It's beginning to feel like spring in Texas, but I am holding on to winter--or, at least, winter baking--with all my might.
Today was the kind of gray, drizzly, SF bay area (home)-style weather that I love, so after church, Kevin headed off to his office to grade papers while Nick and I stayed home to savor our indoor day by baking and being silly, activities at which we both excel.
I had toyed with the idea of giving up sugar for Lent, but after giving the notion a two-day test run last weekend, I was ready to tear down the remaining wallpaper in an upstairs closet with my bare hands. Hence I modified the plan to (1) cut back on sugar (especially no leftover Valentine's candy :)) and opt for less refined sweeteners, such as honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup over sugar (without being fanatical); and (2) eat even more whole foods in general, everyday, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.
So rather than a chocolate chip cookies and apple cake this afternoon, I opted for a batch of my Whole Wheat-Honey Quinoa Muffins and some dried fruit, nut and seeds bars (I'll share the bar recipe tomorrow).
I am crazy about quinoa, as I've mentioned in other posts--and it's a fantastic addition to muffins, both for its nutrition (high protein, in particular) and subtle, nutty flavor. It also adds a slightly nubby texture to the finished muffin, creating more nooks and crannies for a spread of all-fruit preserves. The recipe is based on the Martha Stewart Everyday Food Quinoa Muffins , but I've altered them in several ways.
The most significant changes are to the flour and sweetener. I've replaced the all-purpose flour with King Arthur white whole flour. You could also use whole wheat pastry flour (available in natural foods stores) or a blend of 1/2 all-purpose flour and 1/2 regular whole wheat flour. I replaced the brown sugar with honey, in part for the reasons mentioned above, but also because the added moisture keeps these muffins extra moist despite the switch to whole wheat flour.
These freeze really well; I wrap them (individually) in plastic wrap, then place in a freezer zipper bag. They defrost on the countertop in about 20 minutes. Happy baking (and eating).
Whole Wheat-Honey Quinoa Muffins
Preheat oven to 350F
1 standard 12-cup muffin tin, greased or sprayed with nonstick spray
Makes 12 muffins
1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a mesh sieve
2 cups white whole wheat flour (i.e. King Arthur brand)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dried cranberries or any dried fruit you like
3/4 cup lowfat milk
2/3 cup honey (or agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or maple syrup)
1/4 cup light olive oil or other neutral cooking oil (e.g., canola, safflower)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bring quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook 15-20 minutes until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender. Cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cranberries, and the cooked quinoa.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, honey, oil, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined (do not overmix or muffins will be tough). Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.
Bake 25-30 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.