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.
--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.