Tag Archives: snacks

Bran Muffins (and brief update on my vacation)

Another delay in posts, I know!  But a friend of mine and I were traveling in Scotland for two weeks, hiking the West Highland Way, and I just couldn’t post from the trail.  And last week was jet-lag recovery so cut me some slack (ahem, mom).

The trip was amazing, once we actually got there.  We departed the day the volcano in Iceland errupted, and since we were flying Icelandair, our flights were canceled.  This resulted in an unanticipated stay in Toronto for a day where we ate the best chocolate and gelatto ever (Well, for me.  I’ve never been to Italy so that opinion is subject to change.)  If you ever find yourself delayed in Toronto, head down to the Distillery District and go to Soma Chocolatemaker for some tasty treats.

Best chocolate ever. Soma chocolate maker, Toronto

Anyway, when we finally did get to cross the pond over to London, our flight to Scotland was canceled because the ash from the volcano had drifted over our destination.  Thankfully, (mostly) reliable train transportation exists in the U.K. so we took a train to Glasgow, found a hotel, and then the next morning took a train to Balloch and bus to Balmaha so we could get caught up on the trail.  Of course, the train to Balloch was canceled but by day 3 (or was it 4?) of our vacation, and still not at our actual destination, this didn’t really phase us.

Just let us get to the trail!!

After a brief encounter with what we can only assume was a crazy Scottish woman who insisted that we were deaf since we couldn’t understand anything she said, we really did finally get on the trail.  And we walked and walked and walked.  And though we were delayed in getting there, it was worth the wait.

Loch Lomond

Not a bad view, right?  I must also share these pictures of “wildlife” I took for my parents.  Sheep for my mom, the knitter, and beef for my dad the beef farmer.


Highland Beef

I should note that we were not standing in a cow pasture when we took the picture of the beef.  Rather, they were on the trail.  My friend calmly stated, “Alyssa, I grew up in Chicago and this is scaring the crap out of me.”  To which I replied, “I grew up on a farm.  Our beef do not have horns like that.  This scares the crap out of me!”  But we had nothing to worry about.  Apparently these beef are used to hikers and ignored us as we gingerly walked on by.

Shortly after passing the beefers, I thought to myself that it would be really nice to have some delicious food that night after hiking.  Most of the food we had since arriving was sort of blah.  Turns out my wish was granted when we arrived at the Bridge of Orchy hotel.  The only eating establishment in the town, the Bridge of Orchy served up some very tasty treats.  Upon the advice of a group of Scottish hikers we met on the trail, we were daring enough to try the Crisp Haggis and Chicken Money Bags which were quite tasty.  We were not yet willing to commit to the Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, though (that’s haggis, turnips and potatoes if you don’t speak Scottish).  All in due time.

After such a satisfying meal, we hit the trail the next day only to be pelted by hail.  You wouldn’t believe it for some of the pics I took that day, but the weather was horrendous (make sure you roll the ‘r’ as much as possible when you read that.  Think Sean Connery times 10).  It took a lot of energy just to stay on the trail and not be blown off the side of the mountain.  Good thing we had that haggis in our bellies to weigh us down.

Between Bridge of Orchy and Kingshouse, Scotland

Despite the beautiful pictures we took that day, it was the last day of our hike. The weather forecast wasn’t in our favor for the remainder of our hike, so we cut our losses and left the trail alive and well.  We embarked on a new adventure – eating haggis, neeps and tatties anywhere it’s served.

Haggis, neeps and tatties are good.  Haggis on nachos are also decent.  (Yes, you read that right.  Haggis + nachos.)  But one should not eat too much haggis.  It will make your belly hurt.

Which brings me to today’s recipe.  If you find that you’ve eaten too much haggis, or too much of anything for that matter, I recommend eating some bran muffins.  Activa yogurt? Bah!  Fiber One bars?  Double bah!  Just bake up these bran muffins and I promise all will be right in your tummy.  I found this recipe a few months ago and have been meaning to share it with you for ages, but alas, just as I had to wait to finally arrive at the West Highland Way, you too needed to wait for this recipe.  But I promise, in both cases, the wait is worthwhile!

Bran Muffins (from Susan at Farmgirl Fare.  I love the name of her blog.  And all of her recipes.)
2 c. wheat bran
1 c. oat bran
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
2/3 c. yogurt
2/3 c. milk
1/3 c. molasses
1/3 c. honey
1/3 c. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. frozen fruit (I usually use cranberries, but see Farmgirl Fare for other delicious options).

Heat oven to 375o.  Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.  Whisk the wet ingredients together in a bowl.  Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix with a rubber spatula until just combined.  Add fruit to batter.  Scoop into greased muffin tin.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Bran muffins


Multigrain Maple Muffins

I made these muffins a few weeks ago in lieu of my go-to bran muffins (which I will report on after this March Maple Madness thing is over.  Promise).  These are pretty good. Not super sweet, but just sweet enough.

Multigrain Maple Muffins (recipe adapted slightly from The Sprouted Kitchen)
1/2 c. wheat flour
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. wheat bran
1/2 c. oatmean
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. powdered ginger
1 1/2 tsp. baking Powder
1/2 tsp. baking Soda
2 eggs
1 c. maple syrup
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/2 c. chopped pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease or spray your muffin tins, or use papers.
2.  Whisk all dry ingredients (up to the eggs) together in a large mixing bowl.
3.  Separate the egg yolks from the whites. In the bowl with the yolks, add the maple, vanilla and buttermilk and whisk to combine. Beat or use an electric mixer to whip up the egg whites until they just start to hold shape.
4. Mix the maple mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. Add the yogurt and 1/2 cup of the pecan pieces and gently fold in. Lastly, just before you’re ready to put batter into the tins, fold in the whipped egg whites. Because the dough is somewhat heavy, try to fold from the outside of the bowl in, to not deflate the egg whites.
5. Fill the tins about about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the top with a few chopped pecans and a few oat flakes. Bake on the middle rack for 20-23 minutes (cooking times may vary depending on tin). Remove and cool.

MMM Day 8: Maple-Basil Mustard

Well, it’s maple time and I just got in from collecting sap out in the woods.  The snow’s quite a bit deeper this year than last, that’s for sure.  In fact, in one spot I was really wishing that I had my snowshoes because I sunk in down to my knees and then toppled over.  BUT, Grandpa must have been watching over me because NO SAP was lost in the fall.  I repeat.  NO SAP WAS LOST.  It was a close call, but disaster was averted and all sugar water remained in my bucket.  As a bonus, I also came out unscathed (if Grandpa were around, he would agree with me on the bonus part).

I worked up a bit of a hunger while out in the woods, but thankfully, my mom had me covered.  She made this delightful Maple-Basil Mustard from the Maple Syrup Cookbook that I enjoyed with some pretzels.  Yum.  This morning she approached me with this cookbook and said, nonchalantly, “Oh, have I shown you this? It has a lot of maple recipes.”  My eyes jumped out of my head while I screamed – “Why do you hide things from me?!?!”  Over 100 delicious maple recipes.  It’s the mother-lode!  If you like maple syrup as much as me (and Buddy the Elf), I strongly recommend getting a copy of this book.  And if you don’t, at least make the mustard.

Maple-Basil Mustard (from the Maple Syrup Cookbook by Ken Haedrich)
1/3 c. yellow mustard seeds
2 Tbsp. dry mustard
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. maple syrup
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil

Put the mustard seeds, dry mustard and water in a food processor and process for 30 – 60 seconds, until the mixture becomes think and grainy.  Let the mixture sit for about 2 hours (this helps release the bitter components of the mustard).

After a few hours, add the vinegar, maple syrup, basil and process until smooth.  There might be a few grains, but that’s ok.

Scrape into a double boiler and cook over simmering water for about 10 minutes.  Stir often.  Scrape into a bowl and cool.  Touch with more vinegar, maple syrup or salt as needed.  Refrigerate.  It will keep indefinitely.

Maple-Basil Mustard


Spicy Almond Cashew Maple Popcorn

I was talking to my dad earlier today and he asked me what I was going to have for supper – “Something healthy, I suppose.”  This was not said in a “Good girl, we raised you to eat healthy meals” sort of way, but rather in a disapproving “where did we go wrong with you?” tone of voice.  I could just picture him, rolling his eyes as he said it.  I replied saying I might just have popcorn.

A diet of popcorn probably isn’t that healthy.  It doesn’t really hit all of the 4 basic food groups, according to the USDA.  However, according to Buddy the Elf, I hit about 1 and a half of the food groups, candy (0), candy canes (0), candy corn (+1/2) and syrup (1).  Not too shabby, in my book.

Spicy Almond Cashew Maple Popcorn (adapted from Dec. 2010 Cooking Light)
1/2 c. cashews
1/3. c. almonds
1/4. c. dried currants
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 T. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1.  Pop popcorn in a large stockpot.  Let rest after popping.  Stir in nuts and currants.
2.  Bring sugar, maple syrup and remaining ingredients to a boil.  Let cool about 1 minute.
3.  Pour hot sugar goodness over popped corn.  Toss to coat.
4.  Spread the popcorn on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Let cool and enjoy!

Maple Popcorn