Marion’s Smart Delights baking mixes are wonderfully versatile. Use them just as directed on the box, or follow the recipes on this blog to create home-baked treats that are perfect for your palate and dietary needs and special enough to delight children, serve at parties and share with friends. Best of all, unlike processed treats that give you a short sugar high with empty calories, the treats you bake from these recipes will satisfy your taste buds and your body’s need for healthy, whole-foods nutrition.
START WITH A GOOD MEASURING CUP
Since baking requires exact measurements, make sure you have a good measuring cup. The one I use features cups and ounces on one side, with milliliters (ml) on the other. Where I can, I refer to the cups and ounces that may be more familiar to you. But often, milliliters provide a more exact measurement and are easier. For example, I wouldn't suggest that you pour half a cup of olive oil and then remove two and a half tablespoons of the oil! So bear with my measurements – they’re designed to give you perfect results.
TIPS FOR MODIFYING THE RECIPES
Some recipe ideas for using Marion’s Smart Delights baking mixes call for butter, milk or eggs. If you’re dairy intolerant, vegan, allergic to eggs or simply want more heart-healthy treats, it’s easy to substitute other ingredients.
Dairy-free: For butter, substitute margarine or dairy-free/vegan margarine.
I have also developed my mixes to be baked with vegetable oil which of course has the advantage of being soy-free and offering those wonderful mono-saturated fats. You may choose extra virgin or virgin olive oil if you enjoy the extra nutty and unique flavor such oil may add to the baked treat. Otherwise I suggest that you mix canola and olive oil, or choose a light or extra light olive oil option.
• For the muffins: You may substitute 1 stick of butter with 125 ml vegetable oil/or 10 ml less.
• For the cookies: Substitute 1 stick of butter with 100 ml vegetable oil. (See the recipe for the Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookie.)
Egg-free: I recommend Chia/Salba seeds.
There are many possible substitutions for eggs. Choosing the best substitute depends on your preference and the particularities of a given baked good. I will elaborate further in a future blog post. For now, let me offer one of my own favorites: Chia/Salba seeds, a nutritious alternative recommended by our well-known local nutritionist, Cheryl Harris.
I’ve tried chia seeds as an egg substitute in cookies and they work beautifully. My favorite version is a delicious nut cookie that combines these extra-nutritious chia seeds with toasted pecan slices (mmm!). My first experiments with egg-free muffins involved using starch based egg substitutes. They worked, but to me the muffins always had a slight sour taste, especially when I mixed a banana with the muffin dough.
So I remembered Cheryl’s recommendation to try using the “GF Superstar” and gave chia seeds a try. I was amazed - beautiful muffins without any aftertaste! At first, you may find it takes you a few minutes longer to use chia as an egg substitute, but once you’ve tried them several times it will be as easy as “making muffins in your sleep.”
• For muffins: For 1 Jumbo egg, substitute 1 teaspoon of ground chia/salba seed mixed with ¼ of water. Or, grind 1¼ cup of chia seeds in a coffee grinder before mixing it with ¼ cup of water.
• For cookies: In one of my future blog posts, I will share with you recipes on using chia seeds as an egg substitute for cookies. I will also add some recipes for those of you who can (have the good fortune to be able to/are not allergic or intolerant to nuts) add wholesome nuts to your diet. These will include recipes for adding almond flour, pecans, toasted almond slices and chocolate chips, and pistachios and white chocolate chips to your delightful cookie alternative.
Vegan: prep and cooking tips make all the difference
If you’re vegan, you’ll want to combine the tips for dairy-free and egg-free substitutions. Once you’re using vegetable oil and the chia seeds, however, vegan muffins tend to be extra moist. So, if you decide to add ingredients like fresh blueberries make sure to wash blueberries and let them dry before adding them to the dough. You don’t want extra water to cause your beautiful muffins to collapse! If adding frozen blueberries, keep them in your freezer until you are ready to fold them with the dough.
Like extra-crunchy muffins? Bake vegan muffins a few minutes longer than you would a regular muffin made with egg and butter. You may also reduce amount of vegetable oil from 125 ml to about 110 ml.
Add extra fiber: The extra-moist nature of the vegan alternatives offer the opportunity to add extra nutrition and fiber. For those of you who can enjoy healthy gluten-free oats I suggest adding ¼ cup of them as shown in the vegan orange chocolate chip muffin. It will add texture, taste and nutrition. (Just don’t add oats to my coconut recipe – the coconut absorbs much of the moisture and adding oats will make the muffins too dry!)
Remember, the recipes here are just the start. I’ll have many more for you. Plus, I am certain that several of you will devise even more nutritious and delicious baked treats – please share your recipes! In fact, I hope to have a recipe contest in the not too distant future!