Ricki Heller is simply one of my favorite people in the blogosphere. Her writing style is entertaining and humorous, she has such a friendly and helpful demeanor, and how can we forget about the recipes? As a nutritionist, she always has health in mind, but as a lover of food, it has to taste good. Thus, I can always count on Ricki for recipes that I want to make and that I should make.
Since I had enjoyed several of Ricki’s wholesome recipes before the release of her new cookbook, Sweet Freedom, there was no doubt that I was going to love it. It was just a matter of what to make first!
Since I already had a penchant for the Carob and Date Pancakes in Sweet Freedom (they were the inspiration for the Pillowy Whole-Grain Pancakes in my book, Go Dairy Free), I went with familiarity, and made the Fluffy-Fruited Spelt Pancakes. So, so marvelous – Ricki seriously knows her way around whole-grain pancakes …
Though there are three more pancake recipes in Sweet Freedom that I have yet to trial, I had to jump to the muffin section. I had my eye on the Orange Oat Muffins. This was the first recipe I had ever made where you use the entire orange, peel and all, and it was so wonderfully simple. I also loved that these hearty little babies used a combo of dates, maple syrup, and molasses for a deep and rich sweetness.
I have had a lot of cookbooks to trial as of late, but I just couldn’t keep away from the Banana-Oat Bar recipe before doing this post. Upon seeing the title of another recipe in Sweet Freedom for Sweet Potato and Cranberry Muffins, I knew I had to combine the two for this holiday season to create these yummy Sweet Potato and Cranberry Oat Bars. I simply subbed 3/4 cup sweet potato puree (you could of course use pumpkin puree) for the bananas and added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. As you can tell by the broken off piece (before it had cooled of course) with the sloppy, melting frosting, I didn’t care very much about taking pictures, I was hungry!
Keep in mind, all of the dessert and snack recipes in Sweet Freedom are free from refined sugars, and they are vegan (dairy-free and egg-free) and wheat-free. They are also whole grain and wonderfully all-natural. However, while there are many wonderful gluten-free recipes within, some of the recipes do utilize spelt flour or barley flour. I loved how many soy-free recipes there were too, since Ricki doesn’t rely on margarine in her recipes, bonus!
Also, as you can see, I’ve barely made it past the first chapter. There are cakes, cookies, candies, pies, puddings and more in this fabulous “tackle that sweets craving with nutrition” cookbook. So now that I have captured your appetites, here is your opportunity to enter to win a copy of your very own (Open to the U.S. AND Canada!).
- To enter to win this fabulous cookbook, leave a comment on this post telling me why you want to win Sweet Freedom.
- To receive a bonus entry, spread the word about this giveaway … tweet it, share it with your friends on facebook, mention it on your blog, or email some colleagues … whatever works for you. Just make sure you come back here and leave a second comment letting me know you did.
Entries will close at midnight TODAY, so get your entry in now! All of this week’s cookbook winners will be announced at the end of the week.
Note: The comments will remain open, since there is a review and recipe on this giveaway post, but only comments made by midnight will be eligible to win!
Now back to those Marvelous Muffins …
No Waste: Orange-Oat Muffins
This recipe is from Sweet Freedom by Ricki Heller.
“Unlike many low-fat muffins, these taste great: they are moist and flavorful, with an intense orange presence. There’s also substantial fiber from the fruits and whole spelt. Using a food processor means these are incredibly easy to prepare!” – or blender in my case as you shall see. And yes, Ricki includes metric measurements for all of the recipes in Sweet Freedom, just like this one. This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and Free from Regined Sugars.
- 1 Whole Medium Organic Seedless Orange, washed, whole and with skin [This is one time when you want to spring on that organic orange, since you will be using the peel too]
- 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) Finely Ground Flax Seeds
- 3 Tablespoons (45 ml) Water
- 1/2 Cup (60 g) Chopped Dried Pitted Dates (they should be soft)
- 3 Tablespoons (45 ml) Sunflower or Other Light-Tasting Oil [I used grapeseed]
- 1/4 Cup (60 ml) Pure Maple Syrup
- 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Blackstrap Molasses
- 1/2 Cup (120 ml) Plain or Vanilla Soy or Almond Milk
- 1 Cup (140 g) Whole Spelt Flour
- 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon (5 ml) Baking Soda
- 1/4 Teaspoon (1 ml) Sea Salt
- 1 Cup (100 g) Old-Fashioned, Whole Rolled Oats (not instant)
Preheat your oven to 375F (190C). Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners for small muffins or 9 liners for large muffins, or spray with nonstick coating.
In the bowl of a food processor, process the orange segments until almost smooth. Add the flax seeds, water, dates. oil, maple syrup, molasses, and milk alternative and process almost to a smooth puree (you can leave a few small flecks of date and/or orange, but none should be larger than sunflower seeds). Set aside for a few minutes to rest, while you prepare the dry ingredients.
Alisa’s Note: No Food Processor? I don’t have one either. I simply added the orange sections through the milk alternative to my little old blender, and let ‘er rip until it was well blended, with a few tiny date and orange bits left for interest.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Add the oats and stir to mix.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture in the bowl and stir just until combined (it’s okay if a few dry spots remain, you just don’t want to overmix!). Spoon the batter into your prepared muffin cups or tins – they will be quite full.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the pan about half-way through [I skipped the rotation], until a tester inserted into one of the muffins comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pans before removing to a rack to cool completely. These taste even better the next day, as flavors meld [I can vouch for that!]. These muffins freeze beautifully [I can’t vouch for this, since we devoured them all while fresh].
Yields 9 to 12 scrumptious muffins