Healthier Blueberry and Seed Muffins

Today is muffin day! and you have my full permission to eat as many as you want.  I am only saying that, as I am guilty of devouring one hot muffin just as they came out of the oven.  I know….I have no control.  I don’t know what it is about muffins, but for me they need to be HOT !!! and the best ones are straight from the oven. I just cannot resist them !!! I don’t even sit down to eat it, it is a matter of …tray out of oven, and my paw clutching one hot muffin from the tray….and need I say much more…..

So, anyway, I decided to post something a little different from my usual …. actually I was kind of feeling a little guilty, as I have not really baked in a while, and I was getting the impression that the hubby was starting to feel a bit deprived.  (Yes, let’s blame it on the hubby :-)) Anyway, so I opted for these ‘healthier’ muffins. Note, the operative word ‘healthier’, so in my mind they are ‘healthier’ but still not 100% healthy. There still are a few things which raise my eyebrows…but hey…it is all about balance. 🙂

Healthier Blueberry and Seed Muffins

Preparation time:  10 minutes

Cooking time:  20 minutes

Total time:  30 minutes

Makes 12

Ingredients:

2 jumbo-sized free-range eggs

45 grams apple sauce

45 grams vegetable oil/or butter, melted/or coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup lactose-free plain yoghurt

1 medium-sized banana

 

225 grams gluten-free plain all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder

50 grams sugar

20 grams gluten-free oats

125 grams seeds (I did a mixture of 50 grams sunflower, 50 grams pumpkin, 25 grams combined sesame and poppy seeds)

125 grams blueberries (fresh or frozen)*

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius /350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lightly whisk eggs with a fork.

If using butter, melt it.  Whilst butter is melting, mash-up the banana.

In a large bowl, add the beaten eggs, applesauce, butter, yoghurt and banana. Mix well with a metal tablespoon.

In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients together.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold in nicely.

Lastly, fold in the blueberries until just combined.

Spoon dollops of mixture into the muffin tin.

Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  If you are using frozen blueberries, allow the blueberries to defrost naturally overnight.

If you are not Gluten intolerant, I am sure these muffins will be equally as nice using another healthier flour option.

Seed Bread Muffins

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Baking bread isn’t really my thing.  It’s something I seldom do and to tell the truth, I’m a little scared of working with yeast.  All my insecurities set in…I always think, what if the bread does not rise.  Stupid, I know…but I have my moments.  Apart from the endless waiting for dough to rise, and then most of the recipes say, to let the dough rise in a warm place…I mean what happens in winter? and yes, I have actually had my heated oven door open, with a stool in front of the door, with my dough on, in the hopes the heat will help my dough to rise, I mean, a girl has got to try!..and then the kneading, I have no clue how to knead properly, I’ve never been taught, so I do my own thing and just hope for the best.

Never the less, need I say, that if I can find a bread recipe that doesn’t need yeast, I am all there.

This healthy Seed Loaf recipe has been eyeing me out for a while.  Yes, it is always in my face. I open my recipe file and just randomly flip to a page and nine out of ten times I have the Seed Loaf staring at me, so…it was time…I had to do it…I had to put my curiosity aside and just do it…and my, am I soooooo happy I did.  This bread is to die for!  and if you like a very dense, seed induced healthy bread, this is the one!  I just cannot get enough of it.  I didn’t quite have all the ingredients as the original recipe from the Your Family Magazine stipulated, so I substituted and still it was awesome.  I also, did not have the actual size loaf tin, so for a bit of fun got my giant-sized muffin cup tray and ended up loading up six giant sized muffin cups and four slightly smaller muffin cups just to finish up the mixture. I filled the muffins cups to just about the brim and there was a slight rising but not much at all. Nothing spilled over, so it all worked out perfectly.

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I must say I loved the concept of the bread muffins, it’s just different.  I have a sneaky suspicion that when I do this bread again, instead of using a loaf pan, I’m going to use the muffin cup trays again.

These freeze very well, by the way.  The bread muffins I individually wrapped, and if you opt for doing the loaf pan, just slice and individually wrap.  It’s so easy, when you want, just pop them in the microwave till they reach the temperature you want, and then smother in butter, and add some jam or honey….Yum !!!  This is just an incredible health bread with goodness and nutrition.  It is just pure heaven.

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Healthy Seed Bread Muffins

Preparation time:  25 minutes

Cooking time:  1 hour

Total time:  1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients:

750 millilitres (3 cups) nutty wheat flour

250 mililitres (1 cup) cake wheat flour

500 millilitres (2 cups) oats

pinch of salt

1 Tablespoon white sugar

350 millilitres (mixture of seeds (I used a combination of sunflower and pumpkin seeds combined)*

a handful of extra seeds for sprinkling on the top of the bread muffins

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F

Grease a giant sized muffin tray and a large sized muffin tray.  (I used spray n’ cook)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the nutty wheat flour, cake wheat flour, oats, sugar, salt and all the seeds.  This is quite a floury mixture so use a tablespoon to combine.  Do not even consider an electric mixer, clouds of flour will be everywhere!

In a separate medium sized bowl, pour in the buttermilk, full cream milk, sunflower oil and bicarbonate of soda.  With a tablespoon, stir all the wet ingredients a few times, and set aside for approximately 5 minutes.

Then, with a tablespoon push some of the dry ingredients aside, working around the bowl, making a well effect, in the middle of the flour and oats mixture.  Then grab your medium sized bowl with the wet ingredients in and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Using a tablespoon, mix these two mixtures together to combine.  The mixture is quite thick, and mixing is a bit of an arm workout, but make sure you reach the sneaky flours down at the bottom of the bowl.

Spoon into the prepared muffin trays, filling the mixture to just about the brim.

Sprinkle each bread muffin with extra seeds for added texture.

Place trays in oven and bake for 1 hour.  Test with skewer.  Skewer must come out clean.

Then remove trays from oven.  Remove bread muffins from trays and place on a cooling rack.

I love them hot.  Serve with butter, raw honey or jam.

Enjoy 🙂

  •  I used a digital scale and measured out the seeds.  I found this method to be far more accurate.  Using measuring cups for the seeds somehow just get lost in the mixture.
  • My little experiment:  1 measuring cup (250 millilitres) of pumpkin seeds was equivalent to 155 millilitres on the digital scale and 1 measuring cup (250 millilitres) of sunflower seeds was equivalent to 137 millilitres on the digital scale…Please use a digital scale when measuring the seeds 🙂
  • My giant size muffin cups are width 10.2 centimeters /4 inches and depth 5.2 centimeters /2 inches.

Healthy Homemade Granola

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I thoroughly enjoy making my own granola.  Homemade granola is tons better than the store-bought ones.  When I make it, it is like I am on my own play ground,  strange analogy, but true.  I get to use whatever nuts I want, whatever seeds I want, whether or not I want to add dried fruit or not, it is great, and I get to use whatever quantities I want! Basically I use whatever I have at hand, but more often than not I have to buy more nuts when I know I am planning on making it, as I am a nut freak of note!  I also, like to keep them as whole as possible in my granola, I just love that crunch 🙂 . This homemade Granola is just pure health (except for the butter), packed with goodness, crunch and even gluten-free oats!

With this batch of Granola, I used some butter which I melted with a little vanilla extract.  I know most people are on a health kick these days and coconut oil has become a firm favourite in their kitchens, I am no different, but I needed a change this time.  The difference in flavour was not huge (lets not talk about the nutrients…).  I found using the butter gave it the obvious slight buttery flavour which was enjoyable.  I usually always use coconut oil, melted with other granola recipes and it works just as well, so I am positive it will work just as well with this one.  I always use raw honey.  It is a thicker consistency and it is more natural, so melting it is a necessity when making granola.  I would recommend melting whatever honey you choose to use though, to give it a thinner consistency.

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Healthy Homemade Granola

Preparation time:  5 minutes

Cooking time:  35 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Makes just over 3 cups (900 millilitres)

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked oats *

1 cup of mixed nuts  (I used a combination of raw almonds, macadamia, peanuts, pecan and walnuts)*

1 cup of mixed seeds (I used a combination of pumpkin and sunflower seeds) *

a sprinkling of cinnamon (approximately 1/2 teaspoon/2.5 millilitres)

95 grams butter, melted

100 millilitres raw honey, melted

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 millilitres) vanilla extract

1 cup chopped dried fruit (I used a combination of prunes, apricot, pear and cranberries) *

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C/170 degrees C (fan oven) / 356 degrees F

Chop the dried fruit, and set aside.

Mix the oats, nuts and seeds together in a bowl. (Do not add the dried fruit)

Sprinkle over the cinnamon.

Melt the butter, honey and vanilla extract over a low heat and stir to combine.

Add the melted butter mixture to the oats, nuts and seeds and stir to combine all the ingredients.

Spread the ingredients out on a lined and greased baking tray approximately 37.5 x 25 centimetres / 14.5 x 9.5 inches in size and place in a pre-heated oven to cook.

Stir the granola every fifteen minutes, so it cooks evenly.

Allow to cook for about 35 minutes or until a light golden brown.  (I used a thermo fan oven and mine were done in 20 minutes)

Once the granola is out of the oven, stir in the dried fruit.

Allow the granola to cool.

Transfer into a sealed jar or container and store in the refrigerator.

Serve either on its own, with added fresh fruit and or yoghurt.

Enjoy 🙂

*  I used Gluten Free Oats.

*  Any combination of nuts will do.

*  Any combination of raw seeds will do.

*  Any combination of dried fruit will do.

 

 

 

Healthy Granola Bars

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These Granola Bars are divine!  They are a bit sticky on the outside and it is probably the combination of the peanut butter and the raw honey, but they combine so nicely.  The ingredients stick together just as they should.  They are the perfect crunchy granola bar with a dash of chewiness, with pure health! They are the best snack attack and granola bar anyone could ask for :-).

Over the years I have tried several granola bar recipes and they have all ‘been okay, but none of them have really given me the ‘wow factor’ enough to want to re-make them.  This one by far is on top of my list. Since I found this recipe I have not bothered looking for another.  It is just absolute perfection.  I found the original recipe on the ” I am gluten free” blog site (which is amazing, really worth checking out).  I have made a few slight changes with regards to the types of ingredients used, but no matter what is used, it all works well. What I like about it is the versatility of it.  Feel free to use any combination of nuts and fruit.  I usually use what I have in my grocery cupboard and I love the added touch of the pumpkin seeds for that extra crunch.

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These granola bars do need to be placed in the fridge to harden more, once they have reached room temperature.  Try and wait the hour before going into the fridge and devouring….I have a tendency to pick and probe the granola, stealing whatever I can loosen  to snack on during this process, resulting in little indentations of the ‘missing’ nut, flaked coconut or dried fruit !

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Healthy Granola Bars

Preparation time:  10 minutes

Cooking time:  30 minutes

Total time:  40 minutes

Makes about 15 squares

Preheat oven at 180 degrees C/350 degrees F

Main Utensil:  Oven proof dish 9 x 13 inch/23 x 33 centimetres

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

2 cups whole sliced coconut flakes

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped mixed dried fruit

1 cup raw honey

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter

Instructions:

Firstly preheat oven at 180 degrees C/350 degrees F

Whilst oven is heating up, line and grease an oven proof dish approximately 9 x 13 inches/23 x 33 centimetres in size.

Measure all necessary ingredients and set aside.

Chop up the nuts and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add the coconut, cranberries, seeds, chopped mixed dried fruit and peanut butter to the mixing bowl and stir.

In a small saucepan, heat the honey and ground cinnamon until it reaches a melted consistency. (The honey must not boil.)

Then pour the heated melted mixture over the dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Then, transfer into the lined greased oven proof dish.

Press the granola down firmly into the dish as this will help the granola bind nicely.

Place in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Leave in oven proof dish till they cool completely.  As they cool they will harden slightly.

Then, place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm up before cutting them into squares.

When totally hard, get a sharp knife and cut into bars or squares as required and set in a sealed container with wax wrap separating them (as they are sticky) and place back in the fridge.

Enjoy 🙂

 

Dried Fruit and Nut Muffins

 

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I am quite excited today as this is my first blog post !

I have been contemplating doing a food blog for some time now and finally decided to just go for it. Now with everything set up and organised I am rearing to go. (I admit I do still have a bit of tweaking to do on my site but it is pretty much done for now.)  There is one thing though, I am not a photographer and do not have a fancy camera, so please excuse the photographs.

I have been wondering which recipe I would do for my first, but with so many options of deliciousness, just could not pick one.

I decided on muffins finally.  I am addicted to muffins and love my muffins crispy on the outside and then soft on the inside.  This can be a little tricky when cooking, so I check on them at the required time and then if they need a little extra, then I keep them in the oven for an extra five minutes. Every oven is different temperature wise ever so slightly, so it is a bit of a hit and miss with the time. Never the less they cannot spoil and will always taste divine.

I chose Dried Fruit and Nut Muffins.  They are always great.  I love the combination of the fruits and the nuts.  They just seem to work together so well.  I did add a few pumpkin seeds in as well for that added crunch.

The original recipe is a basic muffin mixture which I have adapted slightly. This recipe I found on a little piece of paper, handwritten and found amongst my moms’ recipes.   This is my go-to muffin recipe.  I find it extremely versatile and easy to switch and change flavours.

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I enjoy making jumbo sized muffins, only problem is they do not last long ! So for a change I took out my ‘cup cake’ tray and used it for the muffins in the hope that they would last a little longer (they didn’t).

So I used chopped raw almonds and macadamia nuts which I did with the pestle and mortar.  I also included chopped dried pear, a few cranberries and some pumpkin seeds.  Any combination will do. This is basically what I had on hand without me having to go to the grocery store for ingredients.  I did allow them to stay in the oven an extra five minutes to get the extra crispness which I love.

(I have a fan oven so generally find when baking to lower the oven temperature by ten degrees C and then allow an extra five minutes or so baking time.)

Nothing is better than a hot crispy on the outside muffin, so much so that it does not even need to be cut open and have butter put on it.  As you bite into it and that softness of the inside…there just are no words.  Okay butter is good on muffins for sure, but that first bite…heaven.

I am an ‘out of the oven and eat’ kind of a girl, it is a matter of from the hot oven and into my mouth ! My dad was the same 🙂

These muffins can also easily be frozen (if they last that long.)  This comes in handy for a snack attack or for adding to the lunches.

I usually take from the freezer, defrost and bomb into the microwave for a piping hot muffin and top with butter…yum !

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Dried Fruit and Nut Muffins

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time:  25-30 minutes

12 average sized muffins or 6 jumbo sized muffins

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (210 grams) uncooked oats

1 1/2 cups (210 grams) wheat cake flour

Just under a cup (170 grams) of loosely packed brown sugar

1 cup (170 grams) of a combination of chopped dried pears, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, raw almond nuts and raw macadamia nuts

1 tablespoon (5 grams) baking powder

1 teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 cup (225 grams) full cream milk

1/2 cup (112.50 grams) vegetable oil

2 extra large free range eggs

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl add the uncooked oats, flour and sugar.

Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

Then add the chopped dried fruit, seeds and chopped nuts.

Again stir to combine.

Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Lightly beat the eggs with a whisk.

In a separate bowl add the milk, oil and lightly beaten eggs.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix through thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

Fill a well-greased muffin tray with the muffin mixture about 3/4 full, allowing for the muffins to rise.

Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C (356 degrees F) for approximately 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

 

Enjoy 🙂