Spring is Almost Here

IMG_7634I love this house finch–he is wearing his cape of jeweled feathers so beautifully. The feathery detail of each scallop is amazing and perfect.

On a more mundane topic, I have come up with a very nice Carob Muffin recipe. The old hippy in me gets misty eyed at the thought of carob, which at one time was really popular. Problem was, it was presented as a substitute for chocolate, but it’s nothing like chocolate at all. Cocoa and carob look the same–brown–but the similarity ends there. So people got disgruntled with carob and it went into eclipse. It actually has a mild, date-like flavor, and is just a bit sweet. I found this recipe in Sweet and Sugarfree, An All-Natural, Fruit-Sweetened Dessert Cookbook by Karen E. Barkie. (It’s available at Amazon for one cent.) One thing to say upfront: This is a slightly sweet, moist muffin that is perfect in lunches.  If you like conventionally sweetened treats, this may not be for you. But if you are looking for ways to cut sugar out of your diet, but still would like a treat with your morning cup of coffee or tea, this is a wonderful recipe. It’s light and moist and tweedy-looking, and the jewel-like date on the top of each muffin add a nice touch.

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Carob Muffin

IMG_7618makes 12 muffins

1/2 cup of mashed banana
(about two small bananas)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 cup milk or coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
or unbleached white flour
1/4 cup carob powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut
6 whole dates, sliced in half lengthwise

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Beat together the mashed banana, oil and egg until creamy. Add the milk and vanilla extract and beat. Measure together the flour, carob powder, baking soda, baking powder and pinch of salt. Sift into the banana mixture, stir, and then add the coconut. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins. This batter will fill all 12 paper liners to the top. Top each with a date half. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. (Recipe specified 15 minutes, but mine took 20 minutes.) Cool.

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Baking  notes: You can use unbleached white flour in place of the whole wheat pastry flour. I used coconut milk because it complimented the flaked coconut in the recipe, but you can certainly use regular milk. If you would like this muffin to be sweeter, try adding 1/3 cup coarsely chopped dates.

You might wonder why I don’t just add in an artificial sweetener such as Splenda. So far, every artificial sweetener I have come across has a little cloud hanging over it. Stevia is the only sweetener I will be experimenting with in the future–it is made from the stevia herb. Meanwhile, I will try to face the fact that it’s just better to let my taste buds adjust to less sweet stuff. The old hippy in me knows that you can’t always get what you want, and furthermore, that’s not a bad thing!

Meanwhile, if only the ice in this bird bath would melt!

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This sweet goldfinch is ready for spring, and so am I! Namaste. Fran

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13 thoughts on “Spring is Almost Here

  1. As a Type II diabetic I always look for sugar-lite or sugar-free foods. But me actually following a recipe and baking something like that is not a likely scenario. But were I to be offered? I would eagerly try carob instead of chocolate. They look delicious to me.
    The good news about living near the Pacific Ocean is that winters are pretty mild, certainly compared to what you have endured this year. The bad news is that we won’t get that “wow, spring is finally here!” rush.

  2. Here is a spring classic, ‘Spring Pools’ by Robert Frost:

    These pools that, though in forests, still reflect
    The total sky almost without defect,
    And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,
    Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,
    And yet not out by any brook or river,
    But up by roots to bring dark foliage on.
    The trees that have it in their pent-up buds
    To darken nature and be summer woods—
    Let them think twice before they use their powers
    To blot out and drink up and sweep away
    These flowery waters and these watery flowers
    From snow that melted only yesterday.

  3. Hey, you “old hippie”, you!! Yes, like you, I tried carob as chocolate and it is SO not chocolate. On its own terms, though, it’s pretty good. As long as we remember that “It is NOT a chocolate substitute. At all.” Anyway, don’t you love the house finches?? And, all birds, really. My goodness, the intricate markings on birds and plants. Yeah. Definitely, there is a creator. A really GOOD one, too, in ALL senses! Have a good day, my friend!

  4. I love how Frost can make poems that seem so sweet and innocent but look at them closely and you see that nature is not without teeth.

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