My Grandmother (aka, the Queen of local/healthy/alternative eating habits) and her girlfriend took a road trip to Bala, Ontario last week to stock their freezers with fresh Ontario-grown cranberries. They visited Johnston’s Cranberry Farm and were kind enough to pick me up 5 pounds (!) of fresh cranberries + 2 lbs of organic dried cranberries. I’m terribly tempted to pour them all into my bathtub and go swimming in my very own cranberry bog.
For decades, cranberries have been the thing that makes your turkey dinner sauce. Known for their vibrant colour, to be high in vitamin C and peddled to women dealing with bladder and urinary tract infections. Scientists are now discovering that cranberries can contribute to a healthy heart and vascular system and actually fight against certain cancers.
There are some killer cranberry muffin and bread recipes in the world and, thanks to Grams and my giant bags of berries, I’m ready to explore each of them, one at a time. Starting with one of my all-time favourite vegan muffins – this Cranberry Orange Muffin. This recipe requires little preperation and just the right ratio of flour: baking powder: baking soda to not miss the traditional egg and/or diary ingredients. The muffins rise as any other would, the crumb is moist and holds together and the tartness of fresh local cranberries paired with the naturally sweet taste of orange.. AWEsuhummmmm (in my high-pitch, I-can’t-sing-but-sure-can-pretend opera voice). I hope you love these as much as the fam and I do.
Cranberry Orange Muffins (Vegan Style)
Original recipe by Isa Chandra at Post Punk Kitchen
Makes 12 large muffins
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons orange zest (zest of 1 large navel orange will do the trick)
- 1 cup fresh orange juice (that orange you just zested will give you 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh juice, go ahead and fill the rest of the cup with juice of another orange, or juice from the fridge. I’ve even used apple cider with great results)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a muffin tin.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center and add canola oil, orange juice, zest, almond extract and vanilla. Mix just until all wet ingredients are moistened. About 1/2 way through mixing add the cranberries and nuts.
Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for about 24 minutes, until lightly browned on top and a toothpick or knife inserted through the center comes out clean. When cool enough to handle, transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.
I’ve noticed an increasing amount of online comments from people exploring a vegetarian / vegan lifestyle, maybe not committing but becoming more aware of the effects of diet on their overall health and I think it’s wonderful. It’s really no surprise with all of the excellent resources (Eating Animals, Knives over Forks, Fast Food Nation) to inform and educate on diet and how North American food is being handled becoming more readily available. Some of the realities are terrifying. I get it, I practiced a strict vegan lifestyle in my committed punk rock years and, albeit do eat (locally raised) meat today, will always appreciate the diet and those who adopt it. My personal goal now is more about finding the balance the 2 practices can create in my household.
The most important thing to strive for is overall good health. The best route to that is knowing your body’s requirements, what’s in your food, where it comes from and trusting your vendors. No matter what your personal choices may be, make sure they are informed ones. For those of you exploring a new diet, just curious and/or looking to try new things, I highly recommend visiting Post Punk Kitchen for some of the very best in online vegan food inspiration.
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