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Healthy breakfast muffins

This recipe is the result of months of experimentation to try to make a super-tasty breakfast muffin that wasn’t loaded with fat and processed sugar, and had plenty of nutritional value.

The ingredients come together in three parts: the fresh stuff, the dry ingredients, and then the wet ingredients. We’re following the classic baking advice: combine the dry ingredients , and the wet ingredients, and then bring them together. Don’t be scared off by the relatively long ingredient list: the most time-consuming part is grating the apple and carrot, and other than that this comes together really quickly.

Makes approx. 18 muffins. Time required: about 40 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large apple, coarsely grated (including peel)
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely grated
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup oat bran
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 3/8 cup honey
  • ¼ cup unsulphured molasses
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oven rack in middle position. Line muffin pans with paper cups or treat pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, grate the apple and carrot. Mix in the raisins, almonds and coconuts.

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: wheat flour, oat bran, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Pour over the apple/carrot/raisin/almond/coconut mix, and stir until the fruit is thoroughly coated and broken up into small chunks.

Reusing the medium bowl, mix the wet ingredients (honey, molasses, eggs, oil, apple juice and vanilla extract) together with a fork or whisk for 30-60 seconds until the egg is fully incorporated and the other ingredients are well mixed. Pro tip: crack the eggs into the bowl and beat them first before adding the other wet ingredients; it helps them to mix in better. Stir this well; it will take a couple of minutes to fully mix, but eventually it will. Even though it contains oil and water, it mixes because the egg yolk serves as an emulsifier, binding oil and water together.

Pour over the other ingredients in the large bowl and stir until it forms a batter. Stir well, and make sure you scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl looking for dry pockets. Just when you think there can’t possibly be any dry pockets left, I promise you that you’ll find one.

Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full with batter.

Bake for 10 minutes, rotate pans, and bake for another 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven; allow to cool in muffin pans for 5 minutes then move muffins to cooling rack. Rotating the pans helps to ensure they all cook at the same rate. Don’t let them cool in the muffin pan; moisture will be trapped underneath that will make the bottoms soggy.

Tips and suggestions:

  • Try using different types of apples. I like using Granny Smith apples for this because of the added tartness, but there is no “right” apple to use.
  • This recipe uses baking soda, not baking powder, because there is a fair amount of acidity in the apple juice. You could substitute water for the apple juice, but then you might need to add a bit of lemon juice to make sure there is enough acid present to activate the baking soda.
  • The molasses brings a richer flavor beyond just sweetness to the muffins, and also gives the muffins a beautiful dark color. You could substitute for it, but you will change the resulting muffins more than you think.
  • These muffins freeze well in an airtight bag or container, and thaw in a few hours.
  • You can reheat them easily, about 20 seconds in a microwave oven.
  • These muffins are really good with raspberry or blackberry jam; the tartness of the berries balances out the sweetness of the muffins well.

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