an ode to muffins

I love muffins.

I love that they’re so easy to pack.  Easy to eat. 

I love that they can verge on the side of sweet.  A not-so-subtle dessert.

I love that they can be your go-to healthy morning meal. 

Versatile.  Muffins are completely versatile. 

I love that a big batch of muffins can be whipped together in under 30 minutes.

I love that muffins are so forgiving.  They work with what you’ve got on hand.

I love that you can add just about anything you want to a basic recipe (carrots?  raisins?  flax?  pumpkin?) and watch it come out perfect.

Muffins.  I love everything about them. 

 

When I’m looking for more than just a “special treat”—when I need a muffin to be strong and carry me through an early morning—I usually look to bran.  Veggies.  Fruits.  Whole grains.  A bit of healthy fat. 

A muffin can offer all of these things.

Since I was looking for a hearty breakfast muffin, I decided to experiment with a basic bran muffin recipe.  Cutting out some of the oil and replacing this with carrots did nothing to the moisture content.  Not even the second day left a hint of difference.

The apples added a natural boost of sweetness (and fiber, thanks to leaving the peel intact!) 

And the spices and molasses offer that extra somethin’, somethin’, just to make you dream of autumn.

Quick.  Convenient.  Healthy.  Delicious.

Just what I need to carry me through a busy week of early mornings and late nights. 

(I paired my morning muffin with more veggies and fruits in the form of a smoothie.  A cup of milk, a cup of frozen blueberries, half a cup of canned pumpkin, a tablespoon of flax and a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves.  Sprinkled off with granola.)

I ate my smoothie upon waking up and took the muffin to go.  

Because—you know—muffins are totally transportable. 

Autumn Spiced Bran Muffins

Muffins always taste best on the same day that they’re made.  Even so, these do hold over really well.  If you don’t plan on eating them all within a few days, however, simply double bag them and store in the freezer.  Take them out the night before and you’re golden.  They make a very convenient and healthy breakfast or snack to have throughout the week. 😀

  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup milk + 1 T. lemon juice (or 1 c. buttermilk)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 small to medium apples, diced (peeling not necessary!)
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • cloves
  • ginger
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray muffin pan with cooking spray or line with muffin tins.
    2. Mix together wheat bran, buttermilk, apple and carrot; let stand for 10 minutes.
    3. Beat together oil, egg, molasses and vanilla and add to buttermilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended. Fold in walnuts if desired and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.
    4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan and then transfer to a cooling rack.  ENJOY!

    Question: What is your favorite busy morning breakfast?

    how convenient

    Sometimes I exhibit split personalities.  Especially in the kitchen.

    For example, sometimes I really love cooking over a hot stove for several hours.  Wearing my apron as if it’s an accessory item.  Waving my spoon around while chanting “Bon Appetit” in my best Julia Childs imitation. 

    And then there’s the other side of me that wants convenience.  This mostly takes place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, when I’m doing my internship in the school system.  I don’t want to spend longer than 15 minutes preparing breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Quick!  Snap, Snap.  No time to be wasted. 

    Breakfast: 1 serving of creamy banana oatmeal + 1 almost but not quite empty peanut jar + 15 minutes of preparation = perfect.

    Lunch could not have been easier in the convenience department either.

    As soon as I finished making the lentil tacos last night, I popped some directly into the freezer and dished the rest into a tupperware container for today.  Eazy Peazy.

    When served along with a whole wheat wrap, an apple, and some carrot sticks, this meal was complete. 

    Convenience.  Nutrition.  Taste.  It’s nice when they decide to get along.

    Afternoon Snack: 6-oz. plain yogurt mixed with 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin + Natures Path Pumpkin Flax Granola

    I’ll bet when you think “fish,” convenience doesn’t always come to mind.  And I’ll bet that some of you won’t believe me when I tell you that my dinner was served in under 15 minutes.

    But it’s true.  From grill to salad, salmon makes a quick and easy dinner for a busy weeknight meal.  Sometimes I’ll go all crazy with the marinades, but honestly, I like to keep things as simple as possible with the wild caught salmon.  The flavor is so sweet and fresh; salt and pepper is all it really needs.

    I threw some black beans, tomatoes, and good olive oil on top, along with some kashis on the side for crunch.

    Moral of the story: convenience isn’t always such a bad thing for your tastebuds or for your health. 😉

    Question: What are some lunch items that you’ve found to be most convenient, still nutritious, and TASTY?