Tuesday, December 28, 2010

7-11 Snow Day Banana Bread

Until this Monday, I never really internalized what was meant by the concept of being ‘snowed in.’ Once, in college, I was trapped in Wellesley, Massachusetts after a debate tournament and had to survive on peanut butter sandwiches from the dining hall and slept in the double of one of the debate team members, with the teams of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore, and Princeton.  Combined. But I was really too busy learning the drinking game “I never” (which I played without alcohol, because I’m dork) to get overly anxious about the closed roads.

We’ve had bad snow in the New Jersey area, but the recent 9 foot drifts have been the only time, thus far, that I can recall in my adult life, that I’ve had to face completely impassable roads, and a car that was literally covered in a snowdrift of frozen, rock solid ice.  Despite shoveling during the night, to simply open my door I had to take out the glass from a window, climb through, and then shovel my way BACK to the door, to free myself.
If only I could be a hawk in the snow, and have no need for a car!

I haven’t driven since Boxing Day, and I’m still waiting to get plowed out. There was a wall of ice, kindly left by the township, in front of my car, because I live on one of the few roads that ARE plowed.

I always used to laugh at the people who bought boxes and boxes of frozen pizza, beer, and Doritos every time the weatherman breathed the word ‘snow.’  And people who ‘stocked up’ in general. But now I understand better why, in snow-prone regions of the country, it’s terribly tempting to buy massive quantities of preservative-laden food, in case your door is iced shut, or your car is covered with an impassable drift.

I work from home, so I have been productive, but I do miss the things that make working bearable—going to my stable, my yoga classes, even seeing people at grocery store, Staples, and the post office.  Little breaks during the day and after work.

To break up the monotony of the ‘Snowmageddon,’ and the still-incomplete shoveling I took a slippery walk to the local 7-11 and the Dollar Store.

7-11 Snow Day Banana Bread

The dry

1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour or all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

The creamed

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (not chunky)
3/4 cup brown sugar

The wet
2 overripe convenience store bananas
1 large egg
1/2 vanilla, unsweetened almond milk (or soy or dairy-based milk—if you use just regular milk, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon 


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment or 6-8 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl

3. Pulverize the bananas as much as possible. Mix in the milk (and vanilla, if adding the extract) and the beaten egg.  Cream together the sugar and the applesauce.  Fold into the banana mixture.  Then mix the bowl of the ‘wet’ ingredients (sugar, applesauce, banana, egg, almond milk) into the ‘dry’ (flour, baking powder, salt).

4. Once combined, pour into the pan or muffin liners. You can also use a loaf pan, but that will extend the cooking time.

5. Bake approximately 30 minutes for a cake pan, 20 minutes for muffins, until a toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle with cinnamon while still warm from the oven. Let cool.  Glory in your power to make something better than a Slurpee from 7-11.

The bread is fairly low in fat and sugar, as well as particularly tasty warm. I estimated that, for 8 servings, it's approximately 200 calories a slice. So it’s a relatively guilt-free indulgence. Just pull your shades down to ignore the mound of snow level with your kitchen windows.
Banana bread is always ugly, and always tasty.  Unlike snow, which is always beautiful, but often a pain.

Friday, December 24, 2010

chewthefat: Sea Salt Brownes

chewthefat: Sea Salt Brownes: "Recently, I was debating what to bake for my yoga teacher as a gift. I was uncertain what would be appropriate: green tea shortbrea..."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nutty, healthy cookies

Some people’s lives were ruined in their early adolescence by rock n’ roll: mine was ruined at age nine, by poetry.  Despite many years of incredibly mediocre grades in elementary school, I tested very well on the standardized tests given to all students in my state called the ‘Iowa Tests.’ (Why students from New Jersey were tested on exams named after a Midwestern state remains a mystery to me—and gave me a very strange impression of what people do in Iowa all day long). 

Because of my scores, I was placed in a program called A.T. (Academically Talented).  This proved to be my undoing: instead of sitting in orderly rows, doing worksheets and listening to the teacher, in A.T. the students sat at round tables, debated Serious Contemporary Issues like whether Pac-Man was rotting the minds of the Next Generation, put Hansel and Gretel on trial using the procedures of the criminal justice system, and wrote poetry in the style of Lorca.
The fact that I got excellent grades in my supposedly ‘harder’ A.T. classes and did rather poorly in classes that required me to follow the rules and hand in assignments on time unintentionally gave me the impression that I was a Creative Person and that instructions were for Other People. It didn’t help, either, that my kindly A.T.  teacher would even allow me to eat lunch with her, in her classroom so I didn’t have to deal with the confusing and frightening social environment of the playground and my peers who often taunted me.

Many years of having teachers write in large, red capital letters on my work: DID YOU EVEN READ THE ASSIGNMENT SHEET?????? followed.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to love school and taking classes, even when no grades are involved.  I’ve also learned that to be truly creative when writing, you have to master the basics—grammar, spelling, verse structure—before you mess with them and make something new.

Baking is often called a science as opposed to cooking’s more freestyle ‘art’ and one of my problems as a baker is my fondness for messing with the rules. I’m always apt to want to make things ‘healthier’ by substituting whole wheat flour, adding a bit of applesauce rather than butter, and so forth. But I really did intend today to make a macadamia nut cookie ‘by the book.’ Then, I couldn’t locate any jars of chopped macadamia nuts at Wegman’s.   So, like every bad student looking for an excuse not to do the assignment, I made these instead.

Whole wheat mixed nut cookies


The sifted 

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/ 2 teaspoon baking soda

The creamed

1 1/ 2 cup brown sugar
3/ 4 cup melted butter
2 eggs, beaten


1/ 2 cup chopped pecans, cashews, walnuts, and hazel nuts


  1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. Whisk together the flour and baking soda.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar, then incorporate the beaten eggs.
  4. Fold in the flour mixture.
  5. Drop or scoop onto baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Yields 18-24.
These would also be great with some chopped whole wheat pretzels or peanuts, for a kind of healthier ‘spin’ on a compost cookie.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pay no attention to the baking failure that occured after these cookies...

Yesterday, I had a pretty decent baking success making another batch of whole wheat chocolate chip cookies. 

Today, I decided to throw together a batch of shortbread. After all with three ingredients, this recipe seemed foolproof.  However, when I was kneading the mixture together, I began to get suspicious at the rather crumbly texture of the dough and even after baking, the cookies were loose, powdery, and not particularly flavorful. So they were 'circularly filed.'

I suppose this makes me officially a Bad Person, but I've never had much compunction about throwing out baking or cooking failures. Life is too short to eat--or to give--bad cookies.  My way of 'not wasting' tends to be to buy only what I need, nothing more, not to force myself to be a member of the 'clean plate club' when I'm not that happy with what is on my plate....and maybe it's not that PC, but if you're going to cook, especially when you're learning to cook, you're going to end up wasting some food when you 'fail' every now and then...I just like to think that the waste from 'experimenting' is balanced out by NOT buying as many packaged goods. 

At least the shortbread made the house smell nice.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are certain things that I like, I've come to realize, that not many other people seem to like. I try to keep my mouth shut about my love of:
  • 19th century Victorian novels
  • Elizabethan dramas in iambic pentameter (The Royal Shakespearean Company RULES!)
  • Running
  • Really dorky news shows on NPR, like the Brian Lehrer show
  • Walking in cities, rather than taking cabs, so I can check out off-beat stores like the ''Left hander's" store in London. Even though I'm not left-handed.
  • Whole wheat anything.
Now, I know I'm supposed to say: "oh, I FORCE myself to use whole wheat because it's healthier." But to be honest, I have a kind of unusual palate, I guess. I wonder if it's because I never ate white bread growing up. My mother made even my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on rye bread. When I was in elementary school. 

I still don't like rye, but I find whole wheat to be much more interesting, flavor-wise. I know I should think that having a teeny weeny taste of a 'real' chocolate chip cookie with white flour is better than a big bite of a whole wheat cookie, but I don't. I also like the fact that whole wheat things, even though they aren't necessarily less caloric, don't give me that nauseous sugar hangover that overly sweet things tend to bring on, after an hour or so.

A number of people have asked me if I you can only make whole wheat peanut butter cookies (because the peanut butter is so oily and moist, it tends to reduce the gritty texture of the whole wheat many people find objectionable)--or if you can also make whole wheat chocolate chip cookies entirely with whole wheat flour. No all purpose or 'white whole wheat' flour involved.

 Well, I did, and I liked them!  I adapted the recipe from the Hillbilly Housewife, who writes that these are are perfect for people who are 'real uptight about food and nutrition.'   My goodness, it's like they were made for me!

I love this recipe because it only uses one type of sugar (light brown) as well as one type of flour. (I'm uptight, yet cheap and lazy about buying lots of different kinds of flour).  The recipe is even easier than the Toll House recipe, which uses both white and brown sugar.


"The creamed"

1 cup of butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups of light brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten

"The dry"
2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspon baking soda

"The add-ins"
Instead of 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips, I cut up a large bar of Ghirradelli 86% cacao for half the batter and made the other half with half a cup of white chocolate chips and half a cup of salted mixed nuts.

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Cream the softened butter and brown sugar in a bowl. Add the eggs and the baking soda. Stir until well-incorporated, almost the texture of wet clay. Then add in the flour, about a 1/4 cup at a time.

3. It's suggested that you chill chocolate chip batter for 36 hours in the refrigerator before baking--I didn't, but to be honest it probably would yield superior results, particularly for whole wheat flour which requires more time to absorb moisture. I have impulse control issues, however, and wanted to bake these right away.

4. I divided the batter and folded in the dark chocolate into one half, and the nuts and white chocolate into the other half.

5. The original recipe makes 3 dozen, but I made 18, since I was giving these as a gift and wanted them to look large and spectacular.

6. Bake for 12 minutes for normal-size cookies, about 20 if you made your cookies extra-large, like mine.

7. Cool and remove from the parchment with a spatula.

8. I had to chill the cookies with the cut-up cookie bar for the chocolate to 'set.' While not as pretty as pre-made chocolate chips, I admit I prefer 'real' chunks of extra dark chocolate, taste-wise.

Packed and ready to be gifted!

I also made some more saltine nut brittle.
One batch with dark chocolate and salted mixed nuts, the other with white chocolate.  Just to show that my apparent love of healthy eating is a veneer. 

Stop me before I nut brittle again!  It's becoming an addiction.  I have the sudden urge to make it for everyone I know, kind of like Truman Capote's dotty but lovable relative made fruitcakes for everyone--including President Roosevelt--according to his short story "A Christmas Memory."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

White Chocolate Honey Nut Saltine Brittle

As a child, I was obsessed by crafts. When you’re very young you’re blissfully unaware of the fact that the green construction paper Christmas tree you’re adorning with shiny ornaments cut from purple tinfoil will be only beautiful in the eyes of your mother. Whenever my school would take us to museums, I would always, always use the $2.00 we were allowed as souvenir money to purchase little statues of animals with fuzzy coats and make them diorama habitats out of shoeboxes at home. I lived a very exiting life, as you can tell.  

At some point such thoughts as: “hey, an empty spool with a plastic lid can make a great doll table” seems to go away.  I think that decorating cakes, cookies, and candy and wrapping presents is as close to crafts as most grownups get, unless they have a profession in the arts.  This very simple recipe is almost more of a craft than a recipe, but it’s fun, easy enough to make with kids, yet can look quite fancy if you use good ingredients.

White Chocolate Honey Nut Saltine Brittle

For a half batch:

20-25 Saltine crackers
1 stick of butter
1/ 2 cup of light brown sugar
3/ 4 cup (or more) of white chocolate chips (room temperature)
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts (or cashews or chopped pecans)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Cover half a cookie sheet with parchment paper or tinfoil.
  3. Put a single layer of saltine crackers, side by side, on the  covered sheet (approximately 20-25).
  4. Melt one stick of butter (1/2 a cup) and 1/ 2 a cup brown sugar in a saucepan until bubbling.
  5. Pour the mixture over the saltines.
  6. Bake until the saltines are bubbling in the hot sugar and butter mixture, approximately 5-7 minutes
  7. Cover the saltines with  white chocolate chips
The original recipe specified 3/ 4 of a cup of chocolate for an ENTIRE pan (40 crackers). I found that to be far too stingy—3/4 of a cup was just enough to cover my 1 /2 a pan with 20 crackers.

  1. As the chips melt , spread them with a knife until the saltines are covered with a smooth layer of chocolate
  2. If your chips don’t melt, you can put the pan back in the oven for a minute—But only AFTER you’ve turned off the oven. Don’t put the pan in a ‘hot’ oven, only a warm one, because the chips will turn to liquid.  You want them to be the consistency of soft butter.
  3. Sprinkle the nuts on the chocolate.
  4. Chill until very hard, approximately 2-3 hours.  Some versions of this recipe suggest freezing  the saltines.  However, my refrigerator solidified the brittle quite quickly. The freezer would have made it too hard.
  5.  Break or cut the brittle into sections. Unless you have a very sharp knife, I’d suggest breaking over cutting.
  6. When wrapping the pieces as a gift, make sure to put down a piece of wax paper in the container, as the candy will still be slightly sticky.
Saltine brittle is usually made with chocolate and chopped walnuts or pecans, so this is my ‘twist’ on the idea. However, you can use any combination of chocolate, nuts, or other add-ons.

For kids, using colored sprinkles, M&Ms, chopped peanut butter cups, crushed Butterfingers or Heath bars would be fun.  Make sure to cut the candy bars in small pieces.

The fact that this is so easy and inexpensive also makes it a great 'thank-you' gift to give in small bags around the holidays. I've heard it suggested as a 'teacher's gift.'  However, as one of my jobs involves working with students, please note that I don't mind cash, either.

There are  many variations you can try on this recipe. Here is the full pan recipe. Similar to mine, only with milk chocolate and an addition of vanilla to the butter and sugar (which I don't really think is required). There's an even sweeter version with graham crackers and butterscotch. And if you're from Texas, all of this will seem far too austere, so I have to direct you to Cookie Madness' version, which uses Fritos as a base.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies: The power of peanut butter

I’ve never been beautiful. In high school, I was the sort of dorky, chunky girl who was asked to help the pretty girl running for National Student Council to write a speech that could win over the masses and I always played what are politely called 'character' roles in the school plays. 

The adult version of me is a short, slender woman who wears a B-cup bra and not a lot of makeup.  I would rate myself as okay looking, without being annoyingly self-effacing.

I always tended to think other girls were more attractive than me, especially if their hair didn’t frizz up in the rain. But it wasn’t until I was well into my twenties, and living in the United Kingdom that I met a woman who might be called ‘a beauty.’

Natalie was about 5’11, with what must have been DD-sized breasts and a 23-inch waist.  I know this because I met her when we were taking a movement class for actors together, and all of the men in the class pestered the girls with that one, single, solitary question… because we changed in the same room as her.  She would walk around the changing room naked, and while I never stared, my guess was: yes gents, just like that catchphrase in the Seinfeld episode, they were real.

I doubt most of the men got past staring beyond Natalie’s neck, but Natalie also had dark skin, the color of a copper penny, and cat-shaped brown eyes that were so large they slanted out into the sides of her face. Without any mascara her lashes were heavy, and her long, dark hair hung in spherical curls, thick and luxurious, past her waist.

Natalie’s parents were of Lebanese and Palestinian origin, and she had spent most of her life traveling and living around the world. Like many people who acquired a British accent at British-run schools in the former colonies, Natalie had a plummy-sounding Received Pronunciation (RP) accent of the kind you usually hear from BBC announcers in the old Monty Python episodes. A preserved accent of a previous era.

“Rich-AHRD,” she would say, admonishing her boyfriend. “You are ahh-bsolutely PISSSSED,” taking several seconds longer to say it than any other human being in our circle of friends.

Oddly enough, Natalie was dating a charming, rather scruffy working class lad with a heavy Brummie (Birmingham, Midlands) accent and a fondness for footie, lager, and thick, greasy sausage sandwiches on baps (buns). Both Natalie and Rich were actors, so the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton comparison was inevitable.

However, the annoying thing about Natalie was that despite her beauty, she was one of the nicest people I knew. For example, on her birthday, since she knew that no one had a lot of money, she asked for no gifts, and instead talked a pub owner into setting up a karaoke machine, so we could have a costume party bash. It was a rare, wonderful birthday that had nothing to do with the self-indulgence of the party-giver.  Natalie dressed as a cavewoman with a bone through her nose.

Oh, and how did she convince the pub owner to be so nice?  Well, I can think of two reasons…

Richard threw his own birthday party at McDonald’s. The sight of him, after spiking his wax cup of soda, putting a crown on his head, and proclaiming in a faux luvvie Shakespearean accent: “Although I am not at Burger King, today is my birthday and I am the king!” is a memory I will cherish.

Both Natalie and Richard always managed to seem incredibly elegant and polished, no matter what they said. Natalie could say: “Rich-AHRD, the way you eat that Cadbury egg is DIS-GUST-ING. It makes you look like you’re giving the chocolate cunnilingus.”  And you wouldn’t bat an eyelash.   I never discussed Middle Eastern politics with her at any length, although I did hear her joke once in a pub to one of my Jewish friends (who, like Natalie, didn’t drink): “Now this is where they should have peace negotiations—Jewish people and Arabs are the ONLY SOBER people in pubs at night and there is nothing else to do. I’m so bored and I want to go home but RICHARD is PISSED and I CAAAAHHN’T.”

Natalie never consumed alcohol, but I do remember one food peculiarity of hers. I was going home to America for a short stay, and asked that ubiquitous question: “can I bring anything back?”

Natalie batted her eyelashes at me, and I thought for certain she would want something like perfume, or some shade of lipstick only obtainable in America.

“I hate to ask you Mary,” she whispered. “But, you see, I did live in America for a few years as a little girl…and…well, the peanut butter here just isn’t the same.  Just not the same! And there are some cereals…Flintstones, Lucky Charms, Trixx, and…Coco Puffs.  Just not the same here. I hate to AH-SK, but…only if it is no trouble.”

What is it about beautiful women, and wanting to be the friend of the pretty girl?  Thank goodness security was more lax back then. I’m sure that I would have to spend many hours in customs, being frisked now. How could I explain the fact that I was lugging one huge jar of Skippy Creamy, one huge jar of Skippy Crunchy, and gigantic boxes of Lucky Charms, Trixx, Coco Puffs, and Reese’s Puff cereal (because although Natalie had never eaten it, I assumed she’d like it)?

“I never made her so happy,” said Rich.

And what is it about peanut butter that holds such power over some people? I couldn’t imagine elegant Natalie slurping down a bowl of Lucky Charms and eating a slice of bread with half an inch of Super Chunk Skippy until I saw it with my own eyes.

This morning, I made some peanut butter cookies. This a low-sugar, relatively healthy cookie made entirely with whole wheat flour. The peanut butter, honey and butter is so moist, it’s indistinguishable from a peanut butter cookie made from white flour.

I did, however, make one error—I didn’t chill the dough.  Please chill the dough overnight because otherwise they spread like crazy—kind of like the will of men in front of Natalie.

They aren’t beautiful, but they are tasty.

“The sifted”
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

“The creamed”
1 egg, beaten lightly
1/2 cup (1 stick) of softened butter
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
1/2 cup of honey

  1. Sift the flour and baking powder together.
  2. Cream by hand or in a mixer the egg, peanut butter, regular butter, sugar, and honey.  I learned a wonderful tip from an online friend and baker—lightly butter the mixing cup when you measure peanut butter. I also buttered the measuring cup before measuring the honey. It prevents the ingredients from sticking and the danger of these sticky substances adhering to your cups. Fold the flour and baking powder into the creamed ingredients.
  3. Chill dough overnight or at least until firm (I didn’t, but I would suggest it!)
  4. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment. Scoop mixture into 30-36 ‘balls’ and make the universal sign that says ‘this is a peanut butter cookie’ by smashing down the surface of the balls slightly with a fork.
  5. Bake 13-18 minutes until slightly brown around the edges.
  6. Cool and serve.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Healthy whole wheat pumpkin-nutty muffins

I know, I know. Everyone is making decadent cookies and cakes for the holiday season, or coming off of a latke-induced food coma.  However, just in case you feel a need to do a slight baking detox, and take a breather betwixt and between the dark chocolate Hanukkah gelt and molasses crinkle cookies dusted with confectioner's sugar....

 I was inspired to make these after hearing Mike Colameco's radio program "Food Talk," in which the host recounted an interview he had with the owners of King Arthur Flour. The Mighty Knight of the milled grain industry remarked that one reason people tend not to like whole wheat baked goodies as much as those made from refined white flour is because of the drier, grittier texture of the wheat. 

So I thought: but pumpkin is very moist--ridiculously moist.  So it seemed like a great idea to throw all that I'd heard about how you can NEVER use all whole wheat flour, and always have to 'chase' it with some white or all purpose stuff when baking.

Usually, when I cast common wisdom to the winds, disaster occurs. But, like the discovery of Excalibur miracles do happen.

The muffins I made contain no milk products, but they do contain eggs. So they're not suitable for strict vegans, only for vegetarians who eat free range eggs.

Look ma!  No milk!

"The dry stuff"

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2-2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, your own spice blend, or cinnamon, ginger, or whatever you like with pumpkin (I know that the 'pie spice' blend is included in pretty much every pumpkin recipe, but lots of times I just like a little cinnamon with my pumpkin)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed

"The wet stuff"
  • 1 cup of pumpkin (annoyingly, there will be some pumpkin left in the jar which you will have to freeze.  Just don't eat it straight.  Trust me on this one.  Or at least, don't eat it straight and then go for a run later in the day.  Again.  Trust me on this one).
  • 2/3 of a cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons of crunchy or smooth almond or peanut butter (I suggest a well-blended all-natural type of nut butter, since we're going with a 'healthy' theme)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

"Add ins"
  • 1/2 cup of....whatever you like.  I added honey-roasted peanuts. But you can be even more 'healthy' and add walnuts for their superior Omega-3 fatty acid value, detoxifying cranberries, almonds...or some chopped up Reece's Pieces or peanut butter cups.  Because I think those would be good as well.

Ordinarily, I prefer Blue Diamond almond butter and milk, but I gave Barney a try, as well as a new type of almond milk. Time to restock your shelves, Mr. Wegman!

1. Preheat the oven to 375F
2. Prepare enough muffin tins for 12-18 muffins, either greasing or using cupcake liners.  Or, if you're like me, realize that you only have 10 cupcake liners left.  In which case, you use the ten, and then grease 8 cups of the tins.
3. Sift the dry ingredients together.
4. Blend the wet.
5. Blend the wet and dry together, until just incorporated, but not over-beaten.
6. Fold in the add-ins.  (I actually poured half the batter 'plain,' and then added in the nuts into the remaining half, to yield two different kinds).
6. Fill the muffin tins.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the muffins pass the toothpick test. (Hint: if the toothpick comes out wet after the first test, don't reuse the toothpick. As I did, although I realized how stupid that was and on the second test realized that the second toothpick was in fact 'clean').
 8. You're done! I told you--so easy, you can throw this together in-between your Serious Baking.
9. I thought, due to the moistness of the pumpkin, these tasted quite good out of the oven, but I expect they'll taste even better tomorrow. These are very much not a 'sweet' muffin, and more like a bread, but I rather like the fact that the ones with the nuts allow the ingredients to shine, and I quite like the strong pumpkin flavor of the plain.

Note: I checked the calorie count on several recipe sites as well as with my own calculations, and depending on the type of almond milk you use and the type of add-ins, 18 muffins should average around 150-200 calories.