food processor; then I remind myself I do like the experience of connecting with my food through simple kitchen tools.

If you want practice in presence, grate your own carrots by hand.


— otherwise you lose part of a finger or nail ! which isn’t good for anyone.

A good sweat in the morning & fresh, simple foods should have me feeling my best again soon!


What helps you get back to feeling balanced & cleansed?

Beet fan?  yea or nay?  I think you either hate them or love them.  I am obviously a YEA; Dave is a resounding NAY.  This may be one I’ll never win. 😦

Simple, Fresh

21 Mon, 2011 § 10 Comments

The bulk food bins & I have bonded deeply the last few years.

You know it’s serious when your husband says,

“I’ll leave you to it – this is like Disneyland for you,”

before he darts off for the meat & cheese counters.

Buying bulk is less expensive & less wasteful, especially if you BYOB [bags].  It offers variety & a chance to try small quantities of something, by buying only what you need; this means your goods are likely fresher.  It also seems fresher to pour my grains, seeds, beans, nuts & dried fruit from glass rather than plastic bags or containers.

We keep a lot of our bulk items in our favorite snap containers from World Market.  I always have more bulk than I have containers for though, so I also store food in mason jars as well as reuse other food jars, which once held oils, pickles, etc.  Food storage does not have to be expensive; in fact, it can be downright cheap.

As long as it stays fresh, I am happy.

Dave is right: the bulk section makes me embarrassingly excited.  Whatever my food mood, I can generally fill it here.

Lately, my Spring [fever] mood has been light & distinct, using only a few ingredients to highlight simple flavors.

Five[or six]-ingredient grain salads.

[I have seen variations of these online but can’t find the links now.  Sorry.]

Lentils & Barley with Cardamom

  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 cup almond or hemp milk
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup coconut, toasted
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup cashews, toasted

Combine & rinse barley & lentils.  Combine with water & milk & bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover & simmer 30 – 40 minutes until most of the water is absorbed.  Toward the end of cooking, stir in cardamom, salt & raisins.  Once water is absorbed & grains are cooked, allow to rest a few minutes.  Stir in coconut & garnish individual servings with cashews.

Tarragon Vinaigrette over Quinoa & Roasted Beets

  • 3 T champagne vinegar
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T tarragon [fresh if available; I used ~1 tsp dried]
  • ~6 medium beets, roasted
  • ~2 cups cooked quinoa
  • pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • sea salt & fresh pepper

Combine  vinaigrette ingredients & toss with quinoa & roasted beets.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper & top with roasted pumpkin seeds.  Tarragon is my new favorite combination with beets.  I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh.


Do you shop the bulk section?  What has been your favorite find?


16 Wed, 2011 § 6 Comments

There is kale galore at our house.

Well, maybe not galore, but after buying a bunch at the store, we got another bundle in our CSA share.

Because Dave does not especially enjoy it, I try to [openly]sneak it in with foods he does love.  I am pretty sure potatoes are one of his favorite vegetables.

I used to be scared of potatoes — ok, I still am a little — even now, I consider them sort of an indulgence.  [I know, it’s weird.]  We don’t have them often, but when we do I am reminded how divine a nicely roasted ‘tater is.  [I kind of hate the word “tater”.]  They may not hit our plates often, but hopefully they turn out yummy enough to fill Dave’s needs…at least to some extent.

Technically, this wouldn’t be a gratin because it doesn’t have a “browned crust” from bread crumbs, cheese or a lot more butter, but the nice crisp skin of the potatoes is enough for me!

Red Potato & Dinosaur [Kale] Gratin

4 small servings

  • 8 – 10 small red potatoes, sliced into ~1/2″ thick rounds
  • 1 leek, sliced thinly into half moons
  • small bunch of kale, stemmed & roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces [~2 cups?]
  • Earth Balance butter
  • mirin or other white cooking wine
  • red pepper flakes
  • lavender salt [optional]
  • chives [optional]
  • Greek yogurt [optional]

Preheat oven to 375*.

Parboil potatoes 5 – 10 minutes until just tender.  Strain & set aside.

In a cast-iron or other oven-safe skillet, heat a small amount of Earth Balance.  Add leeks & saute until tender & translucent, ~ 2 minutes.  Remove & set aside.  Add chopped kale to skillet, adding a splash of mirin & pinch of red pepper flakes crushed between fingers; toss & saute until slightly wilted.  Remove & set aside.

Using the same skillet, coat lightly with the Earth Balance & place one-third of the potatoes in a single layer in the bottom of the pan.  Continue layering as follows: half the kale & leek; half the remaining potatoes [adding a couple tiny dabs of butter if desired]; the rest of the kale & leek; top with final layer of potatoes & more butter if desired.  Cover skillet with foil & place in oven ~30 minutes.  Remove foil & bake 5 – 15 minutes longer, watching closely, until potatoes are lightly browned & crisp. [I turned the broiler on for a couple minutes to crisp them a bit more — watch closely!]

Serve with yogurt, chives & lavender salt.

This was tasty even though it was simple as far as seasonings, so add more or other herbs to suit your taste.  Dave topped his with cheese, which you could even add into the layers for a more indulgent meal.  I loved the slightly crispy potatoes with the occasional bursts of heat from the pepper flakes.  I think Greek yogurt is my favorite potato condiment, plus I needed some protein.  The gratin even kept nicely for lunch/leftovers the next day.  I will play around with the oven temperature & time in the future to perfect the browning/crisping of the potatoes.  I am pretty pleased this worked!


How can I sneak the rest of this kale into Dave? 😉

Does anyone else have a difficult time seeing potatoes as “healthy” food?

Love ~ Sweat & Waffles

14 Mon, 2011 § 4 Comments

A Valentine’s Day post could go a couple different routes.  Should I talk about love, candy. all the fluff? [Which are all fun of course.]  Let’s start with my heart —

not the froo-froo stuff though — sorry.

Instead, here’s how it got pumping yesterday.


6 rounds = 4 minutes each exercise: 10 seconds rest; 30 second maximum effort intervals

  • Bench Dips
  • Low Lateral Skaters *see below
  • Hanging Knee Raises
  • Alternating Fly Push Ups

I forgot my list with my reps, so I will add these later today.

*Stand with your feet wide apart – toes & knees pointing slightly outward — & squat down pushing your hips back. Try to get your thighs parallel to the ground.  Shift your weight to one leg & lift the other leg out to the side & extend it so it is horizontal to the ground.  With control, lower your leg & shift your weight to this side & repeat, lifting the other other leg, keeping your feet wide.  Remember to keep your chest up, back straight & core tight.

  • I finished with a mile run, increasing my speed every quarter mile for the first half then for the second half about every 0.1 mile…or sooner because I just wanted to be done & knew the sooner I reached 1 mile, the sooner I could have breakfast — oh you’ll see — & the sooner I would be bouldering with Dave.  [speed range 7 – 10.5]

Dave followed his weight session with a little, ole 5K…just because.

Today’s morning workout was more about maintenance & loving on two small muscle groups I use a lot but often neglect:

Rotator Cuff Muscles [namely infraspinatus & supraspinatus] & Forearms

For specific strength training I stick to a muscle injury/prevention exercise protocol, which includes 3 set of 10 reps, reaching fatigue by the end of set 3.


On to said breakfast my tummy [& heart] completely fell for.

Most of you seem to have pancake days; me, I am more of a waffle gal.  I think we should just go ahead & put waffles in my favorite foods list.

Crisp on the outside, soft in the middle & full of blueberry & banana, these turned out so perfectly Saturday I was glad I had extra for a Sunday batch.

Even more delicious because they were enjoyed on the picnic tables just outside our front door.  Weirdos that we are, Dave & I infuse each bite of breakfast with fresh air.  Mmm.  You should try it.

You should also try kamut flour if you have not yet.  I have never been able to get my hand on it until now.  If this recipe is an accurate indication of what I can expect when cooking with kamut, add it to my list of preferred flours.  Delicate & light, this filled me up without leaving me heavy — crucial for a climbing day — which a lot of other wheats have a tendency to do.

I topped my waffle triangles with maple-tahini, which is just what it sounds like: maple syrup stirred into tahini.  Sesame seeds are a great source of calcium, so I try to incorporate sesame into my diet often.

Banana-Blueberry Waffles with Hemp Seeds

[vegan] ~ makes 4 medium waffles

  • 1 C kamut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 T hemp seeds
  • 1 banana, mashed fairly smooth
  • 1 C fresh almond milk
  • 3 T coconut oil, melted
  • ~1/4 C blueberries

Combine dry ingredients.  Combine wet ingredients.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.  Stir in blueberries.  Spoon [~1/4 C ??] into a preheated waffle iron & cook to perfection, or until the light switches, ~3 minutes.

Disclaimer: I did not need to oil my waffle iron, which I never need to do; I am not sure if my iron just rocks or if the oil in the batter deserves credit.  I cannot be held responsible for any sticking/mess that occurs by following my non-greasing instructions. 😉

I wanted a really lovely photo showcasing the b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l. weather while bouldering this weekend both in Sedona & at the Draw, but I let myself get caught up in simply enjoying myself.

I hope you got caught up in your own weekend!

Happy Valentine’s Day! — especially you Dave…see you at home. 😉


Were you blessed with the same 50*/60* weather?

Have you ever cooked with kamut flour?

Do you have Vday plans?  Even if you are flying solo, make today special & do something loving for yourself or a close friend!

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