One of my favourite things to do in the morning before my house stirs, is bake muffins.  Their warm and comforting smell as it curls through the house is truly the best wake-up call.  It certainly was for me as a child.

On Monday morning of this week, as I was meditatively muffin-making, my littlest stumbled into the kitchen and sent my heart to heaven when he said with a sleepy smile:

“Mommy!  Are we having muffins?  I could smell them in my sleep!”

I fell in love with him all over again.  And then I fell in love again (if that’s even possible!) when my family ate this particular creation and begged for more…  I knew I had hit the jackpot and this was a recipe worth sharing!

Confession: as a naturopathic doctor, I am on a continual quest to ramp up the nutrition in my children’s diet, and not always are my creations met with enthusiasm.  But this recipe? An absolute keeper.  It ticks so many boxes (including the being-stolen-hot-out-of-the-pan-box!) that they’re pure magic.

  • Delicious: check!
  • Nutritious: check!
  • Mood-lifting: check!
  • Immune-boosting: check!
  • Vegetables: check!
  • Anti-inflammatory: check!
  • Sampled before served — this is how I know they’ve hit the ‘enticing’ factor: check!  (In fact, one of this bunch mysteriously disappeared before they were barely cool enough to touch.  Always a good sign!).
DIRECTIONS AND INGREDIENTS:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Use a high speed blender or food processor to mix the ingredients.

DRY INGREDIENTS:
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats — Pro-Tip: grind the oats to a fine powder before adding the remaining dry ingredients
  • 1 cup flour of choice (I often use a mix of flours: whole grain, spelt, chickpea, buckwheat…)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder (with the denser flours you need more baking powder to get the muffins fluffy)
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp cinnamon, depending on your taste
  • 1-2 tsp cacao powder, (again, depends on your particular brood. Cacao can be a little bitter, but its health punch is well worth the extra dates or splash of maple syrup to compensate!)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
ADD THE FOLLOWING WET INGREDIENTS INTO THE DRY MIXTURE AND BLEND UNTIL SMOOTH:
  • 2 eggs (you can do with 1, but two seems to help the denser flours rise)
  • 1/3 cup olive or avocado oil
  • 1 banana
  • 5 pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 small zucchini finely grated (I leave the skin on)
  • 1 medium carrot finely grated
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk of choice (oat, cashew, rice…).  Add more milk or oil in small amounts if the mixture is too dry / thick.  For good muffins, you want the consistency thicker than a pancake mix, but it should still ‘pour’ into the muffin tins in a ploppy sort of way!

Remove the food processor blade and add a generous dose of frozen raspberries to your mix (~1 cup).  Grease your muffin tins with coconut oil or use muffin paper and spoon / pour your mixture in, filling to 3/4 full.  This generally makes 16-18 muffins, depending how full you fill the tins.

Plop a raspberry into the center of each muffin, give a sprinkle of cinnamon and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins bounce back when lightly pressed.

Where the magic is…

Oats:  a great source of fiber and minerals, but my favourite aspect of oats is the herb they come from: Avena sativa – a well-known nervine (meaning it is very calming to the nervous system).

Cacao: rich in antioxidants, cacao may be immune supportive and anti-inflammatory.  Antioxidants are a powerful group of nutrients that work synergistically with one another to alleviate oxidative stress (very simply put, a major cause of inflammation and dis-ease).  A quick Medscape search on free radicals gives you ample journal articles on their damaging effects!

Cinnamon: warming, comforting and delicious, cinnamon is known as a blood sugar balancer.  It also has potent anti-inflammatory properties due to its cinnamaldehyde content.  The cinnamaldehyde also demonstrates anti-microbial activity within the digestive tract thereby supporting innate immune function.

Turmeric: traditionally known as Indian Saffron, Turmeric has been used throughout history as a healing herb.  It is renowned in Indian and Chinese systems of medicine for its’ anti-inflammatory properties.

Zucchini: an excellent source of Vitamin C and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.  Zucchini is also very high in fiber and low in calories so is an excellent addition for those looking to optimize their weight.

Carrot: carrots are naturally sweet and thus a perfect way to sweeten baked goods without all the added sugar.  On the phytonutrient front, they are a powerhouse of pro-vitamin A carotenoids as well as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals beneficial to cardiovascular and immune health.

Being sweetened with dates, maple syrup, banana and carrot, these muffins are a much healthier option on the glycemic front than a sugar-sweetened recipe.  The maple syrup and dates are also a great source of added minerals which support the body in a multitude of ways.

I hope you and your family enjoy these as much as we do.  Pair these Magic Morning Muffins with the Tropical Turmeric Orange Smoothie and you’ve got an anti-inflammatory, mood & immune supportive bonanza!

Salud!

RESOURCES:
  1. Abascal K., Yarnell E. (2004).  Nervine herbs for treating anxiety. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, (10): 309–315.
  2. Al Alawi, A. M., Majoni, S. W., & Falhammar, H. (2018). Magnesium and Human Health: Perspectives and Research Directions. International journal of endocrinology2018, 9041694. Accessed online April 2, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/9041694
  3. Davis, P. & W. Yokoyama.  (2011).  Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis.  Journal of Medicinal Food, 14(9):884-9. Accessed online April 2, 2020.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21480806
  4. Hemila, H. 2017.  Vitamin C and infections.  Nutrients.  Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/4/339
  5. Hemila, H. & E. Chalker. 2013.  Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold.  Cochrane Database Systemic Review.  Retrieved from http://www.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23440782
  6. Mateljan, G.  2007.  The world’s healthiest foods.  George Mateljan Foundation: USA.