I love muffins. They’re fast, easy, inexpensive, and easily adaptable to any meal. If you’re facing the dinner hour and find yourself staring at the kitchen cupboards, mind totally blank, then why not make muffins, brew a pot of tea, cut up some fruit, put it all on a tray that you carry out to the living room, and sit around the coffee table, gently talking over the day’s events?
When you use whole grain flour, or, as I do, whole grain ancient wheat flour like Kamut or spelt, you can be assured that you’ve got something decently healthy, even when the muffin is sweet, like this one.
Remember, you’re always ahead when you cook for yourself, at home, as opposed to purchasing something in a little white bag at a fast-food establishment. Not having access to artificial flavorings and chemical additives, home cooks don’t use them, and if you eat up what you make within a day or two, you don’t have to worry that it doesn’t have a three-month shelf life.
Cooking for ourselves is the first major, realistic, workable step that we can take to save money, as I mention in my book, Live Happily on Less. Saving money is a lifestyle thing that you can start this very minute, and keep getting better at each day, and in this uncertain world and erratic economy, it’s a skill that all of us benefit from.
Peanut Butter Muffins — Makes 12-18 muffins (I know; this seems like a lot, but some of my muffin pans hold more or less than others, even when they’re supposed to be the same size; also, I find that ancient wheat products require less batter in each muffin cup)
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use the old fashioned kind that you have to
stir to blend)
2 Tablespoons oil
7/8 cup sugar (Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade is my favorite, and I pick it up at Costco)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups whole grain flour (I use a blend of spelt and Kamut; you can use just regular whole wheat if you wish, but you may need a little more to make the batter stiff enough)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup chocolate chips, chopped (this is a simple money saving strategy that I learned from my Depression-era mother — if you chop the chips into smaller chunks, they spread more out through the batter. So you don’t get massive pieces of chocolate here and there, but you do get little bits of chocolate everywhere. The muffin looks prettier, as well)
With a wooden spoon, blend the peanut butter and oil together until smooth; stir in the sugar until mixed, then the egg until blended. Mixture will be thick.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Dump atop the peanut butter mixture; pour the milk and lemon juice over, and gently stir until mixed. If you overstir, the muffins will fall, which isn’t the end of the world, but it always makes you feel bad.
The batter should be thick, like stirred cottage cheese, so if you need to add more flour, do so a tablespoon or so at a time.
Stir in the chopped chocolate chips.
Fill greased muffin tins more than 1/2 full, but less than 2/3. Bake at 350 degrees for 13-17 minutes, until the tops spring back when you touch them lightly. If you are using ancient wheat flours, these tend to bake up more quickly than conventional wheat.
Enjoy! Turn off the television, gather together whatever life forms are in your household, and be grateful for food.
Enjoying time together with family and friends is a simple thing we all wish we did more of, but there’s no reason why we can’t as long as we realize it’s a priority. It’s also another of those simple, yet pleasurable, lifestyle changes we can make to Live Happily on Less.