Morning Glory Muffins & Beautiful Food

This post is 2 parts: 1/2 recipe and 1/2 from the heart. Scroll down until you see the picture to skip the heart part.
If I’m totally honest with you, I nearly didn’t post this recipe. Not because it isn’t good, but because it isn’t pretty to look at. As a food blogger, I also have to wear the hat of food stylist and food photographer. When you scroll through Pinterest browsing recipes, you’re seeing a ton of thought and effort put into every single picture. From the background, to the lighting, to the dishes, to the angle, to the layout and everything else in between, a ton of thought goes into each picture. There’s a saying, “You eat first with your eyes” and it’s so true. If something doesn’t look appetizing, we feel a little hesitant to eat it. Often times, we’re proved wrong and the item ends up being delicious, but not always. If you went to a restaurant and ordered spaghetti, you wouldn’t expect (and probably wouldn’t be pleased) to receive a plate with noodles slopped haphazardly on one side and sauce dripping off the edge. You would expect the noodles to be carefully spun around a pair of tongs and lightly resting in the center with a small pool of sauce around; perhaps a garnish of hand grated parmesan and a chiffonade of fresh basil. When you scroll through the internet looking at recipes, you probably don’t often click to read the actual recipe unless the picture is mouthwatering.

Whether you’re just learning to cook or have been cooking a long time, this can be crippling. You want your food to be Instagram worthy, but it just didn’t turn out the way the picture on the website (or in your head) envisioned. Even if it is tasty, there’s a bit of a damper on it now.

But you know what? Food doesn’t have to be beautiful to be tasty. It doesn’t have to be beautiful to be nutritious. It doesn’t have to be beautiful to be fun to cook either. Everything you eat doesn’t need to be front page Food Network magazine worthy. It’s ok if you spilled the sauce on the plate or if the color of your sauce is a little odd. You can still take pride in what you cook even if it raises a few eyebrows at first glance.

90% of what I make and eat is not pretty. When I do intend to take a picture of something, I typically throw a serving on a plate for my husband then carefully arrange something picture worthy on another plate. Guess what? They both taste the same. Perhaps it’s my fault for contributing to the idea that food needs to be pretty. Perhaps I need to make some changes to make food and cooking more approachable and less intimidating.

And now a recipe:
morning-glory-muffins

What are Morning Glory Muffins? They’re muffins with a ton of stuff in them. Don’t be freaked out by the lengthy ingredient list — hit up the bulk bin section at your grocery store and buy just what you need.

The great thing about these muffins is that they are super versatile and you can substitute just about anything.
Don’t like pumpkin? Use applesauce.
Don’t like pecans? Use walnuts, almonds, cashews or pumpkin seeds.
Don’t like carrots or apples? Use zucchini, sweet potatoes or pears.
Don’t like cranberries? Use raisins or dried cherries.

When you make these, you might be questioning if it’s really going to bake up into a muffin. The batter is very thick and there is just so much stuff in them. The answer is yes…and no. They are not the fluffy muffin that you get at your local bakery every morning. They are definitely reminiscent of them though. 1 or 2 of these with some eggs and or bacon in the morning and you’re good to go. (Prep Tip: Cook the bacon in advance and hard boil your eggs and you have breakfast on the go.)

Morning Glory Muffins


2 cups (240g) whole wheat flour
1 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup shredded apple (peeled and cored first)
1 cup dates
2 tbs molasses
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin pan with liners. This recipe makes approximately 18 standard size muffins. You can bake them in batches, if needed. Store the batter in the refrigerator in between baking sessions.

In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine carrots, cranberries, pecans, coconut and apple. Add the dry ingredients to this bowl and stir until everything is fully coated with the flour mixture. Set aside.

In a blender or a food processor, puree the dates, molasses, pumpkin and vanilla until smooth. Add the eggs 1 at a time, pureeing after each addition.

Spoon the wet ingredient mixture into the large bowl and stir just until there is no more dry flour. Be careful to not overmix.

Spoon into muffin liners and bake at 350F for 25 minutes.

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