I am new to the world of baking muffins which might seem odd because I have a large family, but you find more time is freed up to try new things in the kitchen as the kids get older. I’ve always made banana bread but muffins eluded me until I finally got my hands on my mom’s famous carrot muffin recipe. I have now added this recipe to my Sunday night baking routine because they are home-made, healthy, and very moist! (recipe for these muffins listed below). Why the sudden interest in making more of the food my family eats? To be honest, it’s not so much a natural love of being in the kitchen, but more about embarking on a journey to learn how to avoid mass manufactured, over-processed, and genetically modified food found in most grocery stores. Learning that over 80% of food in stores contain GMO was enough to get me into the kitchen and fast! My five year journey of learning how to avoid synthetic products that I think are toxic (flame retardants, phthalates, BPA to name a few) has finally led me into the place I can do the most to improve the health of my family…into the kitchen.
I think the number one convenience item for parents are granola bars. It must be because they contain the word ‘granola’ that we assume they’re healthy but they are a convenience item that can be improved by cooking yourself! They won’t be less expensive, but you can modify so most ingredients are organic and actually make them heartier like a power bar rather than a snack with zero nutrition. This has become the other item I make religiously every Sunday night because they’re great to have on hand for school lunches (they are nut free!) or in-between school and activities. You can find the recipe for homemade granola bars here.
Because these bars go into glass bake pans, greased with butter, then cooked to perfection, I haven’t had to put much thought into bakeware. Because they don’t make glass muffin trays and I’m convinced the two muffin trays I own are aluminum, I’ve been using paper muffin liners. When I recently purchased a more expensive brand of muffin liners I wondered what the difference in dollar value is? And what was the inner liner on these paper muffin cups that made them non-stick? Turns out they are either lined with Quilon (chemical based agent) or silicone (silicone being the ‘greener’ and more expensive option). Because I don’t bake or freeze in silicone I started wondering why I’m doing it with muffin liners?And for the $3 it cost me for 60 paper cups – I’ll quickly pay off a future investment of reusable muffin pans without non-stick coating.
How can you avoid non-stick? Three ways and I’m listing my personal preference: glass, cast iron, and stainless steel. The best part about materials such as glass and cast iron is, if looked after, they’ll last forever. You hear about grandparents handing down cast iron – it’s truly an heirloom way to invest. It’s heavy and there’s a bit of learning curve with cleaning and seasoning it, but having a household item that will last forever is priceless. They’re also the perfect item to give as gifts and can be budget friendly when sourced second hand. I’m on the lookout for a cast iron skillet, cast iron muffin tray, and cast iron baking pan. I can be patient and I’ve already found two listings on UsedOttawa and UsedVictoria so I know my patience will pay off!
So, as I continue my journey with removing the convenience items from life, I always stop to contemplate how far I’ve come and how much further I have to go…. It’s important to celebrate learning and sharing and the last place I expected to find a non-stick coating (especially in chemical form) was on muffin liners. Providing my family home cooked snacks has become important to me and bakeware is important too. Thinking back to how our grandparents prepared food always seems to provide the healthiest options and when in doubt, check in with someone that cooked 60 years ago before non-stick convenience was invented.
Have you eliminated a convenience item from your grocery shopping list and are now making it homemade? Please share recipe links and comments below!