Morning glory muffins

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”

— Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird 

Labors of love by their nature take some work. But you can tell the difference. In this case, you can taste the difference. Officially these morsels are called Bran Flax Muffins, but that sounds about as appealing as cardboard, so I’ve rechristened them Morning Glory Muffins, which better conveys their nutty appeal. These are like a ray of sunshine greeting you in the kitchen.

Morning glory muffins

If you look at the ingredients list you’ll note there is no butter or oil of any kind. Only eggs and—the secret weapon—flaxseed meal.

Before you health food skeptics roll your eyes, let me say that I recommend these muffins for flavor. Especially when baked in a mini-muffin tin, they are highly addictive two-bite delights. But their nutritional profile is nothing to sneeze at.

Flaxseed is chockablock full of fiber, antioxidants called lignans, and alpha-linolenic acid—an omega-3 fatty acid—one of the good fats to counteract the omega-6 fatty acids in the corn-based foods that most of us eat. (According to journalist Michael Pollan, 25 percent of the foods in the average grocery store contain corn in one form or another, such as corn syrup or corn starch.)

I have only a vague grasp of how the nutritional properties of flax seeds benefit the human body. I do know that after bike racing and marathon training, we crave these muffins, and that must mean something. They are stellar recovery food. I always make a double batch.

What makes this recipe flavorful, and occasionally time-consuming, is the swirl of fruits and vegetables in the batter. A Cuisinart makes quick work of all the slicing and dicing, but while convenient, the appliance is not required. Once on vacation I shredded the carrots and apples by hand on a cheese grater. An hour later, you could really taste the love in that batch.

Close-up of morning glory muffins

Morning Glory Muffins

Recipe courtesy of a package of Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal 

1½ cup unbleached white flour

¾ cup flaxseed meal

¾ cup oat bran

1 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1½ cup carrots, shredded

2 apples, peeled and shredded

½ cup raisins

1 cup nuts, chopped

¾ cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together flour, flaxseed meal, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in carrots, apples, raisins, and nuts. Combine milk, beaten eggs, and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix. Fill muffin cups ¾ full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Yields 15 medium muffins.