I decided to bake a batch of corn muffins to go with our vegetarian chili. I didn’t have the milk or the shortening that were called for in the recipe. I also didn’t want to use that much sugar. What to do? I am not the only person with this problem. That same day I received an email from our NUT, Ms.Helen & Eubie, asking for a recipe for healthy, dense breakfast muffins that can be frozen for future use . Ms. Helen also asked how to freeze fresh berries. Hence the topic for today’s post; Healthy, Recipe Ingredient Substitutions & Other Helpful Tips.
I have included, both below & on our Recipe page, 2 links to websites with lists of substitutions. One is for everyday ingredients & the other is much more creative & interesting! Let’s begin with my corn muffin problem, helping Ms. Helen at the same time.
Here is my basic recipe for corn muffins. I will show you how to swap the ingredients I lacked for healthier ones & how I added ingredients to make it more dense…my substitutions are in red. This can be done with any of your favorite recipes.
Corn Muffins from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
- 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal…Red Mill, Organic, Medium Grind, Stone Ground Cornmeal. Crunchy, nutty flavor.
- 1 cup flour…7/8 cup Organic Whole Wheat Flour for a denser muffin.
- 1/3 cup sugar…Reduced to 1/4 cup Organic Cane Sugar. I could have used 1/3 cup of applesauce or smashed banana. You can also leave out the sugar altogether.
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk…Organic Pacific Almond Milk
- 1 egg, well beaten…I used Organic Eggs from a local farmer with chickens that have an entire field to live in! You can also use an egg substitute like Ener-G Egg Replacer I like this brand & have had excellent results using it in baking.
- 2 tablespoons melted shortening or bacon fat…I used coconut oil, adds a lovely, light flavor of coconut.
- I added walnuts. You can also add hemp seeds to increase the protein & fiber content. Coconut shredded or grated, raisins or dried fruit, can be added to sweeten it more.
- For an interesting dinner corn muffin, leave out the sugar & add chopped green chili’s & grated cheese of your choice.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add milk, eggs & shortening, & blend well. Pour batter into a muffin pan, fill each cup 3/4 full. It will make 12 muffins. Bake 20 minutes. Same recipe can be poured into a greased 8″ square pan. The muffins freeze well.
That wasn’t so difficult, was it? Well, it can be if you don’t know what to substitute with. Here are the links I promised you.
- Common Ingredient Substitutions This is a good website to look up common ingredients such as baking powder, butter, brown sugar, & buttermilk. It is very handy, so I made a copy to put in my recipe file. The website that has this list is Allrecipes This is a great site for recipes of all kinds. The recipes are rated by users which gives you an idea of how easy or popular it is.
- 83 Healthy Recipe substitutions This is the website that I said was very creative. How to use Black Beans in place of flour; Applesauce to replace sugar, butter or oil; Nut Flours for regular flour & 80 other creative ideas. Bookmark this site for future use. It is quite an amazing list! Check out their recipes too.
I found a recipe for dense, breakfast muffins that you may like. Blueberry Breakfast Muffins Here is what they say about them on the website; “Warning! These are not fluffy little cakes. They’re dense and filling breakfast-on-the-go.They contain no oil or butter and are dairy-free with only a 1/3 cup of sugar in the whole batch.” I like the recipe but it calls for ingredients I don’t want to spend the money on. When I make them, I will definitely be doing some substitutions!
Another recipe I liked: Healthy Harvest Breakfast Muffins “Yummy muffins pack a nutritious punch in the morning, great for a healthy grab-n-go breakfast. You can alter this recipe any way you like and with what you have on hand, very versatile. I started with Banana Oat Muffins from Kathy-Lynn and tweaked it so much it turned into something else. Recipe includes a brown sugar & nut topping. I used almonds and walnuts, but any kind of nut would be good with this.” This one has ingredients that I have!
What about Ms. Helen’s other question? How do you freeze fresh berries? Where I live there are blackberries bushes everywhere. When we used to come here to camp, in September, we would pick a container full of berries for our desert. Now that I live here I am looking forward to blackberry season. I will freeze as many as I can shove into the freezer. Here are some simple instructions from FarmFlavor
- Rinse berries carefully in a colander. Place them on paper towels and drain well.
- Place them in a single layer on a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet, and put the pan in the freezer. (If needed, line the pan with parchment paper.) You can also place them in a single layer in a freezer bag to freeze. You will use a lot of plastic this way.
- When hardened, they can be placed in freezer bags or plastic containers. Frozen berries will last for about three months. I plan on freezing them as described & then put them in a 1-1/2 pint canning jar (freezer safe) for storage in the freezer.
Thawed berries can still be very nice in sauces, smoothies and in baking. They do tend to weep. Maybe that’s because they miss the sweetness of summer. Wonderful over Greek yogurt! A reminder that you can freeze bananas too. I peel them, cut them in thirds, put them in a single serving container & freeze. When added to a smoothie they make it cold & creamy.
I have received several emails asking me what to store leftovers in for the refrigerator and/or the freezer. I struggled with this question myself. Do you use plastic wrap, foil or plastic containers? These are the cheapest way to do it. If you are concerned with BPA in the plastic & aluminum in the foil then glass is what you need.
Pyrex & Anchor Hocking both have glass storage bowls with BPA-free plastic lids. This is what I use. But lately the plastic lids have started to break. I didn’t want to replace them because it is expensive to do so. I did some research & found an awesome alternative; Mason canning jars! I use them for leftover soup, stew, bean dishes etc. They are very inexpensive, easy to clean, come in different sizes & don’t take up much space.
I purchased mine at Ace Hardware. The link will take you to the list of jars & their sizes, prices & more information. Ball is the brand I bought. I found the 1-1/2 pint in a pack of 9 for $12.99. I made sure they were wide mouth, have BPA free lids & are freezer safe. Check the labels on the box for “BPA free & freezer safe”. Not all are. They also come in a 6 pack or individually. Walmart carries them in packs too.
I also purchased Ball 4oz dry Herb Jars with shaker tops. They came in a 4 pack for $6.49 at Ace Hardware. I use them for a shaker for dry cheese, nutrtional yeast, dried herbs I mix together & my husband uses them to disperse clover seed in our yard! They are great to have available and inexpensive.
Speaking of BPA. Here is a list of the companies who have taken the BPA out of the plastic liner in their canned goods. The list keeps getting longer each time l check which makes me very happy to see. Mother Nature Network (MNN) has the most recent list. Make sure to check the labels or the bottom of the can. Eden’s labels say BPA-free. Others stamped the bottom of the can. Check your favorite brands even if not on the MNN list. This is an industry wide change; Campbell Foods announced that their cans will be BPA free by 2015.
I hope this information has been helpful. I will leave you with this thought by Dr. Mark Hyman…..