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It’s been a little while since a muffin recipe has graced the pages of The Muffin Myth. When I bump into someone I haven’t seen in a while and they say, “I love reading your muffin blog!” it makes me think that they don’t actually read it. You know it’s not a muffin blog, right? Yes, muffin is a part of the title, and there’s that pesky (but soon to be ditched!) muffin header, but this space isn’t really about muffins. In part, then, I guess I haven’t been posting muffin recipes because I wanted to get some distance between muffins and The Muffin Myth. Also, I’ve had some recipe testing failures, and I don’t post failed recipes. And, in this case, I was waiting on a very important piece of equipment.

I first tested these muffins back in November. They were great, but there was one major problem; I baked half of the batch straight in very well greased muffin tins, and the other half in paper liners. Either way, I lost about half of the muffin when I removed them. The liners came out of the tins nicely, but taking the muffin off of the liner was another matter entirely. I’ve been on the hunt for parchment muffin liners, and I figure silicone muffin cups would be fine as well, but I haven’t seen any around (I haven’t looked that hard for the latter, I admit). I was on the verge of reworking the recipe to be made as pancakes rather than muffins, when Deb from Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for coconut muffins, which she baked in little squares of parchment pushed into muffin cups. Sigh. I’m such a moron.

These cottage cheese muffins are fuel food. They are fluffy little rounds of portable energy for people who need it. People like my lunatic sister, who has signed up to race an Iron Man this spring, she could pack these for fuel on those long training rides. Or like Paul, who is on another marathon build and often gets home from a crazy long run starving and needing some recovery food. Or like me, even. I’m back to biking to work, and adding a 45 min bike commute on either end of a job that already involves 3-4 hours of walking? I’m hungry! When I get home tired and hungry I tend to reach for crackers, but really, this is the kind of thing I should be reaching for instead.

Of course, you don’t need to be an endurance athlete to enjoy these cottage cheese muffins, anyone can, but their composition – cottage cheese, eggs, ground almonds, soy flour – means they are very densely packed with energy, protein, and fat. I ran the ingredients through a recipe calculator (from sparkpeople.com) and if you make this recipe into 10 servings, as I did, each muffin contains 209 calories, 13.6 grams of protein, 13.8 grams of fat, and 3.4 grams of dietary fiber. Eggs and cottage cheese are sources of high quality, easily absorbed protein, and ground almonds are rich in healthy fats. But, they are fats no less, so if you’re not living a lifestyle where you’re energy requirements are high, you’ll need to moderate. Eat a muffin, go for a walk. That kind of thing.

Adequate protein intake is generally not a problem for anyone in the developed world, in fact, most people vastly over consume protein, to which there is no benefit. The average adult should be consuming 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. Endurance athletes should bump that number up to 1.2-1.6g of protein per kg of body weight. Consider that a 60kg (132lb) adult would require 48g of protein in a day, and one of these muffins, at 13.6g of protein provides nearly 1/3 of the daily protein intake needs of an average adult.

One year ago: No (refined) Sugar Chocolate Coconut Granola

Cottage Cheese Muffins Recipe:

I added roasted butternut squash and sage to these muffins, but I could imagine countless other flavour combinations working as well. The milk and cottage cheese I used in this recipe were both 1.5% fat, which is what we normally buy here in Stockholm. I calculated the nutrition information based on 2% dairy products, which I believe are more widely available. If you change the fat percentage of your dairy products, obviously the nutritional profile of these muffins will change as well. Please use parchment or silicon muffin liners, they are essential!

Makes 10 muffins.

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks, where it was originally adapted from Vegetarian Supercook

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2 cups of butternut squash cut into small cubes (measurement is after cubing)

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 cup cottage cheese

4 large eggs, whisked

1/4 cup soy flour

1 cup (about 150g) whole almonds, ground into a fine powder (leave the skins on)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup milk

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 tsp ground sage

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Heat your oven to 200 C / 400 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the cubed squash out on the tray, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast, stirring once or twice, until the squash is just beginning to get a bit brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and let it cool down. Keep the oven at the same temperature for baking the muffins.

Line a 12 cup muffin tray with parchment muffin liners, or squares of parchment paper (they won’t stay down on their own without filling dropped in them).

In a large bowl, whisk together cottage cheese, eggs, soy flour, ground almonds, and milk. Add the baking power and mix well, then add 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, and ground sage. Fold the roasted squash in, careful not to break it up too much. Spoon into 10 prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops the muffins with remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Set in the oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until the tops are golden and puffy. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Know what you’re eating: what’s good about this? Eggs are an amazing source of high quality protein, vitamin B12, choline (important for your brain), carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Eggs are satiating; a study found that those eating  a low fat diet which included 2 eggs a day for breakfast lost nearly *twice* as much weight as those eating a bagel breakfast with the same calories and mass, with no increase in blood cholesterol levels. (source) Cottage cheese is a good source of high quality protein, and calcium. Low fat dairy products have been associated with weight loss. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats – this is a healthy fat when consumed in moderation, the same type as is found in olive oil. Almonds are also a good source of manganese, vitamin E (which has antioxidant properties) and magnesium. (source) Soy flour is gluten free, and has 35% protein, boosting the protein profile of this fuel food.

Moderation: I’m not afraid of some fat in my diet, and nor should you be. Please remember these muffins are intended as fuel food, and if you’re not in training you’ll need to moderate!

Do ahead: These muffins can be made and kept in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for a month or two.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2012

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