Apple and Carrot Morning Glory Muffins

Apple and Carrot Morning Glory Muffins

A breakfast or anytime muffin filled with apples, carrots, pecans and whole grains making this my most nutritious and healthy muffin recipe. Maple syrup, reduced apple cider, unsweetened applesauce, and warm fall spices offer natural sweetness without the need for refined sugars. Olive oil and Greek yogurt create a light, tender and tasty crumb. These muffins are packed with good nutrition, are easy to make, and can provide a healthy start to your day.

Healthy Ingredients and Baking Tips

  1. Apples A variety of apples can be used in this recipe. I used a combination of 2 types of baking apples, a Northwestern Greening apple and a Wealthy apple. Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apples work well to. The apples can be peeled or grated with the skin on. Grating the apples right before adding to the batter helps to prevent over-browning before baking.
  2. Reduced apple cider : In a medium deep saucepan, bring 3 cups of high quality, no added sugar apple cider to a gentle boil and simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until slightly thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup. Remove the cider from the stove top and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator to a light syrup-like consistency before adding to the muffin batter. Apple butter (1/3 cup) may be used in place of the apple cider syrup.
  3. Carrots: The original morning glory muffin recipe was created by Chef Pam Mc Kinstry in 1978 for her restaurant on Nantucket Island. It became popular as was one of the first healthy muffin recipes to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Like the original recipe carrots is one of the main ingredients in this variation of the morning glory muffin.
  4. Olive oil: With nutrition in mind I used olive oil in this recipe. Other neutral oils such as canola, and grape seed oil may be used in place of the olive oil.
  5. Maple syrup: Adds a natural sweetness keeping this muffin free of refined sugars.
  6. Whole wheat pastry flour: A whole grain flour milled from low protein soft spring grains creating a tender crumb that is ideal for cookies, muffins, and sweet loaf recipes. Substituting part of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour adds to the whole grain nutrition of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  7. Ground flax seed: A nutrition super food containing fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans.
  8. Warm fall spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and all-spice compliment well with the apples making this the perfect autumn recipe.
  9. Greek yogurt: An excellent source of protein, contributes to a moist and tender crumb, and activates the baking soda helping the muffins to rise during baking.
  10. Pecans: Add a light sweet buttery flavor and elevate the nutrition factor providing a good source of protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals . Walnuts can also be used in place of the pecans.
  11. Baking Equipment : A food processor or hand grater, standard size 12 cup muffin pan, hand electric mixer, whisk, standard size ice cream scoop, mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, and parchment cup cake liners.

A recent visit to a local apple orchard offered a variety of apples to choose from.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup reduced apple cider (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cup finely grated apple (peeled or with the skin)
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded carrot

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all-spice or nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with parchment paper cupcake liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice, and chopped pecans.
  3. In a medium size bowl on low speed using a hand mixer blend the olive oil and maple syrup together until well incorporated. Add eggs one at a time mixing well between additions.
  4. Stir in the applesauce, reduced apple cider and Greek yogurt.
  5. Add shredded carrots and apples and mix well.
  6. Gently fold in mixed dry ingredients just until combined.
  7. Using a standard ice cream scoop fill each lined muffin cup evenly over 12 muffins.
  8. To decorate sprinkle each muffin with a little chopped pecans and small thinly chopped apple slices.
  9. Bake on the middle rack of oven for 7 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F continue baking for 15 to 18 minutes until baked through and muffins lightly spring back.
  10. Cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes then remove from pan to a cooling rack.

Similar Recipes

Lemon Thyme Zucchini Loaf

Lemon Thyme Zucchini Loaf

Summer baking is in full bloom. Garden fresh thyme and lemon make this zucchini loaf extra special. Moist and lightly sweetened, lemon and thyme add a bright, citrus and herb flavor to this zucchini loaf recipe. Recently I have been introducing more herbs and spices into my baking recipes. Herbs and spices add fragrance and flavor and have many health-protecting benefits similar to fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant-based foods. Fresh herbs are easy to grow and contain higher levels of antioxidants than dried or processed forms.

Healthy Ingredients and Baking Tips

  1. Zucchini: Zucchini is a good source of vitamin C and A, potassium, folate, soluble and insoluble fiber. The green skin is rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free-radical cell damage. Grate the zucchini using a box grater or food processor. Medium size zucchini works best, to avoid excess moisture in a larger squash, drain the grated zucchini or lightly pat with a paper towel.
  2. Fresh Thyme: Culinary thyme can be used fresh, dried, or as an essential oil and is found in sweet and savory recipes. In this recipe, first remove the leaves from the stem and then finely chop or cut up the leaves. If fresh thyme is not available use 1 teaspoon of dried thyme.
  3. Lemon juice and lemon zest: You will need one fresh lemon. Lemon zest is the bright yellow outer layer of the fruit and unlike lemon juice contains essential oils. I like to use a microplane zester to make lemon zest, but you can also use the smallest holes on a box grater. Be careful not to include the white skin of the lemon as it has a very bitter taste.
  4. Whole wheat pastry flour: A whole grain flour milled from a low-protein soft wheat, containing the whole bran and germ making it a healthier substitution for white flour in baking pastry, cookies, muffins, and quick breads. In recipes substitute 25% of the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour.
  5. Maple syrup: I like to use maple syrup to replace part of the granulated sugar. Maple syrup adds a natural sweet flavor, is more healthy and nutrient rich compared to granulated sugar.
  6. Olive oil: A combination of unsalted butter and olive oil ensures a moist and a light tender crumb. I like to use a extra light mild tasting olive oil in baking.
  7. Baking equipment: food processor or box grater, microplane zester, electric standup mixer with a paddle attachment or a electric handheld mixer, 9 by 5 inch loaf pan, measuring cups and spoons, whisk, spatula, sifter, parchment paper, no-stick baking spray, and a baker cooling rack.
  8. Baking techniques: Organize all your ingredients prior to starting the recipe, butter, buttermilk, eggs, and lemon at room temperature. Be careful not to over mix the flour mixture with the batter, I like to reserve a small amount and gently fold in with a spatula. After transferring the batter into the loaf pan, take a sharp knife and score the top by making a shallow cut down the center length of the loaf. This controls expansion during baking and adds to a beautiful presentation. During the last 5 to 7 minutes of baking time, look for browning and insert a toothpick to check if bread is cooked through.
Healthy Ingredients: Lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh thyme leaves, zucchini, olive oil, maple syrup, and whole wheat pastry flour.

Recipe

Lemon Thyme Zucchini Loaf

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded zucchini

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves finely cut-up

Lemon Glaze (optional): In a small bowl whisk together 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, gradually add one to two teaspoons of heavy cream to create a glaze consistency.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan with a no-stick baking spray and line the bottom and 2 sides with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together sifted all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, and fresh thyme leaves. Set aside.
  3. On medium speed with an electric or standup mixer beat the butter and sugar together until smooth, add olive oil and maple syrup, continue to beat until light and fluffy, approximately 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time until well blended.
  5. On low speed, mix in lemon juice and lemon zest and add shredded zucchini.
  6. On slow speed, starting and ending with flour mixture alternate with buttermilk just until blended, being careful not over mix.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan, and place on center rack of oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is lightly brown and when batter is cooked through using a tooth pick.
  8. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Remove from loaf pan and allow to completely cool on baking cooling rack.
  9. Store at room temperature for 1-2 days, or if desired wrap and place in the freezer for a later date.

For more zucchini recipes

Zucchini and Carrot Muffins with a Maple Glaze

Lemon, Zucchini, and Almond Bundt Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf with a Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

Chai Spice Apple Zucchini Bundt Cake

10 Tips to Healthy Home Baking

10 Tips to Healthy Home Baking

Homemade cakes and muffins are easy to make and can be more nutritious than store bought bakery. Replacing part of your recipe with healthier ingredients can improve both taste and nutrition, increasing fiber, and decreasing refined sugars, fats and oils. With nutrition and creativity as your guide there are endless ways you can make your homemade cakes and muffins a healthy option for breakfast, on the go snack, or dessert. 

  1. Reduce the amount of sugar by 25% in your recipe. Granulated white sugar contributes to “empty calories”. Regular consumption of high amounts of refined sugar increases health risks of diabetes and heart disease, and contributes to weight gain. Using natural sweeteners such as bananas, unsweetened applesauce, coconut sugar, or maple syrup to replace part of the sugar adds natural flavors and nutrition to your recipe.
  2. Replace butter in your recipe with healthier oils such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, or canola oil. Replace part of the fat with zucchini, applesauce, or prune puree or try using nut butters. Healthier oils contribute to your intake of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids and aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, E, and K.
  3. Replace 1/3 to ½ of white flour with almond flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or coconut flour. For every one cup white flour use ¾ cup of whole wheat pastry flour. Using unprocessed flours can help meet your daily fiber goals. Fiber helps to stabilize blood sugars and provides important prebiotics to support healthy good gut bacteria.
  4. To increase nutrition add fresh or frozen berries, apples, shredded carrots or zucchini, pumpkin puree, nuts, seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, ground flaxseed or wheat germ.  Limit artificial flavorings and candies, that can add unnecessary calories and increase refined sugars.
  5. For a vegetarian option to eggs, mix 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons of water, mix together and allow to sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to thicken. 
  6. Add natural spices, pure extracts, fresh lemon or orange zest for added flavor. Natural spices contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that support the immune system. I like to add a chai spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and allspice.  
  7. Using plain yogurt or buttermilk helps to add moisture, tenderize and provide a softer texture.
  8. For recipes using chocolate, substitute with 100% unsweetened cocoa powder, 70% or greater dark chocolate, or cocao nibs. I like to add 1-2 teaspoons of instant espresso to recipes to bring out the rich chocolate flavors. 
  9. Skip heavy sugar sweetened frostings for a light glaze or simply add a topping made of nuts or seeds. 
  10. Use organic whole-food unprocessed ingredients and avoid artificial food colorings or extracts. For added color use strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, beets, carrots, and pumpkin puree. Natural foods provide both color and added nutrition.

Healthy homemade baking is easy, guilt-free and can contribute to your healthy eating goals. Update a cherished family recipe or try one of the following recipes.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes

Chai Spice Apple Zucchini Bundt Cake

How to Make a Healthy Smoothie

Fruit and vegetable smoothies are quick and easy to make and a powerhouse of nutrition. Smoothies can help you meet your nutrition goals whether you are following a vegetarian, plant-based, paleo, or keto diet or you are needing extra nutrients. Commercial or store- bought smoothies often contain added sugars, fats, artificial ingredients, and are high in calories.  Homemade smoothies can be much healthier than commercial or store- bought ones and when prepared right they provide many health benefits. They are a great way to get your fruits and vegetables in for the day and can provide a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants. Homemade smoothies save time when you are too busy to prepare a complete meal. The basic ingredients of a smoothie are a liquid base, fruits and vegetables, healthy add-ins, and ice. There are endless ways to make a smoothie and can be designed specifically to meet your nutrition goals. Homemade smoothies along with a well-balanced diet, exercise, and a healthy life style can support wellness, anti-aging, and improve nutrient intake. 

Tips to making the perfect smoothie 

1.    Choose fresh or frozen produce. Wash fresh produce thoroughly to remove any possible soil, bacteria, and pesticide residue. Produce should be cleaned right before using with a vegetable brush and then rinsed under cold water. Peel foods with non-edible skins. 

2.    Experiment with a variety of ingredients. Be creative. Choose ingredients specific to your nutrition goals. 

3.    Freezing fruit for a slushy or creamy texture. Adding ice can also maintain smoothie texture, increase fluid volume and fullness, without additional sugar or calories.

4.    Layer each ingredient starting with the liquid ingredients first. Blend at low speed first and gradually increase the power. The liquid base will keep the solids moving to make a more smooth consistency without small pieces remaining.

5.    Avoid refined sugars, if additional sweetness is desired add a little fruit concentrate, stevia, dates, or maple syrup to taste.  

6.    It is best to drink your smoothie right away. But you can keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Freeze your smoothie in small containers or in an ice cube tray to enjoy at a later time. 

Step 1: Choose a liquid base (1-2 cups) 

A 32 ounce smoothie is approximately 2 servings and will require 2 cups of liquid depending on the water content of fruits and other ingredients 

·     Almond, coconut, soy milk unsweetened, or low fat milk 

·     Kefir (choose without added sugars): is a fermented yogurt-like drink containing probiotics 

·     Herbal or green tea 

·     Vegetable juice

Step 2: Add Leafy Greens if desired 

To maximize nutrition antioxidants and phytochemicals add leafy greens. Choose a milder green if you are new to a smoothie. 

·     Mild: 1-2 cups spinach, romaine, or radish greens

·     Medium: ½ to 1 cup chard, Bok choy, collard greens, beet greens, or kale

·     Strong: 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup dandelion greens or arugula 

Step 3: Pick your protein

Protein is essential for building and maintaining lean muscle mass, bones, skin, hair and nails, and supports the immune system. 

·     Greek yogurt ¼ to ½ cup (plain is preferred) 

·     Cottage cheese 

·     Tofu 

·     Peanut butter

·     Protein powder (1 tablespoon to 1 scoop or more to preference, aim for 15 to 21 grams of protein per serving) choose certified USDA organic and non-GMO brands, whey based protein or pea protein (a non-dairy vegetarian and plant-based protein). 

Step 4: Choose your Fruit (1 cup)

Fruits provide a rich source of vitamin C, potassium, manganese, folate, B-vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. Antioxidants support the immune system and protect your body from harmful free radicals that can lead to heart disease, cancer, inflammation, and other health conditions. Using frozen fruit creates a more creamy smoothie. Be careful when adding fruit as it also contributes to sugar and calorie content.  

·     Choose fresh or frozen fruit or try a combination of different fruits. 

·     Fruits high in antioxidants are blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, oranges, prunes and raisins. 

Step 4: Add Nutrition Boosters

Add one or more of these nutrition boosters to increase the nutritional value of your smoothie. 

·     Healthy Fats 1 tablespoon (nut butters, avocado, unsweetened coconut, flaxseed oil, cashews): contain omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, and helps to increase the absorption of vitamins and minerals.

·     Herbs and Spices (cinnamon, turmeric, ginger): helps improve immune function, digestion, decreases inflammation and relieves chronic pain associated with arthritis. 

·     Seeds 1 tablespoon (ground flaxseed, chia, or hemp seeds): provide omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins, and zinc. 

Health note: 

There is no evidence that dietary supplements provide the same health benefits as eating a healthy well-balanced diet that includes lean unprocessed animal proteins, plant-based proteins, fruits and vegetables. High-dose supplements may actually be harmful and increase health-risk or interfere with certain medications. It is best to consult with your health care provider or a registered dietitian before starting any supplement.

Click on the link below to start your smoothie adventure

Orange and Mango Green Smoothie

Maple Sugar and Spice Cookies

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Maple Sugar and Spice Cookies 

The joy of holiday baking is creating a new cookie recipe. This recipe is similar to a traditional shortbread butter cookie adding holiday spices, maple sugar, and almond flour.

Recipe Tips and Highlights 
  • Organic maple sugar is made by evaporating the liquid (water) from maple syrup, and can be used as a healthy baking substitution to refined sugars such as brown sugar and white granulated sugar. Organic maple sugar contains vitamins and minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Maple sugar also has healing and immune boosting properties. It contains antioxidants that can protect us against harmful free radicals that can contribute to heart disease and cancer. 
  • In this recipe I replaced 1/4 of the all-purpose flour with super- fine blanched almond flour. Almond flour is made from almonds that are blanched, the skins are removed, then finely ground and sifted into flour. Almond flour offers many nutritious benefits, is a good source of protein,  fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium and is low in carbohydrates. In baked goods, almond flour adds a slightly sweet and buttery flavor.  
  • Adding an egg to this butter cookie helps to add moisture and bind the almond flour to the dough helping to maintain its cookie shape.
  • Warm spices of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and allspice provide flavor and compliment well with maple sugar , almond flour and butter.
  • To decorate and give a festive look I used a cookie press, or you can use the bottom of a decorative glass or even a fork.  After baking, I added a decorative glaze of powdered sugar and cream. ( To a 1/2 cup powdered sugar gradually add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cream to form a glaze,  then dip or brush on, and decorate with sprinkles)

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Recipe
Maple Sugar and Spice Cookies 
Ingredients 
  • 1 1/2 cup all- purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup super-fine almond flour (from blanched whole almonds)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 
  • 12 tablespoons ( 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup organic maple sugar 
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 egg 
Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. This recipe makes approximately 36 (1 1/2  inch diameter) cookies 

  1. Measure and sift all-purpose four and almond flour into a medium bowl. Add cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and allspice and whisk together.
  2. In the bowl of a stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat unsalted butter, maple sugar, and powdered sugar at medium speed until light and creamy, 3-4 minutes stopping to scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to mix until well blended.
  3. With mixer on low speed gradually add flour and almond flour mixture in 3 additions. Mix until dough comes together, it will still be slightly crumbly.
  4. Cover and chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
  5. Using a small cookie scoop or a small spoon, form dough into balls and place on to the parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Using a decorated cookie press or fork, dip into sugar then press into each cookie. 
  7. Bake cookies 12 minutes or until the edges and bottom of the cookies are lightly brown. 
  8. Cool cookies completely on a cookie rack before adding a glaze.
  9. To make the glaze, measure 1/2 cup powdered sugar into a small bowl, gradually add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cream, mixing well between additions. Dip or brush on glaze, and decorate if desired.  

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Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake

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Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake 

It’s a fall baking weekend, and I am making a new pumpkin cake recipe. This recipe is quick and easy to make and uses less sugar than traditional pumpkin cakes. I like using maple syrup in place of granulated sugar in many of my cake recipes. Maple syrup adds a natural sweetness that combines well with warm spices and many fruit cake recipes such as apple, banana or pumpkin, or in a zucchini or carrot cake. A swirl of pecan and cinnamon highlights the pumpkin perfectly. I used my 5 cup duet bundt cake pan but this cake can be made in a 6 cup cake pan or a regular loaf pan to.

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My collection of bundt pans. 

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Recipe 

Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake 

Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola or grape seed oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup 100% pure pumpkin puree

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice

Pecan Cinnamon Swirl 

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Maple Glaze 
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoons maple syrup                                                                  
  •  ½ to 1 teaspoon milk or heavy cream 

In a small bowl mix the powdered sugar and maple syrup together,  gradually add the milk or cream 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon at a time until lightly thickened.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl with a spoon , mix together the Pecan Cinnamon Swirl ingredients. Set aside.
  3. On medium speed with an electric or standup mixer beat butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Add grape seed or canola oil and maple syrup and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. To the cake batter add vanilla extract , then eggs one at a time blending well between each addition.
  5. Add pumpkin pie puree and blend until evenly distributed.
  6. On slow speed of mixer gradually add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, starting and ending with flour mixture in 3 additions.
  7. Spray a 6 cup bundt cake with baking spray. Spoon 1/3 to 1/2 of cake batter evenly into baking pan. Evenly distribute Pecan Cinnamon Swirl over batter. Spoon remaining cake batter. Place in center of oven, and bake for 35 to 38 minutes or until cake lightly springs back. Cool in pan for 15 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.
  8. Once cooled, drizzle with the maple syrup glaze.

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Marble Spice Bundt Cake

IMG_1406Marble Spice Bundt Cake

Happiness for me is creating a new bundt cake recipe. This marble cake combines a rich dark chocolate layer with a spiced butter cake layer. Unsweetened applesauce adds moistness and reduces the need for added sugar. Adding warm spices of ground cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and allspice complements this updated version of a traditional marble cake recipe.

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Recipe Tips
  • This cake recipe uses classic baking techniques. Using the exact ingredients and following each step in order as listed in the recipe will result in the best tasting cake.  
  • Most of my bundt cake recipes use a 6 cup bundt cake pan. This cake can also be made in a molded loaf pan. You can alternate the chocolate and butter cake layers to your design preference.  
  • Suggested equipment: flour sifter, stand-up electric mixer, whisks, long handle spatula, a double boiler pot or a small handle pot with a heat resistant glass bowl, cooling rack, and a 6 cup bundt cake or loaf pan (I like the Nordic brand of pans).

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Marble Spice Bundt Cake
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil (1/4 cup canola oil may be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 ounces unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
Dry Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Chocolate Layer 
  • 1/4 cup or 2 ounces of dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup half and half cream 
  • 2 teaspoons of instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 6 cup bundt cake pan with baking spray.

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and all-spice. Set aside.
  2. Prepare chocolate layer. Using a double boiler or fill a small pot 1/2 way with water, and then set a larger glass bowl on top. Add dark chocolate, cream, and espresso powder and stir together. Set stove top burner to low and slowly melt chocolate stirring often. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool slightly and whisk in the  unsweetened cocoa powder. Set aside to cool.
  3. On medium speed with an electric or standup mixer first beat the butter for 30 seconds then gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until smooth. Add grape seed oil and maple syrup, continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. To the cake batter add vanilla extract , then eggs one at a time blending well between each addition.
  5. Add unsweetened applesauce and blend until evenly distributed.
  6. On slow speed of electric mixer gradually add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, starting and ending with flour mixture in 3 additions.
  7. In a separate bowl combine 1/2 of the cake batter with the reserved chocolate mixture.
  8. Alternately spoon chocolate and butter cake batter evenly into the bundt pan. Place on center rack of oven, bake for 35 to 38 minutes or until cake lightly springs back. Cool in pan for 15 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.

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Chocolate Zucchini Loaf with a Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

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This Valentines Day combine healthy and sweet to bake a chocolate zucchini loaf that will make all your loved ones happy.  By substituting healthy ingredients in baking recipes you can enjoy your favorite desserts without the guilt and have the nutrition benefits to. The healthy ingredients I like to bake with are:

100% cocoa powder: Contains good sources of magnesium, niacin, potassium, copper, and manganese. Cocoa powder is rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and flavonoids. Cocoa powder is anti-inflammatory, helps to decrease cancer risk, heart disease, and insulin resistance and may help to prevent depression and cognitive decline.

Zucchini: A good source of vitamin C and A, potassium, folate, and fiber. The green skin is rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free-radical cell damage. Zucchini contains both soluble and insoluble fiber helping to support a healthy digestive system.

Maple syrup: In this recipe I reduced  and replaced part of the sugar with maple syrup. It has a lower glycemic index compared to cane sugar and brown sugar. Maple syrup is rich in antioxidants and calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese.

Grape seed oil: Is from the seeds that remain from making wine. It is flavorless and does not alter the taste in foods compared to other oils making it ideal as a replacement to butter in baking recipes. Grape seed oil is high in phenolic antioxidants and a good source of vitamin E, is anti-inflammatory, helps lower cholesterol and insulin resistance.

Spices: Add flavor, color, and fragrance without adding fat and sugar. Dried spices have many  health benefits supporting digestive health, reducing inflammation, and preventing cell damage.

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Recipe

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf with a Raspberry Butter Cream Frosting 

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup shredded unpeeled zucchini

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cup all purpose white flour (sifted)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper for easy removal of the cake after baking.

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, and allspice. Set aside.
  2. On medium speed with an electric or standup mixer beat butter and sugar until smooth, add grape seed oil and maple syrup and continue beating until light and fluffy about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add vanilla extract, then eggs one at a time until well blended.
  4. Whisk buttermilk and espresso powder together.
  5. On slow speed gradually add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk starting and ending with flour mixture.
  6. Gently by hand with a spatula mix in the shredded zucchini until well distributed.
  7. Transfer to a prepared loaf pan.
  8. Bake for 45 to 48 minutes until lightly springs back. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Once cooled frost if desired.

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Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of heavy whipping cream or half and half cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons of seedless raspberry preserves

With an electric mixer beat unsalted butter until light and fluffy, gradually add the powdered sugar . Add the vanilla and cream and continue beating. Then add 1 teaspoon at a time the raspberry preserves beating until well blended and smooth.

 

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Apple Pecan Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake

 

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Apple Pecan Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake

The holidays have passed, and I’m enjoying a quiet Sunday. It’s cold and snowing outside and a good day to stay at home and bake.  This bundt cake is inspired by one of my favorites at Panera Bread the Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake.  This healthier version has a swirl of pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Warm spices of cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, and all-spice highlight this apple bundt cake. Perfect as a breakfast or afternoon cake with coffee or it can be served for a special occasion.

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Recipe

Apple Pecan Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 ounces unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 medium size honey crisp apple peeled and grated
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Pecan Cinnamon Swirl 

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and all-spice. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl with a spoon , mix together the Pecan Cinnamon Swirl ingredients. Set aside.
  3. On medium speed with an electric or standup mixer beat butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Add grape seed oil and maple syrup and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream and milk together. Set aside.
  5. To the cake batter add vanilla extract , then eggs one at a time blending well between each addition.
  6. Add unsweetened applesauce and blend until evenly distributed.
  7. On slow speed of mixer gradually add flour and sour cream mixture alternately, starting and ending with flour mixture in 3 additions.
  8. Spray a 6 cup bundt cake with baking spray. Spoon 1/3 to 1/2 of cake batter evenly into baking pan. Evenly distribute Pecan Cinnamon Swirl over batter. Spoon remaining cake batter. In center of oven, bake for 35 to 38 minutes or until lightly springs back. Cool in pan for 15 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.

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Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash- with Apples, Cranberries, and Pecans

 

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Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash- with Apples, Cranberries, and Pecans

This stuffed acorn squash recipe is both vegetarian and gluten-free. Inspired by the trend towards healthier plant-based eating this holiday recipe brings together quinoa, apples, cranberries, and pecans to become a new favorite holiday stuffing tradition.  Acorn squash is first sliced, then roasted and stuffed with healthy ingredients and holiday spices.  This recipe looks fancy but it is easy to prepare and can be served as a side dish or as a main entree.  It will certainly be the spotlight at your next holiday gathering and enjoyed by both your vegetarian and non-vegetarian guests.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!

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Recipe for Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash- with Apples, Cranberries, and Pecans

Ingredients

2 Acorn Squash, medium

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp olive oil or grape seed oil

1 stalk of celery diced into 1/4 inch pieces

1 medium honey crisp or granny smith apple peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 cups cooked quinoa

1/2 cup fresh cranberries sliced

1/2 cup chopped pecans

salt and pepper

Directions:

First prepare the Acorn Squash Slices

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  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse and pat dry the Acorn Squash. With a sharp knife cut off the top stem and bottom to create a flat edge.
  2. To make it easier to slice, soften each squash by first making several small slits through the skin with the tip of a sharp knife, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.
  3. First cut the squash horizontally in half. Scoop out the membranes and remove the seeds. Lay the flat side down on a cutting board and slice one more time to make a total of 4 slices for each squash.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Brush each squash slice lightly with oil and place evenly on the cookie sheet. Then brush lightly with maple syrup and sprinkle with nutmeg.
  5. Roast squash slices for 30-35 minutes until tender when pierced with a knife.

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While the Acorn Squash is roasting prepare the stuffing

  1. In a medium sauce pan heat oil and saute the chopped apple and celery until softened about 6-8 minutes, add the thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vegetable broth and lightly simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. Mix in the cooked quinoa and sliced cranberries.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spoon stuffing equally among the 8 slices of roasted acorn squash. Sprinkle tops with chopped pecans. Turn the temperature of the oven down to 375 degrees F. Bake the stuffed acorn squash slices for 20 minutes or until heated through.

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