Fruited Yogurt Oat Mini Muffins
The back to school mania passes by largely unnoticed in our family of two plus cat.
Though its arrival is still much anticipated for cheap office supplies, an ebbing tide of tourists in our coastal town, and the fact that autumn is beginning to loosen the hot, sweaty grip of summer.
While I miss the days when school was part of my own routine, I’m content at the moment to relish these simple joys.
As I decide which book to read next in my spare time, plenty of friends and family wade in to the full-time chaos of back to school. Lunchboxes and spelling tests, fingerpaint and science projects, field trips, after school sports, atonal renditions of “Für Elise.”
Monday to Friday, week after week, they somehow find time to magically fit everything and more into 16 waking hours (a secret I’m convinced is only divulged to parents). They make it work, and some manage to make it look easy. Enjoyable even. Wizards.
The reality: weekdays are busy for everyone, and it’s not a concept limited to August and September. Though, it certainly seems to amplify this time of the year…
So perhaps that’s the “something” about the back to school season in particular that always motivates me to create new recipes and re-work basic favorites to keep us happy and full of the energy we can’t get enough of — because busy is exactly when our bodies most need to be nourished and healthy.
These tender little yogurt and oat bran muffins are high on flavor and nutritionally-packed. Protein, fiber and just the right amount of healthy fats keep us satisfied and energized, while iron and magnesium help our bodies run efficiently. In addition to natural sweetness, the combination of sticky dates and tart grapefruit offers heart-friendly potassium, the immune-boosting vitamins A and C, and a variety of antioxidants.
You can make a batch in advance to enjoy all week, or easily double up on the ingredients and freeze half for later. Before heading out the door, snatch one or two for a healthy breakfast on the go. And they’re just as delicious at other times of the day — stash in your bag or child’s lunchbox for a mid-morning snack, lunchtime treat, or fuel after a workout. I’ve even tucked a couple into my husband’s things to enjoy as dessert when he has a late night (and got a thumbs up for it).
It’s always important to ensure that you and your family are well nourished, and especially so when long, chaotic days are the norm. Something homemade is best in my book (use your kids as helpers), so recipes for nutritious, portable treats like this one are great to have on hand for these busy seasons. To your health!
Tell me… What are you juggling right now? Does your family have a favorite treat to keep you satisfied and energized when things get chaotic? I’d love to know!
- 1/4 cup dried dates, coarsely chopped
- segments from 1/2 large grapefruit
- 1/3 cup (2 2/3 oz) freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 4 Tbs unsalted butter
- 2 Tbs mild-flavored honey
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour, if you have it)
- 3/4 cup oat bran
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbs loosely packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 8 oz (1 carton) plain Greek yogurt (non-fat is fine)
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg white
- 1/4 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400° F with a rack in the center. Lightly oil 12 of the cups in your mini muffin tin and set aside. (If you choose to use paper wrappers, I recommend spritzing them lightly with cooking/baking spray -- clingy little things!)
- Combine the grapefruit segments and juice, dates, butter, and honey in a small saucepan, and place over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until dates are soft. Remove from heat; cool.
- In the meantime, combine flour, bran, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk. Make a well in the center. Set aside. Whisk together the brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through egg white) in a small bowl. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture, and stir until just combined. Gently fold in date-grapefruit mixture.
- With a couple spoons or small ice cream scoop, divide batter evenly among the 12 greased mini muffin cups. For an optional garnish, place a few sunflower seeds on top of each muffin. Bake on the center rack of your oven for 10 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
- Remove muffins from the tin to a wire rack after they've cooled several minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store completely cooled muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or tightly-wrapped in the freezer up to 1 month. To enjoy later: thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or microwave for 10 to 20 seconds until warmed through.
+ FIGGY ORANGE MUFFINS: Use dried figs instead of dates, orange or tangerine instead of grapefruit segments + juice, almond extract instead of vanilla, and add 1 tsp cardamom or star anise.
+ PINA COLADA MUFFINS: Substitute dried pineapple, papaya or mango for the dates, and add 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut in with the dry ingredients. Feeling decadent? Top with a few chopped macadamia nuts.
+ HARVEST APPLE MUFFINS: Golden raisins and apple juice in place of the dates and grapefruit juice. Once the raisins are plump from warming, add cubes of peeled apple (from 1 small apple). Add 2 tsp cinnamon and a dash each of nutmeg and ground cloves to the dry ingredients.
MORE IDEAS: The sky's the limit for swapping dried and fresh fruit, spices, extracts, and seed/nut toppers -- get creative! || Sneak in some veg -- stir 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated zucchini, summer squash or carrot into the wet ingredients. || Create a fancy breakfast or brunch -- bake in 6 small ramekins and serve with a spoon. Place the ramekins on a large baking tray, and increase the baking time to 15 minutes, until tops are golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.
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