Apple Walnut Muffins

From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.

People enjoy a variety of activities during the holiday season. For some, it’s traveling, for others it’s decorating, and for young children, it’s waiting for Santa. As for me, I enjoying cooking (and of course, eating the results).

Below is an easy recipe for muffins that I’ve recently created. Muffins can be made within half an hour and don’t require fancy baking equipment. Extremely versatile, they can be made with a variety of substitutions. For example, the following recipe can be made with chopped bananas instead of apples, pecans or almonds instead of walnuts, or with raisins and a half cup of flaxseed meal instead of nut products if allergies are a concern.

Apple Walnut Muffins

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (sometimes called white whole wheat pastry flour)*

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

1 large apple, chopped

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup chopped dates

1/3 cup flaxseed meal (optional)

2 cups apple juice concentrate

½ cup cashew or peanut butter

Preheat your oven to 375 °F/ 190 °C.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the cinnamon, apple, walnuts, dates, and flaxseed meal.

In a separate mixing bowl, use a handheld blender to combine the apple juice concentrate and nut butter until smooth. Add the mixture to the flour mixture, gently stirring. Pour equal amounts of batter into a dozen baking cups in a muffin tin.

Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked (use a toothpick to test their readiness). Let cool, then serve!

Makes about a dozen muffins

*Whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour is the key to lightly textured whole grain muffins. Using regular whole wheat flour will make the muffins too dense and heavy. Find whole wheat pastry flour at larger grocery stores, bulk food stores, and health food stores.

Originally published in the Times & Transcript on December 10th, 2010.

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Raspberry Chocolate Muffins

From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.

Raspberry Chocolate Muffins

Served with a fruit smoothie and a bowl of berries topped with chopped nuts, these muffins can be a nutritious breakfast.

2 cups (500 mL) whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda

1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) cinnamon

1 1/2 cup (375 mL) apple juice concentrate

1/2 cup (125 mL) milk/alternative

1/3 cup (80 mL) flaxseed meal (optional)

1/2 cup (125 mL) almond butter

1 banana, diced

1/2 cup (125 mL) raspberries

1/3 cup (80 mL) chopped extra dark chocolate

1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda and powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, blend juice, milk, flax, and nut butter. Gently mix wet ingredients into flour mixture and stir in banana, raspberries, chocolate, and walnuts. Distribute batter evenly into a baking cup lined muffin tin. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Let cool. Serve!

Makes about 16 muffins

Originally published in the Times & Transcript on December 17th, 2010.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

These tasty cookies are easy to make and still tasty and wholesome. Why not try them out over the holidays?

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour 250 mL

½ tsp baking soda 2.5 mL

½ tsp salt 2.5 mL

½ tsp cinnamon 2.5 mL

1 tsp lemon zest 5 mL

¾ cup apricot puree* 180 mL

2 tbsp peanut butter 30 mL

¼ cup canola oil 60 mL

1 medium banana, chopped 1

¼ cup chocolate chips 60 mL

Preheat oven to 375° F/190° C. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Incorporate the apricot puree and peanut butter into the mixture. Toss the chopped banana with the canola oil and mix it and the chocolate chips with the cookie dough mixture. To form each cookie, roll one ounce of cookie dough into a ball and flatten completely with a fork (these cookies won’t spread during baking). Place the cookies on a non-stick or oiled cookie sheet and bake for about 17 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool, then serve!

Makes about a dozen cookies.

*To make apricot puree, place a cup of apricots in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Let simmer until apricots are tender and most of the water has been absorbed. Puree until smooth using a handheld blender. This yields a cup of puree.

Originally published in the Times & Transcript on December 24th, 2010.