The Weekly Kitchen: Welcome Spring with Sunshine Muffins

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By ANGELA MCRAE, The Weekly Kitchen

In case you’re one of the two or three Cowetans I haven’t shared this with yet, I got to join my husband for a trip to sunny California last month!

After hanging out at home for the past two years, I was more than ready to take to the skies again. Alex had a business meeting lined up, and since I can write and edit from anywhere, I packed up my laptop and sunscreen and flew west. I did get in a bit of sightseeing—like a view of Bob Hope’s ultra-modern house in the hills and a drive-by of President Eisenhower’s winter home—and some fun shopping and dining as well.

One of the meals I enjoyed most during our stay was a breakfast with pancakes that had orange zest added to the batter. That seemed like such a small addition, but those pancakes tasted so delicious that now I want to add orange zest to simply everything. Like these California-inspired muffins that I’ve nicknamed Sunshine Muffins. (I realize it’s a little hokey, but I think it’s easier to remember than Mango-Banana-Orange-Coconut-Cashew Muffins, however descriptive that name might be.)

I love to experiment with quick breads like muffins, but the last muffin recipe I tested was, to put it mildly, a dud. Back in the fall, I had aimed to make some “healthy” pumpkin spice muffins, but the things were so dry and tasteless that I didn’t even want the birds to have to suffer by eating them. When I came home from California with oranges on the brain, though, I decided to combine some of my favorite muffin ingredients, add some orange zest, and see what happened.

This time, I’m pleased to report, the recipe turned out great. I lowered the amount of sugar from my usual muffin recipes—just 1/4 cup this time—and I used a little canola oil instead of the usual vegetable oil. These muffins are packed full of fun, fruity flavors, and they’re perfect for a breakfast treat or an afternoon snack. They’re also a great way to enjoy a taste of California all year round!

Sunshine Muffins

1 egg
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup fresh mango, chopped and pulsed fine in food processor
1 medium well-ripened banana, mashed or pureed
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped cashews

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups. Combine egg, oil, mango and banana. Add flours, sugar, baking powder and baking soda and mix well. Add orange zest, orange juice, coconut and cashews. Mix just until combined. Spoon batter into muffin tins, about 3/4 full, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm and slightly brown on top. Yields 1 dozen muffins.

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