adventures in baking: apple blueberry bran muffins

i don't know why it never occurred to me before today, but i love the culinary arts. i'm not abnormally talented in the kitchen, and i certainly don't have any special training (excluding my awesome grandmother), but i'm nearly always game for one cooking adventure or another, and more often than not, i am pleasantly surprised with the quality of the results.

today's adventure was FLAX SEED!! recently, several different friends shared an article on my google reader which gave ten suggested foods to add to your diet for better health. among them were apples, blueberries, and flax seed. now, i make a mean apple pie, and my banana bread is known for having blueberry surprise tucked inside, but i've never ever ever used flax seed. this week, i learned (from the aforementioned article) that "Flaxseed has been used for centuries for medicinal and health reasons. The seeds contain Omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and strengthen cell health. It has nutritional value, very usable protein, healthy fatty acids, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Flaxseed is also a rich source of fiber." today, when i bought some milled flax seed, i also learned that it is naturally gluten free, which makes it a perfect fiber-booster for GF diets.

so i embarked on my first bran muffin adventure, as follows.

  • 1/3 cup milled flax seed
  • 1 1/3 cup flour (substitutes: 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white, or a gluten-free baking mix or rice flour)
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • two eggs
  • 1 tsp. almond extract (or vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped apples (i used my apple corer/peeler/slicer, then diced them even more)
  • 1/2 or 2/3 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed
  • 3 tsp. coconut oil, melted (or vegetable oil)
  • 2/3 cup milk
 preheat oven to 400* (350 for dark/nonstick). blend dry ingredients in medium bowl. in separate bowl, blend eggs, milk, almond extract, and oil. if using coconut oil, add last, as the cold milk and eggs will solidify it a bit. stir in dry ingredients; batter will be a little thick. fold in apples until well blended, then blueberries until just blended. spoon into well-greased muffin pan, about 2/3 full. don't overfill; these won't rise very much, so you don't want the tops to overflow. it'll look like a bad 80's haircut (the flat top). if desired, sprinkle tops lightly with raw or brown sugar, or drizzle tops with honey. bake for 18-20 minutes, until top springs back up when pressed. allow to cool completely before removing from the pan; the super-wet blueberries compromise the integrity of the muffin structure, especially while they're still hot.

yield: about 16-18 muffins.

here's a fun fact about flax seed: it can be used as a fat or egg substitute in a lot of recipes. 3 tbs. of flax seed can replace 1 tbs. of fat or oil, and if you mix 1 tbs. of flax seed with 3 tbs. of water, that equals one egg.  good fats, no cholesterol, and more fiber!!

hot from the oven

can you guess which color is my favorite?

beware the blueberries that make the edges crumble while they're hot!

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