Apple Cider Pumpkin Muffins are Refined Sugar Free

Servings: 16-18 muffins serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

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Apple cider pumpkin muffins are refined-sugar-free - sweetened only with molasses and maple syrup.

Apple cider pumpkin muffins are refined-sugar-free – sweetened only with molasses and maple syrup.

Pumpkin and apple are a great combination. The flavours both go well with spice and adding diced apples to the batter helps keep the muffins from feeling too dense. The apple cider is just a nice touch.

Apple Cider Pumpkin Muffins have been my go-to snack all week. I have been packing them in my lunch and have enjoyed them late afternoon with a little almond butter.

  • Apple cider pumpkin muffins are refined-sugar-free - sweetened only with molasses and maple syrup.
    Apple cider pumpkin muffins are refined-sugar-free – sweetened only with molasses and maple syrup.

Apple Cider Pumpkin muffins are my kind of muffin — not too sweet.

If you prefer muffins that are more cake-like (i.e. light-textured and extra sweet) then this recipe is not for you. Apple cider pumpkin muffins are barely sweet, but still satisfying for an afternoon snack. Enjoy them with peanut butter, almond butter or a little cream cheese.

Tips: These muffins have a thick batter that doesn’t spread so you really can overfill the muffin tins. This recipe makes 16 generous muffins. You can substitute oil for some or all of the melted butter.

Apple Cider Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

Makes 16-18 muffins

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup butter, melted and cooled*
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup or honey
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup apple cider (juice not vinegar)
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree (1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp.)
  • 3 cups flour, spooned in
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp ginger
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
  • ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

*Can use oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease muffin pans or line them with paper liners
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the melted butter, molasses and maple syrup. Beat in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Beat in cider and pumpkin puree.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir in apple, mixing with your hands if necessary to separate the pieces.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently until almost combined.
  5. Spoon into prepared muffin pans, heaping the batter.
  6. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
  7. Bake, 30-35 minutes until they spring back lightly when touched or a tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool 10-15 minutes before removing from the pans.

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Low Sugar Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Servings: 30 cookies serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

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Low sugar oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are a wholesome and hearty lunchbox treat. They’re filling, relatively low calorie and low in sugar, a good source of fibre and full of healthy stuff. 

Low sugar oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are a wholesome and hearty lunchbox treat. They're filling, relatively low calorie and low in sugar, a good source of fibre and full of healthy stuff. The recipe contains no artificial sugar.

March is school break month and while many families fly off to warm destinations for the week-long holiday, it’s still one of the best times for an old fashioned family road trip.

I grew up heading off to Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine for my March break. We’d pile in the car that was stuffed to the rafters with ski equipment and winter gear and drive six hours to the hill, singing all the way.

In fact, when I was growing up every road trip involved singing songs we all learned at Camp Genburn. Singing helped pass the time and kept us all distracted enough that we didn’t squabble during the long drive.

Low sugar oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are a wholesome and hearty lunchbox treat. They're filling, relatively low calorie and low in sugar, a good source of fibre and full of healthy stuff. The recipe contains no artificial sugar.

The in-car picnic lunch also helped to pass the time. (It also helped save time and money since we only had to stop for bathroom breaks between home and the hill.) In my experience, good food is one of the essentials of a successful (and memorable) road trip with a car full of kids. A healthy lunch and wholesome snacks go a long way in preventing meltdowns, in both kids and adults.

Lots of cookies and snacks are high in sugar or aren’t aren’t filling so they don’t hit the spot. Pairing these low sugar oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with a piece of fruit makes a great snack combo that will tide you over until mealtime.

If you’re planning a March Break road trip, these low sugar oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are a wholesome and hearty lunchbox treat. They have just enough chocolate chips to keep everyone in the back seat content. They’re lower in sugar and fat than most cookies, are a good source of fibre and are filled with healthy stuff.

Low Sugar Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Makes 2 1/2 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar (can reduce to 6 Tbsp.)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax
  • 2 Tbsp. raw millet or sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant!)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until light textured. Add egg then molasses and vanilla.
  2. Sprinkle over the flour, flax, millet (or sunflower seeds), baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine.
  3. Stir in rolled oats then chocolate chips, dried cranberries, coconut and pumpkin seeds.
  4. Drop by spoonful onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Press the tops lightly with the bottom of a glass
  5. Bake at 350 F for 12-14 minutes

 

 Nutritional info:Per cookie.

  •  Calories: 162
  • Fat: 9.6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 16 mg
  • Carbs: 17.6 g
  • Sugar: 9.3 g
  • Sodium: 62 mg
  • Fibre: 2 g
  • Protein: 3.5 g
  • Potassium: 125 mg
  • Calcium: 17.5 g

Low Fat Chia Bran Muffins | An Old Classic Made Extra Healthy

Servings: 18 muffins serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

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Chia Bran Muffins are a light-textured classic made better (in a healthy sort of way) with the addition of chia.

Chia Bran Muffins are a light-textured classic made better (in a healthy sort of way) with the addition of chia. 

I’m very good at buying super healthy foods. But then they often sit in my cupboard, or at the back of the fridge, out of sight and out of mind.

I have a package of chia that has been in my cupboard for ages. I stir a spoonful into my porridge from time to time but that’s about it.  I never did get into chia pudding (I’m not wild about the texture) so my progress through the package has been slow.

That’s why this recipe for chia bran muffins caught my eye.

Chia Bran Muffins are a light-textured classic made better (in a healthy sort of way) with the addition of chia.

It’s a classic bran muffin recipe. Made with natural bran and buttermilk so the muffins have a lovely light texture. The recipe gets extra nutrition from a few tablespoons of chia seeds. These muffins are low in fat and have no refined sugar.

It goes to show that making our favourite foods a little more healthy is easier than you think.

The recipe is slightly adapted from New York Times Food.

Chia Bran Muffin Recipe

Makes 18 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 ¾ cups boiling water
  • 1 ½ cups natural bran (also called baker’s bran)
  • 3 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup canola or grape seed oil
  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Place the raisins in a medium bowl and pour over the boiling water. Let sit 5 minutes, then stir in the bran and the chia. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In another bowl, beat the eggs, oil and molasses. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in the raisin and bran mixture and combine well.
  4. Fold in the flour mixture and combine well. (Batter can be refrigerated overnight).
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Prepare muffin pans.
  6. Fill muffin cups and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the muffin tops feel firm to the touch and are puffed and browned.
  7. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Nutritional info: Per muffin.

  • Calories: 165.6
  • Fat: 5.8 g
  • Saturated Fat: .7g
  • Cholesterol: 22.2 mg
  • Carbs: 25.3 g
  • Sugar: 7.5 g
  • Sodium: 202.7 mg
  • Fibre: 4 g
  • Protein: 4.8 g
  • Potassium: 308.2 mg
  • Calcium: 83.5 g

 

 

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Servings: 18 balls serving(s)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 70 minutes

Cooking time: 60 minutes

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Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites: A wholesome, sweet treat filled with chia, flax, hemp and more.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites: A wholesome, sweet treat filled with chia, flax, hemp and more.

Sometimes you need a sweet treat that feels wholesome. After nibbling through chocolates and ice cream on Valentine’s Day, the craving for sweets doesn’t disappear and if anything, it gets a little stronger, especially with my kids. That’s why it’s good to have sweet snacks on hand that are healthy and satisfying, like these Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites. They hit the spot, are filling and full of good stuff. And I almost forgot – they’re gluten-free too.

My daughter, who often makes a conscious effort to complain about healthy food, devoured each and every peanut butter energy bite that I rolled in coconut. I preferred the bites rolled in cocoa powder and almond flour.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites: A wholesome, sweet treat filled with chia, flax, hemp and more.

This recipe lends itself to endless variations. You could use different nut or seed butters and change up the quantities of chia, flax meal and hemp, all depending on what you have in the cupboard. Another option is to swap the honey for maple syrup if you’d like a brighter sweet flavour.

To make these school friendly, substitute sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bites will last for a week in the fridge.

This recipe is slightly adapted from the blog Family Bites.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Energy Bite Recipe

Makes 18 balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. hemp seeds
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Shredded coconut, almond flour or cocoa powder for rolling (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor, pulsing until they come together. Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop the mixture and shape it into balls. Roll in your preferred coating or leave plain.
  3. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Nutritional info*:Per ball:

  •  Calories: 88.4
  • Fat: 4.8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Carbs: 10 g
  • Sugar: 4.8 g
  • Sodium: 2.3 mg
  • Fibre: 1.5 g
  • Protein: 2.6 g
  • Potassium: 110 mg
  • Calcium: 16.7 g

*This nutritional analysis is incomplete. It does not include nutritional impact of hemp seeds or any coating, if used.

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Double Ginger Granola Bars for True Lovers of Ginger

Servings: 18 serving(s)

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

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This is a seemingly simple bar that’s full of surprises…If you like a classic granola bar with a little oomph then these double ginger granola bars are your ginger dream.

Double Ginger Granola bars: Generous on the candied ginger, this bar has a clean wholesome feel and the sort of texture that keeps you nibbling away until half the pan is gone. The oats in this recipe are toasted which gives the bars a wonderful, well toasty, flavour and deepens the colour of this no-bake treat.

Double Ginger Granola Bars are a lean and clean oat bar made exclusively for lovers of ginger

This is a seemingly simple bar that’s full of surprises…

If you like a classic granola bar with a little oomph then these double ginger granola bars are your ginger dream.  Generous on the candied ginger, this bar has a clean wholesome feel and the sort of texture that keeps you nibbling away until half the pan is gone. The oats in this recipe are toasted which gives the bars a wonderful, well, toasty flavour and deepens the colour of this no-bake treat.

Double Ginger Granola bars: Generous on the candied ginger, this bar has a clean wholesome feel and the sort of texture that keeps you nibbling away until half the pan is gone. The oats in this recipe are toasted which gives the bars a wonderful, well toasty, flavour and deepens the colour of this no-bake treat.

This bar has a great bite thanks to the ginger. If you’re the sort of person who loves to nibble a sliver of candied ginger in lieu of dessert I think you’ll love this recipe.

The recipe is vegan and gluten-free (choose certified GF rolled oats if necessary.) For a richer (non-vegan) flavour replace the coconut oil with butter.

School-friendly option: Replace pecans with toasted sunflower seeds.

(This is a granola bar recipe that was a runner-up in a recipe contest we held a couple of years ago.)

Double Ginger Granola Bars Recipe

From the blog It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken

Makes 18 generous bars

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • ⅓ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp powdered ginger
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ½ cup candied ginger, chopped

Topping:

  • 2 Tbsp pecans
  • 2 Tbsp candied ginger

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a 9″ x 9″ baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Spread the oats and pecans on a large baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, tossing a couple of times. Remove from the oven and place in a large bowl. Stir in chopped ginger.
  4. In a saucepan over medium heat combine the molasses, brown sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract, powdered ginger, and salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly about 5 minutes.
  5. Pour molasses mixture over the oats and toss until the oats are well coated.
  6. Scrape mixture into prepared pan and press the mixture until firmly packed and smooth on top. (I place a sheet of parchment on top of the bars and then lay an 8”x8” pan on top. Then I press on the smaller pan with as much strength as I can muster.)
  7. Sprinkle over the topping ingredients and press them into the base.
  8. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and then cut into 18 bars.

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Healthy Energy Boost Cookies Recipe

Servings: 18 cookies serving(s)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

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Healthy Energy Boost Cookies Recipe: If you’re in search of energy boosting convenience food when you, or your kids, are on the run then this is the cookie for you.

The best cookies for people on the run

If you’re in search of energy-boosting convenience food when you (or your kids) are on the run then healthy Energy Boost Cookies are for you.

Made with wholesome ingredients and no refined sugar (unless you add chocolate chips) these cookies have a good amount of protein and fibre, are filling and taste good. They have a satisfying cookie texture and aren’t too sweet so are a good snack for any time of the day.

The recipe is a slight adaptation of the recipe on the jar of Kraft All Natural Peanut Butter.

Healthy Energy Boost Cookies Recipe: If you’re in search of energy boosting convenience food when you, or your kids, are on the run then this is the cookie for you.

Lots of ways to make Energy Boost Cookies even healthier:

  • Substitute canola oil for the melted butter
  • Replace the chocolate chips with pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • Replace honey with additional molasses
  • Replace the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour

Energy Boost Cookie Recipe

Makes 18 cookies

  • ½ cup natural peanut butter (can substitute almond butter.)
  • ¼ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted (can substitute oil)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • ½ cup flaked coconut
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. In a large bowl beat together peanut butter, molasses, honey, melted butter and egg.
  3. In another bowl whisk flours, baking soda and baking powder. Beat into peanut butter mixture
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by heaping tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake 9-11 minutes.

 

Nutritional info*: Per cookie.

  • Calories: 185.5
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 19.2 mg
  • Carbs: 21.3 g
  • Sugar: 9.4 g
  • Fibre: 2.2 g
  • Protein: 4.5 g
  • Potassium 181.5 mg

*Nutritional info is for cookies made with chocolate chips.

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Almond Butter Energy Bars Recipe

Servings: 36 bars serving(s)

Prep time: 25 minutes

Total time: 60 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

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Packed with protein, fibre and lots of flavour, Almond Butter Energy Bars bars are perfect for those days when you’re on the go.

Packed with protein, fibre and lots of flavour, Almond Butter Energy Bars bars are perfect for those days when you’re on the go.

This is how I coax my kids to go on hikes when we’re away on vacation…

Find a local bakery and let them choose snacks for the hike.

As long as there are treats in our backpacks and a chance to enjoy them throughout the climb my kids are game to hike.

And to be fair, my kids usually enjoy hiking, but some extra encouragement enroute to the next lookout is always welcome.

Packed with protein, fibre and lots of flavour, Almond Butter Energy Bars bars are perfect for those days when you’re on the go.

My favourite climbing snack is a hearty granola bar from a local bakery in mid-coast Maine. Moist and filled with seeds and nuts the bars pack well and are filling. One is definitely enough.

This Almond Butter Energy Bar recipe is my version of that wholesome bar.

School-friendly option: Replace the almond butter with sunflower seed butter. Replace the chopped nuts with additional seeds and dried fruit.

Store them individually wrapped in the freezer if you want to have them on hand for hikes or anytime you’re on the go.

Almond Butter Energy Bars Recipe

Makes 36 bars

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1 cup bran (natural)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • ½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup wheat germ or ground flax
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup almond butter (can use peanut butter)
  • 1 Tbsp. milk (coconut, cow, nut or seed milk)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda

Instructions:

  1. Mix oats, bran, coconut, seeds, almonds, raisins, wheat germ and chocolate chips in large bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, combine molasses, oil, sugar and almond butter. Cook over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. (Stir constantly.)
  3. In a small dish, combine milk, vanilla and baking soda. Stir into molasses mixture and remove from heat.
  4. Pour molasses-milk mixture over dry mixture and stir until dry ingredients are moist. Scrape mixture into a 9”x13” pan. Press mixture firmly into pan
  5. Bake at 275°F for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Let cool, cut into bars and store in the refrigerator.

 

Nutritional info: Per bar.

  • Calories: 174
  • Fat: 10.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Carbs: 18.9 g
  • Sugar: 8.5
  •  Fibre: 2.7 g
  • Protein: 3.5 g
  • Potassium 228 mg

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Packed with protein, fibre and lots of flavour, Almond Butter Energy Bars bars are perfect for those days when you’re on the go.

Healthy Blueberry Bran Muffins

Servings: 12-14 muffins serving(s)

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 55 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

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These blueberry bran muffins are light-textured and moist.

Blueberry bran muffins are light-textured and moist. They're made with a generous amount of bakers bran (natural wheat bran) which is the key to their lofty texture. Blueberries and molasses keep them extra moist.

You can never have too many recipes for blueberry muffins, and blueberry bran muffins are especially appealing. They have a wholesome flavour that can’t be matched and never taste like a piece of cake, which is sometimes the case with regular blueberry muffins.

These blueberry bran muffins are light-textured and moist. They’re made with a generous amount of bakers bran (natural wheat bran) which is the key to their lofty texture. Blueberries and molasses keep them extra moist.

Blueberry bran muffins are light-textured and moist. They're made with a generous amount of bakers bran (natural wheat bran) which is the key to their lofty texture. Blueberries and molasses keep them extra moist.

This is the kind of muffin that works for breakfast, for school lunches and for an after school snack.

I came across the recipe one sleepy holiday evening at my sister’s. I was flipping through her new cookbook, Make it Ahead by Ina Garten. There were loads of great looking recipes in the book but the one that really caught my eye was for these blueberry bran muffins. All of our family feasts over the holidays got me thinking about simple food and wholesome snacks and this recipe fit the bill.

And it has come in handy this week, getting us through the first Monday in January and the whole sleepy week. (Getting back into the swing of things has been a little painful, for everyone in my household). Thankfully this is the kind of muffin that works for breakfast, for school lunches and for an afterschool snack.

I didn’t bother to freeze them so the batch lasted four days on the counter before they were all gone, and the final muffin still tasted great.

I love to eat them plain or with a little peanut butter but my daughter prefers them with a heaping spoonful of strawberry jam.

Blueberry bran muffins are light-textured and moist. They're made with a generous amount of bakers bran (natural wheat bran) which is the key to their lofty texture. Blueberries and molasses keep them extra moist.

Blueberry Bran Muffin Recipe

Adapted from Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa

Makes 12-14 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups wheat bran
  • 1½ cups blueberries

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour with the salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk the yogurt with the oil, sugar, molasses and honey.
  4. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla.
  5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix gently until almost combined.
  6. Stir in the wheat bran in two additions.
  7. Stir in the blueberries and mix until evenly distributed.
  8. Spoon into prepared muffin pan and bake for 25-30 minutes if using fresh berries. Bake for 30-35 minutes if using frozen blueberries.

 

Nutritional info: Per muffin.

  • Calories: 205
  • Fat: 9.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 27.5 mg
  • Sodium: 70.3 mg
  • Carbs: 31.3 g
  • Sugar: 15.3
  • Fibre: 5.1 g
  • Protein: 3.7 g

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Buttermilk Gingerbread Muffins

Servings: 10-12 muffins serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

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whole wheat buttermilk gingerbread muffins

Buttermilk Gingerbread Muffins a wholesome winter snack.

Winter arrived to Southern New Brunswick with gusto this week. Two storms in three days means that we finally have snow cover, and although a little late, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Last night began a whole new round of holiday celebrating with the arrival of family from out of town.  We enjoyed a long evening around my mom’s enormous table, chatting and laughing and planning tonight’s big family gathering.

whole wheat buttermilk gingerbread muffins

In the midst of all the parties and rich food I have been craving something simple to snack on. Something flavourful and wholesome to go along with the Gingerbread Lattes that I can’t seem to stop drinking.

That’s why this recipe for Buttermilk Gingerbread Muffins caught my eye.

Made with whole wheat flour, buttermilk gingerbread muffins remind me of a lightly textured bran muffin. They’re not too sweet and have a great ginger kick. The ginger isn’t over powering though so don’t be tempted to scale it back. The overall spice balance is great.

The recipe is from the lovely blog Living Lou

Buttermilk Gingerbread Muffin Recipe

 10-12 muffins 

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ tsp. baking soda
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup grape seed oil (or vegetable oil)
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • Coarse sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flours with sugar, baking soda, spices and salt.
  3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg then whisk in the oil and molasses. When well combined whisk in the buttermilk.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture. Stir gently until just combined taking care not to overmix.
  5. Spoon into prepared pan. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops spring back when lightly touched.

Best eaten within a couple of days. Can be frozen up to three months.

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10 Wholesome Snack Ideas for the Whole Family

Take me to the recipe

10 wholesome snack ideas for back to school

Wholesome Snack Ideas for the lunch box and afterschool

September is a good time to restock the cookie jar. Now that we’re back into the routine of school we need goodies to pack in lunches and wholesome snacks on hand for the kids when they arrive home from school starving.

My kids aren’t the only ones in need of healthy things to nibble through the day. My husband and I brown-bag our lunches to work so we like to have appealing snacks to pack in our lunches too.

One of the benefits of homemade snacks is that you can stuff a little nutrition into sweet treats.

When you’re in charge you can add nuts and seeds to cookies, use whole grain flour, add a little ground flax or reduce the sugar. And you can change up recipes as required to make them nut-free and school-friendly. Some of the recipes below are gluten-free as well so you’re covered on that front too.

Another great thing about making your own snacks is that you can always double the batch and freeze the extras.

10 Wholesome Snack Ideas

Here’s a collection of my (and my kids’) favourite muffins, cookies and bars that are wholesome and hit the spot, at recess, lunchtime or afterschool.

Blueberry Wheat Germ Muffins

blueberry wheat germ muffins

Whole Wheat Banana Flax Muffins

whole wheat banana flax muffins

 Peanut Butter (Almond Butter) Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

carrot cake whoopie pies

Cape Cod Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cape Cod chocolate chip oatmeal cookies recipe

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

pumpkin oatmeal cookies

Coconut Cranberry Granola Bars

gluten free coconut cranberry granola bars

Cranberry Almond Granola bars

cranberry almond granola bars

Dark Chocolate Almond Bars

Dark chocolate almond bars

Naturally Sweetened Coconut Mounds

Wholesome snacks: naturally sweetened coconut mounds

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Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies {Almond Butter option too}

Servings: 18 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

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Wholesome Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Naturally sweetened & low in sugar. Great made with almond butter too.

Finally, a healthy cookie that my daughter will devour.

My daughter has a sweet tooth and she’s picky when it comes to baked goods. She likes her treats super sweet and spends her pocket change on Caramilk bars and packaged chocolate pudding. She dips into the chocolate chips whenever she gets the chance and has been known to eat pouches of hot chocolate with her fingers. No milk required.

That’s why I was surprised when these cookies started disappearing off the counter. And she wasn’t just picking the chocolate chips out of them.

Wholesome Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Naturally sweetened & low in sugar. Great made with almond butter too.

This is a barely sweet cookie that is turned into a treat with chocolate chips. The original recipe called for ¾ cup of chocolate chips but I dialled it back to ½ cup.

I have made these oatmeal cookies with almond butter as well (my daughter’s favorite is the almond butter version). Both variations are great so it’s more a matter of flavour preference and what you have on hand.

These cookies are surprisingly filling and have a terrific texture…Nice and moist. I have tested the recipe with old fashioned rolled oats but my preference is to use quick oats. It makes all the difference in the texture. If all you have are old fashioned oats you can pulse them in the food processor a few times to break them up a bit.   I adapted this recipe from Naturally Ella.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 18 cookies

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter or almond butter
  • ¼ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup quick rolled oats
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. In a small bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  3. Combine butter and peanut butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until butter has melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the molasses. Scrape into a bowl, cool slightly then whisk in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Stir in the flour mixture then the rolled oats and chocolate chips.
  5. Drop by the spoonful (I used a medium cookie scoop) onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Flatten them slightly with the bottom of a glass. (You can also roll them into balls and flatten.)
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes

Nutritional info: Per cookie.

  • Calories: 132.7
  • Fat: 7.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 17.8 mg
  • Sodium: 87.7 mg
  • Carbs: 14.8 g
  • Sugar: 5.6 g
  • Protein: 3.1 g
  • Calcium: 22.4 g
  • Fibre: 1.2 g
  • Potassium: 145.6 mg
  • Folate: 26.5 (DFE)

 

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Cape Cod Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Healthy Twist

Servings: 24 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

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Cape Cod chocolate chip oatmeal cookies recipe healthy

The mom-child cookie compromise

If there was a list of all-time family-friendly cookies this recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies would be on it. A classic from the Fanny Farmer cookbook this recipe has more than stood the test of time.

(Originally published in 1896 as The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer, it became the cookbook that taught generations of Americans how to cook.)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are kid-friendly and mom-friendly.

Any cookie with chocolate chips is a hit in my house, but as a mom, I feel the need to stuff a little nourishment into my kids’ snack too. That’s where the rolled oats, flax and nuts or seeds come in.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with a healthy twist are a good cookie compromise.

Cape Cod chocolate chip oatmeal cookies recipe healthy

There’s nothing like an old fashioned oatmeal cookie to make you feel satisfied. They’re filling in a way that other cookies aren’t and leave you feeling like you’ve had a bit of a healthy treat.

Healthy tips:

  • To add fibre and flavour use stone ground whole white flour for these cookies, or substitute whole wheat flour for ¾ cup of the white flour.
  • You can reduce the sugar to 2/3 of a cup.

Cape Cod Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins or chocolate chips (or half and half)
  • ½ cup walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Can substitute sunflower or pumpkin seeds for the walnuts to make them school friendly
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F
  3. In a medium bowl combine flour, flax baking soda, cinnamon and salt
  4. In a large bowl whisk the egg with the sugar then add the melted butter.  Whisk in the molasses and milk.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture then the rolled oats, chocolate chips and walnuts.
  6. Mix until well combined and drop by heaping teaspoonful on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until set.

 

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Hearty Granola Cookies full of healthy stuff

Servings: 24 serving(s)

Prep time: 25 minutes

Total time: 75 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Take me to the recipe

granola cookies sm 2Granola was a big recess treat when I was little. It wasn’t that easy to eat out of a little bag but it was tasty and filling. This was in the mid 1970s when granola wasn’t mainstream and granola bars had yet to be invented.

I can’t recall what mom put in her granola, aside from rolled oats, but I do remember it was very sweet and buttery.

hearty granola cookies

My family’s first granola recipe came from a neighbour who got it from a friend in California.

That original recipe is long gone but this cookie recipe, given to me by a co-worker a decade ago, reminds me of it. They’re sweet and buttery and loaded with all sorts of good things.

School-friendly option: Replace the nuts with additional sunflower and pumpkin seeds and additional dried fruit.

Hearty Granola Cookie Recipe

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter or coconut oil
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (GF if necessary)
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries, raisins or currant
  • ½ cup toasted wheat germ (or ground flax for the GF version))
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • ½ cup chopped cashews or hazelnuts
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl mix the oats with the nuts, seeds and coconut.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the brown sugar, molasses, honey, hot water, vanilla and salt.
  4. Stir until the mixture is smooth and the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Remove from heat and pour half over the dry mixture. Stir well then add remaining sugar mixture.
  6. Mix until fully combined. Cool a bit before stirring in chocolate chips.
  7. Scoop dough by tablespoonful and form into 3” cookies that are about half an inch thick. (Wet your fingers with cold water to keep the mixture from sticking to your hands as you form the cookies.)
  8. If you let the batter cool for a bit it will be a little stiffer and easier to shape. Make sure you smooth the sides.
  9. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Cool completely before moving them – they need to set.

Hearty Granola Cookies Nutritional info: Per cookie.

  •  Calories: 284
  • Fat: 15.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 10.9 mg
  • Sodium: 61.3 mg
  • Carbs: 32.5 g
  • Sugar: 16.4 g
  • Protein: 5.5 g
  • Fibre 4.2 g
  • Potassium 278 mg

Want to make them traditional granola bar style?

At step 2 throw all of the dry ingredients into the food processor and blend until everything is uniform. Scrape into a mixing bowl, add sugar/butter mixture and combine well. Stir in chocolate chips and press into a parchment-lined 9″x13″ metal pan. (Press as firmly as possible.) Bake at 350 F for about 35 min or until they’re golden around the edges. Cool completely before cutting.

hearty granola cookies

 

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Healthy Applesauce Granola

Servings: many serving(s)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 55 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

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easy applesauce granola

Why buy what you can so easily make at home?

Some of the easiest things to make at home are those that we often buy. Take granola, for example. It’s really just a matter of tossing things together and then throwing them in a slow oven for three-quarters of an hour, stirring from time to time.

easy applesauce granola

Make it once and you’ll never buy granola again. And then you’ll start making up your own recipe, substituting different nuts and seeds. You might even throw in some Smarties or chocolate chips at the end and call it trail mix so your kids will eat it.

This recipe is adapted from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, an excellent new cookbook from the author of Simple Bites blog.

healthy applesauce granola

Healthy Applesauce Granola Recipe

  • 4 cups old-fashioned (large flake) rolled oats
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut (or shredded)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 3 Tbsp. olive, canola or grape seed oil
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 F and line a large sided cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl stir together the oats, sunflower seeds, coconut, pumpkin seeds, salt & cinnamon. (The dried cranberries are added after the granola has cooked.)
  3. In a medium bowl whisk the applesauce with the molasses and oil.
  4. Stir the wet mixture into the dry, making sure to coat the rolled oats well.
  5. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. If it still needs to dry out a bit leave it in the oven, turn the oven off and check it after five minutes, then 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, stir in the dried cranberries. Cool completely before packing it in a container. 

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Whole Wheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies & How to Fix School Lunchbox Fatigue

Servings: 36 cookies serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Take me to the recipe

 

whole wheat chocolate chunk cookies

How to relieve school lunch fatigue during the school-year home stretch

April showers bring school lunch fatigue. Every year. My kids get so tired of school lunches that they were skipping lunch altogether. They’re big on breakfast so they’d head off to school with full bellies but after eating just an apple for lunch they’d come home from school grumpy and ravenous.

I figured if they were really hungry they’d eat what we have in the house. And there is lots of food in our house. It didn’t matter. They were hungry and they still wouldn’t pack a lunch from home. It made no sense to me.

Notice to mom: “Homemade food is boring.”

whole wheat chocolate chunk cookies

 

All this lunchtime not eating was driving my husband crazy until he came up with a simple idea. He sat down with the kids, asked for their lunch ideas, stuff that we don’t usually have in the house.

They wanted store bought white bread, store bought granola bars, store bought animal crackers.

They wanted Kraft Dinner (we found a compromise) and sushi on Fridays.

We bought the groceries (compromised on a couple of things.). My daughter drew up a Monday-to-Friday menu plan and stuck it on the fridge.

Full lunches = full bellies.

whole wheat chocolate chunk cookies

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies made the cut

The only homemade stuff that isn’t boring is this recipe for chocolate chunk cookies. Made with whole grain flour they have a bit of nutritional value along with those delicious chunks of good dark chocolate.

The recipe is from the excellent new cookbook, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.  I have been cooking from it non stop since I got it this winter and I bought extra copies to give away.

Win a copy of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars

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The original recipe called for ½ cup of honey. I substituted molasses for half of the honey to add flavour and make them a little less sweet (molasses is about 25% less sweet than honey). Feel free to reduce the sugar to 2/3 of a cup if you want to lower the sweet factor a bit more. 

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Orange Zest Recipe

Adapted slightly from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups whole white or all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Zest of one orange
  • About 250 g good dark chocolate or a heaping cup of dark chocolate chips

 Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Cream butter with sugar until fluffy. Add molasses and honey.
  4. Beat in eggy one at a time, then vanilla and orange zest.
  5. Stir in flour mixture then chocolate chunks.
  6. Drop by tablespoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 11 minutes (check early).

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Chocolate Beet Cake Recipe is Refined Sugar-Free

Servings: 8 serving(s)

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 55 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

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Make a healthy version of a chocolate cake: Chocolate beet cake is moist, chocolaty and refined-sugar-free.

Chocolate beet cake is refined sugar free

Baking with natural sweeteners

Plain old sugar has its place in baking. It’s easy to cook with and does the job of sweetening whatever it is you’re making but I think we should expect more from our sweeteners. Yes, we need them to sweeten, but more natural sweeteners, like molasses, honey and maple syrup can do double duty in a recipe by adding flavour too.

In this recipe you’ll see how molasses, honey and maple syrup can work together to create a moist and flavourful cake. In fact, this Chocolate Beet Cake is so chocolaty and moist that you can adapt it to all sorts of wonderful uses. Double the recipe and make a layer cake. Make it as cupcakes, or leave it just as is — the perfect snacking cake.

chocolate beet cake is refined sugar free

It’s easy to substitute molasses for honey or maple syrup:

Real maple syrup is pricy and honey isn’t exactly cheap. Feel free to substitute additional molasses for either the maple syrup or honey called for in this recipe.

This recipe is adapted from the new cookbook, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars by food blogger Aimee Wimbush-Bourque. I have already made a few things from the book and have many more tagged to try. All have been a hit with my family so this cookbook is quickly becoming one of those dog-eared family favourites. (I’ll share more in next week or so).

Aimee cooks a lot with natural sweeteners so in this book there is no shortage of recipes for molasses.

Chocolate Beet Cake Recipe

Slightly adapted from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars

  • 2 small beets, roasted and pureed (about 1/2 cup puree)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1/2 whole wheat or spelt flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (or grapeseed oil)
  • 1/3 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave syrup
  • 3 Tbsp. strong coffee, chai tea or black tea (cooled)
  • 2 Tbsp. milk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line an 8”x8” pan with parchment paper or grease it well.
  2. Combine flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  3. In another bowl whisk the egg with the melted butter then whisk in the molasses, honey and maple syrup. Add coffee and beet puree and beat well.
  4. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients then stir in the buttermilk.
  5. Spread batter in pan and bake for 25-35 minutes.

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chocolate beet cake

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Whole Wheat Banana Flax Muffins & how to make your snacks healthier

Servings: 12 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

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whole wheat banana flax muffins

Somehow, two days before we headed away on March Break, we ended up with two bunches of bananas in the fruit bowl.

We go through bananas quickly in our house so they rarely have a chance to get nice and ripe. I considered the extra bananas a bonus, stuffed them all in the fridge as we ran out the door, and enjoyed a very merry, storm filled, flight delayed, family-filled holiday.

Normally I’d peel and freeze excess bananas but I was out of time and this bunch was barely ripe so as it turned out the fridge was a good holding place. When we got home I peeled and froze them all and then set about digging up a few family favourite recipes.

whole wheat banana flax muffins

For years I have been making a banana muffin recipe from one of the Silver Palate cookbooks. The book was a gift from my mom and when I got my copy I went through hers and transposed all of her recipe notes to mine. This was one of the recipes she had a checkmark beside.

I know this is an excellent recipe because my daughter’s friend “M”, who is notoriously difficult to feed, loves them.

whole wheat banana flax muffins

How to make a healthier muffin:

Sometimes I can’t help but tinker with recipes, even the great ones.  I don’t necessarily tinker to improve, this s a case of tinkering to create something a little different.

To turn these into whole wheat banana flax muffins I added molasses, reduced the refined sugar, added a bit of flax meal, used whole grain flour and reduced the vanilla a little bit to create a healthier version of the muffin.

Whole Wheat Banana Flax Muffin Recipe

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup sugar*
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned in)
  • 1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour (spooned in)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 3 Tbsp. buttermilk or milk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla (this is not a typo!)

*Feel free to reduce the sugar to 1/3 cup. (One reader wrote to tell me she forgot the sugar entirely and they were still delicious).

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Mash bananas with sugar. Whisk in egg then molasses, oil and apple sauce.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk flours with baking soda, salt and flax.
  4. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and mix gently until almost combined.
  5. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla taking care not to overmix.
  6. Spoon into prepared muffin tins.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes

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Chewy Coconut Cranberry Granola Bars

Servings: 16 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Take me to the recipe

gluten free coconut cranberry granola bars

This is the first winter of my adult life that the size of the snowbanks matches those of my childhood memories.

It’s magical, in a storybook illustration sort of way, although it isn’t 100% jolly. Snow forts, skiing, snowshoeing and sliding aside, an overly snowy winter is exhausting.

gluten free coconut cranberry granola barsThere is a silver lining (buried under 315 cm of snow): blizzards and snowbanks make the cosy smell of homemade baking all the more enticing.

To beat the cold and snow I have been cooking extra hearty food and sweet treats loaded with energy to fuel all of our shovelling. This recipe is a recent favourite — a wholesome and nutritious granola bar topped with a wafer-thin coat of chocolate to make them extra appealing for my kids.

gluten free coconut cranberry granola barsIt’s a shame these Coconut Cranberry Granola Bars aren’t school friendly (because of the nut butter), but they are nutritious. With lots of fibre, protein, calcium and more, they make for a great afterschool snack and even better picnic food. And they’re gluten-free, if that’s important to you.

chewy coconut cranberry granola bars

Chewy Coconut Cranberry Granola Bar Recipe

Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

  • 2 cups rolled oats*, pulsed in the food processor a few times
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup chocolate chips to melt and spread on top (optional)
  1.  Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine oats, coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax and dried cranberries.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, combine the molasses and peanut butter (or almond butter). Bring just to a simmer and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and coconut oil.
  4. Pour molasses mixture over oats-seed mixture and stir until well combined.
  5. Scrape mixture into prepared pan, spread it evenly and press into pan as firmly as possible.
  6. Melt chocolate and spread on top. Refrigerate until firm.
  7. Cut into 16 bars. Store in a cool place.

*Choose oats labeled gluten free to avoid gluten cross contamination common in most rolled oats.

Nutritional profile per bar (recipe makes 16 bars):

Calories (kcal) 223.2
Fat (g) 12.5
Saturated Fat (g) 4.
Cholesterol (mg) 0.2
Sodium (mg) 7.3
Potassium (mg) 341.4
Carbohydrate (g) 24.4
Fibre (g) 3.5
Sugar (g) 10.2
Protein (g) 5.7
Folate (DFE) 24.1
Calcium (mg) 40.5

Wholesome Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Servings: 14 serving(s)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Take me to the recipe

wholesome lemon poppy seed muffins

After enduring the second blizzard in four days our living room resembles the laundry room with a family’s worth of snow suits, hats, mitts and boots drying by the fire.

There is a snow bank half way up the kitchen windows and a three-foot drift against the back door.

The kids are off school so we’re all tucked inside enjoying a leisurely breakfast before it’s time to get suited up and shovel out.

wholesome lemon poppy seed muffins

This is a baking morning.

As we hunker down in our cozy house nothing smells as good as fresh bread and muffins on a snow day, especially lemony poppy seed muffins.

With the bright flavours of lemon zest and lemon juice, and the tart-sweet glaze, these wholesome lemon poppy seed muffins are reminiscent of summer in the thick of a snowy winter.

wholesome lemon poppy seed muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin Recipe

Makes 14 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour, spooned in (can use 1 cup whole wheat or spelt)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Juice of one lemon (3 Tbsp.)
  • ½ cup butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line muffin tins with papers.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, poppy seeds, lemon zest & salt.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk, molasses, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour over the liquid mixture. Stir gently just until the flour is moistened. (Mixing should be held to a minimum – a light stirring for 10 to 20 seconds. Batter will be lumpy and will break into coarse globs.
  5. Spoon into muffin cups and fill to the top.
  6. Bake at once until golden brown, 13-15 minutes.

Lemon glaze:

  • Juice of half a lemon (1 1/2 Tbsp.)
  • About 3/4 cup icing sugar

Whisk together and spoon over cooled muffins. Add more icing sugar if it’s too runny.

Nutritional info: Per muffin.

  • Calories: 228
  • Fat: 9.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Cholesterol: 60 mg
  • Sodium: 73.5 mg
  • Carbs: 29 g
  • Sugar: 8.9 g
  • Fibre: 1.7 g

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No-Fuss Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

Servings: 18 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

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Crispy Cranberry Almond Granola Bars are no-bake, healthy and gluten free

Healthy snack food

Packing healthy snacks for the ski hill, car trips or any old time isn’t always simple. Grabbing fruit is easy but finding a sweet treat that my kids will eat, is tasty, satisfying and full of healthy stuff isn’t always simple.

To keep my kids full (or at least full enough to last until lunch or supper) I need something that will stick with them, takes time to digest. I also need something that feels a bit like a treat because homemade snacks have tough competition — My kids’ first choice is always a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

These Crispy Cranberry Almond Granola Bars fit the bill. They’re a sweet treat that’s a bit healthy.

Crispy Cranberry Almond Granola Bars are no-bake and healthy.

 

To make these school-friendly, or simply change them up, replace the almonds with a mixture of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. To really amp up the nutrition use half blackstrap molasses.

No-Fuss Crispy Cranberry Almond Granola bar Recipe

Adapted from Foodess

Makes 18 generous bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats*
  • 2 cups crisp rice cereal*
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup whole almonds, toasted
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • ⅓ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4½ oz (125 grams) coarsely chopped dark chocolate

*To make these gluten free choose gluten-free rolled oats and crisp rice cereal.

Instructions

  1. Line a 9”x9” pan with parchment paper or grease it well.
  2. Combine the oats, rice cereal, cranberries and almonds in a large bowl.
  3. Melt butter, molasses and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract (it will sputter).
  4. Pour hot syrup over the oat mixture and stir to combine. Allow to cool for a minute then stir in chopped chocolate. Press mixture firmly (and I mean firmly) into prepared pan and ensure it gets right to the edges. Try laying a sheet of parchment paper overtop to make it easier to press down.
  5. Refrigerate until set and cut into bars.
Calories (kcal) per bar 194.9
Fat (g) 9.4
Saturated Fat (g) 3.9
Trans Fat (g) 0.2
Cholesterol (mg) 9.5
Sodium (mg) 54.3
Potassium (mg) 216.6
Carbohydrate (g) 25.5
Fibre (g) 2.7
Sugar (g) 11.2
Protein (g) 3.5
Vitamin A (RAE) 29.8
Vitamin C (mg) 0
Calcium (mg) 41.2
Iron (mg) 2.1
Vitamin D (μg) 0
Vitamin E (mg) 2.1
Thiamin (mg) 0.1
Riboflavin (mg) 0.1
Niacin (NE) 1.2
Folate (DFE) 6

 

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Whole Wheat Molasses Zucchini Muffins

Servings: 16 serving(s)

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

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whole wheat molasses zucchini muffins

I asked my 14 year old the first week of school, “What would you like me to bake for your lunchbox treats?”

His reply: “You know mom, I’m not really fond of baked goods anymore.”

I felt a tiny ping of hurt inside and then I laughed because how ironic is that? It’s like the lobsterman’s kids hating lobster.

whole wheat molasses zucchini muffins

Is this the challenge of home cooks everywhere? So many baked goods around that all those packaged cookies look iresistible.

I get it. I remember craving those maple sandwich cookies when I was little, and grocery store pound cake always felt like a treat. But homemade was always my favourite. Even at a young age my palate was tuned to the difference between homemade and processed.

It took my son about three days to come around and now he’s back to devouring everything in sight, including these whole wheat molasses zucchini muffins.

They have the greatest texture thanks to the oil (instead of butter) and they’re moist and beautifully spiced. The molasses-honey pairing is brilliant. Great for texture and flavour balance.

Whole Wheat Molasses Zucchini Muffins

Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Makes 16 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup grape seed oil or canola oil
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. cardamom or nutmeg

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the oil with the honey and molasses. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the zucchini.
  3. In a large bowl whisk the two flours, baking soda and baking powder, salt and spices.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently until almost combined.
  5. Spoon into prepared muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes (until the tops feel done when you touch them lightly.)

 

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Low Fat and Healthy Apple Chai Muffins

Servings: 12 serving(s)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

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apple chai muffins

If you’re aiming for healthier muffins — lower in fat and less sweet – this is a recipe you’ll enjoy.

I still have one foot firmly planted in summer but I have to admit that the other foot is dragging itself towards the first week of September and the back-to-school rush. Early mornings, lunch packing and homework. Whether you have kids in school or not, September brings us all back to some sort of routine.

apple chai muffins

Apple Chai Muffins make a great lunchbox treat.

September for me means muffins cooling on the counter, stockpiled for school lunches and after school snacks.

If you’re aiming for healthier muffins — lower in fat and less sweet – this is a recipe you’ll enjoy. Rolled oats give them lots of texture and apple keeps them moist.

Feel free to add a few chocolate chips (about 3/4 cup) if you’d like to turn them into more of a chocolate chai muffin.

apple chai muffins

Apple Chai Muffin Recipe

Makes 12 muffins

Adapted from Simple Balance

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups spelt or whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cardamom
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 ½ tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 apple, grated with peel on
  • 1/3 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F and prepare 12 muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine milk and cider vinegar and let sit for a few minutes. Stir in applesauce, grated apple, molasses, egg and vanilla.
  4. Add wet to dry and mix very gently.
  5. Divide mixture among 12 prepared muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes.

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Healthy Kitchen Sink Muffins

Servings: 12 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 33 minutes

Cooking time: 18 minutes

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healthy kitchen sink muffins

Little house. Big trees. 100 km/h wind gusts.

Torrential rain. No power.

It was a bit of a crazy weekend in the Maritimes.

Watching the trees sway and the branches fly was mesmerizing, like watching the flames of a campfire dance. It was otherworldly, beautiful and a little scary.

Helens trees

But then the sun came out on Sunday afternoon. And all of the neighbours strolled onto our leaf and branch-strewn street. The chainsaws came out and the generators were put away. The raking began.

Lots of enormous trees came down in my little neighbourhood but almost without fail all fell into the woods. Only one basement flooded. We were a lucky bunch.

After Saturday night’s picnic supper by candlelight and Sunday morning breakfast made on the floor, cooking at the stove feels like a treat.

espresso machine

This isn’t a celebration recipe it’s just a tasty example of something you can make if you have a working stove.

This is a no-fat muffin, sort of. Of course buttermilk has a little fat in it (albeit very little) and eggs have a bit of fat. But as far as muffins go this recipe is great — no butter and no oil.

These healthy kitchen sink muffins aren’t lacking in flavour though. What with rolled oats, banana, flax, apple sauce, dried cranberries, walnuts and molasses, these muffins are extra flavourful and have great texture.

Feel free to substitute sunflower seeds for the walnuts or chocolate chips for the dried cranberries, or throw them all in together.

healthy kitchen sink muffins

Healthy Kitchen Sink Muffin Recipe

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour (spooned in)
  • 1/2 cup flour (spooned in)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 12-count muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl combine flours, ground flax, rolled oats, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, walnuts, and cranberries. Stir until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, banana, applesauce and molasses.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until it just barely comes together.
  5. Divide batter among muffin cups and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

*Can use half milk half yogurt or sour your milk with 1 Tbsp. of vinegar

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Double Chocolate Whole Wheat Banana Muffins Recipe

Servings: 14 serving(s)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

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Not too sweet, these muffins have no refined sugar and just 1/3 cup of molasses. That’s it – the bananas take care of the rest.

double chocolate whole wheat banana muffins

Bake double chocolate whole wheat banana muffins on weekend mornings for a sweet start to a leisurely day.

Early morning is a lovely time to bake…

I can hear the birds outside as I work and the morning light is best in our kitchen.
This is how I spent the Monday morning of our lazy long weekend. It was drizzly and suddenly lush with the fleeting sun and heat of last Friday and Saturday. I set aside thoughts of weeding and gathered the mixing bowls to bake Double Chocolate Banana Muffins.

Not too sweet, these muffins have no refined sugar and just 1/3 cup of molasses. That’s it – the bananas take care of the rest.

double chocolate whole wheat banana muffins
There is a lovely poem by Mary Oliver titled “Why I Wake Early.”
It’s in one of her books at my bedside and I think of the poem often during the spring and summer, when the sky lights early and I wake effortlessly at dawn with barely a yawn and a stretch. It’s the most peaceful time to wake, especially on weekends…The kids don’t need to be woken and my husband sleeps just a little longer.

double chocolate whole wheat banana muffins

Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

double chocolate whole wheat banana muffins

Double Chocolate Whole Wheat Banana Muffins Recipe

Adapted from Sweet Sugartbean
Makes about 14 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour (spooned in)
  • 1 cup white flour (spooned in)
  • 6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 2 medium bananas, mashed
  • 2/3 cup oil (olive, grapeseed, canola, coconut…)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375*F.
  2. Line muffin tin with papers, or grease well.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until light and frothy.
  4. Whisk in the milk, molasses, mashed banana, oil and vanilla.
  5. Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry, add the chocolate, and continue mixing until just combined.
  6. Scoop the mixture into muffin cups.  Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until set

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