Thursday, March 8, 2012

Muffins for things that ail you...

This has not been a good week for our household. The crud continues and little r has gotten the brunt of it this time.  Home again from school, and little r and I needed a seriously pick-me-up. What better way to cure achy pains than the creation of yummy baked goods?!

I'm starting to see now why so many stay-at-home mom's are either in love with food blogs or create blog posts with incredible recipes.  It can be so much fun when you find a wonderful recipe that works for your family, or even better, when you create a perfect combination of yummy-ness by altering recipes or making a creation from whatever is left in your cupboards.  Cooking lost its allure for me when I was working full time.  I think it was because I could never find the power to plan and cook delicious food.  I forgot how much I really enjoy cooking, and it's been fun to explore that during this phase in my life.  Hopefully I can build a bank of easy and good-for-you recipes so that when I eventually go back to working full time, I'll continue to love it.

All that aside, let's get back to making muffins.  I do not bake much.  My sister was always the one that could create those ridiculously good baked breads and cakes.  My specialty tends to be more on the dinner side of things.  But mostly, I haven't been baking much as of late because this 12-week challenge I'm doing doesn't really leave room for tasty morsels.  It's not much fun to bake when you can't eat any of the food that comes out of the oven.

The tough part about our day was that if we were going to bake, we were going to have to do it with whatever was available in the house.  Between the doctor visit and other highly important errands (like renewing my military ID, just a small necessity...), we had no time to buy any potentially needed groceries.  We were also having our friends, Nina and Linus, over for a playdate later in the day, and I needed to come up with something yummy to share.

Jamie Eason, my virtual 12-week challenge coach, has some pretty awesome recipes on her website to help keep food interesting while we are getting in shape.  I've tried many of her creations and most of them are pretty darn tasty.  Her recipe for pumpkin protein bars sound delicious, but I've had a heck of a time getting the recipe just right.  The idea is a good one though, and I've learned quite a bit from her recipe substitutions.  With a fair amount of left over pumpkin spice puree (and the desire to get some much-needed fiber into little r's system), I started doing a search for low-fat pumpkin spice muffins on pinterest (my new favorite obsession). Using my newfound education from Ms. Eason, and my desire to create something tasty yet healthy and good for my daily high protein snacks, I created my own recipe using a combination of different recipes online.  And the end result was fabulous and far too healthy to be so yummy (or keep to myself).

I took my pumpkin puree and added some more spices to it - cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt - mixed in some egg whites and a very small amount of brown sugar, egg whites, and substituted maple syrup for the granular sugar or agave nectar.  I'm not sure how many people are aware of how incredibly good for you maple syrup is. It is loaded with vitamins and packed with fiber.  Not only that, but in the 1/2 cup of maple syrup I used for my recipe for the entire batch of muffins, there were less than 200 calories.  Just one of my favorite Vermont tips :)  I was somewhat worried that the syrup would create an odd consistency, but luckily it all worked out well.

For the flour I mixed it up.  I had some gluten free and soy flour in my pantry.  The gluten free keeps the flour from spiking your blood sugar, and the soy flour adds 40% more protein into the muffins.  We'll take it!  If you don't have either of these - because let's face it, what normal human being has this in her pantry - don't fret.  You can use regular whole wheat flour or oat flour (which you can make from scratch by grinding regular cooking oats).  For a little more protein, I put in a couple scoops of my protein shake powder (again, completely optional), and finally, a little baking soda and baking powder.  The final ingredient was folding into the batter two apples that were chopped into small pieces.

What really makes these muffins incredible and addicting though is the topping.  I found a couple of different toppings for streusel and nuts that people had used for their pumpkin muffin recipes.  I ended up making both of them (mostly because I ran out of nuts!).  

The batter comes out pretty hearty, so it's easy to scoop into the muffin pan.  I used an ice cream scoop, and the sizing was perfect.  The topping then went on in a simple dash.  Just a mere 25-30 minutes later, and the muffins were golden, crispy, and perfect to ease the ailments from our week.  Most of them were made with the nut topping so that I could use them as one of my high protein snacks.  The streusel muffins I set aside for the kids and one for Big R knowing those would be especially tasty.

So, here is my recipe.  I hope some of you feel inspired to make them, and that you enjoy these muffins as much as my family has.  And a side note, little r appears to be on his way to being cured - could be the muffins, or could be some of the meds his doctor prescribed.  I'm going with the muffins :)

High Protein Pumpkin Apple Muffins

1 1/4 cup  Pumpkin Pie Mix
2 tbs Brown sugar
1/2 cup Maple Syrup (highly recommend Vermont Maple Syrup!)
2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups peeled, covered and chopped apple (I used 2 whole Gala Apples)
2 cups of whole wheat flour (or 1 cup gluten free flour and 1 cup soy flour)
2 scoops of Protein Powder (I used vanilla) (optional)
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Streusel Topping

4 tsp Flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter

Walnut or Pecan Topping

2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tbs brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).  Lightly grease the muffin pan(s).  In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugars, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl mix together the egg, pumpkin, and maple syrup.  Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture; stir to moisten.  Then fold in the chopped apples.  Spoon batter 3/4 full into muffin pan (ice cream scoop is perfect for this).  Sprinkle topping over each muffin.  Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then remove from the pan. 

Enjoy :) 

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