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In the kitchen:small changes, big impacts


One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to take a decadent recipe that I find in a magazine, a book or online and then put my “healthful” spin on it. Sometimes my tinkering results in a rousing success where no one can tell the difference between “my” recipe and the original. Others are meh, and I need to start over. But, that’s my favorite part: the experimenting, the learning, the trial and error.

To me, spending time in the kitchen is about so much more than just “getting a meal on the table”. It’s about trying new flavor combinations, tinkering with new techniques, experimenting with different ingredients and how they’ll react to one another. Yes, I have those days (many actually), where my family is hungry, I am frazzled and someone needs to be somewhere in 10 minutes. Those are NOT the nights I tinker, those are the nights I just hurry up and get everyone fed.

But, for those wonderful days or nights when you have the time, the inclination or the inspiration, I encourage you to try something new! Take a recipe that you know isn’t the healthiest thing you make and see if you can tweak it a bit. See if your family can taste a difference. Chances are, they won’t, but you will. You’ll know that you’re making some really wonderful changes to your family’s diets. Often, just tweaking one small part of the recipe will yield wonderful results. I love finding ways to add ingredients that have enormous health qualities that my family will benefit from. For instance, my kids get so excited when I make a batch of my pumpkin muffins. They don’t know (and probably don’t care!) that they’re loaded with ingredients like ground flax (healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants), unsweetened apple sauce (vitamin C and fiber) and oat flour (rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals).

I have to admit, sometimes I do go overboard and I try to add ground flax and hemp/chia seeds to just about everything I make. This is usually when my family revolts and complains. Then, I know I need to slow down. If I want to make healthy eating something that my family enjoys and maintains, I have to remember that moderation is the best approach.

Take it from me: it doesn’t have to be all at once, start gradually. Don’t try to change everything overnight. Slow and steady always wins the race!

Some of my favorite swaps:

  • 1 TBSP ground flax mixed with 3 TBSP water instead of 1 egg (only when baking)

  • Unsweetened applesauce instead of butter or oil

  • oat, cashew or almond milk instead of cow’s milk

  • date sugar, date paste, maple syrup or honey instead of bleached white sugar

  • vegetable broth instead of oil or butter when sautéing

  • make your own salad dressing instead of jarred or bottled

  • sprinkle hemp seeds on a dish of pasta instead of Parmesan cheese

  • spritz olive oil and sprinkle nutritional yeast (it really tastes like cheese!) on popcorn instead of butter and Parmesan cheese

 

JANE’S PUMPKIN MUFFINS

makes about 24 mini muffins or 12 large muffins

  • 3 cups oat flour

  • 1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

  • 2 TBSP ground flax mixed with 6 TBSP warm water

  • 1 cup plain coconut, oat or nut milk

  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 3 TBSP melted coconut oil or 3 TBSP unsweetened apple sauce

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • optional: turbinado sugar for sprinkling

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan or 24-cup mini muffin pan with parchment or cupcake liners.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the first four ingredients. Set aside.

  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flax eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, coconut oil/applesauce and vanilla extract.

  4. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredient bowl, try not to over mix!

  5. Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin cups. Then sprinkle a pinch of turbinado sugar on top of each muffin, if you would like.

  6. For the large muffins: bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. For the small muffins, bake for 12-14 minutes

  7. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.

  8. Store in sealed container for up to 3 days in the fridge or freeze for up to 3 months.

With love,

Jane


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