Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blueberry Muffin Morning

That's a mini muffin in front from a different recipe. Just ignore it. The blueberry ones are in the back! Look how tall and fluffy them things are! Awesome!

These blueberry muffins are awesome. They're moist and fluffy and full of blueberry deliciousness. After scouring the web forever trying to find a recipe I could make real quick one day, I got discouraged by all the recipes I saw. They were all high in fat or calories, skimpy on the blueberries, or super high in sugar.

Determined to make a muffin that was most excellent, I looked up and old-fashioned recipe from like 30 years ago and completely veganized it. What resulted was perfect the first time, and to my delight, they still puffed up almost 3 inches tall! No sad, flat vegan muffins today! I had them out on my kitchen table and the roomies and the boyfriend completely ate them up.

Anywho, these muffins contain a chia seed "egg", which is basically 2 tsp. ground chia seed stirred into 1 Tb. warm water and left to sit a minute. Chia seeds are awesome. They're higher in Omega-3s than flax seeds and because they're very high in antioxidants they don't spoil as easy either. Chia seeds also help slow sugar absorption, which is why I like to combine chia seeds with anything containing a decent amount of sugar. I don't know whether they will actually help to slow the sugar absorption with these muffins (because they're aren't a lot in the whole recipe), but I'm anxiously awaiting some research to support that they indeed, do. Speaking of sugar though, these muffins aren't overly sweet. I saw some recipes that contained an entire cup of sugar (!!!) but these only have half that. I'm hypoglycemic and concerned about my sugar intake so I try to rely more on fruit juices and purees to sweeten baked goods. However, everyone agreed that these muffins had the right amount of sweetness so I'll leave the tampering up to you!

Also, after thawing the blueberries (I'm not gonna lie, I just rinsed them under some hot water), I shook them around in about a tablespoon of flour so they didn't all sink to the bottom of the muffin.

Okay, now you can have the recipe!

Blueberry Muffins:
1 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour or graham flour
1/2 c. turbinado (unrefined) sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 chia "egg" (2 tsp. ground chia in 1 Tb. warm water)
1 c. soymilk
1/4 c. oil
1/4 c. no-sugar-added applesauce (I never understood why they added sugar anyway!)
3/4 c. frozen blueberries, thawed
1 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400.

1. In a medium bowl, combine the unbleached flour, wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

2. In a large bowl, combine the soymilk, oil, applesauce, lemon juice, and chia "egg".

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together about 50 strokes. As with all muffins, the batter will be lumpy so do not over stir!

4. Fold in the blueberries.

5. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray and fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake about 15-25 minutes (depends on the size of the muffin and your oven) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

10 muffins, 132 calories / 3.5 g. fat each.

NOTE: I only have one big muffin pan, and with all vegan baked goods you need to get them all in the oven as soon as possible so that they don't go flat. When I made this recipe myself I made 24 mini muffins and 2 regular-sized muffins. The mini muffins cooked in about 15 minutes. Also, 30 mini muffins (the total amount made by this recipe) have only 44 calories and 1.25 grams of fat each.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tea? Yes, please!

I just read a study about green tea that got me all excited!

We all know that green tea is super good for you. It's full of polyphenols and antioxidants, and study after study suggests that it's a possibly a good cancer preventative.

In a Purdue University study (from 2009), they found that when ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and sugar were added to a cup of brewed green tea, it increased the absorbability of catechins (a class of polyphenols that are antioxidants thought to lower your risk of stroke, heart attack, cancer, diabetes...) into the bloodstream almost three-fold!

This got me really excited because it meant that I can make green tea even better for me just by adding a slice of lemon and a tad bit of sugar (stevia and other sweeteners will work just as well as the table sugar used in the study). How awesome is that?


However, not all teas are treated equally.

Why should I buy organic green tea?

We all know what organic means. It means the food in question has been grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Plants are like sponges, some more than others. When you eat something that's been processed/grown with chemicals, those chemicals are passed on to you. Most of the time it's in minute amounts, but over time it can be enough to compromise your health.

Many pesticides that were found to be exceptionally harmful to human health have been banned by the United States. For example, DDT. DDT is an organophosphate that has not been used in the United States since the 1970s, but just because something is banned here doesn't mean it's banned somewhere else. Green tea is grown in Asia, an area where DDT use is still legal (and still widely manufactured).

A scary thing has happened here. Suddenly, our health drink has become a poison (just google DDT and green tea if you're curious).

What can we do about it?

For starters, be sure to buy tea that is labeled and certified organic. These teas have more rigorous controls set on them and are less likely to become contaminated. Not just when they're growing, but during the manufacturing process as well.

Secondly, it's best to buy teas that come from a single source. Many teas on the market are "blends". These blends combine teas from multiple sources in order to save money. They can have multiple countries of origin and have a higher chance of being contaminated. Not only that, blended teas are usually not farmed using sustainable or fair-trade practices.

Don't think I'm trying to scare you!

Green tea is a wonderful health drink, a gift from God, and as long as you buy organic green tea you can be sure that the chemical impact on your body, and the environment, is minimal. Although DDT was only found in 2 out of 10 brands in the study (that's a 1 in 5 chance, now), it's still quite alarming. You wouldn't have bought that tea if you knew there was DDT in it, now would you?

So remember, for Earth's sake AND your health, you have another reason to go organic!

Also, in order to reap the most health benefits from your tea, be sure to steep it for at least 3 minutes... and serve it with some lemon and sugar!

And if it tastes like grass, you're drinking the wrong tea!