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All muffins are not created equal. I admit to being a bit of a muffin snob. Perhaps I ate one too many “cake” muffins in my university years. You know the kind. They were cheap, about the size of three home made muffins put together, greasy and tasted like a bad Safeway cake that has sat on the shelf for too many days. Sometimes they usually had chocolate chips in them. Rarely were there blueberries because actual fruit would decrease their shelf life. Perhaps you have eaten one of these:
So in honour of National Blueberry Muffin Day I thought I would do some baking before heading back up to the lake. Time for some healthy eating after our first mini vacation at the lake where I let the kids eat junk food (Twizzlers and Hawkin’s Cheezies being the official cabin food). The first muffin recipe is an old standard. I’m not really sure where I originally got it from, but over the past few years it has morphed into quite a healthy treat. The second recipe is a surprisingly good pairing of rhubarb and fresh blueberries – a little sweeter and great with coffee. Unfortunately it is a little early for fresh wild blueberries here in Saskatoon. But some summers you can luck out at the Farmer’s Market and find flats of Northern Saskatchewan blueberries a little later in the season. Almost as good as picking them yourself!!!
Healthy Blueberry Everything Muffins
3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c white sugar
1/4 c wheat germ
1/4 c quick cooking oats
1/4 c unsweetened coconut
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnmamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 banana, mashed
1 cup 1% buttermilk (plain yoghurt works well too!)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 c blueberries (frozen or fresh – don’t thaw if frozen)
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line 12 cup muffin tin with papers.
In a large bowl mix first ten dry ingredients. In a different bowl, mix the wet ingredients minus the blueberries and nuts. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just blended. Fold in the berries and nuts. Spoon into muffin cups, filling all the way to the top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and spring back when touched.
Cleaned out the freezer and found this – I’m sure it’s still good!
Rhubarb Blueberry Muffins
3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c vegetable oil
1/2 c 1% buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. diced rhubarb
1 c. fresh blueberries
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
handful of sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line 12 cup muffin pan with papers. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix oil, egg, buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just blended. Fold in rhubarb and blueberries. Spoon into muffin cups and sprinkle with topping. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown.
A note about cooking temperatures:
Most recipes call for a cooking temp of approximately 350F for muffins. I like my muffins to be very golden brown when they are finished, so I usually increase the cooking temperature by 25 degrees. I baked these muffins in the two recipes at 370F in a convection oven which would translate to just under 400F in a traditional oven. Nothing worse than a pale muffin (or a pale croissant or a pale pancake or pale . . . . you see where I am going with this!) Am I the only one who does this?
Well it’s National Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day… *yawn*. Why would I write about that, when I can blog about a SUPERFOOD!!
Yes, it’s not everyday that one of nature’s little miracles happens along on this blog. Let’s face it, we’re more likely to be eating something that will shorten your lifespan (Della, I’m looking at you and your hot-dog-mac-and-cheese feast!) than lengthen it! So lets celebrate the super-duper healthy, when we have a chance, yes?
Blueberries are high in vitamin C, a strong antioxidant offering support for the immune system. Blueberries also contain fibre, folate, iron, manganese, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper, B vitamins, and vitamin E.
The main reason blueberries have been getting so much press lately is because the ongoing research on phytochemicals reveals blueberries top the list in antioxidant rich foods. Research is showing blueberries to be good for the brain, too. Animal research using blueberry extract found it improved balance, coordination and memory – even in cases of Alzheimer’s. Further studies have shown that “blueberries have a rejuvenating affect on memory-related nerve function, including the stimulation of new memory cells to form.” I could go on – studies have found found that blueberries have preventative effects on prostate cancer and liver cancer; they contain compounds that stop UTI’s and there are claims they help with treating hypoglycemia, tinnitus, intestinal upset, eye disorders and varicose veins.
Impressive, no? But I haven’t even mentioned what makes blueberries truly truly miraculous: they taste good!! Usually if you want all your vitamins and cancer fighting chemicals, you’re in the culinary neighbourhood of kale, brussel sprouts, ground flax or oil of oregano. But with blueberries, you get to be virtuous and healthy AND YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO EAT THEM. It’s a gosh darn miracle.
Putting blueberries on my cereal wasn’t going to impress any of you, so I opted to make this buttermilk blueberry pie from Epicurious. WIth the help of my pastry guru friend Ian we opted to just bake the pie in the raw crust, but for about 40 minutes. We also just used frozen blueberries with no issues.
While the pie looked a little pallid going into the oven, in the end this was a really nice pie – the tart of the berries, a little lemon and the slightly sour buttermilk all really complimented each other. I reminded me a lot of a custard rhubarb pie. Next time I might add a little nutmeg, but otherwise this recipe is a keeper!
ps – Blueberries are also patriotic! Blueberries are one of the few edible berries native to North America (along with cherries and conchord grapes).
After a brief medically (and Olympically) induced hiatus, I am back and feeling blogerrific! I am marking my return with a classic, yet slightly modified, recipe after having scoured the internet trying to find a blueberry popover recipe and discovering weird things like large pseudo-popover cakes cut into wedges and other things with a lot of sugar that look like muffins – none of which, in my book, constitutes a popover.
A popover is basically an easier-to-make cousin of Yorkshire Pudding. And when I say easier-to-make, what I mean is, if you will recall from my post on the YP topic, you don’t need to fill your tins with scalding hot fat. No sirree. You can just grease them like you would for muffins. Far less risk of hot fat induced burns, or splattering fat spraying around in your oven causing a smoky cloud to erupt when you finally open the door and pollute your house with the stench of burning oil for days and days and days and da … but I digress.
After my lengthy and largely unsuccessful google search for a recipe for blueberry popover that was, in fact, a popover, I remembered that I have a whole giant cupboard of cookbooks in my house. Within 1 minute of perusing my beautiful library, I determined that the best route to go would be to make a classic popover recipe and add blueberries. So that is what I did.
I used the recipe from Bernard Clayton Jr.’s “The Complete Book of Breads” (Simon & Schuster, New York, ©1973). The book was written the year I was born, so it must be good (crap, I think I just told y’all how old I am). Here’s the link to the New and Improved version which I’ve never seen and can’t vouch for. I really couldn’t improve on this recipe except that I had to modify it slightly by adding blueberries (to be true to the National Blueberry Popover Day) and to slightly increase the flour to adjust for the liquid from the berries. The popovers were light and moist in texture, not too sweet and the blueberries were a really lovely addition. I include Clayton Jr.’s writeup on popovers ’cause I can’t say it any better:
POPOVERS [a dozen or so]
Popovers are unpredictable. Popovers are good to eat. There isn’t very much to a popover. It is an ungainly-looking device for getting butter, jams, jellies and honey into the mouth. The popover owes it all to steam levitation. It is done without yeast or chemicals of any kind. Only steam raises it high, and then drops it into a clumsy shape. Popovers are good to eat. There should be at least one popover recipe in every home baker’s repertoire. This is a good one.
1 c. all-purpose flour (sift before measuring) [If making blueberry popovers, add 1/6 - 1/4 extra flour]
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. melted butter or salad oil
1 cup milk, room temperature
2 large eggs
[1 c. blueberries]
Preheat oven to 400°. Mix flour in a bowl with salt and sugar. Add butter or oil, milk and eggs, and beat … until very smooth [Ed. note: a lot of notes here about using blender, electric-mixer, etc. I just used my trustworthy and much-loved whisk.]
Bake in 400° oven 40 mins. for a dark brown shell with a moist interior. Bake in 375° oven 50-55 mins. for a light popover with a drier inside. Keep door of oven closed during the bake period to prevent a collapse under a draft of cold air. [I went with the 400° option with good results].
Remove popovers from the oven. Turn from the pans and serve hot. Prick the popovers with a skewer if you like a dry interior. Leave them in the turned-off oven, door slightly ajar, for 8 to 10 minutes.
p.s. We had B.L.T.s for dinner and here’s a picture for the shameless bacon-eaters!