For those of you who come solely for the food, these healthy-ish cranberry date muffins are perfect to add to any holiday brunch. They have a good dose of eggnog, a spot of rum and toasted hazelnuts atop. They are sweetened with molasses and spiced with cinnamon and cardamom.
Doesn’t that just sound like the epitome of a holiday muffin? And they could just about turn anyone’s pessimistic attitude about “healthy muffins” into blissful surprise.
Every time I’m at the gym, I see one particularly upbeat and friendly lady there. She is about 75 if I were to guess, is fitter than I have ever been (think female Jack LaLanne), and I don’t believe I have EVER seen her without a genuine smile broadly spread across her face. She always has something nice to say.
For those of you who know me well, I’m a bit of a skeptic. I really would appreciate you controlling the burst of laughter when I wrote “bit”. I tend to see all the strange little things going wrong in my life and add them up instead of focusing on all the big, beautiful things going exactly right.
So when I got to talking with said positive gym lady, I decided to up my game and try to match her enthusiasm for life as we gabbed about Thanksgiving dinners with our families, holiday shopping and guests coming over in the next few weeks.
Just as I expected, everything she said had a silver lining. Her son and daughter-in-law live far away, “BUT THEY’RE COMING FOR CHRISTMAS!“, she said excitedly.
Her giant Santa Mickey Mouse lawn decoration that she loves so dearly has finally (after 10 years) burst a hole, but she FOUND ONE ON EBAY! Well, actually two on Ebay and she bought them both. Seeing my puzzled expression, she explained that she would use one right away and one when the next one burst a hole in another ten years or so. Now if assuming one will be needing another Mickey decoration at 85 yrs. old isn’t optimism at its finest, then I don’t know what is.
She then asked me questions about my holiday plans and in true Geni style I started to tell her that my kitchen floors were still not done and that I have been without my kitchen now for about eight long and suffering weeks while my oven is sitting, very lonely-like and morose in the front entry way.
But then remembering WHO I was talking to, I added, “But we are all healthy and that’s what truly matters so I am so grateful that just small stuff is going wrong and the big stuff is ALL going right.” She plastered the biggest smile across her face and said, “That is so true. It’s so good that you can look at it that way.”
The poor woman did not deserve to be an audience to my string of complaints so i feigned optimism, but then, out of nowhere I honestly felt a weight taken off my shoulders and stress floating out of my body. It turns out that maybe optimism is catchy and perhaps I caught a bit of her happy bug for the time being. I am going to see how far I can take it and try to look for all the silver linings—for example dieting at the holidays really isn’t SO bad when you have muffins like this for breakfast!
Cranberry Date and Hazelnut Muffins (Spiked with Eggnog and Rum!)
Original recipe by Geni of Sweet and Crumby
Makes 12-14 muffins depending on size
3/4 c. of all purpose flour
3/4 c. of wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. cardamom
1/4 t. cloves
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. LOW-FAT eggnog
1/4 c. Canola oil
1/4 c. dark molasses
1 T. agave nectar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 T. rum
1 c. fresh cranberries, rinsed and patted dry.
3/4 c. chopped and pitted dates
For the topping:
1/2 c. toasted hazelnuts, shelled and chopped (or substitute with Walnuts)
1 T. Turbinado sugar (or coarse granulated sugar or just plain regular sugar)
To make the muffins: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with muffin cups. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours through salt and whisk together.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl beat together the eggnog through rum. Pour 1/2 of the liquid ingredients into the dry and combine with a rubber spatula. Then add the rest of the liquid ingredients and combine until just mixed together.
In a small bowl, toss the cranberies and chopped dates with 1-2 T. flour to coat them. This helps disperse them in the batter and stops them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins when they bake. Stir in the cranberries and dates into the batter.
Toast your nuts on top of the stove in a small saute pan. Turn the burner on medium heat and keep tossing the nuts around. Never leave them alone. They will burn quickly. Once they smell toasted, they are…about 1-2 minutes. To shell the nuts, simply put them in a clean kitchen towel in the center. Wrap the towel over them as in the photo above (towards top of post) and rub them together. The shells will fall off. Do this while they are still warm, once they cool it doesn’t work. Chop your hazelnuts and set aside.
Scoop, using a medium-sized icecream scoop, into your muffin cups, filling them 2/3 full. Top each filled muffin cup with a pinch of Turbinado sugar and a sprinkling of hazelnuts. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch and toothpick is clean when inserted. Feel free to serve warm with coffee and a touch of eggnog.
Calories 184 Total Fat 5.7g. Percent of Calories from Fat 27% Sat Fat .78g Cholesterol 36mg Sodium 350mg Carb 31.57g Potassium 273 mg Protein 3.27g (5%)