Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

It's a funny Northern California Saturday in March--cool and sunny in the morning, turning to clouds and damp mid-day. As I typed that sentence I heard the strange sound of rushing water outside only to find nickel-sized hail suddenly coming down.

This morning was the first day that all of us are whole again after a nasty stomach bug. It hits for about eight miserable hours and leaves the victim wrung up for the next 36 hours. I ate toast and bananas for three days afterwards, and still don't feel ready to face things like a big bowl of bibimbap and kimchee.

I've decided once and for all I'm changing the ways I feed my family. No more running through the drive-through because Juiceboy can't find a thing for dinner (or I'm more in the mood for a burrito than I am for soup, or salad, or a ham sandwich....). And no more cheaping out not getting the stuff that I know is best for the family because I feel it's too expensive. Take for example, milk. I know organic milk is the best way to go with two growing boys. But I see the $6/gallon price tag and choke, knowing I can get two gallons of regular milk for the same amount.

And yet, I'll spend upwards of $80 a week just getting take-out and coffee.

So, this morning, I made some muffins. Muffins?! you say, "muffins are fattening and terrible for you!" But look at this recipe. It's got low-fat yogurt, flax, and big, fat blueberries. This recipe yields 12 smaller muffins or 10 to 11 larger muffins, and results in moist, fluffy, sticky muffins that needed no butter or jam.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

2 cups minus three large tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 heaping tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground organic flax (optional)**

2 large eggs
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons warm melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest (add more to taste)
Juice of half a lemon

1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then, in a smaller bowl, whisk the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a few strokes until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Don't overmix--the batter will be lumpy. Gently fold in the blueberries. Spray your muffin pan or line with muffin cups, then divide out the batter. I like to make eleven slightly bigger muffins and put water in the last cup to add moisture to the oven (I don't know if this really works....).

Cook in a 400-degree oven for approximately 22 minutes. You can check for doneness by sticking a toothpick into a few of the muffins. If it's clean, they're ready. Let cool for a few minutes, but serve warm. If not serving immediately, let them cool on a rack, or they'll get soggy bottoms. And no one likes a soggy bottom.
**Costco carries organic ground flax in a nice big container with screw-top lid. It even comes with a handy scoop. Mine was under $10 and I found it in the cereal aisle.

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