Low-fat cranberry orange muffins.

Orange, Cranberry And Oat Muffins: Low-Fat And Healthy Are Not 4-Letter Words

Low-fat cranberry orange muffins.
Orange, cranberry and oat muffins. Eating healthy can taste good.
These muffins were inspired by my sister and brother-in-law, who let’s just say aren’t fond of raisins.  The dried cranberries are a given for the holidays and ever since these ruby colored gems came on the market my family and I have tried to use them as much as possible. Also, I’m blessed to live in Southern California where the oranges are at their peak in what is now early February, and it’s 82 degrees outside! that just looks
These are similar to the Hearty Oat Bran Muffins I’ve previously posted about, but these have a stronger vanilla flavor (due to the addition of the pudding powder).  Additionally, they are  lighter and fluffier due to the lack of oat bran.  Yes the bran is good for you, but once in a while I want something with my coffee that looks and tastes decadent, but really isn’t. Shhhh!!!
This of this as a healthier version of a scone!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg
3 tbsp. vegetable oil (any unflavored oil will work)
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon (fresh ground if possible)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (fresh ground if possible)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce (cold)
3/4 cup evaporated milk (regular or skim is fine)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (plus the zest)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. vanilla pudding powder (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
In a large bowl combine the following wet ingredients; egg, oil, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, vanilla pudding powder, evaporated milk, orange juice and orange zest.  Mix and let steep in the liquids to bloom the spices for up to 5 minutes while you prepare the dry ingredients.
Tip #1: This ‘steeping’ allows the essential oils in the spices and zest to bloom. This will also allow the milk to get a little like buttermilk and help with the leavening process later on.
Place the dry ingredients in a separate bowl which will include, flour, oats, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the applesauce to the liquid ingredients mixing thoroughly. Then combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, about a third at a time, mixing gently in between. When the mixture is mostly blended, add the chopped walnuts until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Be sure not to over mix the batter.
Line two muffin pans with paper liners, and scoop all the batter into the cups, filling each about 3/4 full.  Let the batter rest for 5 to 10 minutes while you clean up.
Tip #2: Letting the batter rest allows the baking soda (short acting leavening) to begin working, and the gluten gets a chance to rest. Then during the baking process, the baking powder (the long acting leavening) will kick in and keep the muffins light and fluffy.
Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate your pans and bake for an additional 8 minutes.  Remove from the oven when the tops are golden brown and spring back after lightly touched.  Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

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