Blackberry, Lemon, Yoghurt & Almond Streusel Muffins

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In my attempts to bake a healthier muffin, I have sacrificed so many lovely ingredients to the kitchen gods. An array of beautiful flours, the ripest fruits, different sweeteners, fragrant vanilla – they have all gone into creating some of the most unappetising muffins around. Generally dense, bland little numbers which you might only enjoy if truly committed to matyring yourself for “health food”.

And “health food” is such a loaded phrase, with such narrow parameters and misguided implications. I have not been trying to turn what is essentially cake into a “health food” but rather make it a bit more nutritious. Swapping out white flour for wholemeal, saturated fat for monounsaturated, using the sweetness of fruit with its vitamins and fibre – but still a pleasure to eat. I am soooo happy to say that the below recipe is a winner and saves me from throwing out any future dud muffins.

We used blackberries because they were surprisingly cheap – other berries (fresh or frozen) or ripe pear would go just as nicely.  Almonds could be replaced with walnuts or pecans and you could play around with the flours. When pears are plentiful, I would like to try swapping in some chestnut flour and adding pecans to the crumble.

I have played around a LOT with how much (or rather, how little) sugar I can use in this recipe without rendering the results bland or tough. The amount below seems to be the minimum required to make the muffin muffiny…  

Each small muffin has 10g added sugar from the maple syrup. The WHO recommends we limit our added sugar intake to less than 10%, ideally 5% of our daily diet. This translates to 25g sugar for adults and 12g sugar for young children.

Blackberry, Lemon, Yoghurt & Almond Streusel Muffins (makes 6 cupcake sized)

1 large egg
50g olive oil
80g maple syrup
120g yoghurt, plain (low-fat or full-fat)
½ lemon, finely grated zest of
150g wholemeal spelt flour
4g baking powder
Pinch bicarbonate soda
Pinch salt
125g blackberries

20g oats
20g finely chopped walnuts or almonds
20g wholemeal spelt flour
15g olive oil
20g maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 200’C and line 6-hole cupcake tin with liners or baking paper. Whisk the egg, oil, syrup, yoghurt and lemon zest together. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and just barely mix, maybe just 2-3 turns of the spoon. Don’t over mix muffins! Add the berries and gently finish mixing until the flour is just incorporated into the wet batter. Divide the batter between the 6 liners.

Combine the streusel ingredients all together and sprinkle over the muffins.         Bake at 200c x 15 mins.

harissa yoghurt chicken & vegetable couscous

harissachick

The 2 nights per week that my husband is not at work allow me to take a bit longer in the kitchen. Sunday and Monday evenings are when I do my meal prep for the following week and make sure my fridge and freezer are stocked. I also like to to take a bit more time making dinner on these nights. Being able to create something in the kitchen is one of the things that keep me sane so I really look forward to these evenings.

Saying that, this baked chicken dish is not complicated and I threw it together with what was in my fridge and pantry. I made a richly-flavoured marinade with yoghurt, spices and roast red capsicum, poured it over some chicken thighs and baked them for 20 minutes while I made the vegetable couscous. I used the roast capsicum you can find in jars in the supermarket. I always have a jar of these in my fridge – they are an easy and welcome addition to many salads, couscous, tagines, etc.

We had this delicious dish with a spinach salad and you could also add some flatbread if you wished.

harissa yoghurt chicken

  • 1c yoghurt
  • 1 roast red capsicum, peeled, deseeded
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice (or finely diced preserved lemon)
  • 1.5tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • coriander, see note*
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2tb olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200’C. Puree the yoghurt, capsicum, spices, lemon and salt in a blender or processor until smooth. Heat the olive oil in a pan over med-high heat and cook the chicken thighs, skin down, until the skin is golden. Transfer them to a baking dish leaving any remaining oil and rendered chicken fat in the pan. Pour over the yoghurt marinade and place in the oven for 20 minutes. (It may seem like a lot of sauce but any excess is delicious poured over the couscous.)

Meanwhile, using the fat left in the pan, sauté some vegetables of your choosing until golden and cooked through. Season well. For 6 portions,  I used..

  • 1 capsicum, sliced
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • 1 spanish onion, sliced
  • handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • handful of green beans
  • handful of pine nuts (flaked almonds would also work well)

Then add 1 c of couscous and 2 c of water or stock, place a lid on the pan (or foil securely) and leave to cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove the lid, stir well, replace the lid and turn off the heat. Allow to finish steaming for a couple of minutes then fluff with a fork. Add some chopped parsley, coriander or spinach and some diced fresh date or some raisins if you wish.

Make It Easy On Yourself: blend the yoghurt marinade and dice the vegetables for the couscous the day before. And remember to keep a jar of roast capsicum in the fridge!

*Note: I also added some coriander stalks I had left from a previous dish. You could add a teaspoon of ground coriander or leave the coriander out entirely.