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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    EmilyBMalone@gmail.com

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    A Look Back.



Maple Cinnamon French Toast Muffins

In a little over a month, I will be packing my bags and making my first (ever!) trip to California.  I am SO excited!!  I’ll be heading to San Francisco for the 2nd annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival to enjoy a weekend of eating delicious food while meeting and connecting with many of my favorite bloggers.

Nature’s Pride bread is one of the official sponsors of the Foodbuzz Festival, and they are hosting a Bread Ambassador recipe contest, where bloggers are challenged to create unique recipes using Nature’s Pride bread.  For my entry, I knew I wanted to do something totally different and unexpected.  After two days of recipes trials, and 64 muffins later, feast your eyes on these…

Maple Cinnamon French Toast Muffins

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Featuring Nature’s Pride healthy multigrain bread!

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Ingredients for “French toast” topping:  (makes 18 muffins)

  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxmeal
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 slices Nature’s Pride healthy multi-grain bread

Ingredients for muffin base:

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (unpacked)
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.25 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • pinch of cinnamon sugar

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To Prepare:  First things first, start by pre-heating the oven to 375 degrees.  Next, you can begin preparing the “French toast” topping.  I chose this healthy multi-grain bread because it was soft and fluffy on the inside, and the outside was covered with yummy seeds.

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Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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Start by using a bread knife to cut all six slices into 1/2 inch cubes.

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In a medium sized bowl, combine 1 tbsp ground flaxmeal with 3 tbsp of water (to make a “flax egg”), along with 1/4 cup almond milk, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Whisk all of the ingredients together, and then add bread cubes to the liquid mixture.  Toss well and set aside to soak while the rest of the ingredients are prepared. 

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In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the muffin base – all purpose flour, rolled oats, baking soda, baking powder, flaxmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

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Stir to combine.

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In a smaller bowl, whisk all of the wet ingredients together – almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla. 

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Then slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients…

And stir just until all ingredients are incorporated.  Try to avoid over-mixing!

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Once the muffin base is mixed…

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It is time to gently fold in the toppings.  I chose 1/4 cup each of raisins and sliced almonds, but other nuts and dried fruit could be subbed in to your liking. 

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With everything ready to go, get out your muffin tin and give it a healthy shot of non-stick spray.

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Then spoon the muffin mixture into each cup, filling it only about 1/2 way.  You should have enough to fill 18 cups, so you’ll need 2 muffin pans (or you can just do two rounds of baking, like me).

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Once they are all filled to the half-way point…

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Grab the bowl of French toast topping that you set aside when we first began.  Give the bread cubes one more big stir, and then add a healthy pinch to the top of each cup of batter – just enough to fill to the rim of the baking cup.  As you add the bread, push it down gently into the batter a bit, so that some of the batter squeezes up between the cubed topping and holds it all in place.

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With muffin batter and French toast topping in each muffin cup, we are ready to BAKE!

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Slide your muffin pan into the 375 degree oven and let it bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

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Fifteen delicious smelling minutes later…

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Oh.my.muffins.  Give them each a tiny sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on top, before carefully sliding them out of the muffin tin.

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Set them out on a cooling rack and try to resist sampling until they have cooled for a few minutes (yeah right). 

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Set on your favorite pretty plate, and ENJOY!

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These muffins are amazing – just enough maple cinnamon flavor to really bring the taste of French toast, without so much overwhelming sweetness that it turns into a cupcake. 

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And you know what’s even better?  By using non-traditional baking ingredients like almond milk and flax instead of butter and eggs, these muffins are HEALTHY!  Even with the delicious flavor of maple syrup, raisins, and almonds, these muffins cash in at only 165 calories, 2g fat, and 4g protein each!

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In that case, I will have three please.  :)

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Moist, soft, delicious, and healthy– what more could you possible want in from a muffin? 

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Many thanks to Nature’s Pride for allowing to me to participate in their Bread Ambassadors Challenge.  Hopefully I will get the chance to showcase these delicious treats in San Francisco.

Until then, happy baking!



Powdered Peanut Butter: A Review & Taste Test.

Over time, I’ve received a lot of comments, emails, and questions about my self-proclaimed peanut butter addiction.  Typically they sound something like “why don’t you eat fancy nut butters like all of the other bloggers?”

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I have touched on this in a previous post, but for as good as I am about intuitive and healthy eating, portions remain an area of weakness.  I LOVE to eat, and when I eat, I eat a lot.  So I do my best to find food that is high in nutrition and vitamins, but lower in calories.  A recommended portion of typical nut butters is 2 tablespoons, which (depending on the nut and brand) averages about 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.  While I do agree that they are delicious, to me they just aren’t worth the high calories and fat for such a teeny tiny amount.

A few years ago, back when I was initially losing weight, I knew I needed to kick my daily peanut butter habit.  My mother in law introduced me to the amazing world of powdered peanut butters – PB2 being my product of choice.  Even though I’m no longer in weight loss mode, I’ve chosen to just stick with the powdered stuff and not tempt myself with gooey jars of the real thing. 

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Before I get into the other products and brands that are available, let’s get a few questions out of the way…

What the heck IS PB2?

It is powdered peanut butter, which is not nearly as strange as it may sound.  To make it, the manufacturers squeeze the oil out of roasted peanuts, and what remains is the powdered peanut butter – all natural with no artificial sweeteners or preservatives. When you’re ready to eat it, you mix a bit of the powder with a little bit of water, and you get the same consistency as full-fat peanut butter, but with 85% less fat calories.

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But does it really taste like peanut butter?

If you want my honest answer, NO.  It does not taste exactly like peanut butter.  Because if it that was possible, I’m sure the peanut butter makers would love to market their product as being much lower in fat!  BUT – it definitely tastes close enough (in my opinion) to be a more than acceptable substitute.  And because you are mixing the product yourself, you can control the consistency and texture based on your personal preference.  For example, I make it runnier for my oatmeal because I like it to be gooey.  But I make it thick and spreadable for a sandwich, because I don’t want it to drip.

Isn’t eating powdered peanut butter a little crazy?

I guess that’s up to you.  For me, I prefer it.  Since making it requires a little prep work, I can’t just stick my spoon the jar and mindlessly plunge 200 calories down my throat before I even realize what is happening.  And since it is lower in calories, I can enjoy a much bigger blob of PB on my oatmeal and sandwiches, guilt free.  Is that to say that regular nut butters are bad and should be avoided?  Absolutely not.  I love having them at friends houses and on special occasions.  But as a regular daily part of my diet, I prefer the powdered peanut butter for now.

Now obviously I have loved PB2 for years (and this post is totally unsolicited, FYI), but recently I’ve noticed a few competitors popping up on the shelves.

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As a powdered peanut butter connoisseur, I figured it was my duty to do a side by side comparison and taste test for you guys. 

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I knew the FitNutz had been around a while, but I had just started to hear whispers of the newest Peanut Flour from Trader Joe’s.  When I finally saw it hit the shelves in Old Town, my heart skipped a beat. 

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Face-Off Round 1:  Nutrition: PB2 vs. Trader Joe’s

The labels seem misleading at first, because they call for different serving sizes (PB2 – 2 tbsp, TJ’s – 1/4 cup).  But if you cut the TJ’s serving size in half, you see that it’s a pretty clear win.  Two tablespoons of PB2 has 45 calories, 1.5g fat, and 5g protein.  The TJ’s peanut flour has 55 calories, 2g fat, and 8g protein.  Even though the peanut flour has ten more calories than PB2, I think the three extra grams of protein give it the nutritional edge.

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Face-Off Round 2:  Taste and Texture

I took my job of tasting and comparing the three VERY seriously…

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I mixed up 2 tbsp of each powder and tested them all side by side.

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First up – PB2.  Obviously I already knew that I liked this one.  Just a hint of sweetness and salt, and I like how you can make it thick or creamy, depending on how much water you choose to add.  Two big thumbs up.  (Only negative is that you have to order it online.)

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Next in line – FitNutz.  Gag me.  Okay, that might have been a tad dramatic.  But I can’t help it – I just don’t like the stuff.  It’s got some sort of weird bitter taste and not enough sweetness.  Not to mention it is the most expensive of the group ($4.99 for 5 ounces – insanity).

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Last but not least – Trader Joe’s Peanut Flour.  Hold on to your hats – we’ve got a real contender here.  Upon first taste I thought something was really off.  Then I realized it was unsalted, and so I added a small pinch of kosher salt myself.  WOW!  This stuff is good – really good.

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The flavor is delicious (once you add some salt), and the texture is my favorite of the three.  It gets a lot smoother and creamier than the other two, and seems the most similar to regular peanut butter.  And while PB2 costs $3.99 for a 6.5oz jar, this stuff is $3.49 for SIXTEEN ounces!  Friends, that is a difference I can’t ignore. 

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While overall, I think PB2 has the best flavor straight out of the jar, the new Trader Joe’s Peanut Flour has three big things going for it.  It is MUCH less expensive, you don’t have to order it online, and (if needed) you can control the sodium content yourself.

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I’m not sure what I’ll do when I run out of my last jar of PB2.  With the new Peanut Flour available, I’m honestly not sure I’ll reorder it.  Only time, and my credit card statement, will tell.  For now, I have a LOT of leftover peanut butter to eat, blissfully smeared across a few caramel rice cakes…

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So there you have the VERY long-winded explanation for why I don’t eat regular nut butters, and what I use instead.  Hopefully these powdered varieties don’t seem quite so strange or mysterious anymore.

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One thing is for sure – whether is is straight out of the creamy traditional jar, or mixed up from a tub of powder – peanut butter is quite possibly the most delicious food on earth.

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YUM!

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