Thursday, January 23, 2014

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins...and they're healthy

So awhile back Jared and I went through a vegan phase.  We read a book called The China Study, which argues that the majority of our health problems is caused by animal products – meat, dairy, eggs, etc.  It’s a pretty interesting book backed by a ton of research (some of it I skipped because it got really technical).  As a result, we got kind of serious about going vegan because of the health benefits.  However, it’s a pretty big lifestyle change, and with two little kids who can be quite picky at times (and a husband who loves to eat meat), it didn’t last long.

But along the way, I did learn a lot of ways to cut out animal products from everyday foods.  And, I came across some really great recipes that we wouldn’t have otherwise tried.  I also became a little more health conscious about what I serve to my family and have made an attempt (sometimes good, sometimes bad) to healthify (I don’t think that’s a word) a lot of what we eat. 

So, here is a recipe that I wanted to share.  It’s a muffin recipe, one of several that I have, because we (I) make a lot of muffins around here.  They’re really easy for breakfast and for snacks, and a lot healthier than a little Debbie or cookies or what not. 

These muffins have no white flour, no oil or butter, and no eggs!  They do have sugar, of course (because nobody will eat them if they didn’t taste good), but the amount is about half of what is normally called for in a muffin recipe.  And this recipe has chocolate chips, but again the amount is cut down from a normal recipe.   

Anytime I make muffins or pancakes or biscuits, I usually try to incorporate as much whole wheat flour as I can, and I usually use whole wheat pastry flour.  Whole wheat is a whole lot healthier than white flour, but a little more expensive.  However, by making things from scratch, I’m really saving money anyway by not buying this stuff at the store (and saving myself a lot of unnecessary, weird sounding ingredients).  The cheapest place I have found whole wheat pastry flour is on Amazon.  You can buy 4 – 5 lb. bags of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (which is great flour) for around $17.00.  And it’s free shipping if you spend $35.00 (it used to be $25.00, ugh!). 

Making these healthier changes to adapt a recipe (i.e. whole wheat flour instead of white; cutting back on the amount of sugar; cutting back on the oil and eggs) means that it won’t be exactly the same as what we’re traditionally used to.  It may not be as sweet or as fluffy or as rich as what we usually eat, but I find that we adapt.  We are so used to super sweet (or super salty), rich foods because that’s the standard American diet.  But I found that when I made these changes, after awhile, I preferred things that were less sweet and less salty and less rich.  Of course I love donuts and cookies and all things unhealthy, but I’m just as happy eating a healthier version now, because my taste buds have learned to adapt (that sounds really weird, but you know what I mean!). 

Anyway, here’s the recipe (and a couple of pictures; Izzy is a great helper!): 

printable recipe
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins 
(makes 12 regular sized or 24 mini muffins)

1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour (or any other flour)
1 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick; I’ve used both with good results)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup sugar (brown or white or a mixture) 
1 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar (or plain vinegar)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips in a bowl and mix.  In another bowl, combine the applesauce, milk, vanilla, and sugar, and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until almost combined but not quite - there should still be some traces of flour.  Add the vinegar and mix until just combined - don't overmix or the muffins will be a little tough.  Pour the batter into greased muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes for regular sized muffins (mine usually bake in 22 minutes).  If making mini muffins, they take 12-15 minutes.


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