Thursday, April 7, 2022

Surprise Superfoods in Easter Muffins

 By Cal Orey

Update: In 2020 our favorite baking staples, from butter, eggs, flour, and sugar were out of stock at stores. Fast forward to 2022. Due to production, supply and demand to lack of staff, once again we are facing some food shortages around the country. So, I've learned to adapt: Try different brands, shop at different stores, pay more than less--or go without and remember the good old days before the pandemic...

Meanwhile, traditional Easter for me as a kid included a baked ham, scalloped potatoes, biscuits and honey, carrots, and a coconut bunny cake. This year I decided to fast forward for health’s sake – and change things up a up a bit for the rabbit, me and you. I’m talking breakfast muffins – with some good stuff – hidden treasures in them.
Muffins contain SUPERFOODS: carrots, eggs, nuts, berries

Due to 2022 challenges beyond our control, grocery shopping has become a new job. It seems like the cost has skyrocketed for flour and eggs – two staples for baking. One day when I realized my cake flour had expired. Back in 2020, I went to the supermarket. No flour. Online I was greeted with “Out of Stock” or “Delivery in May”! I was a time traveler zapped into the Great Depression. I almost sprung for my favorite gourmet flour found online until the delivery charge shot up to 25 bucks! No way. Then, I heard a knock on the front door. My sibling, now the hunter scored a bag of flour! I literally shouted, “Flour!” as though he caught a huge marlin.

Some days I get images of the film “Soylent Green” eating scene when actors Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson dine on scarce foods -- lettuce, a pot of stew and apples. 

The good news:  Sugar? Confectioners’ granulated, and raw all have a long shelf life. And thanks to my latest book in production, I’m good with spices – and you should be too to flavor and healthy up your dishes!
 So, sit back, cozy up and read the recipe. Then, this week bake a batch of carrot muffins (cupcakes call for cake flour for a thinner batter, whereas muffins use any other flour) for you, yours, and the Easter Bunny! Think carrots, dried fruit, nuts, and spices... Superfoods! Pair with good for you tea or coffee.

Chunky Carrot Muffins

1 ¼ cups butter (I used European style)
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
3 brown eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup water
2 ½ cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
2 – 2 ½ cups carrots, shredded
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dried pineapple, chopped (optional)
½ cup nuts, chopped (hazelnuts or walnuts)
Confectioner's or raw sugar (for topping)

Combine sugar and butter in a bowl. Add eggs, vanilla, and water. Mix well. Add dry ingredients, flour, spices. Fold in carrots, raisins, and nuts. Use a 1/3 cup ice cream scoop and drop batter into cupcake lined tin pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown and firm to touch. Cool completely. Makes 14.

Topping: Sprinkle with confectioners' or raw sugar.  Garnish with fresh mint or basil. Use carrot edible sugar decoration toppers for cakes and cupcakes are found online. Or you can make a quick fluffy cream cheese frosting: In a bowl, beat ½ cup heavy whipped cream (or store-bought ready- made whipped cream); whip until stiff peaks form. Blend in ½ cup whipped cream cheese, ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, 1 capful vanilla extract. Drop a small dollop (or pipe the frosting) on each muffin.

 So, these carrot muffins may not be a 20th century large double layer coconut bunny cake with vanilla frosting and jelly beans.  But they’re worth the time to bake and eat.  It’s springtime – a time for renewal. Savor a 21st century muffin – with a hot cup of herbal tea and enjoy the moment. Taste and smell the fresh muffin. Some things – like carrot muffins infused with nature’s foods – are as good as gold.

— Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, and Herbs & Spices published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.)  

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