Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ugly Muffins and Baked Oatmeal

Hiya oatmeal-lovers and muffin-indulgers alike! 

With my newfound freedom, I've been doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen. Intuitive eating (read about my reason for this here) is definitely a struggle but I can assure you I'm enjoying it, even if most of the time it leaves me feeling confused. On the bright side, I know that as long as I'm satisfying my body and feeling happy, I'm in a good place. In addition, tonight I might get more answers, but that's for another post. Thank you to all of you for you encouraging words and letting me know that I'm not alone. As you all said, it will take time. 

But in the meantime, I have some recipes to share. They're nothing fancy, but that doesn't mean my love for them is less. I can't even count the amount of times I said "yum" out loud while eating them. 

My first recipe is for muffins that are perfect if you want a few hearty and chewy muffins fast. I have already made three batches of these muffins. I call them ugly muffins because as you can see, they're not the prettiest (and muffins are just ugly cupcakes after all ;) ). Neither my kitchen nor my tummy discriminates, though, and I am in love. Fresh fruit + subtle sweetness + whole grains + branerific goodness = a recipe for success in my mind. I should warn you that these are not for fans of those gigantic muffins you see at Starbucks or the grocery store that are as white as my skin in the winter (and that's pretty white, my friends) and topped with more sugar than I eat in a day. No-sir-ey! If you want a hearty muffin that's perfect dipped in almond milk (my new obsession) then you've come to the right place. 

Ugly Muffins 
Makes 3

  • 6 tablespoons wheat bran 
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla or original Almond Breeze)
  • 4.5 teaspoons applesauce 
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 packet stevia (I use Now Naturals brand but if you prefer to use brown sugar or granulated, I have approximations for that as well)
  • 2-4 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup blueberries or 37.5 grams bananas chopped (I've made both variations in the past few days)

Preheat your oven to 350*F.
While the oven is heating, combine wheat bran and almond milk and set the mixture aside for a few minutes to absorb while you handle the dry ingredients. Add the applesauce and vanilla extract after about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and stevia. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined (remember, there are a lot of fiber-y ingredients so you don't want them to become tough). Stir in fruit of choice and add water as needed, staring with 2 tablespoons. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or as needed in accordance with the amount of water you added. Do not over bake or they will be too dense! (Although that's nothing a little almond milk splashed on top couldn't fix ;) ). Remove from muffin tins immediately. 

*Note: I used 4 tablespoons of water with my blueberry muffins and while it makes them less dense, it also means they will need a longer cooking time and might end up "ugly" like the ones below because I took them out and turned them over after 20 minutes in the oven and cooked for a few more. Yes, my friends, these are the infamous ugly muffins. No judgement here, though.

But wait, there's more! (Do I sound like an infomercial or what? I think I already covered the fine print warning above ;).) These are definitely steps that should be included in the directions because they are simple that good. 

Either warm up in the microwave and break of pieces to dip in warm almond milk/milk of choice (or drown with a spoon)...

...or simply place it in a bowl with an almond milk/milk of choice pool and drizzle with sunflower seed butter/nut butter of choice, adding blackberries or other fruit as you see fit

Did I mention how much I love this stuff? My mom just picked up a container of Sunbutter because it was on sale (and we ran out of her soynut butter) and I am in love. It's a little sweet for me, but I don't like sweetened things. Maybe I would like the unsweetened version better? I bet I would miss the crunch, though. :( (Who am I anyway? I never liked crunchy peanut butter... hmmm...) Either way, it still has nothing on my Raw Almond Butter. Sorry, Sunny. I love you, too.

Many (many!) spoonfuls have been enjoyed since then. And I thought I didn't like sunflower seeds. I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong if it tastes this delicious...

Are there any foods you thought you didn't like because of the way you first had them prepared? Crunching sunflower seeds isn't my scene but give me a spoon and I'm all over this baby. 


**waiting in anticipation for the famous oatmeal**

And now, the food blogger obsession (me included!): oatmeal!

**crowd errupts in applause**

Okay, so this may not be another infomertial, because really, do I have to sell you oatmeal? No. Oatmeal does a dang good job by itself. Silly me. But although I love oatmeal dearly, I'm trying to break my oatmeal rut. Sure, my two favorite combinations are exactly that, favorites, but it was time for a change. Still craving my oatmeal, I decided to try it in a new way. Hellooooo baked oatmeal. 

Baked Oatmeal 
serves one

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats 
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (yes, that is a lot of cinnamon, but I don't add sweetener and LOVE cinnamon. If you don't like cinnamon quite as much as me, I would recommend 1 tsp along with your sweetener of choice) 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (I use golden) + 3 tablespoons water 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I didn't use it this time but it lends a nice flavor)
  • 1 cup liquid (water, milk of choice, coconut water, orange juice, or whatever floats your boat)
  • fruit and add-ins (I used mango chunks one day and strawberries another) 
  • toppings (I used more flax and more fruit but nut butter would work well if that's your thing)
Preheat your oven to 375*F.

Stir oats, cinnamon, sweetener (if using), and baking powder in an oven safe bowl or ramekin (allow for some room because your oats will swell like usual and also rise). Meanwhile, combine the 1 tablespoon ground flax with 3 tablespoons of hot water (almost boiling preferred) and let it gel. Once the flax mixture resembles that of an egg (gelatinous), add it to the dry ingredients along with the vanilla, liquid, and add-ins. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to incorporate the cinnamon or other add-ins (sometimes they're stubborn before heat makes them combine nicely.) If desired (and I do recommend this highly), add your toppings and bake for another 5 minutes.

Enjoy with a lovely cup of tea.

...or accessorize however you wish.

I have so many pictures to show you from this week that I'll have to put them in another post. Let's just say hummus has reentered my life and I have a newfound love for Sunbutter. Are there any foods your forgot you loved? What's your favorite nut butter? 

It's such a nice day outside here (can you say heat wave at 70*F... and that's no April Fools) and I hope it is where you are, too. Go outside and enjoy, please!

Have a lovely day! 

P.S. What is your favorite thing that you just threw together and it came out amazingly? It's always fun to hear those stories of could-have-been-kitchen-disasters-turned good :). 


  1. The ugly muffins look incredible in my opinion...sometimes the least aesthetically pleasing foods are the best ones!! Sunbutter is one of my favorites, though I only eat it from the jar as well. I'm not a fan of crunchy in sammies! Favorite nut butter is a tie between PB&Co. DCD and Smucker's Natural! Hope you're having a great day, enjoy this weather!

  2. I love healthy muffins, and these ugly ones look fantastic! A brilliant recipe. :)

    Sunbutter is a newfound love of mine as well! I received a sample package of some and I am hooked!

    That hummus from TJ's rocks!

    Such great eats, girly. :)

  3. Omg I can't believe I missed all your previous post :s

    Anyway: I love the baked oatmeal idea, I'm so going to try it!

    One thing that I threw up together and ended up being deilish: Salad + Hummus. I just bought my fisrt container of ready-made hummus. OMG it is so good. O_O


  4. I like ugly muffins, they are usually the best for you anyway!!!! Your baked oatmeal looks like nirvana in a dish to me!!!!

    The first time I tried tofu....hated it.
    Hummus....hated it.....

    I forgot how much I loved rhubarb!!!!

    the only nut butter I have ever had is peanut...did I hear you gasp?

    I just made a enchilada dish over on my blog that turned into a tamale pie and it was delicious, and I will be making it again!

  5. Mandiee, what a cool story about your grandpa. I totally believe in signs and I think the change you find is such a cool symbol of his presence. xoxo

  6. It's morning and I've only had an apple so far,--not a great time to look at pics of baked oatmeal and ugly muffins. Both look spectacular.
    I blog for SunButter and am glad to see you love it. Since you're experimenting your way around the kitchen, I'm wondering if you've tried any of the recipes on their site? Don't know if you like Thai food but this one looks really good.
    It contains chicken, but I would think you could easily make it without.
    If you get a chance, check out my blog. I'm literally just starting it and would love some input, feedback, etc.