Tag Archives: cinnamon

Easy Whole Grain Banana Muffins

5 Mar

Baking seems like the natural thing to do on a Sunday morning when you’re up by 7:00 am (thank you, Cora) with little to no plans for the day. There was also some pressure from the black banana sitting on my counter, staring at me longingly for the past week. I was determined to use it before it needed to be thrown in the freezer, where it would sit with the rest of the sad overripe bananas that have been there for over a year.

I thought about making my go-to banana bread recipe, but muffins take much less time to bake and I’m always looking for new recipes to try. A quick search using my very advanced approach of adding the term “healthy” to the food item led me to a recipe from the blog Cookie and Kate, where I’ve found delicious recipes in the past. It had a 5 star rating from 175 reviewers so I knew it was a safe bet.

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It’s a one bowl recipe that requires little to no effort, other than mashing the bananas. The resulting muffin was moist, with nice texture from the added oats. I find that bananas add so much natural sweetness to baked goods that you can easily reduce the sugar, even in recipes that already call for very little.

My goal is to blog a little bit more often in the coming weeks since March is Nutrition Month (but hey, no promises). I’m always looking for inspiration so please let me know if you have any favourite recipes that you are willing to share!

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Whole Grain Banana Muffins
(adapted very slightly from CookieandKate.com)

1/3 cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
2 eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 cup packed mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup large flake oats, plus more (~1 tbsp) for sprinkling on top
1 teaspoon brown sugar, for sprinkling on top

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, grease 11 cups of your muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray, or use paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the coconut oil and maple syrup together with a whisk. Add eggs and beat well. Mix in the mashed bananas and milk, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins (like nuts, chocolate or dried fruit) fold them in now.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the 11 muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats (about 1 tablespoon in total), followed by a light sprinkling of sugar (about 1 teaspoon in total). Bake muffins for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
  5. Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan. Enjoy muffins as is or with a spread of nut butter or regular butter.

Makes 11 muffins. Per muffin: 218 kcal, 8.2 g fat (6 g saturated – if using coconut oil), 32 g carbohydrate, 4 g fibre, 5 g protein, 230 mg sodium

The Ultimate Healthy Apple Crumble

17 Jan

What do you do with a bag of banged up apples? Make apple crumble!

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I returned home after a quick post-work grocery shop last week to realize that I picked up THE most bruised bag of apples. Only two of more than a dozen beautiful Ontario empire apples were unblemished. The remainder were seriously bruised and I’m not just talking about surface bumps. The skin was broken and they were slowly starting to ferment from being exposed to the open air. YUM.

Apple crumble is the perfect dessert for this time of year because it’s warm, comforting, and doesn’t have to be calorie dense for those looking to shed a few post-holiday pounds. Most recipes call for sugar in both the apple mixture and the crumble, which can sometimes mask the natural sweetness and flavour of the apple itself. Since I was making apple crumble for a snack and not a special occasion, I scoured the web for a healthy version that I could enjoy any day, guilt-free.

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The recipe I settled on, from the blog Amy’s Healthy Baking, doesn’t use any added sugar in the apple mixture and only a scant amount in the crumble. The crumble combines oats and whole wheat flour with a tiny bit of butter (1.5 tablespoons, to be precise) and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. The result was a crumble that was not overly sweet, and an apple mixture that tasted liked… apples! It was naturally sweet and flavourful. If I were to make this again, I might experiment with the crumble as it was a bit moist in consistency without the usual crunch that I’ve come to expect. Regardless, it tasted delicious and really satisfied my sweet tooth. Plus the house smelled AMAZING afterward.

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The Ultimate Healthy Apple Crumble
(from AmysHealthyBaking.com)

Did You Know? The difference between a crisp and a crumble is that a crisp always uses oats while a crumble may or may not. I grew up using the term “crisp” when referring to this type of dessert, but opted to use “crumble” throughout this post as the crust wasn’t very crispy.

For the Crumble
¾ cup large flake oats
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 ½ tbsp butter, melted

For the Filling
6 cups diced apple (dice into pieces about the size of blueberries) – a tarter variety like Granny Smith may not work as well since they are
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and coat an 8” square pan with butter, oil, or non-stick cooking spray.
  2. To prepare the crumble topping, combine the oats, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the maple syrup and melted butter. Stir until fully incorporated.
  3. To prepare the filling, toss the apples with the cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl until completely coated.
  4. Transfer the filling to the prepared pan, and gently press down with a spatula. Sprinkle evenly with the topping (the topping tends to clump, so try to break it up into fairly small pieces).
  5. Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until the apples are fork tender. Cool completely to room temperature; then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving to allow the juices to fully thicken. If you prefer to enjoy your crumble warm, then reheat individual portions (or the entire pan) once it has chilled in the refrigerator.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 175 kcal, 4 g fat (2 g saturated), 35 g carbohydrate, 5 g fibre, 2 g protein, 22 mg sodium

Vegan Thanksgiving Eats: Pumpkin and Cranberry Baked Beans

10 Oct

For the first time in 4 years, I’m not away at a conference over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Huzzah! I should have spent the weekend preparing for said conference (which is in a few weeks) but instead decided I would roast a turkey for a motley crew of friends and family.

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My sister is vegetarian, so she offered to bring a dish that she likes to make on holidays where turkey is served: pumpkin baked beans. As a turkey lover who was vegetarian for a few short months, I can attest to the fact that they’re super satisfying and almost won’t make you miss meat. They’re sweet yet savoury, loaded with fibre and protein, and the flavours scream autumn. Prep is a cinch, and they can easily be made in advance. Everyone enjoyed them, so much so that J’s plan for a week’s worth of leftovers was thwarted.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Pumpkin and Cranberry Baked Beans
(from OhSheGlows.com)

You may be able to get away with reducing the maple sugar in half and cutting down on the salt for a slightly less sweet/more healthy version. If you’re using canned beans with salt added, you will definitely want to cut down on the added salt.

3 (15-oz) cans navy beans, drained and rinsed (preferably no-salt-added)
1 sweet onion, chopped finely
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp blackstrap molasses (use fancy molasses if you don’t want to buy blackstrap)
4 tbsp pure maple syrup, to taste
1-1/2 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste

  1. In a pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cook over low heat until thick, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or for J’s variation: place in a slow cooker on high heat for 2 to 3 hours. The cranberries will plump up really nicely and the flavours will develop a little bit more. You can also make this the night before and leave it in the fridge, then reheat before serving.

Makes 6 generous servings. Per serving: 305 kcal, 2.6 g fat (0.3 g saturated), 60 g carbohydrate, 12.6 g fibre, 11.5 g protein, 490 mg sodium

Baked Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cups

28 Jun

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

We’ve all heard that line time and time again. From our parents, doctors, the media, and even nagging spouses (myself included). But is there any truth to it?

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During the overnight period, our body uses energy stores to support essential processes like breathing and to repair itself from damage. Eating breakfast helps replenish the energy stores that have been used up while we sleep and gives us much needed calories to help us function at our best in our morning activities.

If you feel like you’re already operating at full tilt without breakfast, perhaps its impact on weight will change your mind. Observational studies have found that adults who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight or obese. In men in particular, there is evidence to suggest that eating breakfast may protect against weight gain.

If you’re still not convinced, regular breakfast consumption leads to diets of higher nutritional quality and those who eat breakfast tend to rate their health status better than those who do not.

So is breakfast, in fact, the most important meal of the day? Clearly it’s important, but whether breakfast is more important than lunch or dinner is debatable. Skipping any meal can affect glycemic control, lead to hunger pangs and subsequent overeating, and overall lower nutritional adequacy.

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Which brings us to today’s dish: individual baked oatmeal cups. I’ve had this recipe flagged for almost 4 years now (!!!) and finally got around to making it this weekend. While these little guys look just like muffins, they taste just like a bowl of oatmeal— in a convenient grab-and-go format. The ingredients are basic and the prep is equally simple. In a single bowl, mashed banana, applesauce, vanilla extract and egg gets mixed with oats, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. A generous portion of milk is then added which the oats will absorb during baking. Finally, your favourite oatmeal topping (raisins for me) gets mixed in. Bake in a muffin tin for 30 mins, let cool, then store individually wrapped in the fridge (or freezer) for an easy, portable breakfast. And if you’re not on the go, you can eat it warm with a bit of milk (or even yogurt), just like a bowl of oatmeal.

It’s the perfect breakfast for non-breakfast eaters everywhere (like E).

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Baked Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cups
(from www.sugarfreemom.com)

The original recipe uses stevia, a natural sugar-free sweetener with a bitter undertone, so I used a bit of maple syrup instead. 

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 ripe banana, mashed (approximately ½ cup)
¼ cup maple syrup
5 cups large flake rolled oats
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups milk
2/3 cup raisins (can substitute for fresh or frozen berries, nuts, chocolate chips, etc!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 12 capacity muffin tins.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana and maple syrup.
  3. Add in oats, flax, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well to combine.
  4. Stir in the milk, then add the raisins. Mix well.
  5. Using 1/3 cup measure, pour mixture evenly into muffin cups. The mixture won’t rise much, so you can fill each muffin cup to the brim. You should end up with 20 muffin cups.
  6. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick in centre comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the oatmeal cups from the muffin tins and allow to fully cool.

Makes 20 oatmeal cups. Per oatmeal cup: 155 kcal, 2.7 g fat, 27 g carbohydrate, 3 g fibre, 5 g protein, 140 mg sodium

Loaf Potion #9: Cranberry Orange Nut Loaf with Zucchini and Carrot

14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day! February is heart month, where national organizations in both Canada and the US strive to increase awareness of heart disease. In addition to achieving a healthy body weight (check here to see where you’re at) and being physically active, diet plays an important role in reducing your risk for heart disease. Limiting sodium, saturated fat, and trans fats can help prevent heart disease along with increasing your intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, and soy.

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Instead of making E’s favourite brownies for Valentine’s Day, I decided I would switch things up (much to his dismay) and make a healthy loaf full of whole grains, vegetables, and nuts— all for a happy heart. This loaf recipe has been one of my favourites since I discovered it many years ago. Grated carrots and zucchini add a hint of colour and texture, dried cranberries add a pop of sweetness, and the addition of orange zest and juice seem to bring all of  the flavours together really nicely. It tastes good the day it’s made, but even better the next, so make this loaf a day in advance for maximum flavour.

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In my opinion, there’s no better way to say “I love you” than with a heart-healthy loaf this Valentine’s Day. Or at least that’s what I keep telling E…

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Loaf Potion #9: Cranberry Orange Nut Loaf with Zucchini and Carrot
(from The Looneyspoons Collection)

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (the original recipe calls for all-purpose flour)
2/3 cup oat bran
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup grated, unpeeled zucchini

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or coat lightly with oil. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oat bran, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Make sure you get all of the lumps out of the brown sugar. Stir in cranberries and nuts.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, eggs, orange juice concentrate, and orange zest. Stir in carrots, and zucchini. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake on middle oven rack for 45 to 50 minute, or until loaf is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in centre of loaf comes out clean.
  5. Cool loaf in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool completely on rack. Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature or in fridge. To serve, cut loaf into 8 thick slices, then cut each slice in half (this is easier than trying to cut into 16 thin slices!)

Makes 1 large loaf (16 slices). Per slice: 150 kcal, 5.3 g fat (0.8 g saturated), 24 g carbohydrate, 2.6 g fibre, 268 mg sodium, 4 g protein

Pumped Up Cinnamon Buns

22 Nov

No matter how many lucky stars I may wish on, cinnamon buns will never be a “healthy” treat. But special occasions call for special treats, and everyone wins if you can make a make them a little bit healthier without compromising taste.

It was my dear friend Lucia’s birthday this weekend and we celebrated with a potluck brunch in her honour. My first instinct was to bring a fruit tray (classic dietitian move), but that seemed too boring for such a special friend. With cinnamon buns on my mind all week (and the luxury of a bit of extra time over the weekend), it became clear that my potluck contribution would be a freshly baked batch of sweet, yeasty buns.

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13 years of friendship… time flies!

The Looneyspoons Collection cookbook has a wonderful recipe for cinnamon buns that have more fibre + less fat and sugar than traditional buns.  Despite these healthy modifications, they taste just as good. Some of the white flour is replaced by whole wheat flour, and ground flaxseed adds a punch of fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. While most cinnamon bun recipes call for upwards of 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of butter per batch, this one calls for a modest 1-1/2 cups of sugar (a small improvement) and 1/3 cup of butter.

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Before going into the oven

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Fresh out of the oven

Cinnamon buns, while intimidating in appearance, are actually relatively simple to make. The key ingredient is TIME as the dough needs to rise not once, but twice before baking. All in all, from start to finish it was a 2+ hour process. The end result was well worth the effort, especially for such a special occasion. Happy Birthday Lucia!

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“Rolls Royce” Cinnamon Rolls
(from The Looneyspoons Collection)

Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 pkg (8 g) or 2-1/4 tsp quick-rising yeast
1 tsp salt
1 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, at room temperature

Glaze
2 tbsp light cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. To make dough, combine both flours, flaxseed, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Add milk, sugar, butter and vanilla to a small pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, just until milk is warmed, butter is melted, and sugar is dissolved. Do not simmer or boil. (Lisa’s tip: use a thermometer to be safe, following the temperature recommendation on the yeast package). Remove from heat and carefully pour into a large mixing bowl. Add half the flour mixture and egg. Stir using a wooden spoon until well blended. Add remaining flour mixture and stir until a soft ball forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Add a bit more flour if dough is too sticky. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 1 minute. Place dough in a clean bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until double in size. (Lisa’s tip: pour boiling water in a shallow glass dish, place in the oven, and use this as your “warm place” to allow the dough to rise)
  3. Meanwhile, make filling. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  5. When dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly flour surface. Roll out dough to a 12 x 14-inch rectangle. Using a butter knife, spread 2 tbsp butter evenly over dough. Sprinkle with brown sugar-cinnamon mixture and spread evenly to edges. Roll up dough jelly-roll style. You should end up with a 12-inch long roll. Using a very sharp knife, slice roll into 12 equal pieces. Arrange rolls in a single layer in prepared pan. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake rolls for 25 minutes. They should be puffed up and light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly while you prepare glaze. Using an electric mixer, beat together all glaze ingredients in a small bowel until smooth. Spread evenly over warm rolls. (Note: if you prefer to drizzle the glaze, add 1 tbsp milk to the glaze)

Makes 12 rolls. Per roll: 270 kcal, 7 g fat (3.7 g saturated fat), 47 g carbohydrate, 3 g fibre, 6 g protein, 227 mg sodium.

Spiced Sweet Potato Salad with Pecans and Raisins

14 Sep

What happened to August?  It disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving little time for blog posts (among other things).  Cora didn’t help the matter when she decided to chew not one, not two, but THREE power cords in the course of a week.  That left both myself and E without power to our trusty laptops, meaning no blog posts and certainly no after-hours work.  Probably part of her ploy to steal us away from our screens for more play-time.  Thankfully she’s lost most of her baby teeth so the biting seems to be winding down.  I think.

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Last month I had two dear friends over for a weeknight dinner before one moved out of the city to return to school in BC.  I needed something that could be prepared in advance since prep time is minimal after a day of work.  Overnight-marinated chicken that goes straight from fridge to oven? Yes.  A quick green salad made the day-of? Easy enough. But I was stumped on the starch. Quinoa salad was the first idea that popped into my mind except I had cooked my go-to recipe the last time these girls were over.  Too much of a good thing is not a great thing.  Then I remembered a wonderful sweet potato recipe given to me by a friend.  It’s both sweet and savory, and can be served hot or cold.

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The beauty in this dish is that it can be easily adjusted based on what you have in your pantry.  Each time I’ve omitted slightly different ingredients,  yet the final product comes out tasting similar to the original.  One exception to this rule is the sherry vinegar.  It has a unique taste so finding a substitute can be challenging. I caved by purchasing a bottle, but some sources say either cider vinegar or rice vinegar can be used if you’re in a bind.

Even though I served this dish in the summer, the ingredients scream AUTUMN: cinnamon, raisins, pecans, ginger, orange, and sweet potatoes.  Perfect for the cooler weather that’s just around the corner!

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Raisins
(Original source unknown)

You can double the dressing if you want stronger flavours.  This recipe can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.

4 medium sweet potatoes (~500 g total), unpeeled and chopped into 2 cm cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tablespoons pecans, chopped
4 green onions, roughly chopped
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tbsp roughly chopped cilantro (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Dressing:
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spread the chopped sweet potato out on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, mix well with your hands, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until just tender. Gently turn them over halfway through cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, toast pecans in a skillet over medium heat until aromatic and lightly browned.
  3. Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  4. When the potatoes are ready, transfer them to a large bowl while still hot. Add the green onion, cilantro (if using), chili flakes, pecans, and raisins. Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and toss gently to blend, then season to taste.  Can be served hot, at room temperature, or refrigerated overnight and served cold.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 170 kcal, 3 g fibre, 10 g fat.

Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins – Healthful or Harmful?

15 Mar

Muffins can be deceiving little things. How can something that sounds so nutritious be so horribly unhealthy? Exhibit A: a Tim Horton’s Raisin Bran muffin contains 410 calories, 13 grams of fat, and a whopping 40 grams of sugar—that’s 8 teaspoons to be exact.  To put things into perspective for you non-Canadians, a Starbucks Zucchini Walnut muffin contains 490 calories and 28 grams of fat. Hardly a snack! And not a very healthy breakfast, either.

The Toronto Star’s “The Dish” column recently analyzed an organic, vegan, sweet potato and date muffin from a local restaurant.  Sounds semi-healthy, right?  Far surpassing both Timmy’s and Starbucks, the muffin contains 986 calories and 38 grams of fat. My jaw fell to the floor. How is that even possible?!

Sarah, my friend who sent me “The Dish” article, passed along a similar muffin recipe but with a fraction of the calories and fat.  Being in a baking mood last weekend, I set aside a bit of time to make my first ever sweet potato muffin.  Naturally, a few small substitutions were made: I replaced the all-purpose flour with whole wheat and reduced the sugar a touch.  The muffin was yearning for pecans or raisins for texture but sadly my pantry was devoid of these staple ingredients.  Au natural, they still tasted pretty darn good.  Not a super sweet muffin, but not a bland one either.

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Tip: to reduce the number of dirty dishes you end up with, cook the sweet potato in the microwave.  Dampen a paper towel with water and wrap around a sweet potato that has been poked generously with a fork.  Microwave for 7-10 minutes. Remove from microwave and allow to cool slightly. Peel off the skin (which makes a delicious snack) then mash the flesh.

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As per Martha: “Preheating the oven at a higher temperature, then lowering the heat when the muffins go in, gives the batter an initial blast of hot air that helps form that beautiful domed top.” It’s true. The muffins had a gorgeous top that I rarely see with my usual muffin recipes.

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Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins
(from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food Blog)

Note: these muffins are best if eaten within 3 days.  Any longer and the tops will turn soggy.  Freeze half of the batch if you’re a small household!

1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 cup 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners; lightly coat liners with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together sweet potato, buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and fold until just combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly among cups. Reduce heat to 375°. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.)

Makes 12 muffins.  Per muffin (following the original recipe): 168 kcal, 5 g fat (1 g sat fat), 4 g protein, 28 g carb, 1 g fiber

Giving Thanks for Friends, Family, and Food

8 Oct

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve always told my mom that I have no interest in voluntarily sticking my arm up a turkey’s butt and that she would be in charge of turkey dinners for as long as she lives.  Yet for reasons unbeknownst to me, this year I was filled with the desire to stuff and cook a turkey for some of my dearest friends.

The centrepiece: a pseudo-cornucopia filled with gourds and apples

Wanting to avoid the last minute rush that often comes with a big dinner, I scoured the Internet for make-ahead recipes that would allow me to relax and enjoy my company.  I was pleased with how well they turned out and how calm I felt all day.  The most popular dish was the cheesy mashed potatoes, which were cooked the day before and re-heated in the crock pot while the turkey was in the oven.  Personally, my favourite component of the turkey dinner was the cranberry sauce (with the stuffing coming a very close second).  While I grew up eating the canned variety, I’ve learned that homemade cranberry sauce is marginally cheaper and tastes a whole lot better.  The best part: I’m able to control how much sugar is added.

I started with one bag of fresh cranberries, 1 cup of orange juice, 1/3 cup of sugar (opposed to the 1 cup that most recipes call for), and a pinch of cinnamon.  The resulting sauce was fairly tart so E insisted on a touch more sugar.  Since the cranberries had already cooked down, I added sweetness in the form of maple syrup to avoid leaving any sugar undissolved.  The final product had that hint of tartness characteristic of cranberry with the warm flavours of orange and cinnamon subtly shining through.

Easily eaten by the spoonful!

Even better than my cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mashed potatoes combined?  The homemade hubbard squash pie brought over by Jacalyn.  It was my first time having squash pie and it tasted identical to pumpkin pie.  The crust was perfectly flaky and the filling was much richer than you’d ever get with canned pumpkin (or squash).

Remnants of Jacalyn’s fabulous squash pie

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey is merely a vehicle for Cranberry sauce

 

Cranberry Sauce with Orange and a hint of Cinnamon

1 package (12 oz/340 g) fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
Dash of cinnamon (approx 1/4 tsp)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

Combine orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, add cranberries, cinnamon, and maple syrup and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cool completely at room temperature.  Refrigerate before serving.

Makes 2-1/4 cups.  Per 2 tbsp serving: 37 kcal, 9 g CHO, 1 g fibre.