Thursday, January 25, 2018

'Tis the Season for Snow and Muffins

Ah,  yes... It’s feeling like normal wintertime in the mountains. As the storm rolled in I was inspired to bake a batch of fresh fruit muffins. Back in the late 20th century, eye-catching, super-size muffins were a super thing. While people may have thought the muffin craze was a healthful phenomenon, think again. Portion control is important as well as the type of fat used and sugar added. So, yes, folks were getting there muffins on but probably packing on unwanted pounds, too.

Enter the 21st century healthy muffin. Last year as we were coping with the Snow Apocalypse I was in desperate need of assistance. Buried in white powder at lake level I posted an ad on a Tahoe website. It read something like this: “Help! Will pay one million dollars, give up purebred dog, toss in the fish aquarium, and brew a pot of fresh coffee with baked goods for anyone to shovel my deck and yard.” Two days later, a young, energetic man appeared at my doorstep. He shoveled and shoveled piles of white power, making doable trails so I could walk the pooch and get back to normal.

This morning I awoke to several inches of snow, which is fine with me and the canine. After one cup of Joe, fresh squeezed OJ, and a fresh apple muffin it was time. In Cal-ese this means walk the dog, go swimming, and enjoy the winter wonderland scenery without worries of getting up on the roof to shovel off mounds of white stuff. In the afternoon another muffin (warmed up) for afternoon tea seems like a plan. As we’re back on track weather-wise, here’s my down-to-earth recipe for you to put to use.

Fresh Apple Mountain Muffins
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour sifted (you can also use half of each)
¼ cup granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup olive oil
2 eggs, brown, organic
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup apple juice (without added sugar)
1 ½ cups Granny smith apples, cored, peeled, chopped
2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon

      In a mixing bowl combine dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Add oil, eggs, buttermilk, and juice. Fold in apples. Use an ice cream scoop and spoon batter into cupcake lined tin pan. Sprinkle sugar mixture on top. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. Makes 12. Serve warm. (While you don’t need frosting, you can use it. Try a mini dollop of cream cheese or vanilla frosting. Or you can dust muffins with confectioners’ sugar to remind you of snow.)
These fresh muffins are healthier than cupcakes and are flavorful with bites of apple and notes of cinnamon. Not only are they easy to make, but they are versatile during chilly weather. Serve them warm for breakfast. Or savor an apple muffin with a cup of hot apple cider or tea at night. And rest assured you’re filling up not out on an earthy treat with a semi-sweet apple muffin.

      — Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington and available at bookstores. The collection was featured in the Good Cook Book Club. Her website is

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