SPEND LESS, EAT BETTER: Here's a Way to Solve The 'Muffin Muddle'
Commercial muffins are nutritional grenades.
First, they are super-sized to justify the price. Then, they are fat- and sugar-laden for flavor and shelf-life. (I believe that if a muffin baked early isn't stale by noon, it's not the good kind.) But muffins are so convenient for breakfast or a coffee break.
What to do? Nobody has time for homemade muffins in the morning. Therefore, the answer seems odd since it was popularized during the era of stay-home motherhood.
The recipe was called "Six Week Cereal Muffins" because batter kept in the refrigerator for a long time. Bake a few, bake a lot. The batter probably never lasted the full six weeks because they are so good, so fresh.
The strategy: Make the batter on the weekend. Store in a covered plastic half-gallon pitcher. Turn oven to 400 degrees when you roll out of bed. Brush your teeth, make coffee, scoop batter in paper-lined muffin cups, pop in oven. Shower, dress, make the bed, take muffins out of oven and set aside to cool slightly.
That's it. Fresh, moderate fat/calorie/sugar muffins in 20 minutes for about 20 cents apiece.
The original recipe used raisin bran which is fine but rather sweet. Generic bran or wheat flakes are good and much cheaper. Measure about half of a 15-ounce box or a bit less than half of a 17-ounce box and put in a big bowl. Add 1 cups sugar, 2 cups flour (white or a white-wheat mixture), 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional). Mix with a wooden spoon. In another bowl, combine cup canola oil, 2 eggs (or equal amount of egg substitute) and 2 cups fat-free buttermilk. You can substitute plain yogurt whisked with skim milk for buttermilk. Toss a big handful of raisins, dried cranberries, blueberries, grated carrot, chopped bananas or nuts into dry ingredients. Pour wet over dry and mix well. Refrigerate at least 8 hours before using. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Even faster -- fill muffin cups the night before and refrigerate.
This amount makes roughly 20 muffins. The recipe can be doubled for a "Jon & Kate Plus Eight"-sized batch.
See? Often the means to spending less and eating better are as close as the cereal box on the pantry shelf.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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