Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Better For You Pumpkin Muffins

What's better in the morning than mini muffins hot out of the oven. Not much! My kids love it when I make these, and being mini, they have the added bonus of cooking more quickly...excellent on a school morning...and being just the right size for my 20 month old to chomp.
Today was my first foray into cooking with agave syrup. I have to say that I felt a tad anxious pouring 2 bucks worth of syrup into the bowl. It is not for the financially faint of heart. But for the sake of experimentation in the kitchen and in the interest of trying to find ways to make more nutritious food for my family, it was worth it. I found this excellent article that describes agave syrup in more depth - definitely worth a read. I love that the author did her own personal blood sugar science experiment with different varieties of the syrup. I have to confess that when I purchased it last weekend, I just listened to the spiel of the guy demonstrating it and just took his word for it that it's much lower glycemic index than table sugar or honey. Then I read the label today and saw that it isn't that much lower carb than honey, tablespoon for tablespoon, though it does have the added benefit of naturally occuring minerals like calcium and according to the stuff I've read on line, the sugars are long acting fructoses that don't cause your blood sugar to spike as rapidly. Anyway, do your own research and come to your own conclusions.
I can't see this becoming a staple in our pantry, mostly due to cost, but it's something that's nice to have around especially if I am going to be cooking for diabetics. It was very easy to incorporate into the batter and is a little thinner than honey, so it was easy to measure and pour. The flavor, if anything, was a little improved in the final product. The kids deemed them "very good". I simply modified my original pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe, reducing the amount of sweetener by 1/2 in the process of substituting agave for sugar, and they were plenty sweet. Here you go:
Healthier Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (though I suppose if you really want to be healthy, you'd take out the chocolate, but where's the fun in that)
2 eggs
1/2 cup blue agave syrup
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 t. each baking soda and powder
1/2 t. each cinnamon and cloves
1/2 t. salt
2/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate morsels
2 T. ground flaxseed
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, syrup, pumpkin, applesauce and oil until smooth. Combine the dry ingredients and stir into the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips. Fill greased mini muffin tins 3/4 full and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until muffins are golden and test done with a toothpick. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack. Yield - 48 mini muffins.
**Another couple of thoughts about nutrition. I used all purpose flour because I was reticent to turn my mill on so early in the morning and wake up the kids. You could certainly use at least half whole wheat flour without compromising the texture, and if you go for all whole wheat flour they'd still be fine - just a little bit heavier. Adding the flaxseed (which I did - I believe in sneaking in nutrition when I can) adds a little bit of fat, but it's healthy fat, and I could have eliminated one of the eggs by adding it. I've had other baked goods in which flax and water were substituted for part or all of the eggs with good results. Happy baking!


Deb Schiff said...

Hi Nurse Heidi,
Looks like you made some very nice muffins. If I might make a recommendation -- use whole wheat pastry flour and sift all the dry ingredients. Barley flour is amazing too.
Nice photos.

Nurse Heidi said...

I just barely bought some barley and I'm excited to try it out. I grew up in an all whole grain household, went "white man" (my family's affectionate term for sugar and white flour) when I struck out on my own, and am now finding myself sliding back over to the whole grain side. I do about half and half - love whole grain breads, and a mix in my waffles, pizza crusts, pancakes, etc., but I can't quite bring myself to make healthy chocolate chip cookies. Some things were just meant to be junk food :).

Thanks for stopping in!