Morning routines with California Prunes

I received a question recently about finding balance in PA school and that was just something I was never personally able to accomplish. In hindsight, I wish I would have set the tone for the day in a calm, rather than chaotic, way. I’ve made some changes since then, and these things are now a non-negotiable part of my morning routine.

If you’re not a morning person – totally fine! These items can apply to any part of the day.

The most important thing I wish I would have done is adopt a softer, more gentler tone. When in PA school, the stress was insurmountable. Rather than choose things that could have decreased my physical burden of stress, the intensity of my lifestyle was echoing the intensity of school. For example, I’d set my alarm clock early and fly out of bed, leaving my room in disarray, run to catch the train to take a high-intensity interval work-out class, quickly shower and head to class, stay after classes all day to study, then get home, have a few glasses of wine to unwind, and crash with my notes all over my face from sheer exhaustion.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, I was having palpitations and panic attacks regularly.

Now that I’m a bit older (jury’s still out on the wiser thing), I’ve found a way to savor my morning routine so that I start the day from a place of pleasure rather than panic. 

  1. Make your bed. Making my bed in the morning seems trivial, though has ended up rolling into so many other positive behaviors in the morning. When my space is clean and clear, I think so much clearer. I have more physical space around me, which often translates to having more mental space and capacity for other things. 
  2. Have some variation of a mindfulness practice. This doesn’t have to be the traditional sitting in silence and doing body scans. This can be any activity that is done without distraction that involves all of the senses. For example, I make my breakfast a mindful meal. Today’s prune, walnut, and dark chocolate muffins featuring California Prunes were absolutely savored. Noticing the warm and fluffy texture, the earthy yet slightly sweet hint of prunes, and the delectable aroma not only put my mind at ease but made me enjoy the dish so much more.
  3. Expose yourself to sunlight. This is SO hard during New England winters, though has drastically helped my mental health and sleep cycle. Getting light exposure in the morning allows for ample melatonin release at night.
  4. Make the first meal of the day count. Regardless of when this meal is, ensure it’s packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats. My work day is pretty full with seeing patients, so I want to feel energized and satiated during that meal. California prunes are a great way to accomplish this! Not only do they have high-quality flavor, but they support both digestive and bone health. The muffin recipe below is packed with California prunes and absolutely delightful. Love having these to grab and go so I can spend a bit more time focusing on other forms of self-care and nourishment in the morning.
  5. Prioritize the to-do list and “swallow the frog.” I like to organize my to-do list based on a plethora of things: putting either the most important things or the thing I’m dreading most first. That way it’s out of the way and I can go on without that one thing looming over for the rest of the day. 
  6. Align the intensity of your day with that season of life. If you’re in a really busy and intense season, think about forms of movement that are slower/lower intensity. And also decreasing the other things in life that make you feel heightened, ie caffeine, alcohol, tight clothing, skipping meals, etc. Taking things slower, breathing more, drinking water, eating meals at regular times and decreasing my caffeine/alcohol intake pretty significantly impacted my health for the better.
  7. Do something that reminds you to breathe. This can be intentionally taking deep breaths, or some form of physical activity that activates diaphragmatic breathing. Deep breathing is the quickest and most accessible way to switch from fight or flight to rest and digest.

And speaking of taking deep breaths, the smell that came from my kitchen from these muffins was absolutely paramount. These are gluten-free (using almond flour) and fiber-filled (using oat flour and dates!). The sweet, rich flavors of California Prunes blend seamlessly with dark chocolate and warming spices, and with the added earthy crunch from walnuts. They’re the perfect grab-and-go option to pair with busy mornings. 

Dark chocolate, walnut, and California Prunes muffins: 

Makes ~8 large muffins


Dry ingredients: 

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar 
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder 
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Wet ingredients: 

  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup prune juice 
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup yogurt of choice (I chose coconut yogurt) 
  • ¼ cup butter, melted 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

To fold in: 

  • ½ cup California prunes, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup chopped dark chocolate 


  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another. 
  3. Fold in dry ingredients into wet, until dough is formed. 
  4. Fold in California prunes, chopped walnuts, dark chocolate. 
  5. Line muffin tins, and fill ~⅔ way. 
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are golden brown and knife can be removed cleanly from center of muffin without batter.

Thank you California Prunes for sponsoring this post. It’s an honor to work with an ingredient I’m just so fond of!

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