Have you heard of the Whangdoodle? He lived among us at one time, and was the wisest, the kindest, and the most extraordinary creature in the world. However, fearing that people were losing their imaginations in the pursuit of power and greed, the Whangdoodle disappeared, going off to create his own magical world where creatures like him could live in peace and love*. Except for those that pursued him long ago on a once grand adventure, the Whangdoodle, to this day, has sadly become a thing of myth and has essentially been forgotten.
Today, as I leaned over the kitchen counter and munched on the last of my pumpkin muffins, I pondered this mysterious creature. I wished that I could tap into child me’s imagination again, to lose my inhibitions and journey to Whangdoodleland where the world is open for exploring and creating and for pursuing magical things just for the fun of it. Perhaps Whangdoodleland is only myth, but perhaps we could use the dream of this place and our own creativity to create a little bit of magic in our own land. Do I sound like a dreamy fairy princes? Those who spend time with young ones can attest to the great heights at which unbridled imagination soars. Why can’t this cardboard box become a home (or a chair or a table)? Why can’t these weeds plucked from the woods become a fantastic meal (with proper research and precaution, wild foraging is a marvelous thing)? And why couldn’t a muffin be both healthy and delicious?
I suppose these muffins must have little bit of magic in them to be called healthy and tasty at the same time. I mean, let’s be honest here. Muffins are really just cake in disguise. Any muffin in the supermarket being marketed as “healthy” under the guise of a “bran” label or some other nonsense are typically loaded with as much “bad” stuff as a candy bar. P.S. Have you ever had a Costco muffin? Holy moly are those good and so so bad at the same time. However, because they’re called muffins and not cupcakes they’re cool to eat for breakfast, right? Right?! Hah. Well, with all that in my mind, I resolved to use my imagination to seek out the mythical, healthy AND (key word) delicious muffin. Chocolate of course needed to be invited, because…chocolate. I also needed something to bring the substance, so nuts and dried fruit were in order. And finally, I had some leftover pureed pumpkin in my freezer that I was intending to use for a pumpkin roll (which, for those unfamiliar with this little gem, is cake and pumpkin and cream cheese and drooooool…), but that didn’t happen. It seemed a bit odd to make something so “fall-esque” in January, so on to the healthy muffin quest!
The Last of the Really Great Muffins
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T flax meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (*Canned is fine. But making your own is so easy! I’ll post instructions when sugar pie pumpkins are back in season next fall)
One large egg
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit, chopped if larger pieces.
Preheat your oven to 350 F and grease a muffin tin. Mix your dry ingredients together then your wet. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well. Stir in your mix ins. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins. Bake for about 20 minutes. These muffins are moist so it’s okay if you insert a toothpick into one after your timer goes off and it comes out a little gummy.
*This creature’s story is told by Julie Andrews in The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, which was one of my favorite books growing up and still is to this day. I highly recommend that you enjoy these muffins while reading this book to your children, or to your cat or just to yourself.