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January 30, 2009

Sunny Vegan Muffins for a Winter Morning

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


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