Double Chocolate Berry Nut Muffins

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(Becky, the Mama.)

Food memoirist Alyssa Shelasky described her mother as being a strict health-nut (who’d never eat anything that would “tick off Michael Pollan”), before being green and organic was cool. Alyssa’s school lunches were healthy leftovers like chicken salad and fruit, with notes of hand-written inspiration tucked into the brown bag. Nary a Dorito or Slim Jim in site.  And yet, even this Whole Foods Mama had a daily vice.  Every morning alongside with her cup of milky white tea, she ate a chocolate packaged snack cake filled with goopy marshmallow cream. Yes, she ate a Devil Dog.

In her defense she ate one and only one.  Every single day.  For  sixty years.  Without guilt.

Later in the day, Alyssa’s mom would  walk to the Farmer’s Market, loaded down with fresh veggies, enjoying every antioxidant-filled bite.

Now that Hostess has gone out of business, a box of Devil Dogs can be found on the internet for about $35.00 a box.  “Freshness guaranteed.”   (Presumably because they are so rich in chemicals, they are guaranteed to last forever.)

Though I draw the line at Twinkies and Devil Dogs for breakfast (even if I could afford such luxuries), I’m all in favor of making Chocolate a breakfast food.

To that end, I offer you this recipe for  Double Chocolate Berry Nut Muffins.  If I’d had blueberries or dark cherries on hand, I would have used those in this muffin. What I did have on hand was strawberries and kiwis, so improviser that I am… into the bowl they went. I’ve never let lack of correct ingredients stop me from whipping up a recipe.  I once made a carrot cake without any carrots, subbing zucchini and crushed pineapple.  It was delicious.

The result of my experiment was a just-right sweet muffin made moist from the coconut oil, Greek yogurt and fruit, chocolaty from cocoa and chocolate chips, with a nice crunch from chopped pecans.  I used white whole wheat flour  (which has the same nutritional value as whole wheat flour, but is made from white instead of red wheat);  and organic unprocessed sugar to ease my conscience even more.

So, okay, I’m not ready to declare these chocolate muffins a “health food.”  But hey, they are no Devil Dogs.

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Double Chocolate Berry Muffins

Makes 2 dozen regular muffins, and one pan of miniature muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients

2 ¼ c whole wheat white flour ( I used King Arthur brand)

1 ¼ c.  organic sugar

½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder (if you like extra dark chocolate use dark chocolate cocoa)

2 t. baking power

1 t. baking soda

¾ t. salt

1 cup Greek Yogurt, plain

½ cup milk or almond milk

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted if it is solidified

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla or almond extract

1 cup berries (blueberries don’t need chopped, but strawberries, cherries, raspberries or blackberries will need to be diced into about ¼ inch pieces.)

1 cup chocolate chips

½ c. to 1 c. chopped nuts

Directions

Sift and stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate large bowl, and make a well in the center; set aside.

Whisk together the yogurt, milk, coconut oil, eggs, and almond or vanilla extract in a bowl until evenly blended. Pour the yogurt mixture into the well, then stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the berries, nuts, and chocolate chips. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling half full. (I used cupcake liners.)

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Bake until a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Try with a little smear of Nutella;  or a slice of banana and peanut butter, or a spoon of cherry or strawberry preserves.  Heaven….

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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title:Double Chocolate Berry Muffins
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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

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Gobble-Gobble Turkey Toast with Pumpkin Butter (Cooking with Kids)

Turkey Toast

(Becky, the Mama.)

Over twenty years ago now, I walked into a classroom in my debut as a first grade teacher.  

And then, I retired after 9 months of faithful service.

I was a great teacher, in that I loved my students, taught them well and had loads of fun.   On the other hand, you may have noticed that most teachers are gifted at organization and rather enjoy (or at least have a knack for) ordering small children to do their bidding immediately. Organization was never my strong suit: just counting the morning’s lunch money and turning it into the office could bring me to tears.   And I’m more of charmer and a cajoler than an “orderer.”

I slept-walked through much of that fuzzy year.  I do remember the day, however, when one of my students raised their hand and asked, “Teacher, why do you have one red shoe and one black shoe on?”   I looked at my feet and sure enough, the child was correct.  The only answer I had to offer was pure mental exhaustion.  

Now that I am a grandmother, however, I get the best of both worlds.  I get to play and create with the grandkids, and have all the time in the world to give them focused individual attention. 

This recipe is so simple and fun for Autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving,  breakfast or snack-time,  that moms, grandmas and teachers can all let their little charges have a go at it.  And as treats go, this is a pretty healthy one, especially if you use a good whole grain bread.

The toast is slathered with a simple pumpkin spice peanut butter, then after you cut it into the desired shapes to create either a pumpkin or a turkey,  the kids can smear it with the pumpkin butter and decorate it with a variety of nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips or marshmallows.

Turkey Toast with Pumpkin Butter

 Makes one toast turkey large enough to feed  two to three small children.

3 pieces of bread (I used Ezekiel Sesame Bread), buttered and toasted (Vegans can use Earth Balance butter)

2 heaping Tablespoons canned pumpkin puree

1 heaping Tablespoon peanut butter (or almond butter or any kind of butter you prefer)

1 t. brown sugar

1 T. pure maple syrup

Pinch salt

½ t. cinnamon

¼ t. ginger

 

Assorted toppings, about ¼ cup each in small bowls (or little piles on a big plate)  coconut, chopped nuts, edible seeds of any kind, chocolate chips, dried fruit such as cranberries, raisins or cherries.

Instructions:

Butter & toast the bread (preferably just toast the top by broiling it as it cuts a little easier).

Leave one piece of the bread whole, then cut one piece like this:

Cut the next piece like this:

 

Mix the next 7 ingredients until smooth with a fork in a small bowl.  Spread the pumpkin-spice peanut butter on the toast and assemble the turkey. (I used a large dried cherry for his wattle.)

Let the kids decorate the turkey’s toast “feathers” with the various toppings, then dive in and eat!

 

You can also make three pumpkins, by turning the toast upside down, then cutting the corners of the toast – rounding them a bit and leaving a fat stem, like so:  (Note: Most marshmallows are not vegan, you may just let the kids use raisins for mouth.)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Gobble-Gobble Turkey Toast with Pumpkin Butter
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