Strawberry Apple Rhubarb Muffins (Vegan!)

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Do you ever have those moments when you finally realize something that should have been obvious to you for a long time, and you say to yourself, “I can’t believe I’ve never thought of this before?”

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That is exactly how I feel about strawberries, green apples, and rhubarb. In this in-between season, why not bring the best of the fall and the best of the spring together, in one delicious “tweasonal” snack? One day it’s fifty degrees and the next day it’s eighty – why not embrace the seasonal identity crisis in your kitchen as well? Strawberry and rhubarb is a tried and true pairing, but apple and rhubarb? That is a little less common. However I feel that the vibrant green stalk of the rhubarb has been trying to tell me something for years.

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Plays well with others. . . particularly with strawberries and Granny Smith apples. Because cramming three flavors into one muffin wasn’t enough of a challenge, I opted to make these vegan as well. I have made vegan cookies and breads before, but I believe these are my first vegan muffins. Non-dairy milk and a flax egg work wonders.

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If you have never made a flax egg before, do not be intimidated.

First, grind whole flax seeds into a fine powder. I use my coffee grinder for this step. The oils in flax are very temperamental and ground flax meal can go rancid quickly, so I always keep the seeds whole then grind them immediately before using in a recipe.

Second, mix 1 part flax seed meal to 3 parts water. Stir with a fork or whisk to combine. This recipe calls for two flax eggs (2 Tbsp flax + 6 Tbsp water).

Third, refrigerate for 15 minutes to achieve the consistency displayed below. This ingredient is a binder, so it needs to stick. When it has set up enough, you can turn a container of flax eggs on its side and the contents don’t spill out.

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Another unexpected part of these delicious muffins is the whole strawberry hiding in the middle of each one. I folded chopped apples and rhubarb into the muffin batter, then I sliced the tops off of twelve strawberries.

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After filling the muffin tins halfway, I shoved a whole strawberry into the middle of each tin, then topped off with some batter. As the muffins bake, the strawberry juice starts to leak out into the muffins, and when you bite into one, the whole strawberry center is like a fresh jam filling. I really should try this with peanut butter muffins, right?

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Some of the strawberries couldn’t stay hidden, and they chose to leak sweet strawberry lava out of the tops of the muffins. They look exactly how they are: irresistibly delicious.

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Vegan Strawberry Apple Rhubarb Muffins

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh ground flax meal
  • 3 ounces water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy milk)
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of peeled, chopped apple (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1/2 cup chopped rhubarb
  • 12 small strawberries, tops removed

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine flax meal and water, refrigerate for 15 minutes. The result is a “flax egg.”
  3. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients: flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
  4. In a smaller bowl, combine wet ingredients: flax egg, oil, applesauce, vanilla, non-dairy milk, and vinegar. Stir until mixed.
  5. Add wet ingredients to large bowl and stir to combine with dry ingredients, until just moistened. Make sure all flour is incorporated.
  6. Fold in apple and rhubarb.
  7. Grease or line a muffin tin with paper liners. Fill each cavity halfway with batter. Place one strawberry inside each cavity, then top with more batter until filled.
  8. Bake muffins in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the largest muffin comes out clean.

Note: if vegan isn’t your thing, you may substitute 2 eggs, beaten, for the flax eggs, and 1 cup buttermilk for the non-dairy milk and vinegar.

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Is it Spring time yet?!

Hummus Lab

Lately I have been experimenting with hummus quite a bit. Ever since I learned how to make it at home last year, store bought hummus just isn’t enough for me. Granted, when I want the type of super smooth an creamy hummus that can only come from individually peeling every chickpea, I go to the store. Similarly, if I’m in a hurry to get somewhere, I pick up my hummus on the run. But I have found that since I learned how to mix up my own fresh flavors, the variety of hummus sold at the store is downright boring. Garlic? Been there. Roasted red pepper? Done that.

During this long experimentation phase, I have dubbed my chickpea processing time “Hummus Lab,” which delights me and confuses my friends. Did you ever watch that cartoon Sealab 2020? It’s kind of like that, except more delicious. I have successfully created several tasty flavors of hummus to dip my pita triangles, carrot sticks, cucumber slices and naked fingers into. Kyle is in hummus heaven. Isabelle wants to know when I’ll quit dropping chickpeas on the floor and start dropping kale again (girl loves her greens). I won’t have another boring BYOBB lunch for weeks.

Against my better judgment, I am sharing four of my favorite hummus recipes with you. I say this because I think I could probably make some money off these concoctions, but because my business plan writing days are over (for now at least), I’m just giving them away for free! Our favorites so far are the cilantro jalapeno and the dill pickle hummus, but all four are extremely tasty and far more interesting than what is on the grocery store shelves. All of them use chickpeas, although experimentation with other beans is already underway. Hummus Lab sequel? Maybe!

Enjoy!

The directions for all hummus recipes are as follows: add all ingredients to food processor and blend until incorporated and hummus is smooth.

Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

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Ingredients:

  • 1-15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Sun-dried Tomato Basil Hummus

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Ingredients:

  • 1-15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Indian Curry Hummus

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Ingredients:

  • 1-15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • dash of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Dill Pickle Hummus

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Ingredients:

  • 1-15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill
  • 3 dill pickle slices (round chips)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Side note on the dill pickle hummus: I could totally see this in a wrap as a vegan tuna salad substitute, or as a fun alternative filling for deviled eggs.

Mmmmm… Blackberries.

Yum, what a delicious and completely satisfying snack.

Caramel Oikos with fresh blackberries. I think I sense the end of the blackberry season and I have enjoyed a lot of fresh blackberries this week. Also on the hit list: warm blackberries (heated from fresh, on the stovetop or in the microwave) with cottage cheese. Delish!