Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Second straight apple post.

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(I blame the apple bread.)

Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? I’m 30 (I literally typed 33 first. I don’t know why. I am 30. Why am I unintentionally making myself older?! Sigh.) and I still have no idea what I want to be. Perhaps I should probably learn now to add…

I love to bake. But would I want to make a career out of it? I feel that once I make this my job, it’ll change. It won’t be fun. It’ll be work. I also stress hard core when people try something I make. Will they like it?! Did it come out okay?! I once made desserts for a friends wedding, and I could barely relax the entire time hoping the guests liked everything. Could you imagine me selling an entire store of treats? I’d probably die.

I love to write. I’ve always had a fantasy of writing a book. And it’ll totally be chick-lit. I’m 30 and I’m obsessed with chick-lit. #notsorry. But again, once it becomes my job, will I still have the same passion? Will it be natural? Or will it cause me stress because I’ll have to worry if anything I write is “good enough”? Would anyone read it? I’m surprised there are people that read this and like it.

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I also secretly have always wanted to be a dancer. But the video of my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding quickly squashed that idea. I am THAT GIRL that jumps and points when she dances. (Hence why we did NOT have a videographer for our wedding. Learned that lesson quick.) Also: sorry Steve and Melissa. You will forever have those images to live with.

The only thing I have ever come close to wanting to be when I grow up is…this. This right here. A full-time food blogger. (Well, this and working at Trader Joe’s. Because, HELLO. Trader Joe’s.) But even this can have its limitations. Will I get as much satisfaction as I do now when it’s only a hobby? Would anyone even WANT me to do this full-time? Would anyone read?

The truth though, is that I really can try and do any/all of what I just wrote about. Except the dancing. NO ONE needs to see that. It all comes down to fear. Fear in failure. Fear in my abilities. Fear in succeeding? Because sometimes succeeding can be even scarier than not taking the chance at all. It comes down to having confidence and the balls to just take that leap.

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While I’m not there…yet, the one thing I AM confident in? These muffins. I swear, IF I were to take that giant leap and open a bakery, I’d serve TONS of muffins and quick breads. I’m just so obsessed!! But whyyyyyyy are they always so bad for you? You see a muffin and think it’d be a nice, responsible breakfast item. NOPE. They’re usually so full of fat and calories, it even has my head spinning.

But these? Oh boy. Not only are these beauties made with whole wheat flour (yay whole grains!), but they’re also naturally sweetened! No refined sugar here, folks. These are sweetened with pure maple syrup (keep Aunt Jemima in the cabinet where she belongs) and unsweetened apple sauce. And instead of butter? Melted coconut oil.

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In my previous post about my most favorite apple bread on the planet, the apples are sliced because I love the texture of being able to bite into an apple while eating a slice (or 7). But here, the apples are shredded so that they can really melt into the muffin and create an amazing apple flavor.

Cinnamon is added to the batter because, well, apples and cinnamon just go together. Like peanut butter and jelly. And peanut butter and chocolate. And peanut butter and ANYTHING. I just LOVE baking with cinnamon. It just adds such a warmth to anything it’s mixed in. I just love that flavor.

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The pecans are added because they create a wonderful crunch to the muffins. Because the apples are shredded and don’t add any texture to the muffins, the crunch from the pecans are just NEEDED. If you don’t like pecans? Go for walnuts. Don’t like walnuts, add some pumpkin seeds. Add anything you want! Or, you know, if you don’t like nuts, simply leave them out. No one is judging you. …..or are they?

I made these over the weekend during the great Winter Storm Jonas. We had over 2 feet of snow in New York City, and these could not have been the more perfect and comforting thing to bake. A warm apple cinnamon muffin while the world is pretty much ending outside? Jonas: 0 Deanna: 1

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Stacks on stacks on stacks.

***

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Recipe by: Sally’s Baking Addiction

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat. Feel free to use any flour you have on hand: even regular all-purpose!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (increase to 1 tablespoon if you really LOVE cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 chopped pecans (or any other nut)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 oil (coconut, vegetable, canola are all fine)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded apple (about 2 apples. I used Pink Lady apples)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or use cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and pecans together until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, maple syrup, oil, applesauce, and vanilla together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir a few times, then add the grated apple. Fold everything together gently just until combined and no flour pockets remain.
  3. Spoon the batter into liners, filling them all the way to the top. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 23-24 minutes, give or take. Allow the muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool until ready to eat.
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Skinny Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

You know what’s the worst?

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Having to take NJ Transit whenever there is a snow storm. The wind can blow in the wrong direction and it’s like they throw their arms up in the air and surrender. My job throws me curve balls every now and again, but you know what? I adjust and don’t PREVENT PEOPLE FROM GETTING TO WORK.

I work at Montclair State University. The one train line that travels there does not run any trains on a weekend schedule. So here is what I deal with during the snow: Snow storm = weekend schedule. Weekend schedule = no trains to MSU. No trains to MSU = not able to get to work. Not able to get to work = having to unnecessarily waste a vacation/personal day.

Oh, but because it’s a major snow storm, MSU will close right? Ha! No. MSU is pretty notorious for not closing during severe weather. And coming from a private university where they closed at the sight of one snow flake, this has been an adjustment.

And it’s not like this weather is going anywhere anytime soon. We are supposed to have three storms this week. Three. Moving to Key West keeps sounding better and better.

I keep telling myself that as one day passes, we’re one day closer to warmer weather. But as I look at the forecast, warmer weather seems so far, far away.

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Not having a car in this weather does have its advantages, however. I don’t have to clean off my car when it snows. I don’t need to worry about finding a parking spot. I don’t have to worry about blocking off that parking spot once I leave. I don’t have to sit in the car for 30 minutes before it becomes warm enough. I don’t have to travel on slippery highways.

But there are times, like this, when NJ Transit becomes so difficult that I really miss having a car where I can just get from Point A to Point B without too much of a headache.

While I try and get through winter, at least I have these amazing peanut butter muffins to brighten my day. And have I mentioned they are SKINNY?! Oh yeah. That’s just Deanna math that proves you can have more than 1 and not feel guilty.

Peanut butter and banana. They’re such a fantastic partnership!

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Peanut butter is such a trigger food for me. As soon as I so much as smell it, I just want to eat all the things with it. I can’t stop. My favorite thing to do? Take a spoon of peanut butter and then put some jelly on the same spoon and BOOM! Instant peanut butter and jelly. However, when I start doing that, before I realize what’s going on, I’ve have like 7 spoon-fulls of peanut butter and jelly. Ehh. There’s no bread, so it’s basically diet friendly. Can’t stop won’t stop.

And you all know my love of bananas, so when I saw I had 2 bananas on the counter that were just screaming for me to make something with them, I took one look at my jar of peanut butter and knew muffins were in my future.

So what makes these muffins skinny? Well, first of all, there is no butter in the recipe. What the what? Yeah, I know. In place of the butter, Greek yogurt is used. It helps the muffins stay tender and moist without the added fat. Plus it adds a nice amount of protein. Minimal sugar is also used, with only 1/4 cup of brown sugar being added to the batter. To help add more sweetness without more sugar, honey is just the ticket! If you don’t want to use honey, maple syrup is a great substitute.

Also, instead of using whole milk, unsweetened almond milk is used. I used sweetened because that’s all I had, and they came out great. So use whatever is available to you.

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Another trick that lightens these muffins up? Using white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. This kind of ties in with my last post about whole grains. Whenever I can add whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, I do. It’s a little healthier and doesn’t weigh everything down.

Simple changes like these can help lighten up any recipe without sacrificing flavor. And speaking of flavor? While I made 12 muffins with this batter, I could have probably made 14. But I won’t comment on what happened with all that extra batter. Let’s just say that a friend of a friend could not stop eating it. That friend was quite embarrassing… 🙂

Bake up these muffins, and store them in the freezer. After a quick zap in the microwave, you have another great breakfast that will not only cure your peanut butter craving, but will keep you full until lunch without feeling guilty. Or have them for lunch. Or dinner. Or dessert. I won’t tell anyone.

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Want to add chocolate chips to the muffins? First: YES. Second: well, we’ll just have to be best friends.

…..

Skinny Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

(Adapted recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ripe large bananas, mashed with no chunks
  • 1/4 cup honey (or pure maple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup 0% Plain Chobani Greek Yogurt (or regular yogurt, any flavor/fat content)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or cow’s milk, soy milk, rice milk)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (non-oily natural style is OK)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (or an even mix of whole wheat + all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, honey, brown sugar, yogurt, egg, and milk together until combined.  Whisk in the peanut butter and vanilla extract until smooth and thick. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips together (if using).  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and lightly whisk until combined.  Try not to overstir the muffin batter or your muffins will have a tough (not soft) texture. Stir as little as possible until no flour pockets remain.
  • Fill the muffin cups all the way to the top. Between 3/4 full and all the way full.  Bake for 5 minutes at 425F degrees. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350F and continue to bake for 12 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Muffins stay fresh at room temperature for 3 days. Muffins without peanut butter on top freeze well, up to 3 months.