Whole Wheat Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Oat Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

Hello Ladies and Gents! Happy Wednesday!

Oh, and happy back to the future day! The Internets tell me that today (Oct. 21, 2015) is the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled to in Back to the Future Part 2. I may or may not have googled Back to the Future to figure out the names of those two guys. Should I feel ashamed that I’ve never seen Back to the Future (Part 1 or 2)? For some reason I feel like I should.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Oat Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

Anyways, just a quick little post here today. I feel like I’m neglecting this space again, but sometimes it’s just unavoidable! In the past few weeks I celebrated a birthday (hello 3-1…this number seems so much more daunting to me than 30 did) and Canadian Thanksgiving, went to the mountains for a quick but much needed getaway, and have been planning and preparing for a Halloween cooking class that I will be teaching this weekend. And exactly two weeks from today, I will be hopping on a plane to a beach destination for 10 days of rest and relaxation. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the whole amazing bikini body that I planned to have for this trip when I booked it a couple of months ago just will not be a reality, but I’m kind of over it. There is just too much good food in this world and I believe too strongly in moderation (heavy on the “indulge” end of the spectrum). Plus my 31-year old metabolism doesn’t cooperate quite as well as my 25-year old metabolism did.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Oat Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

However, that does not mean that for the next two weeks I don’t plan on exercising a little more restraint when it comes to stuffing my face with all things delicious. These muffins are the perfect way to enjoy a “treat” without the guilt. They are made with whole wheat flour and oats, pumpkin, and are sweetened only with maple syrup. I’ve made these numerous times over the past several weeks and I’m still not tired of them. They are perfect for stashing in the freezer and grabbing for a quick breakfast or snack. Plus, if you’re like me and still all about the pumpkin, you will love these!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Oat Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Oat Muffins (slightly adapted from Cookie & Kate)

Makes 12 muffins. Feel free to use coconut oil in place of the olive oil, or honey in place of the maple syrup. These muffins freeze beautifully when packed into an airtight container.

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup milk (any kind will do)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oats, plus more for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil and maple syrup and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the pumpkin puree, milk, baking soda, vanilla, salt, and spices, and mix well. Add the whole wheat flour and oats, and stir until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Sprinkle with additional oats. Bake for 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Cool completely. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Oat Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

Banana Wheat Germ Muffins with Nutella Swirl

Banana Wheat Germ Muffins with Nutella Swirl | Once Upon a Recipe

Friends, in exactly two weeks, I will be on a plane en route to Thailand. TWO WEEKS.

And I get to stay there for almost a month. That means no work, and lots of play, sun, Thai food (!!!), beach frisbee, and adventuring. I’ve had my travel vaccinations (they hurt. A LOT.), my bikinis are ready (they’re super cute), my appetite is building (for all that Thai food), and my brain is in vacation mode (already). I’m just so crazy excited!

Banana Wheat Germ Muffins with Nutella Swirl | Once Upon a Recipe

I’m not really sure what things will look like in this space while I’m gone. I had hoped to get a few posts ready in advance and have them all set to publish while I’m away, but so far my procrastination is winning at this planning game. BUT. I do have two weeks to work with, so maybe there will be a food blogging miracle and I will still get it all done. Just maybe.

Banana Wheat Germ Muffins with Nutella Swirl | Once Upon a Recipe

Banana Wheat Germ Muffins with Nutella Swirl | Once Upon a Recipe

In any case, today I have muffins! These muffins are my kind of muffin. Healthy and packed with nutrients, yet they still taste super amazing and not at all like you might think a “healthy” muffin should taste. They are incredibly moist (yep, I said it) and totally flavorful. The Nutella swirl was kind of an afterthought – it looks pretty and tastes super awesome (obvi), but it’s totally not necessary. These muffins are also great naked in all of their banana and wheat germ glory.

If you’re anything like me, you always have a surplus of ripe bananas and are constantly looking for new recipes to try in an effort to fend off banana boredom. You just can’t have too many banana recipes. This is my current favorite!

Banana Wheat Germ Muffins with Nutella Swirl | Once Upon a Recipe

Banana Wheat Germ Muffins with Nutella Swirl | Once Upon a Recipe

Banana Wheat Germ Muffins with Nutella Swirl (slightly adapted from Weelicious)

These muffins are made with whole wheat flour and wheat germ, and are sweetened only with honey. You can totally feel good about enjoying them for a convenient breakfast or a quick snack! Remember, the Nutella isn’t necessary if you want to make these a bit more virtuous. I bet peanut butter would taste great too! Makes 12 muffins. 

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup wheat germ

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup honey

3 TBSP. vegetable oil

1 TBSP. vanilla

1 egg

4 TBSP. Nutella, for swirling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick spray.

Combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine the bananas, honey, oil, vanilla, and egg. Whisk together until well mixed. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently mix until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin tins. Drop a teaspoon of Nutella into the top of each muffin and use a toothpick to create a swirl. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from the muffin tin and cool on a wire rack. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. They also freeze very well.

Banana Wheat Germ Muffins with Nutella Swirl | Once Upon a Recipe

Vegan Double Chocolate Banana Espresso Muffins

Vegan Double Chocolate Banana Espresso Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

Hey friends! There are a couple of chocolate recipes comin’ atcha this week, I hope you don’t mind. And if you don’t like chocolate, well…you can show yourself out. Just kidding. (But really, why don’t you like chocolate and are you seeking help?)

The holiday of love is quickly approaching. The big V-day doesn’t hold much meaning for me, although I do use it as an excuse to eat lots of chocolate and those little cinnamon hearts. And of course, it’s a great reminder to tell those we love just how much they mean to us.  (But really, do that everyday, ok?)

Vegan Double Chocolate Banana Espresso Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

Whether you love Valentine’s Day or not, you should really make these muffins. They might just be my new favorite. First of all, they’re vegan. Second, they’re packed with good for you ingredients like whole wheat flour, flax, bananas, and coconut oil. But most importantly, they taste like a fudgey chocolate cupcake. And if I can get away with eating a relatively healthy muffin that tastes like a fudgey chocolate cupcake for breakfast, you better believe I’m totally going to do just that.

Vegan Double Chocolate Banana Espresso Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

Vegan Double Chocolate Banana Espresso Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe   Vegan Double Chocolate Banana Espresso Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

Vegan Double Chocolate Banana Espresso Muffins (adapted from Minimalist Baker)

These muffins taste even better the next day. My favorite way to enjoy them was actually right out of the fridge, when they were chilled. I kind of felt like I was in that McCain Deep’n Delicious chocolate cake commercial from back in the day. You know the one, right?

2 flax eggs (2 TBSP. ground flax seed + 5 TBSP. water)

1 cup mashed bananas (~3 large)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 tsp. espresso powder

1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup good-quality cocoa powder

1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips/chunks (dairy-free)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick spray.

Prepare the flax eggs in a large mixing bowl and let rest for 5 minutes. Add the mashed bananas through to the espresso powder and whisk for 45 seconds. Add the almond milk and whisk again. Add the cocoa powder, flour, and chocolate, and mix until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. These muffins also freeze really well.


A Quick Hello | Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

Summer is whizzing by in a blur of hot sunny days and mosquito-filled evenings that are becoming cooler and cooler. There have been friends, dog park days, too many pints of beer, too many froyo indulgences, and ultimate frisbee. Oh, and crossfit torture bootcamp. I bought a new car! I’m becoming addicted to Breaking Bad (Walt Jr. is my favorite). I went raspberry picking on a raspberry farm. When I need a laugh, I watch this video (just ridiculous). I can’t get enough green juice. What’s goin’ on with you?

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

I’ll be honest. I have spent very little time in my kitchen over the past couple of weeks. I’ve just been churning out the essentials. Quick, easy, one-pot meals. A batch of granola for breakfasts. Green juice after green juice. Not a lot of fun or experimenting going on. BUT.

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

One morning I found the time to whip up a batch of these delicious and healthy muffins. Dudes, they’re made with whole wheat flour, wheat germ, greek yogurt, and coconut oil. And they taste good. Pinky swear.

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

As I’ve mentioned before, I love eating muffins for breakfast. But they’ve got to have some health to them or I just can’t justify it. I can totally get down with eating cake for breakfast, but not on the regular. In several short weeks I will enter the last year of my twenties (oy) and I’m already discovering that the old metabolism ain’t quite what it used to be. Hence the crossfit torture bootcamp. PS. It will be nothing short of a miracle if I can ever walk normally again.

Anyways, these muffins are full of good-for-you things, and they really are delicious. And completely guilt-free. I’ve made them a couple of times with blueberries, but I think raspberries or blackberries would work well too. Healthy muffin goodnesss! Time to get back to this spectacular summer living, but I’ll be back soon. I hope you’re all enjoying the summer livin’ too! xo

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins (slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Living magazine, June 2013 issue)

Makes 12. 

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup wheat germ

1/2 tsp. baking soda

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup low-fat or fat-free plain greek yogurt

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Combine the flours, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt, and whisk together in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, yogurt, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the yogurt mixture and gently mix together until just combined. Fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe

Happy to (K)New You | Banana Flax Muffins (+/- Chocolate Chips)

Banana Flax Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe













Here we are friends, on the eve of a new year. I hope that Santa treated you all very well and that you ate and drank as much Christmas cheer as I did! Truth be told, I may have enjoyed a little too much Christmas cheer, but that’s what new year’s resolutions are for, right? I mean, what would a new year be without the promise to eat healthier/exercise more/take better care of one’s self?

Resolutions aside, I am filled with excitement. I think 2013 is going to be an amazing year. In fact, I can feel it. Good things await us all.

Banana Flax Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe













And so I was all ready to share a fancy-pants appetizer recipe with you – one that you might like to make for a New Year’s Eve/Day party. But then I found myself in my kitchen this afternoon, baking up a batch of my very favorite (and most frequently made) muffins, and realized that I have yet to share the recipe with you. And I decided that I couldn’t let the year pass by without doing just that.

(Don’t worry, that fancy-pants appetizer works well year round and will be shared soon!)

Banana Flax Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe


















And so, dear friends, I give you my most very favorite muffin recipe. It achieved that status based on the fact that it is wickedly simple to throw together, the fact that I always have the ingredients sitting in my kitchen, and the fact that they have been a hit with absolutely everyone that I have shared them with. They are somewhat healthy too, with the option make them even more so (suggestions included) if you so desire. However, I recommend trying the recipe as I’ve written it first, then playing around to figure out what suits your tastes. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of muffins that have no added butter or oil, as their gummy texture always gives them away. But to each their own!

With that, I raise my glass to thank you all for a wonderful year, and I send you warm wishes for the coming one. I hope that you all have the opportunity to usher in the new year with those you love most.

Cheers to 2012 – hello 2013!

Banana Flax Muffins | Once Upon a Recipe













Banana Flax Muffins (+/- Chocolate Chips)

Despite being made with all whole wheat flour, these muffins are incredibly tender and moist. I usually make them without the chocolate chips, but for a little treat, I’ll add dark chocolate chips. Makes 12 muffins.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3 large ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (or 2 TBSP. honey)

1/4 cup ground flax

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup butter, melted (or applesauce)

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine the bananas, brown sugar, ground flax, egg, butter, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, if using. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are just beginning to brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

These muffins freeze extremely well and make a great breakfast or snack!

Mid-Week Rant | Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins













Dear crazy mothers from Toddlers and Tiaras,

You frighten me. You’re just straight-up scary. Yet, you’re also fascinating. Watching you obsess over your four-year old’s make-up, mimick your daughter’s “dance” routine from the audience (PS. You look like the devil is being exorcized from your body when you do this), and yell at her to “shine!” for the judges is like watching a train wreck. Part of me wants to change the channel. But…I just can’t. stop. watching.

Pageant dresses that cost $1500? Pageant coaches that charge $150/hour? Spray tans and fake teeth? Ridiculous. Have you heard of piano lessons? Sports? Dance class? Arts and crafts? What motivates you to push your young, impressionable daughters to partake in activities that value physical appearance more than personality or strength of character? Do you care so little about nourishing their self-esteem and instilling in them important life values like honesty, respect, and kindness?














And when you criticize your daughter for not smiling big enough for the judges, or for not holding still while applying her fake eyelashes, I feel a strong urge to punch you in the face. Or at least give you a damn good shake in an effort to knock a little sense into you. Get a grip! Look at the example you are setting for your daughter, who will one day grow up and be a mother and raise children of her own.

If I may make a suggestion: Tell your daughter that she is beautiful, smart, and funny. Every day. Because I guarantee that there will come a day when she doesn’t believe it; when she questions whether she is smart enough, good enough, or pretty enough. She needs to hear these words, so that when she is doubting herself, she will hear your voice, telling her that she is all that and more.













Crazy pageant mom, life is hard. People can be mean. Be kind to your daughter. And teach her to be kind to others. Finally, to the mother whose child won the “grande supreme” title, and then promptly exclaimed that she won the pageant because she is so beautiful and talented and that all of the other girls are ugly and stupid…please, please, set your daughter straight. In about 10 years, she’s going to be waltzing through her school’s hallways as though she owns the place, teasing and bullying other girls that don’t meet her standards of perfection. I know, because I was one of those girls who suffered through three hellish years, all because I was flat-chested and didn’t wear cool clothes. So stop living vicariously through your 6-year old, stop forcing your 4-year old to eat salads while the rest of your family eats pizza so she will lose 5 pounds before the pageant (!!!), and stop teaching her that life is all about looking pretty and winning obnoxious trophies and crowns. Life is about so much more. Let her be a kid, for crying. out. loud.

Most Sincerely,


Ok, rant over. Time to make muffins!













These muffins are wonderful little packages filled with whole wheat flour, a healthy shot of cinnamon, and big chunks of apple. They are so moist, and the sugar on top creates a sweet little crunch. I recommend storing these muffins in the freezer if they aren’t eaten within the first couple of days of baking them, as I fear that all of those beautiful apple chunks might get a little dodgy if they sit out too long. I actually stuck the whole batch in my freezer – I grab one each morning on my way out the door and by the time I’m ready to eat it at work, it’s perfectly thawed and dee-licious!

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins (barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
A healthy pinch of salt
1 TBSP. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup + 2 TBSP. brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup plain yogurt
2 large (or 3 small) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Prepare a 12-count muffin tin (for big muffins), or prepare two tins (to make 18 smaller muffins).

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and the white sugar, as well as 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well, scraping the bowl at least once. Gently mix in the yogurt with a wooden spoon. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks. The batter will be quite thick.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling with the remaining 2 TBSP. of brown sugar. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F, and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy for breakfast or a lovely afternoon snack! Preferably with a hot cup of tea.

























PS. During one of the commercial breaks, I saw an ad for a show called “My Strange Addiction”, in which a dude was trying to explain his emotional, physical, and sexual relationship with his car. Um, sexual relationship? Wha? And then it showed him making out with his car. As in, kissing his front bumper whilst the lower half of his body was underneath the car. With tongue.














What is the one show that you’re most embarrassed to admit that you watch?

Expecting the Expected | My Favorite Blueberry Lemon Muffins












One lesson that I’ve recently been taught by life is that it (life) does not always turn out as you expect it to. Life is a long and winding road, full of unexpected turns, unanticipated road blocks, and even annoying construction. The route that you map out – your plan – does not always work out, and sometimes you need to reroute. I can imagine that lady’s voice – you know, the one that seems to be present on all GPS systems – saying, “Turn around! Wrong way! Recalculating…” Her voice is so annoying.












Figuring out a new route can be difficult, stressful, frustrating. Life tossed me a curve ball a few months back, and I am doing my best to find a new way, to challenge myself and figure it all out. And figuring it out? Well, that’s a whole different ball game. Last week, another curve ball was thrown into my world. A good friend was killed in an accident. A kind, wonderful, sweet, beautiful friend, suddenly taken at age 27. Aren’t you supposed to attend the funeral of your friend when you’re both old and gray, after living a full life? That was my expectation.













I’m not quite ready to write about my friend. It all feels a bit too surreal right now. So instead, I bake. Because with baking, you can have expectations. I can be certain that if I combine the right amount of flour with the right amount of baking powder, sugar, eggs, milk, butter…and if I bake it all up at this temperature for that amount of time…I can expect a delicious outcome. Sure, things can go wrong in the oven from time to time. Cakes can flop, cookies can burn, bread might not rise. But most often, the science of baking delivers expected results. And if a great batch of muffins is all I can count on right now, then so be it.












You can count on these muffins. You can count on them being delicious, and you can count on them being eaten in short order. And you can probably count on the fact that you have blueberries sitting in your fridge or freezer right now.

Win! Use ’em up friends, and make these reliable little muffins. For once, expect the expected.












Blueberry Lemon Muffins  (slightly adapted from Enjoy, The Best of Bridge Series)

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Zest from one lemon

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup fresh (or frozen) blueberries


1/4 cup butter, melted

Juice from one lemon

1/3-1/2 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Prepare a muffin tin (12) by greasing or lining the cups. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Beat the egg, milk, and butter in a separate bowl. Add the vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed (the batter will be lumpy). Fold in the blueberries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes.

For the topping: Combine the melted butter and lemon juice in a small bowl. Put the sugar in a separate bowl. When the muffins are slightly cooled (but still warm), dunk the top of each muffin into the butter/lemon juice mixture, and then into the sugar. Enjoy!

Here Comes The Sun | Orange Strawberry Muffins

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful mamas out there! I was able to spend the morning with my fabulous mama, and celebrated her with the most fabulous cinnamon buns ever. In fact, those present at our little brunch exclaimed that they were the best cinnamon buns they had ever tasted. Don’t worry, I will share later this week, but I’m going to hold out on you for now. I have been meaning to share this muffin recipe for a couple of weeks now, and little old life has gotten in the way of me doing so. Spring brings with it the start of many outdoor activities, like soccer and Ultimate frisbee, and at present three of my weeknights are occupied with these activities. Little Miss Bella is in love with this new season, and its new sights and smells, and we are trying to let her enjoy it as much as possible. This means long evening walks, playing fetch in the park, and joining honey and I on the occasional run. When is a girl supposed to blog with that schedule?

My papa spends his winters in Phoenix to escape the frigid Canadian weather, and when he returned in April, he brought back with him 600…yes, six hundred oranges. Six hundred of the most juicy, sweet, amazing oranges I have ever tasted. He threw about 40 oranges my way, and I enjoyed several oranges per day for the first few days before I soon realized that I would not be able to consume all of those delicious oranges before they were past their prime. So I scoured recipe books, foodie magazines, and blogs for some orange recipes. One failed orange cake (which used 12 oranges!) and a batch of orange butter (think lemon butter, but with oranges) later, I stumbled upon this recipe for Orange Strawberry Muffins. I was intrigued by a few aspects of the recipe, including the almond topping and the addition of strawberries. These muffins baked up tender and sweet, with a lovely little hit of orange flavor. And they are quite healthy in comparison to other muffin recipes out there. Give these muffins a try if you’re looking for something a little bit different than the every day muffin. They just might be that little ray of sunshine that gets the day off to a good start.

Orange Strawberry Muffins (slightly adapted from eatingwell.com)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tsp. orange zest

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup orange juice

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups chopped fresh or frozen (not thawed) strawberries


3 TBSP. almonds

2 TBSP. flour

2 TBSP. brown sugar

1 tsp. orange zest

1/4 tsp. salt

2 TBSP. canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin (with cooking spray or muffin liners). In a food processor, combine the almonds, 2 TBSP. all-purpose flour, 2 TBSP. brown sugar, 1 tsp. orange zest and 1/4 tsp. salt and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl, add the 2 TBSP. oil and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp. orange zest, 1/4 cup oil, buttermilk, orange juice, egg, and vanilla and mix well. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients; stir until just moistened. Add the strawberries; stir just to combine. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle generously with the topping.

Bake the muffins until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Happy eating!

Some Things Just Go Together | Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

Hello long lost friends. It seems like ages since I have shared any deliciousness with you. It practically has been ages. It has been a stressful few weeks. The biggest stress of all has been preparing to list my condo for sale. Honey and I, and mostly our little (but rapidly growing) Bella have outgrown the condo, and are preparing to look for a cute little house. However, first things first, we must sell my condo. It was finally listed for sale this week, after many hours of cleaning, decluttering, and all-out stress. And unfortunately, the stress is only beginning, as we now have to be prepared to get out of dodge at a moment’s notice if someone wishes to view our condo. Which is not easy when we have a pup to worry about.

My body has done a fantastic job of protecting me from all of the sickness that everyone seems to be dealing with…until yesterday. I have succumbed. I now have one of those annoying cold/flus that don’t necessarily make you feel completely terrible, but just overall pooped and blah. With a very sore throat to boot. *sigh* Life may feel rough right now, but then I think about those people who have it far worse. The current crisis in Japan has definitely made me feel thankful for my life, despite some difficult days here and there. (Boogie over at The Boogie blog has some great suggestions for how to help).

One of my favorite stress-relieving activities is baking. I find calm and serenity in measuring out ingredients and building something warm and comforting. Not to mention the bonus of eating said deliciousness when it’s all said and done. Last night, after lying on the couch watching bad TV for much of the evening, I threw these muffins together. Banana and peanut butter just go together. At first bite, these muffins took me back to my childhood of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Lots of banana flavor with a hint of peanut butter. Yum. And comforting indeed.

Banana Peanut Butter Muffins (from Lululu at Home)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (next time I will try whole wheat)

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup peanut butter (I used natural smooth PB)

2 eggs

3 large bananas, mashed (I used 4)

1 sliced banana for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare your muffin tin with liners or grease.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the peanut butter. Add in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the mashed bananas. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture until just combined.

Fill the muffin cups with batter. Top with a slice of banana. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

PS. Chocolate chips would be a great addition to this recipe for some added richness, although they taste just fabulous the way they are. I bet peanut butter chips would be incredible as well. Oh the possibilities!

Celebration! | Morning Magic Muffins

Mmmmmmuffins! Who doesn’t love muffins?! I am a “healthy” muffin lover – I adore hearty and wholesome muffins with good texture and lots of flavor. I even prefer this kind of muffin to the cakey, dessert-like kind. I’m much more likely to reach for a bran muffin than a chocolate chip muffin on most occasions. Call me crazy.

Honey and I just finished our latest food challenge – to go 30 days without eating grains. As in, no bread, no pasta, no rice, no oats, and many other NOs! It was an unbelievable challenge. You might think it would be easy, but when you really start looking closely at food (especially prepackaged food), much of it includes some form of grain. There is a science behind this diet, you can read more here if you’re interested. Anyways, despite a few grumpy days and almost constant hunger…we are impressed with the results, not to mention very proud of ourselves. We ate more fruit, vegetables and lean protein than normal, since we could not rely on filler items such as rice, pasta, and bread to complete our meals. Ok, we did cheat a couple of times, but only when absolutely necessary! Isn’t cheating an essential component of every diet?

Food challenges are great for opening your stomachs to new ideas! Regardless, today marks the last day of our challenge, and I decided to make these amazing muffins in celebration. Although we are going back to grains (as if I’m going to be able to enjoy the holiday season without all that delicious baking that will be showing up everywhere I set foot in the next month!), we are going to try to eat less of them on a regular basis.

This recipe comes from a colleague of mine, although I have altered the recipe a little to my taste. Try these muffins – they are loaded with wholesome ingredients to help you gain energy for the day ahead. They are lovely all on their own, but a little butter and/or jam never hurt anyone. Happy eating!

PS. Stay tuned for some delectable holiday cookie recipes next week!

Morning Magic Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

A large pinch of salt

2 cups of peeled, grated carrots

1 apple, peeled and grated

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped nuts (almonds are my favorite)

1/2 cup coconut

3 eggs

3/4 cup canola oil

2 tsp. vanilla

Combine the first 11 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir well to blend. Beat the eggs, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add to the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened (the batter will be very thick). Grease a 12-count muffin tin and fill the cups nearly to the top (or you may make 18 smaller muffins). Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Enjoy!

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