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MacroTreat Fridays: Macrobiotic Apple Cinnamon Millet Muffins

Who doesn't love a good muffin?

I mean, there's just something wonderful about sitting down to a delicious muffin and a warm cup of tea for breakfast. Especially on a chilly day.

Warning: these breakfast muffins ain't for sissys. Just like all my treats, these guys are vegan and made with real whole food. They are definitely less decadent than last weeks' treat as they are super dense & hearty and sweetened only with apples. So, if you're wanting a cake disguised as a muffin for breakfast, these aren't the ones for you. If you're wanting something super filling and nutritious, then good for you, you just found 'em.

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MacroTreat Fridays: Macrobiotic Apple Cinnamon Millet Muffins

These are super-duper healthy, and taste like it too - in a good way. Completely whole grain, no leaveners, and no sweeteners - just the wonderful taste of apples and cinnamon, surrounded by hearty-whole grain goodness, with a surprising nutty crunch of millet. They are almost like dense apple energy bar biscuits (yah, I don't know, it makes sense to me). For suggestions, substitutions (including a no-millet option), and notes, please check down below after the directions.

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Makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups whole grain sprouted spelt flour (regular whole spelt or wheat flour works well too)*
  • 3/4 cup millet (uncooked, but toasted, see directions below) *
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 pinches of sea salt
  • 3/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup oil of choice - I used grapeseed and olive oil
  • 1 cup water *
  • 2 medium apples, diced (pear would be lovely too!).
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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. Rinse millet, then drain completely in a sieve. Once drained, toast millet in a pan on the stove-top, over low-heat, stirring frequently, until it's golden brown and smells wonderful (around 5 mins). Remove from heat.
  4. After millet has cooled slightly, add to the rest of the dry ingredients.
  5. Dice the apples into small chunks. You can leave the skin on :)
  6. In a separate bowl, combine the apple sauce, oil, and water.
  7. Add wet to dry, and mix until just combined. I used a fork to mix it together.
  8. Fold in the apples.
  9. Pour into muffin liners, or into a greased muffin pan.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. I let mine bake for 30 mins, as I preferred them to be a bit extra cooked :) Let cool until ready to serve.
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*NOTES:

  • Like I said earlier, these muffins are not very sweet at all...so feel free to add in some maple syrup in place of part of the water- even just a few tablespoons are really nice. I'd recommend 1/4 cup maple syrup 3/4 cup water  if you are new to whole-grain baking or this way of eating, or if you are serving it to regular eaters.
  • The millet definitely has a very noticeable taste & texture in these muffins. It is pretty crunchy, when added in this way, kind of like a seed. So, feel free to replace the millet entirely if you are unsure about it. I would recommend just adding in more flour in place of it (I've successfully done this), or you could try oat flakes as well. Another possibility is replacing the crunchiness of the millet, with sunflower seeds :)
  • If you think these are going to be too dense for you, then you can easily lighten these bad boys up a bit, by using half whole wheat pastry flour, or light spelt flour. You can also add in a teaspoon of baking powder too, if that suits your fancy.
  • Feel free to spice these up a bit too - ginger and nutmeg are amazing with apples or pears, and if you are using pears, cardamon is amazing <3
  • I think these taste better the next day! They are super quick and easy to make, so throw them in the oven the night before, and let them cool on a wire rack overnight on the counter. They'll be ready & waiting for you in the morning!
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I enjoyed mine for breakfast, cut in half, and spread with some almond butter.

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Delicious. Delightful. And a dreamy way to kick off the weekend.
xoxo J


Macro Monday: will the REAL cinnamon lovers please stand up

Hey friends,

Since you're reading, you've most likely encountered another post (or million) of mine where I proclaimed my love for cinnamon. It's a full-on kinda love. I enjoy it daily, often in oatmeal or porridge, in pretty much ANY baked good, cocoa or coffee or tea, sprinkled over some apple slices....

Yep. I love that stuff. But only when it's the good kind.

This Macro Monday, I want to chat about REAL Cinnamon vs. not-so-good-for-you cinnamon...

MM: True Cinnamon

I bet you're wondering what I'm talking about, huh?

Well, there are actually multiple kinds of cinnamon.

  1. The kind that most supermarkets here in Canada and the United States sell, Chinese Cinnamon, also known as Cassia
  2. Mexican or True Cinnamon, known as Ceylon Cinnamon.
  3. Indonesian Cinnamon
  4. Vietnamese Cinnamon, also known as Saigon Cinnamon.

You want the Ceylon. Here's why:

Cassia contains a toxic compound called coumarin, which can be harmful to the liver, potentially even causing complete liver failure.

Here's a link to some more info about liver problems and coumarin. And here.

Ummm. Yeah.

And before you get all Saigon and Indonesian Cinnamon up in my face...bad news, these both have higher levels of coumarin as well (in fact, Indonesian cinnamon is also known as Padang Cassia, and Saigon Cinnamon is also known as Vietnamese Cassia & it actually has the highest amounts of coumarin of all the types).

Cassia = not so great.

ONLY CEYLON Cinnamon has low enough levels of coumarin to be deemed safe.

Germany even banned Cassia at one point, due to this potential health risk.

This kind of worries me, because there are thousands of articles floating around out there from various doctors and experts describing how beneficial cinnamon can be. It is recommended for people with Diabetes and to help balance blood sugar levels along with many other things. Often these articles encourage a couple of spoons of cinnamon a day.

Great in theory...but this may be causing you liver problems (probably without you knowing it).

Why did I switch to using Ceylon? Well, the only reason I even know that there are multiple kinds of cinnamon, is because a few years ago I had a strange issue show up in my liver. My regular old doctor provided me no help, so my guy T & I took to the internet to begin investigating the foods I ate on a regular basis. We realized that the cinnamon I was ingesting, on a daily basis, was actually not true cinnamon, rather, it was Cassia which is known to affect the liver. Ugh. So yeah, I changed to Ceylon, and my liver test results came back normal a few months later. Coincidence? I think not.

YES, it's more expensive.

YES, you're worth it.

And bonus: ceylon cinnamon isn't just safe for your liver, it also has a wide variety of health benefits, such as lowering LDL cholesterol, and it is a great anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. The verdict is still out on whether it too can act to help blood sugar levels; I've seen some sources saying that it does, and others that it doesn't. But this benefit from Cassia is not worth the potential liver problems, in my humble opinion.

How to Tell Ceylon from Cassia

Here's a cool video talking about the different kinds of cinnamon.

Ceylon looks softer, and more crumbly (easiest distinguishing feature), and is a lighter brown. It's on the right.

Cassia (all varieties) look like what is is: bark. It's harder and tougher and darker.

Flavour Comparison

And in case you aren't convinced: there is also a flavour bonus. Ceylon cinnamon has a softer, gentler, slightly sweeter warming flavour. It is GREAT in baking. Cassia can be quite strong in comparison. I used to really enjoy Saigon Cinnamon, as it's a bit spicier, but after becoming accustomed to Ceylon, I much prefer it. I have read that traditional Mexican & European recipes that call for cinnamon were all originally referring to Ceylon cinnamon, as it adds a softer more subtle depth to the recipe. If you made those same recipes using Saigon, the flavour would take over and ruin it.

Sometimes, okay, pretty much ALL the time, T has a 6th sense about these things. He could never stand the smell or taste of Saigon cinnamon and thought it was too potent to consume. But he sure does love the flavour of Ceylon cinnamon.

I buy Ceylon Cinnamon here, either this one or this one.  Iherb has the greatest price. And if you decide to get it from there, feel free to use (only if you like, no pressure) coupon code ROP008 to get a discount on your first shipping, and to give me some points too. Thanks friends.

***And soak in the lesson here: herbs & spices are nature's medicine...they are POWERFUL, and are not to be consumed with no control. Read up, and make sure that all is well before you start including something into your daily diet.

♥♥♥Now go enjoy a big (ceylon) cinnamon bun ♥♥♥

Pumpkin Oatmeal Carrot Cake via the Rice Cooker

Pumpkin Oatmeal Carrot Cake

Dry
2 c. oats
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of cardamon
1/2-1 t. stevia powder (choose your desired sweetness)
pinch salt

Wet
1 large carrot, grated
1 c. kabocha / pumpkin puree
30 g raisins  (soaked, if you want)
3T unsweetened shredded coconut (soaked, if you want)

~1/2 c almond milk
splash of vanilla


Mix Dry together.


Soak your raisins and your coconut, if you like (30mins?)

Grate your carrot.




Prepare your kabocha puree.
First steam:

Then Mash:


Add in some water or almond milk, and some vanilla.
Get everything ready!
Drain your raisins and coconut.
Put your wet ingredients into one bowl.


Mix it all up:
Add to dry:
Put into rice cooker:


Cook on cake setting for ~45 mins. 
(maybe about 25 mins at 350f in a normal oven?)

Cook in rice cooker for about 45 mins.

Voila!

Really yummy topped with nut butter, too :)

I really enjoy cardamom. Do you use it in baking??
I use it when I remember to. And I love it in coffee.
Do you like carrot cake?
It was a nice change of pace from chocolate for me. So dense!

Stir Fry and Apple Pie** (oooh! that rhymes!)

Yesterday was full of wonderful food. My guy and I decided to stir fry it up.

Deliciously Fresh Stir Fry:

We used a bit of sesame oil in a wok, and added some freshly minced ginger and lemon grass stalks for flavour.

To make sure we hit up our daily green veggies, we added a lot of:
broccoli
sui choy cabbage

We also added:
carrots (sliced and shredded!)
mushrooms
bean sprouts

I added a bit more sesame oil throughout (2 tsp in total), along with some water. When it was almost done cooking, I added 1 more tsp of toasted sesame oil this time, as well as some cayenne, some lemon zest and a few squeezes of lemon juice, as well as one of my all time FAVOURITE MACROBIOTIC seasonings: umeboshi vinegar! We ate it served over ample short grain brown rice--macrobiotic approved!

Voila! Lovely dinner!

I also had a FABULOUS dessert. A spur of the moment creation that will definitely be repeated:

**Apple Pie a la mode (aka: apple oat bran topped with coconut milk icecream)


To make:
Dice an apple, and throw it in a pan with about ~1.5-2 cups water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to boil and let boil for around 4ish minutes. Add in ~1/3 - ~1/2 c. of oat bran, and maybe 1/4 c. rolled oats. Let it boil for a few minutes, then let simmer until thickened to your liking! Near the end add in a bit of sweetener if you like (I added in 1 tsp of brown rice syrup). Pour into a beautiful bowl, and let it cool for a moment.Top with cinnamon....and So Delicious coconut milk icecream (dairy free, and sweetened with agave). Then try not to cry from sheer joy (because it truly is that good) :)

The quickest oatmeal loveliness ever!

So I really like oats. And oatmeal. And oatbran. My absolute favourite way of eating oats is the whole oat thing, but that takes awhile, and unfortunately, doesn't happen as much as I would like it to. Even regular stovetop oatmeal can take a few minutes (and pan washing!). BUT, I am not so much a fan of quick oats.
My solution???

Quick Oatmeal/bran (minus the quick oat part)

Take your favourite mug, and add:
~1/4 cup of oatbran
~1/4 cup of rolled oats

Then pour boiling water over top of the oats (just eyeball how much...the oats gobble it up pretty fast).
Do a little stir...maybe add a bit more water.
Then cover the mug with a plate, or whatever, to seal in the heat.
Wait for a few minutes (maybe 3?), then uncover and there you go!

Add whatever delicious toppings you like, and you're ready to feast!
This works AMAZINGLY well if you need to take a snack with you to work. All you need is a kettle at work, and you can bring the oats in a tupperware with a lid.

Today I topped mine with coconut milk, cocoa nibs, and cinnamon....mmmmm....
Sometimes I use more oats than oatbran, othertimes I used more oatbran...and depending on the size of the mug, the amount of oats might be bigger!

I also sometimes make a hot cocoa base (add some cocoa powder, spices, and amasake or ricemilk to create a liquid paste) then add the dry oats to that, then add the hot water. This is delicious too.
Here are a few photos of QUICK cocoa oats in a mug, with some cinnamon, and either a bit of maple syrup of rice syrup:

If you need some oats quickly, don't like the idea of "quick oats" and don't have access to a stove, or simply don't want to wash a pan, this is for you!

Spicy Hot Cocoa - My One Consistent Macrobiotic Deviation

I feel amazing on a macrobiotic diet, but the one thing I consistently drift towards is cocoa. Chocolate is a whole different story (a very delicious special treat) as it usually contains sugar...although I usually eat very dark, 80% or more which contains the least sugar.

But Hot Cocoa...what a lovely comforting concoction. It can be made very macrobiotic friendly, by using milk substitutions (rice, almond, soy, or even hot water), and sweeteners like amasake or rice syrup.

Here is my favourite recipe:

SPICY MAYAN COCOA

ingredients:

2 tbsp natural cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch cayenne
pinch coriander
1 - 1.5 cups of hot liquid of your choice
small bit of cold liquid (I usually use amasake, sometimes almond milk)
sweetener to your tasting (rice syrup is my sweetener of choice)

directions:

1. Add cocoa and spices into your most beautiful mug.
2. Add a small amount of cold liquid (almond, soy, rice milk, water)and stir into dry to create a paste.
3. Add in the 1 - 1.5 cups of heated liquid of your choice (I usually just use boiling water, although heated almond milk is lovely!). Heating the milk substitution on the stove instead of in the microwave is definitely more macrobiotic friendly!
4. Stir in the sweetener of your choice.
5. Sit by a window, marveling how delicious this hot drink from the Mayans truly is, thoroughly enjoying your macrobiotic deviation.

Cocoa was valued more than gold by the Mayans, and I must say...I'd gladly accept a gift of chocolate any day!