So, I’ve been on the no dairy, no soy, no sugar, exercise every day ‘lifestyle change’ for about a month now… how’s it going?

No soy: almost perfect.  The only time I had any was when we were in Arkansas a few weeks ago.  We were renting a cabin from a really wonderful family, and breakfast was provided.  I’d given him the list of dietary restrictions with some trepidation (no meat and no dairy, I didn’t bother with the rest), and they’d gone out of their way to make versions of everything that I could eat.  This was right after an ice storm that had left most of their neighbors without power (some people still don’t have it!), and when he showed up on the second day with a plate of soy sausages (from who knows where), I didn’t have the heart to turn it down.  So I had one.  And it was tasty.

No dairy: Again, almost perfect.  I did slip and have a slice of pizza at 2am once.  And I’ve had some dairy while I was tasting recipes (butter), but I haven’t deliberately eaten any other than that.

No sugar: ha!  Well, not so much.  Too much ‘tasting’.  Especially of the World Peace Cookies.  When something is bite-sized, it’s calorie-free, right?

Exercise:  Um, right.  How about 3x/week?  Still working on that one.

One of the things I’ve been trying to do to accommodate all of these changes is to find things to make that I can eat without (much) guilt.  So when I saw the recipe for these muffins, I had to give them a go.

The lovely Bittersweet had posted this recipe, to which I made a few alterations.

Strawberry Muffins - vegan!

Strawberry Muffins - vegan!

Strawberry Muffins (vegan), aka Love Muffins
Adapted from Bittersweet

1 ½ cups AP Flour (White Lily)
½ cup Sugar
¼ Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
¾ Cup Coconut Milk (although the original recipe calls for Vanilla Soymilk)
1/3 Cup Canola Oil (next time I will try this with unsweetened applesauce to cut fat)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Frozen Strawberries, Thawed (You may want to chop these up a little smaller if they’re whole frozen strawberries, or only in big chunks.  My muffins ended up with big holes where the strawberry had started out but then baked down into something smaller).

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease muffin tins.

Begin by mixing together your dry ingredients (Flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda.) Gently stir in milk, oil, and vanilla but be careful not to over-mix. A few lumps are okay! Fold in your thawed strawberries and pour batter into muffin tins, ¾ of the way to the top. Slide your filled tins into the oven and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick; When they’re ready to come out, the toothpick will remain dry.

Fresh out of the oven, they are still young and impressionable, so don’t try to remove them immediately or you will end up with smushed, dented muffins! Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes inside their cooking vessel. Enjoy with someone you love.

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These were incredibly moist and airy and tasty, and lasted so for a couple of days (they didn’t last past that!)  I would like to find a way to cut the sugar content back – I thought of using Agave syrup, but then I figured that the wet/dry ratio would be completely out of whack – any suggestions?

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Finished muffins

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

With Elvis’ birthday coming up and all, I was inspired by the Baking Bites post on Peanut Butter Swirl Banana Bread to do some experimentation of my own.

I made the peanut butter swirl as written, although I added some chopped peanuts along with the smooth peanut butter.  The texture was… weird.  Sort of grainy, sort of sticky…  I had hopes it would even out in the cooking, but those hopes, as you’ll see later, were disappointed.

For the banana bread, I used my favorite Banana Bread recipe, which I got from an old cookbook of recipes written by science fiction authors (called “Serve it Forth : Cooking with Anne McCaffrey“).  It’s Kathy Tyers’ Four-Generation Banana Bread from the Philippines, and I’ve found it to make a wonderfully flavorful banana bread that is moist and spiced, not bland nor dry.

The last tweak I made was to do muffins instead of a loaf. Muffins are easier to offload onto coworkers, for one, and for another, I needed more muffin pictures.  🙂 The batter filled 12 muffin tins almost perfectly full, and I added a dollop (about a TB, I would imagine) of the PB mixture to the top center of each, figuring it’d sink in a little.   I could have tried to hide it inside by pouring half full, putting the dollop, then the other half, but who has the time?  Not me.

Here’s how it looked:

The inside shot

The inside shot

The verdict?  The banana bread part was, as always, fabulous. Lovely crunchy edges on the spillover (despite them being filled almost 100% full, there wasn’t much spillage – just enough), and moist, and it looks pretty enough, but the peanut-butter filling just wasn’t interesting.  Sort of grainy, still, and wet.  I’ve put them in the fridge overnight to see if they’ll firm up and be more interesting in the morning.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Filling
(from Baking Bites)
4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter (pref. crunchy)
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Kathy Tyers’ Four-Generation Banana Bread from the Philippines
(Adapted from Serve it Forth)

Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour (I used white lily)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil (I usually replace with unsweetened applesauce, but was out)
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

Preparation:

Mash together bananas and milk until it’s ‘like a milkshake’.  Leave some chunks if you like that in your final bread.

Mix together sugar, oil/appesauce, egg, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until well mixed.

Add liquids and flour in alternating batches, ending with flour.  This recipe tolerates thorough mixing quite well, but try not to overdo it.  Fold in the walnuts.

Fill muffin tins almost completely full.  Add to each a dollop (about 1 TB) of peanut-butter mixture.

Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, until tester in outer edges (remember ,the middle is peanut-butter) comes out dry.

(If making an entire loaf, bake for approx. one hour)

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‘nother muffin shot 🙂