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I have had my (now grown up) kids home for Yule, so this week’s  the Muesli Bar Challenge recipe was baked by Casey.  It is one of his favourite schooldays recipes.  We shall see whether current school-age reviewers agree! Cooking with kids is such fun, even (or specially) grown up ones.

Lemons are currently so in season, we have several different varieties all loaded.  These muffins are very quick baking, so it is possible that a lot of the Vitamin C survives.  But even if it doesn’t, the  “bioflavanoids” that make citrus fruit so healthy will still be there. It also contains yoghurt and eggs  which are both superfoods, and honey, which contains small amounts of a huge variety of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

All these healthy ingredients make up for the fact that, unusually for my lunchbox baking recipes, I think these go better with white flour.  They are still good with wholemeal, but there is something about fluffy lemony lightness that makes a midwinter day bright!

The Recipe:

Makes 9 large-ish muffins

  • Turn your oven on to heat up.
  • Melt together 125 grams of butter and 125 grams of honey.
  • Beat together ¾ cup of plain low fat yoghurt, a large egg, a good teaspoon of grated lemon rind, and ½ cup of lemon juice.  Pour in nearly all of the honey-butter (reserve about a tablespoon full) and mix well.
  • Sift in 2 cups of unbleached self-raising flour, a good pinch of nutmeg, and a pinch of salt and mix just enough to combine.  With muffins, you don’t want to overwork them (which makes them easy for young cooks too.)
  • Pour the mix into 9 greased muffin tins and bake in a medium-hot oven for 15 minutes  or so (they are quick) till they bounce back when pressed and a skewer comes out clean.  The tops will crack.
  • Meanwhile, add another quarter of a cup of lemon juice to the bit of honey butter you reserved and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes to thicken.
  • Pour the hot lemon-butter-honey over the hot muffins, allowing it to soak into the cracks.
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It’s citrus season, our tangelo tree is loaded, and I have a new favourite breakfast.  There’s a fast morning version that I can make  in the time it takes the coffee pot to perk, and a slow morning version that is decadent enough to get me out of bed on a cold Sunday morning.

Tangelos are a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine, but they’re much sweeter than a grapefruit  with a honey flavour and a very tiny edge of grapefruit bitterness. They’re easy to peel but almost too juicy to eat straight unless you are in the bath.

Citrus fruits in general are good sources of Vitamins C and A, and folic acid and potassium.  But it’s the “bioflavanoids” that make them interesting, and it’s the pulp, not the juice that contains most of the flavanoids. They have lots of good health effects including antioxidant, anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory effects, they help the body take up the Vitamin C in the juice, and they also  improve capillary health. So they help with with all the things that depend on good capillaries like eyesight and kidneys, and also bruising, varicose veins, and fragile capillaries – which I like because I’d rather eat tangelos than get laser surgery to deal with my spider veins any day!

The Recipe

In a heavy pan, melt half a teaspoon of butter and half a teaspoon of honey and add three desertspoons of muesli.  (In the slow morning version, instead of muesli I use freshly cracked pecans and macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, oats and organic sultanas.)

Toast for just a minute or two, then peel and segment two tangelos over the pan so that the juice falls into it.  Cook for just a minute or two longer till the juice goes syrupy.

Serve with a dollop of plain low fat yoghurt.

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While mangoes are in season, I’ve started making a mango lhassi for breakfast – a blended yoghurt drink that is very popular in India. Mangoes and yoghurt are both super-foods.  It’s fast and easy enough for busy mornings and ticks all the Witches Kitchen boxes. You could just do a smoothie but yoghurt is a great source of good bacteria, and mango season is also the easiest season to make yoghurt using just the sun for heat – it’s so worth it – flavoured supermarket yoghurt is chocka with sugar and numbered additives, besides being overpackaged.

BBC ran an experiment about losing weight that showed that the same number of calories in a soup (or smoothie) keep you feeling full longer: How soup can help you lose weight. So a lhassi breakfast is even more healthy if you are looking at keeping the calories down.

The basic recipe is:

  • 1/2 cup low fat plain yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1 very ripe mango peeled and seeded

You can also add ice cubes (or substitute skim milk powder and ice cubes for the milk) which gives it a nice texture, but don’t try this unless you have a fairly powerful blender!

From there you add things to taste. I like a drop or two of rosewater, a pinch each of cardamom and nutmeg, and a teaspoon of honey. But I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Lewie likes it with more honey and without the rosewater.

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