A Healthier Egg McMuffin

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Two or three things I know for sure (about food)…SAM_5804

An egg should not be a “patty,” a hockey puck, or in any other unidentified form.

Good cheese doesn’t have to be pumped with antibiotic-laden dairy.

Bread should be made with whole grains and wholly nourishing, not white, sugary, and processed.

And nothing should be fried in hydrogenated oils, ever.

But McDonald’s classic Egg McMuffin sandwich goes against all of this. We know this. So why do people still want to eat them?

I know for sure there are a lot of reasons why people still order these sandwiches. Lack of knowledge, will power, and delay gratification are just a few.SAM_5816

But another big one is time. Let me be the first to tell you, that time can be on your side. I made this, my Healthier Egg McMuffin, in a pinch. Here’s what you need and what to do:

Ingredients

2 eggs

1 slice of soy-based cheddar cheese

1 whole-wheat English Muffin

optional: turkey bacon, sausage, or other meat, preferably antibiotic free

DirectionsSAM_5810

-Pull out your two eggs. Get ’em ready. If you’re using the whole egg, you’ll probably have quite a bit left over. If you’re going egg whites only like I did, you’ll be right at a good amount.

-In a small skillet, turn the heat up to medium. It should get hot rather quickly. And when you can drop a few droplets of water on the skillet and watch them sizzle, then spritz with a good deal of cooking spray and crack the eggs over. Cook for about 2 minutes until the outer edges firm up, and then turn the pan a bit, letting the runny egg that remains cook to the outsides. When a fairly thick bottom has formed, you’ll be ready to flip. If you wait too long, it’ll stick to the bottom of the pan.

-Meanwhile, get the muffin ready by toasting it lightly.SAM_5812

-When the egg is cooked all the way through, remove and fold gently to fit to the size of the muffin. Lay cheese over the top and watch it melt.

Easy, right? Like 10 minutes or less easy. You can’t be that. It’s cheaper than a McMuffin, and a lot better for you, too! You won’t feel yucky and bloated afterward, and if your arteries could talk they’d probably say thanks, just sayin’.

DIY VitaTop Muffins (and Cookies!)

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VitaTop muffins are oh so good, but hardly cheap. Why can’t we just make our own for less?SAM_4876

We can!

This recipe posted by Healthy is Always Better is pretty good, especially if you have a good food processor that can easily flour rolled oats. (I mention this because mine is not the best.) The more “floured-down” the oats, the better the dough.

Oh, and if you’re confused about the cookie-muffin tops pictured above, well, I made them small enough to double as cookies, which I then made into ice cream sammies (pictured at the bottom of this post). Mmm.Mmm.Mmm!SAM_4875

Makes 1 muffin or 2 medium-sized muffin tops.

Ingredients

2.3 T oats

.5 t or less of egg white

2 t unsweetened applesauce

pinch of vanilla

2 t vanilla yogurt (Greek may work as well)SAM_4866

tiny pinch of cream of tartar (or .33 t vinegar)

pinch of baking powder, baking soda, and salt

1.3 T hot water

1.5 t stevia

Optional: Chocolate chips

DirectionsSAM_4863

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a cupcake liner or lightly grease a muffin tin. Set aside.

-In a food processor, mix all ingredients except chocolate chips. Blend until dough is smooth and well mixed. Remove and mix in chips.

-Scoop dough into tin and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove and place a few chocolate chips on top for aesthetics :).

-Place back in oven for another 2-3 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

-Cool muffins (or muffin tops, or muffin ice cream sammies!) and enjoy.

Une Vanilla-Pear Cupcake

There’s something rare about a pear.

No, really. That rhyme is purposeful, at least in our cultural context.

I think that we Americans, and some Amerikans, too, love our apples. It’s as American as apple… You already know what I’m going to say. And that, I think, proves my point.

But every once in a while, the American diet says “Bon voyage!” to this staple fruit and sets sail for a slightly different fruit alternative, le poire.

Pair that pear with a sweet cream cheese frosting, and you’ve got a winning combination.

Ingredients

3 T spelt or ww flour (or coconut flour for a gluten-free version)

dash of nutmeg and baking powder

2/3 T stevia

fresh lemon zest to taste

splash of vanilla

2 T nondairy milk

1 t organic vanilla yogurt

a few pear slices

Directions

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin or silicone muffin cup. Set aside.

-In a small bowl, mix all dry ingredients; then blend in the wet ingredients. You can leave the pear out or you can mash some of the slices up for a very soft, fruit-puree dough.

-Transfer to prepared dish. Bake for about 10 minutes.

-While baking, mix 1 t Neufchatel cream cheese with 1 t stevia and a scant splash of vanilla. Microwave for 5-6 seconds if too thick. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

-Remove finished cupcake. Let cool a bit, and then spread frosting and top with extra pear slices.

DIY: Cupcake Transport Idea

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Friends of mine might remember the adorable cupcake presentation boxes I had for my letter writers when I was applying to M.A. programs two years ago.SAM_4837

Another round of excellent and supportive letter writers put up with my numerous reminders and gushing thank you’s again, this time for doctoral programs.

There’s a lot changing in my life right now, but craftiness and my cooking-to-relax routines are not. This time, it was a healthful little blueberry muffin. It needed delicate transport and it needed to be as cute as I was thankful. My favorite culinary truth: Eating is 50% presentation.

So I found this great little idea on Pinterest. Put a muffin or cupcake in a small plastic cup. Wrap with whatever kind of wrapping you like–I used treat bags from Michael’s–tie up in a pretty bow and take them anywhere. The cups keep the treats sturdy and upright. The bag gives the pizzazz.

Oh, and the most important part, the muffin, makes everything sweet. I hope they liked my thank you’s. I’m thinking of baking something for them again because I had so much fun tucking them into their mailboxes.

Cake Cups + Filling Ideas

This is more of a great idea (or two) than it is a new recipe.

Cake cups!

Like cupcakes, but reversed.

In a cake cup, you add in something you love. For me, it was my healthified fro-yo fix, which you can make simply by taking your favorite yogurt and freezing it for about an hour. Garnish with some sweet fresh berries and voila! A dessert that does a body good.

To make, simply follow any one of my single-serving cupcake recipes. But instead of filling the muffin tin slot as you normally would, gently press the dough up the sides of the slot. Bake for about 5-6 minutes (less time is needed because the dough is spread more thinly). Let cool and add in your favorite filling.

I’ll copy and paste the sweet-pink strawberry dough recipe I used below, but get creative!

I also did something similar with my super-moist chocolate blueberry cupcake recipe, but I made the cups smaller by dividing into two, scraped out the sides, and filled with a one-part peanut butter and one-part cream cheese frosting filling.

Yes, I was proud of this secondary cake cup, too. It tasted just like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, only cakier!

And in case you’re wondering, no you can not taste the blueberry, but you will be amazed at how moist the fruit puree makes the cake.

Strawberry Dough Ingredients

3 T flour ( I used spelt)

a pinch of baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla

1 heaping T milk

1 T stevia

.5 t vegan butter

1/5 egg (mixed, or flax egg)

.5 t maple syrup or agave

1 t strawberry preserves

1 medium to large strawberry (ripe, pureed or well smashed)

Directions

-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.

-Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl; push to one side. On the other side, mix all wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry thoroughly. It’s okay if there are some chunks of fruit in the batter, but too many or too large of a chunk will bake into a gummy texture you won’t like.

-To form cookies, roll into small balls. If you’d like, however, to make doughnuts, you can simply shape a doughnut round by using a specialized pan, or doing as I do, which is using the rim of a muffin tin slot to shape an O. You could also use a cookie cutter that’s shaped like an O, but if you do this make sure the dough is thick enough–consider layering two or three Os.

-Bake for about 6-7 minutes.

Chocolate Blueberry Dough Ingredients

2.6 T whole-wheat flour

2 t cocoa powder

pinch of baking powder, baking soda, (scant) salt, and vanilla

1.5 t stevia

1 T and 1 t vanilla yogurt

1.5 t applesauce or coconut oil

1 T and 1 t almond milk

1 T and 1 t blueberries

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet or prepare with a cupcake liner.

-Puree blueberries or mash with a fork. Then mix in vanilla, oil, and milk. Set aside.

-In a small bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Transfer these to the wet ingredients, mixing in slowly. Be sure not to overmix.

-Spoon batter into cupcake tin and bake for about 11-13 minutes.

These toppings could be really fun. You could go more muffin like, as I did, with fresh coconut cream and blueberries. Or you could add icing because, essentially, this muffin could pass as a cupcake, too!

Let the sweetness last as long as you can :)

Maple Syrup Oat Muffin

Not quite like oatmeal.

Not quite like a traditional muffin.

Not quite like a flapjack.

This delicious baked treat is deliciously odd. It takes from the three beloved breakfast staples, ones that can easily be prepared in a bland way, and pulls them together with a rich, flavorful syrup taste.

Yum.

Ingredients

2 T quick oats (save 1 t for topping)

2 T spelt or whole-wheat flour

dash of baking powder and cinnamon

1 t vegan butter

2 t pure maple syrup

1 flax egg

1 T nondairy milk

optional: chopped pecans or sliced almonds

Directions

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin slot or a ramekin. Set aside.

-Combine all dry ingredients; then wet.

-Softly mold to prepared baking dish. Press in extra oats and nuts.

-Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and comes out clean. Alternatively, you can microwave for about a minute and a half.

Top with extra maple syrup or honey if you like. Serve fresh out of the oven.

My Good Morning Blueberry Muffin

A piping hot, fresh out of the oven blueberry muffin is a classic treat.

And Lord knows how I love classics.

And treats.

And blueberries!

Yes, I still have blueberries stockpiled in my freezer from my summer love affair with Berry Patch Farm. They are so close to gone, so I knew I had to make one more blueberry recipe before I ran out for good.

Until next summer, Berry Patch Farm. But right now, in the middle of winter, I’m warming up with this sweet summer fruit baked in the best way possible.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp spelt flour (30g) (or ww pastry)
  • dash of baking powder
  • 1-2 T blueberries (chopped or whole)
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 1 T organic vanilla yogurt
  • 2 T nondairy milk
  • 1 T stevia

Directions

Preheat oven to 330 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin or a single silicone cup. Set aside. (Note: You can microwave for 1-1.5 minutes for a quicker muffin, but it will probably turn out less moist.)

Mix dry ingredients; then blend in wet ’til combined, but don’t overmix.

Pop in berries or smear them around for a little tie-dye blue effect.

Bake for about 13-15 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Orange Dream Cupcake

Remember my sweet lemon solo cupcake from late August? It was delicious & zesty, yes?

Well now that we’re in the dead of winter, I figured it was high time for another fruity cake, but one more appropriate for the season.

An orange one!

And you know the fruit won’t be expensive considering most grocery stores are selling oranges by the bag for just a few dollars this time of year.

The recipe is below. I’d recommend pairing with coconut flakes or almonds. Or if you like a little sweet, cream cheese frosting. Check out my healthy Neufchatel cream cheese frosting recipe, featured earlier on my fluffy carrotcake cookies.

IngredientsCooling off in an individual silicone cupcake mold.

(makes just one cupcake)

  • 3 tbsp flour (30g) (See directions for flour notes)
  • heaping 1/16th tsp salt
  • little orange zest, if you like
  • 1 tbsp applesauce, oil, pre-melted margarine (I used French vanilla yogurt), or a combination
  • 1 tbsp nondairy milk
  • 1 t freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 to 1 1/2 packets of stevia should be about right. If you use liquid sweetener, cut back a tiny bit on the other liquid.)

Directions

-Preheat the oven to 330 degrees.If icing isn't your favorite, you can also eat this cupcake plain (more like a muffin)...

-Mix the ingredients and pour into an oiled (or sprayed) muffin pan. Smooth top of batter. Bake for about 10 minutes or so.

-Alternatively, you can cook in the microwave, in a greased mug or ramekin. (Microwave times will vary, depending on the flour you use and the strength of your microwave.

Apple Pie Cookies

Have you ever wanted more than one dessert at the same time?

Okay, silly question. I think a lot of us probably do, right?

Well, I know I do. That’s why I really like my healthy & downsized version of Family Kitchen’s Apple Cookies.

They taste exactly like an apple pie, but in cookie form.

And since I’m not a huge fan of fruit pies, this is a sweet breakthrough for me.

Makes 4 good-sized cookies!

Ingredients

1 t vegan butter, softened

1 T stevia

1 T nondairy milk

a little egg (1/6 of one or a flax egg)

6 T white whole wheat flour

pinch of baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, Kosher salt

1 t chopped walnuts or sliced almonds

2 T apple, finely chopped

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

-Combine all dry ingredients well (except nuts). Mix in wet ingredients, mixing in chopped apple last. At this point, if you want your nuts mixed in, do that. I pressed mine on top for garnish (and toasting).

-Roll into 4 or more balls. Press lightly onto cookie sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes or until golden brown and fluffy.

If yours turn out anything like mine. These were quite fluffy–almost like small muffins.

Hmm. Apple pie muffins? Sounds like another recipe to try.

Gluten-Free Ginger-Spice Muffies

I love fall baked goods, especially spice cakes, and Healthful Pursuit has lots of them. Many of hers are gluten- or grain-free.

I’m not paleo, and I definitely don’t have a gluten allergy. But there’s something about a sweet coconut flour that can’t be beat. I’ve noticed that the finish on coconut-flour cakes and cookies is never as smooth as spelt or regular wheat flour, but it’s so sweet. You have to try this one for breakfast one morning, a cold morning when you need a little spicy warmth.

Ingredients

1/4 cup spelt or coconut flour (coconut is sweeter)

1 t cinnamon

1-2 t ginger

dash of nutmeg, cloves, and baking powder

1 flax egg (1 t ground flax + 2 t water)

1 T organic yogurt

2.5 T applesauce

splash of vanilla extract and almond extract

Directions

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly greases a cookie sheet. Set aside.

-In a small bowl, combine all dry ingredients; then blend in wet ingredients. Combine ’til well blended.

-Form into one muffie (dome-shaped) or two smaller ones. Note: If you make just one, it will be fairly large. Nothing wrong with that though, right?

-Bake for about 15-17 minutes or until a little springy. Remove from oven and serve warm with a little sweet yogurt drizzle, pumpkin pie spice, or coconut flakes.