With the holidays season in full swing, these Apple Cornmeal Flax Muffins are a healthy breakfast or dessert in between all the wine, cheese and other treats we indulge in this time of year. After a weekend of stuffing my face, I crave fruit and fiber – an apology to my body for having no will power when I see a cheese platter. I’ve fully accepted that as I get older, I can no longer eat with total reckless abondon, and need to be kind to my stomach even during the holidays.
Apple Cornmeal Flax Muffins
This past fall, my girlfriends and I spent the day apple picking at Puddicombe Estate Farms, an annual tradition. With a bushel of fruit in my fridge the possibilities were endless! Over the past month I made lots of cider, apple crisp, apple butter and for my last five precious apples I decided to bake these muffins. Easy to make and a quick, portable breakfast or snack, my boyfriend and I are big muffin fans and when we bake together, we like to throw in all kinds of different ingredients and try out new flavour combinations.
One of my staple dishes I like to make during the holidays is a cornmeal and apple stuffing, such a tasty pairing! This inspired me to include some cornmeal to add some natural sweetness and density. While I added a bit of brown sugar, they are mainly sweetened with honey and the apples. To add to the heartiness, I also threw in some ground flax seeds for extra fiber. Packed full of apples with some cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg for that holiday spice, these muffins are a healthy sweet treat.
With the holidays just around the corner, I started planning out my Christmas gift list. My parents are easy – Scotch or beer for my dad and a facial or pedicure for my mother. They’re in the process of moving so I really didn’t want to add to their junk! But my boyfriend has a big family with quite a few elderly who are staying away from sugar so my homemade jam was off the list. I had to think of something else to make them, a treat that would be yummy but not too sweet.
Healthy Maple Coconut Banana Bread
This recipe was inspired by Martha Stewart’s Banana-Nut Bread from her Baking Handbook cookbook. To make the loaf a bit healthier, I altered and replaced many of the ingredients adding oats and flax seed for fiber and sweetening with brown sugar, maple syrup and applesauce. I also brought out the coconut flavour by using coconut oil and coconut milk. The resulting banana bread tastes wholesome with just enough sweetness to make it a treat. Firm, moist with hints of maple and coconut this banana bread is a nutritious gift to give to those who can’t completely indulge in the holiday season.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, rolled oats, flax seeds, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, maple syrup, apple sauce and coconut oil on medium-low speed until combined. Beat in the flour mixture. Add the coconut and maple syrup extracts, banana and almond milk. Beat until just combined.
Pour batter into loaf pan and evenly smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for 60 minutes , rotating pan halfway through until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool completely. Banana bread can be kept at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic for up to a week.
Homemade apple cider is so easy to make! Just throw all the ingredients in your slow cooker and four hours later you will have a big batch of fresh, healthy cider to warm you up on a chilly fall night. Making cider for a dinner is also a great idea as your guests will be warmly greeted by the a wonderful apple aroma and for a quick dessert, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an apple pie float – guaranteed to impress!
5 apples quartered with skin on (recommend 3 McIntosh, 2 Honeycrisp)
3 tangerines – quartered with skin on
1 inch piece of ginger – roughly chopped
2 tablespoons mulled spices
¼ cup raw honey
sea salt to taste
Place the apples, tangerines, ginger and spices in a slow cooker and set on high for four hours.
After four hours, place a large bowl in a sink with a colander over top and pour the contents of the slow cooker through the colander. Use a potato masher to mash any remaining juices out through the colander.
Pour juice into a large pot and place on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil and add honey and a pinch of sea salt to taste. Add more honey if you prefer a sweeter cider.