Chase away the winter blues with “blue-brrry” mini muffins

Anyone else love to bake on a snow day?  Here is a recent favorite!

Blueberry Spice Mini Muffins

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra light olive oil

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 teaspoon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon each of ground cardamom, ginger and grated orange peel

1/2 cup milk (non-dairy milk works, too)

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 mini muffin cups with wrappers. In a large bowl, cream oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Combine vinegar with enough water to equal 1/4 cup, and beat into sugar. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Gradually add dry ingredients to the liquid, alternating with the milk and beating well after each addition. Toss blueberries with the remaining flour, and fold into batter. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Adapted from a Taste of Home recipe, this yummy cookie is all ready for Santa to enjoy.  Elves with allergies will enjoy that it can be made without egg, soy, dairy or nuts!

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Ingredients

¼ C sunflower or canola oil

½ C sugar

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

¾ C plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ cup baking cocoa

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1.5 ounces of mini, semi-sweet chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life)

1 teaspoon sunflower or canola oil

1 miniature crushed candy cane (or ½ of a full-size, TruSweets candy cane)

2 teaspoons sprinkles (read labels if food allergies are a concern; I used Target’s nonpareils, which are soy-free)

Preheat oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, cream oil and sugar. Beat in egg.  In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Gradually beat into the sugar mixture.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls, and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. With slightly damp hands, gently flatten cookie tops, forming cookies into a round shape as you work. Bake 6-8 minutes or until just set (be careful not to over bake the cookies). Cool cookies on pans for 5 minutes, and remove to wire racks to cool completely.

In a microwave-safe dish, melt chocolate chips and oil. Drizzle over cookies, and sprinkle with candy cane pieces and sprinkles. Allow melted chocolate to set before servingVLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shopping Smart for Activity Monitors in the New Year

Just how trustworthy is that Fitbit? At last, several peer-reviewed articles have studied the validity of consumer-based physical activity monitors. One of the most recent, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found BodyFit, Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip to be most accurate in estimating energy expenditure (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24777201), though others have found Fitbit Classic less accurate (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24770438). Click on the links to read more.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Apple Spice Muffins

Here is a sweet but low-fat treat for the fall and a great way to use up any leftover apples picked in recent weeks.  They remind me of apple pie in a muffin wrapper.  Enjoy!

Apple Spice Muffins

Ingredients

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup water

1/2teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice

2 tablespoons extra light olive oil

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely chopped

1/4 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Cinnamon sugar for topping

Directions

In a large bowl, combine flour through baking soda.  In a separate bowl, combine the water, spice, extract and oil.  Stir into the dry ingredients until just moistened.  Toss apple, walnuts and cranberries with remaining flour.  Fold into batter.  Divide muffins evenly between 13 muffin papers, filling each 2/3 full.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cool Back-to-School Kitchen Tools

If Monday mornings find you scrambling to prepare yet another week’s worth of lunches, try these great back-to-school tips and tools from Cooking Light.  Check out their ideas for a healthier lunch box here, or find a new favorite snack mix recipe that’s just right for after school.   And if breakfast is usually an afterthought, they also have great recipes for quick and easy, make ahead options here.

They even have dinner covered with a weeknight meal planner for organizing a week’s worth of dinners and getting ideas for healthy, new recipes, as well.

Happy September!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dip, Dip, Hooray for Avocados!

Need a quick dip for those summer veggies that are beginning to appear in gardens and at farm stands?  Researchers at Ohio State reported that eating tomato sauce or raw carrots with avocado significantly increased absorption and conversion of pro-vitamin A carotenoids to their active form.  Read more, and download their dip recipe here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Red, White and Blue Sandwiches

Happy 4th of July!  If it’s too wet to grill, try an “indoor” picnic with this easy variation on PB&J.  White whole wheat, sunflower or almond butter and banana slices cut into stars would also work well.  (Slivered almonds were used for the stars in the picture below.)

Blueberry jam, peanut butter, dried cranberries and almond slivers make a perfect, "inside-out' peanut butter and jelly flag sandwich.

Blueberry jam, peanut butter, dried cranberries and almond slivers make a perfect, “inside-out’ peanut butter and jelly flag sandwich.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment