Tag: muffin

Pumpkin Muffin Tops

Online news and social media have an abundance of food and nutrition related story topics. At times, it can be difficult to discern facts from trendy fads. The increase in interest in how foods can improve our health and help achieve our lifestyle goals represents one of our generation’s positive attitudes.  It works if  you can focus on science and study-based recommendations and dismiss  bogus and sometimes money-influenced dramatic headlines.

A recent study is the perfect example of reliably sourced information we can follow and even celebrate, since the results amount to  good news for all peanut lovers out there. This study published by BMC Medicine from the Imperial College London School of Public Health looked at twenty population studies, encompassing  their meta-analysis, totaling over 820,000 study participants. The large data set allowed them to not only draw conclusions about  more common causes of death, such as heart disease and cancer, but they were also able to draw conclusions about respiratory diseases, diabetes and kidney disease.

Researchers found that high intake of peanuts and other nuts reduced the risk of respiratory disease mortality by 24%, and diabetes by 32%. Peanuts only, although other nuts also showed some positive impact, were shown to effectively reduce the risk of stroke and kidney disease. The study speculates that up to 4.4 million premature deaths in North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific may have been attributable to peanut and other nut consumption ranging below 20 grams per day. This offers supports for major public health impacts, including increasing the dietary recommendations for nut consumption to decrease chronic disease risk and mortality. Just 15-20 grams of peanuts, approximately one  tablespoon of peanut butter is all it takes to reap major health benefits!

Of course, we can eat nut butters right out of the jar anytime for our daily dose of nutrient filled energy food; however, making these Pumpkin Muffins Tops (below) will satisfy your cravings for something sweet. The recipe includes only half a cup of sugar – you can substitute  stevia baking sugar or  coconut sugar instead. These muffin tops won’t be overly sweet, but when combined with  peanut butter, the natural sweetness of the peanuts really shines through. Using whole wheat flour and pumpkin puree helps you increase fiber intake and boosts naturally occurring vitamins and minerals in each muffin top.

As you well know, our recipes strive to only use ingredients that will help you achieve your daily nutrient goals! Try making these and storing some in the freezer to enjoy throughout your busy week too. They keep well in an airtight container for up to 60 days.

Pumpkin Muffins Tops from Once Again Nut Butter Blog

Pumpkin Muffin Tops

¼ cup of Once Again American Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter

2 whole eggs

1 cup of puree pumpkin

½ cup of sugar (or 3 tablespoons of stevia baking sugar substitute)

1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice

1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking soda, baking powder, stevia and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine peanut butter, lightly beaten eggs, and pumpkin. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and mix just until a homogenous mixture is achieved. Do not over mix to avoid creating very dense muffins instead of light and fluffy ones. Drop 1 tablespoon dollops onto a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes or until edges turn golden. Store muffin tops in an airtight container for up to five  days.


Study: Aune D, Keum N, Giovannucci EL, et al. “Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies.” BMC Med 2016;14(207)

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Why do we of any side effects one can experience from opium in its pure form.   Poppy seeds do however have a unique nutty aromatic flavor that eat poppy seeds? Poppy seeds, although derived from the same plant that also yields  dangerous opium compounds, are worry-free, in terms of consumption.  Ancient Egyptians and Arabs appreciated these seeds long ago. Nowadays most poppy seeds come from Turkey, France, and Eastern Europe. Thankfully, poppy seeds have stayed  around.  They are known for their flavor complexities.  They  contain antioxidant properties and some important nutrients as well.

Poppy seeds are rich in oleic and linoleic acids; their husks are a good source of fiber, and they are an excellent source of B-complex vitamins, including thiamin and folic acid. They also contain a good amount of iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium.

However, we can’t ignore that these  tiny seeds come from the same plant that yields a dangerous drug. Are any of those chemicals perhaps also found in the seeds? As a matter of fact, poppy seeds do contain a very small level of opium alkaloids, such as morphine, thebaine, codeine and papaverine. No need to panic though – these tiny levels of opium alkaloids are one of the reasons poppy seeds are perfect to consume when trying to manage stress and anxiety. In the amounts found in the seeds, these opium alkaloids, when consumed, soothe  nervous irritability, acting as painkillers.

Although lemon poppy seed muffins are nothing new to the bakery scene, I had never ventured out to make my own at home. There are a few things I found to be very important regarding this task. First if you are looking for a fresh, strong lemon flavor, it is imperative that you use fresh lemon juice and lemon zest as opposed to bottled lemon juice . There is no real replacement for lemon zest. Also, the poppy seeds should be the very last ingredient added to the mixture. To keep them lower in overall calories and added sugar, I used a stevia sugar baking mix. You may also use coconut sugar, regular sugar, or for an even lower calorie and lower  carbohydrate  version, just skip the sugar all together. No adjustments are necessary for  the rest of the recipe! It works just as it is. Once Again Cashew Butter added all the moisture and texture required for a perfect muffin without adding extra sugar or trans fats. The only flavor that comes through in this muffin is the bright, sparkling lemon — cashew butter is added only to increase the protein content  and to boost  good fats.

This muffin is perfect with a cup of calming chamomile tea  at the end of a busy week! The powers of poppy seeds, combined with cashew butter’s natural levels of magnesium, coupled with its calming properties makes it a nice way to relax and enjoy a healthy snack!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from Once Again Nut Butter

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

2 cups of  oat flour (If you grind your own, make sure that it is finely ground.)

½ cup of coconut sugar (or a stevia baking mix equivalent)

1 tablespoon of  baking powder

¼ cup of poppy seeds

¾ cup of milk of your choice

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

2-3 tablespoons of lemon zest

1 whole egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

6 tablespoons of Once Again Cashew Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Start by combining cashew butter, sugar, and egg, mixing until soft. Add  lemon juice, vanilla and milk. In separate bowl, mix oat flour, poppy seeds and baking powder,  and then  combine the dry mixture with wet ingredients. Finally add in the lemon zest. Mix well and pour into either a loaf pan or muffin pan. Bake until a toothpick can be inserted and removed clean,about 25 minutes for large muffin pan. Store in an airtight container for up  to five  days.

Pumpkin Blender Muffins

pumpkin blender muffin 3Tiny bite sized muffins are a staple in my house! Sometimes I have to use my large muffin pan to make cupcakes just so they don’t feel neglected at the back on the cupboard. But what can I say? I now own three different mini-muffin pans and use them weekly. The smaller portion is easier to manage when thinking of snacks and breakfast. They cook faster, are easier to freeze and just more fun to pop in your mouth! Not to mention that you can eat two and that portion usually adds up to less than half of the larger-sized muffins.

Right along with how practical it is to make little muffins, I look for recipes that are fast and easy, so I can make large batches at once. Blender muffins have changed the way I look at baked goods. I learned how to put together recipes for blender muffins a while back when baking with over ripe bananas. It’s so nice to just have one thing to clean when you are done mixing up your batter. It’s so convenient that you can pour the batter from the blender cups straight into the muffin pan and take it all to the oven. As you can tell, I love fast prep and recipes that provide easy clean-up.
I should I say that I was never a fan of those prepackaged mini-muffins you can buy in the store due to the amount of high fructose syrup, artificial flavoring and lack of nutrition they offer. But my kids were exposed to them at school when other kids brought them in lunchboxes, and they came home begging me to buy some. I gave in one day at the grocery store and let them choose one; then we came home and did our own little blind folded taste test between homemade mini-muffins and the store bought ones. I’m happy to report the homemade version won every single time! You can just tell that when something is prepared with higher quality ingredients, it tastes better.
This recipe happens to be gluten- free, and grain-free. But I have also tried it with ½ cup of quick oats, and it turned out great.. Since it’s pumpkin season, I went with the urge and made these pumpkin blender muffins with some Once Again Peanut Butter and Once Again Wildflower Honey, and when adding up the eggs, you end up with a very high protein and nutritious anytime treat.

pumpkin blender muffins1Pumpkin Blender Mini-Muffins
Makes 24 mini-muffins

1 cup Once Again Peanut Butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
3 tablespoons Once Again Wildflower Honey
3 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
½ teaspoon baking soda

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix at once! Then pour into mini-muffin pan and bake at 350 degree for about 15-18 minutes. Check for readiness by inserting a toothpick into the muffins. When they toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are ready!.
Topping: Mix equal parts of pumpkin puree and peanut butter and use as a topping!

pumpkin blender muffin 2

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins: Relax and Enjoy!

Recently at a general physical with a primary physician I was told that I need to find some “me” time, some relaxing activities to integrate daily in order to decrease my levels of stress. t Just hearing that made me even more stressed! What do you mean I need to find time to relax? Should I google: How to relax? Is there a class I need to take? Can I bring the kids with me?

Stress is not something to be taken lightly though. When you are stressed, your hormones, such as cortisol will produce the “fight or flight response” in your body causing increased heart rate, heavy breathing and constricted blood vessels .  When these responses happen repeatedly, they can lead to hypertension, migraines, mental health disorders, asthma, insomnia and the list goes on.

Relaxing and balancing the stress is a priority for a healthy life, but finding  time to  accomplish this  can be a challenge. As usual, research and some conversations with the right people set me  on  the right path. I put together a short list of things you can do to help you de-stress, and since they are simple and quick, you can do it once or several times daily, when you have time. After all, finding time to relax can just add to stress! Instead use the time you are waiting for your toast to pop at breakfast, or seize the  moments while in car line to pick up a child, or when you’re in line at the grocery store. The good news is that our body is also equipped with hormones to slow down your heart beat and promote balance, and these activities will you help you trigger that healing side you have within.

  1. Deep Breaths: Just take a series of 3-4 long deep breaths. Fill your lungs in with air coming through your nose, and let it out slowly through your mouth. This will reduce tension due to the extra boost of oxygen, stimulating a parasympathetic reaction, which helps you calm down.
  2. Muscle relaxation: Start with your toes, and then tighten your foot muscles for just a couple of seconds and then in turn, relax them. Move up to your calf muscle, then the thigh, repeating the action,  all the way up to your face. Tighten and relax each muscle for a few seconds each: this sounds a little awkward but this can help with anxiety and stress!
  3. Snack break: Stress is a brain and immune system response, yet  our gut is the largest organ in your immune system. Stress-eating doesn’t have to be bad! Pick a nutritious snack that will fill you up and eat it slowly; focus on the texture, how it tastes, how much you enjoy it or what you would change in it, and you’ve just turned your snack time into meditation! Here is a perfect on- the- go snack time to help you relax  during  your most stressful days: Peanut Butter Jelly Muffins — see recipe below!PB and Jelly Muffin
  4. Watch a funny video: Laughter increases your intake of oxygen, which stimulates your heart, lungs, muscles and increases the endorphins released by your brain. Laughing helps your body relax! So pick your favorite cat video on YouTube, or re-watch some bloopers from your own family videos and laugh out loud!
  5. Walk: Take a 10 minute walk,and it’s better if it can be outdoors —  even go barefoot. Our body craves connection with outside elements like wind, water, earth. A brisk walk will boost your endorphins and even help clear your mind. Consider looking around while you are walking,. Don’t focus on any one aspect;instead look at the sky, and  then direct your attention to the grass.  This will prevent you from directing your thoughts back to your to-do lists.
  6. Hand pressure point: Apply pressure to the space between your second and third knuckle to help create an instant sense of calm. “It activates a nerve that loosens the area around the heart, so any of that flutters feeling you feel when you’re nervous will end up going away.” S. Melnick (business psychologist).
  7. Music: Add some classical tunes to your track list! Classical music will slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and help decrease stress hormones. Actually, any music you enjoy will do the trick ! And if you are stuck somewhere without headphones, you can even hum your favorite tune to calm down your heartbeat.

PB and Jelly Muffin1Peanut Butter Jelly Muffins

serves up to 15 people

2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk (or milk alternative)
¼ cup coconut oil
1 tsp.  vanilla
½-1 cup jelly or jam of your choice

Combine all dry ingredients first; then add peanut butter and using a large spoon, mix  until you achieve a crumbly texture. In a separate bowl, place eggs, milk and coconut oil. Make sure they are all at room temperature,  so the coconut oil will remain at liquid form; now add it to the dry ingredients; set your hand mixer on low and mix for 4-6 minutes. Add mixture to muffin cups, filling them only about half way. Spoon in about ½ tbsp. of your favorite jelly or jam into each slot ,  and then complete muffin cup with the mixture. Bake in 375 degree  oven for about 15-20 minutes.  The mixture will make about 12-15 muffins. Store them  in an  airtight  container for up to 4 days.

Peanut butter and jelly muffin

Springtime Treats: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Springtime Treats: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

After the long days of cold, hazy skies, windy afternoons, and freezing temperatures, springtime comes!! That first green leaf makes us all smile and look forward to warmer times in the sun. The transition from winter to spring also happens in the kitchen! You can put away your soup pots (not too far out of sight though, since we do enjoy soup all year round) and take out the sauté pans. We dust off our grills, and the kids start asking for popsicles. Here in Florida, spring comes quickly but only lasts about two weeks! We jump into the 80s and 90s fast, and it starts to feel like summer before spring sets in.

UntitledSpringtime vegetables include artichokes, asparagus, spinach green beans, peas, and so many others. Zucchini is more of a late- spring- into- summer vegetable.  Because of the warmer temperatures of Florida, we grow zucchini almost year round. Our backyard garden gives us a nice zucchini harvest around mid-March.

Recently I was given a “spiralizer,” a kitchen gadget with which you can create various widths and sizes of noodles using vegetables. It’s perfect for zucchini, squash, and cucumbers. It’s a lot of fun to use, and the kids love turning the crank and watching the noodles come out the other end., giving us all a different way to eat up all those spring and summer vegetables.

20150325_193627934_iOSAnother creative way to enjoy vegetables is to include them in baked goods. You can never waste the opportunity to add more variety to your baking! The addition of vegetables can provide extra vitamins and minerals to your recipes while substituting other less nutritious ingredients. You can add pureed, chopped, juiced or shredded vegetables to your creations. It is also a fantastic way to preserve your spring and summer crops: puree or juice them and then freeze small portions to use in baking throughout the year. When baking with vegetables, muffins are my first choice. They are a perfect take-along snack to make ahead of time. Use a mini-muffin pans for small portions that you can include in lunchboxes   or for a pre-workout snack. Since they are smaller than regular- sized muffins, they freeze more easily, and you can make big batches for future use. .

20150325_200044763_iOSThis recipe uses zucchini since we’ve harvested an abundant amount our vegetable garden already! But I bet you can make them with squash, pumpkin or carrots as well. These Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are gluten- free and use only honey as a sweetener. This recipe was made with Once Again Cashew Butter, but you can substitute any of your favorite Once Again nut butters. . I do think the cashew butter was a great choice to pair with the zucchini, however.  Not only did it add the much needed protein boost to these muffins, but also gave them a texture and flavor that was rich and savory at the same time. Once they are baked, you can still see the 20150325_195843702_iOSlittle pieces of zucchini, so it is no way to hide food, but that’s not the point at all! I strongly believe in encouraging kids (and adults!) to find different ways to enjoy vegetables that they don’t like cooked in more traditional ways. I am the first to confess that the only way I eat Brussel sprouts is when they are pureed and mixed into my artichoke dip. Everyone has taste unique buds, and it is okay to like different things.

… Enjoy your veggies in baked goods, too!


20150325_225256010_iOSChocolate Zucchini Muffins

1 large zucchini (about 1 ½ cup grated)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup Once Again Cashew Butter
¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup dark chocolate chips

20150325_212109069_iOSUsing a cheese grater, on the thinner side available, grate about 1 ½ cups of zucchini. It takes a large zucchini or two smaller ones for the amount needed in this recipe. Set aside the grated zucchini. In medium bowl, add honey, Once Again Cashew Butter, and mix well; then add egg, cacao powder, salt, and baking soda. Next, add the, and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips, and fill each muffin cup to about three quarter’s capacity. Bake in 375F oven for 10-18 minutes. The recipe makes about 24 mini muffins or 12 larger muffins. Store them in the refrigerator for up to four days. Frozen muffins can last up to two months. Just reheat muffins for 45 seconds before consuming.