One project of mine is to develop my knowledge and skills for baking with less sugar and develop recipes using no refined sugar. The challenging part of baking without refined sugars is, often sugar has more than one function in a recipe, especially in baked goods. Sugar not only adds flavor, it helps develop the structure and texture in desserts. Whipping sugar and butter together makes cakes and cookies that are tender, light and airy as well as tasting sweet. So, when baked goods do not contain refined sugar it is easy to create a dense and dry muffin, cake or cookie. I believe I averted that challenge and created my first low sugar / no refined sugar muffin with my Good Morning Glory Muffins. These muffins are loaded with healthy and fresh ingredients, and naturally sweetened and moist. They are tender without being weighted down from all the fresh ingredients. A great breakfast to start your day.
Traditional Morning Glory Muffins are easily adapted to a no refined sugar recipe because the grated carrots add a subtle sweet flavor. It also combines all-purpose and whole wheat flours in the recipe. For my recipe, in addition to using grated carrots, I added grated zucchini, grated apples, apple sauce and Medjool dates. The grated carrots, zucchini, and apples I used for texture and flavor, while the applesauce and dates help sweeten the muffins. Apples and dates have a lot of natural sugar and melt when baked into muffins and cakes. They also have a lot of fiber. This helps slow down the digestion which is important to anyone who is counting carbs or watching their blood sugar.
The grated zucchini, grated apples and applesauce provide a lot of moisture. To prevent the muffins from getting soggy, I recommend squeezing out some of the water in the zucchini and apple. You do not have to squeeze them dry but getting rid of most of the water is helpful in creating a tender muffin.
Good Morning Glory Muffins
What I like about these Morning Glory Muffins is they are moist without being heavy and have subtle flavors including the sweetness. You definitely will taste the wheat, but it is not dry tasting. How sweet the muffins tastes depend on how well the chopped dates are incorporated throughout the muffin batter. I do not believe they need more dates in the muffins, otherwise they would be too sweet. Also, Good Morning Glory Muffins are hearty muffins without being heavy, so they won’t weigh you down.
Normally I love bold flavors, but with this recipe the spices create a deliberate subtle flavor profile. Even though I believe there is no such thing as too much fresh ginger, I wanted that flavor to come intermittently between bites like a surprise citrusy-ginger wake up call. The cinnamon is subtle as well, so it won’t over take the muffin flavor. However, each spice is easily adjusted to suit your taste. Often, cinnamon and fresh ginger contribute a sweet flavor in baked goods even though by themselves they are not sweet at all.
Switch it Up
When I first taste tested my Morning Glory Muffins, I thought they needed extra sweetener, so I added a small amount of honey. However, if the dates are evenly mixed in the batter, each muffin should taste sweet without the extra honey. I do not recommend adding more honey as the flavor will overpower the muffins. You can substitute the honey with maple syrup or agave syrup. If you want less sugar, please feel free to omit the honey or, keep the honey and reduce the amount of dates to 3.
Also, to keep these Morning Glory Muffins in the low sugar category, I did not add raisins. Like dates, raisins contain a lot of natural sugar and I was concerned adding them it would make the muffins too sweet. If you are not concerned about the amount of sugar in your muffin add no more than a 1/2 cup (125 ml) of raisins and you will enjoy a sweeter muffin more characteristic to a traditional Morning Glory Muffin.
Grated unsweetened coconut is also a nice addition adding another element in texture and flavor. Add up to a 1/2 cup (125 ml) unsweetened flaky coconut.
Determining when the Good Morning Glory Muffins are done
The hardest part about making these muffins is determining when they are done. Because of the amount of vegetables in the recipe and all the moisture from the zucchini, apples and eggs the traditional toothpick test is not reliable here because the batter does not cling to the toothpick. However, I still recommend using a toothpick to check for doneness. Instead of looking at the toothpick to see if there is any wet batter clinging to it, touch the end with your finger tips to feel if it is sticky and moist. If it is, the muffins need to continue baking. When the tooth pick feels on the dry side of moist and is not sticky, the Morning Glory Muffins are done.
Additional clues the muffins are done baking are the color and if the muffins spring back when you lightly touch the muffin tops. They should have a nice golden brown color and spring back into shape after you touch the muffin tops.
Nutritional Information for Good Morning Glory Muffins
According to My Fitness Pal calorie and nutrition calculator, when made according to my recipe each muffin has 203 calories. Has 7 grams of fat (11% DRV), of which 1 gram is saturated fat, 4 grams are monounsaturated fat and 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, plus 0 trans-fat. Each muffin has 31 grams of cholesterol (10% DRV) which comes from the eggs. All other ingredients do not contain any cholesterol. Other nutritional points of interest are: Sodium 143 mg (6% DRV), potassium 217 mg (6% DRV), total carbohydrates at 34 g (11% DRV), with dietary fiber at 7 g (30% DRV), and sugar at 10 g. Also, each muffin contains 4 g (8% DRV) of protein, 41% Vitamin A, 16% Vitamin C, 15% Calcium and 10% Iron.
Because of the power of the sugar lobby, nutritional labels do not show the Daily Recommended Value (DRV) for sugar. If must be a concerning percentage if the sugar industry does not want us to know. I was hoping to get these muffins in the single digits, but with 7 grams of dietary fiber I believe they are relatively low in sugar.
More recipes using no refined sugar or less sugar.
Low Fat Granola you can adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe by reducing the amount of dried fruit. Using fresh ginger instead of crystallized ginger is also a great way to cut back on the sugar.
Good Morning Glory Muffins
This muffin recipe is my adaptation for a low sugar Morning Glory Muffin. There is no refined sugar and are loaded with lots of fresh ingredients like apples, zucchini, sweet carrots and Medjool dates. These muffins are not sweet but will contain some sweet bites depending on how many dates are scattered about in each muffin. They are a delicious and healthy choice for breakfast.
For extra protein, serve with ½ cup (66 ml) low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt. Or Laban a Lebanese cheese made with yogurt.
Best served warm and the day it is made. Serving size =1 muffin.
- ½ cup 43 g shelled walnuts
- 1 ¼ cup 179 g all-purposed flour
- ¾ cup 120 g whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp 2 g Kosher salt
- 2 tsp 10 g baking powder
- ½ tsp 1 g ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg less than a gram
- 1 ½ tsp minced fresh ginger 7 g
- 4 Medjool dates 62 g minced
- 1 zucchini 8 oz / 239 g about 1 2/3 cups grated
- 2 carrots 6 ½ oz / 185 g 1 packed cup grated
- 1 apple 6 ½ oz / 185 g ¾ cup grated
- ½ cup 125 ml apple sauce
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup canola oil or 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 TB honey
Preheat the oven to 375°F/ 190°C / Gas Mark 5 and place the rack in the middle position. Spray each muffin cup with cooking spray. Soak up any excess oil with a paper towel. Or fill each muffin cup with a paper liner.
Toast the walnuts
Heat a small skillet over high heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the shelled walnuts to the skillet and shake the skillet to move the walnuts around the pan. Keep the walnuts in motion by moving the skillet back and forth, shake the skillet or toss with a spoon. The walnuts are toasted when you begin to smell a nutty scent, about 30 seconds. Do not let the walnuts brown or burn.
Immediately turn off the heat and pour the walnuts onto a cutting board to cool. Chop the walnuts to small bite size pieces. Set aside.
Prepare the Zucchini and Apple
Place the grated zucchini in a fine mesh strainer and squeeze out most of the excess water. Squeeze several times to get as much water out. Place on a plate and reserve.
Add the grated apples to the fine mesh strainer and squeeze out some of the water from the apples. Place on the plate with the zucchini. Add the grated carrots to the plate. Set aside.
Make the batter
Add the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, Kosher salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, minced ginger to a large mixing bowl. With a wire whisk, stir until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Add the minced dates into the flour and toss the dates around to coat with flour. Use your hands to separate the clumps of chopped dates to get them evenly distributed in the flour.
Slide the grated zucchini, grated carrots, grated apples, and chopped walnuts into the flour mix and stir to mix.
Add the applesauce, canola oil, eggs, vanilla, and honey then stir to mix. Carefully stir until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. You want to be careful to not over mix the batter, but it does need to get all mixed together. It is a thick batter.
Scoop up a heaping ¼ cup of batter with a dry measuring cup and pour the batter into a muffin tin. Repeat to fill all 12 muffin cups. Divide any remaining batter around to even out the muffins.
Bake in the oven for 35– 40 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and the top of the muffins spring back when touched. Also, when a toothpick is no longer sticky to touch after it was inserted into the center of a muffin.
Remove from the oven and cool the muffins in its' pan placed on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, cool in the muffin tin, or remove each muffin and cool on the rack.
Best eaten the day they are made, but will last for 2-3 days stored in an air tight container. Reheat in a microwave or oven.
Can be frozen individually wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for up to one month.
Because there is a lot of fruit and vegetables what have a lot of water it creates a very moist muffin. The traditionally reliable toothpick method of checking to see when a baked good is done, does not work here. No crumbs and batter cling to the toothpick even when they need more baking.
I still recommend using a toothpick, but in a different way. After 30 minutes, insert a toothpick into the middle of a muffin and take it out. Pinch the end of the toothpick that was inside the muffin, if it feels very moist and sticky, the muffins need more time. The muffins are done when the toothpick feels on the dry side of moist, plus is not sticky. These muffins take longer to bake because of the amount of moisture in the batter, anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Breakfast, how I love thee, let me count the ways. I love thee for the replenishment after an evening’s fast. I love thee for the breakfast coffee which awakens me from my evening slumber. I love thee for the simple unpretentious food like cereal, eggs, toast and fruit which ease me into a new day. I love thee for the endless sweet and savory discoveries that enlighten me.
Alas, more breakfast love has come my way in the form of a new breakfast discovery. It is not sexy or fancy but belongs in the simple and unpretentious category – baked oatmeal. I happen to like oatmeal, and all hot cereal, so I am open-minded to this idea of baking it. However, if you are not a fan of oatmeal this might be the recipe that will win you over. It is one of the easiest and adaptable breakfast recipes around.
For the last 50 something years, I have been dutifully stirring a pot of oatmeal to just the right consistency, without ever questioning if there was a better way. That was foolish of me, because there is. What a novel idea. It is so simple, I am kicking myself for not thinking of this earlier. Apparently, it is an old secret because the Amish have been baking oatmeal for generations.
Baked oatmeal is rolled oats layered between fruit and sweetened with maple syrup and milk. It is like a cross between a bread pudding and a fruit crumble without the crunch. It is not custardy or rich like bread pudding, but there is a similar texture. The rolled oats absorb the maple syrup and milk, plus the juices of all the fruit and spices while it is baking. This process transforms oatmeal from an indistinguishable porridge to a healthy baked breakfast treat. It is so good, you will believe you are eating dessert for breakfast, minus the guilt.
While I was baking breakfast rolled oats, the house filled with the sweet scent of maple syrup, apple pie and oatmeal cookies. It was quite intoxicating. I had almost forgotten how magical these aromas can be. Despite the fact I had just eaten lunch, the smell of baked oatmeal made me so hungry, I became impatient for the oatmeal to finish. This seductive smell is very persuasive and could convert any oatmeal skeptic to grab a spoon and dig in. Certainly, I wish I knew about this 28 years ago when I tried and miserably failed, to get my kids to eat hot cereal. I can imagine their chiming, “Is it done yet? Can I have some?”
Easy Adaptations for Baked Oatmeal
As I mentioned earlier, baked oatmeal is one of the most adaptable recipes around. If you are on a non-dairy diet, substitute milk with unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk. If you are on a vegan diet, substitute with non-dairy milk and a flaxseed egg substitute. Full disclosure, I haven’t tested that yet, but I don’t see why it would not work. If you make this a vegan breakfast, please let me know how it goes.
Additionally, use your favorite fruit or whatever is in season. I made this fruit filling because I needed to use up some leftover dried fruit from my pantry. The dried figs, apricots and cranberries went perfectly with apples and minced ginger. Follow the basic recipe, then substitute the fruit with any seasonal fruit you have available, even frozen fruit. They all work. If raisins are the only fruit you want to use, then you will need a fresh fruit like apples, or bananas sliced lengthwise and cover the bottom of the pan. Mix the raisins with the rolled oats and proceed as directed. The fruit on the bottom of your baking dish will help prevent the oats from sticking to the pan.
Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks, is my primary source and where I first discovered this simple but remarkable breakfast. For this recipe, I followed a basic formula I found consistent in most baked oatmeal recipes. Typically, they all had about 2 cups of rolled oats, 2 cups of liquid, 1 egg, melted butter, a sweetener, and various amounts of fruit and spices.
March is a tweener month for fresh produce, and why this recipe includes apples and dried fruit. I love to combine fresh and dried fruits. The concentrated flavors of the dried fruit add a lot of fruit flavor. Plus, I had a lot of odd amounts of dried fruit that I needed to use up, and this recipe is perfect for that. My baked oatmeal has a decent amount of fruit in it, but if you want a ratio of more oatmeal than fruit, it is easy to scale the fruit down. Just make sure there is a good fruit layer on the bottom of your pan.
Baked oatmeal is also easy to make ahead and reheat it for a later time. I like to make it on a Sunday morning, then reheat individual portions in the microwave throughout the week. This makes the work week easier to manage when I don’t have to think about what’s for breakfast. You can also prepare it ahead, refrigerate, then reheat the whole dish, covered in aluminum foil, in the oven.
To be honest, I was surprised at how good baked oatmeal is. However, there is one downsize, and that is I used three bowls to make it. Baked oatmeal may require more cleanup, but it is more enjoyable to eat than the standard stove top recipe. This is one new discovery worth making. Oh baked oatmeal, how I love thee.
Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Apricots
- 2 apples which can be different varieties but should be ones that do not get too mushy when baked
- 6 dried apricots
- 6 dried figs
- ¼ - ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 heaping Tbs of minced ginger
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 tsp if using store bought ground nutmeg
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- Shy ½ cup chopped walnuts optional
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground ginger optional
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbs melted butter
- 2 cups milk or unsweetened nondairy milk - like coconut or almond milk
- 1/3 cup real maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375˚F / 190˚C / Gas Mark 5 and place the rack on the top third of the oven. Generously butter an 8’ x 8” (20cm square) baking pan.
Core and slice the apples then chop into decent bite size pieces. There is no need to peel the apples. Mince the dried apricots into pieces between ¼ inch to ½ inch big. Chop the dried figs into bite size pieces.
Add the prepared fruit into a mixing bowl, then add lemon juice, freshly ground nutmeg, and minced ginger. Mix well to get all the fruit evenly distributed. Set aside.
In another bowl mix together the rolled oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and most of the chopped walnuts. (Reserve some walnuts to sprinkle on the top). Mix the ingredients together to get evenly combined. Set aside.
In a third bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, pure vanilla extract, and room temperature melted butter until thoroughly mixed together. Set aside.
Putting it all together.
Add a good layer of the prepared fruit to generously cover the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Add the oatmeal and spread it to cover the layer of fruit. Pour the milk mixture all over the oatmeal, and tilt the pan to encourage the milk to flow into all corners and throughout the oatmeal. Bang the pan against the counter to make sure the liquid has flowed completely through the rolled oats and fruit. Add the remaining fruit and chopped nuts to cover the top of the oatmeal.
Bake for 35 – 45 minutes until it is golden brown on top and looks set in the middle.
Remove the baked oatmeal from the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Spoon portions of the baked oatmeal in a bowl and serve warm plain, or with additional milk or yogurt. I think it is sweet enough as is, but add more maple syrup if you want it sweeter.
Store in the refrigerator covered for several days. Re-heat in the microwave in a glass container covered with a paper towel.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
I made a new discovery this past week. As I was walking around the produce department I spotted a fruit that I had never seen before, lemon plums. The color was what first grabbed my attention, a warm vibrant yellow with a thin smooth skin. Their shape is somewhat similar to a lemon and somewhat similar to a plum, but longer and a little larger. These days anything bright and warm looking will hold the attention of any skeptical winter weary person. The end of winter is here and we North easterners no longer see the virtue in the color grey. I stared at these lemon plums as if I was watching a long summer sunrise. Entranced, I collected some plums to buy and bring home.
My research informed me that lemon plums are in season now and from Chile. They are rare and I was instructed to snatch them up when I saw them. Lemon plums are picked when they are yellow and unripe. As they ripen they gradually turn the color of a reddish-orange, the darker they get the riper and sweeter they will become.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.