Vegan Apple Flax Muffins

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This week, I discovered the deliciousness of honeycrisp apples.  I had heard how wonderful honeycrisp apples were, but I never believed they could be better than another apple variety.  But I have to say, these apples are really, really good.  I actually had to restrain myself from just eating all of the apples plain instead of putting them in these muffins.  Seriously, I was chopping them up and eating the slices instead of adding them to the batter.  It was bad.  I have no self-control.

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Still, it was worth it to sacrifice one to this recipe.  Adam’s grandmother recommended that I try making these healthy (ish) muffins when we were in Michigan.  They were already filled with nutritious goodness like whole wheat flour and flaxseed meal, but to make them even healthier I also used coconut oil and almond milk.  On top of that, I replaced the egg in the recipe with apple sauce to make these babies vegan.  The result is a hearty, dense muffin with pops of apple and nut flavors that pair great with a morning cup of coffee.  If you’re feeling adventurous, you may even want to try making these with cinnamon applesauce.  In fact, maybe I’ll go make more right now.  Not like I’m looking for an excuse to buy more honeycrisp apples or anything.  Yeah, I know, I’m a bad liar.

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Ingredients:

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten OR 1/3 cup apple sauce (or cinnamon apple sauce!!)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups finely chopped apples (skins on or off)
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Directions:

  • Blend dry ingredients together in a bowl
  • In separate bowl, combine applesauce (or egg), oil + milk
  • Add dry ingredients to applesauce mixture + stir until just blended
  • Fold in apples + nuts (batter will be thick!)
  • Fill well-greased muffin cups 2/3 full
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until top springs back when touched
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Chocolate Cherry Green Smoothie

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Cherries, chocolate + dates – what more could you want in a smoothie? This recipe comes from my friend, Rebecca, who is a smoothie master.  Seriously, her smoothies always taste 100 times better than mine, I don’t know what her secret is, but I am still working toward smoothie perfection.  This recipe is one of her chocolate smoothie staples.  When you’re craving sweets – and especially ice cream – this smoothie hits the spot.  The dates and cherries – both dried and frozen – give this recipe a dessert-like sweetness.  Then the ground up cacao nibs have the consistency of chocolate chips, like Ben + Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream.  Yummmmmm.

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If you want to the cherry flavor to stand out, go for vanilla protein powder.  If you’re a chocolate lover, grab some chocolate powder and throw it in!  Experiment with the amounts of powder to see how much is needed – I found that only half a scoop of mine did the trick.  For these pictures, I used vanilla powder – you’ll notice that the chocolate powder will make your smoothie a brown color.  I know, that’s kind of obvious, but I don’t want anyone freaking out when their smoothie isn’t the same color as mine.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup frozen cherries (depending on size of cherries)
  • 1/3rd frozen banana
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 2-3 dates, pitted + split in half
  • 1-2 cups spinach and/or kale (Depending on the size of your smoothie, it’s easiest just to fill the blender to the top with greens!)
  • ~1 cup nut milk or coconut water (or 3/4ths the amount of greens)
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder (we love Juice Plus Chocolate Complete Powder!)
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

Directions:

  • Fill blender with spinach and fill blender 3/4 full with nut milk + blend
  • Add frozen cherries and frozen banana + blend
  • Add remaining ingredients + blend
  • Top with some cacao nibs if you want more chocolate (I mean, who doesn’t?)

Whole Wheat English Muffins

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Is there anything better than a warm english muffin, smothered with butter and jam, and paired with a hot cup of coffee for breakfast?  Well how about whole wheat, homemade and fresh from the oven English muffins topped with raw Michigan honey and local peach preserves?  Yeah, that’s what I had for breakfast in Michigan and it was amazingly delicious.  Aren’t grandparents the best?

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Now I’m not gonna lie to you, this recipe (also from Grandma!) is a bit (ok a lot) more complicated than most of the other recipes I’ve posted – with the exception of the French macaron recipe, that also involved a lot of steps.  This recipe doesn’t necessarily require a lot of finesse, it’s tricky mostly because of the time it takes to make and wait for your dough to be ready.  You probably know that the dough takes some time because the recipe involves yeast.  Now I don’t know about you, but yeast always intimidates me because it involves that whole my-food-is-growing-on-its-own issue.  Maybe it’s just me, but putting your food in a bowl under a towel and then later revealing that your food has doubled in size just freaks me out.  Raw food should not grow.  It’s not natural.

But still, I endure the weirdness of yeast for the sake of these delicious English muffins because they are warm and fluffy and so much better than the store-bought version.  I recommend making them on a Sunday when you have a few free hours and can spend some time meandering in and out of the kitchen, maybe while enjoying a cup of coffee and reading a book while you wait for your dough to grow.  I mean, you’ve got to at least try to make them.  How many types of food do you get to “punch” halfway through the recipe?

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Ingredients:

Makes 12 muffins

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • ~3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cracked wheat
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • Optional: add some chia seeds! (Grandma is on a chia seed kick + she says they go great in these muffins.  I trust her.)

Directions:

[Now I found the instructions a bit lengthy, so I broke them down into three parts to try to make it more manageable.  As my dad always says, when a project seems overwhelming, break it up into parts, like a sandwich.  So now you have a recipe sandwich.  My dad is full of great lectures like that – a few too many, if I say so myself (hi Dad!) – but I digress.]

Part 1: Making the dough

  • In mixer bowl, combine yeast, only 3/4 cup of the all-purpose flour, cracked wheat and wheat germ
  • In saucepan, heat milk, butter, sugar and salt until just barely warm – stir constantly until butter almost melts
  • Add saucepan ingredients to mixer bowl
  • Beat at low speed of electric mixer for about 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl
  • Beat for 3 minutes at high speed
  • Hand stir in enough all-purpose flour to make moderately stiff dough
  • Place dough on a surface covered in flour and knead until smooth + elastic
  • Cover + let rise roughly 1 hour + 15 minutes until the dough has risen to double its size
  • Punch dough down, cover and let it rest for 10 minutes

Part 2: Cutting dough

  • Place dough on lightly floured surface
  • Cut into roughly 4-inch round circles, re-rolling scraps to make leftover
  • Dip both sides of the muffins in corneal
  • Cover + let rise again for 30 minutes

Part 3: Baking muffins

  • Set pancake griddle at 325 degrees
  • Place muffins on griddle
  • Cook muffins 25-30 minutes, flipping every 5 minutes
  • Allow to cool on wire rack before serving