Coping by baking and a banana oat muffin recipe

I made it through a full work week and only had to fit in emergency naps for the first two days. 🙂 Considering that every day began with a meeting that started at 5:00 or 5:30 AM PT, I think that’s an accomplishment to be proud of.

We’re expecting the entire weekend to be rainy here in North Bay. It is indeed a grey day outside, and therefore perfect for comforting indoor activities like baking. This is a bona fide stress-relieving activity, and the end result is something delicious. Win/win!

While I’ve had the urge to bake some scones all week, I’m also trying to get myself back into healthier habits, too. (And trying to forget that pint of ice cream I polished off a few nights ago.) Based on past experience, if I cut down on the starchy carbs severely and add back in some exercise I should start shedding the pounds steadily. I love my starchy carbs, though, and they are my go-to comfort food.

As a compromise, I am baking these banana oat muffins this morning. I found this recipe online at way back in 1999. I know this because there is a time stamp at the bottom corner of the paper on which I printed it. That paper is getting pretty tattered from heavy use, so adding the recipe to the blog with my notes is one way for me to preserve it in a (hopefully) enduring format.

This is an adaptable recipe, and I’ve tried the following substitutions and additions:

  • Substituted up to 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • Substituted brown sugar for white sugar
  • Decreased the sugar from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup
  • Substituted almond milk for regular milk
  • Substituted 1/4 vegetable oil + 1/2 cup ground flax seeds for the 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Added chocolate chips (up to 1 cup)
  • Added chopped walnuts (usually around 1/2 cup, and preferably toasted first)

While most  variations have turned out pretty well, I do not recommend decreasing the sugar. These aren’t terribly sweet muffins anyway, and reducing the sugar to less than 1/2 cup made them a bit too salty/savory in my opinion.

The original recipe also indicates that it makes 12 muffins. I usually bake them in a large 6 muffin baking pan, which means that the baking time needs to be adjusted and more carefully monitored. Considering the variation among ovens, this is usually wise advice for all baking, though.

Banana Oat Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas [usually about 2]

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. If adding nuts or chocolate chips, stir into the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Add the bananas [mash now with a fork if not already mashed]. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla.  Gently stir/fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Line the muffin tin with paper bake cups or coat with non-stick spray.

[Here I usually let the muffin batter rest for at least 5 minutes so the oats can soften. If using regular rolled oats instead of quick oats this improves the texture of the final product. It also mitigates any texture issues that could be caused by over-stirring, a common muffin-baking issue.]

Divide the batter evenly in the baking pan. If baking with a 12-cup muffin pan, bake for 18 to 20 minutes. If using a 6-cup muffin pan, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Set your timer and test for doneness at the most minimal time.

Remove from oven and turn muffins out onto a baking rack to cool. [Don’t cool them in the pan or they may get soggy on the bottom.]

These muffins freeze well and can be defrosted in the microwave or on the countertop. Enjoy!