February 25, 2010

Chocolate Avocado Muffins (with Raspberries)

Sounds a little weird, doesn't it?

But trust me, you are going to want to eat these muffins morning, noon, and night.

I got the original version of this recipe from a friend several months ago, and have been in love ever since. They are delicious enough to be called cupcakes, but I stand firm in my refusal to call them that because they're so darn healthy. Don't get me wrong, these aren't your typical "nuts and twigs" kind of healthy, more like "chock full of antioxidants and things that make you smile" kind of healthy.

Before writing me off as a complete loon, consider this:
-Chocolate, and the cocoa it contains, is an excellent source of flavonoids. Dark chocolate has nearly eight times more of this antioxidant than strawberries.
-Fat is an important part of a healthy diet, and the oleic acid that the avocado contributes to these muffins not only helps lower cholesterol, but it also makes you feel full faster and leaves you feeling more satiated than less healthy fats.
-Avocados are one of the most antioxidant rich foods there are. They contain several different kinds of carotenoids, including lutein, which is essential for eye health. They are also an excellent source of fibre (which improves digestion and keeps you feeling full longer), as well as folic acid, which prevents birth defects and helps maintain heart health.
-Mental health is just as important as physical health! Chocolate contains serotonin, which is an antidepressant, and it also stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure and reduces the effects of pain and stress.

If that isn't enough to convince you to give this recipe a try, let me tell you that they are also unbelievably rich and moist. Your kids will think that you're spoiling them rotten, and they'll have no idea that they contain anything green. One of these muffins is just the thing when you're jonesing for something bad, so much so that I've considered calling them PMS muffins. That certainly doesn't mean you should hide them from the men in your life (although you may have to), or limit yourself to eating them only once a month!

Chocolate Avocado Muffins:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Beat together until smooth:
-1 avocado (ripe)
-1 cup sugar

-3 large eggs

Followed by:
-3/4 cup melted unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated margarine
-1 tbsp vanilla extract
-3/4 cup milk
(It's a good idea to mix these ingredients together before adding them to the avocado/egg mixture so the heat from the butter doesn't cook the eggs).

Stir together and add to wet ingredients, mixing just until combined:
-2 2/3 unbleached flour (experiment with adding up to half whole wheat pastry flour if you like)
-1/2 cup cocoa powder (sifted)
-1 tbsp baking powder

-1/2 tsp salt

Fold in 2 cups frozen raspberries (optional).

Optional addition or substitution: 1/2 - 1 cup of chocolate chips.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when placed into the center.

Makes approximately 16 regular sized muffins, or 12 large ones.

I've made these without any additions, with only raspberries, only chocolate chips, and with both things. My kids prefer them with only raspberries.

I hope you'll give these a try and let me know what you think.

February 24, 2010

Olympic Dreams

Wow, three months goes by really quickly!  I may not have posted for a while, but not due to a lack of things to talk about.

We're having a lovely second winter here, although it has been a lot less snowy than last year was, we haven't had anything but a tiny dusting.  Not exactly ideal weather, however, considering that we're currently hosting the winter Olympics.  Whistler has been fine, but Cypress Mountain, which overlooks Vancouver, is covered in mud and is only able to look wintery on TV after weeks of transporting snow by truck and helicopter from snowier regions of the province.

There are many reasons for people to be unhappy about the fact that the Olympics are being held in our province (not the least of which is the huge debt we will be saddled with for years after they're over), but now that they're underway, we're actually really excited about it and have been enjoying them immensely.  Our kids were so keen that they even agreed to get up at 5:30 in the morning in order to see the torch make its way through our little community a few days before the games began.

They weren't the only ones - the street was lined with spectators eager to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Vancouver itself is absolutely buzzing with activity, I have never seen the city so alive for such an extended period of time. The kids are so caught up in the whole thing that they're following every sport very closely and have hardly missed an event (okay, maybe it's not just the kids).  My son has even decided that he's going to take up snowboard cross and compete in the 2018 Olympics (guess we better start saving our pennies).

The arrival of the Olympics has also seen the opening of my mom and step-dad's bed and breakfast.  After years of dreaming and working toward this goal, the Bee & Thistle Guest house has finally opened its doors and is welcoming guests from all over the world.  They've even hosted a former Olympian, who coincidentally played on the same Canadian hockey team as one of my former high school teachers - what a small world.

This new venture has inspired my mom to start her own blog.  She's an amazing cook and photographer, so if you feel like drooling over some yummy looking food, check it out. She has also posted photos of their beautifully renovated heritage home, which some of you might recognize as the place we called home for a year while we were building our own house.  Keep them in mind if you're ever planning a trip to Vancouver.


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