With St. Patrick's Day coming up in less than a week, I've been trying to think of something green and festive to make for it. I don't usually celebrate the holiday itself in any special way (I think I've only gone out to an Irish pub once), but I do like to wear green at least!
We're also doing a green-themed potluck in our office, so it should be fun to see what everyone comes up with! Last year I made pasta salad with a green avocado yogurt sauce, and this year I'm thinking of cucumber rollups (like these), but we'll see!
Besides the potluck, I wanted to share something green on my blog too. I figured that if blended spinach can make a green smoothie, why not use it in another breakfast food - healthy muffins!
It turns out I'm not the only one to try this idea, and this recipe for popeye muffins from The Green Forks looked perfect for adapting into my own version. By pureeing baby spinach with the wet ingredients, you end up with a pretty intense green batter (see below) that actually keeps its colour after baking.
To make my muffins a bit more nutritious, I reduced the sugar in the original recipe from 3/4 cup down to just 1/4 cup, since the recipe also uses a ripe banana to add some natural sweetness, and I replaced the oil with applesauce to make them fat-free. I also used a mix of spelt and whole wheat flours, added a flax egg, and mixed in some cacao nibs for a bit of chocolately crunch (chocolate chips would work really well too!).
I loved the texture of these muffins - fluffy and moist inside, and they had a nice mild taste with a hint of banana. And if you're worried about the spinach, I couldn't really taste it (although I did detect a slight spinach smell by the second day).
These would make a fun treat for St. Patrick's Day, or a healthy snack any time!
Spinach Banana Muffins
Adapted from The Green Forks
1 tbsp flax + 3 tbsp water
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup light spelt flour (or all purpose, or more whole wheat)
1/4 cup cane sugar (increase to 1/2 cup if you like a sweeter muffin)
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 (5-6 oz) container baby spinach
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (1 large banana)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce*
3/4 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cacao nibs (can substitute desired amount of chocolate chips)
*Note: If you don't like the texture of fat-free baked goods, feel free to use oil instead of the applesauce. You can also make these less "healthy" tasting by increasing the sugar and adding chocolate chips!
Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a 12-cup muffin tin by lining with paper cups and spraying with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, stir together the flax and water and let sit for at least five minutes to thicken.
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flours to salt). In a blender or food processor, add the spinach, banana, applesauce, milk, and vanilla and puree until smooth. Pour the spinach mixture into the dry ingredients and add the flax mixture. Stir gently just until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the cacao nibs.
Divide batter evenly into the muffin cups, filling each one about 2/3 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins feel firm on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let muffins sit in pan for a few minutes, then remove them from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.
Makes 12 small muffins.