What happens when I ask my daughter what she want to make with me in the kitchen? She looks around the room, finds something that inspires her, then decides to work that into her world of what she knows she likes. In this case, she found some organic oranges sitting on the counter and she immediately blurted out, “orange muffins!” This was so strange to me, because although my daughter loves muffins, she is not fond of oranges. So I thought about it for a few minutes and decided that this may be a good way to re-introduce her to oranges.
I try to make muffins that contain some kind of whole grain (or other high fiber grain-free flour) with a good protein content as my kids tend to crash and remain hungry after downing a refined carbohydrate muffin that is full of sugar. So I experimented with some ricotta in this recipe and kept the sugar down to a minimal amount while still hoping for a semi-sweet muffin. Additionally, when making baked items or pastries I often use whole wheat pastry flour as it is 100% whole grain and allows for a much lighter texture than whole wheat flour (even white whole wheat flour). I typically find organic whole wheat pastry flour at Whole Foods (365 brand) and sometime purchase it online through Vitacost (Bob’s Red Mill brand). I would definitely consider it my go-to flour aside from coconut flour.
For our initial trial of this recipe my daughter decided to add mini chocolate chips to the batter. Both my kids felt like they were eating cupcakes and loved that variation. However, the next time we made them we added dried cherries which were also delicious. I can imagine these would be awesome with mini white chocolate chips and dried cranberries or fresh blueberries, yum. The possibilities are endless, so let your kids decide 🙂
- 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 c. granulated sugar (organic)
- 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter or coconut oil (you can also sub your favorite oil as I like to bake with Walnut oil), melted
- 2 Eggs
- 1/4 c. ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (equals about 1 medium-sized orange)
- Zest of 1 organic orange
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Your choice of: 1/4 c unsweetened and unsulphered dried cherries (I buy mine at Trader Joes). Or you can substitute any other dried or fresh fruit of your choice or add a little surprise with 2-3 Tbsp of mini chocolate chips.
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- Sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl mix together the sugar, butter, eggs, ricotta, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
- Gently fold in the dried cherries (or other add-ins that you have chosen. My kids love the mini chocolate chip version of course).
- Spoon batter into a mini muffin pan lined with mini baking cups (I use the following liners as it helps to avoid losing half the mini muffin to the pan or the liners and it also helps tremendously with clean up: http://www.ifyoucare.com/product/fsc-certified-baking-cups-fsc-c005046). Fill each liner about 3/4 full. (makes 24 mini muffins)
- Bake for ~15 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center and come out clean.
- Wait for the muffins to cool a bit and dig in.
We’ve also tried these with a dollop of cream cheese “frosting” (organic cream cheese, a small drizzle of pure maple syrup, a splash of freshly squeezed orange juice and some orange zest) which was absolutely delicious! Make sure you taste along the way and make it the way you like it!