Sunday, September 4, 2011

Packing Nutrition into Tiny Parcels

This blog continues on my last posting, "Small Portions...", which really is an endless topic for people battling cancer.  In the last blog, I focused on ideas for small portions, and how to have good, healthy food right at your loved one's fingertips.

Today, I would like to talk about how to pack nutrition into tiny things. A lot of food is so perfect and whole on its own. Apple slices. Nuts. An avocado. These foods often don't need much tinkering, and that is one of the beauties of raw foods.

However, that doesn't mean that baking and cooking is a bad idea. On the contrary, sometimes my mom just simply craves baked goods. I am toiling with all sorts of recipes that have no sugar and no dairy that I hope to share with you someday soon. In the meantime, I would like to give you a recipe that has delighted both my mom and my kids more times than I can possibly say. I created this when my kids were little, and they and their friends called them "Magic Muffins" because I didn't want them (my kids, not my mom) to know that there was pumpkin inside!

Pumpkin is a "Super Food" and is packed with folate and calcium. It has disease-fighting nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, pantothenic acid and vitamins C and E. Because it is rich in cartenoids (both alpha and beta-carotenes) it has been shown to reduce the risk of various cancers, including lung, colon, bladder, cervical, breast, and skin. Women in the landmark Nurses' Health Study who had a high intake of carotenes in their diets had the lowest risk of breast cancer.

I am very proud of this recipe! I have modified it over the years to reduce the refined sugar, and I'm pleased to say that it now only contains organic brown sugar and other natural sweeteners. And it is as tasty as it ever was. Tastier, in fact.

My son Si just said, when these came out of the oven, 
"Mommy, Magic Muffins really are magical."

Magic Muffins

This makes a double batch, because my family devours them so fast.
It makes about 30 mini muffins, and 24 regular muffins. They freeze well!

Prepare tins: use muffin paper or else use olive oil spray on muffin tins.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together in a large bowl:
2 1/2 cup all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sea salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves

In another bowl, combine:
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large bowl or stand-up mixer (Kitchen Aid) cream:
1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
-After it is smooth, add:
2/3 cup organic brown sugar
1 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup maple syrup
-Add, one at a time:
4 eggs
2 cups (1 can) pumpkin puree

Add to the creamed pumpkin mixture, alternating:
-the flour mixture in 3 parts
-the milk mixture in 2 parts

Pour into muffin tins about 3/4 full.
Bake in batches in the oven. Mini muffins bake for 20 minutes, and regular muffins for 25 minutes.

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