Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oatmeal muffins (and a green smoothie)

Am I the only person who cannot get rid of their extra winter weight from the historic 2013/2014 cold season?!? My weight gain wasn't anything drastic, but just enough to make clothes a little uncomfortable at times. Sure, I'm getting older too, so that may be part of the reason my pants are just a leeeeetle too tight these days. But I still blame last winter! 

So I've been on the hunt for recipes to help kickstart healthy eating habits. Don't worry--I'll never give up my full-fat yogurt (and research now shows it's better for you than the overly processed "fat free" stuff), but it can't hurt to curb the really-bad-for-you-food cravings. Especially when it comes to that dreaded mid-day snack (when all I want to do is raid the bowl of chocolate at work)!

Will a muffin and some greens help with my muffin top??
I won't lie--both the oatmeal muffins and green smoothie DO have sugar in them. But they're either (a) natural or (b) not a ton of added sugar.

I especially love that these muffins aren't overly sweet like most store-bought muffins. (At that point I may as well eat a donut with how dessert-like muffins tend to be!) Plus they've got oats in them, which gives them a heartiness you don't usually get with a muffin.

Nuts for this nut!
The muffins are perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast or to help quiet your stomach that starts rumbling around 3 or 4 in the late afternoon. And while the smoothie may have a bunch of healthy greens it in, a bit of fresh pineapple, apple, orange juice really sweetens up the deal.

And yes, I used a regular 'ole blender for the kale and spinach. Although it's not going to be perfectly smooth, I really don't mind the texture. (And I don't really want to drop $500 on a Vitamix!) If you're not a fan of the texture, try using spinach only as the kale is a bit tougher. Or use a juicer for the greens, although you do lose all that healthy fiber when juicing.

Yours in hoping I can get back into shape before the next winter hits us all...

Cranberry oatmeal muffins, lightly adapted from Kitchen Confidente

The muffins are best enjoyed while warm, so eat them fresh from the oven or pop them in the microwave for a few seconds to soften them up a bit. They do well for a few days at room temperature, but if you'll be making them for the week it'll be safer to put them in the fridge to prevent any moldies.

Yield: 12 muffins

1 cup rolled oats (you can also use quick 1-minute oatmeal)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, or less to taste
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup nuts (I used walnuts, but pecans, almonds, etc would be great), optional

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin by lightly spraying with non-stick spray or baking spray. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine oatmeal and buttermilk and let it sit as you prepare the other ingredients. If using regular rolled oats, make sure to let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes before mixing in other ingredients.
  • Stir in the egg, brown sugar, and melted butter into the oat mixture.
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Gently stir into the oat mixture until just combined. Stir in the dried cranberries (and nuts, if using). (Hot tip: I've read that dusting the cranberries and nuts with a bit of flour is supposed to keep the fruit/nuts from sinking to the bottom of the muffin. I've never done a placebo-controlled experiment on this, but it can't hurt to do!)
  • Distribute the batter evenly into the muffin tins. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool for about 3 minutes, then remove from the muffin pan.


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