(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Muffins

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I was toying with making Carrot Cake a few weeks ago for Easter but ultimately shied away from it because I have been cutting down on refined sugar. But it got me thinking about carroty baked goods, like these Morning Glory Muffins from the King Arthur Flour site (the recipe can be found here). The author presents quite a few possible adaptations — for mine, I opted for golden raisins, white whole wheat flour, unsweetened shredded coconut, and wheat germ. Side note: I only soaked the raisins very briefly, for about 3 minutes.

Here are changes I made to the printed recipe after reading reviewers’ comments: I reduced the brown sugar to 1/3 cup and substituted 1/3 cup of unsweetened apple sauce for 1/3 cup of the oil. I checked the baked muffins at 22 minutes (3 minutes early) and they were done. And finally, I got an additional 4 muffins out of the batter for a total yield of 16.

I love these muffins! The overall flavor is only lightly sweet but the little bursts of potent sweetness from the golden raisins really pack a punch. They are not light but are not doorstop-like either. And I can taste all the layers of flavor and the different textures– carrots, apple, raisins, walnuts, coconut, cinnamon, ginger. And I am especially gratified to not be eating something that’s cloyingly sweet or excessively oily.

Lastly, credit goes to my lovely husband (who’s perpetually mad fer it) for rechristening these (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Muffins. 😍

Homemade Granola

A couple Christmases ago, my crafty sister-in-law made granola to give as family gifts. I had never really thought about making my own granola, but hers was so tasty we quickly gobbled it all up. Since then, I’ve been on the prowl for a great granola recipe, but with some specific criteria, chief among them being that I didn’t want to use refined sugar in my granola. Shockingly, this is not a simple task. Although one might think of granola as being a healthy, earthy-crunchy type snack, many of the recipes I found contained either white or brown sugar, or a surprising amount of added fat.

Cooling in the pan

Eventually, I found this simple recipe from the Joy of Baking site. It’s sweetened with maple syrup and contains just 2 tablespoons of canola oil. And it’s really easy to make. The most laborious part was gathering and scaling out all the ingredients! You just mix all the dry ingredients (except for the fruit) together, and mix the wet ingredients together and pour that over the dries. Mix well, spread out on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake at 325 degrees, stirring once every 15 minutes or so, for 45 minutes. Let cool, add the fruit, and eat (or if you’re me, eat, let cool, eat some more, add the fruit, and eat even more). I used slivered almonds in mine and wheat bran, not germ, because that’s what I already had. And I learned that pepitas are the same thing as pumpkin seeds (smartphones and Wikipedia are super useful when you’re standing in Trader Joe’s wondering why there are no raw shelled pumpkin seeds, and what are these pepitas anyway?)!

 
Speaking of Trader Joe’s they have this nifty packaged mixture of golden raisins, dried cranberries, cherries and blueberries that I added to my granola  a no-brainer for me!
 
With fruit added!
The granola is scrumptious; I particularly love the contrast between the toasty, crunchy oats and nuts and the tender bits of fruit. I also love that it’s lightly sweetened, which really allows the natural flavor of the ingredients to shine through. This recipe can be endlessly adapted and I’m looking forward to trying other combinations of flavors.