Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Muffin That Saved Me

My dog died last week. Tiny Bijou was a sweet, red-fawn colored greyhound that was retired from dog-racing after she had 5 lousy races at the age of 2.  She was an awesome dog. Loving, sweet, and loved stealing baked goods left on the counter. She was 8 years old when she died.  It was sudden, it was unexpected and it sucked.  I miss her terribly.  My house is incredibly empty during the day, despite the presence of my other greyhound, Flapjack.  I have been pouring over my recipes to keep busy.  My trainer put me on 2 weeks of (booooring) or pilates (yowza!) and walking (Gotta walk The Flap) only.  I'm losing my mind.  When I lost my mind in the past, I would turn to baking and eating as outlets.  After losing a bunch of weight, neither of those seems appealing.  I still love to bake, but after making a batch Rice Krispies treats for my kids yesterday and mowing down 3 in one sitting, I was forced to realize that I'm just too vulnerable to be making the 100 Grand Cake I was planning on baking this weekend.  Then my son Jasper asked me to make muffins.  AH HA!  THAT I could do...because the muffins he likes are my own safe recipe.  I need to keep busy, people and the precision of baking makes me feel in control of my out-of-control life.  I couldn't control Bijou's outcome, but I know how these muffins will turn out so I take some small comfort in that. 

If you think that a muffin you buy at Starbucks or any bakery for that matter, is a nutritious breakfast food, then you are most likely kidding yourself.  I'm not saying you shouldn't treat yourself to that crumb-topped blueberry beauty with your latte once in a while, I'm just saying that if you read a cake recipe and a muffin recipe side-by-side, you will realize they are the extremely similar...especially in the calorie department.  Same amounts of butter, white flour, eggs, sugar, etc.  Add a handful of blueberries and it magically makes it good for you?  Uhhhh NO.  You might as well just eat that leftover slice of birthday cake for breakfast.  The muffin "usually" isn't the better choice of breakfast breads. Sorry. 
I'll never forget when Trader Joe's tried to con us all with their "fiber muffins".  If you want to gag on one of THOSE fruity-cinnamon-fiber-bombs then you might as well eat one while sitting directly on the toilet.  Remember the Colon Blow skit from SNL?  Buyer beware.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  You'll also need a GIANT glass of water to wash that sucker down or you probably will choke. Uggh. 

Bottom line is, if you want a better muffin, you're going to have to bake it yourself.

When I became the overly-hyper mother of a picky toddler, I took a recipe I found online and modified it to better suit my child's nutritional needs.  He loves them.  There is one caveat:  the sugar.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not successfully cut the sugar.  I tried using Splenda, I tried using stevia (that was the grossest one yet). I tried using half sugar/half "sweetener". Oh well.  I'm over it.  Sugar wins this time. 
I did cut the amount of chocolate in HALF but switching to mini-chocolate chips because they distribute better in the batter so GO ME. Also, if you do use the applesauce instead of butter, they tend to stick to the cupcake paper a bit more than your average muffin, but my kids aren't opposed to scraping off those bits with their teeth. It's part of the experience really.

Without further ado, The Muffin Recipe that saved me this weekend:

Susanna's Hyper-Mom Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
(makes 12 regular OR 48 mini muffins...or 24 minimuffins & 6 regular...because I don't have more than one mini-muffin tin.  Go figure.)

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour (or white all-purpose works fine too, it's just less nutritious but whatevs)
1/3 cup Ground Flaxseed
1/3 cup Wheat Germ (store the jar in the fridge once you open it)
1/2 cup Evil White Sugar
1/2 cup Evil packed Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 Eggs (I use the ones with Omega 3's for added benefit)
1 tsp.Vanilla
1 c. canned Pumpkin (loaded with Vitamin A and fiber!)
1/2 c. unsweetened Applesauce (You can use 1 stick of melted butter instead - if you dare)
1/2 c. Mini-Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line your muffin tins with papers. 
Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs, pumpkin, applesauce & vanilla until blended.  Pour wet ingredients over the dry and fold them together until moistened.  Fold in chocolate chips.
Scoop evenly into paper-lines muffin tins. 

Mini-muffin bake for about 12 minutes.  Large muffins bake for 18-20minutes.  Use a toothpick and when it comes out clean, they are done.  DO NOT overbake.  Cool on a rack.  Enjoy!

As you can see, a few are missing.  My family couldn't wait for me to take the pic.