Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Apple Cheddar Muffins



Featured Ingredient: Apples

When life gives you apples make apple cheddar muffins. Tabi and I are still working through our bounty of apples we plucked from wild apple trees this fall. It's been an apple bumper crop this year. I also had a bunch of leftover old cheddar cheese from a pizza feature article I recently completed. So when I came across this recipe for apple cheddar quick bread in Canadian Living magazine, it was clear it was something that needed to be muffinized.

A little bit sweet and a tad savory, these muffins really hit the spot as a mid-day healthy snack or even a guilt-free dessert. It seems like the apple flavor comes through even more after a day or two.

It turns out that an apple a day can keep the coronary woes at bay. A recent study in the Journal of Functional Foods found that noshing on apples daily can significantly lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol numbers. Antioxidants and fiber in the orbs are likely behind the benefit.

Apple Cheddar Muffins














Adapted from Canadian Living

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup oil of choice
1 cup diced apple
3/4 cup grated apple
1 1/3 cup grated old cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and stir in milk, honey, oil, diced apple, grated apple and 1 cup of cheese.

Divide mixture among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with remaining cheese. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out mostly clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Blueberry Granola Muffins

Featured Ingredient: Granola














Crunchy and sweet, what’s not to love about granola. Which is why I like to take granola outside of the bowl and infuse it into muffins. With the onslaught of recipes I have had to develop lately for my magazine writing, it had been much too long since I had the chance to bake up a batch of wholesome muffins. I think muffins are one of my top comfort foods. Well, at least homemade ones and not the store-bought versions that are pumped full of white flour and heavily processed sweeteners. Blah!!

These moist blueberry muffins have a perfect mixture of lemon tang, nutty nuances from almond flour and granola crunch. I guess you could make an argument that they could be used as a somewhat healthy breakfast on-the-go. So if you’re muffin crazy like me, give these a shot and let me know how you like them.

For this recipe, I made good use of one of my favorite store-bought granola items: KIND Grain Clusters. They are gluten-free and come in a range of tasty flavors such as Dark Chocolate Cranberry and Oats & Honey. Best of all, they aren’t overloaded in sugar and come minus the off-flavors that some packaged granola has. KIND also makes some of the most wholesome, delicious bars on the market. So save for homemade granola, which is always awesome, KIND is one of the best options out there.














The great news is that KIND has agreed to award one of my readers with an assortment of their grain clusters. It’s an awesome prize. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “How kind of KIND” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner on Friday October 25th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Good news Suzanne, you were randomly selected the winner of the KIND giveaway. Just use the contact button above to send me your shipping details and I'll get them to send some goodies your way. 

Blueberry Lemon Granola Muffins














1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar of choice
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or other oil of choice
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups granola of choice
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in oil, sugar, yogurt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in 1 cup granola and blueberries.

Divide batter among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups and sprinkle remaining granola on top of the batter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out nearly clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

Switch hits:

  • Replace the lemon with orange
  • Use spelt or kamut flour instead of whole wheat pastry
  • Swap out yogurt for low-fat sour cream 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Beet Pistachio Cakes

Featured Ingredient: Pistachios










I’m most definitely willing to go nuts for pistachios. They are likely my favorite nut. If they weren’t a little pricy, I’d have a bowlful beside my computer everyday. An indulgence that would bring many nutritional perks.

It’s the only nut to deliver lutein, a carotenoid antioxidant often found in dark, leafy greens which is stored in the retina where it helps maintain good vision. The verdant nut also contains more blood-pressure lowering potassium than others and is rich in phytosterols, shown to chip away at high cholesterol numbers.

When it comes to muffin tin creations, it’s understandable that you would like more sweet than savory when it comes to pistachios. But they are the perfect crunchy topping for these fetching beet cakes. Managing to be both homey and sophisticated, these vibrant cakes are sure to convert beet bashers. The tangy goat cheese adds creamy goodness while fennel provides a slight hint of licorice flavor that works well with the earthy beet sweetness.

Speaking of pistachios, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. The kind folks at Setton Farms (a major pistachio grower in the U.S.) have come up with some amazing pistachio-cranberry bites that they would like to award to one of my readers. They have minimal ingredients and I’ve been grabbing them as a healthy nibble come mid-afternoon.













To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I Go Nuts for Pistachios” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner of the Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites on Wednesday October 9th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Beet Cakes















1 pound beets, grated (about 4 medium sized)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons flour of choice
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoon horseradish (optional)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 ounces semi-soft goat cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup pistachios, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, combine beats, egg, flour, chives, vinegar, garlic, horseradish if using, fennel, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide mixture among 10 standard sized silicon or greased muffin cups making sure to tightly pack in the beets to help keep them together during cooking.


Bake for 20 minutes and let cool for several minutes before unmolding. To unmold, run a butter knife around the edges of the beet cakes, place a flat object over top of the muffin tin such as a cutting board and turn the tin upside down. Sometimes it helps to tap the tops to dislodge the contents. Serve topped with goat cheese and pistachios.