United States of Motherhood: Common Sense and Almost Organic: Lemon & Olive Oil Muffin Recipe

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Common Sense and Almost Organic: Lemon & Olive Oil Muffin Recipe

This will be the first post of many in my series called Every. Little. Bite. Helps. where I offer tips for choosing a common sense, almost organic lifestyle.

Ahh do you know that frazzled moment when you are out with STARVING kids, running errands, and you succumb…

You succumb to the pleas for that sparkly bakery muffin or that frosted coffee shop scone. You throw down the $1.75-2.50 each to fill outstretched hands with a sugary treat chock full of transfats, white sugar, sodium, and ultimately an unknown and incredible amount of unpronounceable ingredients.

You willing quell the whines with, in my case with three kids, $6-10 of junk and more junk to wash it down. Then sigh when you give in yourself and add another muffin to the pile for you.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Repeat. And repeat again in my busy family. Coming back from school. Going to swim practices. Getting back late from football. Or Lego League. Or [insert club dujour] for my three kiddos.

Sound familiar?

And yet, grocery shopping you gape at organic prices and sniff with disdain. Yep, that was me. In the past, I have been willing to throw down $20 for a fried fast food snack full of pink slime and sugary sodas, but the thought of buying organic milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables,and flour at double their non-organic equivalents—but note still less than that fast food bill—seemed outrageous and made my wallet cringe.

What was I thinking! Did I not see the irony? Added on to this cheap mindset, I did not see that those way too frequent trips to eat out would eventually cost me where it hurts most in this country—our health.

Lately, with medical issues to include my inflamed liver and ongoing memory issues, my daughter’s once again flaring eczema, my husband’s medically-controlled cholesterol and a recent diagnosis of ADD for my son, I have been forced to rethink many of my choices.

Suddenly, some common sense prevails. Perhaps all those years of not-so-cheap convenience foods could inadvertently be one of a myriad of causes for this family’s slate of issues.

Who knows! However, going back to price point and a little planning, eating natural, whole, organic when it makes sense could not hurt. That is where I am at right now. I am choosing a common sense, mostly organic approach to our lives for the next few months.

If it is available and not outrageous, I will calm my inner frugality and buy grass-fed, organic, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free. Heck, gluten free is even on the table again. I will cut back on processed foods and choose fresh, whole ingredients. I think this can be achievable for most families.

Will I be a Nazi about this? No. I am not going to freak if I use a tablespoon of regular ol’ poppy seeds in a recipe. I am not going to scour the earth looking for organic ricotta. If it’s in stock and it’s cheaper than fast food (my new litmus test) I will invest in that ingredient for my family. And if not, I will try to buy a more natural alternative—hopefully processed with 5 ingredients or less. I want to get rid of the guar gums, dextrose, and sodium benzoate in my family’s diet.

Honestly? If I am willing to pay $40 for burgers and fries for a dinner at the golden arches for my family of five, why not pay $20 for grass-fed beef or $30 for wholesome ingredients to make a slew of muffins that will last a week?

I consider this an investment in my future and my family’s future.

Back to those muffins, for about the same price as those 5 muffins and a latte at that cafĂ©, you suddenly can have 3 dozen muffins with my muffin recipe… and hopefully the willpower in your arsenal to resist that latte.

Fresh Lemon & Olive Oil Muffins (36 muffins)

My cost approximately $20 or 55 cents a muffin ~ coffee shop equivalent over $70

Time Investment 30-45 minutes

3½ cups (15.75 ounces) organic, unbleached white flour
1¾ cups (7.8 ounces) organic, whole wheat flour
2¼ cups organic white sugar
7 ½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. fine sea salt
1½ cups room temperature organic cottage cheese
6 oz. room temperature organic cream cheese
1½ cups water
¾ cup organic olive oil
6 room temperature organic, cage free eggs
3 Tbsp lemon zest/rind and 6 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (needed 1 organic lemon for zest and juice & 1 regular lemon just for juice)
Organic olive oil to coat muffin tins
4 Tbsp Turbinado sugar or Demerara sugar
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
Quart-sized Ziploc bags


Preheat oven to 375 degrees or 350 degrees for convection. Rub olive oil on bottom and sides of all muffin tins.

Measure or weigh both flours and combine in large mixing bowl. Add white sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Squeeze your lemons and zest organic lemon.

In food processor, blender, or in bowl with hand blender/mixer, combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, water, oil, and eggs until combined and slightly frothy to incorporate air to counter the heaviness of the whole wheat flour. The mixture should have fully smoothed out the cream cheese, but slight bumps from cottage cheese is fine. This should be the consistency of thick pancake batter.

Make well in center of bowl of dry ingredients and add wet mixture. Lightly fold flour into center of well, turning bowl as you go until just moist. Do not over mix.

Using cookie/ice cream scoop, add a heaping scoop to each muffin cup. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and poppy seeds to add additional texture and sparkly sweetness.

Bake 12-16 (depends on how many pans at once that you are baking) or until inserted wooden toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. Once completely cooled, place 3-5 muffins in each Ziploc bag and freeze.

Each of these muffins is a fraction of what you would pay in a moment of desperation. Even better, they are almost organic and definitely more natural than what you would find in a commercial bakery, and yet they are still a scrumptious treat the kids will love to nosh on. To compare calories, a Starbucks so called Skinny Lemon Poppyseed muffin that used to be my son’s favorite is almost 100 more calories more.

I have found pulling out a family-sized pack to thaw on the counter the night before a booked day full of family activities shortcuts those whines. Throw said-Ziploc in purse or car console and you can leave for the day with an arsenal of yummy organic goodness. Need something quick? Throw a frozen muffin in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and it’s ready to go.

I know not every family eats out and not every family can afford organic. That said, looking out for sales, buying organic in bulk at Costco, and looking into co-ops certainly helps to substitute a few more organic/natural ingredients into your food which means a few less preservatives, additives, and hormones going into the mouths of your children.

In the long run, with the cost of health care rising astronomically and study after study discovering that additives we once thought were safe, may now be questionable, can you afford not to try a more wholesome approach to your family’s diet?

Every. Little. Bite. Helps.

What are your tips to make your family's food more healthy?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent! We as a family don't eat out a lot because of the expense. My husband on the other hand is a junk food-aholic.

We don't generally buy organic due to the (usually) higher expense. You need to be careful of the labeling anyway since "natural" and other descriptives don't really mean diddly.

We do cook a lot here, which is a good skill to have. It's something that your kids will find to be of value to them. And not just for your daughter either. My 11 year old son makes a decent pizza, and my 16 year old makes a good chicken cordon bleu.

It does take planning etc. I think I *might* still have your email address somewhere. I've got all sorts of recipes with a lot of ethnic variations etc. Want me to send you some to test drive?


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