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.

Banana, Walnut & Date Muffins with Coconut Sugar

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Ever made a promise to yourself but ended up not keeping it?

I have! Loads of times! Here are three I made and broke this month:

1. Make a new post on Sneaky Pudding at least once a week.

Nope, last post was on January 1st. I’m pretty sure that was more than a week ago.

2. Make some sort of celebratory cake in honour of Sneaky Pudding’s first birthday.

Again, nope. My blog actually turned one year old a couple of weeks ago, and I told myself I would whip up a pretty, nicely-decorated cake to share on my blog, but life got in the way as per usual.

3. Be a healthy person and don’t lick the leftover batter off the spoon before you put it in the wash.

That one was going well (probably because I haven’t been doing much baking this month) until last night when I baked those muffins that you’re about to read about. Seriously, those calories do count, I should stop pretending that they don’t! :P

So yeah, that’s my life story. Now let’s get on to the recipe.

See, we’re going for a holiday soon and we had a whole bunch of bananas just chilling in the fruit bowl. If they could talk, I’m sure they’d say, “Heh heh, we’re just gonna hang out here ‘til you get back and then we’ll be all brown and gross and make the whole house smell like banana.” Seriously, who wants to come home to that? So I figured, hey, why not transform some of those pesky bananas into a batch of Banana, Walnut & Date Muffins to share around? The whole batch was consumed by family and friends in under 24 hours – so, yes, it was a brilliant way to show those bananas who’s boss.

Oh, and this is my second recipe with coconut sugar. I know what you’re thinking (yes, I read minds) – “Again with the coconut sugar! What is with this girl and coconut sugar?” Seriously, try some! If you can’t find it though, substitute the same amount with light brown sugar, firmly packed.

What I like about these muffins is the fact that they are not overly sweet, but have very subtle caramel-y flavor thanks to the coconut sugar, which works nicely with the dates. Enjoy!

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Banana, Walnut & Date Muffins with Coconut Sugar

2 cups of self-raising flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup dates, chopped
125g butter, melted
1 ¼ cup mashed banana
½ cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin, plus 6 holes of another muffin tin, with margarine.

Sift the flour and spices in a large mixing bowl, then sift in the coconut sugar and mix to combine.

Combine the eggs and milk in a smaller bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg/milk mixture followed by the mashed banana and melted butter (make sure the butter has cooled slightly). Gently fold together until just combined, then stir through the walnuts and dates. Do not overmix the batter!

Distribute the batter evenly amongst the holes of the muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes (I did one tin at a time, but you can do both at once depending on how spacious your oven is). The muffins are cooked if the edges are slightly browned, they spring back lightly when touched and a skewer inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool muffins in the tin for a few minutes before carefully removing, and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack. Makes 18 muffins.