Once I started my Master’s program in nutrition, I started following several dietitians’ blogs to help me stay in touch with what’s going on in the field: they blog about food, research, trends, and often include vignettes from their experiences with patients. The Nutrition Blog Network is where I first came across several of the Recipe Reduxers blogs. Each month the bloggers share their recipe interpretations of a common theme on their individual blogs. This month is my first post with the group, and our subject is “new” whole grains — in other words, incorporating less familiar whole grains in new or inventive ways. I wanted to branch out into something new, but still use readily-available ingredients in my kitchen. Whole wheat flour and oatmeal are two of the most common options for cooking with whole grains, but I also usually have quinoa on hand in my pantry. Quinoa is technically a seed, but it is still often considered a whole grain. Instead of making a salad, I decided to grind the quinoa into a flour and go from there.
The oatmeal flour I made recently for the blueberry pancakes worked really well, so I used the same technique. Because quinoa is so small, I found using a spice grinder was much more efficient than a food processor. You can also buy quinoa flour, but grinding it yourself is a cheaper, more versatile option. Because quinoa has such a strong, almost bitter flavor, I paired it with sweet potatoes: a sturdy, flavorful ingredient that could stand on its own with the quiona flour. And with Thanksgiving this week, this is a nifty way to use up leftover mashed sweet potatoes. I also used ground cloves and cinnamon to spice the muffins, which lends them a heady Christmas flavor.
Sweet Potato Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes (from about 2 medium)
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup quinoa
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup milk + 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or 1/2 cup buttermilk)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1) Heat the oven to 450-degrees. Using a fork or paring knife, poke a few holes in the skin of the sweet potatoes. Roast for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Remove skins and transfer the flesh to a small bowl and mash with a fork. Measure 1 cup of mashed sweet potatoes into a large bowl, then stir in 1/4 cup butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar until the butter melts and is well-combined. Allow to cool while preparing the flour mixture.
2) Turn oven down to 400-degrees. In a spice grinder, blend the quinoa until it forms a flour, about 15 to 20 seconds. Measure 1/2 cup of this quinoa flour into a medium bowl. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and whisk to combine: whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and ground cloves.
3) Add the wet ingredients to the sweet potato mixture in the large bowl: milk and vinegar mixture, vegetable oil, and egg. Mix to combine. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the sweet potato mixture. Stir until just combined and no pockets of flour remain, but don’t over mix. The batter will be thick and slightly stiff.
4) Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon the batter into the wells, filling just to the top. Bake at 400-degrees for 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Cool on a wire rack.