Saturday, November 26, 2016

Beet Cheesecakes

Featured Ingredient: Beets

There is a great ice cream parlor in Austin, Texas called Lick. When we were there last winter on a cycling vacation I fell hard for their roasted beet ice cream. Sweet, earthy, minty all at once. Who knew that beets could be so awesome in a dessert? I’ve made red velvet brownies before, but this took things to a whole new level. And it’s that rosy ice cream where I gleaned inspiration for these beet infused cheesecakes.

If you think about it, beets have some of the highest natural sugar levels of any vegetable, so it should be of no surprise that you can manipulate that gift from Mother Nature to create a praise-worthy cheesecake. One that is as fetching to look at as it is to eat. And by dividing things up among muffin cups you end up with 12 individual desserts. A gift that keeps on giving. Oh, they're also no-bake and star a much healthier base than what most cheesecake recipes call for. I swapped out the customary cream cheese for goat cheese as it’s a natural fit for beets. But you can make these with cream cheese instead and end up with something that is just as tasty.

Beet Cheesecakes

2 medium sized beets, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
3/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup plain Greek or Balkan style yogurt
4 ounces soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons cacao nibs (optional)

Place beets in a steamer basket set over at least 1-inch water. Bring to a boil and steam covered until beets are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Place oats and pistachios in a food processor container and process until pulverized. Add raisins, coconut oil, 2 tablespoons honey, cocoa powder and cinnamon; process until the mixture sticks together when squeezed between your fingers.

Divide oat mixture among 12 silicon or paper lined metal standard sized muffin cups and press down firmly to form an even flat crust. Place pan in refrigerator while you prepare the topping.

Stir together gelatin and 2 Tbsp cold water in a small bowl; let sit 5 minutes. Bring milk, sugar, and 1/4 cup honey to a light simmer over medium heat in a medium sized saucepan. Add gelatin and stir until it has dissolved in the liquid.

Puree together beets, yogurt, goat cheese, orange zest and a pinch of salt in the food processor. Add hot milk mixture and blend until combined. Pour beet mixture over crusts and sprinkle on cacao nibs if using. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

Featured Ingredient: Pumpkin

Every year a farm not far from our home plays host to a massive pumpkin patch. Sure, they have plenty of pumpkins used for Jack-o-lantern purposes, but they also have a huge selection of pie pumpkins as well as plenty of delicious sounding heritage squash such as Banana, Long Island Cheese, Kamo Kamo and Golden Delicious. And every year, I come home with a wheelbarrow full. I just can’t help myself. So this means we are eating plenty of pumpkin and other squash infused recipes and, it turn, risking the chance of suffering from a vitamin A overdose. Tabi has caught on that I'm sneaking pumpkin mash into our morning oatmeal. 

These only slightly guilty pumpkin muffins are what I consider fall comfort food. Just the right amount of seasonal sweetness and plenty of chocolate goodness in each bite. They are even better when smeared with the pumpkin butter recipe that I've provided bellow.

Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

1 3/4 cups spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup pumpkin puree or other winter squash puree
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sugar of choice
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or a neutral oil like canola
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and then stir in pumpkin, milk, maple syrup, sugar and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry and gently mix together. Fold in chocolate chips.

Divide batter among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out nearly clean. Let cool for a few minutes before unmolding and cool further on a metal rack. Muffins are best served warm.

Pumpkin Butter

1 1/2 cups pumpkin or other winter squash puree
1/3 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
1/3 cup apple cider
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Place pumpkin, sugar, cider, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the mixture is thickened, about 30 minutes. Stir the pumpkin butter frequently during cooking and keep the lid slightly ajar to help steam escape yet avoid splatter—a wooden spoon handle can help with this. Stir in vanilla, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Let pumpkin butter cool to room temperature. Transfer to a container and keep chilled for up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Green Egg Cakes

Featured Ingredient: Swiss chard

Call them what you like – egg cakes, mini omelets, individual frittatas – baked eggs are one of the easiest items to make in a trusty muffin pan. Simply mix eggs with desired ingredients and pop in the oven. What comes out is almost always savory goodness.

This tasty version features Swiss chard, which is now abundant at markets and also our community garden. As the MVP of the produce aisle, chard is rich in a range of vital nutrients including vitamin K, which is necessary for bone health and also shown to help in the battle against diabetes.

What makes this recipe a real time saver is that you simply place all of the ingredients in a blender to mix and then pour into a muffin pan. It couldn’t be easier. The addition of the Parmesan and sun-dried tomatoes serves to bump up the umami factor. And the egg cakes are even better when served with a salsa or sour cream. So hopefully, you’ll join me in spreading the love for muffin sized bake eggs.

Green Egg Cakes

8 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
4-5 large Swiss chard leaves, stems trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 375°F. If not using silicon muffin cups, grease your standard sized muffin pan.

Place eggs, milk, chard, salt, and pepper in a blender container and blend until the chard has been pulverized. Pulse in 3/4 cup Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, garlic and thyme.

Place egg mixture in prepared muffin pan, sprinkle on remaining cheese and bake for 17 minutes, or until egg cakes are cooked through in the center. Let cool for a few minutes before unmolding. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Lemony Elderberry Muffins

Sometimes it’s a good idea to look past the supermarket and even the farmers’ market for recipe inspiration. Take for instance these elderberries. Our local part has a large plantation of elderberry shrubs and recently I ventured into the wilds and brought home a backpack full of them.

Research shows that elderberries blast past most other berries when it comes to health-hiking antioxidant power. Why? Well, they have a very high skin to flesh ratio and much of the antioxidants in the berries are found in the outer skin. This is the same reason why smaller wild blueberries have been shown to contain a bigger antioxidant wallop than their larger cultivated counterparts.

Elderberries should be cooked before consuming them. Most often, I just place a bunch in a pot with some cinnamon and lemon juice and simmer for about 15 minutes. I then use the resulting syrupy elderberry as a topping for my morning oatmeal. Many people make jams and jellies with the fruit. But this recipe is proof they are also awesome in muffins.

No elderberries? The muffins, which get a little zing from lemon zest, can be made with blueberries. If following a gluten-free diet, a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour blend can also be employed.

Lemony Elderberry (or Blueberry!) Muffins

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or a neutral oil like canola
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup elderberries

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, ginger powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and stir in milk, yogurt, oil, sugar, honey and lemon zest. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix gently. Fold in elderberries.

Divide batter among 12 standard sized silicon 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 in pan for about 5 minutes before unmoulding and then cool further on metal racks. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Strawberry Yogurt Granola Bowls

Featured Ingredient: Strawberries

Strawberry season comes a little later up here in Ontario than some other locations south of the border. We were riding in South Carolina in April and fresh picked berries were already available. So when the chance to pick-your-own finally rolls around, Tabi and I make sure to load up and put as many as we can on ice for future use.

These granola bowls stuffed with a strawberry studded yogurt is a perfect treat on a hot summer evening. Heck, it’s basically just granola, yogurt and berries so it’s not out of line to enjoy a couple for breakfast or assemble one when a snack attack strikes. The combo of protein and carbs even makes the cups a contender for post-workout recovery nutrition.  And you can forget any manners, these are meant to be a hand to mouth affair. Garnish options include cacao nibs (my fav!), coconut flakes, or chopped pistachios.

Be sure only to add the strawberry yogurt before serving or the granola cups may become soggy if they sit too long with the yogurt in the middle.

Strawberry Yogurt Granola Bowls

Granola base adapted from Canadian Living

1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1/3 cup +2 tablespoons honey
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsalted natural almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest or orange zest (optional)

Place brown sugar, oil and 1/3 cup honey in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar dissolves.  

In a food processor, pulse together oats and almonds until they are pulverized into small pieces. Add honey mixture, cinnamon, ginger powder and salt; pulse until everything is moist and mixture sticks together when pressed between your fingers.

Preheat oven 300°F. Divide oat mixture among 12 standard sized silicon or greased metal muffin cups. Press on mixture firmly into bottom and up sides until cups form. You can moisten your hands with some water if the granola mixture sticks to your fingers as you’re pressing it into the muffin pan.

Bake until edges of cups begin to darken, about 25 minutes. Let cool in pan for roughly 20 minutes, or until they have firmed up.

Stir together yogurt, strawberries, 2 tablespoons honey, vanilla and citrus zest if using. When ready to serve, spoon strawberry yogurt into granola cups. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Chocolate Fudge Cakes

In the interest of getting you into the kitchen to whip up a batch of this standout desert, I’ll keep this post nice and short.


= Fudgy cakes that are a total taste bud party. Don’t forget the raspberries!

Chocolate Fudge Cakes

1 cup brewed coffee, hot
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 avocado
1 ripe large banana
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup oat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place coffee, cocoa powder and coconut oil in a bowl and let sit 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place coffee mixture, avocado, banana, sugar and vanilla in a blender and blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, stir together oat flour, almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, chili powder if using, and salt. Add avocado mixture and mix until everything is moist.

Divide mixture among 12 standard sized silicon or paper lined metal muffin cups. Bake for 22 minutes, or until just slightly soft on the tops. Let cool for a few minutes before unmolding. Cool further on metal racks.

Cakes are best served warm, which you can do by heating for about 25 seconds in the microwave. 

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

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.