More than a muffin recipe

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Wintertime ushers in serenity, solitude, and cold.  The days are monochromatic and darkness comes early.  As it wears on, the cold settles in deep inside. 
A friend recently introduced me to "hygge".  The basic concept applied here is that winter can be embraced for the slower pace it relentlessly brings.  And as we spend more time indoors, hygge inspires a cozy atmosphere centered on rest, relationships, and reflection.
The aroma of cinnamon, the sound and heat radiated from the oven, and the taste of warmth make baking so important for coping through the winter season.
Resourceful Carrot Apple Muffins with Kashi Shedded WheatWooden bowl available in our gift collection  
This recipe was inspired by the cup of shredded wheat that is crunched up at the bottom of the cereal bag and a desire to be resourceful.  When life is crumby, make muffins.
Resourceful Apple Carrot Shredded Wheat Muffins
1 cup leftover Kashi** shredded wheat
1 cup whole wheat flour 
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup sugar (add more if desired)
2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt 
2 cups grated carrots 
1 cup unsweetened applesauce 
4 large eggs, lightly beaten 
1/2 cup milk 
1/2 cup canola or grapeseed oil 
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray and flour muffin pans.  Whisk dry ingredients together.  Combine wet ingredients.  Add half of the wet ingredients at a time to dry ingredients and mix together.  Distribute evenly into muffin pans, filling each muffin mold to about 2/3 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.  Let rest for a few minutes.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Yields approximately 2 dozen.

Muffin recipe that makes a difference

No - using the crumbs at the bottom of your cereal bag to make muffins isn't going to make much of a difference in ending world hunger or combatting climate change.  
But a humble heart that is open to improving and a mind that is seeing ways to be conscious CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  
It is small steps and will reach each of us at different places.
The amount of food wasted every year is overwhelming.  Rather than letting the food waste facts debilitate you, take a deep breath.  It starts with a mindset.  

Food Waste Facts from the NRDC and EPA

1. The National Resource Defense Council estimates that America is losing to landfills about 40% of food from farm to fork. It translates to about $165 billion. The EPA estimates food waste more around 20%, beat out by paper and followed closely by plastic.  This food waste not only takes up space in our landfills, but also results in harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
2. By comparison, methane created from food waste is about 25x more harmful than carbon dioxide.  Reducing our food waste can have great impact on climate change.
3. The average American family spends between $1300-$2300 in food waste every year, according to the NRDC.
NRDC Full Report breaks down how exactly that food is being wasted along the way.  More importantly, the article includes a comprehensive list of ways to foster a more efficient food system.
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7 tips for great muffins
Make your muffins awesome and not a crumb will be wasted.

How to make the perfect moist muffin

1. Spray AND flour the muffin pan

Just spray the bottoms and sides of the pan, dust with flour, and tap the pan to distribute it evenly.  

2. Use season appropriate ingredients

Apples and carrots are a heartier vegetable with a long shelf life, making them a great fit for autumn and winter.  Strawberry rhubarb muffins would be great in the spring, blueberry muffins in summer, and pumpkin in autumn. Barbara Kingsolver writes  great book called Animal Vegetable Miracle about seasonal eating and her year as a locavore.  

3. Mix wet and dry ingredients separately

How to make the perfect muffin tricks
You can do it.  Wash that extra bowl.  It does make a difference.
Wet ingredients: butter, sugar, vanilla, milk, water
Dry ingredients: flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and spices

4. Fill empty muffin molds partially with water

It may be that this helps bake the muffins evenly, but more importantly it makes cleanup easier when the pan has been greased already.
Tips for perfect muffins

5. Do not over bake

You should be able to tell when the muffin is done just by looking at it.  None of this toothpick nonsense.  If it's lightly golden brown and the sides are not touching the pan anymore, then it's done.  If it is shiny and still not pulling away from the sides, it needs more time.  Just check every couple minutes when it is getting close because over baking it will lead to dry muffins.

6. Let cool in pan for a minute or two, then on wire rack until room temperature.

Let the muffins rest for a minute before taking them out of pan.  They were just baked!  This will help them from falling apart when you transfer them.

7. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Keeping the muffins in the refrigerator will make them dry out pretty quickly.  Leave them at room temperature and seal your container as much as possible.  
  *Kashi brand has recently joined the Fair Trade USA community by certifying their Kashi Organic Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Granola Bar.  They have also been working with the non-GMO project to verify their ingredients are not genetically modified.
**This recipe is based off the Whole Foods Carrot Apple Muffin Recipe.  We love their values, stance on sustainability, investments in local farmers, give back programs, community involvement, environmental initiatives, Whole Trade precuts, and focus on organic farming.  Their transparency and labeling makes it easy for the consumer to choose how their dollar is spent.

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