After-Pesach Muffins

I’m a big muffin fan.
Muffins are an easy way to pack fruit, nuts and fiber into a few easy-to-make delicious bites. They make a quick snack and are perfect with fresh fruit and tea on Shabbat morning.
How did I end up with muffins after Passover this year? Normally we eat home-made granola for breakfast. But immediately after Pesach, that’s a problem. I usually make granola in large quantities – enough to last a month or so, and who has time and energy to do that right after Passover?
So we bought a box of muesli to tide us over. Muesli is the unbaked version of granola, without sweetener and oil. Ours had rolled oats, wheat, bran and lots of raisins.  It was fine for a few days, until I was ready to make my own granola. Then I was left with almost a full box of muesli. Here’s what I made:
Muesli Muffins (Dairy)
1¼ cups muesli
1¼ cups low-fat buttermilk
¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup canola oil
1 egg
1/3 cup brown sugar
Combine the muesli and buttermilk in a bowl and set aside for 30 minutes.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C) and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
After the muesli has softened in the buttermilk for 30 minutes, add the oil, egg, brown sugar and flour mixture and gently mix everything together. Don’t over mix.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. These do not rise much.
Remove to a baking rack to cool.
Makes 12 muffins
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Shabbat Morning

What do you serve when you get home from services on Shabbat morning? Some people enjoy a Kiddush at the synagogue. Then they come home to eat their main meal at around noon. Others, especially in Israel, are home by nine or ten in the morning, when it’s just too early to eat a big meal.

We make Kiddush and then enjoy muffins, fruit and tea.

Why do I like muffins? They’re quick and easy to make. They freeze well and they’re healthy. With a little imagination, you can create endless varieties.

For instance, last Shabbat we had blueberry cornmeal muffins and fresh grapes. Why? Because I found a bag of blueberries in the back of the freezer, leftover from last year’s crop. And because the grapes I found at the market – a large green seedless variety, were delicious.

What’s on the menu for this coming Shabbat? With more hot weather this week, our bananas ripened faster than we could eat them. And I happened to have half a bag of chocolate chunks in the pantry. (Have you seen the Scharffen Berger Bittersweet Baking Chunks? Wow!) So it’s banana-chocolate chip muffins and a fruit salad of fresh melon and new-season apricots.

Muffins “Any Which Way” (Dairy)

Create endless variations by starting with this basic muffin recipe. Use less flour if you’re adding dryer ingredients (like dried fruit and nuts), and the full amount of flour if the ingredients are moist (like frozen berries). Use whole-wheat pastry or light whole-wheat flour if it’s available. Otherwise you can substitute white for some of the wheat flour. When I use all whole-wheat flour, I use the lesser amount. Here are some ideas:

Blueberry: 1 ½ cups blueberries plus 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Raspberry: 1 ½ cup raspberries plus 2 teaspoons orange zest

Banana chocolate: 1 large banana, diced plus ½ cup chocolate chips

Date and Nut: 1 cup chopped dates plus 1 cup chopped walnuts

Apple Spice: 1 cup diced fresh apples plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Apricot Ginger: 1 cup diced dried apricot, ½ cup diced candied ginger and 2 teaspoons ground ginger

Corn: Substitute 1 cup cornmeal for 1 cup of flour and add 1 ½ cups corn kernels

2 ¼ – 2 ½ cups whole-wheat flour (see note above)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup sugar (white or brown)

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

1/3 cup canola oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 cups fruit or fruits and nuts (see above)

Line 12-18 muffin tins with paper liners.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.

In a smaller bowl or a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.

Gently mix the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Just before it’s all mixed, add in the fruit. Mix the batter just a little more to incorporate all of the ingredients. Don’t over mix or the muffins will be tough.

Bake the muffins for 20-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn the muffins out onto a rack to cool.

Makes 12-18

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Breakfast Made Easy

It doesn’t take much time to prepare a tasty and nutritious breakfast.

This formula makes it really easy:

Take one whole-grain carbohydrate.

Combine it with a low-fat protein.

Add a fruit or vegetable.

That’s it!

Here are some ideas to help get you started:

Cheerios, low-fat milk and a banana

Toast, hard boiled egg and an orange

Whole wheat tortilla, low-fat cheese (melted or not) and sliced tomato

Half a whole-grain bagel with smoked salmon and cucumber slices

Whole-grain toaster waffle spread with peanut butter and topped with raisins

Whole-wheat pita half with humus and Israeli salad

Crackers, cheese cubes and apple slices

Whole-wheat muffin with ricotta cheese and dried apricots

Granola with low-fat yogurt and fresh seasonal fruit

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The Gemara on Breakfast

You probably know all about the benefits of eating breakfast. (If not, find out now!)

It’s the most important meal of the day.

Did you know that our Rabbis also believed in the importance of eating breakfast?

The Gemara (Bava Metzia 107a-b) states that you should eat something early in the day, to protect yourself from the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter.

Our rabbis also taught that a group of sixty men who didn’t eat breakfast could not catch one man who did.

An explanation is given by Rabbah bar Mari based on the following passages in Shemot (Exodus) 23:25.

In the morning, first we pray: You shall worship Hashem, your God

Next we eat: and He shall bless your bread and your water

The end result is good health: and I shall remove illness from your midst

Thanks to the The Aleph Society’s Steinsaltz Daf Yomi, August 10, 2009

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Chana Rubin, RD

Food for the Soul

Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating
By Chana Rubin, RD

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