A DASH of Baking: Pineapple Pear Morning Muffins

My update to the Macrina Bakery Morning Glory Muffin recipe to make it a little more inflammation friendly for me.  Sweetened with lots of yummy chunks of pineapple, brown sugar, raisins, and a little rum. A wonderful way to start your day!

Closeup of exterior of fresh pineapple
Fresh pineapple has a fragrance and flavor that can’t be matched. The extra preparation effort is worth it!

The Inflammation Battle

Inflammation and I have been having a very intense battle recently, something that I have to deal with occasionally since I have rheumatoid arthritis.  As part of that ongoing battle, I have to acknowledge that what I eat impacts my inflammation levels.  Sometimes, my love of gooey chocolate chip cookies is not really something I should be indulging in.

In general, and especially when my inflammation levels are high, I need to be eating foods that are less likely to aggravate the inflammation or create more of it.  So if I am able to bake or cook, I try to make things that are within my realm of safe foods. This means I do a lot of recipe edits to replace ingredients with ones that are more friendly to my body.  Simple ingredient edits can make a recipe much more friendly for your body.

grated purple carrot in a bowl
Sometimes the carrots in my refrigerator are not orange! Purple carrots work just fine too!

For example, I don’t have a gluten allergy or intolerance, but since all-purpose flour lacks a lot of uh…substance…I frequently swap this in recipes for a 50/50 mix of whole wheat flour and spelt flour.  This mix reduces the amount of gluten in the recipe by a bit, and also provides more fiber and nutritional value than all-purpose flour would. 

grated red pear in a bowl
Red pears are delicious and work just as well as in a recipe as an apple.

Another thing I do frequently when baking is substitute apple for pear because I’m allergic to apples (really, they did a blood test for this).  I also like to sub almonds out for walnuts or pecans for the same reason, though I tolerate almonds better if they are baked or cooked in a dish.

fresh pineapple chunks on top of shredded red pear in a bowl
Fortunately, you will have plenty of leftover fresh pineapple for snacking while these muffins are baking in the oven.

White sugar is another one that I try to look for alternative options for in a recipe or try to reduce the amount of.  Technically, of the sweeteners available, it is one of the easier ones for me to digest, but it’s not great for the rest of the inflammation activity in my body.  A slightly better option is brown sugar, which is just a little less refined.  The even better but more expensive option is substituting with maple sugar, when available.

Making Healthier Morning Muffins

Many of these substitutions came into play when I decided to make a batch of the infamous Morning Glory Muffins from Macrina Bakery.  I loved these muffins when I lived in Seattle, but I knew I wasn’t doing myself any favors indulging in them because I knew many of the ingredients were not really friendly to my inflammation.  Thus came this updated version that allows me to have a muffin with my morning coffee and feel a little less guilty when I then have another…and maybe another (shhhhh).

Muffin batter in a baking tin
These really fill the tin up, but they won’t overflow in the oven.

How to Make Pear Pineapple Morning Muffins

Based on the amazing recipe for Morning Glory Muffins included in Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook.

Mackie, Leslie, and Andrew Cleary. “Morning Glory Muffins.” Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook: Favorite Breads, Pastries, Sweets & Savories, Sasquatch Books, Seattle, WA, 2006, p. 259.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 4 tablespoons rum
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 medium carrot, grated (mine was purple)
  • 1 red pear, peeled, cored, grated
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh pineapple
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup coarse raw sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the inside of the muffin tin with oil.
  • Place the rum in a small bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds on high.  Add the raisins and toss with a spoon so that all the raisins get coated with hot rum.  Set aside.
  • Place the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes in the oven.  Let cool.
  • Mix flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. 
  • Strain the raisins and combine in a separate bowl with the carrot, pear, pineapple, walnuts, eggs, oil, melted butter, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and coconut.  Add in the dry ingredients and mix until all ingredients are completely moistened, but not past that point.
  • Divide the batter between the cups of the muffin tin evenly, using all the batter (they will be full, look at mine!).  Sprinkle the center of each with a pinch of raw sugar. 
  • Bake the muffins on the center rack for 40 to 45 minutes or until a butter knife inserted into the center of a middle muffin comes out clean and the tops are deep brown.
  • Let the muffins cool for 20 minutes or so in the pan before removing and allowing to cool on a wire rack completely.
  • Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea and a good book.

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