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Try sweet potatoes in muffins -- but no marshmallows

Nutrient-rich little muffins are full of flavor

Muffins in pan
A sprinkle of flaxseed meal is the finishing touch
for these little sweet potato muffins. (Photos:
Kathy Morrison)

So maybe you have extra sweet potatoes around this weekend. They might even be roasted already. If so, you're halfway to making some great little muffins that will start the week off with a big dose of nutrients, especially vitamin A.

If the only sweet potatoes in the house are resting under a bed of marshmallows in a half-consumed casserole, well, go get some more fresh sweet potatoes. (They're in season, after all, and a good price.) These muffins are sweet enough -- as in not too much -- to enjoy without gooey topping.

Roasting the sweet potatoes is the ideal way to prepare them for this recipe, but I didn't want my oven tied up for so long, so I peeled and microwaved them, let them cool and then mashed them. This produces a somewhat chunky mixture; if you want a perfectly smooth texture to your muffins, I advise pureeing the cooked potatoes in a blender or food processor.

The recipe here, adapted freely from one I found at goodinthesimple.com ,  makes 24 small, moist muffins. Cut the recipe in half (but use 2 eggs) to make just 1 dozen. Mix-ins such as dried fruit or toasted chopped nuts work well in this -- I used dried cranberries in half of my muffins. I'd avoid fresh mix-ins such as fresh blueberries, which would overwhelm the muffin with too much moisture.

Sweet potatoes
Use red-flesh or orange-flesh sweet potatoes in this recipe.
I cooked all of these, and used all but 1/2 cup of them mashed,
so I could have left out the smallest one.

Sweet potato muffins

Makes 24

Ingredients:

2 to 2-1/2 pounds orange- or red-flesh sweet potatoes, scrubbed

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coconut oil or vegetable oil

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup mix-ins, such as dried cranberries, chopped nuts or unsweetened flaked coconut, optional

1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal, for topping, optional

3 bowls
Wet ingredients, dry ingredients and cooked mashed sweet
potatoes, all ready to combine.

Instructions:

Cook the sweet potatoes ahead of time, by baking them unpeeled at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes (depending on size) until soft. Alternatively, microwave them. To easily microwave: Peel the potatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices, and place in a large bowl with 1/4 cup water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a small part open to vent, and cook on high 8 or 9 minutes total. Stop the microwave at least twice to check for doneness and stir the sweet potato slices.

Let cooked sweet potatoes cool until ready to bake. Peel if roasted. Mash or puree as desired, per note above. Measure out 3 cups sweet potatoes and set aside while preparing the rest of the recipe.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Melt the coconut oil (which likely will be solid this time of year) with the butter. If using vegetable oil, melt the butter first and stir it into the vegetable oil.

In a medium bowl, stir together the eggs, then add the butter-oil mixture, both sugars and the vanilla.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, then add the 3 cups sweet potatoes and stir until combined. Don't overmix; ingredients should be just moistened. Fold in any mix-ins if using them.

Two muffins
I split the recipe, and added 1/2 cup dried cranberries to
one pan of muffins. The others were plain but got the
flaxseed topping. Both were delicious, and not too sweet.
Grease two 12-cup muffin pans with oil spray. Divide the batter between the cups, topping with a sprinkle of flaxseed if desired.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. These muffins do not brown much, so don't use color as an indicator of doneness.

Remove pans from oven, let cool a few minutes and serve muffins warm.



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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 2

Plan to make the most of the mild weather in your garden.

* October is the best month to plant trees and shrubs.

* October also is the best time to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

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