Just because it’s tasty, doesn’t mean it’s not good for you.

I was thinking about those bran muffins – you know, the ones I threw into the ravine? I thought, “why can’t something be good for you just because it has a few “unhealthy” ingredients in it?” I mean, everything in moderation, including moderation, right?

So in an attempt to bounce back from my muffin trauma, I re-discovered a great recipe by Mollie Katzen of Moosewood fame. Her stuff is undeniably on the healthy side, but she at least gives lots of options of how to alter the recipe from Grade A SuperHealthFreakVegan to Grade B Enjoy Your Dairy Products and Live a Little.

So the ultimate food, for me, is food I consider to be healthy IN SPITE OF its unhealthy ingredients. Like the hummus I’m going to make later, in which I will NOT substitute anything for the gobs of tahini and glugs of olive oil. Tahini and olive oil have fat in them. Chick peas are good for you. Dat’s it, dat’s all.

The muffins I am about to showcase are a case in point. Here are the “bad” ingredients: Butter, sugar, chocolate. Although I am pretty sure that recent studies show that dark chocolate goes in the following category:

Here are the “good” ingredients: oranges, yogurt, cranberries, chocolate, buckwheat (you again!), egg.

I think it is obvious what outweighs what, here, folks. Not that it’s a competition.

I made these muffins last Saturday and they were gone by the end of the weekend; they are perfect for hauling along on a long ski, for serving up for brunch, or for packing in your lunchbox. They are rich, buttery, fruity, and hold up well in a backpack. The chocolate chunks are so beautiful next to the cranberries and oranges. Straight out of the oven, they smell buttery and golden. They do, unfortunately, fall into the “make a big mess in your kitchen and use a lot of bowls” category. But they must be worth it, cause I’ve made them two weekends in a row, and can’t wait for it to be grocery day so I can buy more yogurt and make them again.

These pictures don’t do them absolute justice, cause just as I was putting them in the oven, I dropped the tray. You can imagine the volley of curses that emanated from the kitchen at that moment. After scraping out the oven and re-distributing batter within the muffin cups, I was able to salvage the batch. But they aren’t as pretty as their forebears from the week before. Also, they got slightly flattened in the tupperware we took skiing. When I make them again, perhaps they’ll last long enough for me to take another picture.

Orange-Cranberry Muffins

Adapted from Orange-Date Muffins in The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen*

you will need: a muffin tin, some bowls, and ideally a rasp to grate the zest.

1 medium sized seedless orange

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (or buttermilk)

1 egg

3 tbsp melted butter

3 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (check your oven temperatures!), grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

2. Zest the whole darn orange, put aside the zest, remove the peel, and chop the orange into small pieces.  Save all juice produced in this process.

3. Blend the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the zest.

4. Beat together the yogurt, egg, butter, sugar, and vanilla in a separate container. Add it to the dry ingredients along with the orange pieces and juice, cranberries, and chocolate. It should be quite thick and scoopable. Extra orange juice can be added if it is too thick or if you did not get any juice out of chopping your orange.

5. Fill the muffin cups to the rim, and bake for 15 to 20 min, being careful not to drop the uncooked muffins as you put them in the oven. A toothpick or tester inserted into the centre will come out clean when they are done. Remove as quickly as you can from the pan and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before eating.


*Ms. Katzen uses chopped dates instead of cranberries and I can attest to the merits of this choice too, but I am really into these cranberries by NutraFruit so I used them. I think they look smashing with the orange and chocolate. I added the chocolate and buckwheat flour to the original recipe.


8 thoughts on “Just because it’s tasty, doesn’t mean it’s not good for you.

  1. Jane

    Does this mean I need to buy a “rasp” AND an “oven thermometer”? You are lucky that I have buckwheat from a I-wont-eat-anything-with-ingredients-I-can’t-pronounce-or-that-has-butter-or-sugar-or-white-flour phase that lasted roughly 5 months (5 months too long in retrospect), 3 years ago. I was going to just make these, but there is something kinda zen about a buckwheat muffin in one hand and a brown butter, brown sugar cookie in the other.

    1. yeah, we’re related – but not on the floor, come on Sari, if I had done that I would have had to include dog hair in the recipe. Dropped onto the open oven door and partially in the oven. Surprisingly récupérable!!

  2. Sari

    i will also attempt this recipe this weekend (the couch muffin won me over). Will use yogurt instead of buttermilk. P has swayed my opinion of buttermilk (of which I previously had none). By even mentioning buttermilk i may be opening up the floodgates. Recently, most of my convo’s with P include buttermilk or magnifying glass…..(that was for you P).
    As for the newsletter, sign me up!!

    1. Indeed, use yogurt. I am holding myself back to an incredible extent from embarking on a buttermilk discussion. Suffice it to say that there are many more uses for buttermilk than just muffins; perhaps I should write a post about all the things you can do with it. Granted, we only tend to do those things when we have 3/4 of a litre of buttermilk lurking in the fridge. But we are happy when we do them, cause they are good. But I ramble.
      You must sign yourself up for the “newsletter”, even my mum figured that one out. Subscribe.

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