make your little steps today

They say that because of the psychological guilt of  year-end festivities, which more often than not revolve around dining and sweet treats, a significant proportion of new year resolutions would typically pivot upon maintaining a healthy(-er) lifestyle. And the very same they in question here also say that most resolutions made at the beginning of a new year would realistically last no longer than the first month, tops.

Granted we didn’t exactly celebrate the turn of 2010 last weekend, nor is this my first post of the year, but interestingly enough, a quick flip through one of my first entries of 2009 saw me discussing the very same health issues. And one of the things that struck me in that post was mentioning about how “the little steps go a long way”.

Something apparently even I have forgotten.

As touched upon in the aforementioned entry, the steps I usually take in making healthier choices would be in reducing the amount of sugar (I automatically do this every single time), and substituting melted butter with canola/vegetable oil for some bakes. While these have become part of my baking lifestyle, I do realise that I have never actually taken a conscious step to baking healthier.

And with that, a recent trip to the supermarket saw me marching across the aisles, pointing into the air, saying to the mister “Organic section!”, to which he went “Huh? Is there one?”. (Aside: Can’t blame the mister, really; the horrid packaging of the food at the organic section made it look similar to the pet food section, I kid you not.)

I remember reading somewhere that an initial foray into the whole grains menu need not be an overnight drastic change, and that the best should be introducing it slowly into your diet. In this case, I know for a fact that the household, particularly my parents, have a self-imposed two-feet pole restraining order on the words “brown rice” and “wholemeal”. While I don’t think I could mask the appearance of brown rice, or pass it off as something less-healthy-more-appetising altogether, I reckoned I could escape unscathed sneaking just a little wholemeal flour into these strawberry muffins.

Personally, I’ve always wondered whether it would make a big difference in taste and/or texture, and I’m glad that for a first time, I took up the advice of only substituting half the amount of all-purpose flour with wholemeal flour. The muffins were definitely moist, and yet had a bit of denseness to them. I really enjoyed the hearty texture, and even had another two over the next day. While the mother wasn’t too convinced (“Wholemeal? It’s healthy! It’s not nice! Just stick to your usual muffins!”), I’m definitely still going to try sneaking more wholemeal into my future bakes.

A little step today, a better tomorrow.

Strawberry Wholemeal Muffins
(adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours)

Grated zest & juice of 1 lemon
about 3⁄4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
3 tbsp honey ¹
110g butter, melted and cooled
1⁄3 cup sugar
1 cup 100% wholemeal / wholewheat flour
1 cup plain flour
2 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
1⁄4 tsp baking soda
1 cup strawberries

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Pour the lemon juice into a large glass measuring cup, and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup.
  3. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.
  4. In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until it appears well-mixed, and the fragrance of lemon is strong.
  5. Sift in the wholemeal flour, plain flour, baking powder and baking soda.
  6. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir gently but quickly with a spatula or whisk.
  7. Stir in the strawberries.
  8. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, and bake for 20-25 mins, or until the tops of the muffins become golden and springy to the touch.

¹ I omitted the honey, because the strawberries were sweet enough for my taste, but the parents felt that the muffins weren’t sweet, so you could play around with the amount of honey.


23 thoughts on “make your little steps today

  1. the mister

    Yah, man! It did look like the pets’ food section! -_-‘

    Glad to see healthier muffins still means great looking photos, luv! 😀

  2. ovenhaven Post author

    the mister: IKR! I don’t understand why they can’t package it any nicer. Been such a long while since I last baked muffins, I’m glad they turned out pretty!

    irene: Thanks! And thanks for dropping by 🙂

    Helene: Surprisingly, they were! I’m definitely going to venture more with wholemeal flour now 🙂

    Alison: Thanks, sweetie!

  3. grace

    what a terrific recipe! i’m always looking for ways to incorporate whole grains into my diet without ending up with something that practically makes me gag in disgust. these look amazing!

  4. oneordinaryday

    Good for you for dragging your parents with you into whole grains. : )
    I always have whole wheat flour around too, and more often than not, I try to switch out some all-purpose flour for the whole wheat. It makes me feel better about giving the kids baked goods if they actually get a little something good out of them. I’ve never noticed a negative effect from using 1/2 of each.
    Thanks for the tip on lowering the sugar content though. I haven’t tried playing around with that yet, but now I will.

  5. ovenhaven Post author

    grace: You should give it a go! You could try substituting just half of the amount with whole grains for starters 🙂

    oneordinaryday: Glad to share! It’s really good to hear you incorporate whole grains into baking for the kids as well. Actually it’s REALLY good to hear they like them! I’ve always reduced sugar content by about 1/4 cup, since I find that it doesn’t alter the taste at all, but like yourself, it makes me feel better 😀

    taintedsweets: I hope you do! Thanks for dropping by 🙂

    jean-marie: Haha, chubby and pretty! I like that 😛

  6. Cookie

    I’ve been substituting half of the flour called for in a recipe with whole wheat flour and I think it actually adds a really good nutty flavor! I also like using low fat or fat free buttermilk cuz it’s got this great tangy flavor without adding more calories. I just saw some strawberries on sale so I think I’ll be making these this weekend!

  7. ovenhaven Post author

    oneshotbeyond: Hehe. Thanks for dropping by 🙂

    Maria: Thank you! 🙂

    Cookie: Ah yes, that’s the word I was looking for; “nutty”! I rarely purchase buttermilk, since I do the milk + lemon juice substitution, but I think I should start purchasing low-fat milk as well. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  8. fattydumpling

    Just found your blog, everything looks absolutely delicious! A few days ago, I tried to make my own strawberry muffin recipe. It failed texture-wise (perhaps ’cause I was doing a lot of subbing in an attempt to make it vegan), but it was tasty nonetheless. I really want to try out this recipe because it looks so yummy! It looks like a muffin…

  9. ovenhaven Post author

    Thanks for dropping by! Well, at least your muffins turned out tasty, right? I get my hits-and-misses as well when I make up my own recipes, but it’s always a start to tastier things!

  10. Patty

    I love how you snuck some healthy whole grains (and lowered the sugar) in these beautiful muffins. I used to get flack from my family too for making things like “healthy” brownies. In the end it worked out because there were more (delicious and healthy) brownies for me. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this lovely muffin recipe. Great post on “perfect muffins” too. Fantastic blog!

  11. ovenhaven Post author

    I’m already itching to make ‘healthy’ brownies ~ haha, but when I do, I’ll be sure not to let anyone know 😛 And yup, even if they don’t agree, more for me! 😀

  12. Pingback: not for the flour nazi « :: epicurean escapism ::

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