50 States, 50 Vegan Dishes: North Carolina vegan hummingbird muffins

June 1, 2013 at 11:00 am | Posted in 50 States 50 Vegan Dishes | 1 Comment
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(This post first appeared in the No Sweat, York, blog for the York Daily Record/Sunday News.)

Photo by Bethany Fehlinger. Left: pre-baked muffin; Right: baked muffin.

Photo by Bethany Fehlinger. Left: pre-baked muffin; Right: baked muffin.

When I picked the dishes for “50 States, 50 Vegan Dishes,” I didn’t realize at first that I chose so many cakes and baked goods.

Now, as I am re-assessing my diet, the dreaded sweet treats are at every turn. So, when my weekly Runner’s World nutrition email popped into my inbox, a new, healthy recipe fell into my lap. It fit perfectly within my “50 Dishes” parameters — Hummingbird Muffins.

Let’s take a step back: Hummingbird Cake was first submitted by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina in the February 1978 issue of “Southern Living.” It called for 2 cups of sugar in the cake, 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of “salad oil” and a cream cheese frosting that added even more butter and sugar. Even the updated “lightened” version isn’t so light. The pecans make it even more southern, as they are grown in the South.

So, why is it named “hummingbird”? There isn’t a definitive answer, butsome theories include the idea that eating the cake makes you hum with happiness; it is sugary rich, just like the nectar hummingbirds love to feast on; people love this cake so much they hover over it, just like hummingbirds do to their food; and/or the cake originated in Jamaica where the national bird is a breed of hummingbird.

Let’s get back to the food. A rich and sugary cake won’t fit in my diet, so the hummingbird muffins seemed promising. I will say that this original recipe also calls for way too much sugar, but I didn’t want to experiment too much on my first try. I think that less sugar can be added to the honey, and the brown sugar taken out of the crumble topping.

I also took out the eggs to veganize the dish, as the bananas and applesauce already in the recipe are usual substitutions for eggs in vegan baked goods. I think the eggs are added by Runner’s World for added protein, but are totally not needed. There are a few other things I veganized, using Nutiva hemp protein powder and Earth Balance; and I used Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour and old-fashioned oats.

This isn’t a “true” vegan muffin, as it contains more than a 1/3 of a cup of honey. There is the great honey debate, but I personally eat it if it is local (yeah, York Central Market!) and it helps my persistent seasonal allergies.

Hummingbird Muffins 
Makes 15 to 18 muffins
Adapted from Runner’s World 

Ingredients

For muffins:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup local honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup crushed, drained pineapple
  • 2 large ripe banana, mashed with a fork
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons Nutiva 15g hemp protein powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

For crumble

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour
  • Pinch salt

Recipe: 

  1. Combine sugar and honey in a large bowl, microwave for 45 seconds, and stir. Let it cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, protein powder and pecans. Set aside.
  3. Mash bananas on a medium-sized plate. Set aside.
  4. Mix crumble ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  5. When honey mixture is cooled a little, whisk in oil and applesauce. Add mashed banana and pineapple, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  7. Add wet mixture to large bowl of dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  8. Prep muffin trays with nonstick spray or liners. Fill each cup 3/4 full, and sprinkle topping on each muffin.
  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing.
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