Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sugar, aw honey honey...

Pretty much since I found out I was pregnant two years ago (wow, I just realized I found out I was pregnant almost exactly two years ago today!), I've been, I guess, obsessed with having a better understanding of what's in my food. Ive had a greater desire for whole grain foods with natural ingredients and fresh...everything! While I did have the occasional moment of weakness during my pregnancy and since (ok I've been weak A LOT), I really made an effort to consider what I was eating and think about how it affected my body and the little birds in my tummy.

Now I'm not some extremist who wants to cut out all saturated, sugary, doughy goodness. I'm a girl born and raised in the south. Butter pretty much makes up it's own section on my personalized food pyramid. That being said, while I love the finer (fattier) things in life, it doesn't take much to realize how processed everything is. In a fast paced world convenient = processed, hydrogenated, chemicals. Am I even tasting real ingredients anymore? I guess it boils down to this: I want to taste real food. And I want to do my part in realizing my impact on the world and it's resources when I pick what I'm going to eat. I've taken on a 2/3 vegan diet for this reason, as well as trying to get those recommended 6 servings of fruits and vegetables. And most importantly, educating myself on food will help me enable my kiddos to make better food choices.

I'm also trying to cut out refined sugar. I'm a sugar addict. I could eat it all day. But being addicted could be the fault of refined sugar. So I'm replacing the processed white stuff with natural sweeteners like honey, molasses, and raw sugar. Again, I'm not an over the top extremist, so I will be using refined sugar when I make my grandma's sugar cookies at Christmas.

This morning I got up and I knew I wanted to bake. I came across this recipe for Whole Wheat Apple Muffins on one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. Perfect! The recipe calls for sugar, which I replaced with honey, and brown sugar, which I replaced with raw sugar. The outcome was moist,sweet but not too sweet, and so yummy. Plus it left my house smelling like apple cinnamon, which was the perfect cover up for those not so savory surprises my kids made me this morning.

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Whole Wheat Apple Muffins (the unrefined version)

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 12 muffins, or in my case, 10 grown up muffins and 8 mini muffins for the wee ones.

1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup honey
1/2 raw sugar, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk or yogurt
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease and flour 18 muffin cups and set aside.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the honey and 1/4 cup of the raw sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.Mix in the buttermilk gently. (If you over-mix, the buttermilk will cause the mixture to curdle.) Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup raw sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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