Sunday, September 18, 2011

Carrot, apple and sultana muffins, and musings on cookbooks and health

One of the things I love about my Mum's kitchen is this:

The cookbook collection. The ones balancing on top are my own, but there are plenty more of my Mum's in the pantry too. Many of them hold recipes that instantly conjure up childhood memories, and many of them are vegetarian, or contain decent vegetarian sections.

My Mum has eaten fish and chicken for as long as I can remember, but she has always favoured vegetarian dishes, with lots of legumes and pulses, and she introduced me and my siblings to this way of eating at an early age.

She also introduced us to carob as an alternative to chocolate, wholegrain bread and brown rice over the white varieties, and oats as a baking staple. My siblings haven't taken any of these foods into adulthood, but for my part - thank you, Mum.

Having her cookbooks at my disposal has allowed me to read over books in greater detail than I usually would. The result? I've marked a few recipes to make, but I've also been reminded of how far we haven't come in understanding health and healthy eating.

Consider this book, first published in 1993.

It's not a vegetarian cookbook, but it includes plenty of recipes with vegetables as the primary component.

It talks about health, and is based on the idea that fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals, grains, legumes and seafoods should be the main contributing foods to our diets. It discusses the roles of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and outlines the different vitamins and minerals we need, and the foods in which they can be found.

It talks about the dietary needs of athletes, pregnant women, vegetarians and vegans, and gives example food plans for each.

It is balanced. There is nothing that seems odd, no fads, no feared or banned foods, and no extremes.

It was a refreshing read, and a stark contrast to some of the cookbooks on the market today.

This is just one example from my Mum's shelf, and I don't mean to promote the book excessively. It's simply an example of what healthy eating used to be about (and still is, in theory), and a delightful reminder of what I would like it to be about now.

This book also gave me the inspiration for the following muffins, which have captured my tastes quite effectively.

Easy, healthy, made with real ingredients, vegan, and delicious!

Carrot, apple and sultana muffins

Adapted from Rosemary Stanton's Healthy Cooking recipe for Carrot Muffins
Makes 10
Print recipe

  • 1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp agave (or honey if non-vegan)
  • Flax or egg replacer to the equivalent of 2 eggs (or 2 eggs if non-vegan)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 2 tbsp apple sauce
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • 1 medium apple, grated
  • 1/4 cup sultanas

  1. Preheat oven to 180'C fan-forced, and grease and line a muffin tray to fit 10 muffins.
  2. Combine the flour, oats, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. Grate the carrots and apple and set aside.
  4. Prepare the flax eggs or egg replacer (or eggs) and combine with the agar (or honey), soy milk, and apple sauce.
  5. Add the grated carrot and apple to the wet mixture, along with the sultanas.
  6. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix until just combined.
  7. Bake for ~20 minutes (mine took 20, but I would check after 15).

These could be deemed suitable for breakfast, snacks, or dessert.

Which is probably fortunate, because I can see myself eating them at all three of those time points!

Do you have any 'old' cookbooks that you continue to use and enjoy? Or favourite recipes from childhood?


  1. Hi Kari! Your muffins look good and the nutritional content too. I had to Google "sultana" to find out what that was. In the US, we call those raisins. Well, I learn something new on most days!

    :-) Marion

  2. love seeing others' cookbooks - you are lucky that your mum taught you to eat so well - I feel sad that some of my favourite childhood meals are so full of meal - though I have adapted quite a few to my current diet - and interestingly my mum's style of cooking has changed along with mine so she is far more able to cope with me being veg now than if I had gone veg as a child

  3. I am addicted to receipe books - it is getting quite out of hand lol

    ps - LOVE these muffins! How delish!

  4. I love cookbooks, I'm very careful about their purchase or I would be out of shelf space. But I have a couple of old cookbooks that I love. One is a Women's Weekly cookbook from the 60s or 70s that was my grandmother. It has some ridiculously fat filled dishes but it also has lots of staples that no one includes in cook books any more. You can't beat an old well-loved cook book in my opinion.

  5. Oooh! I have *just* been trying to choose a muffin recipe! I have one for carrot and sunflower seed muffins on my blog, but wanted to try something new :)

    P.S. Do you, by any chance, mean agave not agar in the recipe though? 'Cause I've thinking the 2 tbs of agar would make for some rather rock-hard muffins :P

  6. @affectionforfitness
    How funny! We actually have sultanas and raisins in Australia...sultanas are smaller (between a currant and raisin in size). I wonder if they're an Australian thing? :)

  7. @Johanna GGG
    I do feel quite lucky, although having 2 siblings I'm often amused at how differently our food preferences have turned out. My brother was vegetarian as a child (before I was) but now eats all meat, and my sister has never been tempted to go fully veggie.

  8. @Lisa (bakebikeblog)
    I'm grateful I have a few weeks of being able to indulge my habit without spending any money :D

  9. @Lisa
    Very true...and I think shelf space for cook books should become a priority in kitchens. They're so useful after all!

  10. @Hannah
    Teehee - yes! Thank you! I think my mousse experimenting must have still been on my mind. I am very grateful for your editing skills, as the results with agar would not be recommended :P

  11. I also love that cookbook shelf - especially as it's bending with the weight of them. That's wonderful. Great looking, healthy muffins full of goodness. Must give them a try for something different at breakfast.

  12. @MadAboutMacarons
    I hadn't noticed the bending shelf until you pointed it out :-)

    I do recommend them for breakfast!

  13. Lovely post. I love how so many memories can be wrapped up in a page or a whole cook book. I was flicking through a couple of old Womens Weekly Cookbooks recently. I think 90% of the recipes as kids had been made and if not the pages were certainly looked at.
    My childhood food was similar to yours, (although I've only recently gone back to brown rice- I was done with it after so many years ;-)
    Muffins sound lovely.

  14. @cityhippyfarmgirl
    Well, I must confess to being hit and miss with brown rice myself. Mr Bite doesn't like it (!) so when I cook for both of us, which is most of the time, we have basmati or white. If it's just for me (like for lunch) I get brown :)

  15. hi Kari, I made these muffins today and the only thing I changed was I used white SR flour and made my own applesauce, 1 medium carrot and used only 1 tabs of coconut syrup as I didn't have agave. They didn't rise and were not cooked at the 20 min mark. What do you think?

    1. still not cooked at 25 mins..wish I knew what I did wrong

    2. Hi Kaz, I'm sorry to hear these haven't worked for you. All ovens are different so cooking time may need monitoring / adjusting but it is puzzling they didn't rise. A silly question perhaps, but did you include the baking powder as well as your flour swap? That's the only thing I can think of to explain them not rising.


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