Tag Archives: blueberry

Peachy Keen Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

20 Aug

Rarely has a day passed over the past month where my fridge or counter has been devoid of peaches.   We’re in the middle of peach season in Southern Ontario and I’ve been buying them by the basket since the first crop of the season popped up at the end of July.  My peach-a-day habit hasn’t led to taste fatigue but it’s definitely becoming more challenging to finish up an entire basket before the soft flesh starts to bruise and the skin starts to wrinkle.  So when I came across this banana muffin recipe last week calling for berries, I figured I’d swap in chopped peaches for a delightful treat.

With minimal added sugar and no added fat, I was surprised that these muffins turned out as sweet and moist as they did.  The chunks of peach are a pleasant surprise when you bite into the muffin, although the recipe would be just as good with blueberries or raspberries.  My only complaint is that the muffins didn’t rise very well, likely because of the extra liquid that accompanied the chopped peaches when I added them to the batter.

Hidden treasures of peachy goodness

Baskets of Ontario pears were spotted nestled alongside the peaches at the grocery store last week and I’m already drooling as I think of the possibilities.  I could really go for a pear, beet, and goat cheese salad right about now…

Not a perfect looking muffin, but tasty all the same

 

Whole Wheat Banana Peach Muffins
(adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health)

1-1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 4 bananas)
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
1-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup peeled, diced peaches (about 2 small peaches) or fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin tin or line it with papers.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and honey.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt and stir in the wheat germ.  Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture just until combined.  Add the peaches and gently fold into the batter (note: if using berries, toss with 2 tsp whole wheat flour to coat  before adding to the batter).
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins and fill to the brims.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Muffins will keep in a well-covered containers for several days.

Makes 12 muffins.  Per muffin: 111 kcal, 1 g fat, 3 g fibre, 22 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 283 mg sodium.

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“I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Low-Fat” Cheesecake

26 Sep

HAPPY BIRTHDAY E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

E’s birthday cake request again this year (after being forced to decide) was blueberry cheesecake.  Last year I was ambitious and followed a recipe from The Best Light Recipe Cookbook.  It tasted just like traditional New York Cheesecake but at a fraction of the calories and fat.  The cheesecake was out-of-this-world delicious (considering it was a pseudo-light recipe!) but took an entire day to make.  I didn’t have time for such things this year so a quick and easy recipe was necessary.

The Birthday Boy + Birthday Cheesecake

Coincidentally, I received an new (but old) cookbook in the mail this week.  It once belonged to my friend L who no longer cooks for herself.  L’s sister R saw me eying this cookbook (it’s no longer in print) and graciously mailed me L’s copy.  I poured over it the day it arrived in the mail and a recipe for a ridiculously light cheesecake caught my eye (along with an “Excellent” written at the top of the page by R).

The ingredient list alone sparked my curiosity.  The crust was simply crushed graham crackers, a touch of sugar, and one egg white.  No butter!  The filling called for low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat sour cream, 2 egg whites and 1 egg, a mere half cup of sugar (compared to one and a half cups in traditional cheesecake), vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of flour.  Really?  That was it?  This recipe sounded too good to be true.

This cheesecake certainly tasted lighter and less cheesy than your standard cheesecake but it was still very good.  It was just perfect for E’s family as they don’t have very big sweet teeth (?), unlike yours truly.  In addition to being low-fat (4 g per serving), it’s high in protein, relatively low in calories, and very easy to make.

The cheesecake was a hit (even the dog thought so!) and I’ll definitely be making it again.  Happy Birthday E!

Blueberry Birthday Cheesecake

 

Say “Cheesecake” (from Looneyspoons)

1-1/2 cups crushed graham wafers
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg white
1 cup low-fat (1%) cottage cheese
2 cups low-fat (5%) sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
Blueberry (or cherry) sauce or pie filling (see below)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray an 8-inch springform pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together graham crumbs and sugar.  Add 1 egg white and stir until well-blended, using your fingers if needed.  Press crumb mixture firmly over the bottom and part way up sides (about 1 cm high) of springform pan.  Bake until edges feel firm and dry, about 8 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Set aside to cool.  Reduce oven to 300 degrees Fahreinheit.
  3. In a blender or food processor, process cottage cheese until smooth (about 1 minute).  Add sour cream and continue to blend, ensuring no lumps remain.  Add sugar, flour, egg, egg whites, and vanilla and process again until well blended.
  4. Pour filling into pie crust and bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until edges are dry to the touch and centre jiggles only slightly when pan is shaken.  Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours before serving.  Run a knife along the inside edge of the pan and remove sides.  Serve with sauce or pie filling on top.

Makes 8 large slices.  Per slice (cake only): 245 kcal, 3.6 g fat, 234 mg sodium, 11 g protein

For a quick and easy blueberry sauce, in a medium pot combine approximately 2 cups of fresh of frozen blueberries, 1 to 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp lime or lemon juice, and roughly 1/2 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly.  Let cool and refrigerate until ready to serve (sauce will thicken as it cools).  Spoon over cheesecake just before serving.

Really Healthy Blueberry Bran Muffins

15 Aug

My time as a “Londoner” is coming to a close so this summer I’ve been trying to take advantage of the fertile Southwestern Ontario land that surrounds me.  In June, I went strawberry picking at one of London’s several berry farms (all are within a 15 km radius from my downtown apartment).  Wild black raspberries and garlic scapes were foraged in July while hiking around a large lake at the city’s edge.  And to round off a summer of Ontario berries, E and I went blueberry picking just outside of the city last week.

Strawberry Pie (made in June with freshly picked Ontario strawberries)

I’d never picked blueberries before but my coworkers had raved about how quick and easy it is.  Sure enough, with berry buckets strapped to our waists (to leave our hands free to pick), we quickly gathered 4 pounds of berries in less than 20 minutes.  We barely put a dent in our assigned row!  I was amazed at how easily the ripe purpley-blue berries came off of the stem while the underripe green and red ones stayed put.  Meanwhile, E had fun testing the differences in taste between the underripe and ripe berries… I think more ripe berries ended up in his mouth than in his bucket!

Berry bucket + fanny pack = really stylish

A mix of ripe and not-quite-ripe blueberries

Now, what to do with all of these blueberries?  I didn’t want to make a blueberry dessert so instead I decided on one of my favourite snacks: blueberry bran muffins.  Up until now, my go-to recipe contained far too much sugar to be considered a healthy muffin.  Sifting through my cookbooks, I found a recipe that was virtually identical to my go-to, but used apple juice concentrate (1/2 cup) instead of brown sugar (2/3 cup).  Perfect!

First out of the oven, these muffins were a shock to the palate.  Despite the natural sugars in the apple juice concentrate, they were not AT ALL sweet.  I was mildly disappointed but thought “at least I have a really healthy muffin”.  But, after letting them sitting overnight I found that they were subtly– almost perfectly– sweet.  In hindsight, I think the warm blueberries just needed a bit of time to release their juices into the muffin.  If the muffins aren’t sweet enough for you, spread a bit of blueberry jam on top (I made a batch with the rest of our blueberries)… delicious!

Blueberry Bran Muffins

Really Healthy Blueberry Bran Muffins
(adapted from the cookbook Power Eating)

1 cup sour milk* or buttermilk
to make sour milk, add 1 tablespoon vinegar to a 1 cup measure; top with milk and let stand for 5 minutes
1.5 cups natural wheat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. Combine sour milk and wheat bran in a bowl.  Stir to combine and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Mix well.
  4. Whisk together egg, apple juice concentrate, oil, and vanilla.  Add to wheat bran mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Add flour mixture to wheat bran mixture, stirring until just combined.  Fold in blueberries.
  6. Distribute batter evenly between 12 muffin cups and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let muffins cool in tin for 15 minutes on a wire rack, then remove from pan and allow muffins to fully cool on the wire rack.
  7. Store muffins in an airtight container in the fridge.  Allow to sit overnight (at least) before eating.  Enjoy!

Makes 12 muffins.  Per muffin: 105 kcal, 2 g fat, 4 g fibre, 160 mg sodium