Well, it’s almost the end of the first week in January. How are we all doing on our resolutions? You over this whole resolution thing yet? Me too! Actually, I don’t care for New Years resolutions. Never did. They always come with a lot of guilt and this “all or nothing” mentality which, if you ask me, is basically a one way ticket to disaster-ville. So, instead of resolving to do something drastic like “swearing off dessert for eternity”, I much prefer to use the start of a new year as a way to refresh, rejuvenate and take stock of what needs a little work in my life. No guilt. No hard restrictions. No failure. Am I right?
This year rather than starting a “diet” which will inevitably end in disaster, I’ve decided to treat the start of 2012 as reset button when it comes to my health and eating habits. I’m not swearing off of any particular type of food (life is WAY too short for that!). My goal is to simply try to incorporate more (healthy) items into mine and my family’s every day diet. Now, anyone who knows me knows, I’m generally a very healthy eater and feed my family the same way, but towards the end of the year, we all tend to go off track and get a little sloppy and this reset/fresh start is a reminder to get back to basics.
For our very first week of 2012, I decided to try my hand at baking with quinoa. We’ve cooked with it before but I never tried to bake anything with it. If you’re not familiar with it, quinoa, is pronounced (KEEN-wah). Some of you might have tried cooking it and found it rather “bleh”. Me too, at first. But then I tried a few different preparations like this Confetti Quinoa and Lentil and now I’m a huge fan of the stuff. And the nutritional value, can’t be beat! Quinoa is often considered a grain, but it’s actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It’s high in protein which makes it an excellent choice for vegans, vegetarians and mamas like me who don’t eat much meat and can’t get their babies to eat a lot of meat either. My 11 month old loves the stuff.
If you are a quinoa newbie, these muffins are a nice way to give it a try. I will say, having never baked with them before, I was pleasantly surprised at how great they turned out after just one try. I simply took one of my standard muffin recipes, played with the liquid ratio a bit, and added in a cup of steamed quinoa. These aren’t your typical gut-busting sugar bomb muffins. Bursting with blueberries, moist and flavorful, these babies are much healthier for you than your average coffee shop 1,000 calorie Franken-muffin nightmare. The quinoa adds a nice texture to the muffin and a slight nuttiness which is very delicious. Sure, they have sugar in them but because of the protein in the quinoa, they don’t give you that sugar crash like most muffins do. Which means you can eat this as a quick breakfast and not be starving in 10 minutes.
Hooray for quinoa and a positive outlook on the year ahead! Stay tuned for more of my 2012 food experiments and remember, be kind to yourself!
Blueberry-Orange Quinoa Muffins
Makes 12 standard sized muffins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 cup quinoa, prepared according to package directions and cooled (quinoa should be fluffy, not clumpy)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen bluebrries
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper lines.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In another bowl whisk together egg, brown sugar, oil, yogurt, orange juice and zest. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently stir in quinoa and blueberries and divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.
TIP: Store muffins in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Christina Stanley-Salerno is a mama, recipe developer, food stylist, photographer and blogger atTakeBackYourTable.com. She loves cooking for and with her family. Life is hectic, but Christina is passionate about mealtime because she believes that family meals are the glue that holds everyone together. Creating simple, quick and healthy meals is her specialty and her trick to keeping the family meal a reality, even on busy weeknights.
Follow her on Twitter @TakeBackTables