Fruity, Wholemeal, Rather Healthy Muffins

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Do you ever just crave something a bit “sweet” to go with your morning coffee or afternoon tea?

Because I do, quite often actually. Especially when I’m at work and the coffee van (yes we have a special van that delivers coffee straight to our door, be jealous) comes around. When I’m waiting out there for my usual skinny latte, I can help but ogle the delicious croissants and slices of banana bread on display. Seriously, banana bread and coffee = the best combination.

Or when I’m at my computer working on projects at home, and it’s that time of the afternoon when I want my coffee hit… and whilst waiting for the water to boil, that tin of biscuits in the cupboard or that packet of blueberry scones that someone decided to pick up whilst at the shops looks ever so tempting.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a treat once in a while. I do like my coffee and cake on a special occasion. But if you make it a frequent thing, the calories (and the sugar!) adds up. Plus, a sweet treat with my morning or afternoon cuppa generally leaves my energy levels all over the place. Not good, when I need to focus on my work.

The other day, I happened upon some healthy recipe magazines from a few years back, that were gathering dust on my bookshelf. It had been forever since I’d read them, so I thought I’d pick one up and have a flip through, with the hope that I might possibly stumble across a magical recipe that will make me be skinny for ever and ever no matter how much of it I eat, or perhaps just something that’s healthy and simple to make.

I did end up finding the latter. I found a recipe for healthy muffins, and when I saw that it didn’t contain cane sugar it was instantly added to my to-bake list and then successfully crossed off later that afternoon. These muffins are sweetened only by fruit. Though the recipe called for two apples, I decided to substitute one of them for some frozen raspberries; I also threw in some pistachios and chopped dates. I used olive oil, as well, because that’s all I had but you can probably use whatever oil tickles your fancy.

These make an excellent accompaniment to morning or afternoon tea. They’re filling, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and contain a good dose of delicious fruit. I think the fact that the apples are cooked beforehand makes them nice and soft and brings out their flavor. The muffins are quite moist (don’t you just love the word “moist”?) and should last for a good few days, particularly if refrigerated. Enjoy!

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Fruity Wholemeal Muffins
(adapted from Healthy Food Guide magazine)

2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/3 cup frozen raspberries (or any fruit of your choosing)
1 medium banana, mashed
¼ cup chopped dates
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of salt
¼ cup pistachios (or other nut of your choosing)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Combine orange juice, apple, raspberries and banana in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are softened. Set aside to cool.

Sift the flour (return the husks to the bowl), cinnamon, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the egg and oil. Add the egg mixture and the fruit mixture, along with the nuts, to the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared paper cases and bake for about 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted through the centre of one of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.

Depending on how large you make each muffin, you make have enough batter left over to make another half a batch. I managed to make about 17 small-ish muffins, but you can make larger ones and less of them if you wish.

Apple & Cinnamon Muffins with Coconut Sugar

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Happy, happy, happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had a spectacular time ringing in the New Year alongside your nearest and dearest, and I wish you all the best in keeping your New Years Resolutions for at least two weeks or so, until you realize that these resolutions are pointless and you’re always going to be the same person who makes the same mistakes year after year… hah, just kidding! I’m sure it will be a fantastic year :)

In fact, I too have some resolutions – to bake more and not neglect Sneaky Pudding so much! Expect way more posts and delicious recipes this year. I also want to try and get into baking healthier snacks and such, so keep an eye out for those too.

And now I bring you the first recipe of the year – Apple & Cinnamon Muffins! Fresh out of the oven on New Years Day. Hooray!
What makes these muffins interesting is that I’ve decided to try something new. A while back, I bought a packet of “coconut sugar” from the supermarket. It was a bit of an impulse buy, but it intrigued me. So, what is it? Well, it comes from the flower blossom of the coconut palm – the syrup is heated to evaporate the water, creating a slight caramel flavor. Also, it’s apparently way healthier than cane sugar – it’s got way more iron, magnesium and over ten times the zinc. Wow!

I used coconut sugar in place of cane sugar in this recipe, but if you can’t get your hands on coconut sugar, feel free to just use caster sugar instead. I’d highly recommend coconut sugar, though. It’s delicious!

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Apple & Cinnamon Muffins with Coconut Sugar

65g butter
½ cup coconut sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/3 cup of full cream milk
1 apple (you can use any kind – I used Pink Lady) cored and sliced thinly

TOPPING:
2 heaped tablespoons coconut sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift in half the flour and the cinnamon, then stir in half the milk. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, and stir until combined.

Distribute the batter evenly amongst the 12 paper cases. Top each muffin with a thin apple slice. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the muffins are risen and spring back gently when touched, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

While the muffins are cooling in the tray, make the topping. Melt the tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, and brush over the tops of the muffins while they are still slightly warm. Combine the coconut sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle this over the top of each muffin.

Once the muffins have cooled in the muffin tin for about 5 minutes, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely, or serve them warm (they’d go nicely with some vanilla custard!)