Mediterranean Blackberry Lemon Muffins

This week, my husband and I picked some wild blackberries in the forest near our home. When we got back, I was determined to make blackberry muffins the Mediterranean way. That meant with olive oil and lemon.

Wild forest blackberries

The idea came to me because we had just returned from the Greek island of Corfu where the food, the people, the sunshine and the daily swims in the Mediterranean were still on my mind.

The Mediterranean diet, also known as “Sunshine Cuisine”, is one of the world’s healthiest. A typical Mediterranean diet often includes olive oil; even desserts are made with the oil.

When used properly, olive oil adds flavour and texture to muffins, rustic pies or scones and whole breads or cakes. As long as it’s extra virgin and not overly processed, it is one of the healthiest fats on Earth and better than butter.

Extra virgin olive oil contains a large amount of healthy fats known as mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Your body is equipped to metabolise these kinds of fats. Study after study has linked extra virgin olive oil to better health, particularly heart health. And, foods that are good for your heart are also good for your brain.

Below are the “sunshine” blackberry lemon muffins that I came up with. I am thrilled with the result. They are plant-based, fluffy, moist, wholesome, tangy and bursting with berries. Just take a look at the ingredients below to see how simple and healthy they are.

Not overly sweet, they are great at breakfast or as a mid-day snack. I’ve added 1/2 cup of Mascobado granulated sugar cane and 1/2 cup of mashed banana and you can’t even taste the banana, only the sweetness. To avoid turning the muffins into banana muffins, I recommend that you not add more banana than this. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Blackberry Lemon Muffins

WET INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries + 1 tsp flour to coat berries * (see notes)
  • ½ cup mashed banana, measured exactly; do not add more * (see notes)
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (can use another plant/nut milk )
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ -1 tablespoon (tbsp) lemon zest * (see notes)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 1¼ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats, no additives & preferably small-size oats
  • 2½ teaspoons (tsp) baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup Mascobado granulated sugar cane + 1 tbsp to sprinkle on muffin tops * (see notes)

* Notes:

For the berries: If using larger store-bought blackberries, you can slice them in two should you want to spread them out more in the batter. Can also use blueberries, raspberries or pitted cherries.

For the mashed banana: use ripe, sweet, spotted banana. Do not add more than ½ cup mashed banana to avoid making muffins that taste like banana. Equivalent of about 1 large or 1½ smaller-size banana.

For real lemon zest: only grate the superficial yellow part of the lemon, not the white part.

For the sugar: you can also use granulated brown, date or coconut sugar.

PROCEDURE

Standard oven: 180°C / 350°F

Muffin pan – greased and /or lined with parchment muffin cups. I use silicone stick-free cups that don’t require greasing.

Makes approx. 12 big / 14 small muffins

Transfer the berries into a bowl and add 1 tsp of flour. Gently toss so that berries are evenly coated with flour. This will prevent the berries from sinking into the bottom of the muffins. Set aside.

In medium-size bowl, hand whisk together the mashed banana and almond milk (or other plant milk) until smooth and creamy. Add olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice and hand whisk until incorporated. Set aside. 

In a larger bowl, add the measured dry ingredients and hand whisk to mix everything, making sure that the baking powder and soda are evenly disturbed throughout. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently hand whisk until the wet and dry are combined. Do not overly whisk the batter. Add the floured berries and fold these into the batter with a spatula or big spoon.

Fill each muffin hole with batter using a tablespoon or an ice-cream scoop. Leave a small space at the top to allow the muffins to rise. Use your fingers to sprinkle the muffin tops with the extra 1 tbsp of sugar cane. 

Bake on middle rack in pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until golden (closer to 35 min. for larger muffins).

If using silicone muffin cups, allow muffins to cool for 15-20 minutes before unmolding. Let the muffins cool COMPLETELY on a cooling rack as they will continue to set. 

Store muffins in an airtight container or a bag at room temperature for 2-3 days, in the fridge for about 5 days, or in the freezer for 2-3 months.

Here’s what I like to do when storing at room temperature. On kitchen counter top, cover the cooled muffins set on the wired wrack with a clean tea towel tucked under the legs. See below.

Whole Wheat Flour
Mascobado granulated sugar cane

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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