Monday evening I looked at my last banana, which was solid brown, and realized it wasn't up to the task of Tuesday morning's smoothies. Instead I incorporated it into a batch of muffins, along with September's neglected applesauce and some frozen blueberries.
Eating a muffin while driving to work the next morning, I felt it just wasn't living up to its potential. Possibilities leapt to mind. Nutmeg! Whole wheat flour! Or instead of blueberries: cherries, with almonds on top! And orange zest! When I got to my desk the first thing I did was jot down my dream muffin’s ingredients.
My new and improved muffins taste like a sunny day in August with dandelions and a hammock, just the thing for January mornings when it's 20 below. They are egg and dairy-free, so they contain no cholesterol. Pureed fruit moistens the muffins rather than oil, which are light and airy thanks to a generous dose of baking powder. Wheat flour gives them substance, and bits of dried cherry and crunchy sliced almonds provide a bit of cheer.
They are easy to whip up in your bathrobe on a lazy weekend, or in the evening for a breakfast you can toss in your bag throughout the week. They’ll bring a taste of springtime to your coldest midwinter mornings.
Cherry Almond Muffins
1/4 cup softened margarine (Earth Balance is non-dairy and non-hydrogenated)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup nondairy milk (soy, rice, oat, or almond)
1 soft brown banana
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tray with paper liners or oil the cups.
In a medium bowl, blend the margarine, applesauce, milk, banana, almond extract, and orange peel until smooth.
In a large bowl sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine, without over-mixing. Stir in cherries.
Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle almonds on top of each muffin.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are browned.
Remove the muffins from the oven and cool them on a wire rack. Makes 12 small muffins.
A recipe for a vegan blueberry-wheat muffins is available on my blog.
Mary Lake is a writer, teacher, columnist for MF&L, and vegetarian food blogger: Mitten Machen