Dogs are definitely creatures of habit. Case in point: During the work week, Eric and I usually rise around 5:15. I head downstairs to make coffee (I am one of those people who cannot start my day without a really strong cuppa Joe), while Eric gets showered, dressed, etc. Before Eric leaves for work, the dogs know that they get a walk, albeit a short one, but I'm fairly certain that to them a walk is a walk. I'd walk them, but the two dogs put together weigh more than I do, and there is a strong chance that my shoulder would be dislocated in the process.
This walk is pretty much the highpoint of Cameron and Fenway's day, after which they tend to fall asleep in various positions and locations around the house, only rising when I take a work break to fix some lunch (there's always a good chance that mommy will toss them a treat after all.) When the weekend rolls around and Eric and I unrealistically hope for a few extra minutes of sleep, it becomes very clear just how important these morning walks are. It also becomes clear that dogs cannot tell the difference between weekdays and weekends.
The routine usually starts with a wet nose or breathing up against my face, which causes me to open my eyes (bad move.) Once the eyes are open, Cameron, the older and wiser of the two, starts doing everything in her power to make it impossible for us to sleep any longer. This ranges from brawling with Fenway, usually on top of the bed, to actually grabbing the sheets in her mouth and pulling them away from us--yes, she's talented. All that is going through her mind is "time for a walk, time for a walk, time for a walk!" Believe me, the dogs could care less about allowing us to get our 8 hours.
This recurring shortage of sleep has caused Eric and I to start hitting the snooze button several times on weekday mornings, something that I never used to do. As a result, Eric is usually in a big hurry to get out the door on time. I have been on this "it's important to eat something for breakfast" kick lately, after reading several reports about men skipping breakfast correlating to a higher risk for heart attacks. I've always been a breakfast eater, but Eric eats it maybe twice a week, so I've been trying to hand him something that he can eat on-the-go or at the office each morning. These healthy muffins should fit the bill. They are full of nutritious ingredients: bananas, blueberries, oats, and whole wheat flour, and they are lightly sweet with maple syrup. Providing that they don't get smushed in his brief case and forgotten about, these muffins should help to get his metabolism going, and they're darn good too. Here are my extra tips for making these wholesome moist muffins:
- When a recipe calls for mashed bananas, such as this one, I like to puree the bananas in the work bowl of a food processor. For me, this always achieves that smoothest results, incorporating the banana flavor throughout the batter.
- You may use frozen blueberries for this recipe; however, be extra gentle when folding them into the batter, as you don't want to end up with blue muffins.
- If you do not have any maple syrup on hand, feel free to replace the syrup with honey. Do NOT replace it with imitation maple syrup!
- These muffins are quite dense, and the batter will not rise much, so be sure to fill the muffin tins at least 3/4 full.
- Baked muffins can be stored at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days. Muffins can also be sealed in a bag and frozen for up to 2 weeks. The batter can be prepared 1 day in advance, covered, and refrigerated. Fold in the blueberries just prior to baking.
Whole Wheat Blueberry-Banana Muffins
Makes about 1 dozen muffins
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup safflower oil
3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray them with non-stick baking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil, bananas, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until the ingredients are just combined. Gently fold the blueberries and almonds (if using) into the batter.
Divide the batter among the muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full. Bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean. Let the muffins cool on a wire rack and serve.