Friday, May 9, 2014

Healthy cinnamon apple muffins (+ ridiculous selfies)

There are a lot of unnecessary and unsightly selfies ahead. Consider yourself warned.

Originally this was going to be a sentimental post about moms, then it was going to be a post about how long it takes me (forever) to cut things, and then it turned into none of the above.

Because today I just had so much fun baking. Which I never thought I'd say. Baking scares the hell out of me.

In high school biology I was always the kid who was afraid of labs. Not because I find it particularly challenging to read directions and follow them, but because some science is so particular that if you don't do everything just so then all your efforts are for naught and you can ruin an experiment with just the accidental extra squeeze of a dropper. For someone with a sometimes intense tendency towards perfectionism and zero fine motor skills, this is a horrifying prospect.

Baking's the same way. One mistake, one misreading of a quantity, or even one minute too long in the oven and you can have wasted three hours for no reason. While all my baking attempts have been pretty succesful in the past, I am still haunted by the memory of sugar free lemon bars and permanently filled with regret and shame. Those poor lemon bars.

But anyways. My rock-hard lemon bars and failure as a scientist are not what this post is about. It's about fun. And muffins of course, but also fun. Because being in the kitchen is just so much fun.

For those of you (all of you), who don't get have to hang out with me in the kitchen, it's actually a pretty great time. When I cook, I turn on upbeat music, make sure to taste test generously, and usually split my time equally between dancing, prematurely eating everything, and actually cooking.

Today was extra fun though. There's something so cheery about making muffins, and ESPECIALLY these muffins. These muffins are the cat's pajamas, and his day clothes, and his business casual wear, and just the best thing that will happen to you this weekend. Or if you're a perfect daughter like me (....ha), you will make these for your mom along with fresh fruit and a lemon, dill, and goat cheese farro salad. Or at least that's what I would do...

BACK TO THE FUN. If you hate cooking or baking, these muffins and this kitchen adventure could change your mind. First of all, these muffins are sky-high. No one likes a saggy muffin (or a saggy anything?), and these muffins have the structural integrity of a suspension bridge.

I also somehow managed to make seven muffins worth of mix. How awkward. One lonely muffin had to sit in a tray all by itself. Sad.

But besides for the sad muffin, these muffins are still fun. You  get to test them with a toothpick. Meet my long distance toothpick... or the Elder wand. Take your pick. It's still great for long distance muffin poking. You should get some of these.

And there was this moment when there was only 1:49 left before I got to meet my baby muffins.

And then there was an intimate moment between me and this butter-free oat streusel. Oh struesel, you understand me.

And then the best part of it all was that these muffins were still there at the end of my escapades and I had gotten in an hour of cardio via some hardcore dance battling myself (I won).

Not that I needed it. These muffins are SUPER healthy. That's right. Healthy. But I promise you'll never be able to tell when you taste them. You can just revel in the knowledge that these muffins have no white sugar, no oil, no butter, and even have a kick of whole wheat and berries to make it onto the "eating this might actually do something good for your body" scale.

Point is: these muffins are fantastic, I didn't totally mess up baking, my mother and grandmother are going to love these, and yours will too.

So put on some music, grab your wand, and bake these muffins. I promise if will be the most fun you have all day.

Healthy cinnamon apple blackberry muffins with cinnamon streudel 
Makes: 6 muffins (7 if you're awkward and use too much fruit)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

1 1/2 cup white or whole wheat flower (I did half and half)
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup yogurt (I used lowfat vanilla)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
1/2 - 3/4 cup blackberries (I did half frozen, half fresh)

Oat Struesel 
2 tbsp dry oats (not instant)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and grease or line a 6-muffin tin
2. Combine flower, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and apple in a large bowl and mix thoroughly until combined. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, yogurt, applesauce, maple syrup, egg, vanilla, and milk. Whisk until well mixed.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture and using a spatula combine until mixed completely. Do not overmix. This will prevent them from rising.
5. Chop up blackberries (note: this makes a mess. Don't do it on something you can stain)
6. Spoon in about a tablespoon of mixture into each muffin cup, then top with blackberries. Continue to do this until all mix and blackberries are gone.
7. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, brown sugar, and oats to make streudel and sprinkle over the top of muffins
8. Place muffins in the oven at 425 for five minutes. After five minutes, turn oven temperature down to 375 and allow muffins to bake for another 15-20 minutes. Use a toothpick to check if muffins are done (the toothpick should come out clean when you stick it into a muffin), and allow to cool before removing from tin.
9. Serve to your wonderful mother on mother's day to thank her for raising you, or just keep them all to yourself on any other day. You deserve it.


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