Whole Grain Apple-Cinnamon Muffins

I have a compulsion: I will almost always buy apples at the store, whether we need them or not.  I’ve been known to have three almost-full bags of apples knocking around my crisper drawer, because for some reason I just can’t stop myself from buying them at the grocery store.  It’s as if some unconscious part of me takes over in the produce section and says, “Mmmm, apples!  Delicious!” and just throws them in the cart without me having any control over it.  (That also happens with cucumbers.)  They are our standby lunch fruit, so we’ll go through 5-10 apples a week just by putting them in lunches (depending on if there are also grapes in the house, in which case I will take those for myself…) but we always, always seem to have extra apples.  I don’t know if they multiply in the fridge or what, but it seems to take forever to get through a bag and I invariably have leftovers at the end of the week.  When I am actually thinking intelligently about my grocery shopping, I will either restrain myself from buying apples or figure out some way to use up my extras – like turkey cutlets with sauteed apples and onions for dinner one night, or these muffins.

Ah, muffins.  Who doesn’t love muffins?  They are tasty, easy, and they have the cutest! name! ever!  But most of the time, they are also laden with butterfat and nutritionally void calories.  I try to make muffins at least somewhat nutritious by using whole grains, like rolled oats, along with whole wheat flour, and adding some flaxseed meal for the Omega-3s.  Tossing in a little fresh fruit can’t hurt, either.  And that’s where the apples come in… a relatively nutritious muffin, and an opportunity to use up some of those extra apples that are taking up half my crisper drawer?  That’s a very nice way to wake up on a weekend morning.

Whole Grain Apple-Cinnamon Muffins

1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour*
2/3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup ground flaxseed meal
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup skim milk
8 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 large (preferably organic) eggs
1/3 cup honey
3 medium apples, large-diced

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin by spraying the wells with a baking spray (like Pam for Baking or Baker’s Joy), or by lining with paper or silicone muffin liners.
  • Combine the dry ingredients – flour, oats, flaxseed meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon – in a large bowl and whisk together.
  • In a smaller bowl, combine the milk, applesauce, eggs and honey, and stir to combine.
  • Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Stir in the diced apple pieces.  Portion batter equally into muffin wells.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffins comes out clean.

*The whole wheat flour actually adds to the taste of these muffins, so I encourage you to stick with it.  If you simply don’t like the taste, you can substitute white whole wheat flour, which is much milder but retains the same nutritional benefits as regular whole wheat, or even all-purpose flour, which is less nutritious.  Whole wheat flour also gives the muffins a somewhat denser crumb than you would get with all-purpose flour, but again, I think it works well with the apple pieces.  Certainly, you can substitute some of all of it, but please do give it a try!

Yield: 12 muffins.

Source: Covered In Flour

Quinoa Spinach Bake

Here’s a misconception that I’ve been harboring: I thought that quinoa was a grain.  It turns out, quinoa is a seed!  Who knew?  Here’s one thing I’m sure I’m not mistaken about, though… quinoa is healthy and delicious.  An ancient American “pseudo-cereal,” it packs all the nutritional benefits of whole grains – lots and lots of fiber – but also is high in protein.  If you’re trying to work more whole grains into your diet and you’re sick of brown rice, give quinoa a try.  It cooks up light and fluffy, with a pleasant nutty taste that matches well with many other flavors.

This dish, quinoa spinach bake, is a great way to get more quinoa on your table.  It was billed as a side dish, but I think that it also makes a fantastic vegetarian entree, given the many nutritional benefits that quinoa and spinach offer.  It’s easy to throw together after work – just cook up the quinoa, mix in the other ingredients, plop them in a baking dish, and poof!  Instant (well, after 30 minutes) wholesomeness!

Quinoa Spinach Bake

2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 yellow onion, medium-diced
extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 package spinach
2 eggs
1/4 cup lowfat cottage cheese
cracked pepper
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stems

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Coat an 8-by-8 glass or ceramic baking dish with an olive oil cooking spray and set aside.
  • Cook the quinoa according to the package directions (1 cup of dried quinoa should yield about 2 cups of cooked quinoa), flavoring with a bit of salt.
  • While the quinoa cooks, warm a drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick saute pan.  Cook the onion, seasoning with salt, until translucent.  Add the red pepper flakes and stir for a few seconds, until fragrant.  Add the spinach and wilt, tossing to coat with the onions.  Transfer onions and spinach to a bowl.  Add eggs, cottage cheese, cracked pepper and herbs.
  • When the quinoa finishes cooking, add it to the spinach mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.  Transfer quinoa-spinach mixture to the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes, until top is golden.  Slice and serve with a green salad!

Yield: Serves 4 as a vegetarian entree, 8 as a side dish.

Source: Adapted from WholeLiving.com.

Peach Oatmeal Muffins


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  How many times have we heard that one?  It might just be that the truest truisms are also the most often repeated, because breakfast really is important.  It jump-starts your metabolism for the day, fills you up so that you are less likely to overindulge at lunch or on snacks, and provides a foundation for healthy eating throughout the day.  For me, breakfast is especially important because I am a morning person, and I need that jolt of nutrition to power my running around until 1:00 or so.  But I don’t really care for cereal – so where does that leave me?  Usually, I grab a yogurt out of the fridge in the morning, stir some granola into it at my desk at work, and get going.  But there are some mornings when I need something special, something homemade, something that reminds me of the weekend.  And it doesn’t hurt if it’s healthy, too.  That’s where muffins come in.  I load them up with fruit and whole grains and bask in the fiber I’m getting – and these are perfect, only very lightly sweet, with bits of juicy peach floating throughout.  If I close my eyes, I can even convince myself that it’s Saturday morning.  Then my desk phone rings and shatters the fantasy… but at least I’ve still got a muffin.


Peach Oatmeal Muffins

1 cup white whole wheat (or all-purpose) flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup honey (or pure maple syrup)
2 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 peaches, peeled and diced

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fit paper liners into a 12-well muffin tin.  Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet.
  • Whisk together flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, honey, eggs and melted butter.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir to blend.  Stir in diced peaches.  Scatter additional oats over top of muffins, if desired.
  • Divide batter evenly amongst muffin wells and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin, then lift muffins out and cool on a rack.

Source: Loosely Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Great Grains Muffins”