This is a very attractive montage of me eating these muffins with a pureed frozen banana in the middle. I stuck it in the freezer for a little bit, then savored it like an ice cream sandwich. Exquisite.
Holy cannoli, two posts in two days? I know, I can hardly believe it myself! One of them was drawn from the bank of posts I've started so I can withdraw content on a moment's notice. (What a planner I'm becoming, right?) However, I came up with this recipe that I was so excited about, I just couldn't resist a second post.
You may be wondering why recipes have been a little few and far between lately. (I think I saw a few tumble weeds roll past the food tags a couple days ago...) If you recall, I was having a bit of a dry spell over the summer. School keeps me busy, too, but I never mentioned that, yes, I chose to be on the meal plan. So basically, I haven't been cooking much of anything that's new or interesting for the last six months, which leaves me with a whole lot less food to write about. That said, I'm living in an apartment-style dorm, so I still have a kitchen. And the meal plan kind of sucks, so what I like to do is squirrel away food from the cafeteria and make it into better food when I get home. It's kind of loads of fun (though the results are never quite good enough to brag about on here), and it challenges me to get really creative. I call it guerrilla cooking, and it's how I came up with these muffins.
Now, if you've been following this blog for a while, you know - KNOW - that I love to bake. Specifically, I love to bake sweets. Obviously, I'm vegan, I'm straight edge, and I like to work out; so as far as "negative" lifestyle choices go, this one's pretty tame. And yet, it irks me. For one thing, I've struggled with my weight since I was a little, little kid - something I still struggle to accept/maintain, and sweets definitely complicate this. For another, an excess of sweets have ill implications comparable to a lot of vices, so it bothers me that I can feel so strong in the face of some things yet so weak in the face of this one. I've tried to figure out ways to manage this little vice of mine. I've tried the extreme approach, swearing off refined flour, turning my nose at table sugar, dusting my hands of HFCS (actually, I pretty much don't eat that); somehow, complete abstinence always fails in this department. Moderation works pretty alright, but even then, sometimes I go a little overboard. (Oh god, brownies, you will be the death of me..!) The trick, I've always suspected, is striking a strong balance between decadence and nutrition, but the how of it has always eluded me. I've dabbled in gluten- and sugar-free baking, but it's always tended a little further towards the sweets side than I was hoping. At least, that was the case... until now!!
I'll admit it: these taste "healthy." They're rich, they're moist, they're chocolate-y - but you're not going to bring these to a potluck and pass them off as your average chocolate muffin (which I think most people call a "cupcake"...). No, these are the kind of muffins you enjoy with adventurous connoisseurs and people passionate about nutrition. Because seriously, they pack a hell of a nutritional punch, and you can eat several without anticipating any sugar crash. Most importantly, though, they honestly taste GOOD, and any lingering "health food" flavor is easily supplanted by what a literal treat this is for your body. (Seriously, eat one, and your body will say, "Wee! Vitamins!") Over the course of the day, I ate five because they were so sweet and tasty, I couldn't help myself. Eating that much of any fresh-baked treat is not uncommon for me, but I didn't feel as bad about it as I normally would because I got almost 40% of my RDA of calcium and just 300 calories. Plus, I actually felt satiated afterward, and my energy levels didn't spiral from all the sugar. (Duh, because there isn't any.) I'm proud of this recipe and have high hopes for future baking of the sugar-free variety...
For the record, these actually have more vitamins and minerals than this indicates because my nutrition calculator doesn't account for the vitamins and minerals in whole wheat flour.
MEGA-HEALTHY CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
+ 1 c whole wheat flour
+ 1/4 c cocoa powder*
+ 1 T baking powder
+ 1/4 t salt
+ 1/4 - 1/2 t stevia (OPTIONAL)
+ 1/2 c raisins
+ 1.5 c water
+ 1/2 c sliced beets, boiled or canned
+ 1/2 c unsweetened apple sauce
+ 1/2 t apple cider vinegar
+ 1 t vanilla*
* I'm sure this would work with carob, too.
** Almond extract would work well, too, and in fact might be better. Almond pairs well with chocolate, making chocolate's flavor bolder and deeper - never a bad thing when you're trying to make "health food" seem decadent.
01. Preheat the oven to 350. Place the raisins in the water, and let soak for 2 - 3 hours or overnight.
02. In a bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour through salt/stevia). Place the wet ingredients (beets through vanilla) in a blender or food processor and puree. Add the raisins and their water, and continue to process.
03. Gently combine the wet with the dry. The batter will be a little thicker than what you might expect - i.e. not that "thin but viscous" texture typical of muffin batter, more full-bodied and scoopable. Don't worry about it.
04. Fill a well-greased or paper-lined muffin tin all the way to the top with batter, smoothing out any little dips or swirls in your muffins. Then put the tray in the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until done.
05. LET THEM COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE DIGGING IN! Because they're fat free, their texture isn't quite the same as their fat-loaded counterparts. And just as regular muffins (or cookies or any other baked good...) aren't quite "set" when they come out of the oven - well, that's double-y true of these guys. Even though a toothpick will come out clean when they're ready, their texture will still seem a little mush-y. If you let them cool completely, though, you're in a whole new ball game.
07. Enjoy with your best xvx buddies - perhaps with some almond butter and soymilk?
EDITED TO ADD: After re-making these a few times, I've discovered they are not very good the day of. Best to eat them after sitting on the counter overnight or after a few days in the freezer. Something about the flavors marrying or - gosh, I don't know; it just improves the texture and taste. Otherwise, these are a little strange.