Pour Some Sugar on Me… Or Not.

Ah yes, my love/hate relationship with sugar. All things that are sweet. Cupcakes, pies, pastries, candy, the list is endless. Good times. Good times.

When I was in high school, we had a school cafeteria that offered a walk-up window serving continuously during school hours. Items like pizza, french fries, burgers and the like were available. While all those foods have a special place in my heart, their version not surprising, were truly vile. I pretty much avoided them my entire 4 year stint at high school.

One thing they did serve however, I purchased nearly every school day between third and fourth period classes. Coming out of Mathematics and heading to Advanced Science required a diversion for sure, and the omnipotent Honey Bun did the trick. It was neither homemade nor probably ‘real’ in its content, but it was heaven; soft pillows of sugary yeast dough cradled the cinnamon spiced syrup, its sticky nectar lingering on my fingertips… it always made me smile despite my impending lab hour.

Because I was physically active with tennis and various other sports, (and because I was a 16 year old with the metabolism of a machine), I was able to eat whatever I wanted, when I wanted.

Now, 30 years plus later, things have changed. Although I still try and incorporate sports and activity into my regular routine, sugar doesn’t make a daily appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the stuff. But this is where the ‘hate’ part of the relationship comes in. Sugar does not like me. It sits in my gut, refusing to budge, eventually lodging itself into the deep walls of my abdomen, hips and thighs. Yes, it’s not pretty to read about; it’s even less attractive to look at.

I’m sure most of you have seen the sugar and fat alternatives at the supermarkets. Sugar replacements, ‘reduced fat’ baked goods, etc. As I have mentioned before, I am a real foods kind of gal. I like to eat real food, cook real food and buy real food. Also, studies show that consuming the ‘fake stuff’ doesn’t satisfy our cravings for fat and sugar, and can actually trigger cravings for more of the sugar and fat we’re trying to avoid, thus creating a vicious cycle of over-eating without feeling sated.

Below is a recipe I created to take care of those times when I need something sweet, sugary and satisfying. These muffins are great anytime, breakfast, snack time, even late at night while watching mindless movies. (Yes, I eat in bed. Sometimes). Don’t hate.

These muffins also freeze beautifully, although that theory rarely gets tested in our house. Now I can nosh on a sweet treat without guilt, and I don’t hate my hips and thighs the morning after. I can live with that.

Peanut Butter and Banana Muffins

Peanut butter is a mega power food. It contains both fiber and protein which help balance your blood sugar levels. Protein repairs and builds muscle and tissue in the body; fiber aids in digestion and keeps us feeling full longer. Peanut butter is also an excellent source of monounsaturated fats (a healthy fat), which can help lower the bad cholesterol levels (LDL’s) and raise the good cholesterol levels (HDL’s).

Ingredients for Streusel Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Ingredients for Muffin Batter:

  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup wheat bran
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners, or use a non-stick muffin pan, lightly greased.

Combine all streusel ingredients in a small bowl, stirring to incorporate. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, wheat bran, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In another mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the egg, peanut butter, applesauce, milk and vanilla; stir until all ingredients are combined. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture, careful not to over beat, which will create a tough crumb in the muffin.

Divide batter evenly among the 12 cup muffin pan. Sprinkle each muffin with the streusel topping.
Bake muffins in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.

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