Tag Archives: healthy

Spiced Apple Muffins


Breakfasts are a big deal in our house.  Mostly, because we hardly ever have them.  Breakfast for me is usually a battered banana grabbed with my ‘venti  latte’ after the school drop off, and invariably on the run.  A protein shake has been breakfast of choice for the man of the house of late, and a piece of toast slathered with peanut butter scoffed in his car seat on the way to school is usually what passes for a well-rounded first meal for my four-year-old.  I should know better.  Peanut butter, toast and cars is not a good culinary combination.

Seriously… I really should know better.  I actually do know better.  I am trained to know better.   In fact, thanks to this training and experience I am paid real money occasionally to advise on the nutritional value of meals, the importance of whole grains, the way to construct balanced menus and ensure that meals include the necessary amounts of carbs, proteins and fresh produce.  But stuff all that.  I am a mother.  I really really should know better.

I am admitting all this because I am hoping that others will relate to the logistic impossibility of feeding a family a three course meal and getting out of the door before half past seven.  I also know that the reason my son is slumped against the wall at his football lesson (which he has been counting how many sleeps until all week), picking his nose, and gazing at the sky, is because he didn’t have a decent breakfast. 

Today, though, I feel as though I have cracked it.

Fresh fruit, glass of milk and a muffin.  Easy.  In fact, I have now discovered it is even easier if you measure out the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, and lay out the muffin cases the night before.   Just grate the apple into the wet ingredients while the oven heats up, mix them all together, fill the cases, and pop them into the oven while you’re in the shower.  By the time you are dressed, and your brood has made it to the table, the house is filled with an aroma that should be able to entice even the pickiest of eaters.  With fruit, fibre and a full belly, my wannabe Beckham is ready for the day, and (at least for the time it takes to drive to school), I get to feel like mother of the week.

Spiced Apple Muffins

2 cups plain flour (or 1 plain and 1 wholemeal if feeling virtuous)

1 TBSP baking powder

2/3 cup caster sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

2/3 cup canola/corn/sunflower oil

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 TBSP vanilla extract

1 grated apple (peel and all…but not the core!), 2 if they are very small.  Squeeze out excess juice.

1 TBSP oatmeal to sprinkle on top


Preheat oven to 180C.

Place muffin cups (large cupcake cases) into muffin holes in tin ready to receive mixture.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  You can use a whisk to do this – just make sure everything is well combined and evenly distributed – you don’t want a clump of cinnamon or baking powder when you bite into them!  In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together, as well as the grated apple until totally combined.  Tip wet into dry and mix with a fork until they just combine.  Do not over-mix or you will end up with a tough, bouncy muffin.

Use an ice cream scoop to measure out wet muffin mix into the cases – it limits the spillage and you can measure out mix more accurately.  Fill cases to ¾ full for a lovely high topped muffin or half full for a more cupcake style version.

Sprinkle with oatmeal, bake for about 12 minutes and remove when they are puffed up, golden, and spring back when touched.  Eat hot!


Filed under Autumn, Fun to do with little people..., Recipes, Spring Recipes, Summer, Sweet, Winter

Smug Breakfast…Homemade Granola and Muesli


Something happens to me around New Year and I encounter a new-found determination to be virtuous when it comes to culinary consumption….or at least to become considerably better at hiding my persistent lack of virtue.  This year, my need to become a little more virtuous came a little late!  About six months late.

In search of something to help put the shine back on my aura, kick start my quest for good karma and generally induce a state of sandal wearing smugness; I reached the conclusion that I should start making my own Granola…..and Muesli.

A bit of shopping in my store cupboard revealed bags of partially devoured, now orphaned, dried fruits, nuts and seeds; cranberries, blueberries, cherries, apple rings, dried mango slices, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds.   A large bowl and a wooden spoon later and I had a glorious looking “Trail Mix”.   

Unfortunately however, the random combination of varying out-of-date, dessicated fruits and stale seeds was not an unmitigated success.  It did however inspire me to create a family of wholesome additions to our usual store-bought cereals and snacks that actually look as good as they taste with a smattering of health conscious ingredients to balance out the maple syrup and sugar etc. that renders it not just edible but really pretty damn good!



In an effort to minimise the number of orphaned small amounts of fruits, seeds and nuts in your store cupboard as a result of creating these wholesome recipes, I have written them in a way that means that if made together you will use the whole bag (in most instances) of the average supermarket sized unit of each ingredient.  Whatever you have left you can use to experiment with your own “Trail Mix” recipe.


500g Rolled oats (If your bag is a 600g one just use the lot)

500g rolled wheat

150g flaked almonds (or slivered if you like more crunch)

100g pumpkin seeds

100g golden flaxseed

150g walnut pieces

100g dessicated coconut


Mix together well all the above ingredients.  Then add 1 cup of grapeseed or sunflower oil, and 1 cup of maple syrup until all is lightly coated and well blended.  Lay out fairly thinly on 2 or 3 baking sheets or roasting trays lined with baking parchment – then roast in a 180C oven for about 10 minutes or until nicely golden.  Keep a close watch as they can go from crispy to cremated pretty quickly! 

Take out of the oven before they go too brown and don’t be tempted to stir for a few minutes, the mixture will crisp up as it cools and this way you get lovely clumps of granola stuck together.  When cool mix in the following fruits:

200g dried cranberries (slice randomly if they are whole)

100g of dried cherries (if you can find them and they are not too expensive you can use them instead of the cranberries – really lovely)

100g dried blueberries

200g nice big juicy black raisins

250g golden raisins/sultanas

250g sliced dried apricots

At this point the sky is the limit, and frankly as long as you vaguely stick to the measurements of the fruits you can add in almost anything you like. For a tropical version try adding dried mango and papaya, or go really fruity and add dates, dried figs and even prunes.’ Keep it in an airtight box or as we do, in giant glass kilner type jars.  When presented in this way they make good presents too with a homemade label made from left over christmas wrapping and a nicely written list of ingredients tied with pretty string around the neck.

Just a thought…

Maple, Pecan, Cinnamon  and Apple Granola

 A hot favourite in our house is swapping the walnuts for pecans in the recipe above, and taking out all the fruit except the raisins and sultanas. Add chopped up dried apple rings and a really good pinch of cinnamon.  This makes a really comforting combination that is particularly loved by children and adults when used as a topping for anything as virtuos as porridge or decadent as ice cream, or even served with hot milk in the winter months for a hearty breakfast.


500g Rolled oats (If your bag is a 600g one just use the lot)

500g rolled wheat

75g raw wheatgerm (if you can find it – adds a lovely nuttiness)

100g sesame seeds

100g sunflower seeds

100g flaked almonds (or slivered if you like more crunch)

100g pumpkin seeds

100g golden flaxseed

100g walnut pieces

50g dried cranberries

250g golden raisins

200g raisins

Put the whole lot in the biggest bowl you own (an immaculately clean washing up bowl works just fine) and mix well.  Place in an airtight container and it should last as long as the closest ‘best before’ date on the fruits – usually a good six months.

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Filed under Autumn, Everything!, Fun to do with little people..., Recipes, Spring Recipes, Summer, Sweet, Winter