Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

When I was six, my father and mother got into the kind of ferocious argument I used to wait out, huddled in my closet with my dolls and stuffed animals.  One of my friends had asked me if I'd like to go with her to CCD.  I liked her, and most of my friends went to some form of religious education, so I agreed.  My father was enraged: "either she will be raised Greek Orthodox, or she will be raised nothing!" he shouted.

It was pretty silly, given that my mother was an ex-Catholic (which itself is a kind of religion) and the offer was friendly, not designed to convert me.  But for the record, although I have studied religion in an academic fashion, I was, indeed, raised 'nothing.'

I've always been fascinated by religious history, however, and so today--Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent--led me to pour over various articles on the traditional Lenten diet.  Even as an ex-vegan/vegetarian, I'm always bemused by people (like my father) who have berated me for the 'unnaturalness' of not eating  meat daily, given that much of Western Europe during the Middle Ages abstained from all animal products (including eggs, butter, and cheese) for forty days and forty nights, and medieval cookbooks are stuffed with Lenten recipes, including those which contain almond milk (another often-demonized product as 'unnatural').

However, having tried the vegetarian/vegan thing for more than ten years, and finding that for long periods of time it's not as healthy as some people purport, I'm not giving up animal products for Lent. Even the most observant Catholics usually don't observe the medieval, austere Lenten rules today. The modern attitude to Lent is perhaps best embodied by the fact I recall thinking as a child, seeing a McDonald's advertisement: "I'm so glad we don't observe Lent, because then I'd have to get a Fillet-O-Fish on Friday, rather than Chicken McNuggets."  My spiritual priorities were clearly in order.

No joke: This was invented because of Lent and it's still promoted by the Golden Arches as Lenten fare.

In celebration of my non-fasting, but in some slight deference to the austerity of the day, here is a low-sugar, relatively heart-healthy muffin.  I did stuff it with blueberry jam to render it more decadent, but you could use fresh blueberries or even leave that out.  It only has two tablespoons of honey to sweeten an entire batch of muffins, but to lower the calorie count still further, you could just use sugar.

Note that it uses cooked oatmeal.  Again, keeping with Lenten austerity, this is a great way to use up leftovers, like the oatmeal your kid wouldn't eat.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins
--yields 10 muffins---
Adapted from Cookie Madness

 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat)
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large, beaten egg
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used full fat)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup cooked oatmeal (not instant)
10 teaspoons of blueberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Cook oatmeal according to package directions.  The oatmeal I used was dense and not 'runny' in consistency.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Mix egg, yogurt, oil, honey, and oatmeal together.  Spoon in the dry mixture. Pour into prepared muffin tins (note: the recipe can make a dozen muffins, but my experience is that the muffins will not have a nice 'crown' if you under-fill the muffin cups).  Spoon a teaspoon of jam into the center of each batter-filled muffin top and smooth over with a knife.
4. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until toothpick can be extracted clean.


  1. I love the use of blueberry jam here. I made a blueberry oatmeal muffin a while back but didn't think to cook the oatmeal. I'm sure that adds a ton of moisture.

  2. @Candy--it does give it a really nice texture--what I liked about these was that they were soft on the inside and rather 'crackly' on the top!

  3. I think CCD is responsible for producing more ex-Catholics than Catholics! And I could never figure out why I had to go while my little brother didn't. Only in adulthood did I realize that it was because my Irish Catholic grandmother had passed away by the time the boy was old enough to be indoctrinated. Being the oldest sucks!

  4. @MD--that is SO true (true for my mother, anyway)! That's so unfair regarding your own history with CCD, though--I think that your brother should have been forced to go (or at least to have done some extra chores around the house) to make things fair!

  5. I'm going to try these, as well as your peanut butter banana muffins. And, well, you know about the pie. I never did around to baking one last weekend.

    The business about the Hula Burger makes me laugh. "It's hot pineapple! On a bun!" There is no selling point there.

  6. @flurrious--I'm so sorry about the pie :( These muffins are so low in sugar they definitely would not 'eat' into your calorie 'pie budget'(and to further lower the calorie count, you could just use fruit).

    The 'birth' of the Fillet-o-Fish has to be one of the more bizarre chapters in the already twisted history of American fast food. For a laugh, I should really make a Hulu Burger as a blog entry, but then I would have to taste it. I like grilled fruit, but bread and pineapple together just doesn't sound appetizing.