Cherry rye muffins

Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins

Cherry rye muffins are just healthy enough to feel virtuous without sacrificing flavor or texture. I promise these are worth heating up your kitchen for!

Take me to the muffins, please!

Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins
Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins

It’s been a minute since I posted something to the blog here and I have no excuse except that… I hate July. Don’t get me wrong, there is A LOT to love about summer. Produce, herbs, ice cream, pick-your-own blueberries, swimming, beach days, later nights, more sunlight, BBQs, a slower pace, vacations, etc. But the bugs and sweat and general malaise that overtakes me when that weighted blanket of humidity settles over the northeast, make it nearly impossible for me to stay productive.

However! I’ve soldiered on behind the scenes and heated my kitchen countless times to get these muffins exactly right.

The rye flour, to me, is just enough to taste the nutty flavor without changing the texture or inhibiting the rise on these muffins.

I also added just enough baking powder and soda to get a good amount of leavening without leaving a weird bitter aftertaste from too much rising agent. A note about rising agents: I’ve been adding the rising agent at the end and letting the batter bubble slightly after learning this technique from the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook. Does it make a huge difference in these muffins? I’m not sure. But it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins
Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins
Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins

I’ve also combined fresh, sweet cherries for moisture and seasonality, but added some unsweetened and unsulfured dried cherries for a concentrated cherry flavor. I haven’t tried omitting either from the batter, but in the coming months, I’m sure frozen cherries could be subbed for the fresh.

How to check fruit desserts for doneness: This can be tricky! When there’s a lot of fruit in a batter, checking with a toothpick or cake tester can be misleading because if you stick it into a piece of fruit, the tester may come out looking wet. Instead, I like to push on the tops of the muffins a bit and feel how firm they are. If the top springs back and maintains its shape after gently squished and the body of the muffin feels lightly firm (like a medium rare steak; you don’t want a hocky puck with no give, but you also don’t want to feel at risk of sticking your finger through the muffin), they’re done.

Also, let the muffins cool completely. Like, really let them cool. I’m the queen of eating muffins too soon and I end up losing half of the crust when it sticks to the baking paper and the muffin can be crumbly when still warm. But if you must, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins

Cherry rye muffins

Active time: 20-25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 40-45 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins


3 Tbsp butter, softened to room temperature for about 1 hour
¾ cup coconut sugar 
2 eggs
¾ cup full fat plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups AP flour
½ cup rye flour
2 Tbsp flax seed meal
¼ tsp salt
1 cup whole cherries, roughly chopped
¼ cup dried, unsweetened cherries, minced
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda

Streusel topping
2 Tbsp butter, softened to room temperature for about hour
½ cup oats
1/8 tsp salt
¼ cup packed brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 400.

In a large bowl, mix together the softened butter (no need to use a hand mixer, just elbow grease and a wooden or silicone spatula) and the coconut sugar.

Add the eggs and mix until fully combined.

Add the yogurt and vanilla extract and mix again until fully combined.

Add the flours, flax seeds, and salt to the wet mixture and mix until no streaks of flour remain.

Add the fresh and dried cherries and mix in 10 times.

Finally, add the baking powder and baking soda and mix just until combined. Let sit while you make the streusel topping.

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, oats, salt, and brown sugar until well combined. I like to use my hands for this.

In a greased or baking cup-lined muffin tin, fill each opening to the top with batter. Top with about 1 heaping tsp of the streusel mixture (I usually eyeball this bit and try my best to make the topping equal).

Bake at 400 for 16-20 minutes or until the muffins are lightly firm to the touch and golden brown on top.

Roasted strawberry and rhubarb butter

Roasted strawberry and rhubarb butter | Me & The Moose. This thick, spreadable butter uses minimal effort for maximum flavor and is an easy way to use this seasonal vegetable. #meandthemoose #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #rhubarbbutter #strawberryrhubarb #vegan #vegetarian

Rhubarb season is here! Turn this tart veg into a thick, spreadable butter to use all day, every day.

Take me to the recipe!

If you’ve searched Instagram recently, it’ll come as no surprise that rhubarb is a very photogenic vegetable. The variations in color lend themselves to ombre-ing and chevron-ing to your hipster heart’s content. But today, we’re keeping it simple by doing neither of those things.

Instead, we’re turning frozen strawberries and those giant rhubarb stalks you find in the grocery store (or your garden if you’re lucky enough to grow your own) into a butter in the style of apple or pumpkin. Because why should our fall fruits and vegetables have all the fun?

I used frozen berries in this recipe because it annoys me that strawberry and rhubarb are a perfect combination, but their growing seasons only overlap for a hot minute. Here in New England, rhubarb starts popping up in stores and markets around mid April, but strawberries aren’t ready until June.

Anyhoo, if you do use fresh berries, I’m guessing there will be slightly more juice, but they may cook a little faster. Keep an eye on the berries after about 20 minutes instead of waiting until 30 have passed.

Let the berries and rhubarb cook until the juices start to get a little syrupy. You can test this by sticking a spoon into the hot liquid (DON’T USE YOUR FINGER!!!). If the strawberry juice coats the back of the spoon and doesn’t drip off entirely, you’re about done. Make sure that your berries don’t burn because they can taste bitter.

Stay tuned on Insta for a few ways to use this butter in both sweet and savory ways!

Roasted strawberry and rhubarb butter | Me & The Moose. This thick, spreadable butter uses minimal effort for maximum flavor and is an easy way to use this seasonal vegetable. #meandthemoose #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #rhubarbbutter #strawberryrhubarb #vegan #vegetarian

Roasted strawberry and rhubarb butter | Me & The Moose. This thick, spreadable butter uses minimal effort for maximum flavor and is an easy way to use this seasonal vegetable. #meandthemoose #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #rhubarbbutter #strawberryrhubarb #vegan #vegetarian

Roasted strawberry rhubarb butter

Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: About 1 hour, 45 minutes
Yield: 12 oz (1½ cups)

 
3 heaping cups frozen strawberries
2 heaping cups chopped fresh rhubarb (about 3 extra-large stalks chopped into 1-inch chunks)


Preheat the oven to 350.

Wash and chop the rhubarb. Combine with the frozen strawberries on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking tray.

Cook for 35-40 minutes, until the fruit is soft, the strawberries have released their juices, and the juice has started to become syrupy. Watch the berries closely after about 30 minutes to ensure that they don’t burn.

Let the fruit cool completely, about 1 hour.

Scoop the fruit into your blender. Whatever juice gets onto the spoon is fine, but do NOT add any remaining syrup.

Blend until smooth.

Store in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Roasted strawberry and rhubarb butter | Me & The Moose. This thick, spreadable butter uses minimal effort for maximum flavor and is an easy way to use this seasonal vegetable. #meandthemoose #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #rhubarbbutter #strawberryrhubarb #vegan #vegetarian

Healthier apricot carrot cake

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Cake with vegetables sounds healthy, but is usually far from it. This version lightens up the traditional recipe with dried apricots, applesauce, and coconut sugar; reduces the fat and swaps in coconut oil; and swaps out half of the white flour for whole wheat. Add in walnuts for Omega-3s (or leave them out to make this school safe) and you have a healthier option for your Easter table that’s equally delicious and showstopping.

Take me to the cake!

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I’m still struggling with the eternal question: Is it worth it to healthify desserts? If my kid factors into the equation, then yes. He’s often satisfied with a “healthy” sweet. I, on the other hand, really wanted a doughnut for breakfast and no amount of healthy treats was going to cut it.

However! If there’s a recipe ripe for healthifying, a dessert starring a vegetable is it.

I started recipe testing this cake by dumping everything into a bowl and calling it a day. The results were delicious, but dense, so I decided to do as others have done and whip the eggs and sugar at the start to make the crumb a bit lighter. Often, cake directions tell you to cream butter and sugar / butter and eggs / sugar and eggs (as in this case) until they’re “light and fluffy.” Unfortunately, the coconut sugar is so dark that you’ll never really achieve this. What you want instead is just to aerate the eggs, sugar, and other liquids. Don’t worry about it too much, just make sure that you see lots of bubbles once all of the liquid is combined.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Alone, this cake is delicious, but tastes like a muffin or a quick bread, not a cake. But slathered in cream cheese frosting, this is a CAKE.

Can I tell you a secret about making the frosting? I don’t measure the sugar. You heard that: I don’t measure the sugar. I mix in a couple of large spoonfuls and then add more to taste. I like a frosting that isn’t too sweet and the beauty of cream cheese frosting is the tang, which gets totally masked by too much sugar.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes

Apricot carrot cake

Adapted from Bake from Scratch and Natasha’s Kitchen

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (about 45 minutes of active time, including frosting the cake)
Yield: 8 GIANT slices, 10-12 normal slices

1 cup apricots, chopped
1 Tbsp flour (AP or Whole Wheat)
4 eggs
1 cup coconut sugar
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour (pastry or white whole wheat are also great)
1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp fine sea salt
12 oz carrots; trimmed, peeled, and shredded (about 3 cups, lightly packed shredded carrots)
1 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 375.

Grease two 9-inch cake pans, or a 12-cup muffin tin liberally with melted coconut oil or cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small bowl, chop the apricots and toss with 1 Tbsp of flour (either AP or whole wheat). Set aside.

Toast your walnuts in the preheating oven, keeping an eye to ensure that they don’t burn while you continue prepping your other ingredients. Set aside.

Trim, peel, and shred your carrots. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes on a medium high setting (or on high if your hand mixer isn’t very strong). The eggs won’t get lighter in color because the coconut sugar is quite dark, but you will see lots of little air bubbles formed and the volume of the liquid should increase.

Reduce the speed of your mixer to low (medium-low for a hand mixer) and slowly add the oil, applesauce, and vanilla extract.

Sift the dry ingredients together into the wet ingredients. Fold until just combined and no lumps remain.

Fold in the carrots, apricots, and toasted walnuts (if using).

Pour half of the mixture into each cake pan (or, fill each muffin cup until about 2/3 full).

Bake, rotating halfway through, for 20-23 minutes for the cakes or 15-18 minutes for the muffins. You want the cakes to be springy when touched and for a tester to come out with a few crumbs or clean.

Let the cake cool entirely before icing.


Cream cheese frosting
2 blocks cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more to taste

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer or your hand mixer, combine and whip the butter and cream cheese on high for 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and whip on medium to combine.

Add the powdered sugar a few Tbsp at a time and SLOWLY whip the sugar into the rest of the mixture on low (otherwise you’ll have powdered sugar all over your kitchen). Once the initial amount of powdered sugar is incorporated, add more, a few Tbsp at a time, to taste. When all of the sugar you want is incorporated, turn the mixer back to high and whip for 3-4 more minutes.

Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes
Healthier apricot carrot cake | Me & The Moose. This healthier carrot cake uses no refined sugar, reduces the fat, and increases the veggies to make a cake that is equally light and delicious. #meandthemoose #carrotcakerecipes #carrotcake #healthybaking #healthybakingrecipes #healthyrecipes #healthycake #cake #cakerecipes



Sweet potato muffins

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Thanksgiving is here! I love this holiday and the season that follows, but there are definite downsides. I’ve talked about keeping expectations in check with kids and holidays. And while it’s exciting and fun that there’s always something going on: Making cookies, making gifts, buying gifts, wrapping gifts, listening to music, decorating, holiday events, holiday parties, holiday-themed school things, concerts, visiting relatives, etc, it can be…a lot. And for a little one like mine who’s always searching for his equilibrium, it can be.. A WHOLE LOT.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

So, let’s not add even more by completely abandoning our commitment to balanced eating, mkay?

These sweet potato muffins are a fantastic “sweet” to have around. They feel festive and would certainly make a fitting Thanksgiving breakfast to watch in front of the parade or DOG SHOW (!!!!!!!), but are just sweet enough thanks to the applesauce, a few Tbsp of brown sugar divided between the batter and the muffin tops, a handful of golden raisins, and sweet potatoes.

And did I mention that they only require one bowl? You’ll have enough dishes this week.

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A couple of notes:
- Chop the sweet potatoes into 1/3-1/2 inch chunks. Any bigger and they may not soften enough during baking, but if you shred them, they disappear and make the batter a bit too wet.
- This is a thick batter, almost dough-like in consistency. Don’t worry. It always puffs up well in the oven and results in an airy, light muffin.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Sweet potato muffins

4 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, partially melted
½ cup applesauce
1 egg 
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided  
3/4 cup yogurt 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup wheat flour 
1 cup white flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt 
1 medium sweet potato, cut into tiny squares (about 1.5 cups)
¼ cup golden raisins

Move your oven rack to the bottom or lower middle portion of the oven. Preheat to 375.

In a large bowl, partially melt the butter or coconut oil. Microwave it for a few seconds until it just begins to liquify, but is still partially solid.

Mix in the applesauce, egg, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined and no streaks of flour remain.

Add the chopped sweet potatoes and raisins and stir again to combine.

Spoon the batter into the cups of a muffin tin, filling about 3/4 of the way. Top each muffin with a large pinch or two of brown sugar.

Bake for 18-22 minutes until firm to the touch and a tester in the middle comes out clean. Check after 12-15 minutes and cover if the sugar browns too fast.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Almond butter quinoa muffins

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What these muffins have: Good fats, protein, Omega-3s, deliciousness.

What these muffins don't have: Gluten, dairy, refined sugar, wheat, eggs, soy.

Bonus feature: The muffins only require one bowl!

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The new school year already started for lots of the country, but here in CT, M's preschool starts again on Monday. I've been thinking about quick ways to begin our day with protein that don't require cooking in the morning. These muffins are the answer!

Half of the flour is ground quinoa, which has lots of protein. The other half is oatmeal. I originally made these muffins with almond flour instead of oats for even more protein, but the almond flour was so dense that the muffins stuck to the roof of your mouth. You could just feed your kid a spoonful of almond butter and save yourself the trouble.

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With the oatmeal, the muffins are still substantial, but they're no longer dense. They're actually a smidge crumbly because I omitted eggs and any other binding agent. I wanted them to stay vegan and I don't always have the patience to make a flax egg. Letting them cool completely before eating them made them sturdier too. 

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For the first day of school, I thought it might be nice to add some blueberry chia jam and a quick icing to make the muffins more special. (I also called them breakfast cupcakes, which went over VERY WELL.) The jam is simple and free of any added sugar. I used cream cheese and maple syrup for my frosting, but you could also use coconut cream or a pre-made dairy-free topping.

You could also mix the chia jam with some yogurt for a delicious breakfast for the younger set (or the parental set, if I'm honest).

If you're avoiding nuts, substitute coconut or rice milk for the almond milk and use sunflower seed butter in place of the almond butter. Still delicious!

Important note: These muffins are best when fresh, so I recommend freezing 3/4 of the batch and then either defrosting a serving at night for breakfast the next morning, or toasting a frozen one right before eating it.

 

Almond butter quinoa muffins

2 large mashed banana
1 cup creamy natural almond butter, well mixed (or nut butter or seed butter of your choice)
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or rice, coconut, or other non-dairy milk of choice)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup quick oats
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pie spice (or cinnamon)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Add the almond butter, maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla extract and mix well.

Add the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Mix well. Add the apple cider vinegar and mix again. Let the mixture sit while you prep the muffin tin and prepare the jam and icing (if using).

When ready, spoon the mixture into your muffin tin until each opening is half full.

Bake for 12-14 mins or until the tops turn golden brown and the muffins are firm to the touch.

Let cool completely in the muffin tin before serving.

Yield: 18 muffins

 

For the Blueberry chia jam:
1 pint blueberries
1 ½ Tbsp chia seeds

Put the blueberries into a small sauce pan and cook over a medium low flame until the berries have broken down and become syrupy, about 15 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes and add the chia seeds. Mix well.

Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes or until ready to use.

Yield: 1 Tbsp per muffin

 

For the frosting (optional):
2 ¼ cups whipped cream cheese
6 Tbsp maple syrup

Mix the cream cheese and maple syrup well with a spatula. The mixture will look curdled at first. Continue mixing until the two ingredients have come together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Yield: 2 Tbsp per muffin

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