When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Muffin mania

High heat, humidity, and ragweed pollen levels (darn allergies!) have got the boys and I spending more time indoors this week, so I thought we would pass a few hours doing some back-to-school baking. There's something very satisfying about mixing up big batches of hearty muffins and freezing them so that they are readily available for nutritious school day snacks.

This Oat Bran Applesauce Muffin recipe from the Better Baby Food cookbook by Daina Kalnins and Joanne Saab has been a favourite at our house for years. The muffins' apple-cinnamon sweetness combined with whole wheat flour and oat bran make them both nourishing and appealing to kids.

1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup applesauce
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine flour, oat bran, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
In another bowl, stir together oil, applesauce, and egg. Add applesauce mixture to dry ingredients; stir just until moistened.
Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until muffins are firm to the touch. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 12 muffins.

Last week I found this recipe for Carrot Bran Muffins in our local newspaper and we baked up a delicious-smelling batch today. They will be a great source of energy when the mid-morning munchies hit in the coming weeks at school.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups natural bran
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup finely grated carrot
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, bran, brown sugar, flaxseed, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and nutmeg.
Toss grated carrot into this dry mixture.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs thoroughly. Add milk, applesauce, oil, and lemon juice to beaten eggs. Continue beating until thoroughly combined.
Combine mixtures until just mixed. Do not overmix.
Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin pan, dividing evenly. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan before lifting muffins to a cooling rack. Makes 12 muffins.

Will is unable to eat muffins made from wheat flour due to food sensitivities, so for him I bake these tasty, gluten-free Banana Quinoa Muffins using a recipe I got from a friend.

1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp honey
2 very ripe mashed bananas
2 eggs*

*In the case of an egg sensitivity, like Will has, each egg can be replaced with a mixture of 1 tbsp ground flaxseed and 3 tbsp water. Allow this mixture to stand for a few minutes before using it to allow it to acquire an egg-like consistency.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix flour and flakes with dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, mix together bananas, eggs, and honey. Add to dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Pour into greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until muffins are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 6 or 7 muffins.

Quinoa flour is an excellent and perfectly balanced protein source, as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. With these muffins, I usually add a fun sprinkling of chopped dark chocolate (73% cacao) to the mix before baking; the banana and chocolate flavours together are a perfect pair!

Having muffins like these three kinds on hand makes it easy to pack a wholesome snack in the kids' school bags at the beginning of the day. Because they are made from nutritious ingredients, they could also be part of a great quick breakfast on those mornings when everyone is rushing to get out the door. I'm glad to have had a little bit of muffin mania at our house this week; it will help keep the whole family happy and well-fed in the busy weeks ahead!

No comments:

Post a Comment