Thursday, March 31, 2011

Muffin Madness: Runner Muffins

I received a request! This was the one and only muffin request for the month of madness, so it had to be obliged. My brother, who is training to run Grandma’s Marathon, requested a muffin that he could eat before and after a run. Preferably one that had oatmeal, banana and no nuts. To me, such a muffin should be fairly healthy and sustaining. This called for whole wheat flour and no refined sugar. It takes your body longer to break down and digest whole grains, and honey raises your blood sugar slower than refined sugar, so honey would be the only sweetener for these muffins.

Using honey instead of sugar is a bit tricky. This website was the most helpful at making the substitution. The key to cooking with honey is to realize that it’s also a liquid and takes care of some of the liquid in the recipe, as well as the sugar. It is acidic so you need more baking soda. Additionally, it browns quicker than white sugar, so turn your oven temp down 25 degrees. I did not heed this warning and the edges of my muffins crisped and almost burnt while the insides were still cooking. I’ve adjusted the oven temperature for the recipe to follow. One more thing about honey, is that it’s touted to help mitigate allergies, and local honey is best. This may not be scientifically proven, but who cares, it can’t hurt.

While my brother requested no nuts, and I actually don’t like nuts either, I was tempted to add almonds because I have a new found love for them. We had some sliced almonds already for making granola, so I borrowed some of those, whacked them a bit in a plastic bag and came up with some nice crushed almonds. I dislike eating something soft and coming upon a hard, unwelcome nut. Which is why I chose to crush up my almonds. You can add any nut you like to this recipe or skip them altogether. If you keep the nuts they’ll had some more health benefits. The sliced/crushed almonds blended well with the shape of the rolled oats, so they didn’t interfere with the texture of the muffin much.

An ice cream scoop is a handy tool for doling out batter.
Please note the wonderful texture of the batter, mmmm!

Really, this is a great recipe if you’re looking for a good healthy, sustaining muffin. Also, if you have anger that you need to get out, mashing bananas and smacking a bag of almonds is cathartic. But if they’re healthy they probably taste like cardboard, right? NO! These are quite delicious. The official muffin taster enjoyed them and said that they didn’t taste healthy. Which I take to mean that they didn’t taste like cardboard. At work these little gems went surprisingly quick considering I touted them as “good for you.” Bear in mind, I have no science or data to back up my claims of health. However, what is good for the soul must also be good for the body.

Banana mashing: more stress relieving than yoga.

Some recipe notes: I found a banana oatmeal recipe that used allspice for seasoning, most banana muffin recipes didn’t have spices and I found this intriguing. As a result of our canning last summer, the only allspice we had was whole, and I was too lazy to grind it up (I already ground the flour, that’s quite enough). So I smelled the allspice, realized it smelled a lot like cloves, which I did have, and I used those instead. It’d be lovely to try these with allspice too, but you can really use whatever spice you like. Also, my bananas were fairly large, so I used two. You don’t need an exact amount of banana, but if you feel your batter is too dry or wet, adjust the amount of milk you use to make it all okay.

The Stuff
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup sliced raw almonds, left as is or bashed up
2 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp allspice/cloves/whatever you like
2 ripe bananas
1 egg, beaten
½ cup milk
½ cup honey
¼ cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

The Process
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, almonds, baking soda, salt and spice. Make a well in the center.
  2. In a medium bowl, peel (I shouldn’t have to tell you that) and mash the bananas. Add the beaten egg, milk, butter and vanilla, whisk together thoroughly. Add the honey (this is where a kitchen scale is really useful) and stir together completely.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry and carefully combine. Once all ingredients are incorporated, divide into muffin tin until just to the top, there should be enough batter for 12 muffins.
  4. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Turning once. Stick a toothpick in them to make sure the centers are done, but don’t be confused if you hit a banana chunk. I believe these are best after being fully cooled.


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