Sunday, May 1, 2016

Strawberry Oatmeal Pistachio Cakes

Featured Ingredient: Pistachios





















As the old saw goes: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” While that is certainly up for debate, taking the time to stuff in some healthy food before bolting out the door in the morning can make a huge difference in meeting your overall nutritional requirements. But if your mornings are as harried as most peoples are, it can be a challenge to carve out enough time to sit down for a balanced meal.

That’s why it’s a good idea to have an arsenal of make-ahead breakfast options that can be ready-to-go in a flash when time is not on your side. These baked fruity and nutty oatmeal cups are certainly a contender. Simply rustle up a batch at once and then zap them in a microwave for near instant steel-cut oatmeal goodness.

Beyond fiber-rich oats and antioxidant packed strawberries, I’ve worked some pistachios into these portable oatmeal cakes for a little crunch and added nutritional boost. The delicious nut supplies protein, fiber, B vitamins (namely, vitamin B6 and thiamin), bone strengthening phosphorus and copper, a mineral necessary for energy production in the body. I also believe they are the only commonly available nut to deliver lutein, a potent antioxidant shown to improve eye health.

These baked oatmeal cups don’t last long in our household, but I believe they would freeze well for future use.

Strawberry Pistachio Oatmeal Cakes















1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
1/3 cup oat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped
1/2 cup roughly chopped shelled pistachios
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted pistachios)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk 
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place oats in a large bowl, cover with water and let soak for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Drain oats, return to bowl and stir in oat flour, ground flaxseed, strawberries, pistachios, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and stir in milk, maple syrup and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine.


Divide mixture among 12 standard sized silicon or paper lined metal muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes, or until set. Let cool in pan for several minutes before unmolding and cool further on metal racks.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Blueberry Masa Bites


Featured Ingredient: Masa Flour

Over the past year, I’ve been involved in a big project (and, hence, the reason behind some of my tardiness posting to this blog). It’s my third cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports +Adventure. It’s all about providing recipes to fuel an active lifestyle. After all, isn’t a long bike ride much better when you have sweet potato tots on hand to fuel the pursuit?



I am extremely stoked with how the book turned out. My publisher, VeloPress, was amazing to work with and they filled the pages with stellar photos of each and every recipe. And just look at that stunning cover. But by no means do you need to be a Crossfit world champion or marathoner to take advantage of what the book has to offer. I think there are plenty of recipes that fit the bill as healthy snacks and quick meals. It goes on sale at the beginning of May so here’s hoping you’ll grab a copy and learn why beet puree can make yogurt even better. Weird, but so true. Find more information at www.rocketfuelfoods.net.

Of course, as the muffin tin man, there is a nice handful of recipes that have been muffinized (yes, I just created a new word). And since I've completed the recipes for the book, I have been experimenting with a bunch more nibbles that can treat an active body right. Case in point: these blueberry infused masa cakes are exactly what I crave when halfway through a full day on the saddle or even when a simple snack attack strikes.

Masa harina is basically just dried corn kernels that have been cooked and soaked in limewater (a diluted solution of calcium hydroxide — not fresh lime juice) and then ground into a fine, gluten-free powder. It’s what used to make traditional corn tortillas, but is also great for whipping up mini muffin tin bites like these. So masa provides the savory and the blueberries deliver the sweet. A match made in heaven, indeed. My preference is to use the smaller wild blueberries that are often available alongside other frozen fruits since they are more easily distributed in the batter.

Masa Blueberry Cakes















3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as canola or grapeseed) or melted coconut oil  
1 cup masa harina (corn flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place all of the ingredients except the blueberries in a blender container and blend until combined. Stir in blueberries.


Divide mixture among 16 silicon or greased metal mini muffin cups and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until cakes are set. Let cool for several minutes before unmolding and cool further on metal racks. Keep chilled for up to 5 days. If bringing along for a walk in the woods or bike ride in the countryside, transport them in small zip-top bags. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Muffin Tin Hacks

I recently came across this article posted on Refinery29 with some excellent new ways to use the trusty muffin pan. I like that they included smoothie cups, which is a smoothie hack I'm willing to take credit for. The frozen soup pucks is an interesting idea and something that I've yet to try. I'm forecasting that this will  be a future Muffin Tin Mania post. Perhaps frozen gazpacho cups when summer finally rolls around up here in Canada.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Muffin Tin Parade

Parade magazine recently ran a feature praising the muffin pan for creating more than just cupcakes. They featured two recipes from Muffintinmania as well two other tasty looking muffinized ideas. Check it out here.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Strawberry Cheesecakes

Featured Ingredient: Strawberries











Despite the warmer than normal winter, it’s still nippy in these parts of Canada and I’m definitely not hearty enough to brave the chill and ride outdoors. So I’m still toiling away on my indoor bike trainer and catching up on some movies – it’s the only thing that makes it bearable. I just finished In The Heart of the Sea, a tale of a giant whale that took out its frustration on a whale ship. A spear to body will do that. It’s the inspiration for Moby Dick. After the beast of the sea destroys the whale ship (spoiler alert), the crew are left to anguish on a desolate island. Which got me to thinking. Let’s say that I was also a castaway and could only bring with me one muffin tin dessert, what would that be?

I believe it would cheesecakes. So good I would definitely have to fend off my fellow castaways. I’ve been experimenting with different no-bake individual cheesecakes, using everything from avocado to pumpkin to coffee as the main ingredient. This strawberry version is not too shabby either. I like using a mixture of cream cheese and yogurt to make them less of a calorie bomb but still indulgent tasting. And featuring an almond-oat crust only ups the nutritional ante.

If you want a dessert that looks like it’s much more of a high-flying kitchen feat than it is and is sure to impress, try these portion controlled cheesecakes and let me know if you would also make it your deserted island nourishment.

Strawberry Cheesecakes


















1 cup pitted dried dates
3 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup unsalted almonds
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or a neutral tasting vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
Dark chocolate, grated

Place dates in a bowl, cover with hot water and let soak 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towel.

Combine strawberries and a couple of tablespoons water in a blender container; blend until pureed. If using thawed frozen strawberries, you can just blend them and the juice they released without the water. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing with a wooden spoon or spatula, to remove seeds.

Place oats and almonds in a food processor container and process until nuts are pulverized. Add dates, oil, coconut, and honey; process until the mixture sticks together when squeezed between your fingers.

Divide oat mixture among 12 standard sized silicon on paper line metal muffin cups and press down firmly to form flat crusts. Place in refrigerator while you prepare the topping.

Stir together gelatin and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl; let sit 5 minutes. Puree together yogurt and cream cheese in the food processor container. Bring milk, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla to a simmer over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add gelatin and stir until gelatin has dissolved.

Add strawberry puree and hot milk mixture to the cream cheese mixture and blend until combined. Pour yogurt mixture over crust. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. If using silicon muffin cups without paper liners, unmold them by running a butter knife around the edges.


Serve topped with grated chocolate.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Pork Apple Muffins

Featured Ingredient: Pork

Over the years of being slightly obsessed with muffin tin cooking, I’ve become a big fan of savory muffins. They feel like a more appropriate snack option than typical sweeter-style muffins and can offer so many different flavor directions.

This version combines a dynamic duo in the culinary world: pork and apples.  Enjoy!  

Pork Apple Muffins















2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons canola, grapeseed or light olive oil
1 pound lean ground pork
1½ cups spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 apple, finely chopped

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add pork and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it cooks. Remove pork from pan and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix together flour, garlic powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs. Stir in 2 tablespoons oil, milk, yogurt, and thyme. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix gently. Fold in cooked pork and apple.

Divide mixture among 12 standard-sized silicone or greased metal muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out nearly clean. Let cool for a few minutes before unmolding and cooling completely on metal racks. Chill for up to 5 days or freeze extras for up to 1 month.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Almond Chocolate Cakes


Featured Ingredient: Almond Flour

We decided to escape the Canadian winter chill and rent a place in Austin, Texas. The goal is to explore the countryside on bikes and test out the food scene, which promises to be tasty.

It was a long, long 2 1/2 day drive down from Ontario and unfortunately Tabi had to spend her birthday trapped in the car. So I thought I would ease her pain by bringing along some birthday chocolate cake.

Made by grinding up blanched almonds, almond flour infuses baked goods like these gluten-free individual cakes with high amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and other vital nutrients like vitamin E. It’s now available at many grocers or grab some at bobsredmill.com.

I’ve found that when baking with grain-free flours like almond, it’s best to separate the eggs and whip the whites to produce a lighter, cakelike end product. These are deliciously moist and exploding with chocolaty goodness. You can also make them in smaller, standard sized muffin cups. You would probably get 12 cakes, but will likely need to reduce the cooking time by a couple minutes. Raspberries are a stellar garnish option. I like to warm them for a moment in the microwave before serving. 

Almond Chocolate Cakes















1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
1/2 cup brewed hot coffee
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large free range eggs, separated
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or other oil of choice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Soak pitted dates in 1 cup boiling water for 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, stir cocoa powder into hot coffee and let cool. Place dates and soaking liquid and the cocoa mixture in a blender container and blend until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir date paste, egg yolks, oil and vanilla extract into the cocoa-coffee mixture. Add the cocoa mixture to the almond mixture and stir gently until combined.

Using an electric mixer or whisk, whip the eggs whites until soft peaks form. Stir about one-quarter of the egg whites into the almond flour mixture and then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.


Divide batter among 8 large sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out mostly clean. Let cool in pan for a few minutes before unmolding and cooling further, preferably on a metal rack. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Cups

Featured Ingredient: Steel-Cut Oats

Oh man, it has been eons since I posted a recipe here. I know that I had a solid following of fellow muffin tin maniacs, so my apologies. Life and work just got in the way. But I’m going to try and post recipes a little more frequently going forward.

And what better way to re-launch Muffin Tin Mania than with these subzero oatmeal pumpkin cups. A recent study found that kickstarting a day with oats leads to prolonged feelings of fullness, which can quell any morning vending machine temptation, compared to eating the same number of calories from boxed cereal. And hearty steel-cuts oats are even more hunger-squashing (and tasty!) than a bowl of mushy rolled oats. But the problem with the steel-cut variety is their prolonged cooking time which can make them a no-option on harried weekday mornings. Well, prepare a big batch of pumpkin infused oats, freeze the bounty in a trusty muffin pan and boom….you have delicious oats that only require a quick thaw and heat.



I found that three frozen oat cups were enough to serve both Tabi and I, so 1 or 2 of them is likely what most people would find an adequate single serving depending on one’s morning appetite. I took the extra step of toasting the oats before simmering as this heightens their flavor. But it’s an optional step. Each bowl can be garnished as you like with items such as berries, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, or additional nuts.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Pucks



1 tablespoon unsalted butter or coconut oil
1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup milk of choice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pure pumpkin puree
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oats and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, around 3 minutes.

In a large saucepan, combine the water and milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Place oats in pan, return to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium low.  Simmer gently covered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the salt. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for 12 - 15 minutes, or until creamy and most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin, banana, maple syrup, walnuts, vanilla and spices. Let cool for several minutes. 

Divide mixture among 12 standard sized silicon or lightly greased metal muffin cups and place in freezer until frozen solid. If you have more mixture than you can fit in the muffin cups, either use what is leftover for your next breakfast or once the oat pumpkin cups are frozen freeze the remainder of the mixture.

Remove oatmeal cups from muffin pan and store in a zip-top bag until ready to use.


To thaw and warm, either place the desired number of oatmeal cups in a saucepan with a few splashes of water and heat over medium until warm and creamy. Or place in a microwave safe bowl with a bit of water, cover with paper towel and heat on HIGH for about 2 minutes. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Versatile Muffin Tin

The Loop recently featured some of my muffin tin creations, so I thought I would pass along the article. The gist of the article is that you can use your muffin tin to make much, much more than a batch of, well, muffins.

Click here for the article.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Beet Brownie Bites



Featured Ingredient: Beets



In the February issue of Runner’s World magazine there is an article I wrote about healthy dessert makeovers. If you haven’t tried to make pudding using super-healthy teff you really should. There is also a recipe for red velvet brownies made with beets. Moist, fudgy and full of chocolate goodness, these brownies are habit-forming. Beets lend them a brilliant crimson color and natural sweetness.

Recently, my partner Tabi had the brilliant idea of using the same ingredients to make brownie bites using mini muffin cups. She made these for several holiday gatherings and they never failed to disappoint. In this version, I used brown rice flour, but you can also use the quinoa flour called for in the Runner’s World article or really any flour you fancy.

The coffee serves to heighten the chocolate flavor and is a great way to melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil.

This will be my last post for a little while, as Tabi and I are off to Baja Mexico for a self-supported cycling tour of the peninsula. I can already taste the Tacos de Pescado’s.

Beet Brownie Bites

















1/2 pound beets, chopped
3/4 cup hot brewed coffee
6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 large eggs
3/4 cup coconut sugar or other sugar of choice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Steam or boil beets until tender and then pulverize them in a food processor.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place hot coffee, chocolate, cocoa powder and coconut oil in a large bowl. Let sit 5 minutes and then stir until smooth. Stir in beat puree, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, ginger powder, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients; stir gently until combined. Divide mixture among 36 mini muffin cups. If needed, prepare in batches. Bake for 15 minutes, or until tops have set. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.