Muffins are a great item to prepare in advance. They freeze well and are very portable, perfect for a healthy, on-the-go snack or light meal. For this version I tried to keep them as nutritious as possible by starting with a base of sprouted spelt and sprouted buckwheat flours. This extra step in the processing creates a whole grain flour that is easy to digest, with more bioavailable nutrients.
From there, the muffins get some density and healthy fats from almond meal (ground almonds) and moistness from apple sauce, Greek yogurt and a bit of cultured butter. Natural sweetness comes from dates and maple syrup and vanilla and cinnamon add a bit of seasonal spice.
I used Honeycrisp apples to make the apple sauce and for the apple pieces in the muffins. They can be a harder variety to source but they most prevalent this time of the year, especially at farmers’ markets. They own up to their name with a deliciously sweet flavour and crisp, juicy texture. Any other sweet varieties like Gala also work well for apple sauce and baking.There are over seven thousand varieties of apples available around the world but across the board, apples are generally a good source of fiber, vitamin C and many powerful polyphenols, many of which act as antioxidants. Several of these nutrients are in or just under the skin so for maximum benefit keep the skin on and for the most ideal option go for organic. Fruits with thicker skins like avocados and oranges have been shown to have lower amounts of pesticides but fruit with thin skin like apples, and especially when those thin skins are eaten, often have a higher concentration.
1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
1½ cups unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup unsweetened vanilla cashew milk (or any preferred nut milk)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped (around 16-18)
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup salted butter, softened (cultured if possible; or coconut oil for a dairy-free option)
Preheat oven to 375°. Line 36 muffin tins with parchment paper liners.
Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.
Place all the wet ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and stir well until they are fully mixed together. Fold in the apple and cranberries until evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
Scoop out the mixture evenly into the muffin tins, filling them around ⅔ to ¾ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Place pans on cooling racks for 5-10 minutes. Once the muffins are cooled enough to touch, take them out of the pans and leave them to cool completely, directly on the cooling racks (leaving them in the pans can make the bottoms soggy). Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a few days and in the freezer for up to a few months.
When Christopher Columbus came to the New World he also found out about papayas for the first time and hailed them the “fruit of the angels”. They are a tropical fruit with a buttery consistency and unique flavour that sort of tastes like a blend between mangos and cantaloupe. They have a slight muskiness that can be nicely balanced with a sprinkle of some freshly squeezed lime juice (or chia pudding with lime juice already in it). Papayas contain a special enzyme called papain, which helps with the digestion of protein and is used to treat traumas like sports injuries as well as allergies. They are also a great source of vitamins C and A, folate, fiber and several minerals including magnesium and potassium.
Spiralizing root vegetables is a way to make a slightly different shaped base for egg hash. A spiralizer makes even, thin pieces that cook quickly and uniformly. Here I used yams because of their lightly sweet flavour and smooth, dense texture. Here in Canada we generally call the orange ones yams and the white or cream coloured ones sweet potatoes, but in the US it is the other way around- a great cause of confusion. Continue Reading →
Butternut soup is nourishing, cozy, dense and lightly sweet. It’s great on its own or it can be used as a base for more flavours. Here I used curry powder to add a big dose of exotic flavour (plus many of the spices are warming and help with digestion) and some coconut oil and coconut yogurt for a tropical touch. Pretty much any kind of Indian, Middle Eastern or Northern African spice mix will work nicely with butternut squash but my favourite is a homemade curry powder Continue Reading →
Carrots are one of the few vegetables that tend to appeal to picky eaters. Their natural sweetness and soft texture once cooked make them a versatile side dish. The flavour really comes out through roasting and adding in some citrusy and earthy spices gives them a bit more flavour. Continue Reading →
Butternut squash and chestnuts are both sweet, dense and full of nutrients. Butternut squash, with its vibrant orange flesh is a good source of many nutrients, in particular it contains significant amounts of the antioxidants that maintain vision. Chestnuts are high in fiber and a good source of monounsaturated fats- an ideal combination for combating LDL (bad) cholesterol. They are also high in B vitamins and vitamin C as well as several minerals including potassium and manganese. Continue Reading →
A big bowl of meaty chili is a common craving of mine in the winter. It’s a good way to use up leftover bits of meats and vegetables and a can of beans or legumes can be thrown in as well. I like to add in as many vegetables as possible to keep it from being too heavy and make it more balanced. Continue Reading →
Roasted yam rounds are a good substitute for crackers, bread or chips as the base of an appetizer or snack. They are warm and nourishing, easy to digest, dense, sweet and filling because of the complex carbs they contain. Simply slice a yam into thin pieces, roast until the desired crispness is reached and then top and serve. Continue Reading →
Persimmons and pomegranates are vibrant, flavourful winter fruits. Persimmons are sort of similar in taste and texture to mangoes and when cut horizontally their star shaped interior presents nicely on a plate. Pomegranates are a bit more tricky to prep- the ruby red arils have to be removed from the skin and connecting pith. Once they are freed they are great sprinkled over salads and add in a nice crisp sweetness. Continue Reading →
This time of year brings piles and piles of squash. One of my favourites to use is butternut; its bright orange flesh is dense and lightly sweet making it flexible enough for sweet and savoury dishes. Baking halves and using them as a bowl for any filling of choice is an easy way to use them and it can be a good method for using up leftovers. Continue Reading →