Muffins Galore!

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So on our recent road trip (blogged about here and here), we were staying with my parents' friends, Alan and Ann, who live in the Okanagan. However, Ann was on holiday in England at the time of our visit so Alan welcomed us but did say he couldn't promise any fancy dinners as he wasn't really much of a cook.

We were racking our brains to think of a thank you gift to take him for letting us stay. Wine was pointless as he lives within walking distance of some of the best wineries in the province, and chocolates and flowers are always a bit odd to take to a man - depending on the guy, of course :). We bought dinner and a bottle of wine once we were there to show our appreciation but we didn't want to turn up empty handed. So, seeing as he was alone with few culinary goodies to keep him company, I baked him some muffins. At least then he'd have breakfast!

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Using my go-to natural sweetener for people who are more used to sugar, I made these muffins using agave nectar (I find it the sweetest of natural sweeteners without the strong flavour of honey or maple syrup, so if your tastebuds are very used to sugar then this is a good substitute. Others don't taste quite as sweet which is fine once your tastebuds have been weaned off sugar for a while!). I'm sure, however, if you prefer to use brown rice syrup or another sweetener that you could play around with it as the wet to dry ingredients ratio would stay the same.

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I made lemon poppyseed and blueberry muffins to offer some variety. The lemon muffins were wonderfully lemony (who hates it when you make a lemon muffin recipe and when you eat it you can barely taste the lemon? What's the point?!) and the blueberry muffins hit the spot for those who love that classic muffin variety, plus they only use five ingredients! The lemon muffins were extremely fluffy when taken out the oven but once they have been refrigerated or stored for a day or two the texture is a bit denser. I don't mind that, but if you are keen on fluffy muffins try to eat these asap.

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I use Madhava Agave Syrup and the lemon poppyseed muffins were adapted from a recipe on their website - click here for the original recipe. The blueberry muffins were adapted from a post on the Liesl Made blog. The post is available here.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

INGREDIENTS (makes 12)

2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup Olivina margarine (or any olive oil-based margarine)
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 tbsp lemon zest, finely grated

*To make this recipe vegan, simply use almond/rice/soy milk instead of the milk and replace the margarine with a vegan alternative such as Earth Balance.

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DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

2. In a large bowl, sift flour.

3. Whisk together margarine, agave nectar, milk and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

4. Add wet ingredients to flour and fold until nearly mixed. Fold in poppy seeds and lemon zest. Don't overbeat; this makes muffins tougher and takes away from the fluffiness.

5. Divide batter evenly between paper cases. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until springy to the touch. Serve immediately if possible.

Nutrition information from caloriecount.about.com

Five-Ingredient Blueberry Muffins

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INGREDIENTS (makes 12):

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/3 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup milk
1/8 cup canola oil
1 cup fresh blueberries
*To make this recipe vegan, simply use almond/rice/soy milk instead of the milk.
**To make this recipe gluten-free, simply use rice flour instead of the self-raising flour.

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DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.

2. In a large bowl, sift flour.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together agave nectar, milk and oil.

4. Add wet ingredients to flour, stirring until just mixed. Fold in blueberries.

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5. Divide batter equally between the paper cases and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until springy to the touch.

Nutrition information from caloriecount.about.com

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