Do you have food rituals?
I have a few, but one of my favorites is the routine I’ve developed on Saturday mornings. I often head out to shop at the local co-op and farmer’s market very early–before my morning snack.
This might not sound like a big deal, but as I think I’ve mentioned, I eat a lot. A snack for me isn’t a grab-and-go thing; it’s an endeavor that sometimes takes as long as a regular meal to prepare. That means I need to plan ahead if I’m going to be out of the house when I usually eat.
Muffins are great for snacking. I love to stuff them full of healthy ingredients like walnuts and flax, then bake them in giant muffin tins so they’re calorie-dense enough to comprise the majority of my snack. One of these suckers and a few cut raw veggies or a handful of chickpeas and I’m good to go.
Of course, being slightly neurotic about food means that my normal breakfast of grains is out of the question if I’m going to be snacking on a big honkin’ muffin. So instead I whip up a raw bowl from this amazing recipe and enjoy crunching my way through that as a sort of break from oatmeal, millet/oat porridge, muesli and the like.
I didn’t actually intend for this to become a ritual; it just sort of happened. Plus I usually grab myself a locally roasted coffee when I’m out, and who can resist coffee and a homemade muffin?
I didn’t think so.
These muffins have it all. Zesty citrus. Spicy ginger. Crunchy walnuts. All mixed up in a fluffy base of spelt and whole wheat pastry flours, given a pleasant crumb by the addition of a bit of multigrain hot cereal. I used the Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain variety, but any hot cereal will do. The recipe is loosely based on my Throwback Oatmeal Muffins, with the idea to incorporate orange coming from this recipe. There was also one for blueberry oatmeal muffins I used to make from a neat book called Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (which appears to no longer be in print, alas) that used orange juice as part of the liquid, so I threw a bit of that in here as well.
I’ll admit to having a big soft spot for ginger. So much so that, despite my personal desire to limit added sugars in my diet, I went and bought package of the sugar-encrusted crystallized stuff from Trader Joe’s back when I was making pumpkin gingerbread into muffins. It makes a fabulous add-in or garnish for bready things with its sweet-yet-tangy zip and chewy texture. It melts just a bit when the muffins are baking, creating a lovely smell that permeates the whole kitchen.
Ginger also happens to be extremely healthy, albeit not so much when it’s coated in sugar. It helps ease nausea, improves digestion, boosts immunity and contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. And it’s extremely versatile! You can make it into tea, grate it into stir-fries, mince it up in Indian dishes or even put it on your oatmeal. For the muffins, it gets chopped up and folded in near the end. Feel free to go all out and garnish the muffins with an extra piece or two on top!
- ¾ cup almond milk
- 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 Tbsp water
- ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- ¾ cup spelt flour
- ½ cup multigrain hot cereal (I used Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ⅓ cup chopped candied ginger (I used Trader Joe's brand)
- orange zest, as desired
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease or place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. For breakfast-sized muffins, use a 6-cup tin!
- In a measuring cup, mix together the almond milk and cider vinegar. Set aside--it will curdle and become "buttermilk."
- In a small bowl or cup, combine the ground flax and water. Mix vigorously with a fork until thickened. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, multigrain cereal, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well. Add the almond milk mixture, flax mixture, orange juice, maple syrup and applesauce. Stir until just combined. Fold in the walnuts, chopped ginger and orange zest.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.