Monday, March 2, 2009

High-Fibre Veggie Muffins

A few weeks ago I got an email from Diann, the lovely author of Eat'n Veg'n, that I was the lucky winner of the Lexen Juicer that she was giving away. Well, much to my delight, it arrived last Thursday, and while I've had it less than a week, and only used it 4 times, I'm already growing quite fond of it. The manufacturer bills it as a wheatgrass juicer, but to get technical its simply a masticating type juicer. This means that much like how a cow slowly grinds and chews its cud, the juicer slowly grinds whatever you put in it to get the "juice" out. Again, just like a cow, this works great on fibrous and leafy plants such as (wheat)grass or spinach, but not so much on oranges (ok, it does work on them, just inefficiently).

My new juicer, as supplied by 877MyJuicer thru Eat'n Veg'n

Problem is, after juicing some lovely greens, what are you to do with the "waste" fibre? Sure you could throw it in your smoothie along with the juice, but that would pretty much defeat the purpose of the juicer in the first place. You could make some lovely vermicompost, but unless you have some know-how, it could easily end up stinking up your house. Throwing it in the garbage is simply wasteful. Alas, including it in a recipe is the only solution. But what recipe calls for undigestible plant fibres in the ingredient list? Well, very few in all honesty, but that doesn't mean there aren't any.

There are a number of baked goods that call for vegetables in one form or other. The squashes (both summer and winter) are well known for their breads. And everyone and their mother (pretty much) has had carrot cake before. They're both simply a simple batter with a bunch of shredded veggie. Simple, homey, delicious, even without the near requisite cream cheese icing in the case of carrot cake. Well, carrots and squashes are vegetables, and pretty fibrous too boot, so try to guess where I'm going with this...

High-Fibre Veggie Muffins:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg (can be substituted to make vegan)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup juiced spinach and/or carrot fibre*
1.5 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped almonds

*I juiced a 1lb. bunch of spinach, leaves, stems, and all, and 3 medium carrots (the carrots where shaved into thin strips with the peeler prior to juicing) which yielded the above 1 cup, you could just use frozen spinach and squeeze as much liquid as possible out and grate some carrot but your batter may need more flour because of the excess liquid.

1. Set the oven to 350F. Cream the shortening and the sugar till thoroughly incorportated. Beat in the egg until creamy.
2. Add the vanilla and fibre and mix by hand. You want to get the fibres as broken up as possible so they're not in big clumps (no one likes clumpy muffins... no one). Sift the dry ingredients together, withholding the nuts.
3. When the fibre is evenly distributed, slowly add in the flour, mixing till near fully incorporated into the batter. At this time add the nuts and mix just enough to distribute evenly.
4. Distribute the batter into muffin tins and bake for between 30-45 minutes (I made mini- and regular muffins, the minis were done ~30 mins, the regulars near 45). You know they're done when the tops begin to brown a little and a toothpick comes out clean.

TbF Images - 202

Ok, so I'll be honest, that doesn't look like the most appetizing thing on earth. In fact, with the little bits of plant fibre sticking out, and the unnaturally natural bright greenness of it all, it almost looks like something only a cow would eat. But as most people know, its what comes out of the oven that matters...

TbF Images - 205

Mmmmmm. Still spinach green with dots of orange, but totally delicious. I'm too lazy to do a dietary fibre/muffin calculation, but you can trust me when I say that one of these in the morning with your fruit and vegetable juice smoothie will certainly get you close to your daily requirement (thats ~30g/day FYI). And to cop a line from Fiber-One, they don't taste like cardboard. In fact, because of the sugar and spices, you'd never know how good for you these babies actually are. Now yes, if you wanted to make them even healthier you could replace the sugar with Splenda or some other non-nutritive sweetener, but in reality the soluble and insoluble fibres in the muffin actually drastically slow the absorption of the sugar into your blood stream in the first place. The only good case I can make for not using sugar at all is to make these less appetizing so you don't eat more than one at a time, which can lead to, shall we say, unpleasantness in some situations.

So, a final shout-out and thank you to Diann for the juicer, I hope you enjoy my thank you recipe, even if its not vegan (I'm sure those who are know good egg substitutes). As for everyone else, just because its veggies in a muffin doesn't mean you should be afraid, heck, you can always un-healthify if by adding cream cheese frosting.

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